Wednesday, 16 January 2019

TWØBAYS BREWING CO.

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Mornington Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: 1/2 Trewhitt Court, Dromana
  • Food: Gluten Free Pizza
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://www.twobays.beer/
It's been a long time coming, but TwøBays Brewing Co became the latest brewery to join the ranks of Victorian craft brewers when they finally opened the doors in mid-December. They're a brewery with a difference; solely utilizing gluten free grains, such as millet, buckwheat & rice, to produce certified gluten free beers.

It's been a labour of love for owner Richard Jeffares, brother of Steve Jeffares of The Local Taphouse, GABS & Stomping Ground fame. You see Richard was a craft beer fanatic until he was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in 2015. He thought his days of variety were behind him, before a trip to the United States opened his eyes to the possibility of good gluten free beer. Fast forward to today and he owns his own brewery on the Mornington Peninsula producing gluten free beers.

Not only are they producing gluten free beers; TwøBays have partnered with Eckert Malting, out of California, & Grouse Malt House, out of Colorado, to bring their specialty gluten free malts to Australia & New Zealand. They're available for home brewers to buy on their website. I wonder if this will see a spike in the amount of Coeliac & gluten intolerant people home brewing - it certainly feels like there is more gluten free beer appearing on the commercial scene at the moment.

I trekked out to the brewery in early January. It's in a weird industrial development behind Dromana, that doesn't seem to quite mesh with the seaside/holiday town vibe. The brewery is well signposted from the street, with their company stickered van parked at the entrance. The brewery is laid out much like any brewery in an industrial estate; stainless at the back, plenty of seats (both inside & out) & a bar roughly in the middle.

I really enjoyed the vibe at the brewery whilst I sampled my tasting paddle. They have the capacity for 10 beers on tap, of which 7 were available on the day I visited. There was good variety across those taps with a Saison, a Gose, an ESB & a hoppy Brown Ale joining the usual assortment of Pale Ales and IPA's. Currently they only have one packaged beer; the Pale Ale, although this will change after they've been open a little longer.

It is that flagship Pale Ale that I'm reviewing as part of this segment. It pours quite a light golden colour with a fluffy white head, that is quite short lived. The body is a little thin, but there are some interesting flavours from their unique malts, the highlight of which is a light spiciness.

The malt bill is quite different from other Pale Ale's, I guess given the constraints they have in ingredients. What the malt bill does do is lay a platform for the hops to shine. I'm not sure what they've used, but it's providing plenty citrus on the nose & lots of fruit on the palate. It's not a Pale Ale I'd drink regularly, but it is a damn sight better than most gluten free offerings I've had previous.

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

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

2019: THE YEAR OF LOCAL

2019: The Year of Local

I'm very lucky to live in Melbourne, the craft beer capital of Australia. Melbourne has a huge array of craft brewers from tiny operations out of peoples garages right through to breweries with the capabilities to export their beer around the globe.

Victoria is without a doubt the leading craft beer state in Australia. Melbourne may be the epicentre but it would be a disservice to not mention the many wonderful regional brewers that our state has to offer.

The other day I was thinking about how many commercial brewers there are in Victoria. Naturally, this then lead to me thinking about how many Victorian brewers I have had beers from. I thought about how to go about sourcing this information, before deciding I'd need to create my own list.

Firstly I had to define what I meant by commercial brewer. I settled on a company that produces beer for sale. This allows for the growing number of contract/gypsy brewers to be included in this list; alongside their brethren that own their own stainless.

I've utilized a number of different resources to curate my list. I started with the best Australian resource for this type of thing; the Craft Beer Reviewer list. I've never been the biggest fan of the list, I think that it holds onto extinct breweries for far longer than necessary. With this knowledge I began contacting all of the breweries on the list to see if they were in fact still producing beer. The vast majority got back to me. As I anticipated, a number of brewers had stopped producing beer.

