Friday, 28 October 2011

REVIEW: BLACK TOKYO HORIZION

        The World's best beer contender?


STATS
  • Country: Scotland, Norway & Denmark
  • Style: Imperial Stout
  • ABV: 17.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Special Occasions Only
'This collaborative beer was created when the paths of Mikkeler, Nøgne Ø and BrewDog merged. It is an equal combination of ideas and inspiration extracted from each brewery's respective huge stouts, Black, Dark Horizon and Tokyo*.' WOW! Could this beer ever be bad? Not a chance!

What better way to start this review than from the words from the box, This beer is a collaborative effort of 3 of the most progressive brewery's in the world. I'm not always the biggest fan of big stouts but this collaboration definitely made me want to re-evalate my stance on them. At 17.2% it's an absolute monster, but considering BrewDog's past experiences the abtly named End of History comes to mind, it should still be a stunning beer.

This beer is fantastic to pour, it is the blackest beer I have ever seen and has a very thin coffee coloured head. When held up to the light you can see absolutely no light through it, you really have to see it to believe it. There are no visible bubbles, as to be expected from a stout. The head dies down very quickly and there is little to no lacing. It looks perfect, you couldn't ask for a better looking stout.

This is very close to the best thing I have ever smelt, let alone the best beer. This stout is just so incredibly complex in it's aroma, it smells like a rich fruit cake that is covered in booze. The malts are well charred and it has a strong dark chocolate or licorice smell. There is a mild caramel odour but lots of alcohol soaked dark fruits; blackcurrants, raisins etc. There is also an almost balsamic vinegar-like quality to the finish on the nose, but very little in the way of raw alcohol, it really is living up to it's billing as one of the world's best beers! 

Amazing! It absolutely is better than any of the three stouts it is inspired by, it's the best stout I've ever had by a country mile. Some people may say it's a little too sweet at frist with lots of caramel and licorice before some balsamic takes over. After this initial sweetness a smokey coffee like taste comes across, you can definitely feel the alcohol but you certainly can't taste it which is the main thing for me. It certainly warms you up, maybe too much as I'm getting a tad warm as I write this. Unusually for a stout there appears to be significant hopping to this beer, and by their bite you can tell they are of excellent quality, I would suggest the Norwegian brewery, Nøgne Ø, produced these hops. The finish is very thick and has elements of the aforementioned dark fruits and bitterness from the chocolate and something that reminds me of aniseed. My words definitely haven't done this beer justice, there is just far too much going on to describe. Incredible!

I will leave you with more words from the commemorative box, which I feel sum up this beer perfectly. "A chorus of non-conformity emerges to venture down a path untraveled. With loads of dark malts and prodigious hops, this ultimate imperial stout yields an aura of mystery and adventure, inspiring imaginations and challenging convention and jaded orthodoxy. This is an unearthing; this is the Black Tokyo Horizon." And it's absolutely Brilliant! Simply the best beer I've ever had!

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

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

REVIEW: KARLOVACKO

European Beer Challenge #17 Croatia


STATS 
  • Country: Croatia
  • Style: Czech Pilsner 
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
I had planned a different beer for tonight but it's 10:30 and I only just got back from work and I really wasn't after anything pretentious at all. A nice Czech Pilsner is exactly what I felt like, even if it is from Croatia...

This beer marks the one third of the way through this challenge. Karlovacko is made in Croatia and has a bit of a reputation, this beer won a Gold medal at the World Brewing Industry awards in 2005. That is a big reputation to live up to. This has really peaked my interest and hopefully it is just a nice refreshing pilsner.

Ok, the pour is absolutely magnificent. Massive white head with lots of air bubbles on top of a golden coloured liquid. Heaps of bubbles line the glass and are still rising to join the head. The head retention is excellent and it rims the glass nicely for the entirety of consumption. I don't think there is a much better looking pilsner, it's pretty close to perfect!

The odour is nice and clean, it has a very fruity nose and also has sour notes, almost like a cider. There are some slightly sweet malts up front but this is replaced by an excellent herbal noble hops character. The hops smell incredibly high quality, but there don't appear to be enough of them. Karlovacko doesn't have a huge ammount of smell to it but most importantly there isn't anything nasty about this beer. It doesn't necessarily smell inviting but it is not offensive most importantly.

