Wednesday, 18 July 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: FEBRUARY 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: February


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.


In February we were served up a different pack to usual; only 2 duplicates were included, meaning that there were 8 singles. There were a couple of issues with this month's pack - firstly the card above states Feb 2017 instead of 2018, which in the scheme of things isn't the end of the world. Secondly both Caltoria beers were missing from the pack, something an email sorted in a couple of days. We also saw an appearance of a beer we've had in the pack before; Rodenbach Original - at least it was a good one! This was a period where the pack suffered a little - however those minor issues aside the beer lineup was really impressive!

Little Bang Icon - Steam Ale - 5.0%

First up was a beer from Adelaide craft brewery Little Bang. We don't get many of their beers over in Victoria, outside the Galactopus, so I was pretty keen to try this Steam Ale/California Common. It's a style that isn't brewed that often in Australia, with Mountain Goat's Steam Ale the only one jumping out at me. I'm keen to see what Little Bang have done with this style.

"I love the can for this beer! It’s by far the most interesting thing about it. Not to say that it’s a bad beer though - certainly one that has a place. Very clean, lightly tropical, finishes smooth. Skews very close to Mountain Goat Steam Ale."

Personally I thought it was a bit lacking in flavour in comparison to the Mountain Goat. Given the choice between the two, I would stump for a pint of the Victorian offering.


Lost & Grounded Keller Pils - Kellerbier - 4.8%

Lost & Grounded is a brewery in Bristol, England started by an Australian; ex-Little Creatures brewer Alex Troncoso. They're a brewery with a growing reputation for brewing quality lagers. This is the first time that their beers have made it down under, in any significant quantity.

"I’d heard a bit of hype about these guys, an English brewery focusing on German and Belgian styles. This certainly made a good first impression. It’s a really refined, well built pils. Lovely grassy and floral hop notes, clean malt and that bite on the finish that all good pilsners have."


Caltoria Belgian Pale - Belgian Pale Ale - 6.6%

If I'm being perfectly honest, I had never heard of Caltoria before. The brewery is based in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Bayswater. Their flagship beer is a Belgian Pale Ale - another style that we don't see anywhere near enough of in this country. From that perspective, it seems like quite a strange choice for a beer to base your brewery around...

"I was surprised this clocked in at 6.8% ABV! Hides it really well. It does come across in the form of a really full, rounded body which supports the yeasty funk and light hopping well."

Caltoria Citrus Wheat - American Pale Wheat Ale - 4.9%

Caltoria had a second beer in the pack; their brand new (at the time!) Citrus Wheat. The beer was so new that the labels hadn't arrived in time and we had generic Caltoria labels on the bottles. Billed as a citrusy wheat beer, it's a beer that should be suited to the warm weather.

"I’m not sure if the citrus in this came from a fruit addition or the hops, but it’s definitely there (especially on the nose). Really refreshing beer overall - distinctive wheat character and a bit of Belgian yeast. Didn’t blow me away but enjoyed it well enough."


Beer Farm West Coast Lager - Lager - 4.6%

Another brewery that got two beers into the February Beer-Thusiast Pack was Beer Farm from Western Australia. Western Australian stuff very rarely makes it to Melbourne and after their impressive attempt at an IPL in November's pack I was very keen to see what else they had to offer. The first is dubbed a West Coast Lager - so I'm guessing there should be plenty of hop punch here.

"Nice clean lager base here. The hop combo is really intriguing/weird, somewhere between traditional and new world, German/Czech and American. It comes across in the form of pear, lemon and some other mystery fruitiness. Certainly more memorable than I’d anticipated."


Beer Farm Pineapple - Berliner Weisse - 4.2%

The second beer from Beer Farm was a beer Dylan has been keen to try for a long time! Pineapple is, funnily enough, a pineapple flavoured sour. The can artwork is awesome, based on the Australian $50 note. It's a Berliner Weisse which has been fermented with plenty of real pineapple, rather than extract which is always nice.

"Lip puckeringly tart! I love the idea of pineapple sours but every time I’ve had one it seems like the flavour gets lost in the mix. When a fruit is primarily juicy/sweet more than strongly or distinctively flavoured it’s a challenge to keep it at the front of the palate. This beer had the same issue, with the tartness and doughy wheat dominating the pineapple, but it’s still a really nice, fully flavoured berliner."




