Friday, 2 November 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: JUNE 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: June 


Since the temporary demise of Tru Bru's Bear Club, I've been looking for a beer club to fill the void. Up stepped The Beer-thusiast Pack from one of Melbourne's finest craft beer establishments; Carwyn Cellars.

The Beer-thusiast Pack is delivered to your door monthly. It's composition is a complete mystery until it arrives - although it's likely to include a number of local offerings. Each month 12 beers arrive, including 4 duplicates. As many of you know I'm not generally one for duplicates, which is where Dylan comes in.

Dylan and I share a love of sport and have been playing indoor soccer together for a few years now. Dylan's love of craft beer has grown over the years to the point that he's now an avid Untappd user and works at a boutique bottle shop, with a large craft beer range. His tastes are not dissimilar to mine; with a preference for sours and hoppy beers over maltier offerings.

For the first time in a few years I'm going to have a co-reviewer on Beer O'Clock Australia. The plan is that we'll divide the duplicates at soccer soon after they arrive. We'll both drink them individually and record our thoughts, before getting together to share the single beers in the pack (and possibly a few more!). The format is sure to change over these first couple of months as we work through some teething issues, so please hit me up if you've got any feedback.

June's pack had only 3 Victorian beers, which seems unusually low for the normally particularly state-riotic Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack. They were joined by two beers from Otherside, a Western Australian brewery I'd never heard of, as well as beers from the United States (Sierra Nevada, Scotland (BrewDog) & New Zealand (Liberty), although the latter is contract brewed at Hawkers. 

Exit Milk Stout - Milk Stout - 5.2%

Regular readers of the blog would be aware of how much I admire what Exit do. Their core range includes the almost compulsory Pale Ale/IPA combo, followed by an Amber, a Saison & this their Milk Stout. It's a phenomenal style that doesn't get anywhere near the love it deserves in this country. This is a truly excellent example to boot.

"I’m always happy to see more stouts in cans! This is a beer I enjoyed a few times during winter. It’s toasty, lightly roasty and quite creamy with some chilled out coffee and sweet milk chocolate notes. A really reliable beer if you want something dark and easy going."


Sierra Nevada Otra Vez - Gose - 4.9%

Semi-recently Sierra Nevada change their Gose, Otra Vez, to include lime & agave at the expense of grapefruit & prickly pear. Quite why I'm not sure - the original was a great beer. I'm going to be honest; I'm not a fan of the switch. It's still a nice Gose, but it doesn't have this unique character that the prickly pear imparted. I'm also not sure if they've dialed back the tartness...

"The new Otra Vez switches out prickly pear and grapefruit for lime and agave, and the results are...inconclusive? It’s quite different for mine and I think it’ll come down to personal preference. I enjoyed the intriguing vegetal notes in the original, plus I feel like the tartness is scaled back here. On the flipside, this may work better as a gose; there’s a good whack of lime flavour, followed by the agave, which leans the beer as a whole towards a pleasant Margarita-style flavour area. I’d be keen on seeing more variations in the future."


Stomping Ground Laneway - Lager - 4.7%

Stomping Ground is the brewery from the team behind The Local Tap House. They have one of the best approaches to beer education in the country and this beer is, in my mind, the manifestation of that ethos. It's a Munich Helles Lager with nice floral and herbal notes - it's not too far from the realms of someone who doesn't like craft beer whilst still offering enough for seasoned craft beer drinkers.

"Clean, inoffensive. Not a heap needs to be said really. It has a bit of bready malt and gentle bitterness. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here - it’s a solid lager, one I’d happily drink again."

I also think that this is a seriously solid lager. It does everything you want in the style; it's particularly quaffable and has enough malt to keep hardened craft drinkers interested.

Liberty Yakima Monster - American Pale Ale - 6.0%

This was one of the first New Zealand beers to really grip me, when I tried it 6 or 7 years ago. It's so long since I first had it that it isn't on my Untappd! Liberty are having this contract brewed at Hawkers now, to ensure that this beer wows people the way it wowed me all those years ago!

"A staunch, pungent, punchy pale. Drippy, resinous fruit and a big enough body to stand up to it. Somehow it remains super drinkable too! Liberty make good stuff but I hadn’t gotten around to having this one until the Carwyn pack came along - the praise I’ve seen heaped on it definitely makes sense."

3 Ravens Moussey Juicy - NEIPA - 6.0%

3 Ravens are known for pushing boundaries under Brendan's brewing stewardship; Moussey Juicy may have been a step too far. Billed as a New England Black IPA, or NEBIPA, It's hard to see the haze due to the colour of the beer and I don't really understand why they thought it necessary to take it to this point. In saying that, it was their GABS beer this year...

"The endless juicy variants have wrapped around to being endearing again, especially when they’re doing fun stuff like this. Unfortunately astringent on the back-end, this is very creamy and chocolate driven initially. The overall product is good fun, but probably not something I’d hurry back to. It’s certainly not at the same level of high concept execution as something like their more recent Salted Caramel Shake."