The brewers who I didn't hear back from needed further investigation. For this I used social media, Untappd; to see if their beer was still being consumed, Twitter/Facebook/Instagram; to see if they were still active. In most cases they weren't and I concluded that these brewers were no longer producing beer and could be excluded from the list. Three breweries got back to me and said they're on a break & weren't sure of their intentions in 2019. These breweries have been included in the list & I will re-evaluate them towards the end of 2019.

With all of that said I believe that as of today, January 10th, that this is the most up to date list of active craft brewers in Victoria (see bottom of page). I'm also aware of 4 or 5 brewers, and there are probably at least that many again, that are in the process of getting up and running in 2019. They will be added to the list as they release their first beers. All said and done; I had had beers from barely 60% of them, hell I hadn't even heard of 15% of Victorian brewers! This is something that needed to change!

The idea behind The Year of Local, apart from sampling beer from every brewery in my great state, is to create a directory of all Victorian brewers. A one stop shop if you will, where you can not only find a list, but also get some information about the brewery. These may change in format as I go along, I'll be sure to update the original listings, so let me know what you want to see in these posts.

115 Grill & Brewhouse
3 Ravens
40 Acres Brewing
7 Cent Brewery
Albatross Brewing Co
Bad Shepherd Brewing
Bale-Worker Project Brewery
Bandicoot Brewing
Barrabool Hills Brewing Company (Cockies Beer)
Beach Hut Brewery
Bellarine Brewing Co
Bells Beach Brewing Co
Bells Brewing Co
Black Dog Brewery
Black Heart Brewery
Blackman’s Brewery
Blizzard Brewing
Boatrocker Brewers & Distillers
Bodriggy Brewing Company
Bonehead Brewing
BoJaK Brewing
Brewmanity Beer Co
Brick Lane Brewing Co
Bridge Road Brewers
Bright Brewery
Broo Pty Ltd
Brookes Beer Pty Ltd
Brownstone MicroBrewery
Buckley’s Brewery
Buffalo Brewery
Bullant Brewery
Burnley Brewing
Burra Brewing Co
Byramine Homestead & Brewery
Caltoria Brewing Company
Castlemaine Brewing Co/Shedshaker
Cavalier Brewing
Cheeky Peak Brewery
Clifton Hill Brewpub
Club Brewing Co
Cobalt Brewing
Coburg Brewing Co
CoConspirators Brewing
Coldstream Brewery
Colonial Brewing Co
Cornella Real Brewery
Cubby Haus Brewing
Dainton Family Brewery
Daylesford Brewing Company
Dollar Bill Brewing
Dolphin Brewery
East Ninth Brewing Co
Edge Brewing Project
Exit Brewing
Fixation Brewing Co
Forrest Brewing Co
Fury & Son Brewing Company
Grand Ridge Brewery
Hack Brewing
Hairy Oak Brewing
Harcourt Valley Brewery
Hargreaves Hill Brewing Co
Hawkers Beer
Hawthorn Brewing Co
Henry Street Brewhouse
Hickinbotham Brewery
Himmel Hund Brewing Co
Holgate Brewhouse
Hop Nation Brewing Co
Hopscotch Urban Beer Bar
Howler Brewing Company
Inner North Brewing Co
Jetty Road Brewery
Kaiju! Beer
Kettle Green Brewing Co
Killer Sprocket
King River Brewing
Kooinda Brewery
La Sirene Brewing
Last Word Brewing
Little Gippsland Brewing Co
Little Smith Brewing Co
Loch Brewery and Distillery
Malt Shed Brewery
Mildura Brewery
Mitta Mitta Brewing Co
Molly Rose Brewing Co
Moon Dog Brewing Co
Mornington Peninsula Brewery
Mount Duneed Brewing Co
Mr Banks Brewing Co
Napoleone Brewers
Noble Boy Beer
Ocean Reach Brewing
Odyssey Craft Brewing Co
Old Wives Ales
Otway Brewing (Prickly Moses)
Palling Bros Brewery
Phillip Island Brewing Company
Quiet Deeds
Rebellion Brewing Pty Ltd
Red Bluff Brewers
Red Duck Micro Brewery
Red Hill Brewery
RedDot Brewhouse
Riders Brew Co
Rutherglen Brewery
Sailors Grave
Salt Brewing Company Brewing
Sample Brew
Seville Ridge Brewery
Shearasun Brewing Company
Shiki Brewing
Social Bandit Brewing Co
Southern Bay Brewing Co
Sow and Piglets
St Andrews Beach Brewery
Stomping Ground Brewing Co
Sweetwater Brewing Company
Tallboy and Moose
Temple Brewery
That Little Brewery
The Cheeky Pint
The Craft & Co
The Flying Horse Bar & Brewery
The Foreigner Brewing Co
The Mansfield Brewing Co
The Mill Brewery
The Public Brewery
Three Greens Brewing Company
Thunder Road Brewing Company
Tooborac Hotel and Brewery
True Brew
True South
Tuesday Night Brewing
Two Bays Brewing Co
Two Birds Brewing
Two Brothers Brewery
Two Pot Brewing Co
Urban Alley Brewery
Valhalla Brewing
Venom
Watts River Brewing
West City Brewing
Westside Ale Works
Wolf of the Willows
Wrong Side Brewing
Yellingbo Brewing Company