Rodenbach Original - Flanders Red Ale - 5.2%

The first double up in the history of the Beer-Thusiast pack finally arrived. Thankfully it's an absolutely superb beer and it's one of the beers I always recommend that people who claim to love craft beer, or simply want to get into craft beer, have to try. It's a widely available Flanders Red Ale and is an excellent example of the style.

"We’d gotten one of these in a pack not too long ago so I won’t elaborate too much here. It’s a classic for a reason. I bought a slab of these shortly after this if you require any indication of how good this beer still is."

Dylan & I both wrote a lot more about this beer back in the July 2017 review of the Beer-Thusiast Pack. There's actually plenty of content on the site about this beer so simply search "Rodenbach" on the right hand side of this page if you're looking for more information.

Quiet Deeds Juice Train - NEIPA - 6.5%

Initially their 2017 GABS beer, Juice Train has gone on to become their best selling beer (I assume so at least - it's the only one I ever hear spoken about!). It's quite a change for a brewery that never really seemed to excite the close knit craft beer community here. This beer has some pretty significant in-batch variation with oxidation issues striking seemingly randomly. Quiet Deeds assures that they've resolved the issues and have been replacing any affecting cans.

"Quiet Deeds haven’t impressed me a lot in the past so I was apprehensive about their take on an NEIPA, but this is a really strong effort. While not reaching the heights of the Jedi Juices of the world, it has a soft body, plenty of juiciness and somewhat restrained bitterness (probably still a touch too high, but that’s Australian NEIPA's for you). Be warned that there’s a heap of batch variation with this beer - I’ve mostly had good luck but they’re obviously still tinkering to get it consistent."


Garage Project Full Fathom Five - English IPA - 5.5%

I'm always excited when I get to try new Garage Project beers, particularly when they're from less hyped styles; such as the good old fashioned English IPA. This IPA comes in at 5.55% ABV (give or take) and is loaded with 5 different Old World hop vaieties. It was also supposedly on nitro - but I couldn't find a widget or anything along those lines in the can...

"A canned English IPA on nitro? Sure, why not! I didn’t actually get much sense of the nitro from what I had, but it’s a great showcase for classic English hops. I’d like to see more modern breweries have a go at the style."

This beer would be great for showcasing what Fuggle hops taste like to people. I have never tasted more Fuggle in my life than I found in this beer!


Old Wives Ales Horn Swatter - American Stout - 6.0%

My love for Old Wives Ales' beers is well known, and has been professed on this blog more times that I care to remember! I've ha this beer a few times and have always been impressed with it. Horn Swatter is an American Stout that would fit straight into the BJCP style guidelines. If you're looking for a straight up and down stout with some hop bite - look no further!

"Really roasty, nicely bitter. Hop flavour doesn’t quite come through as much as you’d hope but they’re definitely there behind the malt. Just a good, sturdy, hair on your chest kinda stout."

We're getting closer to back on track. Dylan & I have recently got our July beers and are working our way through the remaining back-catalogue of reviews. There's a couple of posts that I've been meaning to put up for the last few days that will hopefully get there in due course. In the meantime guys, keep drinking great beer and...

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

REVIEW: KILIKIA

European Beer Challenge #53 Armenia


STATS
  • Country: Armenia
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
It's been almost 3 years since I last managed to tick off a country in the European Beer Challenge. Thankfully that day is finally here! My recent trip to Russia gave me the opportunity to finally try a beer from Armenia - an ex-Soviet member bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan & Iran. Armenia is actually the 100th country I've reviewed a beer from on Beer O'Clock Australia.

We stumbled across this beer at an Armenian restaurant in Moscow: Ноев ковчег - which translates as Noah's Ark. It should also be noted that the food was really good - if you're looking for Armenian food in Moscow, I'd highly recommend this place. Kilikia is the most consumed by in Armenia and is brewed by the Beer of Yerevan brewery in the capital city Yerevan.

Kilikia pours like you would expect a good lager to. The beer pours a far more golden colour than I was expecting, it looks like they've actually used malt in it! The beer also had quite a thick white head topping it, which lasted for the duration of drinking - admittedly not that long for the first one. It looks like a lager that should cost more than what I paid for it - it looks well crafted.