I really enjoyed this beer instantly, this was exactly what I needed after a day that seemed to never end! The beer has a tart flavour with fantastic hoppy bitterness. There are elements of fruit in there as well but the hops are almost overpowering, they really are spectacular! This is a really excellent pilsner and I love the light dry finish that this beer leaves in your mouth. It's quite different to many other Pilsner's with quite a big emphasis on the bitterness of this beer, I really like it!

Now I'm not saying this is the world's best beer but I am saying that it was perfect for what I needed today. It's a really good thirst quenching beer! This pilsner is definitely Czech inspired due to the complex hop flavours, and really has the bitterness of a proper pilsner. It's actually very refreshing! I can't fault this beer tonight and I will definitely be buying more for summer. I would recommend this beer to anyone needing a refreshing beer over summer, it probably isn't that well suited to winter though. I hope this made sense tonight as I'm just buggered.

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

Monday, 24 October 2011

REVIEW: KARPACKIE SUPER

European Beer Challenge #16 Poland


STATS
  • Country: Poland
  • Style: Euro Strong Lager 
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
Poland, being situated next to Germany, makes some excellent beers, particularly dark beers. Despite some excellent beers being produced in Poland, the Poles don't drink alot of beer primarily due to a strong spirit drinking culture. As such the breweries have had to become quite inventive and make beers such as the Super Mocne.

So Karpackie Super Mocne is a Euro Strong Lager, basically it is supposed to be a lager with a higher alcohol percentage. Typically however this style is a darker colour than contemporary lagers and often taste sweeter. It is a very enjoyable style of beer and is great to drink in winter due to the warming qualities of the alcohol and the sweeter malt taste.

The pour is, as expected, a dark gold/amber colour. A good three finger head billows forth and is a brilliant white colour, however this disipates rather quickly to absolutely nothing. The beer appears to be very flat thereafter as there are almost no visible bubbles surfacing. Hopefully this beer will have a full flavour, because despite the brilliant colour the overall pour isn't great.

On the nose this beer seems very promising, it's full of fruity flavours and spicy esters. There are some lovely burnt toffee malts and a hint of raisins on the iniitial waft. This is followed by a lovely banana and clove aroma, very similar to what many Weizen beers smell like. It's very nice and has a smell of sweet bread to finish. There is a touch of alcohol on the nose but this is most likely to appeal to the Eastern European market, but it doesn't ruin the beer like some high end alcohol beers. Karpackie is certainly drawing me in, let's get down to the drinking!

The first thing I taste in this beer is a caramel like taste, however it is not too sweet. The banana and clove elements are both much stronger than they appeared on the nose and are very similar to a Weizen beer, just with a much thinner texture. This beer calls itself a lager however I'm struggling to taste the hops, I feel more powerful or bitter hops could have improved this beer. The beer is extremely light and has low carbonation for a beer with such high alcohol concentrations. Overall it's not a bad beer, however I will say it would be incredibly lethal as you just can't taste the alcohol at all!

Karpackie Super Mocne is a good example of a Euro Strong Lager. This beer does everything you would want it to, it warms you up and tastes really good. I do think the alcohol content could prove problematic if it were your want to drink many of these as at 9% it's quite high and really you can't taste it at all. This would be a great beer with dinner in winter or even as an after dinner beer, if you find it I would give it a go, it should not offend anyone and should appeal to most.

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

Sunday, 23 October 2011

REVIEW: ERDINGER DUNKEL

A trip down memory lane.

STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Dunkelweizen
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Erdinger is one of the first "good beers" that I ever had, it was also probably the first beer I had legally when I bought it in Germany. It is one of the only breweries in the world that produce just Weizen (wheat) beers.

I know that dark beers aren't everyone's cup of tea but from my vague memory of it this one should be universally like. A weizenglass really is a must when drinking wheat beers, as they brilliantly emphasize the colour of the beer, and allow the standard massive billowy head to show-off. Also the best bottle opener I own is from Erdinger, if your ever in need of a new opener they are on ebay for about $4.

Now onto the beer, the pour is just fantastic for the style. The first thing you notice is just how much head there is in one of these beers. The heads colour is creamy and it has large air bubbles throughout, as you can see in the picture. The beers colour is a dark mahogany colour, which lightens to almost an amber colour at the edges of the glass. It really is a sensational looking beer!

