In an era of 13.3 percent ABV beers called things like Chocolate Brownie Imperial Pastry Stout, sometimes it’s the little beers that stand out.
This Wet Hop Table Saison is a fun little beer. It’s a collab with Hilltop Hops, a small Brisbane hop farm. And for anyone who’s ever had their ear chewed off by a beer geek explaining that saisons were originally beers made for the farm workers… guess what? Helios made this beer for farm workers! Specifically, they used 45kg of whole hop cones from the first hop harvest from Hilltop Hops to make this beer, so the workers could drink it at the second harvest.
It’s just the thing for after a hard day’s picking hops: dry with a real bitterness, and just enough fruity esters and fresh hop character to balance out plenty of spice, pepper, and a little clove. It’s impressive for 3.5 percent ABV, which is more the strength that saisons like this used to be back in the old days. It really has a traditional feel to it, like I should be drinking this from a banged-up metal cup while leaning on a scythe.
While we’re talking traditional styles: I’m racking my brain, trying to remember if I’ve seen an Aussie-brewed dark mild before. I’m not sure I have. But Helios head brewer Jake Harrison is clearly stoked with himself for bringing this sessionable brown ale to life.
Helios’ Classic Series Dark Mild isn’t packed with lactose or baked goods, but it’s surprisingly packed with flavour. The UK malts in this English-style mild bring about the caramelly notes of artisanal cola alongside some nutty chocolate character. It’s genuinely difficult to believe this beer is so low in alcohol, because the flavour isn’t lacking in any sense. And as the reach the bottom of the glass, a soft bitterness holds you close and whispers in your ear, “You can have another one. I’ll be gentle.”
But of course, Helios doesn’t shy away from the big beers either. And these beers will not be gentle.
The first heavy-hitter is Apollo IIPA, and it is indeed heavy. In a good way. Like you want your bodyguard to be heavy.
When it comes to a West Coast IPA, this marries the modern fruitiness of Galaxy, Vic Secret, Enigma and El Dorado with the sensibility of Columbus holding the fort of old school West Coasts.
The beer pours a deep orangey gold, and there’s plenty of fruit, but the fruit isn’t light and bright: it’s drenched in resin. Thick resin and dank stonefruit were the biggest impression to me, along with a bitterness that lasts and lasts.
Finally, remember that 13.3 percent ABV Chocolate Brownie Imperial Pastry Stout I mentioned? Well. It’s here. It’s got a hefty brown head, a cocoa hit like a ripper right hook to the face, and a boozy backhand that wallops you like you just insulted its mum.
While the word "pastry" is there, I actually didn’t find this beer as sweet as I expected. For all its big flavour, it was more like the levelled-out cocoa flavour of those choc ripple biscuits than the gooey sweet sugar rush of a triple-fudge brownie. And unlike many pastry beers, it didn’t hold back on the finish, the bitterness smouldered like a look from Brad Pitt circa 2001.
Published June 21, 2023 2023-06-21 00:00:00