Wednesday, 30 November 2011

REVIEW: TIMMERMANS KRIEK

Summer Fruit Beers #2


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Fruit Lambic 
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Timmerans claim to produce Belgium's finest lambic beer, which seems like a big call as Belgium produces I would say 95% of the world's lambic beers. The brewery has been around since 1781 so it has to be doing something right. This brewery also brew many other fruit lambics but this is the original.

Kriek (cherry) was the first fruit beer flavour to be regularly produced. Timmerman's edition is an authentic lambic beer, produced by naturally occuring yeasts, which whole cherries were steeped in during maturation. This beer is renowned for it's remarkable red colour, so I'm quite keen to pour this and take a look.

Wow! The colour really is red! It reminds me of the liquid panadol you get as a kid, except it looks quite fizzy. There are lots of bubbles that both stick to the glass and rise to the iconic pink head. The head seems bubbly and dies to a thick layer reasonably quickly, however the remaining head manages to lace the glass surprisingly well. The beer looks great and the red it truly amazing, the photo doesn't do it justice.

The beer smells slightly sweet with cherries (obviously!) being the predominant odour. There is a sour note to this beer and it seems to have a tart acidic nature, sort of like a sherry. I can't smell alot in the way of malts, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in the case of this beer. I'm really struggling for descriptive words with this beer, all I can think is that it smells like the red starbursts.

Overall I have to say this beer is sweeter than what I was expecting. There is a huge cherry flavour upfront before a slightly sour flavour kicks in. The beer is very crisp and light, and is not ruined from being overly sweet or sour like many other beers in the style. Again it reminds me of red starbursts, which I would not have thought would lead to a good beer taste but strangely it does.

I liked this beer quite alot, it has all the elements that a fruit beer should; excellent fruit characteristics, very refreshing and of course it's rather cheap. I would recommend this more than the Lindemans Apple as the sour elements to this beer make it a more rounded beer and of course because this is the more traditional style. This one would be good for summer, and actually reasonably sessionable.


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

REVIEW: LÖWENBRAU OKTOBERFEST

An Oktoberfest Special #2

 

STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Oktoberfest (Marzen)
  • ABV: 6.1%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive

Installment #2 in this challenge comes a long time after the first. However this is the first one that is actually served at Oktoberfest, as only beers brewed within the Munich city borders can be served at the festival. The Löwenbräu oktoberfest beer has been brewed to the same recipe since it's inception in 1810.

The Löwenbräukeller is one of the most recogniseable brewery buildings in the world (see photo). When I last went to Munich I had the opportunity to visit this place and it is definitely not to be missed. Marzen beers are named after the old tradition of brewing beers in March to last the summer months when old lambic brewing proved difficult, although this does not happen any more with the appearance of modern brewing the name remains.

The pour of this beer is very unusual for an Oktoberfest beer. The beer appears much lighter than most I've seen although funnily enough not lighter than the Weihenstephaner one from earlier in this challenge. The colour is a light golden hue with lots of bubbles rising to a thick white head. The head has a very thick density and looks fantastic. I would happily drink a lager that looks like this, so this will hopefully be good.

Like it's regular beer, Löwenbräu Oktoberfest has lots of sweet smelling bready malts. The most startling part of the aroma however was these huge peppery hops. The flavours are very strong and very clean with a happy hint of alcohol, not enough to disturb the aroma though. I also get some citrus hints on the end of the nose which makes the beer seem accessible and refreshing.

First off the bat, this beer taste almost keg fresh it's that smooth! Lots of carbonation and a good medium body make for a lovely mouthfeel. The malts taste not quite bready but more like dough or crackers, but they form a good bedding for the spicy peppery hops to come in and make a real impact. Following this up with refreshing grassy hops make this a really good thirst quenching beer. There is also a hint of alcohol, just to remind you it packs a punch despite it drinkability!

This is just how you would like an Oktoberfest beer to be, very tasty and incredibly drinkable. This one is also available in Mini-keg form sporadically and apparently is even better in that. For those who haven't had an Oktoberfest beer this would be a good one to start with, and for veterans get on this because it's a great beer. A good beer to splash out on for a hot summers day.

