Wednesday, 7 September 2016

HOTTEST 100 BEERS: PART 4


The Hottest 100 Beers


It's taken me a little longer than expected, but I've finally put together Part 4 of this Hottest 100 segment. I've tried at least 1 beer from each decade (yes, it's correct - it's not just used for years.) and have written short summations for you below. Assuming things go to plan, ie. I can find all the beers in time, I intend to complete this challenge in 10 posts.

#9 - Modus Operandi Former Tenant Former Tenant is named after the "Former Tenant" of the brewery. He was an interesting character to say the least; and was particularly unfortunate to get apprehended when he did. If you want the full story, you'll have to check out my Instagram post on this beer; I think it's worth the read. The beer is particularly dank, with tropical fruit also playing a part alongside the superb caramel malts. This is as good as Red IPA gets and a worthy recipient of a top 10 placing in the Hottest 100!

#12 - James Squire Hop Thief 7 For all the bad press James Squire receives; their Hop Thief is probably the beer that is educating the most Australian beer drinking about craft beer. It may not pack the hop punch of almost any proper craft Pale Ale, but it does have reasonable flavours and showcases different hops with each edition. The seventh edition had Galaxy & Mosaic, there was some tropical fruit notes but this was lost under the malts. For me; either the hops had to be stronger or the malts less intense. For the average drinker? This could be the stepping stone to trying something else...

#25 - Prancing Pony India Red Ale If the Modus Operandi Former Tenant is as good as Red IPA gets, then Prancing Pony's India Red Ale is a very close second! The malt caramelisation is as good as in any beer I can recall, which the hops provide a wonderful range of flavours; with peach, apricot, passionfruit and a strange herbaceous quality all easily identifiable. This beer would be a strong contender for my desert island beer... I reviewed this beer in full at the start of last year; which you can check out here.

#34 - Colonial Small Ale This was a phenomenal little mid-strength! The citrus hops are punchy, while there is a reasonable amount of malt considering the ABV. The best part of this beer however is not the beer itself; it's the packaging! Instead of the little pull tab system, the entire top of the can comes out leaving a huge hole for you to drink out of - much like a glass. It's really cool and not something I'd seen before - it's as good of a reason to purchase a Colonial Small Ale.

#47 - Little Creatures IPA I've loved this beer since it first came out, however the sample I tried for this challenge was really disappointing. The bottle was relatively fresh, yet it was lacking the hop bite of previous version. The malt seemed a little less chewy than past iterations as well. I hope this was just a bad batch, something I wouldn't normally associate with Little Creatures, rather than a Lion forced downturn in quality.

#51 - 
Mountain Goat Fancy Pants I have loved this beer since it was first released in 2010. It was one of the first beers I had back in Melbourne after my European sojourn that inspired my love of beer. It's a nicely hopped Red Ale, which has plenty of caramel malt layers. There's also some hops, but not enough to excite my palate as much as they would've 5 or more years ago. This beer being available year round now is such good news! I love this beer!

#63 - Big Shed F-Yeah Big Shed is a brewery that I think we will be seeing a lot more of in the not too distant future. They're from Adelaide and continually improving their excellent range of beers, 3 of which made the cut for this years Hottest 100. F-Yeah is well balanced American Pale Ale with biscuity dominating the malt front. There's a light amount of spiciness, which I keep wondering if it's rye - but think it's not, while the hops provide mostly citrus characteristics. If you are after a Pale Ale you can do a lot worse than pickup this beauty from S.A.

#77 - Mornington IPA I can't for the life of me explain why it's been the best part of a year since I last sampled this beer. It's an excellent Australian IPA; which has heaps of stone fruit flavours and some pine bitterness. The malts are mostly biscuity although there is also some caramel malts present. As far as balance IPA's goes, this is as good as they come in Australia.

#83 - Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout One of my favourite Australian beers slotted in at #83. If Thirsty Crow was based in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane (instead of Wagga Wagga) this beer would be in the top 10 every year, without a shadow of a doubt! It's a luscious Milk Stout, with chocolate, roast, vanilla and lactose sweetness combining beautifully. Having this beer in their Brewpub in Wagga Wagga is one of the great Australian beer experiences, something I managed to experience, for the third time, on the way to Grandma's 90th in Canberra.

