Grand Ridge Brewery is situated in Mirboo North, a small country town in Victoria’s Gippsland region that lies on the scenic Grand Ridge Road tourist drive. The brewery calls a 1920’s butter factory home and (if the website is anything to be believed) prides itself on the quality of its natural water supply which makes their beers so Grand (pun intended).
I picked up their Dark Scotch Ale at my local Dan Murphy’s, choosing it for a number of factors, not least of all the alcohol content after having had a stressful day at work. Though, never fear, I gave due diligence to my tasting experience…
It’s got a thick, creamy head on the pour that’s incredibly enticing and a robust aroma of roasted barley hits the nostrils. It’s a fairly sweet smell too but not the usual kind of sweet boozy smell as its alcoholic content is quite well hidden under those robust malt notes.
Dark chocolate in colour, it’s also nicely cloudy with some very miniscule bubbles coming off of the surface of the glass here and there. The head manages to coat the glass in a thin layer of foam as you begin drinking and appearance-wise has some stout-like characteristics.
On the palate, the website says to “[e]xpect deep, warm and rich malt flavours.” There’s certainly a lot of maltiness about it, however it’s not as strong as one might have guessed from its robust smell. It’s sweet and substantially so with an understated bitterness on the finish, though inevitably it’s the sweetness that lingers on the palate. The mouthfeel is smooth and rounded and the sensation can be likened to that of having a mouthful of honey. Though don’t be discouraged; while it is heavy on the sweetness, it’s still enjoyable. It’s kind of like drinking a cross between a beer and a sweet, dense spirit mixed with soft drink or, if food’s your thing, it’s like a strongly alcoholic malt and milk chocolate pudding in liquid form.
After half a bottle I’m already feeling it. Savour it folks, this is a beer to be enjoyed and appreciated! The website also gives some tips on food pairings for this (mainly) dessert beer: chocolates, sticky date pudding, mud cake, oysters, “or reduce and pour over rich vanilla ice-cream.”
Despite the head being thin it’s managed to remain throughout my drinking session which is something I regard highly; it keeps the beer looking fresh, appetizing, glorious. It’s a high quality brew.
While it’s not a brew you could have more than a couple of in a sitting, just one has left me more than satisfied. And, despite the overwhelming flavour of malt and the intense sweetness, it’s got a depth about it that lures you in…or, then again, maybe that’s the alcohol talking.
Well worth a try!
- Genre: Dark ale
- Regionality: Mirboo North, Vic
- Strength: 8.5%
- Rating: 2.5 / 3 taste + 1.5 / 2 ancillaries = 4 / 5
- Plus: The smooth silkiness of this beer is like nothing you’ve ever had
- Minus: Gets you ‘over the limit’ way too quickly