BrewDog Kamikaze Knitting Club - Stout - 7.5%

BrewDog are a brewery that seem to covet the spotlight, normally this is a result of their deliberate, outrageous behavior. This beer I feel may have unintentionally found the spotlight. The can artwork depicts the Rising Sun & Kamikaze pilots and was received very poorly in Japan and the majority of Asia. The beer itself is a Stout with Maple Syrup added.

"I wasn’t super keen on this. It might have been a bit of palate fatigue on the day, or just not being quite in the right mood, but it seemed instantly forgettable. Light in body for over 7% ABV, with this fairly subtle maple/smoke character that didn’t elevate it to any particular heights."


This didn't taste like a 7.5% Stout, the body is far too thin. As Dylan said the Maple Syrup flavour didn't come through anywhere near enough. I don't think they'll be re-brewing any time soon...

Otherside Harvest - Red Ale - 5.4%

Otherside began their brewing life as a gypsy brewing operation based out of Fremantle in Western Australia. Things really kicked up a notch for the group of mates who met in the music industry with the opening of their brewery in Myaree in early 2018. Their "Harvest" beer is a Red Ale and is packed with fresh hops.

"A brewery I’d heard very little about from WA had two beers in this month’s pack - I enjoy when Carwyn get their hands on a couple of releases from an upstart brewery and pop them in a pack. This was definitely the better of the two in my eyes, pouring a wonderful orange/bright red with some nice piney hops and sturdy, but drinkable, malts."

Otherside Festive - Session IPA - 4.2%

The second beer from Otherside to be included in the June Beer-Thusiast Pack is their Session IPA; Festive. Festive was apparently their first release back in 2016. It comes in at only 23 IBU's, which I would suggest is not enough for a Session IPA. Only tasting will tell...

"Noz and I both picked up a fair bit of Pride hopping in here. Whether or not that’s actually the case, it’s not usually one of the more sought after flavours in a session ale. That grungy, ‘dirty’ bitterness certainly has a place, but I was hoping for something a touch fruitier. Still, I didn’t hate it. The overwhelming impression I had was “yep, this is a beer”."


"Yep, this is a beer." That's a fitting summation of this beer. I didn't get any of the supposed citrus, pine & stonefruit that was flagged.

One week in & we're still on track to be caught up by Christmas with these Beer-Thusiast reviews. I think this pack turned out to be a little underwhelming, with the Exit Milk Stout & Liberty Yakima Monster being the clear standouts. Hopefully July provides better beers & that Dylan & I continue our uncharacteristic timeliness.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 3

Episode 3 - Show Notes 

For the second month in a row we are almost releasing the podcast episode on time! This is almost unheard of on Beer O'Clock Australia, as regular readers would be aware.

We're going to rotate some segments in and out, especially early on while we get into the swing of things - so if there is anything you love or hate, please let us know! The idea at the moment is that the podcast will be (roughly) monthly, and we'll try and keep that pretty regular - at least more so than I've kept the blog up to date recently... Basically every month we'll discuss some of the latest news from the beer world, we'll talk about some beers that we've been enjoying over the last month & we'll crack something interesting from my cellar.

This month we're debuting two new segments - Scouting Report & a special tribute to one of the most important beers in the history of Australian craft beer. These segments are joined by our four "core" segments; News Items, What We're Drinking, Desert Island 6-Pack & Noz's Cellar. Please keep the feedback coming on what you like about the podcast, we're thoroughly enjoying doing it and tailoring it to what you guys like!


 Show Notes

News Items
  • New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards - A Downturn in Results
  • The Downfall of Australian Wheat Beer - An Equipment Issue?
  • The Black Hops "Incident"
  • Willie Smith wins Awards
  • Rocks Brewery has bought & re-branded
Scouting Report
  • The Incubator - Fixation's Collingwood Taproom
    • 414 Smith St, Collingwood, VIC, 3066
What We're Drinking
  • Cantillon Zwanze Day
    • Carwyn Cellars
    • Manneken Pisse + (6 Cantillon regulars) 
    • 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston
  • Noz's Vietnam Trip
    • South East Asian Macro Lager
    • More Craft Beers than expected
Feral Hop Hog - A Tribute
  • 10 Years of Hop Hog
    • A really important beer in the history of Australian beer.
    • "An Australian Sculpin" - Dylan Toune
Desert Island 6-pack
  • Saison - The rider this month was that almost anything funky counts - we only ruled out the La Sirene Farmhouse Red. Whether it's fruited, sour, highly Bretty - if it's funky it's in. 
  • The cross overs this month were:
    •  Saison Du Pont
    •  Hill Farmstead Arthur (despite Noz saying Anna - he meant Arthur!)
    •  Exit Saison
  • Dylan's X individuals;
      • La Sirene Saison, To Øl Sur Germs Are Coming Eating Our Pomegranate And Redcurrant!, Brasserie de Blaugies/Hill Farmstead Le Vermontoise, 
  • Noz's X individuals;
      • La Sirene Super Saison, To Øl Roses Are Brett, Almanac Saison de Brettaville
  • Honourable Mentions
    • Boatrocker Gaston, Bridge Road Chevalier, Moon Dog Saison Du Punt, Almanac Mandarina, Goose Island Sofie, Brew by Numbers 18|05, Crooked Stave Colorado Wild Sage, Hawkers Saison, Boatrocker Saison, Stomping Ground BA Saison, Brasserie Thiriez La Petite Princess, Trois Dames La Joyeuse
Noz's Cellar
  • Stone Old Guardian (2012)
There we have it guys, hope you enjoy Episode 3 of the Beer O'Clock Australia podcast. As usual send any questions, feedback or comments to gus.norris7@gmail.com. We took on board the couple of emails we received last time around and thank you guys for taking the time to give us some feedback. Please let us know if you think we've improved in this episode. The next episode will hopefully be up in mid-November. With any luck I'll have a few more posts up before then! In the meantime...

