Monday, 6 March 2017

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: FEBRUARY

The Beer-thusiast Pack: October 


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 5 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!).


This lineup was headlined for me by the two beers of Kiwi origin. The Tuatara Amarillo is a hoppy Dark Ale, which I found very impressive when I tried it a weeks before sampling it in this pack, while the Yeastie Boys Bigmouth is the first beer brewed at their Australian facility. Of the 5 Australian offerings the Exit Saison stood out to me as a beer I was excited to try, whilst I always enjoy trying the 4 Pines Keller Door releases.

Exit Saison - Saison - 6.2%

As a self confessed Exit fanatic, I was really surprised that I hadn't tried their core Saison since its release. Having initially launched their brand with a Saison, you know these guys have a strong affinity with the style and are not going disappoint with their core range offering. This was probably the beer I was most excited to try in the pack after Dylan had (massively!) hyped it up to me!

"I was worried going back to this after a little while would challenge my stance of this being the best Australian brewed saison around...but it’s even better than I remember out of the can! There’s a lot of savoury yeast character, some lemon driven spice, honey malts and a real meaty body to it all. Finishes dry which is always important and brings it all together. I might be hotter on this beer than many people but I’d be shocked if anyone who enjoys the odd saison isn’t a fan."

I have to concur here; this was a seriously good Saison! I'd love to know what yeast they've used, as they've managed to illicit this wonderful lemony pepperiness, which to me really makes the beer stand out. I'd put it right up in the top echelons of Australian Saison's; alongside the likes of Boatrocker, La Sirene & Bridge Road. I enjoyed it so much, I've already had a couple more since I had this for the first time in this pack.

Temple New World Order - American Stout - 6.5%

I still vividly remember this beer being announced, quite why I'm not sure... It was the first beer released by Temple after the departure of founder and brewer Ron Feruglio and one that I haven't tried for the best part of two years. I'm looking forward to trying it again, as I remember it as quite an impressive Stout, with plenty of hops leaving it quite dry and bitter.

"Just a tasty, straightforward American style stout. Not a heap of roast in the flavours but the malts are very rich, plenty of dark chocolate in there. There’s some pepper that comes out more as it warms and complements the richness nicely. There’s light bitterness throughout and a touch of sweetness on the finish. "


Yeastie Boys Bigmouth - Session IPA - 4.4%

I was pretty excited when I heard New Zealand brewers Yeastie Boys were opening their second overseas brewery (after the U.K.) in Australia. The brewery has been setup in partnership with leading distributors ExperienceIt and will see fresh Yeastie Boys beers available Australia wide. Bigmouth is a Session IPA which, from the description, definitely has Nelson Sauvin hops in it (like any self respecting Kiwi leaning beer!) alongside a host of other tropical fruit hops!

"This is delicious! Yeastie Boys always seem to make beers suited for my palate. Body isn’t too light which I think is important for a session pale, need a little something there to hold it all together. Hops are wonderfully fruity, but not in the generic ‘tropical fruit’ sense that a lot of beers go for. There’s lychee, peach, apricot and a couple of other things I can’t quite place. Almost a sauvignon blanc kind of tropical rather than the normal mango/pineapple explosion for mine. It’s juicy and very tasty, I’ll definitely be back for more."

Tuatara Amarillo - Dark Ale - 5.0%

When Tuatara announced that this beer, an Amarillo hopped Dark Ale, was coming to Australia in late-January my interest was piqued. A subsequent search for the beer proved fruitless, despite coming across many of the other beers announced at the same time, until a couple of days before this pack arrived... Thankfully I was very happy to have two!

"This is a great example of how to do a dark ale. Don’t make the body too heavy but make sure you still stick with plenty of roast flavour and plenty of hops. It’s easily drinkable but there’s a lot to it. Citrus and coffee lead the way in terms of flavour and it finishes smooth. I haven’t had a bad beer from Tuatara and this one definitely continues that record."

Despite my high expectations of this beer, something that often leads me to disappointment, I was really blown away by this beer; it's close to my perfect Dark Ale! The body is thinner than it looks, whilst the malt provides nice roast and chocolate flavours. There's also a bit of sweet caramel, which lays the platform for the citrusy (orange and tangerine) hops to cut through and provide a complimentary flavour and adequate bitterness. It's incredibly drinkable!


Himmel Hünd - Vienna Lager - 4.8%

Vienna Lagers are a style that aren't particularly suited to our climate. That little bit of extra malt should provide complexity but often just adds unnecessary sweetness. When done well they can be phenomenal, unfortunately most aren't done well... I haven't had the Himmel Hünd version before, however my first impressions of the packaging are positive - it's a striking label!

"Eye catching label! Enjoyable little lager, earthy and malt driven. Not particularly exciting but well crafted - if you wanted something on a warm day that had a bit more heft to it than your average lager then this would be a great choice."


Personally I don't think I'd re-visit this beer. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, I just felt it didn't do enough to keep me interested. Although in saying that, I'm not sure how fresh the stock we sampled was... It tasted a little old and oxidised. If you're into lagers it may be worth tracking down, just maybe check how recently it was brewed.

4 Pines Keller Door Grapefruit IPL - India Pale Lager - 6.3%

I think I've made it clear on this blog before that I always think it's worthwhile picking up the 4 Pine Keller Door releases when they come out. This one is an IPL, a style that is rarely produced by brewers and a style that is even rarer to find done well! 4 Pines have jumped on the hoppy beers infused with Grapefruit train that was 2016 with this IPL and I'll be interested to see how it finishes.

"I’m not 100% on IPLs - I’ve had some good ones and some that just confused me as to why the brewer bothered. You get some interesting flavours and finishes from them, similar to imperial pilsners, that you won’t get anywhere else but I’m just yet to have that one beer that totally turns me onto the style yet (I’m talking the kind of beer that’ll make me seek an IPL out over a new IPA). This beer isn’t quite the one but it’s definitely one of the better ones I’ve had, the grapefruit is really there and it finishes very smooth given the solid whack of bitterness. It’s a bit like a fresh grapefruit jam with bunch of the peel and pith thrown in. 4 Pines definitely hasn’t held back on the hops and it’s what makes the beer work above all else."


