Tuesday, 27 September 2011

REVIEW: NØGNE Ø PALE ALE

European Beer Challenge #8 Norway


STATS
  • Country: Norway
  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • ABV: 6.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
My grandfather was a nautical electrician for almost 50 years and Norway was one of the places where he couldn't fault the beer. So when these rather expensive Norweigan beers found their way across my bar, I thought I should probably invite Pa over to try one.

The brewery's name translates literally as "The Naked Island", which is supposed to emphasize the purity of the beer, apparently. The brewery was only founded in 2002 so this was a beer my grandfather hadn't come across in his travels. The brewery has won many awards, and this being one of my preferred styles of beer I had high expectations.

This beer pours beautifully, a copper-orange colour with a big white head, which seems quite thick. The beer seems very cloudy, not unheard of for an American Pale Ale but not common either. Good top level carbonation, but not alot that appears to be rising. I like a Pale Ale to be a little more golden, but this is still an excellent looking beer.

An amazingly aromatic beer! A trait in most Pale Ale's is quite a strong nose, but this beer takes that trait to the next level. It smells like a beautifully hopped ale, the malts are well toasted and the citrus is very pronounced. I can smell lime juice almost instantly but the pine notes carry through into a strong caramelly malt. This is a very hard nose to describe, if any of you have had Sierra Nevada Pale Ale it is not disimilar but about 10 times as intense.

As Pale Ale's go this is a very intense beer. Right from the first sip it is a very juicy fruity beer. The overwhelming flavours are of lime and I believe grapefruit. The malts in this beer are quite complex and they begin to emerge in the form of a sweet caramel flavour, with the grapefruit still flowing through the palate. There is a cinnamon like spiceness that permiates the beer as it heats up. The finish has a very dry wood feel, which is slightly bitter, the very soft carbonation of this beer definitely helps with it's drinkability.

Now this is a very big call but I think this is one of the best ale's that I have ever had! The beer looks great, the head lasts for the entirety of the beer, it smells fantastic and the taste is out of this world. I reckon you could knock back quite a few of these, but your wallet wouldn't want you to. This definitely a dinner beer rather than a big session beer. I would suggest you go out of your way to find this beer, as it really is top of the range.


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

Saturday, 24 September 2011

REVIEW: NIKSICKO

European Beer Challenge #7 Montenegro


STATS
  • Country: Montenegro
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
The second beer on this blog from Montenegro, and apparently it's better! Jelen is one of my favourite beers to drink lots of, so there are high expectations on this beer. Now, for those who say this is a Serbian beer you are wrong! This is from the Trebjesa brewery in Montenegro, the logo (which is quite hard to see) proves this.

A fun fact about this beer is that Montenegro's most famous soccer player (person ever?); Mirko Vucinic was the head brewer's son, and grew up in the town. It's the most popular beer in Montenegro and has a reasonable following in the surrounding countries. Based on my knowledge of Jelen alone, the beer in this region is quite good, and if this is more popular than Jelen it has to be a serious beer.

The pour is excellent on this beer, it looks like any lager you would want to drink. The colour is straw yellow with excellent carbonation and bubbles up the side of the glass. The white head forms very quickly and dissipates almost as quickly. It does leave a small ring of foam, which comes back with swilling but there is no lacing to speak of. Apart from the slightly disappointing head it looks great.

This beer is incredibly mild on the nose. Mild levels of maltiness and some acidity are the main smells, but by no means are they overpowering. The hops are quite strong and are of a herbal variety that I am not familiar with. Overall it smells like a pretty standard lager, not overly enticing but definitely not offensive in any way.

A really nice malty beer! The taste is very bready with some flowery elements. Fresh grass is quite present but the real crux of this beer is the herbal hops, which are excellent. The hops are restrained and not overpowering, which keeps the beer balanced. The body is very light and the carbonation is nowhere near as high as the bubbles on the glass suggested, it's actually a very pleasant beer. The finish it leaves is very sweet and dry, almost like a wine aftertaste.

Overall I'm quite impressed with Niksicko, but it's no Jelen. It's an enjoyably beer, which stands out from other lagers in the area because of the excellent hops they use. If the weather was very hot and humid I would strongly suggest this is the beer for the job, as it's quite refreshing. This probably isn't the beer for dinner though, I just don't think the flavours would mix particularly well with food. However I will try it and report back later. Worth a shot if you ever see it.