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


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

REVIEW: GUINNESS

European Beer Challenge #27 Ireland


STATS
  • Country: Ireland
  • Style: Irish Dry Stout
  • ABV: 6.0%
  • Serving Type: 750ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Was there ever any doubt that Guinness Extra Stout would be my Irish beer? No, of course not! This beer is famous around the world, and is universally loved by some and hated by the rest. Despite production in more than 50 countries Guinness tastes remarkably similar wherever you drink it, with the alcohol percentage being the only real change.

While I would normally drink this beer only on tap I didn't think I could stomach buying a whole keg of it! This is the Australian version of Guinness so hopefully it will stack up. One of my favourite Guinness facts is that Nigeria is the third biggest consumer of it behind Ireland and the UK, very strange! Being such a popular beer this is a hard one to review, I'd love to hear from any of you who agree or disagree. Anyway bring on 'the black stuff'.

Because it's not Guinness Draught I did not attempt the perfect 119.53second two part pour recommended by Guinness. The beer appears quite thick and is incredibly dark with a tan coloured head. The head appears to have move bubbles than an average Guinness head and doesn't look as thick. When you hold this beer up to the light you can just make out a slight red tint to the beer, however you have to look very hard. You would have to say this is (almost) the perfect looking Irish Dry Stout as it is the one everyone compares all others to.

It smells just like any Guinness, lots of roasted malts. The malts smell slightly of chocolate but in a strangely savoury way, they don't smell sweet in anyway. The sweetness strangely enough comes from the hops, which seem quite light and have a fruity smell. The head again smells different, and has a creamy caramel aroma. It's a lovely smelling stout.

Guinness tastes alot like it smells, the roasted malts hit you straight off the bat and are excellent. They also have a slight bitterness that was not detectable on the nose, almost like that of coffee. This Guinness is very different to Guinness Draught however it still has the creamy warm mouthfeel of the Draught. It's not as thick as it appeared and the low carbonation would make this one a really easy drinker.

This Guinness definitely shows all the hallmarks of Guinness Draught but is slightly heavier on flavour and significantly lighter in the mouth. The thinness of this beer makes it easier to drink than Guinness on tap, and I would certainly recommend this to you all especially given studies have shown Guinness to have health benefits, particularly in stopping the absorption of cholesterol. A long neck is also pretty cheap so definitely worth getting some, however maybe wait til winter before drinking or just a Melbourne day like today...

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

REVIEW: CHRISTOFFEL NOBEL

Et Ceterbeer



STATS
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Style: Euro Strong Lager 
  • ABV: 8.7%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I've had this beer in the fridge for ages and thought I should probably get onto it. I thought this was a Belgian beer, but apparently it's brewed in the Netherlands. I've always been a fan of beers with the ceramic (or plastic) tops, as it helps keep the beer fresher than your average screwcap.

This beer is name after a type of hops, Nobel. This particular strain of the hop flower is known moreso for it's aromatic qualities than any bitterness that it may add to the beer. Euro Strong Lager's are one of the best keeping beers due to their high alcohol content.

Christoffel Nobel pours a slightly cloudy gold colour with a tight looking 3 finger head. The head isn't brilliant white but it's not far off. There doesn't appear to be much carbonation rising to this head but it still looks like a good pilsner (even though it's not...). This beer is unfiltered so there is some sediment, don't let this put you off just make sure you invert it before pouring. The sediment is what causes this beer to appear different colours at the top and the bottom. Not a bad looking beer, not great though normally I would prefer a darker colour in a Euro Strong Lager.

The beers smells strongly of the spicy floral hops that it's name promised. There are also some grassy hops that I didn't expect to smell, however they smell of a similarly high quality. The overall tone of the beer is slightly sweet. The malts smell grainy and a little like honey. Fruity element are also present but they fall into the background, behind the strong malt and hop flavours. Excellent smelling beer, hopefully the taste lives up to expectations.