This beers nose is rather complicated to describe, and it may sound strange when I say some of these things that this beer reminds me of, but trust me it is good. It has a strong yeasty smell, with lots of spice esters, clove being the most prominant. There are some ripe dark fruits, but there is also a mint like characteristic, alot like chewing gum. As strange as this sounds it also seems to smell like coke towards the end, I'm sure that all sounds strange but it is a nice smell, trust me.

I would say this is one of the easiest dark beers to introduce people to dark beers. It has quite a mild taste, which is none the less fantastic. There are trace ammounts of banana and cloves straight away, followed by some lightly roasted malts. A caramel finish is not at all dry and adds excellent depth to the beer. Despite the enormous head there is little to no carbonation, however with some swilling this beer will lace.

This is a fantastic easy-drinker Weizenbier! I cannot recommend this highly enough to German beer fans or people who haven't had one before, this beer honestly has something to provide to everyone. Erdinger Dunkel isn't so sweet that it will offend, but doesn't have the bite of a pilsner, actually it has no bitterness! I will happily go buy more of these and I recommend that anyone who reads this should do the same!

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

Friday, 21 October 2011

REVIEW: EFES PILSNER

European Beer Challenge #15 Turkey


STATS
  • Country: Turkey
  • Style: German Pilsner
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
When you think of big European beer companies, Efes wouldn't even get a mention. The huge number of German, Dutch and Belgian beers that we drink here would certainly be ahead of this beer in most people's thinking. Staggeringly this is the 8th largest brewery by total sales numbers in Europe and the 12th largest in the world!

I'm absolutely astounded by that statistic, it's even harder to believe when Turkey doesn't even rank in the world's top 50 beer drinking nations. The German Pilsner style does mean that it is a highly universal beer, but to have sales that high it must be a damn good beer! I acquired the glass at the Turkish kebab shop where I had lunch today, not kidding, and the kebab man told me that the beer is better than any Australian beer, I highly doubt that but here's hoping it's decent.

The pour is a clear straw colour, with little carbonation and a very small head. The head that is there appears to be quite firm but does disappear very quickly. The photo indicates this, it was literally taken within 30 seconds of pouring! Other than that it's not a very notable beer, it looks average for the style however I would have liked some more head, a good pilsner should always be able to lace the glass.

Efes is quite an easy beer on the nose, it has a sweet malt character which seems rather full-bodied for this beer. The beer appears well balanced with some spicy hops and there is also this rather strange corn odour on the end of the aroma. I can't hazard a guess as to what may cause this because otherwise the beer smells really well thought through.

The sweet malts really dominate this beer. They are quite full-bodied in flavour for this relatively light beer, the malts have this strange corn taste at the end which I am going to have to attribute to poor travelling conditions. The spicy hops are quite a strange flavour and unfortunately seem to be swamped by the sweet malts, counteracting the bitterness the hops were beginning to release. The beer finishes with a crisp citrus flavour.

This is quite a nice German style pilsner. It doesn't have the massive flavours of a Czech pilsner, but is light not overly carbonated and very pleasant to drink. It may be a tad sweet for some, but I think this would be a great beer for a hot day, like they have in Turkey. By no means is this a spectacular beer but as far as mass produced beers go it's very good, I can now fully understand it's immense sales worldwide. Definitely one to try and you can get it at Dan's for about $3 a bottle, give it a go if you see it.

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

Thursday, 20 October 2011

REVIEW: CHIMAY

Trappist Beer #3 Chimay


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Dubbel, Tripel, Belgian Strong Dark Ale 
  • ABV: 7.0%, 8.0% & 9.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey - Expensive
Being the fantastic son that I am, I thought for father's day that I would introduce my father to the wonderful world of Belgian beers. This evening we finally cracked these beers and I must say it was a very successful introduction for my father.

Bières de Chimay S.A. or simply Chimay for short is probably the best known of the Trappist monasteries. The brewery was founded in 1862 and have been brewing these three beers almost ever since. Unlike many other breweries the beers do not increase in percentage the darker they get, infact the lightest coloured beer is actually the tripel (white). I could probably go on about this brewery for ages, but I should probably start talking about the beers themselves.

So fun fact about these beers, because you want to drink all of these beers at different temperatures if you pull all of them out of the fridge at the same time and pour all of them. If you take your time drinking them in order (red, white, blue) you will drink them at close to the right temperature, anyway... So these beers have to be drunk in their correct glass, not hard to find on ebay, literally all you do is tip the bottle in and it pours perfectly with the head right up to the rim of the glass. These beers do have sediment so make sure to store them upright in your fridge. The pour will look slightly cloudy but really the beers look amazing.