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: MAY 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: May 


Since the temporary demise of Tru Bru's Bear Club, I've been looking for a beer club to fill the void. Up stepped The Beer-thusiast Pack from one of Melbourne's finest craft beer establishments; Carwyn Cellars.

The Beer-thusiast Pack is delivered to your door monthly. It's composition is a complete mystery until it arrives - although it's likely to include a number of local offerings. Each month 12 beers arrive, including 4 duplicates. As many of you know I'm not generally one for duplicates, which is where Dylan comes in.

Dylan and I share a love of sport and have been playing indoor soccer together for a few years now. Dylan's love of craft beer has grown over the years to the point that he's now an avid Untappd user and works at a boutique bottle shop, with a large craft beer range. His tastes are not dissimilar to mine; with a preference for sours and hoppy beers over maltier offerings.

For the first time in a few years I'm going to have a co-reviewer on Beer O'Clock Australia. The plan is that we'll divide the duplicates at soccer soon after they arrive. We'll both drink them individually and record our thoughts, before getting together to share the single beers in the pack (and possibly a few more!). The format is sure to change over these first couple of months as we work through some teething issues, so please hit me up if you've got any feedback.

This month we get to sample 7 Australian offerings & one classic from the United States. The weather was getting colder in May - so we saw some maltier offerings than in previous months; with a Red Ale, Red IPA, Imperial Red IPA & an Oatmeal Stout all making the cut.

Mismatch Session Ale - American Pale Ale - 4.0%

This beer joins the ranks of beers that have been duplicated in the Beer-thusiast Pack; sitting alongside the luminary Rodenbach Original. Dylan & I both really enjoyed this beer back in December 2017 and so weren't displeased to see it again.

"This is a really clean, tasty little session IPA/lower alcohol pale/easy drinking Indian ale/whatever you want to call it. Lots of stonefruit from the hops - bright peach flavours that pop and dissipate quickly. Super drinkable."

Founders All Day IPA - Session IPA - 4.7%

Another low(ish) ABV hop driven beer arrived next; the Founders All Day IPA. Somewhat surprisingly I've never reviewed this beer in full - despite foreshadowing an upcoming review in February 2014...This is the beer that really put Session IPA's on the map for me. The fact we get them really fresh certainly helps that!

"One of those beers that I’d basically forgotten about after being a mainstay in the past. This was the first time I’d had it out of a can and it’s really the perfect format for it, a smashable little hop package. It’s more balanced and sessionable than something like Stone’s Go-To IPA (which I’m also fond of, mind you). It’s the kind of thing I’d drink a lot more of if we got more reasonably fresh cans into the country. As it is, it was a nice beer to revisit."


3 Ravens/Ballistic Dick Tracy's - American Red Ale - 5.6%

The story behind this beer wasn't publicized anywhere near enough, for which I'll defer to The Crafty Pint; "The year was 2011. Three fellas called Brendan, Lachy and Darcy had more time on their hands than a clockmaker. They brewed a beer together like witches over a cauldron: a hoppy red ale. And they’ve been thinking about it ever since. Waiting for the day they’d brew it again. Waiting for Brendan and Lachy to become head brewers. Waiting 'til now."

"Full bodied red - the ‘robust’ in the name is apt. Nice biscuit notes from the malt with good balance in flavours between malt and hops. Hops lean more in the floral direction than anything and aren’t particularly punchy, but suitable for the style. Touch of sweetness. Well crafted."


Mr Banks Oatmeal Stout - Oatmeal Stout - 5.5%

Mr Banks' winter seasonal is a classic style of choice for the colder months; an Oatmeal Stout. This beer is one of the few survivors from the original Mr Banks releases, with almost all the others superseded. Strangely, this will actually the first time I'll have had this beer and I'm really looking forward to it.

"Roasty and creamy, very smooth. If there’s hop bitterness in here it’s well hidden! One of those really drinkable little stouts which I’m occasionally really in the mood for. Sidenote: the cans we got were probably some of the last in the old packaging. While I quite liked the old art style Mr Banks had going, I must say the new core range packaging is some of the cleanest and nicest to look at on the market at the moment (along with Wayward and a few others). Kudos to them."


I have to second what Dylan said about the cans. I was a massive fan of the old cans, but I imagine they cost a fortune to produce! The new ones are so clean and are going to sell seriously well!