Carlton United Brewery
The Crafty Squire
Little Creatures Brewing – Geelong
White Rabbit
Mountain Goat Beer

I need your help guys! I need you to let me know if I've missed any breweries off the list or if a new brewery opens near you I need to know. I'm biting off a lot here; there will be at least 150 posts for this to be completed this year. I think I can do it, I'm pretty determined to make it happen.
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

CARWYN CANVENT 2018 (PART 5)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 5)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's one of, if not the, preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

I'm not 100% sure why I didn't document my BrewDog Advent Calendar this time last year - I wonder if it got lost with moving in and recovering from surgery... In any case; I'm not going to make the same mistake this year!

The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days.

Day 21 - Bodriggy Cucumber Sour Pilsner - When Bodriggy finally get their brewery open in Abbotsford, they will be the closest craft brewery to where I work. They make some very good beers & some pretty out there as well. This I'm sure will fall into the second category & hopefully also the first. As the name suggests this is a sour Pilsner brewed with Cucumber.

This was a really interesting beer. Cucumber was dominant upfront and this mostly masked the malt bill. It wasn't particularly tart, despite reportedly being kettle soured. I'm sure this one will have divided opinions! The cucumber was particularly strong and the vegetal nature of the beer became disconcerting as the end of the glass neared.

Day 22 - Slipstream Imperial Red Ale - Slipstream Brewing Co. is a brewery based in the Salisbury, a suburb in the south of Brisbane. The brewery launched in the second half of 2017 and quickly gained a reputation for good hoppy beers. This beer is an Imperial Red Ale, a great style and one that should pair well with their signature tropical hop flavour.

My initial thoughts on this beer were bang on. This was a cracking Imperial Red/Red IPA. There was great malt depth and complexity, with heaps of different caramel/toffee flavours on display. There was an impressive whack of tropical & citrus hops initially, which gave way to a bigger resinous pine hit. Delicious beer and one that I would like to see more of in the future.

Day 23 - Old Wives Ales Choc Walnut Brownie - I was waiting for Carwyn regulars Old Wives Ale to make their appearance in the Canvent. These guys met at the Merri Mashers Home Brew Club before forming their own brand. They're now making seriously good beer. although I'm not sure I'm on board with the new branding.

Choc Walnut Brownie Ale. I understand all of those words and can't wait to see the combination in beer form (although slice form wouldn't go astray either...). When I tasted the beer I got heaps of chocolate, although there was next to no walnut present. What was present however was plenty of hazelnut, a far more delicious nut than walnut! If you're looking for a Ferrero Rocher in beer form, look no further!