Half-way through I'm starting to see why I normally review just one beer at a time. The aroma's of these beers are all sweet. They all have hints of dark caramel and fruits, which are all grown inside the grounds of the monastery. There are definitely hints of cherries and strong earthy spices. These flavours all intensify on the way up through the beers. The white is the only beer with any noticeable hops and the Grand Reserve (blue) has a wafting of alcohol. All three are very enticing.

My father is definitely more of a wine drinker than a beer drinker but he is slowly gaining an understanding of the palate needed for beer. However his first comment had me worried when he sipped the red and said that this is not a beer. After he explained what he meant to me I deduced that he was put off by the lack of hops and the sweetness of the beer. I can see why some people don't like it, but really this is a spectacular beer. The white, which has a very gold label to be called white..., is more hoppy and therefore accessible to the average beer drinker. While the blue is a cacophony of flavours and just blows the senses, it is by far the best of the three and is simply a must for anyone who considers themself a beer lover!

Now in conclusion all of these beers are fantastic! The blue is by far the best beer but may be somewhat inaccessible to the palate of someone who drinks Carlton Draught everyday, if you fit into this category I would definitely start with the Chimay white, to get used to the sort of flavours you might expect before jumping into the red or the blue. The red would make a superb after dinner beer, perhaps with strong cheese or dessert. And then the Grand Reserve. DO NOT serve below 12 degrees it just kills the flavour, this is one of the best ales in the world and can be enjoyed on it's own or with any style of food. I think I have finally converted my father to beer, in part due to the ammount of flavour you can get in one of these beers for one tenth of the price of buying a bottle of wine of similar flavour depth. Simply put; these are the best Trappist ales in the world, get out and get some!

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

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

REVIEW: 1936 BIERE

European Beer Challenge #14 Switzerland

STATS
  • Country: Switzerland
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Given it's postion between the beer large beer producing countries of Germany and Austria, you would expect Switzerland to produce large number of beers. This however is not the case and beer consumption in Switzerland is actually falling, even tiny Iceland make nearly as much beer as the Swiss.

What little beer is produced is vastly diverse between the east and west of the country. The west produce Belgian inspired ales, whilst the east produce Munich style lagers. This beer is indicative of this, being from the north-east canton of St. Gallen. It's claim to fame is the fresh water from coming off the Appenzell Alps, as with all AG Locher Brewery beers. Hopefully this isn't too bad, a nice lager is exactly what I'm feeling like after a 13 hour day.

Well the pour looks magnificent, this beer is light golden in colour with a good 3 finger head, of off white foam. Lots of carbonation is showing on the glass and floating to the surface, a good sign. The head doesn't last long but leaves a good ring, which should lace the glass well during consumption. This beer looks like an excellent pilsner, should be good.

The smell lets this beer down unfortunately, it smells slightly skunky and a little sour. The yeasty aroma is quite strong and there is an intriguing zesty citrus smell. There seems to be some light hopping but really there is not alot to this beer. I would love this beer to have more character, it has slightly dampened my expectations.

I'm surprised when I taste this beer, it is surprisingly good. The beer is incredibly light and refreshing in the mouth, the carbonation, which looks extreme is actually not that bad. Flavourwise it is a little bland but for a Euro pale lager this isn't the worst thing. The hops are not of a particularly high standard and are only slightly bitter. The beer finishes with a nice citrus dryness.

This is a really nice Euro pale lager. If you like big flavour in your beer this certainly isn't for you. It is quite a bland lager but is definitely a good drinking beer. At the price I would happily buy a slab for a nice summer's day drinking. I would recommend this beer to any lager lover, but if you are not a huge fan of lagers this probably isn't for you. Still worth a try!

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

Monday, 17 October 2011

REVIEW: LA TRAPPE

European Beer Challenge #13 Netherlands


Trappist Beer #2 La Trappe


STATS
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Style: Quadrupel
  • ABV: 10.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
 La Trappe (Koningshoeven to our American friends) is the only Trappist beer produced outside of Belgium. Given my love of Trappist beers, I thought I may as well use this as my beer for the Netherlands, if for nothing else than to drink something good after yesterday's disaster.