Red Duck White Garden - Witbier - 3.9%

Red Duck are best known for the weird and (sometimes) wonderful beers they produce. This purports to be a raspberry and rhubarb infused witbier that has been crossed with a Berliner Weiss. I've had a couple of iterations of this in the past and been pretty underwhelmed... Their quality has appeared to pick up since their new brewer came on board so I'm going into this with an open mind.

"This was surprisingly not particularly weird by Red Duck’s standards! It’s apparently part witbier, part Berliner weisse but it certainly seemed to be firmly in the fruited witbier camp to me. There’s a fair bit of wheat there, with the fruit being complementary rather than at the forefront. It reminded me a touch of Bad Shepherd’s Raspberry Wheat. The rhubarb was very subtle - possibly a victim of the raspberry outshining it in terms of flavour - but what was there worked well. I enjoyed this without loving it, it was definitely refreshing and I liked the way the flavours worked together but not something I’d seek out again in its current form personally."

I think this may be the first time that I've managed to get the Beer-Thusiast Pack review up before the new one has arrived at Beer O'Clock Australia HQ! Stylistically I think this was the most diverse pack to date, with all seven beers being quite different from each other - although I think the quality on the whole was a little down on previous iterations. I'm really looking forward to finding out what the March installment has in store for us! Until next time guys...

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

Sunday, 5 March 2017

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 48

Untappd Catchup


I'm making it my mission to try and stay more on top of the blog this year. I've set myself some deadlines, but given my track record at meeting self imposed deadlines I'l keep those to myself for the first few months...

I've currently got 5 posts in the works, once they're completed I hope to get some full reviews up again! It's been so long! Anyway without further ado, we better get into this Untappd Catchup before I unlock any more badges...

First up was the brand new Two Birds Pale Ale, which is replacing the very nice Bantam in their core range. I was really impressed with the beer, something I don't always say about offerings from Two Birds. It's brewed with oats and has the silkiness you'd expect from that, while the hops are quite forward and provide plenty of pine and passionfruit. I'll be interested to see what this tastes like when it's not super fresh, as the pungent hops really made it for me. Riding Steady (Level 30) is why you're reading about it now.

I wrote in "The Biggest Untappd Catchup Ever!" about the impressive beers that we've recently received from Ægir Bryggeri from Norway, another of their beers - Lærdøl Sour Cherry Rye - unlocked Here Come the Vikings (Level 6). All the elements mentioned in the title were present; there was pleasant lactic tartness, nice cherry flavour and just a hint of the spiciness that characterizes rye in beer. It's a beer I really enjoyed!


Old Wives Ales Pop's Passion Tart, a beer that debuted as a keg only Berliner Weiss for their first birthday, has been re-imagined as a Gose using smoked salt! It's still got nice refreshing qualities and passionfruit, but what has really taken it to the next level is the salinity with this faint smokiness making it stand out from the crowd. It's a really interesting beer, perhaps more a baby Lichtenhainer than a Gose? Just like when I checked in the Berliner Weiss two badges were unlocked; What Gose Round (Level 6) & New Brew Thursday (Level 30).

Dogfish Head are one of the foremost producers of IPA's in the world. Their beers don't make it to Australia with great regularity and so, when fresh, I always pick them up when I see them. This time happened to coincide with the release of their Continually Hopped IPA badges. The first of which (60 Minute) was unlocked by their 60 Minute IPA. This was as fresh as I can recall having this beer, with grapefruit and pine exuding from the hops.

The second and final of the two Continually Hopped IPA badges was the (90 Minute). No prizes for guessing that the beer that unlocked this badge was Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA. This is a really big, sweet Imperial IPA. The hops are quite bitter and provides masses of pine resin as well as notes of tropical fruits and herbal qualities. I'm really glad these badges came along as I've quite enjoyed sampling these again!


Yeastie Boys Bigmouth unlocked Mardi Gras (2017), the annual badge Untappd releases to commemorate Mardi Gras. This badge is unlocked by simply having a beer during set dates around the annual gay community celebration. I will write more about this beer in the Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack review, which should be up any day now. All I'll say for now is that it's new and dangerously drinkable!

I won tickets to the Melbourne BeerFest through the Crafty Cabal. I decided beforehand that I'd use the day to mostly taste beers from brewers I was less familiar with. The first beer I had unlocked Riding Steady (Level 31). That beer was the Pale Ale from brand new brewery Jetty Road, which will be based out of Dromana once council issues are resolved. At the moment they are producing this very tasty, quite bitter Pale Ale at Kaiju.

A few hours and many many beers later, the next iteration of the Riding Steady badge (Level 32) rolled around. The beer was from Little Rivers, a Tasmanian brewery that I didn't know much about. The beer that unlocked the badge was their Hefeweizen; a beer that was true to the style with plenty of banana and clove characteristics. Apparently I'd had this beer before, at The Gertrude during GBW 2014..., but have no recollection of this at all.


My final beer at the Melbourne BeerFest unlocked 2X (Level 14). Sauce Brewing are a Sydney brewery that launched in November last year. Their beers have started appearing around Melbourne in the last week or so, in pretty striking cans. Naturally because it was the end of a big days drinking I thought it best to try their biggest beer; Mega-Hop Sauce - an Imperial IPA. It had lots of sweet malts, with caramel taking centre stage, whilst the hops were mostly citrusy and provided lovely bitterness.

I don't know what to think about the beers from Sailor's Grave; some of them are excellent and some are very mediocre. Thankfully the Grapefruit and Marigold Saison, which unlocked Trip to the Farm (Level 21), was one of the excellent ones! A lovely yeastiness (apparently they use the original DuPont yeast) combines with bitter grapefruit flavours as well as a strong floral aroma, with elements that carry over to the taste. I think this is my favourite beer from these guys so far!