Day 24 - Hawkers Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine (2018) - Last but certainly not least; it was Hawkers' turn to take on the Canvent challenge. Hawkers need no introduction, they've done amazing things since they launched and will hopefully do so for many years to come. Their Canvent offering was a special Bourbon Barrel Aged version of their Barleywine, which interestingly also comes in a can.

This beer had been hanging out in Bourbon barrels for over 2 years before it was canned! This really showed as heaps of bourbon transferred over and really complimented the raisin sweetness nicely. There was very little carbonation, which isn't surprising in this type of beer & nor did it hurt the finished product. It was a superb way to end what was a thoroughly enjoyable 24 days!

Apologies all for the belated final post in this series; things have taken far more time than I would've like them to this year. I'm hoping to finish up 2-3 posts by the weekend, but given how this year has gone so far & my track record I wouldn't hold your breath... There is an exciting announcement for what I'm focusing on this year in the pipeline though, so check back soon. Remember to keep your emails coming - I'm almost on top of them for once so should be able to get back to you soon.

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

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 5

Episode 5 - Show Notes 

It had to happen eventually... I'm actually quite surprised that it took the Christmas period for the inevitable to happen. Dylan & I did fall a little behind due to various engagements throughout December, so I do apologize if anyone was hanging out for their Beer O'Clock Australia Podcast fix! It's a good thing we always preface the new segment with "out-dated"! There's a lot of really good stuff in this podcast, that we hope you'll all enjoy!

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 show was recorded way back at the end of November, so some of the news is a little more out-dated than usual. Also in this episode; I checked out Beer 360, we discuss another great Beer Deluxe event & talk about some home brewing techniques. We discuss a range of under appreciated styles in the Desert Island 6-Pack & get our first look inside Dylan's cellar. It's a big episode so buckle in!


 Show Notes

News Items (00:20)
  • Trillium HR & Quality Issues
  • Wig & Pen Is Up For Sale
  • Vale Marco Bona - SA Brewers Pull Together
  • Bad Shepherd Victorian Pale Ale - Melbourne Ale Yeast
  • Good Beer Week & Independent Brewers Association Merger
  • Little Creature Open Furphy Hall in Geelong
  • Panhead Opening a Taproom in London
  • Slowbeer Close Richmond Store
Scouting Report (17:50)
  • Beer 360 - Craft Beer Shop at the old Slowbeer Richmond site.
    • 468 Bridge St, Richmond, VIC, 3121
What We're Drinking (22:48)
  • Firestone Walker - Roll Out the Barrels @ Beer Deluxe
  • Mountain Goat Goat Lager
  • Stomping Ground Gipps St Pale Ale
What We're Brewing (34:18)
  • Mango Gose
    • Pilsner Malt, Wheat Extract
    • Lacto Plantarum & Neutral Yeast Co-pitched
    • Dry Hopped at desired pH
    • A full tray of mangoes - approx. 200g/L
  • ESB's (from last episode)
    • Changed tea to Cherries & Raspberries. All variants being bottled.
    • Tasting Notes for the straight ESB.
Desert Island 6-pack (44:03)
  • "Dark-er Lagers"
      • Vienna Lager, Amber Lager, American Red Lager, Euro Dark Lager, Munich Dunkel, Schwarzbier 
  • The cross over this month was:
    •  Burnley Brewing Vienna Lager
  • Dylan's 5 individuals;
      • Monteith's Black Beer, Matilda Bay Dogbolter, Weihenstephaner Tradition, Mornington NZ Black Pilsner, Hawkers/Edge/Kaiju/Evil Twin/Baird Inappropriate Touching
  • Noz's 5 individuals;
      • Staropramen Cerny, Kozel Cerny, U Medvidku Oldgott Barique, Valmiermuiza Tumsais, Barrow Boys Stormy Lager 
  • Honourable Mentions
    • Efes Dark, Toohey's Old, 1516 Bavarian Dunkel, Red Hill The Dark Horse Schwarz, Gauden Schwarzbier, 
Dylan's Cellar (1:15:45)
  • Red Duck Big Licky
    • Released July 2016
    • Their Licky - a licorice flavoured lager - that they've turned into an Imperial Stout.
    • Thumbs Up!
We apologize for the extra long episode this month; Dylan & I may have got a little too into some of these topics. Keep your emails/questions etc. coming in - gus.norris7@gmail.com - we take everything on board and try and make little adjustments where we can to make this show better for you guys. We're recording a new episode any day and will have that to you - along with a whole heap of written content - as soon as we can.