A quad is a style almost exclusively made in Belgium and the Netherlands. The beer is typically high in alcohol (9-13%) and often dark in colour (see above). These beers are characterized by extremely bold flavours, big bodies and rich malts. This is one of my favourite beer styles, because of the complex flavours. I am strongly looking forward to the quadrupel after having the dubbel and tripel, which typically have weaker flavours than the quad. Should be a fantastic beer.

Like all Trappist beers this pours magnificently. A lovely dark amber liquid spills forth from the bottle followed by a crisp well-sized off white head. This head does subside slowly but leaves a creamy substance on top of the beer, for the entirety of drinking the beer. Despite the high alcohol content remember this is still a bottle-conditioned ale, so has very little carbonation. I think it looks spectacular for the style, and really can you go past a Trappist beer in it's glass? I don't think so!

The aroma is incredibly full-on without being over the top. There is a strong smell of sweet dark fruits; I believe these to be raisins and plums, but am more than open to suggestions what these might be. Earthy spices are also present, as are strong sweet caramel malts. This beer has an overall feel of a dark fruit cake doused in caramel, similar to what one would have at Christmas. I often say that I do not like to smell the alcohol in my beer but it's presence in this beer seems so balanced that it doesn't bother me. If this tastes anything like what it smells, this will be an incredibly rich, spectacular beer. 

This beer is simply exactly what I was looking for tonight. It's a brilliant beer. The flavours are incredibly complex and have multiple layers. The malts are quite sweet and dark with hints of chocolate and cinnamon, however these are quite light. A layer of breadiness and earthy spices hit next, cloves being the main culprit, however unlike some wheat beers the cloves are not overdone. The beer gains a slight bitterness as what I believe are green apples, the raisins and plums come into the roof of the mouth, these fruit may have been marinated in rum or cognac as I get a strong alcohol taste at this time. The aftertaste is of cloves and is overall a sweetish warming beer.

I simply can't fault this beer, there isn't alot you say about this beer that isn't positive. This certainly isn't the finest Belgian beer I've ever had, but as quad's go this is right up there. The beer has a medium body with very low carbonation and despite the high alcohol content is very drinkable. I would suggest this as an aperitif or by itself with some fine cheese. The stronger the flavour of the cheese the better the beer should taste. I cannot recommend this beer highly enough and at ~$6 a bottle this is a great buy!

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

Sunday, 16 October 2011

REVIEW: MACCABEE LAGER

European Beer Challenge #12 Israel


STATS
  • Country: Israel
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Maccabee is the flagship lager of Tempo Brewing, a company that holds a massive 80% of the Israeli beer market (however small that market may be... still very impressive.) This beer is not brewed in the capital Tel Aviv but in Netanya about 50km North, partly due to the cleaner water on the Mediterranean coast and also due to the large number of English speaking immigrants, mostly from the UK and North America.

I personally haven't heard much about beers from the Middle East before, but I have sampled one. That beer was actually quite good, it was called Golden Taybeh and it was from neighbouring Palestine. If the Israeli's can live up to that beer I will be very satisfied with my purchase. A Euro Pale Lager was perhaps not the most adventurous of choices from this brewery, but it would suit the hot Israeli summer climate, if it's any good!

This is one of the worst beers I've ever seen! The colour is weak and very light yellow, very low levels of carbonation by the looks of things and the head is just pathetic a finger at best of fast disipating white head. The head completely disappeared within a minute or two and leaves no chance of lacing. It just doesn't look appealing at all!

Unfortunately for this lager, (and me!) the smell is not much better than how it looks. The malts are very weak and smell watery, but the worst part is that the rest of the nose is filled with this abhorrent mix of rubbish and something that smells like off weetbix. It smells quite skunky and also sickly sweet, if that makes sense. Really there are no words to describe how bad this beer smells, it's just disgusting!

WOW! So incredibly bad, I really don't know what to say about this beer; It's terrible! It's far to sweet and has this funny corn taste, which doesn't work for me in the slightest. It has a terrible metallic taste and I even get a funny coffee hint. It's very acidic and the hops must be absolutely terrible, if they are even real hops and not chemicals. At least it's not overly carbonated, I think thats the only positive to come out of this beer.

I lied; the only positive to come of drinking this terrible lager is that I had to drink better beers to wash the taste out of my mouth! Honestly there is nothing good about this beer, I don't care what situation you are in there is absolutely no reason you should drink this beer! It's that bad! Even if you are given this beer don't drink it. Maybe it's better on tap in Israel but it doesn't travel well, the choice of the brewery for a Stange glass was also very puzzling, especially considering the skunky odour. Anyway...