Onto the nose and it's time to invoke the long unspoken rule of lagers; if it doesn't smell bad that's a win. Kilikia certainly ticks this box. Kilikia has initial notes of sweet grain, followed by some more sweet grain and very little else of note! I get next to no hop character on the nose, however it does smell "crisp", if that's even possible.

The taste follows on in a manner you would expect from the nose. Slightly sweet bready grains dominate the malt bill, yet the body stays relatively light. There is some faint grassy notes, reminiscent of a European Noble hop, which imparts just enough bitterness to cut through the sweet malt. It's crisp and finishes slightly dry leaving you wanting more & more!

All things considered, Kilikia is a pretty solid lager. It's well balanced with hops and malt working in harmony. I'd be quite happy to drink Kilikia again in the right circumstances - the second day of my Russian World Cup adventure was certainly that! It was a dangerously drinkable beer, Coll and I knocked of quite a few of them whilst we feasted on wonderful Armenian food. Now if anyone has any contacts in Kazakhstan, we might be able to finally finish this thing!

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

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: JANUARY 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: January 


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.


The lineup for January was, in my opinion, really well crafted. It featured a number of newly released beers, spearheaded by Stomping Ground's first canned releases, as well as some classics. There was a wide variety of styles, with almost everything coming from Victorian brewers. The one exception being Alesmith's Sublime - a Mexican Lager, a style experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in the craft beer scene at the moment.

Stomping Ground Gipps St - American Pale Ale - 5.2%

Stomping Ground's flagship Pale Ale has been canned! Named after the Collingwood street that the brewery calls home, Gipps St is a classical American Pale Ale. These cans are seriously fresh and so I'm expecting big things from a Pale Ale that I think is improving everytime I try it.

"I’d imagine the cans of this we got were stupidly fresh, what with Stomping Ground recently starting to can their beer and all. You could definitely taste it! Big, punchy hops, sitting somewhere between the citrus/pine and tropical fruit ends of the spectrum. Straightforward, packed with flavour, good stuff."

Stomping Ground didn't let me down - this is a bloody good Pale Ale and one that everyone should try!


Bad Shepherd Reserve Road Draught - German Pilsner - 6.4%

The second beer in this months back is also named after the street that the brewery that brews it calls home; in this case Bad Shepherd's Reserve Road Draught. It's a Czech inspired Pilsner, featuring two of the four varieties of Noble Hops (Saaz & Hallertauer Mittelfrüh) alongside a couple of others.

"I’m hoping we’ll see more Bad Shepherd beer in cans soon! This is another good take on a lager by a craft brewery, something we’re seeing more and more of lately. It’s simple and clean - definitely something you can give to the macro lager head without any complaints, but also drink yourself pretty happily."


Venom Refreshing Ale - American Pale Ale - 3.5%

I was really pleased to hear that Venom were releasing a mid-strength offering when they announced it back in September last year. Venom produce some really nice beers - they don't seem to be quite as prevalent as they used to be however.

"Being the type of person who is always on the lookout for lower ABV beers, this caught my eye, clocking in at less than a standard drink per (very nice looking) can. They haven’t tried anything outlandish here but it’s a bloody tasty little beer given the constraints, with a nice barley/wheat base letting light tropical hops come through well. It’s well priced too - I bought a six pack for the fridge the day after having this one and was pleasantly surprised."

Bridge Road Bling - American IPA - 5.8%

Bridge Road's Bling is an incredibly important beer in Australia's craft beer history. The beer has evolved over the years with the more English leaning hops it started with, being replaced by the more American hop characteristics of citrus and pine. Every time I have this beer I'm surprised by the dark body, a throwback to it's former life as an English IPA no doubt.

"A consistently underrated IPA (much like those from Mornington and Colonial), this is a beefy beer with an intriguing dark amber colour and strong malt presence while still letting hops be the star. It has the balance of a brewery that has been at it for a long time, which makes total sense."


Stomping Ground Pridelweisse - American Pale Wheat Ale - 4.4%

The Pridelweisse is a beer brewed by Stomping Ground each year to support the LGBTQI community, with 50 cents from each can/pot going to support a charity that helps support aspiring LGBTQI community members in the arts. It appears that the beer itself will change each year, with last years Peach Witbier replaced by a straight Pale Wheat Ale.

