Damnation Brewing Co. began life at the Brewers Co-op and have since branched out into brewing larger batches under contract in Cape Town. As one fellow Twittererer put it, “They win at labels” – but how is the beer behind the slightly scary face(s)?
I must say I found this beer a bit of a conundrum. The first bottle I tried was perfectly carbonated and with great head retention, if a little hazy. But flavour-wise it fell flat, with a fairly potent smoky note that suggested chlorophenols and a harsh hop bitterness without much hop flavour. I was surprised – I know the brewer and I know he can brew a seriously good beer. So I left the other two bottles in the fridge. A month or so went by before I cracked another bottle of Lone Wolf and everything had changed.
This time around I was looking at a perfectly clear beer on the high end of the carbonation scale (actually it was really too fizzy to enjoy – one of those beers that bloats you instantly and has you belching within seconds of sipping). It was more malt than hop on the nose, with dominant toffee and undertones of stewed fruit and fresh flowers. Flavour-wise there was again a touch of toffee plus a pleasant mouthful of tinned peaches, but none of that smoke I’d found before. The harsh bitterness remained, and while there was plenty of hop bitterness, there wasn’t a great deal of hop flavour to speak of.
I think my big complaint would be the lack of body – probably due more to overcarbonation than a recipe or brewing fault. It left me feeling full after just a few sips, making this a difficult beer to drink and enjoy. The conundrum was how to score the beer, so I settled on an average of the two bottles I tasted (2/5 the first time, 3/5 the second). I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on where this beer should sit on the scale.