When tasting this beer it becomes apparent that Saaz hops are the other variety of hops in this beer. There is the typical Saaz bite that I would expect from a pilsner, before it is swamped by this sickly sweet honey flavoured malts. The noble hops taste fresh and spicy but still strangely sweet, and while there is some citrus present it's not enough to prevent the beer from being far too sweet. I'm not really a fan of this beer, but I do respect the ideals they were trying to acheive.

I'm afraid to say I actually don't really like it. The beer seems slightly too sweet for my tastes and doesn't really have a good balance to it. The hops were excellent, but unfortunately this is the only element of the beer that was positive. The malts were overly sweet and the body is far too thick. It would be a horrible beer to have to drink many of, it would become really hard to drink. I would say it's worth a try, but there are much better examples of the style.

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

Monday, 28 November 2011

REVIEW: DREHER CLASSIC

European Beer Challenge #26 Hungary


STATS
  • Country: Hungary
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager 
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Despite having a friend with Hungarian heritage and hearing that this is an excellent beer, Dreher Classic proved particularly difficult to find. I turned to google and it came up with a Hungarian restaurant in Elsterwick called Budapest. All Melbournian's get down there, I cannot recommend the Hungarian style schnitzel highly enough; absolutely superb.

Anyway after my excellent lunch yesterday I managed to convince the guy to sell me a couple more of these beers. Honestly if you are eating a cheese and sausage filled schnitzel this is the beer to drink with it! Hungary produces more beer than Switzerland so I did expect quite alot from this beer, the fact it's recently been acquired by SABMiller is unfortunate but I still expected it to be good.

On to the pour and as expected for a Euro Pale Lager this beer pours a light golden straw colour. Dreher also has a two finger head with small to medium carbonation, it does however look excellent. The head last's for at least half of consumption and does ring the glass rather well, but the lacing is slightly disappointing. For those who will point out that this beer glass looks dirty due to the bubble formation down low, I will just say it is just badly scratched and I am looking for a new one!

The beer smells like your average Euro Pale Lager. This one has a slightly maltier smell than others from the region but there seems to also be a decent ammount of hops on the nose. There is a spicy character to these hops and they are by far the most noticeable feature of the aroma. Overall this smells like you average Central to Eastern European Lager, pretty standard and uninteresting.

When you taste this beer you will be hit by a rather strange feeling, that this beer is not your average beer. Although it smells like an average lager the taste is almost unrecognizeable of being a beer. Dreher Classic has a very mild taste with a honey flavoured malt but characterized by an excellent spicy hops with a bit of bite. The hops are absolutely perfect, not too bitter to offend but bitter enough for someone like me who likes some bite to their lagers.

This beer is superb, especially with a slightly fatty food. I would recommend you go down to Budapest restaurant in Elsternwich and have a schnitzel and some of this beer. The dark beer is called Dreher Bak and although thick is very flavoursome (a review of this may follow.) If the importer will sell me some I am going to get more of this for Summer, it is highly refreshing and very drinkable. Get on this if you can as I reckon in a few years it will be unobtainably expensive here.

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

Sunday, 27 November 2011

RECENT CHANGES

As you may have noticed, we have recently acquired a new domain name at It's Beer O'clock. There have already been a few minor changes to the layout and there are more to follow in the near future. On the top of the list are a new logo and more links to find the beer review you are looking for. Please find below a list of the current challenges/lists in progress.

European Beer Challenge 
Summer Fruit Beers
 
Great Beer Styles
 
The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate 
The World's best beer contender?

Trappist Beer


Fridge Regular


Oktoberfest Beers

Feel free to drop me an email if you have any suggestions, or just comment below. Cheers guys and thanks for your continued reading.


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

REVIEW: LINDEMANS APPLE

Summer Fruit Beers #1


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Fruit Lambic 
  • ABV: 3.5%
  • Serving Type: 250ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Fruit beers are something of an unknown to the average beer drinker. Many would say that's not a beer, it's a cider or that's a girls drink. In some respects they are right, fruit beers don't taste like your average beer and it has been used in recent years as a way for more girl's to drink beer. However fruit beers, particularly in Belgium have become some of the most famous beers worldwide.