One of the most anticipated beer releases of the year so far was Balter's new Pilsner. I was expecting this to be a straight up and down interpretation of the style, as Balter have done with their first two packaged releases. That's exactly what I got, with a lovely light maltiness being complimented by grassy and floral hops. The beer finishes nice and crisp with enough bitterness for the style. Riding Steady (Level 33) is why you're reading about this beer now.


Last but not least for this Untappd Catchup is the new(ish) Voodoo Ranger from New Belgium Brewing Company. Apparently, despite it being based in Colorado, this beer qualifies to unlock "NC (North Carolina) Beer Month is Coming! (2017)" - to unlock this simply check-in to any beer from any brewery on this list. I really enjoyed the clean bitterness of this IPA, which was driven by tropical fruit notes but also had nice biscuity malts.

There's been quite a nice variety of beers in this Untappd Catchup, so hopefully you've all found something that will pique your interests. I'm hoping that this will be a big week on Beer O'Clock Australia as my Corporate Governance assignment is seemingly *touch wood* under control at this stage. The Beer-Thusiast Pack review should be up in the next few days, whilst there should also be another couple of long awaited posts. Until next time guys...

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

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

THE THIRST #4

The Thirst



Today we're back with another installment of The Thirst. The four months since the last one have simply flown by! Naturally over these four months I've collected quite few articles that I've found and that you guys have sent into me. I've got far too much for one post - so if yours isn't in this lot, it very may well make the next post!

25 MOST IMPORTANT AMERICAN CRAFT BEERS EVER - Josh Noel of Chicago Tribune (Link)

These list articles always generate plenty of conjecture amongst the beer community. I regularly talk about the significance of some of the pioneering beers of the Australian craft beer scene and thought it would be fitting to post this piece talking about the craft beer scene that inspired our own.

WHAT THE HELL WAS TUATARA THINKING? - Jono Galuszka of From Drinker to Brewer (Link)

As a qualified, well almost qualified, lawyer I take great enjoyment out of some of the ridiculous trademark disputes/applications that the beer world throws up from time to time. This piece from former NZ Beer Writer of the Year, Jono Galuszka, is a thoroughly interesting piece - which explores the recent re-brand from Tuatara and explores the subsequent trademark issues that have arisen. Trying to trademark the name of their new beer "Amarillo", a beer named after the proprietary trademarked hop that is used liberally in the beer, may have taken the lead in my books...

DIEU DU CIEL!’S PÉCHÉ MORTEL, SIX WAYS - Noah Forrest of Beerism (Link)

I stumbled across this piece from Beerism a little while ago. I was really taken with the layout of the post and particularly the photo's that were accompanying the post. This piece takes you on a journey through 6 vintages or incarnations of the wonderful Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel - a massive Imperial Stout! I really enjoy doing vertical tastings and have a couple of different vintages of various stouts aging in the beer cupboard - maybe one day you'll see a post along similar lines to this on Beer O'Clock Australia.

THAILAND'S FIRST HOP FARMERS ARE ABOUT TO GIVE THE LOCAL CRAFT BREWING SCENE A MAJOR BOOST - Diana Hubbel of Munchies (Link)

The story of two brothers attempting to grow hops in the inhospitable conditions of Thailand and the challenges they face. It also provides interesting information regarding the brewing regulations in Thailand, which I had very little idea of. It's always good to see craft beer taking off in new markets and this, if they succeed, can only help the scene in South East Asia.

MAP: THE HIGHEST RATED BREWERY IN EVERY COUNTRY - VinePair (Link)

Love it or hate it; Untappd is the biggest beer rating network in the world. Accordingly the data acquired from it can be of significant interest/value. This map contains the highest rated breweries from each country. The usual suspects are up there; Cantillon from Belgium, The Alchemist from the U.S.. A bit closer to home Liberty Brewing took out New Zealand's title while Brewtal Brewers, a Brisbane based brewery that I know very little about, took out the Australian title from Pirate Life in second place.

A BEGINNERS' GUIDE TO THE ESTONIAN CRAFT BEER REVOLUTION - Tom of Hidden Tallinn (Link)

When I traveled through Estonia a couple of years ago there were hints that craft beer was starting to take off. I found it quite hard to find Estonian craft beer with Finnish beers far more readily available. It's good to see that their own craft scene is finally taking off; I tried one of Põhjala's offerings the other day, which was pretty good and that I assume was distributed through collaborator To Öl's distribution network... Hopefully I'm wrong and we see more Estonian craft beer downunder!

WOOD & BEER - Dick Cantwell & Peter Bouckaert

This book was everything I'd hoped it would be! Written by two of the beer worlds most respected figures, this book covers everything you can possibly imagine about about wood and it's relationship with beer. From the history of why beer and wood came together, through the microbiological changes that wood can have on beer to the maintenance required to keep wooden barrels in optimum conditions to enhance beer. If you're a beer nerd, this is a fantastic read!

As it's been so long I'll leave you with another couple of bonus articles. First, a state by state look at the American craft beer scene in numbers (link). Secondly, a graph that's usefulness I'm not sure of - but it is cool (link). The Beer Healer's look at mid-strength beers is an interesting read (link), whilst I'll leave you with this piece about Melbourne's craft beer pioneers, Mountain Goat, from Good Beer Hunting (link).

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

Monday, 20 February 2017

HOTTEST 100 ANALYSIS


The Hottest 100 Beers


Having finished my Hottest 100 Beers Challenge a couple of weeks ago, I've taken some time to reflect on what was an excellent journey. I tried a number of great Australian beers that I otherwise wouldn't have re-visited and sampled a number for the first time.

As is my wont; I've subsequently converted a lot of my Untappd data into a spreadsheet and had a play around. I was actually pleasantly surprised with my findings, some of which will be presented below.