#94 - Hargreaves Hill ESB Regular readers will be aware that ESB's aren't really my thing. That is slowly changing, in part due to this fantastic beer from Hargreaves Hill. It's definitely not a traditional ESB, as it's been hopped with plenty of "New World" hops. There's this lovely orange flavour I get every time I try it that reminds me of marmalade, while there is also some passionfruit. There's a traditional ESB malt base with some nice earthy and fruity notes. It's a lovely beer, and one that too often gets passed over due to it's plain label.

It may have taken a little over 2 weeks to get this up, but Part 4 of The Hottest 100 Beers is done. I'm starting to run into some availability issues early than expected - so I've made a list and will be being more organised from now on. I'm aiming to get Parts 5, 6 & 7 done by the end of October, which would leave near enough to one month for each of the remaining three parts. You can follow me along live on the Beeroclockau Instagram page. Until next time...

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

Saturday, 3 September 2016

THE THIRST #2

The Thirst


Since the first edition of The Thirst proved so popular with you guys, it's back for a second edition (and probably here to stay). I got sent heaps of emails with articles, so apologies if I have included an article you sent me and I haven't credited it.

There's plenty of variation in the articles posted this time. The articles range from quite in-depth pieces on the Australian Craft Beer scene, to an exploration of a rare Finnish style of beer, a look at North Korea's beer scene (yes, they have one!) and everything in between.

'KIM JONG-ALE': NORTH KOREA'S SURPRISING MICROBREWERY CULTURE EXPLORED - Ian Steadman of Wired (Link here)

The story of a man's journey through North Korea following their craft beer scene. I knew that North Korea made beer, Taedonggang beer has a reasonable reputation, but had no idea of the others mentioned. It's a fascinating insight into their culture and their love of beer. I found the Steam Beer craze in North Korea to be particularly interesting - but it makes sense given the lack of electricity and therefore refrigeration.

CRAFT BEER AND AUSTRALIA'S CHANGING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION HABITS - Thea Halpin and Harriet Tatham of ABC News (Link here)

It's rare to see craft beer crack the mainstream media in Australia; so this article from ABC News deserves mentioning. It talks about the decline in the overall consumption of beer in Australia, while we're experiencing a boom in the craft beer industry. It espoused the theory that Australian's are choosing to drink better, rather than more.

BEER LOVERS: IT'S TIME WE SOUR ON USE OF THE ADJECTIVE 'SOUR' - Justin Grant of The Tampa Bay Times (Link here)

Justin argues that sour beer styles are as diverse as any other beer styles and should be treated accordingly (ie. call a Gose a Gose, not a sour). I understand where the author is coming from - I'm just torn whether I agree or not... I think the word 'sour' has a place in the beer vernacular, it's a very easy to understand descriptor to use to the wider community. On the other hand, I really dislike talking to other beer people who instantly write off all 'sour beers' when they probably just don't like Flanders Red Ale's or Gose's. Read the article and let me know your thoughts.

TRACING THE HISTORY OF BEER GEEKS - Jessica Boak & Ray Bailey of All About Beer (Link here)

Speaking of the beer community, I thought this was a good read about my craft beer drinking forebears. I found the history interesting, it's not surprising that the Germans and Scandinavians were ahead of the trend here, and also found some books to track down; The Local by Maurice Gorham and Brew Brittania by the authors of this article.

SAHTI, THE ANCIENT BEER OF FINLAND, IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS - Illka Siren of Munchies (Link here)

Finnish Sahti is one of these rare styles of beer that has always intrigued me. It's very rarely produced outside Finland, and what little is isn't very good. The article explores the style and also explains the reasons behind why it's not found elsewhere in the world. Check it out if you know, or don't know, what Sahti is - it's a good read, with some good photos thrown in for good measure.


CHALLENGING 10 PERCEPTIONS IN THE AUSSIE CRAFT BEER MARKET - The Beer Healer (Link here)

This was a well constructed piece about the Australian Craft Beer scene. I thought there were a number of sentient points, in particular the comparisons with America. I rarely get upset with things in the beer industry, but our tendency to dump on brands who "sell out" is frankly ridiculous. This piece handles that topics are others very nicely. It's probably the pick of the pieces in this post.

THE FREEZE-DRIED CRAFT BEER OF THE FUTURE: CRAFTWERK WITH TO ØL - Munchies (Link here)

The Craftwerk series from Munchies is a must watch for any beer lover! Thanks to Dylan for introducing me to this series; I've wasted many hours watching them since you showed me! I've picked the To Øl one to showcase; it's the newest one and not only introduces their new Brewpub, but also their freeze-dried beer concept. It's such a cool idea, hopefully it's something that's come to fruition down the track.

THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN BEER GUIDE - James Smith

James is the number one craft beer voice in Australia. Many people may not be aware that the man with the unassuming name is better known as The Crafty Pint. This is James' second book and is similar in style to the first; 150 Great Australian Beers. If you want to know a short summation of the history of Australian beer, with a slight craft beer leaning, I cannot recommend any source higher than pages 10-18 of this book. It's a wonderful resource for information on the best beers on the Australian craft beer scene; I certainly found a few that I'll be seeking out!

I hope you've enjoyed perusing these articles guys - keep sending them in via email; gus.norris7@gmail.com. As soon as this post gets finalized I'm going to start on hopefully getting some beer content up for you. The camera is finally working again, so with any luck I'll get that glassware post up in the coming week or two.

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

Monday, 22 August 2016

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 40

Untappd Catchup

Once again we have a bumper Untappd Catchup here for you. I've been drinking a little more than usual as I try and complete one of the worst assignments I've ever tried to complete, whilst juggling work's accreditation. We've got 6 new pieces of badge artwork for you in this post - check it out and let me know your thoughts on any of the beers in this post.

I had a few pints of Fixation IPA after work at The Gertrude a few weeks ago. This is right up there as Australia's best IPA; it has assertive bitterness and wonderful resinous and juicy hop characteristics. The Wheel of Styles badge has now been leveled - so you will be seeing a lot of this badge for a little while. Fixation unlocked (Level 11).

Another hoppy Australia beer unlocked two badges later in the week; IPA Day (2016) & New Brew Thursday (Level 21). That beer was Venom's second beer; their Black IPA. Black IPA is such a fantastic style when done well and Venom have done very well! The malts were lightly roasted and didn't overpower the palate. That task was left the hops, with a big citrus hit cutting through the roast as well as hints of tropical fruit flavours. I will definitely be buying this beer again soon!


I was clearly enjoying Black IPA's that week, as Garage Project's Lack of Faith unlocked Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 32). This was everything you'd expect from a Garage Project Black IPA - it had wonderfully complex malt flavours, with roast leading the way. The hops were citrusy and provided wonderful bitterness. If you love Black IPA's you have to try this beer! If you love beer you have to try beers from Garage Project! These guys may well be the best brewers in the Southern Hemisphere!

Stella Artois is a beer I almost never drink. That changed because they launched their own badge... Host One to Remember is unlocked by drinking one Stella Artois before September 18. This checkin also unlocked Wheel of Styles (Level 12), I told you you'd be seeing a lot of this badge! I assume most of you are acquainted with Stella - it's actually a reasonably palatable lager. You always know what you're going to get with Stella; it's remarkably consistent with slightly sweet malts and some grassy hops.


Respect the Kölsch is badge that was released in early January, quite why it has taken this long for me to unlock it I'm not sure... Reissdorf Kölsch is one of the oldest Kölsch beers in the market, with the brewery opening in 1894. The beer had slightly sweeter bready malts than I am used to for the style. There's a small amount a citrus flavours, from some lightly bitter hops. As per the style; it's a crisp clean tasting beer and one that would be particularly sessionable.

We are getting close to the end of the Heavy Weight badge, Dainton Family's Black Sheep Coffee Oatmeal Brunch Stout unlocked (Level 46). This was a reasonably impressive beer. The flavour was predominantly of dark chocolate and was quite enjoyable. The flavour was relatively one dimensional however. It had a light creamy mouthfeel, although it was certainly less creamy than other Oatmeal Stouts. There's certainly better examples of the style out there, but it's by no means a bad beer.

Duvel is one of my go to beers. It's a quintessentially Belgian beer that is world renowned. It's a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, although it almost straddles the Tripel category. This beer naturally has some sweet malts, and even some reasonable hop character, but the real star is the yeast. There's some estery spiciness, a bit of aniseed (or something similar) and some fruitiness. It's a beer that every beer lover has to try at least once! Belgian for a Day was the badge.


Sky's the Limit (Level 18) was unlocked by the Murray's Wild Thing Coffee version. This beer is Murray's regular Wild Thing Imperial Stout which has had 1000 espresso shots added to the batch. As you'd expect this stout was big on coffee. It was still sweet, like the regular Wild Thing, but also had this wonderful roastiness and coffee flavour as well as impressive bitterness.