"It’s a fair change from the peach hefe it came out as last year but it works as a nice little companion piece to the Gipps St in its current form. It’s now a hoppy wheat, which isn’t a style we see a heap of in Australia. There’s fairly firm bitterness and a good wheat base. If it sounds like something that’d be up your alley then it’s definitely a well made beer and shouldn’t disappoint."



Mr Banks Brown - American Brown Ale - 5.0%

Mr Banks opened in the Melbourne South Eastern suburb of Melbourne in 2016. They've quickly established a reputation for brewing excellent classical examples of the styles they are trying to produce. I really like that these guys have a Brown Ale in their range; they're really under appreciated in this country!

"A pretty classic brown ale, with nutty, toasty malt that has a rounded and lingering flavour profile. Definitely not on the hoppier side of things, but if you want a drinkable, malt driven brown then this is a good one."


It really was a beer that is hard to write about; it's a very good, straight up & down example of a Brown Ale. I've always thought this Brown Ale has good bitterness without being overtly hoppy - malt is definitely the driving factor, but the bitterness is still there.

Fury & Son Citra Sour - American Wild Ale - 3.5%

Fury & Son are another beer brand that opened in Melbourne in 2016.  They've subsequently opened their own brewery in the North Western industrial suburb of Keilor. I really intrigued to try this beer, a mid-strength hoppy sour is something that really should work in the Australian summer - which is why it's strange that we don't see many here...

"I first had this a while back and there was so little tartness that it might as well have not been there. I think it threw the balance off the beer as a whole. I’m happy to report there was a fair bit more this time - it’s still quite a light beer (and the ABV reflects that) but there’s a nice hop/acidity balance now. Super drinkable. "

Alesmith Sublime - Mexican Lager - 5.2%

The only international offering in the January Beer-Thusiast pack is a Mexican Lager, of all things, from Alesmith in San Diego. Brewed in collaboration with the band Sublime to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their "40oz. to Freedom" album. Alesmith have taken a traditional Vienna Lager recipe and made it "more refreshing", leaving a sweeter malty Mexican-style Lager.

"Super drinkable. There’s not a lot to separate it from other straightforward craft lagers but it’s cool to see the Mexican lager of all things having a bit of time in the spotlight. It’s a little sweet, very crisp, lightly hoppy. Solid. I’m keen to see more interpretations of the style in 2018 with any luck."


It feels good to have finally knocked this off - having had it 3/4 written for months. Dylan and I are both currently working on the next couple of these and with any luck we'll be back on track soon! I've got a few things that I'm working on right now, so there may well be some more posts before February's Beer-Thusiast Pack review.

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

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

BLOG UPDATE

Hi Guys,

I've been pretty quiet on here over the best part of the last year, basically since I bought my apartment & had surgery on my foot. I had high hopes of kicking it back off at the start of the year but then life intervened again. A couple of mates and I won the ballot and suddenly had FIFA World Cup tickets, so despite being a new home owner I had to find the money to go on a 3 week life changing holiday to Russia - unfortunately something had to give and it was the blog!

I'm back now and with a renewed enthusiasm for Beer O'Clock Australia. I've done a fair bit of prep-work on the lane on the way home and with any luck I'll get a fair bit of content up soon. I haven't done one of these whole blog updates for a few years - so I thought I'd give that another crack to begin with.

European Beer Challenge - A challenge that was initially (optimistically) expected to take 4 months has almost stretched to its 7th year. There will be an update here shortly to take us down to one country remaining!
Et Ceterbeer - It has been over two years since I wrote a full Et Ceterbeer review - I've been meaning to begin writing more full reviews but life hasn't allowed me to just yet...
EURO 2012 - This segment finished with the culmination of the 2012 European Championships. I doubt I will ever have the time again to write reviews in this style. 
Macro Lagers - This is a section that I get a lot of emails about! I'm intending to get to the store I find the majority of my international lagers at shortly, so I may well come across some for you guys. 
The Dark Side - Much like a number of the other sections, my reduced full reviews has really impacted The Dark Side. It is winter so if I rediscover the full review writing side this may well be added to. 
Summer Fruit Beers - Fruit beers, in the way this segment was setup, have really fallen out of favour in Australia. Barring an unlikely revival I don't see this segment being updated any time soon.
Beer O'Clock on Tour - Beer O'Clock on Tour will be making it's return very shortly! Unlike most of my holidays I only visited one country, Russia, so it may be a long piece!
Great Beer Styles - I definitely need to update this section this year!