Heading into this challenge I felt sure I would try a number of below average beers. I made sure I entered this challenged with an open mind and found that a number of the heavily derided macro offerings are actually pretty decent beers - not beers I'd drink every day, but not bad beers either.

To more positive findings; if you were a hoppy Red Ale you did very well in my rankings, five of them got scored at 4.5 or above on Untappd! Pirate Life make great beers that I drink a lot of (probably not news to many of you)! 2 Brothers from Moorabbin produced my best new find of the year; their Kung Foo Lager is delicious and something I probably would never have tried if it were not for this challenge.

Stone & Wood Pacific Ale is a deserved champion. This beer is produced so consistently. They manage to maintain this consistency despite the huge volumes of the beer they must brew, across multiple sites now, to placate the masses of drinkers across this country that now drink this rather than macro lagers. Craft beer drinkers who complain about this are missing the bigger picture; it's better the masses drink a fantastic Australian craft beer like Pacific Ale rather than macro lagers. The playing field is slowly shifting in our direction. Simply; it's the best Australian Pale Ale and a deserved winner of back-to-back Hottest 100 popularity contest titles.

I "ummed" and "ahhed" about writing this paragraph, but thought its not an objective piece if I abstain from criticism. I was surprised to find Gage Road Atomic, Little Creatures IPA & Hawthorn Pale Ale in my bottom five beers. I checked all the bottles and they were all well and truly within date... The Gage Road beer, in particular, was one of the worst beers I had last year - I even had a second Atomic which further confirmed this! Whilst Yenda Pale Ale, owned by Coca-Cola, was the only one of the macros to really disappoint.

Findings by Numbers

29 - The number of beers I rated at 4.5 or above. Massively above my expectations!

5 - The number of beers I rated under 3. I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the macro offerings that are much derided.

4 - The number of beers from Feral that found their way into my Top 5! I was shocked by this, but by the criteria I set before analyzing any data (the only fair way to do this) War Hog, Watermelon Warhead, Hop Hog & Tusk all found their way into the Top 5 - behind Stone & Wood Pacific Ale.

69 - The number of places jumped by Thirsty Crow's Vanilla Milk Stout, in my rankings compared to the 2015 Hottest 100 voters.

86 - The number of places fallen by James Squire's 150 Lashes. It's a serviceable but certainly not one that'd find its way into my Top 10.

14 - The position that Brewcult's Milk and Two Sugars finished in 2015 - the highest ranked beer from 2015 to miss the 2016 Hottest 100.

146 - The number of places that Hangman Pale Ale from Rocks Brewing fell - from 36 down to 182 - I remembered to analyze the 101-200 Beers this year!

21 - The number of beers I tried for the first time (according to Untappd) as part of this challenge.

37 - The number of beers to fall out of the Hottest 100 in 2016, including the two beers from Coopers' which were not entered by the brewery this year.

23 - The number of beers to rise up the Hottest 100 countdown in 2016.

38 - The number of beers to slide down the Hottest 100 countdown in 2016.

2 - The number of beers to hold their positions in Hottest 100 2016, headlined by Stone & Wood Pacific Ale retaining its crown atop the countdown.

3.875 - The average Untappd score that I gave beers in the 2015 Hottest 100. This is significantly higher than I expected and just shows how far Australian beer has come! It's almost in-line with my figures across all of 2016!

All in all I have to say that I'm very glad I tried the beers that the Australian beer drinking public voted as their favorites. Overall the quality of the beer being produced and consumed in Australia is better than I thought it was. The 2016 results, which you can find here, also show that more drinkers are moving away from macro craft beers and moving towards fuller flavoured independent offerings (as seen by the falls in James Squire 150 Lashes and Fat Yak in particular). 2017 is going to be a great year for Australian craft beer!

Now that I've wrapped the 2015 Hottest 100, I'm intending to try and track down the 37 new entries in the countdown of 2016's Hottest 100 beers. There were a number of wonderful beers that have made their debut in the countdown on January 26, 2017 and I feel it would be prudent to keep you all informed of them. There's a couple of limited releases that I'm not sure I'll be able to track down - however 37 is a lot easier than 100! If you can't wait for my posts you can check out the full 2016 results here. Until next time guys...

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

Sunday, 19 February 2017

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: JANUARY

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 5 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 feedback I've received on this format has so far been quite positive, keep the feedback coming in though!


I was impressed with this lineup on paper. It's packed with a good mix of styles and really topped off by the addition of the latest release from the Bridge Road Mayday Hills range; Green T. This pack contains mostly Australian offerings with the now standard 4 Victorian beers sitting alongside a South Australian (Mismatch) offering and a West Australian (Nail) offering, neither of which I've had before. The sole international offering is from Anderson Valley in California. Without further ado; let's get into it!

Mismatch Archie's Red Ale - American Red Ale - 5.0%

Mismatch Brewing Company is a gypsy brewer based in Adelaide that has been operating since 2013. I first came across them in 2015 and have been pretty impressed with all of their beers I've had to date. I've also heard they are setting up their own brewery in the Adelaide Hills this year. This is the first time I've sampled an Archie's Red Ale. It sounds promising with Centennial and Cascade hops in the bill.

"An easily quaffable red. Mellow flavours, mostly malt forward. Low hop bitterness and some laid back citrus flavours on the finish. Definitely not something that jumps out at you with big flavours but it’s a very drinkable red and it worked for me."

I tend to agree, this beer is very easy drinking but lacks a real "WOW" factor. There's some nice caramel malts that are supplemented by a light spiciness. The two C hops provide some citrus, but I would've preferred a little more liberal use given they mention them in the description.

Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose - Gose - 4.2%

Of the 4 Anderson Valley Gose variants; I rate this one the highest. This was the second spin-off, after the Blood Orange Gose, from their straight up and down Gose (which you can read a full review of here). I've said for a long time that when Feral finally can Watermelon Warhead will be when sours really take off in this country; this beer should be further proof of that - it's basically Watermelon Warhead with salt added!