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

Saturday, 29 December 2018

CARWYN CANVENT 2018 (PART 4)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 4)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's one of, if not the, preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

I'm not 100% sure why I didn't document my BrewDog Advent Calendar this time last year - I wonder if it got lost with moving in and recovering from surgery... In any case; I'm not going to make the same mistake this year!

The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days. Normal service has resumed at Beer O'Clock Australia, as we're now running well and truly behind schedule. If you haven't already, you can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here & Part 3 here.

Day 16 - Frenchies Oceanna - First up in this set of 5 beers was a Saison from Frenchies. Frenchies are a Sydney based brewery that we don't see a lot of beers from down here in Melbourne and frankly one that I don't know a heap about. This beer clocked in at 3.5% ABV and had also had a heap of fresh raspberries added to it.

The nose started off particularly promisingly with fresh raspberry the most evident aroma. There was also a bit of barnyard funk but little else - probably not surprising in such a small beer. Unfortunately the flavours didn't really translate to the flavour. There was some raspberry and some light funk, but not enough of one, the other or both for my liking.

Day 17 - Blackman's Sea Spray IPA - Day 17 brought an interesting offering from Blackman's, in Torquay. This is a brewery that I've been meaning to visit for a long time - maybe 2019 will finally be the year! This is an IPA that has had sea water from the beaches near the brewery added. It's semi-common in Gose's, but I've never had it in an IPA before...

This was another one that belongs in the great idea, shame it didn't quite work camp. It was a nice enough beer, but was a bit lacking on hop flavour and bitterness. The sea water addition was noticeable, although I wonder if it had an unintended impact on the hop character? The beer finished lightly salty and was quite dry. If they upped the dry hopping on this, it's a beer that I could quite easily see myself drinking a 6-pack of it.

Day 18 - Cheeky Monkey Mixed Berry Gose - I've been aware of Cheeky Monkey pretty much since they opened in 2012. They were locked in legal battles with a neighboring winery for a couple of years before opening their doors. Recently they installed a canning line and now we see some of their beers in Victoria. This is a Mixed Berry Gose, which should be relatively straight forward.

My initial thoughts were proved correct. If I was asked to describe a berry Gose to someone I would describe this beer. There was plenty of sweet berry flavour, I'm guessing it was extract as it didn't taste strongly of any particular berry. There was also nice tartness and plenty of salinity. It was nice and refreshing and one that I could see selling well.

Day 19 - Last Rites Count Dunkula - Last Rites are a Tasmanian brewery with a burgeoning reputation. From what I've seen of their beers over here on the mainland, they mainly focus on the hoppier styles. This beer is no exception; an 8.2% Imperial Black IPA. I love Black IPA's so can't wait to try this one!

I need to double check my notes, but I'm pretty sure this has now taken the lead as the best beer in the Canvent so far! It's a great example of a Black IPA; packed with roast and coffee notes initially before pine & citrus hops take over and provide a real bitter kick. I can see this beer being perfect on a cold Tasmanian evening - it went down beautifully in the middle of Melbourne summer after all!