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

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

REVIEW: SVYTURYS EKSTRA

European Beer Challenge #6 Lithuania


STATS
  • Country: Lithuania
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
This is the first beer that I believe falls into the category of one of the harder countries to find. When I saw this at the beer store I thought fantastic, a normal style beer from one of the countries I felt would have been the hardest to find.

A Euro pale lager is one of the most commonly drunk styles of beer in Australia. Almost all the imported beers you can buy at Dan's are examples of Euro pale lagers: Heineken, Carlsberg, Stella etc. Most Eastern European countries make quite unusal styles of beer, so it was quite refreshing to find a nice normal beer from one of these countries. For example Finland produces a disgusting local brew called Sahti, really avoid at all costs.

The label claim that this is Lithuania's most popular beer and after pouring this beer I can see why! This beer looks perfect, clear with a perfect big white head. The carbonation looks great, the head seems quite thick while still being brilliantly white. The colour is maybe a tad yellow for the style but otherwise a perfect example, of one poured from a bottle.

Nothing special on the nose. This beer smells like all European lagers, grainy with some hints of fruit. There is alot of sweet malt (not what I was expecting) and some hints of spicyness. Slightly citrusy but nothing really of note. The bottle claims they use bitter aromatic hops but I couldn't smell them at all.

This beer is very rich and malty for a lager. Svyturys have made a very interesting beer, as the aroma is quite sweet and inviting for a relatively cold climate, but also has a refreshing crisp bite to it. The hops mentioned on the back of this bottle are much more evident in the taste, and they are really high quality! I don't think they are Saaz hops but they are quite similar. The beer is very well balanced and highly drinkable.

This beer has won some serious beer awards, after tasting it I can see why! I thought this was a fantastic example of a Euro pale lager. I could drink so many of these, it's incredibly refreshing while also having some substance to it. The flavours are rich but are balanced perfectly by the hops. This is a really good Euro pale lager, definitely worth a try if you can find it. I'll be getting more for summer.

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

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

REVIEW: PAUWEL KWAK

European Beer Challenge #5 Belgium


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale 
  • ABV: 8.4%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
 The great beer producing country that is Belgium makes a vast number of beers in countless different styles. Most are known for their intense flavours or colours, but this beer is different. Pauwel Kwak has the unusual distinction of being known more for it's distinctive glass moreso than it's flavour.

The basic story behind this glass is that it was designed by a Belgian innkeeper to serve to coach drivers on horseback, who could take a sip and then set the glass in their stirrup. It's a great story and in a country where ever brewery makes their own vessel Kwak have really done well in the marketing stakes to stand out from the crowd. Having recently acquired a couple of these glasses I thought is was time to pour a beer.

This beer pours a hazy orange-amber colour with a yellowed head. There is not a great deal of head on this beer, but the head that is there hangs around and laces surprisingly well all things considered. The colour is quite dark for a Belgian style Pale Ale, but it nevertheless is very inviting.

The first thing that hits you when you sniff this beer is a very sweet, caramel flavour. There are pleasant spicy undertones and touches of fruit, but it is quite hard to smell over the caramel. I think the fruits are sultana's and maybe banana, but it's quite hard to tell. The malt smells good and there are no hops to speak of yet. Perhaps a tiny waft of alcohol, but it's very pleasant and adds to the warmth of the brew's smell.

This beer proves true to the nose, it's exactly what you would expect after smelling it. Kwak has strong caramel and toffee flavours, which may be a tad sweet for some. The fruits are alot stronger than the aroma seemed, they are strong and vibrant and bring a real tartness to the beer. The predominant fruit is a bitter pear, I find it quite interesting that I couldn't smell it as it is very strong flavoured. A touch of alcohol really warms it up nicely and would make it an excellent desert beer.

Overall this is a really good beer. As I mentioned earlier it is very sweet and this may turn some off. Pauwel Kwak is nowhere near as thick as some Belgian strong Pale Ales and has a medium level of carbonation. It feels really smooth in the mouth and the extra ale makes it probably more of a late evening beer or a beer for winter. Keep it in mind if you are ever after a beer to go with dessert (not that many ever are...). Definitely worth a try for all and a must for beer aficionados.

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

Monday, 19 September 2011

REVIEW: WEIHENSTEPHANER FESTBIER

An Oktoberfest Special


STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Oktoberfest (Marzen)
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
This is this years Festbier from the world's oldest brewery; Weihenstephaner. This brewery has been producing beer since 1040, so closing in on it's 1000th birthday! And all of the beers they produce are magnificent and show their experience.