True Brew - The most comprehensive review of the Australian macro scene anywhere (I'm not 100% sure that's a good thing)! Unfortunately for my taste buds, there have been some changes here that should probably be addressed...
Fridge Regulars - This segment faded into the periphery as my beer drinking changed. That's come full circle and it's now relevant again. I should write about some of the beers that I buy regularly.
Trappist Beer - This still holds the title as the first completed challenge on Beer O'Clock Australia. I have a beer that I've been intending to drink for this segment, but haven't found the time yet. 
World's Best Beer Contender - I've got some truly World Class stuff floating around - another segment depending on me writing full reviews again. 
The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate - I've always loved these reviews, it's just far harder to come across beers that are packaged in both bottles & cans these days. If anyone has any suggestions please send them my way!
Oktoberfest Beers - I haven't written in this section for over 3 years. I'm going through a real lager phase at the moment so will see if I can source anything.
Abstrakt - Richo & I actually had one of these not that long ago - we should probably write it up...
Out of Office - Another neglected section and one that I really have to deal with sooner or later - as a number of you ask me about breweries to visit, particularly around Melbourne. 
Untappd - The number of Untappd badges is getting a little out of hand. I'm going to do a post World Cup wrap up and then think about what I do with this section. 
Alphabet Challenge Revisited - I've been stuck on Ha Lida for almost 4 years! No idea where that Vietnamese beer has gone...
Bear Club - Tru Bru appears to be gone for good now, despite promises of a reboot. This section has in any case been replaced by the Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack reviews. Dylan & I are hoping to have that up to date shortly. 
What's in Style? - My longer format style history segment has stagnated since the first post on Grisette. I've been promising a Stout vs Porter post for over a year that I really should finish.

With any luck I should be able to keep to about 50% of what I've promised! At least I'm up to date on emails thanks to the free WIFI I had in Doha Airport. As usual keep any questions and suggestions of things you'd like to see coming to gus.norris7@gmail.com and I'll do my best to answer them. Let's see if I can't get back to the halcyon days of posts most weeks.

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

Sunday, 18 March 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: DECEMBER

The Beer-thusiast Pack: December 


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.


With the exception of the Young Henry's Natural Lager - I thought this looked like a really solid pack. Three lightish Pale Ale's was probably a little over the top, but the variety of styles on offer from the 4 single offerings more than made up for it. I was most excited to try the summer seasonal from Green Beacon, their Scrimshaw IPA made with all Aussie hops.

Rover Henty St Ale - American Pale Ale - 4.3%

Henty St Ale is the latest release from Rover Beer, an offshoot range from Hawkers. I've never quite understood why they choose to split the Rover beers away from their regular range but that is beside the point. A Pale Ale from Hawkers clocking in at only 4.3% is something I can definitely get around!

"This sits somewhere between the Rover Session Ale and the Rover Session IPA in terms of flavour profile, with less tropical fruit than the Session Ale and a drier finish. It’s a solid session beer, one that I could (and no doubt will) happily put away, but I do find myself a little sad that the Session Ale won’t be canned as I do prefer that beer overall."


Mismatch Session Ale - American Pale Ale - 4.0%

I was somewhat surprised that I had not had this beer in packaged form before. I'm continually impressed with all the Mismatch beers that I try; their Evil Archie Red IPA won our Red Ale blind tasting, beating out beers like Former Tenant! I remember being really impressed last time I had this beer with how much flavour they packed into it's 4% ABV body.

"Surprisingly tasty. Lots of peach/apricot from the hops, dry finish, body isn’t too thin. Does quite a lot with the 4% ABV it has. Of the easy drinking beers this month I think this was the pick."


Young Henrys Natural Lager - Kellerbier - 4.2%

I thought it was a genuinely strange choice to include a Young Henrys beer in The Beer-thusiast Pack. The brewery has never gripped me, having a sort of macro feel - despite it clearly being a craft brewery, maybe it's the widespread Dan's availability in the days before craft beer was regularly stocked... This lager has been pouring at their brewery since the day they opened and is billed as a Kellerbier - which is basically an unfiltered German Lager.