"Was stoked to see this in this month’s pack, definitely one of the beers I enjoyed most in 2016! I’d recommend any brewery looking at trying a gose have a gander at Anderson Valley’s offerings - their balance when it comes to the style is second to none. Perfect harmony between acidity, salt and fruit. Watermelon is a great choice for a gose addition and predictably works bloody well in here. I’m a huge fan of this beer, in case it wasn’t obvious!"


Blackman's Reginald IPA - American IPA - 6.2%

Blackman's is based down on the Surf Coast in Torquay, near Geelong. It's a brewery I've long been meaning to visit - in part due to this beer! I've had it a couple of times on tap, but have started having more regularly since the brewery launched their canning line in the middle of last year.

"The first thing that hit me after the waves of citrus, stonefruit and pine was how easy this is to drink! It has a really nice, smooth malt body and the bitterness is quite subdued considering the amount of flavour they’ve got out of the hops (Citra and Cascade if I remember correctly). Mellow but flavoursome, very enjoyable."

Nail VPA - American Pale Ale - 6.5%

Nail's VPA (Very Pale Ale) was released towards the end of 2015 - yet strangely I hadn't heard anything about it! At 6.5% ABV and with a big hopping regime I would assume this name is related to it being closer to an IPA than a Pale Ale. Nail very rarely disappoint...

"The surprise of the pack for me. Nail do good work and I love cans but it was hard to get excited about the prospect of yet another pale. This was quickly put to bed when I cracked the can — the combination of Azacca and Galaxy lends this a wonderful tropical fruitiness, while the slightly sweet and quite hefty malt base gives it great balance. Clean flavours and finish. Real quality."


I really needed to jump in here - I loved the beer as well and agree with almost everything said above. When I tasted this beer I got this dominant tropical fruit aroma that I've only just managed to place; PINEAPPLE! Thanks for mentioning the Azacca hops Dylan that triggered my memory! This was alongside an array of passionfruit, peach and mango - but pineapple stood out from the crowd!

Moon Dog Love Tap - American Pale Lager - 5.0%

Fresh off the Moon Dog lager in the last Beer-Thusiast Pack we have another; Love Tap from their core range. This beer started life as a massive Imperial Lager (from memory it was in the 8% range) but after a few tweaks different iterations is now a hoppy 5% lager. I haven't had it for a while so am looking forward to seeing how this tastes.

"This tastes quite different to how I remember it! It has always been a fairly hoppy lager but the bite has never been this pronounced before. Possibly a new recipe or simply a fresher bottle than I’ve had in the past. This is somewhere near imperial pilsner territory for mine — it’s not quite at that level of hop saturation but it has the smooth, punchy bite and medicinal bitterness I’d expect from the style. Hard to say how I feel about it, I quite enjoy it every time I drink it but I never feel the urge to go back to it. Certainly intriguing enough to recommend everyone give it a go at some stage though."


Hargreaves Hill Zenith IPA - American IPA - 6.2%

I was really pleased to see this beer finally bottled! I've had it on tap through the Bear Club, at the brewery itself and around the traps a few times. It's a seasonal beer that these guys put out, where the hop bill changes each time. I believe the current iteration has Warrior, Simcoe and Chinook.

"After we had this from memory the overriding opinion was “this sure is an IPA”. It’s not meant to be disparaging as it’s quite a good one, but it really is a straight up and down interpretation of the style without a lot to make it stand out. There’s some good pine notes and the bitterness primarily comes through on the finish. If you enjoy IPAs this will certainly do just fine if you see it on the shelf."


That was indeed the sentiment around the table. I actually think this is usually a more impressive beer than what was presented before us. I feel that the bitterness is slightly more restrained in this version, whether that's due to the bottling or the different hop regime I can't be sure. Basically this version is a nicely balanced IPA with pine and tropical fruit notes.


Bridge Road Mayday Hills T - Sour IPA - 7.4%

The second installment in Bridge Road's Brettanomyces inoculated Mayday Hills series was a wonderful choice for this pack. It's relatively limited and definitely interesting! This beer is a 100% Brett fermented IPA aged in their new foeder with green tea. The series aims to showcase local ingredients with the green tea in this beer sourced from nearby Alpine Tea Co.

"I was very impressed with Bridge Road’s first foeder effort under their Mayday Hills banner and came into this one with pretty high expectations. While it wasn’t quite as good as Yee-Hah was for me, there’s a lot to like here. Great oak and brett character, almost a chardonnay like woodiness with some berry fruitiness rounding it out. There really wasn’t much of the green tea (sourced locally) evident in the brew apart from some tannic notes that did add a little in terms of how it finished and how the bitterness presented. It’s an enjoyable IPA, one that has a real point of difference from many others around which gets a big tick from me. Can’t wait for what Bridge Road do next in this series (from what I hear it has something to do with blackberries…)."

I will take this opportunity to apologize for some of the photos in this review, my lighting issues have returned... At least The Beer-Thusiast Pack reviews are back up to date! Now just to get everything else back up to date... February's pack was delivered to Beer O'Clock Australia HQ at the end of last week and Dylan and I have already got stuck into a few of them. Hope you enjoyed this review guys, I think this one may have been the best yet! The next pack promises to be one of the most interesting yet.

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

Thursday, 16 February 2017

THE BIGGEST UNTAPPD CATCHUP EVER!

Untappd Catchup


December 6! That date may not mean a lot to you, but that is the last day I wrote an Untappd Catchup piece... That's over 10 weeks ago! As you can imagine there is a bit of a backlog of badges to write up at Beer O'Clock Australia HQ.

To make matters worse, December and January are probably my two busiest drinking months and as usual I made sure I sample plenty of variety and quality. A simply staggering 75 badge levels have been unlocked across 37 different badges!

Rather than write a 77 paragraph review, I've decided to reprise the Good Beer Week Untappd Catchup post style and cap it at a comparatively short 41 paragraphs! I better get started, otherwise I might still be writing this piece in another 10 weeks time!