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

Friday, 14 October 2011

REVIEW: ROHOZEC SKALAK

European Beer Challenge #11 Czech Republic

STATS
  • Country: Czech Republic
  • Style: Euro Dark Lager
  • ABV: 5.9%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I would argue that the Czech Republic makes the world's best beers. Many would argue the cases of the Trappist countries of Belgium and Holland or that of the world's biggest beer festival Oktoberfest in Germany. For this reason I went out of my way to find a Czech beer that I hadn't had before, to illustrate the wide variety of beers this country has to offer.

This a brewery that I have never heard of before, and I've had alot of Czech beers! It was established in 1850 but is from Turnov, far away from the brewing hotspots of Prague and Plzen. The 13% you can see on the label refers to the degrees Plato that the beer is brewed at, a common measurement in many central/eastern European countries.

The pour is lighter than I expected, it seems to have a significant ammount of carbonation for a dark beer and an excellent looking creamy head. The colour is a dark red colour and is more transparent than most dark beers I've seen. In saying that I haven't had many Euro Dark Lagers so this will be a new experience for me. The head retention is excellent, it may thin out a little but holds it's height until drunk.

This beer is very easy on the nose if not a tad sweet. The malts seem incredibly sweet, there is also a great caramel odour. The beer smells mildly of fruit, quite possibly banana or another tropical fruit. I can smell the roasted malts and there appears to be a hint of the Saaz hops that the Czech's are famous for. Overall this is an intriguing smelling beer and I can't wait to try it.

Curiosity may have killed the cat; Sweetness definitely killed this beer! My feelings are that the malts aren't roasted enough and are overly sweet for a beer of this style. Far too much caramel in this beer. The body seems very thin, and I am beginning to feel this beer may be confused stylistically. It tastes how a Hefe-Dunkel should taste, but the body just isn't there to pull it off in this beer. If the hops were more pronounced it might save the beer, but there just aren't enough of them. Overall slightly disappointing.

I'm slightly disappointed by this beer, if I'm being honest. From my vague recollections of Prague I think the dark beer at U Fleku is a Euro Dark Lager and that is a great hoppy beer. This isn't! My theory on this beer is that either it was marketed to girls, due to the sweetness, or that they don't know how to use hops. Either way I wouldn't buy this beer if I were you, it's just too sweet!

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

P.S. Just to clarify this is the "Tmave specialni pivo 13%" apparently the other beers from this brewery are much better.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

REVIEW: KEO

European Beer Challenge #10 Cyprus


STATS
  • Country: Cyprus
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Can
  • Price: Cheap!
This is another one of the more difficult countries in my opinion. Dad recently went to Greece and I asked him to try and bring one of these back with him, he failed! It's apparently hard to get in Athens, immediately I thought Cyprus was going to prove very difficult to find. I then walked into the bottleshop near work yesterday, and there was a 6-pack of Keo in the fridge!

The Cypriot beer market is dominated by this beer and by imports, mostly Carlsberg. According to people I know who have had this on tap, it is one of the better tap lagers in the region. I find this hard to believe as Efes is a magnificent tap beer from Turkey, if this is half the beer that Efes is I will be very impressed.

Firstly, the can is excellently weighted and makes for a fantastic pour. The beer is a light yellow colour with a big fluffy white head. The head retention is excellent and it laces the glass superbly, like any good pilsner. It seems very carbonated with a large number of bubbles floating through the beer, in some respects it reminds me of a champagne in appearance.

This beer does not have alot of odour, basically it smells like a standard lager at first. When one takes a deeper sniff and tries to find specific things to tell you about reveals a little earthy malt. There is a little zesty lemon and comparatively high levels of acetaldehyde (apple smell). Quite a standard lager smell if not a little weak.

After one sip of this beer I knew I had found a good one! This is a very crisp, light refreshing lager. The beer reminds me very strongly of Stone & Wood's Pacific Ale. This is probably due to the high levels of acetaldehyde and the citrus character of the beer. The malts fill out the beer towards the end of the mouthfull but the almost sour apples definitely steal the show with their crisp bite. The beer leaves the mouth wanting more, and I think it's this reason that I'm 4 cans in and about to start the 5th upon writing this review.