Six String Double Dark Red IPA - Imperial Red IPA - 10.0%

Six String is a brewery on the New South Wales Central Coast that is not that well distributed in Melbourne. That is with the exception of their flagship "Dark Red IPA", not many brewers can say their flagship beer is a Red IPA! For IPA Day last year their brewers decided to have some fun and supersize their flagship and the result is this 10% beast.

"Really big bodied, punchy red. Lots of earthy caramel from the malt and a good whack of hop bitterness. Lightly resinous. Drinks nicely for 10% - it’s big, but there’s no perceptible alcohol heat."

To sum up quickly and succinctly; a seriously well done Imperial Red IPA!

Edge Fruit Salad - Berliner Weiss - 4.0%

Edge have slowly morphed from this niche brand that leveraged Adam's distribution brand to do some collaboration brews with world renowned brewers. This is the supposedly the first in a series of Fruit Salad Berliner Weiss's. This one has had 6 different fruits added to a simple Berliner Weiss base.

"It’s fruity without really tasting like any specific fruit - I guess it lives up to the name in that regard! Very light bodied, not too tart and refreshing. Perfectly enjoyable little berliner."


I thought this had a distinct smell of apple & strawberry baby food although, like Dylan, I wasn't able to pick out a specific fruit when tasting this beer. All-in-all, this is really well done little beer.

Mornington Squid Rising - NEIPA - 6.5%

Squid Rising was the second release in Mornington "Squid Series". Yes, Dylan & I are that far behind that the third beer in the series has been released! This is one of the best NEIPA's in Australia; it's so juicy & unlike most Australian NEIPA's it isn't unnecessarily bitter.

"I liked this a lot more in cans than on tap weirdly enough! Waves of sweet, juicy tropical fruit, with that slightly too high but not a dealbreaker level bitterness that is ever-present in Australian NEIPAs. It’s a worthy entry into the style."
MoonDog Thunder Lips - Red IPA - 6.3%

I remember the days where I used to hang out for Moon Dog's limited releases. For at least a 2 year period I would buy them, every time they released new ones, which seemed to always come in twos. Those days may be gone - but with the addition of their new production breweries, maybe they'll return? This is a Red IPA which has had heaps of Yuzu added to it - it should work on paper! But, as was the case with many past Moon Dog limited releases, the taste will be in the pudding (or beer?).

"I liked the idea of this but thought the flavours clashed quite a bit sadly. There was a malty richness that just didn’t gel with the sharp citrus like I thought it would. You end up with a beer that has nice individual elements that don’t meld at all, creating a muddle on the palate as the end result. Probably not one I’d revisit, but as always I love that Moon Dog are willing to try things."

This just didn't work! The malt & citrus really clashed. But this is why you have to love Moon Dog - they have a go at everything; some work, some don't!

So there we have it guys, May's pack review is finally up; it's only taken until late October! Dylan & I have a rough plan of trying to be up to date by Christmas. Most of you probably know by now how timeline promises on this blog go, so I wouldn't hold your breath... In the meantime there will be a new podcast episode up any day now & with any luck there will be some other new content soon.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 2

Episode 2 - Show Notes 


Here at Beer O'Clock Australia we're not known for doing things in a particularly timely fashion. This time we were looking good, having recorded almost a month to the day after our first episode of the podcast. Life then got in the way and we ended up the best part of two weeks behind, as usual! Sorry if anyone has been hanging out for the second installment of this look at the, slightly dated, goings on in the Australian beer scene.

We're going to rotate some segments in and out, especially early on while we get into the swing of things - so if there is anything you love or hate, please let us know! The idea at the moment is that the podcast will be (roughly) monthly, and we'll try and keep that pretty regular - at least more so than I've kept the blog up to date recently... Basically every month we'll discuss some of the latest news from the beer world, we'll talk about some beers that we've been enjoying over the last month & we'll crack something interesting from my cellar.

This month we recorded on a brew day, so included the new segment "What Are We Brewing?". Let us know your thoughts if this is something you'd like to hear more of. We had a lot of news that we wanted to get through this month so kept it to just the core segments outside of the home brew that we kept mentioning as we ducked off to check it at various points throughout the day.


 Show Notes

News Items
  • Barrow Boys Closure
  • Grand Ridge relaunching West City
  • Stone & Wood's new brewpub in Brisbane
  • The Pacific Ale trademark dispute is over!
  • Matso's purchased by Gage Roads
  • Mornington purchased by Tribe
  • Boozebud purchased by AB-Inbev
  • Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show Awards
  • Holgate's New Brewery & Visitors Centre. 
  • Brewers Association of the United States Report
  • Garage Project's Monthly Cellar-Door Only IPA
What We've Been Drinking