Day 20 - Ocho Silent Night - Another Tasmanian brewery with a growing following is Ocho, who provide the beer on Day 20. This will only be the second beer I've had from these guys, so I'm pretty keen to get into it. It's a Dark Saison brewed with Blood Oranges, very Christmas-y but possibly not particularly weather appropriate.

Maybe it's a Tasmanian thing; but this was another excellent Canvent offering! There was a whole heap of orange on the nose and as soon as it hits the palate. There certainly were dark malts, but there was very little funk. Whether that funkiness was lost underneath the malt I'm not sure. I got more of a slightly funky Brown Ale vibe than a Dark Saison vibe. But whatever you call it; it's certainly tasty!

This set of 5 beers got better as they went on. Apologies that it's a little late - I got caught up in the ridiculously busy Christmas/Boxing Day Test period. With any luck the next installment will be up in a day or two. We've also got a podcast that is a little overdue as well as plenty of content - both well overdue & new!

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

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: JULY 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: July 


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.

Carwyn changed it up a bit in July. This month there were only 2 duplicates accompanied by 8 singles. This pack is one of the reasons Dylan and I ended up falling so far behind in these reviews! All 10 beers in this pack are from Australia - although 5 states are represented. There was a good mix of styles with a leaning towards the maltier side of things, something that is understandable given the winter timing of this pack.

Clare Valley Red IPA - Red IPA - 6.9%

Clare Valley are a brewery with an increasing reputation. Their beers have reportedly gone from strength to strength since their rebrand, which I want to say was early last year. Red IPA's are a great style for the cooler months, and when done well provide some of my favourite Australian beers.

"Rich caramel malt base, you get plenty of fruit from the Citra and Summit too. My main qualm was that the bitterness needed a bit more punch to stand up to the big malts - while the hop flavour was nice, the malts took over a bit as it warmed. Enjoyable regardless."

I think this is the best Clare Valley beer I've had, with the balance between malt & hops really working for me.

Morrison Irish Stout - Dry Stout - 4.7%

Morrison is a brewery that we don't see much of in Melbourne. They're based in the Launceston suburb of Invermay. From my understanding they're a brewery that focuses on English style of beers. This particular one is an Irish Dry Stout, as the name may suggest. I've had a few of their beers before and never been blown away by any of them - although they have all been solid examples of the style that attempt to replicate.

"Really dry and roasty, nice body for the ABV. I could drink a few of these in a session I reckon. There’s a chocolate liqueur esque sweet flavour that comes through which I quite like, almost fruity."


Colonial Robust Porter - Porter - 6.3%

Colonial is one of the growing number of brewers in the country with multiple brewing facilities. Originally from WA, Colonial setup their second brewery in Port Melbourne in 2015. Since then their beers have had much wider reach on the East Coast. This beer is a straight up and down Porter that clocks in at 6.3% ABV.

"Smooth, powdered cocoa and toasty coffee on the palate. Finishes fairly creamy. The ABV is mostly reflected in the body, which holds up well to the little hit of bitterness they’ve got in here. Like most of Colonial’s beers it’s a good example of the style, well priced and pretty easy to drink."

Green Beacon Windjammer - American IPA - 6.0%

Green Beacon is a brewery that has seen steady growth since launching in 2013 in the Brisbane suburb of Teneriffe. They were one of the first early adopters of canned craft beer in Australia. Their Windjammer IPA is the beer that;s included in the pack. It's their flagship beer, which features Simcoe & Cascade hops.

"Really solid IPA. It’s a bit sticky, with plenty of pine and fruit to round it out. Pours a very attractive golden orange in the glass, with good lacing and a bit of haze. There’s not a ton more to say - I suspect most people have tried this one before - but it’s a very solid ‘everyday’ IPA option."


Hope XPA - American Pale Ale - 4.7%

Hope Brewhouse is located at Hope Estate in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley. It's the most iconic wine region in Australia's most populous state - probably the last place you'd expect to find a brewery. This XPA is widely regarded, and utilizes Cascade, Galaxy, Citra & Enigma hops.