So in recognition of Oktoberfest which started last weekend this is the review of Weihenstephaner's 2011 edition of the Festbier. This is what all those at Oktoberfest are drinking right now. I'm looking forward to it, so I've got really high expectations.

The pour of this beer is very surprisingly crystal clear apple juice colour! It has a very shortlived large head which pales away to nothing by half way down the glass. The head is quite airy and has almost no substance to it. Most Marzen beers are quite dark in colour and are quite cloudy. This is nothing like a normal Marzen beer but it is still a very nice looking beer, just not indicative of the style.

This beer is very delicate on the nose like most Marzen beers, and particularly Weihenstephaner beers. There are subtle pale malts and some very light floral Noble hops. It smells slightly spicy, but really quite mild. A lovely aroma that doesn't really give away what this beer will taste like. However I feel that this peaks my interest more when you add this to the colour.

So the flavour is very simple. This beer doesn't take the traditional Marzen route of ridiculous ammounts of maltiness, instead it is quite sweet with a very mild pale malt. It's the very rich Noble hops where this beer stands out. They are spectacularly floral with a very minor citrus flavour, really excellent. It's very light in the mouth with moderate-low carbonation and the bitterness is almost non-existent. Wow you could knock back alot of these!

In summing up this beer you wouldn't say it's exceptional, but it is still very good. It is not a Marzen beer by definition, but it is perfect for Oktoberfest! This beer will cool you down during the heat of the German sun, and will certainly warm you up if you have enough of them. It's such an easy beer to drink as well, infact I'm going to go have another one. If you see this beer go and get some for Summer, it won't let you down.


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

Sunday, 18 September 2011

THE BEST OF BEER CAMP

Amazing Pre-Drink, a truly epic journey!

Sierra Nevada Brewery have just released their 'Best of Beer Camp' selection for 2011. The selection includes a California Common, a Double IPA, a Weizenbock and a Juniper Black Ale. As with all beers from this brewery they should be full of flavours and with a pretty high alcohol content.

Friday was a lovely Melbourne day and I finished work early, what better time to try these beers! I had a mates birthday in the evening so Richo came over to enjoy the beers with me, for a couple of pre's. It was going to be a fun evening!

So we started with the California Common. It's a style that is very hard to come across in Australia, but basically it is a lager which has no refrigeration in the brewing process. It's also known as a Steam Beer. It pours a lovely golden colour with not a huge amount of head, but the little that is there laces really well. There were lots of bubbles in the beer so we were slightly perplexed by the lack of head. The beer smelt perfect for the warm afternoon sunshine, very light citrus and grass with floral hops.

The flavour blew us away, this tastes alot like a fruity pilsner. It had quite a sweet malty bread texture but the overwhelming pear and citrus flavours were exactly what the day called for. It was incredibly crisp and smooth and you couldn't tell that it was 6.5%. It has a very nice dry finish, and I couldn't fault it. It's one of the best beers I've ever had!

We decided that the Weizenbock would be the most appropriate beer to have next. This is quite a difficult style to make, but being Sierra Nevada I'm sure it will be fantastic. This pours a very cloudy apricot colour with 2 fingers of brilliant white head. This is almost the perfect Weizenbock in appearance, I'm pleasantly surprised that they haven't Americanized the style.

CLOVES! The overwhelming aroma of this beer was cloves, exactly what the style called for! Good elements of banana and dark fruits to accompany good maltiness. It's also nice to smell some of the yeasty undertones.

What an amazing beer! It's very wheaty but as the beer warms up the wonderful spicyness of the cloves comes through. There are some citrus elements as well, but the banana taste is very strong. It's a very good beer, definitely gets better as the beer warms up, probably best served around 8-10 degrees. I'd be nitpicking if I said you can taste the alcohol a bit in the finish, but it really doesn't detract from the sensational flavour. At 6.8% it's quite low on the Weizenbock scale, but still a great beer. Definitely one of the better Weizenbock's out there.

So onto the Double IPA and it's a whopping 8.5%. Double IPA are normally referred to as Imperial IPA's in Australia and our's are typically better than the American ones. It's a great style and one of my personal favourites, so hopefully this will be good, Sierra Nevada's normal IPA is fantastic so expecting big things from this beer.

The colour is good, I would like it to be a little darker, but the colour is still nice. Not that much head, which is typical of the style but it was brilliantly white. Quite a good representation of the style but by no means exceptional.