Benediktiner Weissbier Dunkel unlocked Das Boot (Level 10). Das Boot is the badge for drinking German beers and has had an artwork update, as you can see below. The beer was a nice example of the style with plenty of chocolate from the malts complimenting the distinctly wheaty banana flavour. There's a touch of cloves there as well, which is a nice addition. It's on the sweeter side of the style, and this would make me less likely to buy it again.

I've been waiting to try some of the beers from the Parrot Dog Flora Series for a while - their label artwork is awesome! Kowhai, the "Double IPA", unlocked 2X - a new badge that you will be seeing heaps of in the future. Any beer with Imperial or Double in the style counts towards this badge. It was a wonderfully fresh tasting IPA, packed full of resinous pine flavours. It's a wonderful example of a West Coast IPA!


The third time the Wheel of Styles badge has appeared in this post was thanks to Pacific Radler. It's CUB's attempt at a Radler and it was truly disgusting! For those who aren't aware; Radler's are a 50:50 mix of beer and lemonade, originating in Germany. I've had many in Europe and they can be quite refreshing. This one was as bad as anything I can recall drinking. It was disgustingly sweet, and what little beer flavour there was was horribly skunked, probably due to the clear glass bottle! Don't do it to yourselves!

Last Saturday I decided to work through the 5 different Nomad beers that had accumulated in my fridge. Naturally a few of those unlocked badges, the first of which was The Wild Mongrel. The name is fitting given the nature of the beer. It is their Cruisin' Ale which has spent plenty of time on Shiraz grapes. It's gathered a wild yeast strain somewhere along the way and has some nice vinous character and light sourness. If it were either a little more sour, or a little more vinous, or a little fruitier - it could've been very special! Pucker Up (Level 39) is why we're talking about it.


So-Cal-Iente, the collaboration between Nomad and Stone Brewing, was the other Nomad beer to unlock a badge; Better Together (Level 14). This was a wonderful Black IPA! There's roast and a hint of rye in the malt - before citrus, both added orange zest and from the hops, come to the fore. The orange is very prominent while the Anaheim chilies, that were also added, only give the faintest hint as the beer warms up. It's definitely Black IPA season, so jump on this one while it is still around!

My Marketing Management assignment may have gotten the better of me judging by the length of this Untappd Catchup... The subject is dead and buried come Thursday night, and I hope that will allow me to get some content posted this weekend! I've got a very big Untappd milestone coming up soon and have a beer I'm pretty excited for lined up for it. I would also expect to have Part 4 of The Hottest 100 up within the next week. Until next time guys!

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

Sunday, 14 August 2016

THE THIRST #1

The Thirst



I don't only drink beer and write about beer; I also read about beer - A LOT! The idea for this post came to me on holidays, basically it's going to be a quick list of beer related articles/books that I've enjoyed since the last post. If you, like me, have a thirst for beer knowledge; The Thirst is where to find it!

I'm forever looking for new beer articles and have loved a few similar posts on different blogs to what I'm trying to create here. Hopefully you all enjoy it, please send me interesting beer articles if you find them! I'm going to kick it off with a piece I was involved in, and that I also mentioned the other day.

THE BIG ISSUE: GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL - Kerry McBride of The Crafty Pint (Part 1 here - Part 2 here)

These two pieces explored the relationship between social media and the craft beer. It's a really interesting read and one that I was more than happy to be apart of. It canvasses a wide variety of industry people; the consumer (yours truly), the retailer (Ben from Carwyn), the facilitator (Tim from Untappd) and brewers (Mazen from Hawkers & Ryan from Little Bang). If you're an Untappd user this is a piece worth checking out.

SIMPLE AND TRUE - THE STORY OF SAISON DUPONT - Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting (Link here)

If you are just going to read one article, make it this one. When I first thought about this blog post I spent over an hour looking for this piece. I love everything about it; the writing is complimented by excellent photos and a video which primarily interviews Oliver Dedeycker, the 4th generation Master Brewer of Dupont, and has great shots of the meld of old and new brewing techniques, which help to produce one of the most famous beers in the world.

RAISE A GLASS... YORK'S TASTIEST MEDIEVAL TRADITION - Gavin Aitchison of The York Press (Link here)

I loved this piece because it taught me a new piece of beer history. I'd never heard of the Assize of Ale before. and I'm guessing very few of you are across it either. The piece above focuses more on the modern iteration - however I found the history far more interesting. Basically this was the first regulatory system for the weight (size), quality and price of beer.