"There’s nothing wrong with this beer, but nothing that really makes it stand out either. XPA’s are becoming such a crowded space in the market and while this is well made and perfectly drinkable, there’s not much here that will make me come back to it. Flavour wise, it’s well balanced, with the typical tropical fruit/light malt characteristics you’d expect."


Hope BA Extra Stout - Stout - 6.2%

Another beer from Hope Estate, in the heart of NSW wine country, to appear in this pack is the Barrel Aged Extra Stout. There aren't that many sub-8% ABV Barrel Aged Stouts around and at only 6.2% this is particularly low.

"Beefy beer, with stylistically appropriate punchy bitterness and some good roast and malt. Apparently spent some time in wine barrels, which doesn’t come across much at all in the final product. It’s a well crafted and enjoyable extra stout though, so I guess it couldn’t have hurt!"

Modus Operandi Silent Knight - Porter - 5.6%

Silent Knight has been a staple at Modus Operandi since their early days. The beer is a Porter that was designed as a small Russian Imperial Stout.
This year it got elevated to their Black Label range - basically 3 of their dar beers that they make sure to brew during the cooler months.

"Not what you’d expect when you hear there’s a Modus beer in the pack, but it’s great to have a look at how they tackle another side of the beer spectrum. This is a very well made porter, one that is immensely drinkable but with enough complexity for those who want to seek it out. The malt leans towards chocolate, which is helped along by the creamy mouthfeel, with bitter hops to stop it from becoming too soft on the palate. Finishes dry with a bit of coffee."


Social Bandit Sooky La La - Berliner Weiss - 4.0%

Sooky La La is a Guanabana Berliner Weiss brewed by Social Bandit in Mansfield, Victoria. Guanabana? Is this not ringing a bell for anyone else? I had to look it up and found out that the fruit is more commonly known as Soursop - a fruit I had heard of, but can't say I've tasted. Anyway - I'm really keen to see how it works in a beer!

"A Guanabana Berliner from Social Bandit in Mansfield? Sure, why not! This is probably my personal favourite from this month’s pack - lovely tartness, with an intriguing fruit profile from the Guanabana. Can taste a fair bit of wheat which I always like if the fruit doesn’t dominate. I’d seek this out again."


Wolf of the Willows The Woodsman - Amber Ale - 4.5%

Wolf of the Willows probably fly a little under the radar. Even for someone like me who keeps relatively on top of new releases didn't even know that this beer was about to me released. It's billed as having good stonefruit character from the hops, which excites me a bit.

"I have nothing wrong with malt focused ambers, but I think this one needed some more hop character. It could still be smooth while offering up something more in that regard. The body is nice and the beer goes down easily, but there’s not a heap of flavour and what is there isn’t anything spectacular. I can see what they were going for, but think this just misses the mark."

I think Dylan was a little harsh on this beer. I thought it was a really solid Amber Ale; one of the better Australian ones that I've had, despite it lacking the promised stonefruit flavours... Caramel malts were really good.


Valhalla Aragon - American IPA - 6.3%

Valhalla is a brewery that not that many people know about. I'm guessing more people are aware of them for their striking can designs than anything else. Aragon is their core range IPA, which uses Centennial hops for bittering alongside Chinook, Mosaic & Summer for flavour.

"These cans are awesome! Striking and minimalistic design. Sadly, the beer didn’t wow me anywhere near as much. IPAs have to either do something different or do the usual things super well to stand out and this doesn’t do either. It’s certainly bitter, but there’s nothing else really there apart from that. I suspect I didn’t have this in the best condition (both in terms of can age and my own palate…) so I’d like to revisit it, but I wasn’t impressed."