It smelled fruity and spicy with some lovely caramel notes. There is a resinous piney element to the nose, by no means is this as bold as many beers in the style. It's not really great for IPA standards but it is certainly acceptable.

Again the flavour is good without being exceptional. There are some excellent pine flavours throughout with good levels of bitterness. Tiny amounts of citrus but really the alcohol is coming out too much. In an Imperial IPA you expect high levels of alcohol but you shouldn't taste it coming through. By no means is it an offensive beer, but by no means is it exceptional. If you want to try a good IPA by Sierra Nevada buy the Torpedo! It's a much better beer. This is definitely the worst of the three so far.

And finally the beer I have been looking forward to the most; the Juniper Black Ale. There aren't that many good Black Ale's around, and based purely on the fact that all Sierra Nevada beers are good this was bound to be another good one.

The pour is just incredible, the head is absolutely enormous and quite bubbly (see photo below) but settles quite quickly to what you see on the right. The head is a tan colour and tastes wonderfully creamy, not disimilar to a Guinness' head. The colour of the beer is the blackest either of us have ever seen, it's completely opaque! We held a bottle of Coke up to the light and this up as well and the Coke is quite reddy-brown but this you can't even see the light through it's just amazing!

The nose was really strange, lots of roasted malt and coffee. It's mildly acidic but you can really smell the juniper, and there's lots of it! It's got nice floral overtones and is slightly fruity. This is a really nice start, it could maybe smell slightly sweeter, but the taste is where we will find out if this is a really good beer.

WOW! This beer is really big on flavour straight up, the juniper hit is strong and only gets stronger as the beer warms up. There is more herbal and fruitiness than the nose lets on. The malt is well roasted and tastes fantastic there is even this strange almost licorice like taste, which provides great bitterness. It really is very difficult to describe the levels of flavour going on in this beer. The basic take home message is that this is one of those beers that you are going to have to try to decide whether you like it or not. We both thought this was amazing, definitely worth a try as it tastes like no other beer I have ever had.

However this is where we thought our journey would end, but after the Juniper Black Ale we knew before a solid night of drinking we probably needed to cleanse our palates with something a bit more neutral. We stuck with the Sierra Nevada theme and had their Pale Ale, which is their most produced beer and in my opinion their best year-round production beer. As usual it was fantastic, it's also by far the easiest of their beers to get in Australia so if you see it, it's definitely a must buy. The night was pretty hectic after this, but the flavours were amazing and I won't forget that Black Ale for a long time...



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





Thursday, 15 September 2011

REVIEW: AMAGER RUGPORTER

European Beer Challenge #4 Denmark

STATS
  • Country: Denmark
  • Style: Porter
  • ABV: 8.5%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
This is a very highly rated craft brewery worldwide, and from all reports this porter is excellent. In the past I have had the pale ale, which was superb, so really high expectations for this beer.

I like a Porter under the right conditions, normally they are perfect for after dinner. A Porter is a dark style beer which quite often tastes like a coffee or a liquer moreso than a beer. A very interesting style for those who haven't sampled one before.

The colour is a very dark brown with an almost non-existant tan head. The head is made up of very large bubbles and is disappointing, even by Porter standards which are known for their lack of head. The colour however is perfect for the style, overall it seems quite thick and should hopefully lace well.

This beer is very nice on the nose. It smells distinctly smokey, due to what I believe is roasted malt there is also a touch of something quintessentially Scandinavian. It's the darkness, the bleakness or the rusticity. It's thin and crisp, but also dark and redolent. It reminds me somewhat of over roasted coffee beans. It smells much lighter than it looks, I'm intrigued as to the taste of this brew.

An amazingly complex brew! The taste is dark and chalky, with a big bitterness that comes across like that of an espresso. I like the roastiness that comes across in this really big Porter, combined with the lightness of body, which lulls you into the sense that you could drink quite a lot of these! It's really dark and roasted but the lightness in the mouth brings it all back together superbly!

Overall this is a spectacular Porter! I haven't had enough Porter's to call myself an expert in the style, but I am pretty sure this is one of the best of them. Don't let the price put you off if you see this, (or any other beer from Amager) they are all superb! Despite my review saying you could drink quite a few, I wouldn't recommend doing it because although it is labelled 8.5% I think it's a fair bit higher. This is a must try if you enjoy dark beers or if you like a strong long black.