Lambic brewing is the name for the original style of brewing, which utilized the natural yeasts in the air to ferment the beer. This is why early beer would have tasted terrible, until brewers started to add fruit to help get rid of this off flavour. On the whole fruit beers are very refreshing and are often sweet, however the 'kriek' or cherry is a sour beer and the original flavouring, probably owing to the large ammount of cherries in Belgium at the time. I saw apple beer in the shop and thought this I have to try, surely it's just a cider, we shall see...

It pours like a beer which is a positive start. The colour looks pretty much like apple juice and the beer has a lot of carbonation, rising to a small white head. This head albeit small does hang around for most of consumption, it's a very pretty looking beer all in all. I think having it in it's own flute probably helps add to the overall appeal, anyway looks great!

When one lifts the glass to their nose the apples come across incredibly strongly. Almost all I can smell is a sweet apple juice-like flavour. It smells rather sweet but has a late tartness that suggest that these are green apples. That is really all I can tell you about this beer, I'm hoping there are some hops to balance this beer or it may be far far too sweet!

This beer will certainly divide people, it is unrelentingly sweet. The taste is of very sweet apples and strangely champagne. The apples are definitely green and have a lovely biting tartness about them which gives this beer an enjoyable sweet and sour taste. Seems more like a cider than a beer to me, but unlike other ciders I actually like this one! The thin body of this beer helps with it's drinkability, although I imagine after a couple of these it would be to sweet to keep drinking.

Honestly this beer tastes like fizzy apple juice with a hint of champagne. Some people will definitely be put off with how sweet this is, as it is almost sickly sweet. However the beer has some good bite on the end which holds it all together. I would recommend that you buy this beer to try once on a hot day, and buy a few more for your lady, definitely more suited to the ladies this one. Still I would happily drink one in the afternoon sun, it's very refreshing.

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

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

REVIEW: GAVROCHE

European Beer Challenge #25 France

Great Beer Styles #3


STATS
  • Country: France
  • Style: Biere de Garde
  • ABV: 8.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
Today brings another new beer style to my bar. This is a uniquely French beer style, and is known as a 'beer for keeping', as such I've had this bottle for close to 6 months and have finally got round to drinking it. Apparently it's excellent, however I feel it will be difficult for it to top yesterday's beer.

A quick google showed me that the brewery that makes this beer, also produces a beer called Trois Monts which I have had the privilege of having. It's a fantastic beer, which has a staple to hold the cork in as the carbonation is so strong. Once you remove the staple the cork flies literally across the room so be carefull if purchasing. This has given me much higher expectations of this beer, even though the French aren't known for their beers.

This beer pours a magnificent reddish-brown colour with a monstrous quite thick head. Lots of bubbles are rising to meet the head, which has a slight orange tint to it. The bottle claims it to be a red ale and so I would have liked more colour, until I held this beer to the light, it almost glows red it's quite amazing. Anyone who has had the James Squire Highwayman will understand this is a big call when I say it's almost that red. Gavroche is an extremely good looking beer, albeit hard to pour because of the huge carbonation.

On the nose I get some distinct flavour groupings, firstly fruit followed by honey, caramel malts, some light hopping and some excellent smelling Belgian yeasts. There are also hints of spices much like a Christmas beer. The yeasts are of particular interest too me as I believe them to be the same that are used in Pauwel Kwak, one of my favourite beers. The smell is slightly sweet and after the fruity smell the honey really takes over, it smells very warming.

The fruit flavour becomes very apparent the second one tastes the beer, it's cherries. They are slightly sour and it helps balance the beer, which on the whole the beer is slightly sweet. The honey flavour is overly sweet, and the caramel malts although not particularly pronounced add to this. There are some hops but they are of an earthy quite bland variety with little bite. There is a spicy bitterness which pulls this beer together well in the end, without overpowering the flavours. It's quite nice, if a tad sweet for my liking.