  • Our Tallboy & Moose Collaboration Berried Alive
  • New English & U.S.A imports 
    • Toppling Goliath 
    • Against the Grain 
    • North Brewing 
    • Northern Monk
  • Dylan's Malaysia Trip
    • Guinness Bright
  • Little Creatures The Fuggle is Real
  • North Brewing & Verdant Brewing Triple Fruited Gose
What Are We Brewing?
  • New Batch of The Reiffel
    • Our American Blonde Ale
    • American Ale Malt & Wheat
    • Mosaic, Mandarina Bavaria & Galaxy
    • White Labs Kolsch Yeast (WLP029)
Desert Island 6-pack
  • Red Ales - The definition was hard here to define here. We stumped for anything that isn't sour. From Irish Red Ales to Imperial Red IPA's were permissible.
  • This month we only had one cross over
    •  Mismatch Evil Archie
  • Dylan's 5 individuals;
      • Exit Amber Ale, Mountain Goat Fancy Pants, Barrow Boys India Amber Ale, Hargreaves Hill The Phoenix & Two Birds Sunset Ale
  • Noz's 5 individuals;
      • Modus Operandi Former Tenant, Prancing Pony India Red Ale, Noisy Minor Admiral Ackbar, Epic Hop Dozer & Nøgne Ø x Holgate Half a World Away
Noz's Cellar
  • Jolly Pumpkin x La Sirene Costa Dei Villa
There we have it guys, hope you enjoy Episode 2 of the Beer O'Clock Australia podcast. As usual send any questions, feedback or comments to gus.norris7@gmail.com. We took on board the couple of emails we received last time around and thank you guys for taking the time to give us some feedback. Please let us know if you think we've improved in this episode. The next episode will hopefully be up in mid-October.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: APRIL 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: April 


Since the temporary demise of Tru Bru's Bear Club, I've been looking for a beer club to fill the void. Up stepped The Beer-thusiast Pack from one of Melbourne's finest craft beer establishments; Carwyn Cellars.

The Beer-thusiast Pack is delivered to your door monthly. It's composition is a complete mystery until it arrives - although it's likely to include a number of local offerings. Each month 12 beers arrive, including 4 duplicates. As many of you know I'm not generally one for duplicates, which is where Dylan comes in.

Dylan and I share a love of sport and have been playing indoor soccer together for a few years now. Dylan's love of craft beer has grown over the years to the point that he's now an avid Untappd user and works at a boutique bottle shop, with a large craft beer range. His tastes are not dissimilar to mine; with a preference for sours and hoppy beers over maltier offerings.

For the first time in a few years I'm going to have a co-reviewer on Beer O'Clock Australia. The plan is that we'll divide the duplicates at soccer soon after they arrive. We'll both drink them individually and record our thoughts, before getting together to share the single beers in the pack (and possibly a few more!). The format is sure to change over these first couple of months as we work through some teething issues, so please hit me up if you've got any feedback.


April's pack showcased 7 relatively new Victorian beers and one classic from the motherland. There's two lagers from the biggest breweries in the Western suburbs; Hop Nation & Two Birds. There's also two Fresh Hop beers from Red Hill, which I believe utilize the hos they grow on site at the brewery. Finally the classic beer in the pack is the Taddy Porter from Samuel Smith's Old Brewery, this is a beer I've loved since I first got into beer properly.

Two Birds Trail Blazer - Lager - 4.5%

This beer was brewed by the two birds down at Two Birds to celebrate their local football club, the Western Bulldogs, AFLW team. For those who don't follow AFL, AFLW is the women's semi-professional competition that launched in 2017. Trail Blazer is such a fitting name as the Two Birds goals are pioneers in their industry as are the girls in the AFLW.

"Light cereal/biscuity malt flavour, touch of bitterness, super crisp and clean. Just a bloody well made pale lager (with a great can!)."

I think Dylan's review says everything you need to know - if you want a good, well priced lager this is one to stump up your hard earned for.

Hop Nation The Damned - German Pilsner - 4.8%

Hop Nation's The Damned was one of the early additions to their lineup. It's certainly not the most classic of Pilsners, packed with Kiwi hops Motueka & Riwaka, but it's very much in the Hop Nation mould of beers. If I was asked for an Australian example of a New World Pilsner this is one of the first that would come to mind.

"It’s not surprising given the brewery it comes from, but this is one of the more bitey and hoppy pilsners available on the Australian market. Clocking in at under 5% ABV it’s definitely made for drinking a bit of despite this, with nice lemon flavours and a sharp finish contributing. This is never a beer that blows me away, but one that I feel fits Hop Nation’s lineup very well and can be relied on when one wants a punchy, new world pilsner."

Watts River IPA - American IPA - 6.6%

Watts River are not a brewery that gets a lot of airtime, even in craft beer circles. Watts River Brewery is in Victoria's Yarra Valley in Healesville, about an hour North East of Melbourne. I really like the shape of the bottles that their beers are now packaged in, I think if they were more readily available on bottle shop shelves they would move...

"Before this pack arrived I’d actually gone and visited Watts River for the first time up in the Yarra Valley. I was really impressed with the offerings I had there so was quite keen for this. There’s a great tropical fruit and citrus flavour profile on a clean base - definitely more of a bright, bitter, typically Australian IPA than anything with a sturdy malt base and piney hops. Luckily that’s the kind of IPA I usually reach for so I was very happy with this."


