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!

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 1

Episode 1 - Show Notes 


The new venture I was being very vague about in my post a few days ago was Beer O'Clock Australia's first foray into a new medium; audio. Dylan & I are going to give this podcast a go for a while and see how it goes. It's going to give us the opportunity to discuss beer in a way that the blog doesn't really allow us to.

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 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 also discuss the hottest new style in craft beer; the Brut IPA. We also speak about a bright green licorice flavoured Gose from Red Button Brew in Moscow & discuss which Pilsner's we would each take in a bottomless mixed 6-pack to a desert island. The show is embedded below & hopefully we'll have it up on a few more podcast sites in the near future.



Show Notes

News Items

  • Royal Perth Beer Awards
  • Australian Brewery & Fourpure Takeovers
  • Coopers Pale Ale in Cans
  • Crisp Malting's Australian Distribution deal
  • Canned Beer Sales to Overtake Bottled Beer Sales 
  • Bridge Road's New Hopped Cola
What We've Been Drinking

  • Red Button POiMA
  • Noz's Russia Trip
  • Noz & Dylan - Tallboy & Moose Berried Alive Brew Day
What's in Style?
  • Brut IPA's
    • Wolf of the Willows, Tallboy & Moose, Mr Banks
Desert Island 6-pack
  • We both pick 6 Pilsner's - 3 of which made both our lists
    • Pilsner Urquell, Emerson's NZ Pilsner, Bridge Road Enigma, 
    • Victory Prima Pils, Panhead Port Road Pils, Balter Pilsner, Hop Nation The Damned, Weihenstephaner Pilsner, Mikkeller American Dream  
Noz's Cellar
  • Mikkeller x Lindeman's SpontanBasil
So there we have it guys. Hope you liked the first episode of the Beer O'Clock podcast. We'd both love to hear any feedback you've got. We'll be tweaking a couple of things for the next episode, which we'll aim to have out in late-August/early-September. As usual send any questions or comments to gus.norris7@gmail.com.

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

Thursday, 26 July 2018

REVIEW: HAWKERS WEST COAST IPA


 Fridge Regular


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American IPA  
  • ABV: 7.2%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Can
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
As promised; I'm hoping to get back to reviewing more beers in full. I'm kicking that off with a beer that has been in my fridge pretty much non-stop since it was released last November.

Hawkers have been constantly improving their range of beers since they launched in 2015. The addition of this West Coast IPA came as the NEIPA trend was beginning to grip Australia. I think that is, at least in part, why this beer has gained such a following. As with all Hawkers beers, it's readily available at most places you go and is brewed so frequently that it is always in superb condition.

The beer pours a light golden colour, it is slightly hazy but is still translucent. The head is brilliant white and as with all canned beers, the head initially looks larger than it would if poured from a bottle. The true height of the head is more like 3 fingers high, and has wonderful retention with a layer of foam covering the beer throughout the duration of drinking.

Onto the nose and it packs a punch. As expected when you call a beer a "West Coast IPA" there is plenty of bitter pine aroma. There is also a fruity aspect to the aroma with passionfruit, pineapple and lychee all present, alongside a floral note that I get from a lot of the Hawkers range. There's next to no malt characteristics evident on the nose, although there is a hint of some generic sweetness underneath the cavalcade of hop notes.

The Hawkers West Coast IPA taste follows on nicely from the nose. There is a heap of bitterness up front, where the dominant flavour is pine. As the beer progresses through the palate the fruity notes open up more with pineapple, mango & passionfruit all easily identifiable. The floral notes are also there, while there are some slightly sweet biscuity malts doing just enough to stop the beer being too aggressively bitter.

I love this beer! Overall, there are very few traditional American IPA's in Australia that are as consistently as this beer. I would say that this, alongside the Fixation IPA, is the best value for money option out there if you're looking for an IPA that still has some bitterness - with this getting the nod due to it being in cans. I hope you can all look past the gaudy blue/green & gold label and pick up this IPA - it's sensational!

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

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: MARCH 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: March 


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.


March's lineup was packed full of new releases, along with a few classics. There was a wide mix of styles ranging from a small fruity sour all the way through to a smokey lager. The pack had 4 local Victoria beers & one each from New South Wales, Queensland, the U.S.A. & the first ever Beer-thusiast Pack beer from Germany.

Moon Dog Sun Cat - American IPA - 6.5%

Sun Cat is Moon Dog's latest attempt at a core range IPA - replacing the highly inconsistent Jukebox Hero. This beer has been rigorously tested, with multiple versions, at the Moon Dog brewery in Abbotsford. I haven't had an infected Moon Dog beer for a long time, so here's hoping this doesn't go the way of Jukebox Hero.

"This is aggressively hopped with Mosaic and Azacca. The bitterness is strong, but well tempered by the amount of fruit flavours coming from the hop combo. It’s a bloody good IPA and one of Moon Dog’s more consistent beers since its release. When fresh I’d never turn one of these down."

This beer was brand new when we got this in the Beer-Thusiast Pack. It tasted super fresh and was loaded so much fruit notes, particularly mango and pineapple, from the hops. I've subsequently had it a few times and been equally impressed every time. I would go as far to say that this is my favourite Australian IPA of the year!

Bad Shepherd Pineapple Sour Ale - Sour - 4.0%

The Brew Crew Series from Bad Shepherd have produced some pretty nice beers recently. The series allows the staff of the brewery to get involved in the formulation of a limited release beer. Number 5 in the series was saw Tracey, the "office guru"'s, turn roll around. She asked for a beer that didn't taste like a beer and hence a Pineapple Sour Ale came into existence.