All in all this is a really nice lager. In saying that I feel it is quite unique in the sense that I have never tasted a lager with so much apple flavouring, it's almost like a cider. As I'm finding out tonight this is a highly sessionable beer, and so if I can find it in a slab I certainly will be buying some more for beers around the pool this summer. If you see the beer I highly recommend you buy it, especially as I got my 6-pack for $9.90!!

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

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

REVIEW: PISTONHEAD

European Beer Challenge #9 Sweden


STATS
  • Country: Sweden
  • Style: American Pale Lager
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Can
  • Price: Slightly Expensive 
Unlike the other Scandanavian countries, Sweden doesn't produce alot of beer. Up until around the 1700's Sweden was one of the biggest producers of beer in Europe, but as spirits gained popularity the industry suffered immensely. Swedish beer has made a small recovery recently but most of the beers they produce are stouts of ill repute.

Naturally when I saw a Swedish lager in the beer shop, in this rather striking can, I thought I had to try it. This is the "Low Ridin' Lager" from Pistonhead, which was only produced over last year's European summer. Hopefully this beer is as good as some of the craft breweries in other parts of Scandanavia.

The pour is great, considering it's a canned beer. A really big hole, which goes right to the lip of the can definitely helps the beer pour smoothly. The colour is very yellow, almost too yellow for a lager and the beer has an amazingly large head. This head is off-white and dies down quite quickly to a one finger head, which hangs around for the duration of drinking. Lots of bubbles up the glass look fantastic, all in all a great looking beer.

When you smell this beer for the first time there is definitely a mild sense of disappointment. A really sour malt dominates the aroma and there is an almost chemical-like bitterness about it. There is a miniscule ammount of citrus and yeast on the nose, but it really smells terrible. A very uninteresting lager on the nose, hopefully the taste is better.

The one positive I can draw from this is that the taste of this beer is better, if only marginally. The malts taste surprisingly sweet at first but unfortunately this doesn't last... Bitter chemical flavour's destroy the flavour completely, I feel that they have tried to up the hop content in this beer and have just failed miserably. The aftertaste is almost sour, with far too much lemon, and lasts for far too long. It leaves a very bitter and disappointing taste in the back of the mouth.

Despite this review, which does on a re-read seem very negative, the beer has potential. If they cut back on some of the hops/chemicals it could be a very nice beer. It has all the elements of an excellent summer beer; it's cold, wet and very crisp, shame it's lacking in good flavour. The packaging is pretty cool as well, I would imagine this is contributing strongly to sales currently, frankly because the beer is really bad. Basically, don't buy this beer this year, but if you see it (and remember) in a couple of year's time it might be worth a try.

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

Monday, 10 October 2011

REVIEW: CRICKETERS ARMS LAGER


Fridge Regular


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.6%
  • Serving Type: KEG
  • Price: Inexpensive
Sorry I've been a way for a while guys, I'll get back to your emails soon. I had my 21st last weekend and we went down the coast with a few of the boys and had a pretty hectic time. We had a keg of one of Australia's better lagers with us and it went down a treat. This review is based more on what I've had before rather than this weeks tasting as after the first 10 their isn't really much of a memory left!

After setting the keg up to cool and pressurize the week before there were high expectations upon a fantastic pour, and it certainly did not disappoint! A clear golden colour with good beading and a good sized white head. The head disipates quite quickly to leave a nice ring, like most Australian macro-lagers. It laces well, but the only criticism could be for more head retention. A fantastic looking lager.

The smell is fantastic and clean. Definitely some Pride of Ringwood hops in this beer, characterized by the citric twang and clean grassy notes. The fruits are quite mild but leave a good bitter aroma in the nostrils. It seems to have a spiciness, possibly due to the Amarillo hops noted on the back of the bottle, but not overwhelming by any means. This smells like a very clean decent lager.

Unlike many critics I think this is a great example of an Australian lager. A really clean lagery flavour is clear with nice levels of citrus giving the beer depth and bitterness. The malts are very hard to taste but seem buttery, however you do have to be looking for them to find them. The finish is excellent in my opinion, with great hops. I would suggest that full hop cones were used in the brewing process. A very clean finish makes this a highly sessionable beer.

Overall, especially on tap, this is one of Australia's best lagers. It looks great, smells great and most importantly tastes fantastic! This beer is definitely best consumed in very large ammounts, but would also be more than satisfying on a hot day. If you haven't sampled this beer I would recommend it very highly as a good summer beer. At the price, around $15 a 6-pack, it's definitely worth a go.

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