There we have it guyts that's another one to tick off the list! I'm not sure if we'll quite be up to date by Christmas with these, but we've still given ourselves a chance. I've got a pretty ambitious project in the works for 2019 that I'm currently working on - so stay tuned for more information. In the meantime keep your emails coming at gus.norris7@gmail.com and we'll be back with more outdated beer stuff soon!

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

CARWYN CANVENT 2018 (PART 3)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 3)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's one of, if not the, preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

I'm not 100% sure why I didn't document my BrewDog Advent Calendar this time last year - I wonder if it got lost with moving in and recovering from surgery... In any case; I'm not going to make the same mistake this year!

The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days. If you're joining this segment for the first time you can check out Part 1 here & Part 2 here. It's been a great pack so far and definitely worth checking out.

Day 11 - Stomping Ground Imperial Ned - First up in this third installment of the Carwyn Canvent wrap up is an Imperial India Pale Lager from Stomping Ground. Stomping Ground produce consistently excellent beer across a wide range of styles and I'm backing them in to nail this!

And nail it they did! This is everything I want in an IPL, yet alone an Imperial IPL, You'd have no idea of the ABV from drinking this. There's plenty of hop flavours, with pine the most dominant characteristic and citrus not that far behind. The thing that really sets this beer apart though is the lovely dry finish - that only IPL's manage. Maybe Brut IPA's should take a leaf and use lager yeast...

Day 12 - Artisan Felonious Monk - Artisan is the first brewery in the Carwyn pack that I've never heard of, let alone ever have a beer from! They're a tiny brewery from Parryville, 450km south of Perth! These guys focus primarily on Belgian influenced beers.

Felonious Monk is billed as a "Session Quad" and is made with the second runnings of their full strength Quadrupel, a beer I definitely now need to try. Session Quad is the perfect moniker for this beer, it's got all the dark fruit and maltiness that you'd expect from a proper Quadrupel but with lower alcohol!
Day 13 - Mornington Galaxy Pash - Regular readers of this blog would be aware of the special place Mornington, and in particular their special releases, hold in my heart. Galaxy Pash is a passionfruit kettle sour, which is obviously laden with a whole heap of Galaxy hops - to further accentuate that passionfruit flavour.

This beer is superb and one that I really hope gets brewed again. It toys the line between sweet and sour really well. With the sweet fruitiness of passionfruit playing off beautifully against the acidity from the kettle souring process and the natural acidity of the passionfruit. There is quite a bit of Galaxy hop character, although not that much bitterness. It's a seriously refreshing beer!

Day 14 - Bad Shepherd American Brown IPA - I was really intrigued to see a Brown IPA brewed by someone for this pack. I've noticed, particularly in home brew circles, that this style is having something of a renaissance. I'm not sure if Bad Shepherd is the brewery I would've picked to give it a go, but I'm glad someone is nonetheless.

This would be one the best beers I've ever had from Bad Shepherd. I may have had this a little later in the evening that I would've hoped, but I thoroughly enjoyed the malty side of the beer with predominantly chocolate malts on the nose although there is some roastiness as well. The hops add pine and citrus characteristics and there is plenty of bitterness that comes along with them.

Day 15 - Ballistic Hazy IPL - I think this style of beer was something I was, at least half, expecting to see in this pack. NEIPA's are huge in Australia at the moment, and so a Hazy IPL makes a lot of sense. Ballistic are a brewery in Brisbane that I've been really impressed with - from the limited beers of theirs that I've managed to get my hands on. I'm expecting good things!

I was right to expect good things; this was excellent! It was crisp like a lager & it was particularly juicy like a NEIPA. What more could you ask for? There was so much fruit with passionfruit & pineapple the most evident flavours.

All things considered I think I'm doing pretty well. I'm only a few days behind on these, although the Carwyn Beer-Thusiast posts may have fallen somewhat behind... It'll all works itself out in the end. This set of beers had a great range of styles and I hope is a bit of an insight into what we see in the Australian craft beer scene in 2019.

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