Overall I quite like this beer, however if you have the choice buy the Trois Monts rather than the Gavroche. This beer is designed for keeping so maybe trying one closer to it's expiry date would help bring out more flavours, but the beer in the state I had it (about 2 years old) wasn't quite the world class beer it is made out to be. Again I don't dislike this beer and with more aging it could be fantastic, but for me it was a little too sweet and it needs more hops. It's probably worth a try as an after dinner beer, but I can't see it being good to drink many of...

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


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

REVIEW: OLD PECULIER

European Beer Challenge #24 England


Great Beer Styles #2


STATS
  • Country: England
  • Style: Old Ale 
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Another day and another beer that's been recommended to me by a friend, hopefully this one turns out better than the last one! Steve assures me that this beer is one of the best beers in England, and I'm feeling good about this one. It's a real ale (always good!) and I could find the pint glass, so someone likes it!

The beers name strikes me as unusual and a quick google lead to the discovery that it is named after the peculie of Masham (the town it is brewed in). A peculier was a parish outside the jurisdiction of diocese, quite interesting I thought. The same google search brought up a bevvy of awards won by this beer, and finally I think we may have found another sensational beer in this challenge, here's hoping anyway!

I can't say I've ever had an old ale, knowingly, before. This fact may make it hard to judge how this beer looks for it's style. Ok, so this beer really does pour like a coke, the colour is the same and the head looks the same. The reddish brown colour is excellent and the head lasts for ages. The two finger head seems quite thick, and like any true ale I cannot see any carbonation. Excellent looking beer!

On the nose, the beer is simple but complex at the same time. The simplicity comes in the basic malty nature of the aroma, it smells like a malty beer. Then when one takes a closer sniff at these malts, there is a much richer character that comes through. The main flavours I can notice are caramels, butterscotch and even a small licorice bitterness. There might even be a hint of banana. I really like the way this ale smells, my high expectations are getting very excited!

WOW! That is the first word that comes to mind when you sample this beer, it is simply spectacular! The beer begins with a sweet caramel and banana flavour, before a earthy hops kick in to balance out the beer beautifully. The aftertaste almost makes this beer, it has a strange sweet fruit and butterscotch flavour and feels quite dry on the tongue. Some might say the beer is a tad thick to drink many of, but due to the low carbonation I believe one could easily down many of these. It really tastes brilliant!

This beer is absolutely sensational, and upon reading this review I'm not sure if I've done it justice. If you are a fan of ales, this is a must for you! Steve certainly delivered with his suggestion, much better than my Italian suggestion! The flavours shouldn't offend anyone but should entice an ale connoisseur. I really like the pint glass as well! Definitely get some of this beer, I honestly don't think there are many better English ales that I have had, and trust me I've had a few! I can't recommend this highly enough! Get some and serve it warmish, roughly 10-12 degrees to enhance the flavour, seriously you won't regret it!

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

Sunday, 20 November 2011

REVIEW: TAPPETO VOLANTE

European Beer Challenge #23 Italy


STATS
  • Country: Italy
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager 
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
One of my best friend's lives in Italy, and although she doesn't drink beer she said this is the beer to drink for you challenge. Her basic reasoning was Peroni is crap (I'm not sure I agree), Ichnusa is from where I live so don't have that and you probably can't get much else! Add that to the fact that her boyfriend drinks it when he can afford it and I thought that will do me.

So this beer's name in Italian means, the Flying Carpet, this brings me to an interesting link. The famous AFL player Bruce Doull shares the same nickname, the flying carpet, as this beer due to his 'unique hairstyle'. Carlton is situated right in the middle of the Italian community in Melbourne, and there you go one of the more random facts that you will come across on this blog! On to the beer!

The pour appears excellent, this is a Euro Pale Lager and this looks pretty close to perfect for the style. The colour is a traditional straw colour and there appears to be excellent carbonation flowing up towards a thick white head. The head bubbles beautifully over the top of the glass, and continues to lace the glass throughout the entirety of drinking. It also doesn't completely disipate, but instead leaves a thin layer on the surface of the beer, in two words this beer looks simply perfect!