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

Saturday, 10 September 2011

REVIEW: SHEEPSHAGGERS GOLD

European Beer Challenge #3 Scotland

STATS
  • Country: Scotland
  • Style: English Pale Ale
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I've never heard anything about this beer before, which is quite rare for me, and before picking it up I'd made up my mind it was a cheap New Zealand craft beer, from the name alone. After seeing that this was actually Scottish I decided it might be worth a try.

The relatively low alcohol content worried me from the start, as Scottish beers tend to be quite thick and prone to going quite stale without the presence of quite a bit of alcohol. This was always going to be an interesting brew.

The moment I poured this I knew this was a different style of Scottish brew to what I'd had before. The colour was a lovely golden colour, with a relatively low sudsy head which has absolutely no retention. It literally lasted 25 seconds at the height in the photo. This may be a sign that the carbonation is quite low, as I can't see any bubbles on the side of the glass. Not a bad appearance for the style, however more head would be nice.

The first whiff I get of this beer and I seriously begin to doubt this beers classification as a pale ale. It has a really malty biscuit like smell. There is also a strong smell of apples and citrus. A nice cut-grass and light hop ending. It smells quite appealling and I can't wait to get into this one.

After the fantastic aroma's on display, the taste really is a let down. There are some impressive peppery hops up front but this is replaced by quite an acidic and unpleasant apple taste. I'm not the world's biggest cider fan, and this to me taste more like a sour cider than a beer. The aftertaste tries to revive this beer but I fear the damage was already done. The sweet cream and honey after taste is nice but can't undo the damage I feel the strong acidity upfront killed this beer.

The name is clearly the only reason, I and the other guy in Dan's picked up one and decided to try it. This is the only reason (unless you like cider!) that anyone should try this beer. I'm actually quite disappointed as the Cairngorm brewery have an excellent start here, but just totally destroyed it with heavy handed acidity. If this beer was 6 or 7% it might have a better chance, as the alcohol would dull down the acidity, either way until the beer is improved its not worthy buying!

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

Friday, 9 September 2011

REVIEW: DAB

 European Beer Challenge #2 Germany


STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Dortmunder
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
This is one of the first beers I ever had legally. It was just after my 16th birthday and I was in Germany the beer capital of the world. I remember it fondly so hopefully this lives up to my memories of it on a warm day in Germany.

Basically a Dortmunder is a pilsner, made mostly for export, originating in the industrial heartbed of Germany; Dortmund. It is typically a very light and refreshing style of beer.

I prefer to drink this beer from the can, so it is obviously difficult to describe the appearance of this beer. However from past experiences it is a light straw colour with a thick head, which laces quite well. From this experience I can say that the can is excellent, much more detailed than most European beer cans, definitely one for the collector. The awards this beer has won are there for all to see on the front of the can, it's definitely a promising start.

The aroma is pretty non-descript. It smells like a nice light lager, there are some weak hops and some grass in the aroma but it is very weak. At least this beer smells very clean, slightly malty, but by no means is it skunky.

This is the epitome of a German pilsner. It is very light, crisp beer with minor grain notes. Absolutely nothing fancy about this beer, it is just a very nice refreshing beer. There is an initial crisp bite to the beer, but after that there is nothing to offend anyone. This beer would be a spectacular beer to drink on a hot afternoon, and you could knock back as many of these as you want. You would never get tired of this beer it is sensational.

I drank this beer as part of my alphabet challenge a while ago and really enjoyed it. I can definitely say this beer is better in a can than a bottle. It's also cheaper in this form, definitely a good beer to try if you have never had it, as you will fall in love with it. Save this one for summer.

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

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

REVIEW:GÖSSER DARK

European Beer Challenge #1 Austria


STATS
  • Country: Austria
  • Style: Munich Dunkel Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
It was purely coincidental that this beer comes from a country beginning with 'A' is the first beer in this challenge. Dad brought some home and who am I to turn down free beer.

I have had the lager from this brewery before and it wasn't that good so I wasn't expecting a great deal from this beer. However that said most Munich Dunkel Lagers are good, it's quite an easy style to make well, but an incredibly difficult beer to perfect.

It pours a very dark red-brown colour, not that you can tell in the photo as the lighting isn't great (and I took this one.). Nice little tan head, less than a fingers worth but it is creamy and leaves an impressive trail down the glass considering how little remains on the surface of the beer. A nice looking beer really!

The smells are quite strong on the nose, with coffee and sweet caramel the dominant odours. It also smells a bit like a dark nutty chocolate. There is a light hops background finish but emphasis is definitely on the word light, not really enough for a Munich Dunkel.