HOPPORTUNITY COST: CRAFT BREWERS BRAWL OVER CATCHY NAMES AS PUNS RUN DRY - Sara Randazzo of The Wall Street Journal (Link here)

A interesting look at the American craft beer scene and in particular the trademark issues that are becoming more and more common. For an example you need to simply look in our own back yard at the recent Stone & Wood vs Thunder Road dispute over the term Pacific Ale.

JOURNEY OF THE HOP; FINDING GOLDILOCKS ON THE 49TH PARALLEL - Chenda Ngak of Weather.com (Link here)

If you guys weren't already aware; I love hops! Hops are cool on a number of levels, one of my favourite's being that many varieties able to grow over half a metre in height a week! Hops are, almost always, the part of your beer that imparts the most bitterness, aroma and - depending on the style - flavour. Make sure you watch the video's as well as reading the article, it'll give you a fascinating insight into a hop production facility; Elk Mountain Farm.

THE BREWMASTER'S TABLE - Garrett Oliver

Depending on the frequency of these posts; I'll try and put in a beer book in each of these posts. I read this book on the plane up to Cairns for my recent holiday. Garrett Oliver's books are always a great read and this one was no exception. Some of his suggested food pairings had my mouth watering, so much so that I head straight to the supermarket and Dan's and bought our first two meals - straight from his book. It's an old book (published 2003), but it's a wonderful resource.

There we have it guys, I hope you like the first edition of The Thirst. I think this will be a semi-regular post so please give me any feedback that you have about it. I'd love to see some articles that you guys find interesting - so please hit me up; gus.norris7@gmail.com or on the Beer O'Clock Instagram page. Hopefully I will knock over my marketing assignment tomorrow and then I will be able to get some content out for you!

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

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

REVIEW: KALIK CRISP

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Bahamas
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.6%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Here for you tonight I have a lager that is popping up around Melbourne. Kalik Crisp is a lager from The Bahamas, a country I've never had a beer from. The clear glass bottle that houses this beer has certainly raised my concerns, but I'm still willing to give it a go. First though, some background.

The Bahamas are a group of approximately 700 islands off the South East coast of Florida. Their population is around 400,000 and is mostly Christian. Like many Caribbean nations their economy is massively dependent on tourism; with more than 60% of their GDP being attributed to tourism. They are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and subsequently have Queen Elizabeth II as their monarch. Naturally, given it's location, it has a hot, tropical climate - which is what is sparking my concerns about the bottle.

Kalik Crisp poured reasonably well. The colour was certainly on the lighter side, with light yellow being the nicest way I can think of to describe it! The head is brilliant white and initially is of a decent size. It quite aerated, with quite a few larger bubbles almost from the outset, and accordingly fades to a film quite quickly. This film hangs around for the duration and even leaves behind some lacing.

The real test of the glass bottle is often the nose. I'm quite surprised, and thankful, to report that there was very little, if any, signs of skunk in this bottle. I'm also pleased to report that I don't have to invoke the lager rule; Kalik Crisp has a reasonable nose. There was some light cereal grain malt aromas as well as some floral hop notes. The hops didn't seem particularly strong/bitter, but they were definitely there on the nose!

It tastes exactly like what the nose indicated. Kalik Crisp has a light malt base, which is slightly on the sweeter side, but not off-puttingly so. Like I thought, the hops don't provide much bitterness, but they do provide some interest; with some floral flavours and more prominently lemon. There's a tiny bit of corn at the end, but it's not really noticeable if you're not looking for it. The carbonation was quite high, but it was strangely light on the tongue - it's an odd, but pleasant, feeling.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with how this lager tasted. It's not of the same quality as something like the Pilsner Urquell that I had the other day (which was magnificent!), but nor would you expect a tropical lager of this nature to be. It's light, it's refreshing, it's quaffable and it actually tastes like a beer; not skunk. It would be a particularly easy beer to put away multiples of on a tropical beach. In Australia, you've obviously got better options - but if it's still as cheap as it is now come summer, there would be worse options to stock your fridge with for your mates.

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

Monday, 1 August 2016

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 39

Untappd Catchup


Many weeks have passed since my last Untappd wrap up. Like with the Hottest 100 post - work, uni, I.T. issues and holidays have got in the way of this... Accordingly it's bigger than usual - hopefully it's still just 15 badges when I've finished writing this post!