Unfortunately this beer takes a very sharp dive the second you lift the glass to your nose. The beer smells vile! There are really big malt aroma's, which unfortunately appear to have turned to a rank caramel, vinegarry smell. The beer is too sweet but strangely bitter, I think there are some hops there but it's really hard to tell. I can only summise that either this is a terribly produced beer, or that it has suffered terribly on it's journey to Australia, the taste should be able to tell us...

And unfortunately for my friends boyfriend this is the last time I ever listen to him about beer. The beer doesn't taste skunked, it's just crap! The malts are disgustingly sweet and the hops clash terribly. I was always taught to not say anything if you have nothing nice to say so I'm going to stop right now!

Tappeto Volante has the look of an excellent beer, the pour is fantastic and the packaging is brilliant. Unfortunately that is where the positives stop. I pride myself on being able to finish every beer I try but I did have to pour about half of this out, as it is just that bad! I will never buy it again, and consider this a community service announcement: NEVER BUY THIS BEER, IT'S CRAP!!!

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

Saturday, 19 November 2011

THE GREAT BOTTLE VS. CAN DEBATE

The first installment: The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate 

Partly through poor planning and partly due to my fridge being surprising full at the moment, I don't have a beer cold for the European Beer Challenge tonight. This was going to prove problematic I thought, however after scouring the fridge I found some of my favourites tucked up towards the bag and an idea struck. Why not visit the debate sweeping the beer world recently; the bottle versus the can!

I am a big fan of beer in a can. Living in Australia you have to be if you want the freshest tasting European beers. Can's have a tendency to protect the beer better from UV light rays and temperature changes than a bottle. This in-turn leads to better tasting beer on the whole when compared to it's bottle equivalent, I know there are sceptics out there but trust me, by the end of this I hope to have converted some of you to the can, obviously where it is available.

The two beers that I will compare have both already been review on this site, Jelen in the form I usually find it; Can, and Niksicko in it's traditional bottle. On my last trip to the beer store, I found Jelen in a bottle and Niksicko in a can and naturally had to try them, and tonight's the night! Both of these beers are from Montenegro and judging by the brewing dates they have all been brewed within 2 weeks. This beer should all be the same level of freshness and it all probably came over on the same ship, meaning conditions we can assume were the same.

So firstly to the Niksicko, we took this photo in the corner of the room and then strangely switched to the bar top, oh well. This photo of the bottle looks eerily similar to the one for the original review at least the beer pours the same out of the bottle.



So both pour similarly, good sized white head, lots of carbonation and that
lovely golden colour. The head is noticeably bigger on the can beer and on that fact alone I am giving the appearance award to the Niksicko Can.

I can't split them on smell, quite honestly I can't split them, they smell exactly the same. Which quite frankly is a good sign, as in an ideal world there should be no difference, no matter what the vessel of choice is.

And finally the all important taste test. This is a very simple decision for me, despite appearances the can beer tastes fresher. The carbonation is tighter and the beer certainly hasn't beer skunked, which I'm not so sure I can say about the bottle. The hops are much more noticeable in the can. In my mind the can is clearly the better vessel for Niksicko, not only does it taste better but you can fit more of them in the fridge! If you have the option buy the Niksicko can.

And now to the Jelen, I'm slightly nervous about this one, as I've grown so attached to my yellow cans that I almost couldn't bare it if the bottle got up. I'm reasonable confident though after the resounding success of the Niksicko can. Firstly though, is the Jelen stag the best beer mascot in the world? I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

I think it's reasonably fair to say that the can wins the appearance hands down! It has more carbonation, a lovely big white head and the typical golden colour. The bottle is very disappointing, less than 1 finger of head really lets down a great beer.

Unlike the previous beer I can notice a slight difference on the nose. The Jelen bottle appears to be thinner than the Niksicko bottle and it appears to have suffered a little on the boat ride over, another victory to the can.

