In a recent radio interview to chat about our new beer book, the host in Brisbane plucked a few beers from its pages that had caught her eyes for different reasons. Among them was Black Lung, with its eye-catching packaging – a suit-and-tie-wearing skeleton with hole in its skull smoking multiple cigars – prompting a question about the importance of presentation in the craft beer world. Acknowledging that Moon Dog's was among the most visually arresting, we suggested it would only get a brewery so far if the beer inside wasn't much chop, something she needn't fear with Black Lung.
At that point, we hadn't tasted version IV but its great grandaddy (back when there was a solitary cigar) was the favourite among Moon Dog's early beers at Crafty Towers and the beer, brewed annually, has since taken a merry journey from its initial bourbon barrel outing through the intense whisky affair that was II and the rather fruitier, rummified III.
The latest, which has been out in draught form at a handful of venues, has spent time inside fresh American oak, whose impact is most apparent on the nose where, at cooler temperatures, you'll find soft oak mixing with creamy vanilla, fudge and hazelnut. The peat smoked malt comes into play in the mouth, lending the beer a more aggressively smoky flavour than the aroma might lead you to expect, with dark fruits, leather and a roasted bitter finish tucked within its full, oily black body too. The smokiness, along with some tar and treacle, creeps into the aroma as it warms in what's another fine addition to the Black Lung canon for those who appreciate the darker, more sinister things in life.