La Sirene Citray Sour - Sour - 4.5%

La Sirene are going from strength to strength at the moment. Citray Sour is, like most La Sirene beers, a farmhouse ale. This one has been brewed with oranges and has been naturally soured. It actually took me quite a while to get around to drinking this, I'm not sure if it was because the weather was colder or if I was just going through an anti-sour phase.

"This is almost the entry level sour the market has been screaming out for. In cans, not too tart, orange is good (leans more towards bitter orange than sweet/juicy). It’s a really tasty little beer. Hope to see La Sirene continue the sessionable canned beers as the two currently in the range are both crackers and fill a niche in the market."

I'm glad I did eventually get around to trying it! It was superb!

Hawkers IIPA - Imperial IPA - 9.0%

When Hawkers launched cans at the end of 2017, it seemed inevitable that their 2018 IIPA would end up getting released in that vessel. So it proved to be - and what a phenomenal beer it has proved to be! Hawkers very rarely name their beers and simply call them the style that they've tried to create, consistently they are producing wonderful examples of the styles they're looking to emulate.

"Sticky and super drinkable for 9%. Hawkers would struggle to stuff up a big, clean IPA at this stage with the amount of practice they’ve had. There’s some malt sweetness that melds well with the resinous hops, especially as it warms a touch."

Red Hill Hop Harvest ESB - ESB - 6.0%

When you think of Fresh Hop or Wet Hop beers, Extra Special Bitters (ESB's) are not the first style that usually jumps to mind. Red Hill have gone with that style, alongside the English IPA they normally produce - I'm guessing because the hop varieties they grow down there are more conducive to the style.

"This was a very enjoyable English bitter. I really like the aesthetics of the hop vines out the front of Red Hill’s Mornington Brewery and it’s cool to try the fruits of that labour. There’s an intriguing mix of deep earthiness and fresh, floral notes that work well together."


This surpassed my expectations. The hops really leant themselves to the style with their earthy/floral notes really complimenting the maltiness.

Red Hill Hop Harvest IPA- English IPA - 5.5%

Conversely India Pale Ale's (IPA's) are the style that is instantly conjured when people talk about Wet Hop IPA's. Early March is hop harvest time in Australia and the Hop Harvest/Wet Hop/Fresh Hop IPA's all come out in the ensuing month. Red Hill's is one I always keep an eye out for as their take is more traditional than the big New World & West Coast offerings that are so dominant in the Australian market.

"I was worried this might come out a bit too green, but it wasn’t an issue in the end. It’s a very straightforward IPA, golden/orange in colour with some solid pine and citrus flavours."

Samuel Smith Taddy Porter - Porter - 5.0%

As I said at the top; this is an absolute classic beer! If you were to ask me to name an English Porter it would be out of this and Fuller's London Porter, another beer to feature in a Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack back in May 2017. If you haven't tried this Porter before you absolutely need to seek it out!

"I do enjoy Carwyn including some more classic English (and other European) beers in these packs from time to time. This is a fairly unremarkable porter, but there’s some nice chocolate and dark fruit on a light, smooth base. Perfectly drinkable."

Dylan is back from holidays and we're getting back onto these reviews. With any luck May's review won't be too far away... I've got a couple of other bits and pieces that will hopefully tide us over until we get new Beer-Thusiast posts up. We will also have the second episode of the podcast up as soon as it's edited - so look out for that in the next week or so. Until then guys, keep the emails coming (gus.norris7@gmail.com) and I'll endeavour to get back to all of you.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

REVIEW: LITTLE CREATURES THE FUGGLE IS REAL

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American Stout
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
I've been getting a heap of emails from you guys about reprising 'The Dark Side' - so here we are. This is the 2018 Winter Seasonal from Little Creatures; The Fuggle is Real. The craft beer scene is full of great names and this is one of my favourites for a long time.

As the name suggests the beer is hopped with one of the U.K.'s finest hops, Fuggle. This hop is supported by Loral, known as the Super Noble hops - that combines the old world characteristics with the new world aromatics. Loral is a really unique hop that sometimes throws these dark fruit notes that I think should really accentuate the roasty characteristics in a stout.

That's enough about the beer, it's time to pour it and drink it! The beer pours with a small tan head initially, maybe a finger and a half high. The head has a number of large bubbles around the edge of the glass but still, somewhat strangely, has good retention with a layer of foam covering the beer throughout drinking. The beer is close to jet black and is completely opaque.

Onto the nose and the aromas are what you'd expect of a 5.8% stout. The dominant aroma is that of roast malt, before some lighter notes of chocolate and coffee come through. There's some slightly sweet biscuity & caramel notes as well as some dark fruit. I would be lying if I said I could smell the Fuggle, although it's light floral notes would be susceptible to being hidden beneath the roasty malt notes.

Little Creatures' The Fuggle is Real is a seriously tasty stout. The roast malt that was dominant on the nose is again the main player come tasting time. It's ever so slightly sweet from the caramel and biscuity malts. There's a little cherry accompanying the chocolate, which works ever so well. The finish is dry and short with low carbonation, despite the retention suggesting otherwise. It's thinner body leads it to being dangerously drinkable and so the can, or sometimes cans, is gone before you know it!