The taste was again noticeably in favour of the can. The bottle had definitely suffered from some minor skunking on the trip to Australia. The carbonation was lower and the flavour just wasn't as intense as that of the can. This can tasted better than any of the can's in my previous slab, I don't know if the importer has changed or if the temperatures were kinder on the way over this time, but for whatever reason the can was brilliant! All those who I have given this beer will agree it is an excellent beverage, get out there and support it but only in can form!

This is one of the beer industries biggest debates at present. Can beer has long been seen as the inferior cousin to the bottle. However this attitude is changing as some microbreweries are now choosing to can their beer rather than bottle it. The main reason that canned beer is looked down upon in my opinion is the beer that goes in it. The beer is not damaged by the can as many people claim, the beer is damaged before it goes into the can. The metallic taste people complain about is most likely a by-product of the vat in which the beer was produced, and the can is just protecting that flavour more than the bottle does. Basically the can preserves what the beer tastes like on tap, better than a bottle can! Obviously higher alcohol beers, and thicker brown glass can survive travel better. If you have the option of bottle or can, for imported beers, buy can!


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

Sunday, 13 November 2011

REVIEW: VIRU

European Beer Challenge #22 Estonia


STATS
  • Country: Estonia
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 300ml Bottle
  • Price: Cheap!!
Viru is one of the three biggest beers produced in Estonia. Despite having a population of only 1.3 million people, and only having gained independence from Russia 20 years ago, Estonia has a 1500 year brewing tradition. I find it odd that all Estonian beers are brewed in Tartu, the second largest Estonian city, and not the capital Talinn.

The packing describes this beer as 'Premium Estonian Beer' and having had it before, it's quite good. The packaging goes on to say: "Estonia is a smaall country, so we can't make enough Viru for everyone. Since you've now found some, enjoy it while it lasts." However seeing as roughly 15% of the breweries total production end up in Australia (amazing stat!) if you go to a specialty beer shop there is normally some there.

Ok, now the beer. You pick up the oddly shaped beer bottle hoping it will pour well and it really does! I will talk more about the bottle later because it is fantastic, anyway the colour is brilliant! It's quite yellow with a good sized white head, which may be a touch on the short lived side but not too bad. The head drops off to a rings which leaves some lacing, despite the mountain of bubbles which should help with head retention. Not to worry though the beer still looks excellent!

There is not alot of action from this beer on the nose. The beer smells very bready, however it also has a sweet element to this bread. As much as I don't want to say this the odour reminds me of a KFC dinner roll with that slightly sickly sweet taste... At the tailend of the aroma there are hints of floral or herbal hops but not enough to balance the beer. The smell that is there is quite mild, which will help it not offend but it also will not entice anyone.

This beer is a really easy drinking lager, and pretty quickly I find I have a problem with the American Adjunct Lager classification. I can't taste any adjuncts and I feel this should definitely be considered a Euro Pale Lager. The taste is quite similar to the smell, slightly sweet malts with a citrus twist. The hops are more dominant than expected and in fact are quite high quality. The body is quite light and the beer has excellent carbonation. Really nice lager!

Overall Viru is a solid beer. I worry for the company that they are not making enough money out of it however. The octagonal-pyramid bottle must cost a small fortune to make, and when you factor in the production costs of the beer and then shipping, in my case to Australia, how can they possible sell it for $9 a 4-pack! I would believe that the distinctive shape, designed to emulate a medieval type of Estonian turret, probably accounts for a large number of first time sales. This beer however is good enough that I now normally have some at home, and would more than happily recommend it to all! If you like lagers go get some of this, because in Australia there is usually plenty of it and it could come out cheaper to drink this than Carlton Draught, and trust me it's a better beer!

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

Thursday, 10 November 2011

REVIEW: CISK

European Beer Challenge #21 Malta


STATS
  • Country: Malta
  • Style: Dortmunder
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Malta is one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries. Who would have thought that this little country produces a world standard lager. In fact it won the 2007 'Beers of the World' award for best traditional style lager. Hopefully it's still good.