One of the beers I look forward to every year is the Duvel Tripel Hop. Normally Duvel is brewed with just two hops, Saaz & Styrian Golding. Once a year they brew this beer using a third hop; this year the experimental variety HBC 291, which has now been named Loral. This hop provided a wonderful lime and pepper flavour, which suited Duvel brilliantly! Belgian Holiday (Level 28) was the badge.

The ever confounding New Brew Thursday badge, (Level 20), was unlocked by Uinta's Dubhe Imperial Black IPA. It was a lovely Black IPA, clocking in at 9.2%, packing a bitter punch - which is listed at 109 IBU's. There's also this very interesting licorice flavour that compliments the roasty flavours you would expect from the style. Despite not being the freshest offering; I was very impressed with this beer.


Beers that unlock 2 badges are pretty rare for me these days. Funk Estate's Gose Town did just that; unlocking Pucker Up (Level 37) & What Gose Round (Level 3). For those missing the reference; Gose is a sour style of beer, originating from Goslar in Germany. I got my hands on this through Tru Bru - it's their GABS beer from this year and, as far as I know, it's keg only. It's a good example of the style; with a sour sweet base, plenty of coriander (avoid if you're not a fan) and light saltiness on the back of the palate. If you are unsure of what Gose's are, this would be a good starting point.

A couple of weeks ago Dylan and I shared a number of beer whilst watching the footy. As usual, we dotted several lighter sours throughout the night to cleanse our palates; which has the fringe benefit of making sure we can both get stuff done the next day! Swedish brewer Dugges provided three of those sours; with their Black Currant the only one to earn a badge. It was my least favourite of the 3; I thought the lacto was a bit too strong and the black currant was subsequently detracted from. It was a perfectly acceptable beer, but was overshadowed by Bow Tie Daddy (an aggressively tart Berliner Weiss) & Tropic Thunder (reminiscent of sour breakfast juice - spectacular). Swedish Brews (Level 2) was the badge.

Bad Shepherd's new one; New World IPA, is absolutely on point! This is one of the best Australian made examples of a straight up and down American IPA. Hopped Up (Level 42) is richly deserved for this beer, clocking in at 74 IBU's, utilizing Australian, American, New Zealand and even French hops. It's a wonderfully bitter beer and also smacks you in the face with pine resin and tropical fruit flavours. I loved this beer and can't wait to go back and grab a 6-pack!

 

I do find it interesting that Scottish beers count towards both God Save the Queen & The Highlander badges... Obviously I understand why, but it is interesting nonetheless. The beer that spawned that little muse was Harviestoun's American IPA, which unlocked God Save the Queen (Level 33). It's not a beer I distinctly remember; other than thinking it was very bog-standard for the style. My notes don't help much either - other than to confirm it was a passable, if forgettable, IPA.

Almanac's Elephant Heart de Brettaville was anything but forgettable! This was plain and simply one of the best beers I've had this year! The combination of the Elephant Heart (a type of Plum) flavour and the Brett was just superb! Pucker Up (Level 38) is why we're talking about it, although at another time this would've been reviewed in full! I'm doing a big Almanac tasting with Richo in the next month or two - which I will post a full wrap up of - so keep your eyes peeled Almanac fans!

I was really impressed with the beers from Kees, a Dutch brewery, that made it out here at the end of last year. There's recently been a second, more winter-friendly, influx of their beer's including the 1750 Export Porter. It was a really big Porter, clocking in at 10.5%, and was packed full of roast, some dark fruits and even some licorice. The only thing that detracted from it for me was a strong yeasty (almost Vegemite-like taste) that you were left with at the conclusion of each mouthful; I'm a big Vegemite fan, but even I found it too much. Possibly it was a bottle gone bad? Heavyweight (Level 45) was the badge.


I've finally unlocked the Beach Bum badge! It took a surprisingly long time as I'm quite partial to on beach drinking - although clearly I revisit the same beaches over and over again. Whilst on holidays; a very fresh Pilsner Urquell from the Dan's in Cairns was enjoyed on Thornton Beach, near Cape Tribulation. This offering was one of the best Pilsner Urquell's I've had outside the Czech Republic. It had that wonderful Noble Hop character that this beer is so renowned for. It's a wonderful beer when fresh - and if there's fresh stock in FNQ there has to be some near where you live!