This beer may not smell spectacular but it tastes brilliantly. It's a very smooth and creamy brew and feels fantastic in the mouth as it is not too thick our overpowered by carbonation. For those who don't like malty beers, this isn't for you, as the beer has a lovely toasty malt before making way to the caramel and coffee flavours that the aroma promised us. This is followed by a quick burst of herbal hops but this doesn't last long enough for my liking and is quickly taken over by a sweet finish. Surprisingly the aftertaste doesn't last long and the taste leaves the mouth very quickly.

Don't get me wrong this is a good beer, but by no means is it a great beer. Things like the lack a lasting hops flavour or a more lasting aftertaste, let down what could be a spectacular dark beer. This probably isn't the beer for you to try if you have never had a dark beer before, but if you are well accustomed to dark beers definitely worth a go, especially after dinner.

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

EUROPEAN BEER CHALLENGE

After a bit of a think about how to do this challenge, I have come to the conclusion that it's going to take a while. So my plan is to have reviewed a minimum of one beer from each of the countries listed below by Christmas. This is where I'm going to need suggestions for some of the weider/more obscure countries, so please hit me up at gus.norris7@gmail.com and keep your other emails coming, the feedback and ideas are greatly appreciated.

Countries List:

ALBANIA Birra Tirana

ANDORRA Estrella Galicia

ARMENIA

AUSTRIA  Gösser Dark

AZERBAIJAN Xirdalan

BELARUS Zhigulevskoye

BELGIUM Pauwel Kwak

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA Nektar

BULGARIA Kamenitza

CROATIA Karlovacko

CYPRUS Keo Beer

CZECH REPUBLIC Rohozec Skalak Tmave 13%

DENMARK  Amager Rugporter

ENGLAND Theakston's Old Peculier

ESTONIA Viru

FAROE ISLANDS Föroya Rockall

FINLAND Lapin Kulta

FRANCE Gavroche

GERMANY DAB Original

GEORGIA Mtieli

GREECE Mythos

HUNGARY Dreher Classic

ICELAND Viking

IRELAND Guinness Extra Stout

ISRAEL Maccabee Lager

ITALY Tapetto Volante

KAZAKHSTAN

KOSOVO Birra Prizreni

LATVIA Aldaris Gaisais

LIECHTENSTEIN LIECHTENSTEINER BRAUHAUS HELL'S

LITHUANIA Svyturys Ekstra

LUXEMBOURG Bofferding

MACEDONIA Skopsko

MALTA Cisk Lager

MOLDOVA Bere Chisinau

MONTENEGRO Niksicko

NETHERLANDS La Trappe Quad

NORTHERN IRELAND Caffrey's Original

NORWAY Nøgne Ø Pale Ale

POLAND Karpackie Super Mocne

PORTUGAL Super Bock

ROMANIA Ursus Premium

RUSSIA Baltika #7

SAN MARINO Amarcord Volpina

SCOTLAND Sheepshaggers Gold

SERBIA Lav Pivo

SLOVAKIA Golden Pheasant

SLOVENIA Lasko Zlatorog

SWEDEN Pistonhead Low Ridin' Lager

SWITZERLAND 1936 Biere

SPAIN Estrella Inedit

TURKEY Efes Pilsner

UKRAINE Obolon

WALES Felinfoel Stout

A little googling has led me to believe that this challenge may be possible. Every country on the list does produce at least one beer (even Liechtenstein), the question is whether I can get some of these more obscure beers. But I like a challenge, hopefully this goes well and doesn't fail miserably!

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

REVIEW: PACIFIC ALE


Et Ceterbeer
Australian Critics Choice 2010 Winner

STATS

  • Country: Australia (NSW)
  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • ABV: 4.4%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
The first Australia beer on this list was always going to be a good one, so I chose a beer that I'd had before and enjoyed. I would argue that this is Australia's best pale beer (ales or lagers), followed very very closely by Cricketer's Arms.

So this beer is quite similiar in style to Little Creatures Pale Ale, but is a slightly different take on the style. It also comes highly recommended as it topped 'The Critics Choice' beer awards last year.

Onto the pouring and it just pours beautifully, very light clear yellow colour with high carbonation. It has a solid white bubbled head. It may be a little light in colour for a pale ale but the excellent bubble patterns and lacing more than make up for this.

The aroma this beer produces is excellent. Incredibly fruity whilst not being too sweet, passionfruit and canteloupe are the most prevalent fruits on the nose. This will be due to the galaxy hops because there is also an excellent hops texture to the aroma.