If there is to be one takeaway message from this beer it's that we need more stouts to be packaged in cans in this country! Everything about this beer is sensational; from the flavour, to the name to the packaging. The only thing that disappoints me about this beer is the small writing under the Little Creatures branding; "seasonal". Given their recent history with dark beers, I doubt there is any chance of this reappearing beyond this winter. Stock up while you still can!

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

A VERY BEERY WORLD CUP

Beer O'Clock on Tour



As most of you would know now, I spent the end of June following the Socceroos at the World Cup around Russia. The results on the field may not have been what we were hoping for but the whole experience, including the beer, was amazing!

In the past I've only been in countries for up to 5 days, so have had no issues rattling off every beer I had in the country. With a three week holiday in one country, that revolved around football, eating and drinking I think I will struggle to do that. In this post I think I'll pick out some highlights of the trip and discuss a bit about the Russian beer culture.

First and foremost, the Russians were so much friendlier than they are portrayed to be in the Western media. Their food was superb & their craft beer was plentiful! I had three of the best weeks of my life, with two great mates in this wonderful country filled with thousands of drunk people; Australians, Russians and those of various nationalities!

The day I arrived in Moscow I arrived in the early evening and agreed to meet Coll & a mate of his from the hostel at a local craft beer bar; Craft Station. My first craft beer in Russia was a clearly infected IPA from a brewery called Trigger, which was laced with Brett. I was wondering if it was an issue with the bar however the following two beers; an IPL from Victory Art Brew & Nuclear Laundry from Jaws, were both tasting awesome.

After some sight seeing the next day we managed to locate my first ever Armenian beer at a local Armenian restaurant. The Kilikia lager was a pretty solid beer and the full review can be found here. Seeing as we were in the area, we decided to pop into Dogma, probably the preeminent bottle shop in Moscow. If you were looking for a Melbourne equivalent it is similar to Slowbeer, with four taps & a carefully curated range of Russian craft beers & fine international offerings.

Not long after we arrived the heavens opened, for one of the few times in our three weeks in Russia. Accordingly we stayed for a couple of beers, after buying the mixed 6-pack we came to get. The pick of the bunch was the Zagovor Blast Beat, a NEIPA, which was one of the hottest beers in Russia at the time. 

We trekked from Dogma into Red Square to do some sightseeing before finding out way to Craft RePUBlic for some more beers. I had very good beers from Russian breweries STAMM, Panzer and Salden's, whilst also trying an Imperial Milk Stout from Hungary's MONYO Brewing Co. The bar was pretty cool and it wasn't the last time'd be here. After some Georgian food we retired for the evening, but not before having an AF Brew Mosaic IPA which was one of the best beers I had on the trip.

The next day we started our beer day with some macro lager at a Uzbek restaurant where we tried horse meat for the first time on the trip, pretty good if you're interested. More macro lager (Zhiguli) was imbibed in Gorky Park later that afternoon; as an aside, beers should be more readily available in parks in Melbourne.

That evening we attended the first of our Fanatics functions; it was a genuinely weird event, the first of the many instances where the Russians underestimated the beer drinking qualities of the Australian's. Coll & I had some Aecht Schlenkerla Weizen before disembarking to Craft RePUBlic again. where we met some Russian guys and had a few more beers - before going to another bar, Howard Loves Craft, with them on their recommendation. This night really enhanced my perception of the Russian craft beer scene.

Fast forward through a slightly hungover morning of sightseeing and we arrived at our first official Fanatics function. As we took in the opening game of the tournament the beer was Baltika #7 and thankfully it was cold & plentiful. Many more beers were had on our hot overnight train to Kazan, before taking in the afternoons football at a local bar - before it ran out of beer... Something that was to become a bit of a theme in Kazan.

There was plenty of macro lager to follow, with the Fanatics functions & the World Cup in general being awash with Budweiser. Parny joined Coll & I in Kazan, just before Daryl Braithwaite played "Horses" either side of the Spain vs Portugal game, which was a truly awesome way to start the tour proper. There's certainly worse beers out there than Budweiser - I got quite well acquainted with it over those few weeks.

Our first game against France was the next day, so it wasn't too big of a night. The atmosphere at the first World Cup game was like nothing I've ever experienced! It was an incredible performance by the Socceroos, but unfortunately the result didn't go our way. Afterwards we bought some beers from the supermarket outside the stadium for our wander back into town - which were an array of equally bad Russian lagers, before working our way down Bauman Street drinking various lagers, ranging from truly awful to pretty good.

At this point Coll & Parny made the sensible decision to retire for the evening, I did not... I ventured to Drink Craft, Kazan's premier craft beer venue and had one of the best NEIPA's that I've ever had; AF Brew's Eat The Dust! DDH Mosaic. A chance meeting with some guys that I've previously ran into at Carwyn Cellars led to many more beers that I probably didn't need!

