Time Out Article – Extreme Beers

This article was originally published in the December 2013 edition of Time Out Sydney.

Strap yourself in, acquire some chainmail and get a doctors certificate. Last month we talked about Session Beers – great tasting, easy drinks beers that won’t end your night early. This month we’re talking about the other end of the spectrum.

Extreme Beers are exactly as they sound – big, bold, brash concoctions that have intense and complex flavour profiles and higher than average alcohol. You aren’t meant to drink a six pack, you’re supposed to take it slow, savour and appreciate these incredible and rare beasts.
Some of them were made in Belgian Monasteries by Monks (Trappist Beers), some include exotic and weird ingredients like bacon and truffles (Young Henry’s A Few of My Favourite Things), some are really old (20 or 30 years – check eBay) and some are just stupidly high in alcohol (Brewdog’s End of History, a 55% monster, the bottles are dressed in suited up road kill – no kidding). Whatever your flavour, it’s getting easier and easier to obtain these precious things in Sydney. Step right up, brave soul!

Rochefort Trappist 10, 11.3% ABV from Brasserie Rochefort (Belgium)

A (relatively) more accessible one to start with. This beauty has come to you directly from the Abbey of St-Remy, in the southern part of Belgium (founded in 1230) courtesy of some wonderfully talented monks. It’s an 11.3%, dark Belgian Quadrupel and in fact this was one of the first extreme beers I tried in Australia. Delicious and savory, Plums, Raisins and Black Currant dominate the palate.

A lot of decent bottle shops carry the range. Anyone with a respectable Belgian section. Try Camperdown Cellars, Darlinghurst

Hop Zombie Double IPA, 8.5% from Epic Brewing (New Zealand)

Ever had a Pale Ale? Double it and you’ve got an IPA (India Pale Ale). Double that again and you have, obviously, a Double IPA. It’s a very popular style in the USA but this Kiwi brewery has managed to make one of the best in the world. With explosion melon, plus plenty of passionfruit, and notes of orange jump out and smacking you in the mouth/face. It’s big-ish on the booze at 8.5% but the palate is so light and crisp you almost never expect to end up forgetting your own name, a real danger if you have more than 2 or 3.

Beer Cartel in Artarmon, Oak Barrel on Elizabeth Street and some others.

Jumping The Shark Imperial Stout, 15.5%, Moon Dog

These guys from Abbotsford in Victoria only make extreme beers. It’s their stated mission and if you manage to get hold of any of them, you’re walking on the wild side. Jumping The Shark is a Cognac barrel aged, Truffle infused imperial stout, if you can believe it. Incredibly complex, its earthy, boozy, chocolcate-y, awesome-y. If you find a bottle (lucky you) stick it in a dark closet and count to 2 billion, it will have aged wonderfully.

Beer Cartel in Artarmon, Oak Barrel on Elizabeth Street and some others.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin Imperial Stout, 32% ABV, Brewdog

That isn’t a misprint. Thirty. Two. Percent. You can only do that by making a big beer, freezing it, removing the frozen water and keeping the alcohol and repeating. If that wasn’t enough then it’s been aged in a whisky cask for 8 months, and then a different whisky cask for another 8 months. Very, very malty and smoky, with an almost medicinal character. Syrupy notes of barrel char, molasses and black pepper.

Oak Barrel on Elizabeth Street had some, but you’d have to be quick.

Head of Community at Blackbird Ventures, Festival Director of Sydney Craft Beer Week, ex-artist Manager at Umbrella. Family man, dedicated home brewer. Sydney sider. All 'round rad dude. I blog sometimes but it has never really become a habit, however I'm all over the Internet and you can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook (only if you're a mate).

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Head of Community at Blackbird Ventures. Festival Director of Sydney Craft Beer Week. Homebrewer. Family man. Former Artist Manager / Founder at (The Rubens, Cloud Control, Urthboy, Winterbourne and more).

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