This beer tastes remarkably like what it smells like. Very fruity whilst not being too sweet, due to the excellent hoppy bitterness which balances the brew beautifully. Slight citrus and lemongrass notes throughout but nothing overly strong, similar to the light malting. Nothing too bitter in the finish which makes this beer incredibly refreshing and definitely a summer beer. Personally I think this is a Summer or a Blond Ale not a Pale Ale but that is just my opinion, either way it is a spectacular ale and a must try this Summer!

This beer is brewed in Byron Bay and in fitting with it's location is incredibly refreshing. The relatively low alcohol content makes it a highly sessionable beer. If you live in Australia and haven't had this yet, GO TO DAN'S AND GET SOME!!! At less than $20 a 6-pack you can't go wrong, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

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

Monday, 5 September 2011

REVIEW: SARANAC BLACK FOREST

Great Beer Styles


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: Schwarzbier
  • ABV: 5.3%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
American Beer on the whole has a really bad reputation, with good cause. Most commercial American breweries produce quite low alcohol brews with very mild flavours, which in this country are worse than our local beers, whilst also being quite expensive.

The guy at my beer store, recently suggested I try this and a couple of other American craft beers and so far I am very impressed. The label is what really drew me to this beer, it shows a fantastic German forest scene and the dark blue label is more striking than the photo shows. (A big thank you to my girlfriend Lizzie, who is taking all the photo's for this blog.)

This is a Bavarian Black beer also known as a Schwarzbier. It is quite an unusual style and one that is very rarely found brewed outside of Germany. But from first impressions this American attempt is a great try. It pours a beautiful dark colour, with a small coffee-like head. When you hold this beer up to the light it looks a dark red colour. This beer looks remarkably like Coke. Almost a perfect representation of the style.

The aroma is good as well, really strong malt characteristics and caramel flavours fill the nostrils immediately. The hops are quite floral and there are smells like raisins or some such fruit as well. It is one of the sweetest beers I have ever smelt which isn't a fruit beer. It's quite unique in that sense.

Where to begin with this beer's flavour, it's pretty full-on. So the head is very rich and creamy, it doesn't last long though so get in quick to try it. The lacing on the glass is non existent after 3-4 minutes. The caramel taste is very strong, and the beer is alot thicker than I expected, it's almost like a syrup. Hints of the raisins or figs are evident in the finish as is the alcohol though, which detracts from the beer a little bit. There is very little hops in the finish which I am slightly disappointed about as I think it might add to the overall complexity of the beer.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable beer. There are not enough black beers on the market and this is one of the better ones that are produced. However I feel there is room for improvement if the hops characteristics were improved. Anyway it's not a beer that you could drink many of, but it's definitely worth a try. Many people will not like this due to the high malt contents of this beer, but if you want to expand into more exotic beers this is a good stepping stone towards stronger Stouts or Porters.

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

From Amstel to Zwyiec

My 26 day journey through the world of beer.

After I have received a couple of emails asking for a quick run down of my beer alphabet, I thought is was only fair to give it a quick re-cap. So basically I was sent this challenge from a friend of mine in Germany, because it said you should expand your beer range and try beers from exotic places like Australia. So naturally I took on this challenge which was as follow:

'Everyday you must buy a beer starting with the letter corresponding to the day number. (ie. 1 = A and 7 = G) This Challenge is designed to broaden your beer horizons, so try to pick beers you haven't had before.'

The beers that I tried were on the most part beers I hadn't had before, you can find a list below, it was definitely a fun experience, and certainly worth the effort. I really enjoyed the buying experience as it took some serious shopping around to find some of the harder letter's such as X. I also tried to sample as many different countries beers as I could. Beers marked in red are beers I would highly recommend trying.


What a line-up!

A - Amstel, Holland
B - Budějovický Budvar, Czech Republic
C - Cusquena, Peru
D - DAB, Germany
E - Estrella Inedit, Spain - The best beer, in this list by a considerable way.
F - Floreffe, Belgium
G - Gambrinus, Czech Republic
H - Halida, Vietnam
I - Innovation, United Kingdom
J - Jamieson's Beast, Australia
K - Kozel Dark, Czech Republic
L - Lasko Club, Slovenia
M - Matso's Mango Beer, Australia
N - Nova Schin, Brazil
O - Old Fart, United Kingdom
P - Phoenix, Mauritius
Q - Quilmes, Argentina
R - Red Duck, Australia
S - Staropramen, Czech Republic
T - Tusker, Kenya
U - Urbock, Namibia
V - Viru, Estonia
W - Weihenstephaner Pilsner, Germany
X - XX Bitter, Belgium
Y - Young's Special London Ale, U.K.
Z - Zwyiec, Poland

I enjoyed this challenge so much that I have decided to make my own, I have decided to attempt to sample one beer from every European country over the next few months. I will return with further details and hopefully a beer for this challege tomorrow.