Going to Russia I'd be told that Russian's loved their German beers. I hadn't seen a heap around until we ventured to a traditional Tatar restaurant in Kazan the next day, where a couple of wheat beers eased my hangover from the previous days festivities. That afternoon was spent watching football and drinking lager, both at the official Fan Fest in Kazan & in the hotel bar. The pick of the bunch was the Stary Melnik Svetloe - a pretty common Russian lager.

The following day we took the long bus ride to Samara, a formerly closed city due to its involvement in the Russian space industry. It was a pretty long day and we just decided to pop into an Irish pub for a few beers & dinner. Alongside the usual Guinness, Kilkenny & Harp offerings, was a Staropramen Velvet; an Amber Lager that I'd never had before. It was actually quite a nice beer with some good maltiness & quite a creamy mouthfeel.

The famous Zhiguli brewery was where we ended up the following afternoon after seeing pretty much all that there was to see in Samara. I had a few different lagers there, all of which were very good. Some canned lager was consumed at a Fanatics event, before there was plenty more Budweiser at the Samara Fan Fest. The Russians won that night, the less said about the next 6 hours of partying with Russians the better... I don't think I've ever had more vodka in my life!

As we were on holidays it was only natural that I got back on the horse the next night, with a beer at a burger bar whilst watching the soccer over dinner. After we went back to the hotel I was feeling pretty good so had a STAMM Hoppy Milk - a massively dry hopped Pale Ale. Our second game against Denmark followed the next day and far too much lager was again consumed, both Budweiser in the stadium & Zhiguli on the way back to the hotel. I finished the evening with a Mobius Pint BACK2PALE as I needed to reduce weight in my bag for the flight to Sochi the next day.

Sochi was a bit of a change from the rest of Russia - with the weather being far warmer and more humid. We found ourselves on the promenade by the Black Sea and felt like some lunch. We found a wonderful Georgian restaurant where we enjoyed some Amber Weiss - a wheat beer from Moscow-Efes before moving onto some wine. There was a macro IPA back at the hotel, before a few truly awful lagers in the hotel bar.

We warmed up for Germany vs Sweden, as an aside the best quality football game I've ever been to, with some Budweiser and more of the awful Sherlock in the hotel, before more Budweiser at the game. The next day was spent exploring more of the older parts of Sochi, which obviously involved some beer! There was a few local Pale Ale's at lunch, before some Heineken whilst watching England trounce Panama. We decided we were pretty tired and retired to the Hotel Bar for the evening's games.

The following day started with an audience with Graham Arnold, the incoming Socceroos coach. Naturally there were beers; this was one of the few places in Russia where they could pour a beer in less than 3 minutes! It was a James Squire equivalent Pale Ale & one that was pretty well balanced. The venue was right by the promenade and after a few morning beers we decided that maybe we should visit that Georgian restaurant again - more Amber Weiss & Georgian Red ensued...

If that night had ended there it probably would've been enough, however we were on holidays... Some more Sherlock in the hotel bar ensued before some beers we'd picked up in the supermarket ensued in the hotel room. Thankfully I woke up sans hangover! Our pre-game function was the best yet, I think in part because the weather was so good! It was a hot day and the beers were flowing early; Bakalar, a Czech beer that was pretty good was the beer of choice at the function.

Budweiser was again consumed en masse as the Socceroos crumbled in the intense atmosphere that the Peruvian fans created. It was a disappointing result to see our qualification hopes slip away, but the World Cup was still an incredible experience. Outside the stadium I swapped shirts with a Peruvian fan before joining a heap of other Aussies for more beers nearby. We drowned our disappointment over dinner, whilst watching Messi score his best goal of the tournament, despite the ridiculously early nature of our flight the next morning.

That was where Parny left us, having to go back to Melbourne. Coll & I were heading to St Petersburg, leaving the hotel around 4am. We did make it to bed (thankfully!) many blokes on our flight didn't. Knowing we only had 2 days in St Petersburg we knew we had to make the most of it - we dumped our bags and headed straight out for some beers and pelmeni (Russian dumplings). Much sightseeing was done before we ended up at Craft Beer Cafe to watch the soccer and drink some beers.

We had a few very good beers, AF Brew's Hoppy Surf stood out as an excellent dry hopped Pale Ale. I revisted some beers that I've loved previously; Jaws' Nuclear Laundry & Victory Art Brew's Red Machine. Coll & I broke for dinner briefly across the road and got to have a Kazbegi Porter from Georgia, with some excellent food, before returning for a couple of local stouts from Knightberg brewery.

Our last day in St Petersburg was highlighted by our journey to the Peterhof Palace, which is simply stunning. That night we went to a famed football pub to watch the final games of the group stage. We started with Heineken's before finding the craft beer fridge where beers from Jaws & Victory Art Brew got a workout! In the middle of this session I managed to pop up the road to Beer Geek to sort out some Russian beers to bring home.

I really can't quite sum up how good of an experience the World Cup was. The football didn't go the way of the Socceroos, but it almost didn't matter. We tried hard and were still a chance of qualifying going into the last day. It was such a wonderful few weeks with two of my best friends - we shared some wonderful experiences that I'll never forget and I'm glad I was able to share at least a little of that with all of you through beer!

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!