On holidays the varied check-in locations always lead to a number of the location badges being unlocked. By the Campfire (Level 7) was unlocked at Cape Kimberley, one of few spots north of the Daintree River with phone reception. Lizzie and I made the journey down most nights to watch the Tour de France on the iPad, send some emails and (naturally) enjoy a few beers. On this occassion the beer was the Pirate Life IPA - a beer I muled several of up to FNQ. It's a spectacular example of an Australian brewed American IPA, with chewy caramel malts offsetting the hops which have a strong pineapple element accompanying the usual tropical fruit and pine flavours - as well as nice pronounced bitterness.

Port Douglas have recently got their own brewery; Hemingway's. Naturally while I was up there I thought I ought to pop in and check it out. The venue is awesome and situated in a particularly picturesque spot - if I have time I'll pop out a full review of the place in the coming days. As part of my paddle I had a Bicycle Beer from Temple Brewing in Melbourne, at this stage they don't have enough beers of their own to complete a full paddle. It tasted exactly as I knew it would; lightly wheaty, very effervescent, spicy hops and nicely refreshing. Blondes Do it Better (Level 5) is why you're hearing about it!


It's always a treat to try a new Mikkeller creation. Wit Fit is, strangely enough, a Witbier that unlocked Danish Delight (Level 5) - the badge for trying different Danish beers. It had all the elements you'd expect from a Witbier; light wheat flavours, coriander and some yeastiness. However, it was by no means a traditional Witbier with a bucketload of hops being added; imparting bitterness as well as citrus and fruity characteristics. It is also listed by Mikkeller as an "Imperial Witbier", which certainly was not evident throughout drinking!

Another trip to Hemingway's later in my holiday yielded another badge; Hopped Up (Level 43). Once again it was a guest beer, Yulli's Brew Louis Black IPA, that took home the prize. This was quite an interesting Black IPA, that changed dramatically as it warmed up. At first I thought it was disappointing;  a little thin and lacking in either roast or hop characteristics. As it warmed the roast became more pronounced, although still a little underwhelming for the style, and the hops provided a nice bitter bite. It's not a beer I'd be rushing back to - but iI certainly wouldn't turn down another.


Last but not least, Moa's 2015 Tripel Sauvignon unlocked Dubbel, Tripel and Quad Oh My! (Level 5). It's a really interesting beer. The Candi Sugar that is usually so important in a traditional has been replaced by Sauvignon Blanc grape juice - clearly it worked well! I didn't know that before trying the beer; and actually thought the vinous characteristics were relatively mild, and were even slightly swamped by a traditional Tripel sweetness. Certainly there was some fruitiness that you wouldn't find in a regular Tripel, but I thought that it was close enough to a traditional example with just a tiny twist. I would definitely recommend picking one of these up if you still see one sitting on a shelf.

Finally I've finished this monster post! I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed drinking the beers. Let me know your thoughts on any of the above. Also check out this post by Kerry McBride of the Crafty Pint that I was fortunate enough to be interviewed for. Part 1 here & part 2 here. It's a really cool piece exploring the impact that social media, particularly Untappd, has had on the beer world. Until next time guys!

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

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

HOTTEST 100 BEERS: PART 3


The Hottest 100 Beers


Part 3 of the Hottest 100 segment is upon us. I've tried at least 1 beer from each decade, for a third time, and have written short summations for you below. Assuming things go to plan, ie. I can find all the beers in time, I intend to complete this challenge in 10 posts.

#10 - Feral Karma Citra This beer has finally made the big time! Feral's Karma Citra was their first ever GABS beers; in the days when it was just a 20 tap event at The Local Taphouse! Last year it finally made the jump from sporadic appearer to year round core range member! This beer straddles the divide of appeal between being approachable to craft beer novices, while still appealing to aficianado's. For those who haven't tried it; please do! It's body is lightly roasted with hints of nuttiness, while still allowing the Citra hops to shine. It's a wonderful Black IPA that I really hopes makes the style more widely available!

#16 - Big Shed Golden Stout Time Big Shed's GABS offering was one of the beer I voted for in last years Hottest 100 countdown. Their beer; Golden Stout Time, a take on Australia's best ice cream - the Golden Gaytime - was simply superb! It had the perfect mix of chocolate, honeycomb and caramel, that blended perfectly with the creamy texture of the beer. In short they nailed it! I really hope these guys keep making this beer long into the future; it's one of the best Sweet Stouts on the market!