I was expecting quite a few Danish Delight badges to pop up during the course of my To Ølekalender. Four of those To Øl beers did indeed make the cut, you can check out those beers and more here. While I enjoyed one of my favourite beers of the year; To Øl's Pineapple Express, whilst watching the Australian Open Men's Final. It's wonderfully roasty with nice smokiness also present; in combination with this very fresh tasting pineapple! It's unique and in my mind completely brilliant!

To Øl Santa's Hibernation (Level 10)
To Øl My Sour Pils (Level 11)
To Øl !!!PA Simcoe & Mosaic (Level 12)
To Øl Black Bauble (Level 13)
To Øl Pineapple Express (Level 14)

The Wheel of Styles badge has gone into hiding after I raced through the first 95 different beer styles. Throughout this 10 week period Lindemans Kriek unlocked (Level 20) while Prancing Pony's Pagan Empire unlocked (Level 21). The two styles in question were "Lambic - Kriek" & Rye IPA. As a side note; I couldn't quite believe that I'd never checked in a Lindemans Kriek before on Untappd!

I was intending to write a review for the beer that unlocked Heavyweight (Level 50); Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. Sadly time has beaten me, but I can attest that it is a wonderfully decadent stout. To Øl's Black Ball, an Imperial Porter that I received on Day 10 of the To Ølekalender, had prior to that unlocked (Level 49). Like all To Øl beers it was an excellent example of the style and a beer that I would definitely revisit if given the opportunity.

The 2X badge will get a far bigger workout as the weather begins to cool down, however I've still unlocked 4 levels of this badge for drinking "Imperial" styles of beer over Summer. Those beers included the aforementioned To Øl Black Ball, Evil Twin's famed Even More Jesus (which incidentally was incredible!), Fox Hat's Metric IPA - which I would not term an Imperial IPA at 7% & finally a beer from the Renaissance Enlightenment Series - Boom! a beer that had plenty of fruityness, but lacked bitterness and had just a touch too much raw alcohol.


To Øl Black Ball (Level 10) 

Evil Twin Even More Jesus (Level 11)
Fox Hat Metric IPA (Level 12)
Renaissance Enlightenment Boom! (Level 13)

One of the newer style related badges is So Udderly Sweet. For those that have missed that pun; the badge is for drinking Milk Stouts. Elsie the Milk Stout from Batch Brewing in Sydney had the honour of being the first, and so far only, beer to unlock this badge for me so far. Unfortunately I thought the beer was a little thin bodied, although the vanilla flavour accompanying the lactose and roast was a welcome addition.

I've written numerous times on this blog about how frequently this badge was going to appear over the coming months! Riding Steady, the badge for checking in beers under 5% ABV, has been unlocked a staggering 17 - yes SEVENTEEN! - times since the beginning of December, no doubt spurred on slightly by my need to drink a number of the beers in the Hottest 100 countdown... As there's so many beers I'm not going to write about each one, but merely list them below.

Batch Elsie the Milk Stout (Level 13)
Bad Shepherd ESB by Dan (Level 14)
To Øl Don't Gose Towards the Light (Level 15)
Almanac Mandarina (Level 16)
Heineken (Level 17)
Kosciusko Pale Ale (Level 18)
Hop Nation The Punch (Level 19)
Cascade Premium Light (Level 20)
Stone & Wood Garden Ale (Level 21)
Coopers Premium Lager (Level 22)
Nøgne Ø Brandenburger (Level 23)
2 Brothers Growler (Level 24)
Little Creatures Bright Ale (Level 25)
A. Le Coq Imperial Marzen (Level 26)
Mismatch Archie's Red (Level 27)
Erdinger Alkoholfrei (Level 28)
Yeastie Boys Bigmouth (Level 29)

Four quite different sours unlocked the last 4 levels of the Pucker Up badge. Victory's Elderflower Berliner Weiss was very tart and well put together. The Quetsche, one of my favourite beers (another I can't believe I haven't checked in before!), was my first beer of 2017 and as tart as usual! Bridge Road's second Mayday Hills release you will read more about soon, while Tart of Darkness from Bruery Terreux is a beer that lived up to the hype that my expectant mind had bestowed upon it!

Victory Blackboard Series Berliner Weisse with Elderflower (Level 47)
Oude Quetsche Tilquin a l'Ancienne (Level 48)
Bridge Road Mayday Hills T (Level 49)
Bruery Terreux Tart of Darkness (Level 50)

Despite the weather not being particularly conducive to it; Christmas time tends to see me pull out some of the bigger beers I've collected throughout the year. This year was no exception, with three levels of Sky's the Limit being unlocked. As part of the Hottest 100 challenge, Dylan and I split a Mountain Goat Barley Wine (link here), their 2015 & 2016 Christmas Ale's came out during Christmas dinner, while Hop Nation's The Kalash, a pinot noir barrel aged stout, was really interesting in the midst of a hot summer afternoon tasting session.

Mountain Goat Barrel Breed Barley Wine (Level 22)
Mountain Goat 2015 Christmas Ale (Level 23)
Hop Nation The Kalash (Level 24)

I'm constantly surprised how few beers qualify for the Fruits of Your Labor badge, as I drink a lot of beers I'd classify as fruit beers! In any case (Level 5) of this badge was unlocked by Passion Fruit Kicker from Green Flash. This was a really interesting beer with a nice light wheat base punctuated by plenty of sour passionfruit flavour, with next to no sweetness present.
A well crafted Pilsner can be one of the most refreshing beers in the right conditions; hence I'm a little confused by the criticism of the style(s) by the craft community as a whole. Two beers unlocked levels of the Crisp as Day badge in this period; the aforementioned To Øl My Sour Pils (Level 18), which was anything but a traditional Pilsner but equally refreshing! While Tuatara's recently re-branded Mot Eureka (formely Bohemian Pilsner), a clean New World Pilsner with plenty of bitterness, unlocked (Level 19).  