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

Sunday, 4 September 2011

REVIEW: ORVAL

Trappist Beer #1 Orval


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Belgian Pale Ale
  • ABV: 6.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Having recently been given an Orval glass, I thought it was time for me to try the beer. I have enjoyed all of the Trappist and Abbey beers that I have had in the past and when I saw it in the beer shop, I had to have it!

So for those who don't, true Trappist beers can only be brewed in Trappist Monastries by the monks. There are only 7 world-wide that currently brew beer and can label in as a Trappist Ale, 6 of which are in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. Most other monastries that brew beer don't adhere to certain non-for-profit laws, and as such are called abbey beers.

As this is a Trappist beer, it is bottle conditioned and ages quite well, the flavour gets stronger with age. The one I sampled was just over 11 months old, which is right in the optimum range for this type of ale. Check the age before buying this type of beer, as anything over 30 months after brewing can be quite stale.

The beer itself come in a great vase shaped bottle, and pours with this amazing white 2 finger head which lingers for ages. All Belgian breweries make a glass specially designed for their beer to give it the optimum look and aroma, and so having this glass certainly helped with the appearance of the beer. The colour is fantastic, an orange-amber colour with the brilliant dense white head. A great start!

When it comes to aroma Belgian beers lead the way, and this beer is no exception. It smells spiced, with a strong cloves smell coming across as well. I also detect hints of fruit, maybe apple or bananas, as well as juniper. There is a fantastic dry malty finish to the aroma, it's smells incredible! This is one of the most complex beers I have ever smelt.

After my first taste, just WOW! The head is thick and creamy, the hops hit is spectacular! The distinct citrus hint is also evident. The flavour of this beer is immense, it's almost indescribable. There is also a very tart flavour from the fruits, much stronger than the smell suggested. It's much thinner than the beer looks with very little carbonation. This is a really top of the range beer.

In summary this beer is amazing! Most beer drinkers in Australia don't get the opportunity to try this style of beer, but I STRONGLY suggest trying to source one of these. This is the best Trappist beer I have had so far. Definitely worth a try, especially as an after dinner beer as it would be difficult to drink many of these, although it would be incredibly enjoyable.
NOTE: Serve at 12-14 degrees as this will greatly enhance the flavour.

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

Saturday, 3 September 2011

REVIEW: JELEN

Fridge Regular


STATS
  • Country: Montenegro
  • Style: German Pilsner
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Can
  • Price: CHEAP!!!

Choosing the first beer to review here was tough! Should I review a local beer, a beer I've never had before or a beer that I drink regularly. In the end I decided to start with a beer I normally have after I finish work, Jelen Pivo.

This beer doesn't claim to be anything fancy, it's just a very nice cheap lager. And when I say cheap I mean incredibly cheap! I picked up a slab of this for $38 delivered, which comes out at $1.50 per can with only $2 for delivery. Anyway onto the beer itself.

The beer pours a very clear golden straw colour. It has rather light carbonation and an amazing white head, which turns to a light lacing by around half way through drinking. Some would argue that this isn't typical for a lager, but I disagree. It's a great looking beer served in a spectacular can.

Unlike many lagers, this beer has a very light aroma. It's slightly malty and there is a very mild citrus smell. The odd can of this beer smells slightly metalic, which is a danger of some imported can beers, which sit too long.

This beer is very refreshing. I really like it, however it can be incredibly polarizing. The flavour is very interesting, it has a mild maltiness mixed with light lemon flavouring. All quite normal, but the finish is what set's this Montenegrin lager apart from the rest. It has a bitter weed aftertaste, similar to some Scottish Ale's made with thistle, something I have never found in a beer from this area. This is probably due to a strange variety of hops, but I am honestly not sure.

In summing up this beer I can only say that you have to try this beer to know if you will like it. However if you like Pilsner Urquell I feel you will enjoy this beer. This is an excellent after work beer and would also be a great beer to drink in summer, because it is so refreshing. Serve this as cold as you can get it and you won't be disappointed!

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