#26 - Riverside 777 Quite how this beer slipped this low I'm not sure! It could be that it is hard to get outside it's home state of NSW - although thankfully that is changing! Riverside's 777 could go toe-to-toe with any Imperial IPA. It's, not surprisingly, packed full of hops - both tropical and piney in flavour - while there is a more than adequate malt base that allows them to shine. For 9.2% ABV, it's dangerously easy drinking! I'm going to try and organise a side by side of this beer and the Pirate Life IIPA (3rd in this very same countdown) and report back my findings.

#35 - 4 Pines Indian Summer Pale Ale 4 Pines released this beer, their first - and to date only - canned offering, at the start of last summer. Quite how this beer ended up this high in the countdown beguiles me. It's an inoffensive Pale Ale, with relatively low carbonation, malt flavour and hop flavour. What little flavour there is, is of light breads malts and some passionfruit. I can see the appeal of this beer, on a 35+ degree day by a pool - but frankly there are far better options available at the same price point. Most beers I can find a way to endorse their standing in the Hottest 100 beers - but #35 is far far too high for this beer, so lacking in flavour. There's a time and a place; and the Hottest 100 is certainly not the place!

#46 - Feral Tusk This one is really stretching back some time! Feral Tusk is the beer I most look forward to every year. It's a massive Imperial IPA, released on tap just twice a year at select venues around the country. The beer has a huge caramel malt base, as you'd expect for such a big Imperial IPA (11.8%), before an avalanche of hops attack your senses with pine and tropical fruit flavour dominating. It's a wonderful IPA, that's dangerously drinkable! Every year I wonder how this beer ends up this far down the countdown, but then I think that 46th isn't bad for a beer that is available for less than one week a year!

#60 - Hawthorn Pale Ale
 I have flipped and flopped on Hawthorn's beers more than any brewery I can recall. Clearly quality control is not their strong suit... I was interested to see their Pale Ale in the Hottest 100 and was quite looking forward to trying it again. I was severely disappointed. The malts were like stale bread, almost cardboardy, while there was some orange peel flavour and aroma coming from the hops. This isn't a beer that I would go seeking out - it's neither a good nor an awful Pale Ale, but it's also not one you'd expect to make the Hottest 100 beers. I don't know if this was just a bad batch, but I seem to have that feeling quite a bit with beers from Hawthorn...

#66 - White Rabbit Pale Ale Unlike most Australian brewers, White Rabbit's Pale Ale isn't American/Australian in style; it's Belgian. I was unsure what to think when they announced their Belgian Pale Ale in July 2014(ish) - Australian's always rave about Belgian beers, but could White Rabbit reproduce that flavour and capture that market. Clearly they've done pretty well - with this beer finding it's way up from #85 in it's first year. The beer is a simple Belgian Pale Ale with nice Belgian yeast phenols and flavours. There's light citrus and floral qualities from the hops that are quite nice as well. It's certainly not going to standup to the best Belgian examples but it is more than serviceable. I quite like this beer and hope it sparks a trend that more Aussie brewers experiment with different yeasts.

#79 - Australian Beer Co. Yenda Pale Ale I've been interested to try the Coca-Cola owned Yenda beers since they were first announced - for a number of reasons it hasn't happened until now. The first one I tried - was as a palate cleanser in the middle of a large sour session - and was truly appalling! The second, on a clean palate, was slightly less galling - but still pretty appalling! The malts were more reminiscent of cardboard than malt and there was some slight floral hop qualities - although slight may be being kind...

#89 - Mornington Pale Ale In contrast to the Yenda offering, Mornington's exceptional Pale Ale somehow slotted in a whole 10 places lower in the countdown. It's a beautifully constructed Pale Ale, with a light biscuity malt platform allowing the passionfruit and citrus aromas and flavours of the hops to shine! I drink this beer regularly and can only imagine that other people aren't drinking it if it was to slip this far down the countdown. These guys are exporting to China so you should be able to find it throughout most of Australia.

#97 - Coopers Sparkling Ale It had been years since I last tried a Coopers Red! I was so pleased to see this sneak into the Hottest 100 so I could reminisce a bit. It tasted similar to what I recall - with pale malts and some distinct yeastiness. There's more citrus hops than I remembered, but they aren't particularly bitter. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane - and it certainly won't be years until my next one!

I know this post has been a long time coming! A combination of Uni, work, holidays and I.T issues saw this post delayed and delayed and delayed... Part 4 won't be more than 2-3 weeks away I wouldn't have thought. As usual fire any questions you have at me/let me know what you thought of my comments on any of the above beers. If you want to follow this challenge along live, you can follow me on the Beeroclockau Instagram page. Until next time...

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