"Very clean lacto tartness in here. Slightly vinous from the fruit, although it’s hard to pick out anything that’s definitely pineapple. I had a few of these during its release and enjoyed them more each time - I think a little bit of extra time helped them come into their own."


Hargreaves Hill Lager - Dortmunder Lager - 4.2%

I've been relatively vocal over the years about my lack of love for Hargreaves Hill. It's not that they make bad beers, it's that I find their beers lack character, they're a bit same-same - with one or two exceptions. They've recently rebranded and introduced some new core range beers, including this Dortmunder-style Lager. This is an under-brewed style of lager characterized by biscuity malts and assertive bitterness.

"I’ve been really digging Hargreaves Hill new core range, so it was a shame to find this as the obvious weak link in the lineup. Good things first - it looks great. Wonderfully light golden, perfectly clear. It’s reasonably clean and smooth on the palate. Sadly there’s just nothing else going on here, apart from a mild cloying sweetness that built more as I went through the glass. Don’t think I’ll be going back to this any time soon."

This did very little for me as well. I will give them some credit that they had used some relatively bitter floral hops, however there just weren't enough (I don't think there could've been!) to balance out the overly sweet malts.

Ballistic Australian Psycho IPA - American IPA - 6.5%

Ballistic is one of the wave of new breweries popping up in inner-Brisbane. Australian Psycho is one of their core range beers. It's an IPA brewed entirely with Australian hops, and although there is more than enough bitterness to make it not a NEIPA it has a reasonable haziness to it due to a liberal amount of dry-hopping.

"I remember enjoying this but am finding it hard to pick out anything that differentiates it from a heap of other good IPA's. It’s well balanced and certainly tasty, but does blend into the crowd a bit."

I thought it was a really impressive IPA, but understand where you're coming from Dylan. I got tropical fruit and citrus notes from the hops, as you'd expect from a beer only using Australian hops.

Young Henrys Foo Town - American Adjunct Lager - 4.0%

I thought including another Young Henrys beer in the Beer-thusiast Pack, so soon after their last awful offering in December was a strange choice to say the least. Somehow Young Henrys managed to team up with the Foo Fighters to produce a limited run of 60,000 cans to serve around the country on their Down Under Tour. The result is an Australian lager hopped with American hops.

"Do Young Henry’s just suck at making lagers? This is a shocker of a beer. I was actually somewhat looking forward to it - the description said ‘Azacca hopped lager’ not ‘sickly sweet and flat flavoured’. Found it hard to detect any traces of hops, rendering what it was hopped with moot. I’d expect better from macro brewers, let alone craft brewers, especially given how far local lagers have come in the last couple of years."

This was a genuinely appalling beer! The one thing I hold out hope for is that 50,000+ of these beers are picked up by Foo Fighters collectors and never consumed!

New Belgium Citradelic - American IPA - 5.9%

It's been a few years since the craze of adding citrus peel or juice to IPA's. One of the few to stick around, alongside BrewDog's Elvis Juice, is New Belgium's Citradelic. The beer has a heap of tangerine peel added to it, which really compliments the fruity hops used in the brew (Citra, Azacca, Mandarina Bavaria & Galaxy).

"One of the best citrus IPAs around when you factor in price and accessibility. The way they’ve used the tangerine seems to help the hop flavours stay intact for longer too - even the less fresh cans of this I’ve had have been good. You’d want to like tangerine as there’s a heap of it here, but it’s super well executed."


Hargreaves Hill/Sailors Grave The Bramble - Saison - 5.2%

I love everything Sailors Grave touch! This beer. brewed in collaboration with Hargreaves Hill, sounded really interesting & right up my alley. It's a farmhouse ale, to which each brewery has brought a product from their own region; Hargreaves Hill brought blackberries from the Yarra Valley whilst Sailors Grave took elderflowers that they'd foraged in East Gippsland.

"Full disclosure - I had this on tap at the brewery, leaving Angus to have the bottle. This may or may not lead to us rating it slightly differently! For my part, I found it hard to fault. You can see the Sailor’s Grave influence in how the elderflower/blackberry has been used - well integrated into the beer while still presenting as fresh and bright. Dry, funky, floral and crisp. I’d be stoked if I made a beer like this."

We definitely rated this beer very differently! I got next to no elderflower, normally a reasonably dominant flavour, and only light blackberry notes. I wonder if this was a bad bottle, or if the kegged version just held onto those flavours better than the bottled version.


Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen - Rauchbier - 5.1%

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. The name has meaning to most beer afficianado's. In English it translates as the Orignal Schlenkerla Smoked Beer, and is known as the most famous smoked beer in the world. The brewery has been brewing a variety of smoked beers in the Franconian town of Bamberg since 1405!

"You’ve gotta give it a few sips to settle on the palate, but this is one of the world’s most acclaimed and famed smoked beers for a reason. The base marzen is rich and full bodied, leaving the waves and waves of meaty smoke to present fully without overwhelming the base beer. I think I prefer their helles for everyday drinking, but if you’re in the mood for a smoky beer this will hit the spot like nothing else."



That's another of the backlog of reviews ticked off. The April pack review will hopefully be up shortly, it's one of the best packs for a while so keep your eyes out for that in the coming days. There's plenty of exciting news here at Beer O'Clock Australia HQ; our first involvement in a commercial beer is being released in about 10 days & we've got an exciting new venture that will be made clearer shortly. I'll elaborate on both of these developments soon. Until next time...

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