When I drink them I generally really enjoy Barleywines. Strangely though here we are 6 months after the last time I said that and I've only had 5 more! South Australia's Little Bang Brewery released Galactopus, a 10.1% canned American Barleywine! It was an incredible beer with heaps of sweet, mainly caramel, malts balanced out by an absolute shit tonne of hops! This beer would've been seriously expensive to brew and also unlock The Wine of Beers (Level 3).

Fields of Gold was a badge that definitely benefited from the Hottest 100 check-ins. Strangely however neither of the two levels unlocked were by beers from that challenge. The first was To Øl's Brett & Butter (Level 8), a beer that I thought was lacking in funk and sourness, especially considering Brett's in it's name! While a Two Birds Hellenic Ale at the brewery took out (Level 9), I didn't notice anything particularly Greek about it, but it had nice moderately bitter pineapple hops. 

The sister badge to Fields of Gold (they both had their badge names changed a while back), Bravo for Brown is one that doesn't pop around very often. Another To Øl beer, Moccachino Messiah, was the beer that was lucky enough to unlock (Level 8) of this strangely elusive badge. It's a really special Brown Ale, with plenty of roast coffee, combining with sweet caramel and bitter citrus and tropical fruit hop flavours. 

I thought I would rack up quite a few levels of What Gose Round over Summer, yet strangely only one level was unlocked! I love a Gose on a hot evening, maybe I just drink the same ones all the time! One of the least Gose-like Gose's unlocked (Level 5) of the badge. To Øl's Don't Go Towards the Light is a Gose that has some dark malts and a heap of blackberries added to it! It was actually a delicious beer with the salinity really adding to this mix of roast and blackberries. God To Øl make some out there beers! 

It took a surprisingly long time before I unlocked Drink Like a Kiwi over this Summer-period. Never fear though; once the floodgates opened the levels flowed! Deep Creek's beers are in Australia for the first time and are really impressive! Tuatara's new Tomahawk was a fruity Pale Ale, while their new Amarillo was a wonderful roasty dark ale that's been amply hopped to provide bitter citrus. 8 Wired delivered as usual with their new Superdank living up to it's name!

Deep Creek Long White Cloudy IPA (Level 36)
Deep Creek Dusty Gringo (Level 37)
Tuatara Tomahawk (Level 38)
8 Wired Superdank (Level 39)
Tuatara Amarillo (Level 40)

Because it's been over 10 weeks since the last Untappd Catchup installment, I've got 3 New Brew Thursday levels to bring you. We're slowly creeping towards this not being a thing anymore! To Øl's Black Bauble, a beer already mentioned in this post, unlocked (Level 27), Funk Estate's It's a Beaut APA, which was a "beaut" (Level 28) and finally the 8 Wired Superdank (Level 29).

The first of the holiday specific badges was Merry Brew-mas (2016). I think it's fair to assume most of you can work out what this badge relates to. The beer was yet another of the beers from the To Ølekalender; Santa Gose F&#% It All. The story behind this beer is pretty good and you can get the low-down on that in this post here. It's not the saltiest Gose you'll come across, but it wonderfully fruity and is a beer that I would buy again in a heartbeat! 

I'm not sure if the criteria for the Winter Wonderland badge has changed recently, but I did unlock two levels of the badge over the Christmas period. Brasserie de la Senne's X-mas Zinnebir, a Winter Ale, which was an interestingly spiced beer - it's a beer much more suited to Belgian Christmas weather rather than Australian! While Epic's Snow White was much more suited to the climate, it had a nice wheat body with aggressive hop bite.

Beers from Ægir Bryggeri arrived in Melbourne towards the end of last year with a big reputation. Their Naglfare unlocked another seasonal badge, Hoppy Hanukkah (2016). In my mind this was a really impressive English Brown Ale, don't believe the hate out there for this beer! For 4.7% it packs a heap of malt flavour, ranging from chocolate to roast with plenty of nuttiness to boot. A few more hops would've been nice to balance out the sweetness of the caramel malts but this is a small criticism. I loved it! Buy it!

Cricketer's Arms Spearheads, straight from the can, are one of my secret pleasures! After lugging heaps of drinks, ice and food up to Dave's apartment on the morning of New Years Eve, Richo and I indulged in a cheeky Spearhead to quench our thirst; this act unlocked Happy Brew Year (2017). The beer itself is underrated (although maybe not anymore after it's 44th placing in this years Hottest 100 Beers) with nice citrus bitterness it's most distinguished feature.

Only one level of Belgian Holiday was unlocked over this Summer period; it was also one of the best beers to unlock this badge (and it's in some pretty illustrious company)! That beer was Rodenbach's, extremely rarely released (read here), Alexander and it unlocked (Level 30). This beer was superb! It had wonderful fresh cherries, plenty of woodiness that had been transferred from the barrel and nice acidity. It was definitely worth the trip Dylan and I made to Thornbury for it!

After finishing up at Carwyn with the Rodenbach Alexander, and a few others, Dylan and I trekked back to The Melburnian for our NYE event. My first beer back their was the Clown Shoes Mängo, a mango infused Kölsch, which unlocked the Clown Shoes Double Play badge. This beer was a little underwhelming with plenty of malt mixing with sweet mango. The other beer I had to unlock this badge, Chocolate Sombrero, was a beautiful Imperial Stout that age had mellowed wonderfully!

Summer Fun works in much the same way as the Winter Wonderland badge, if Summer's in the name of the beer it qualifies for the badge. Strangely the beer that unlocked this badge for me for the first time, way back in September 2013, also unlocked (Level 5) of the badge sometime on New Years Eve! I can't explain why, I'm guessing it was a glitch - because 35 Mountain Goat Summer Ale check-ins over my Untappd journey would suggest I've had it before...

The second beer from Ægir to unlock a badge during this time period was their infamous Natt Imperial Porter. This is their beer that was most highly regarded when landing on our shores, and fittingly it unlocked Here Comes the Vikings! (Level 5). This was a wonderful Porter that had a similar, but less intense, nuttiness to the Naglfare from further up this monster post. It also drank dangerously easily for 10% ABV!