I do like a good Dortmunder, DAB is one of my favourite beers. A good Dortmunder is defined by a strong malty flavour with a dry finish and intense flavours. I really like the look of this beer, the yellow label is very striking and is actually the reason I picked this beer up, good thing I did as with only 300 square kilometers of Malta there probably aren't too may other breweries.

The pour of this beer is quite cloudy for a Dortmunder, however the colour looks excellent and there do still appear to be bubbles rising. The head is disappointingly small, but brilliant white in colour. The small head that is present has excellent retention, which more than makes up for what it lacks in volume, this in turn laces the glass nicely. The appearance of this beer has certainly piqued my interest!

Cisk lager is quite mild to smell. There are strong slightly sweet malts and the beer has a bready aroma. The beer is well balanced by some noble hops which are not overused, they are slightly floral. I also get a strange soda-water crossed with balsamic vinegar odour, this is rather unusual and nothing I have ever smelt before in a beer. I still seem to like it though, however it would offend some...

After my first sip of this beer I was not a fan, 3 sips later and I think I may have found a beer that could oneday become a fridge regular! This is a really exceptional, if slightly strange, Dortmunder. The beer tastes as it smells, slightly sweet because of the malts but brilliantly balanced by the high quality hops. The hops are quite floral and there are grass and citrus elements at the end. It's a superbly balanced beer and the dry finish is exactly what one would want from a Dortmunder.

This really is an exceptional beer! Cisk is highly drinkable and would make a fantastic session beer, as it is quite light in the mouth and the flavours are light and exceptionally tasty. I don't think there would be a person around who could say they are offended by the flavour of the beer, maybe the smell would annoy some but the beer excellent. It's pretty cheap as well, I would suggest buying it if you see it, and trust me if it's there you'll see it! Get some and try it for your self!

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

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

REVIEW: FELINFOEL STOUT

European Beer Challenge #20 Wales


STATS
  • Country: Wales
  • Style: English Stout 
  • ABV: 4.1%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

Beer number 20 comes from the oldest brewery in Wales, Felinfoel. This brewery was founded in 1878 and is famous for it's Double Dragon Ale, known worldwide for it's excellent taste and for being a real ale. Which makes it seem rather odd that I chose to drink their stout...

Apparently their stout isn't bad either, so here's hoping I've picked a good beer. Wales isn't particularly famous for their beers but I've had a couple before and they aren't that bad, Brains Gold springs to mind as a decent drop. After having Black Tokyo Horizon I've developed a taste for stouts so I'm looking forward to this beer.

I poured this beer into my recently acquired beer snifter. This glass is specially designed for Stouts and other aromatic beers with a tiny lip to help taste both head and beer at the same time. The beer pours a lovely black colour with reddish tints around the edges. It has a good sized tan head and is relatively opaque. The head disipates quite slowly to leave a healthy film on the surface of the beer, which laces the glass very well. Brilliant looking stout!

This beer seems rather fruity for an English stout to me on the nose. I get hints of apples, berries and bananas. There is also a distinct red wine odour, which seems oddly acidic for a beer. Some chocolately malts but nowhere near enough, however the roasted barley's listed on the back of the bottle smell magnificent. To me this doesn't have enough roasted malts on the nose to be purely classified as a stout, more a bock to my mind. Either way it still smells nice.

There is something hard to describe about this beer, I can't quite put my finger on it but it seems more like a red wine than a stout to me. Quite a fruity taste with grapes the predominant flavour. There are more roasted malts than the nose let on but they are not the strong chocolately the bottle advertised. The slightly sweet apple aftertaste is slightly off putting. The body is rather thin and feels very light on the way down, at only 4.1% it's got very low alcohol and I really can't taste it at all.

I like this beer however as stouts go it's not a particularly flavoursome example. If you are a stout purist this beer is not for you, because it's far too thin bodied and the finish is quite dry. However maybe as an introductory beer for people trying to get into stouts this could be a good place to start. The beer isn't overly malty and shouldn't offend even the most plain minded drinkers. If your interested, it's not particularly difficult to find.
 
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!