"If the Mismatch Session Ale was the pick of the session/easy drinking cans, this was at the other end of the spectrum. I’d had this beer before and not been much of a fan, but was happy to give it another go in case I’d had a bad can in the past. I don’t think I had. It’s a weirdly sweet, stale tasting lager that doesn’t really have any characteristics to balance those flavours out. Bitterness is super low and it’s not particularly ‘clean’ in terms of flavours and balance. Craft lagers are really getting too good to spend time drinking beers like this."


Bentspoke Barley Griffen - American Pale Ale - 4.2%

Bentspoke are the biggest brewery in Canberra, our capital city. Bentspoke produce a heap of really really good beers. In the last couple of years they've really expanded their distribution and have seen their standing in the craft community increase exponentially. This Pale Ale is one that has never really agreed with me - so we'll see how we get on.

"Bentspoke make some awesome stuff but I found this too lightly flavoured. It’s a relatively low ABV beer obviously geared towards putting away quickly, with mild hop flavour/bitterness and a fairly smooth body. It’s not a bad beer, but there’s just not much to it."


I don't think this beer is ever going to really do it for me. As Dylan said, it's not a bad beer there just are a heap more better options out there!


Blackman's/Barrow Boys You're Turning Violet - Gose - 4.8%

I was really excited when I heard that Blackman's were collaborating with Barrow Boys. Both produce really good beers in their own right and I was really keen to see what they'd come up with together. The result was a Blueberry & Violet Gose, with the salinity coming from the ocean directly in front of Blackman's Torquay brewery.

"I’m a big fan of both these breweries so this was a fairly exciting collaboration to see. I didn’t mind Blackman’s Blackberry Gose from early last year but found it a little cloying near the end of the can. This avoids that problem - it’s a stupidly refreshing beer, with a really nice balance of fruit/salinity. I’d like a bit more tartness but I’d happily recommend this as an entry level or session sour."


Green Beacon Scrimshaw - American IPA - 5.8%

Queensland was long a craft beer wasteland. Since Green Beacon was established in 2013 the Brisbane craft beer scene has gone from strength to strength. In 2017 they were chosen by Singapore Airlines to provide beers for their Brisbane to Singapore flight. Scrimshaw is their limited release IPA for summer, showcasing Australian hops.

"Green Beacon had a big 2017 - it felt like their name was constantly popping up, especially in the latter half of the year. This may well have been my favourite beer of theirs I had, with beautifully big hop flavours pushing out resinous fruit and some lightly grassy notes without the bitterness getting too high for the body to handle. It’s a really well balanced hop bomb. Looks lovely too. "




Co-Conspirators The Matriarch - NEIPA - 6.5%

Co-Conspirator's are a Melbourne based Gyspy brewer and produce seriously good stuff. They seem to slide under the radar from time to time, so I was really pleased to see The Matriarch get into The Beer-Thusiast Pack and hopefully in front of a wider audience. The Matriarch is one of the first Australian NEIPA's that I can remember being released and is a damn good one at that!

"This was one of the first NEIPA’s I had in the haze rush last year and it remains close to the top of the pack. When all are fresh I’d take it over Jedi Juice and Juicy. Huge amounts of orange, mango and pineapple hit you up front, with a really well crafted soft, full body and a lip smacking finish. The IBUs are listed at 47 which is a little surprising, as the bitterness on the palate is quite low. This is one of the local NEIPA’s I’d point to as not having the issue of the bitterness to style ratio being off (which seems a somewhat common problem) and I’d put that down to how full bodied and in harmony it is."


Garage Project Day of the Dead - Spiced Beer - 6.7%

Garage Project are known for producing consistently excellent beers. They're probably equally well known for doing so with some weird ingredients from time to time. Day of the Dead is one such beer, brewed every October to commemorate the famous Mexican holiday of the same name, it's a strong dark lager with heaps of chili & cocoa added.

"This can weirdly had next to no chilli in it! You really had to look for it which was a surprise, as in the past it has been easily perceptible. Luckily it’s still a very tasty dark lager, with smooth roast and dark chocolate flavours. It does lose a little zing without the chilli though, it’s obviously crafted with the intention of having that flavour far more present than it was when we had it."

I'm a bit embarrassed how long it has taken me to get this review up - life has been crazily busy for the last few months. If things go to plan; January's review should be up by the end of the week. I've got to work out what I'm doing with the Untappd badges review - it's been a very long time since I've done one! Hopefully there will be plenty of new material on the blog in the coming weeks!

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