Another badge that I was surprised was only unlocked once during this period was the Trip to the Farm badge, for drinking Saisons. Saisons are perfect for the warmer weather, why wasn't I drinking them! Anyway; a collaborative effort between Bad Shepherd (VIC), Little Bang (SA) and Pact (ACT) produced the wonderfully titled Stop, Collaborate and Saison - taking it's name from the Vanilla Ice lyric if anyone out there was lost - took out (Level 20).

Stop, Collaborate and Saison also unlocked (Level 18) of the Better Together badge. The badge tends to come in waves so it may be next week or three months before we see it again! The beer is quite an impressive, with a nice base Saison with more than enough funk being complimented by heaps of fruity hops that also provide plenty of bitterness. I really hope they make this beer again as it's a beer that I would love to get my hands on again.

A trip around the breweries of the Western suburbs yielded a few badges; including Paint the Town Red (Level 12). The beer was Hop Nation's The Buzz, which I sampled at the brewery. It's an aggressively hopped Red Ale and is a beautiful mix of malts and hops. Bach Brewing's Duskrider Red IPA was enough for (Level 13) to be unlocked. This bottle was probably a touch old and was more malty than hoppy; not what I'd expect from a beer with "IPA" in it's name.

I don't tend to unlock location related badges all that often, I'm a creature of habit and tend to frequent the same places all the time! Visit the Beer Garden was unlocked while I was up in Canberra visiting my grandmother. The beer was a Cascade Premium Light at the Southern Cross Club (I was driving!). It was actually a bit better than I recall it tasting and is a mid-strength I could see myself drinking again - maybe somewhere like a golf course?

Another location related badge that was unlocked on my trip to Canberra was By the Campfire (Level 9). The beer was another from Ægir, their Littlebro Session IPA, which was truly excellent. It had great bitterness and plenty of fruitiness and was enjoyed straight from the big open mouthed tin. These cans, where the whole top comes off, are amazing! I really hope these become more widespread, they're great for camping/in any situation a glass isn't available.

When I saw Gänstaller Bräu's Rauch Royal at Slowbeer a month or so ago, I knew I had to try it! It's billed as a smoked Imperial India Pale Lager, a combination I've never heard of before from a brewery I've never heard of before! The beer has that very distinctive meaty smokiness that characterizes the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier's from nearby Bamberg. It's also got some bitter citrus hops, although they are a bit light and get drowned out by the smokiness. It's a really interesting beer, but certainly isn't one I'd rush back to...

One of the new core badges released last November was Terviseks. Terviseks is Estonian for "cheers" and accordingly this badge is for drinking Estonian beers. After slogging through some Estonian macro lagers we arrived at the payoff; Põhjala and To Øl's collaborative Ginie (in a bottle). It's a gin inspired Gose and it's really tasty. There's plenty of juniper, light citrus, light salinity and restrained sourness. I really hope this is the first of many Põhjala beers we see in Australia!

Typically I don't love Bocks or Doppelbocks. I don't know if it's the sweetness or the overly malty nature of the style but they generally don't agree with me. Hence it was no surprise that I've only just unlocked I'll Be Bock (Level 2). The beer that unlocked this badge was Samichlaus Classic from Schloss Eggenberg. Samichlaus Classic is anything but classical, it's a 14% Doppelbock!

Not only is Samichlaus Classic a massive Doppelbock, it also unlocked Trekking the Alps - the badge for drinking beers from Austria. This was my last beer before entering FebFast, with a few cheat days locked in in advance. This beer is brewed just once a year, on December 6, and at one point was the strongest beer in the world. The beer tastes almost like an English Barleywine; there's no hops present and the majority of the palate is consumed by sweet malts.

Germany is the country that produces the most alcohol free beer in the world, in part due to their very strict drink driving rules. One of the best I've found this far into February was the Weihenstephaner Original Helles Alkoholfrei. It's one of the few alcohol free lagers that doesn't taste just like wort. This is still slightly on the sweeter side, but could easily pass as a full strength offering in a blind tasting of lagers. Das Boot (Level 11) is why you're reading about this now.

I knew that this badge would come along in FebFast! I'm glad it did as I'm not going to come across it at any other time of the year... Low Gravity is the badge for drinking beers classed as Non-Alcoholic. The honour of being the first beer to unlock this badge for me was Erdinger's Alkoholfrei, a beer that I amazingly had the correct glass for! The alcohol free wheat beers appear to be better on the whole than the lagers and this one is pretty similar to a regular wheat beer, if a little sweet.

Brewbowl LI was this years badge for drinking a beer on Super Bowl Sunday. Being FebFast my beer of choice was the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei. I haven't had one of their regular Hefeweizens for a while, but I don't think this alcohol free version is that far off what their full strength one tastes like. I'm going to have to try one either on one of my cheat days or in March!

Valentines Day was obviously one of my cheat days! Lizzie and I popped down to Dr Morse for lunch and naturally had a beer or two. Wild Beer's Wild Goose Chase unlocked God Save the Queen (Level 38). This was awesome! It had plenty of funk, nice acidity, plenty of citrus and gooseberries and was really effervescent. This was brewed to be an "all-day" wild beer, it's certainly that as it drinks really well. I would quite happily session this beer on a warm afternoon, it's a beauty!

THANK GOD THIS IS FINALLY DONE!!! This was a marathon effort, but I needed to get it up for my own sense of record keeping. This would be comfortably the longest post I've ever written on Beer O'Clock Australia - clocking in at a lazy 3,535 words. Now that this is out of the way I'm hoping to get a few things posted by the end of next week; Beer-Thusiast Pack January, the long awaited glassware post, a new edition of The Thirst and my analysis of The Hottest 100 Beer for 2016! If you've got this far, thanks for reading guys! Until next time...

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