Wednesday, 28 December 2011

THE EVEN GREATER BOTTLE VS. CAN DEBATE

The Even Greater Bottle vs. Can Debate 



STATS
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle/Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
This is the mother of all Bottle vs Can debates! Arguably the worlds most recognizeable beer brand of all, Heineken. The Dutch monster brewery produces beer in all vessels and also (rather conveiniently) has it's beers brewed under license around the world. How could I possibly resist?

So from right to left in the photo we have the Australian brewed bottle, the Dutch brewed bottle, the Dutch brewed can and the mini-keg. All of the beers have brew dates within 2 weeks of each other, so there should be no difference in freshness. Cordner and Jack joined me for this one on a sunny saturday afternoon, alot more beers were consumed from this point on but it certainly was a good warmup. Anyway here were our findings...

We started out with a blind tasting on a tasting paddle (photo inset right). If you are going to do tastings a couple of these are a must! After sampling each of the four beers it was quite clear that there were distinct differences! All of the beers looked similar, in fairness they all looked like Heineken's except for the mini-keg which had no noticeable head. The can had a lovely head which was slightly bigger than both of the bottles.

BEER N G C Total
Dutch Bottle 2 1 2 7
Dutch Can 1 3 2 6
Aussie Bottle4 2 3 13
Mini Keg 3 4 4 14


Basically the aroma's of all the beers were the same, the difference was quite obvious as you can see from the table above. The standouts were the Dutch brewed beers. I have made my vote count for double that of the other two guys because we aren't a democracy here at Beer O'Clock! Still I think the variation in the table shows that all of these beers have merit.

In terms of flavour the Dutch can. in my opinion was far and away the best, a view shared by both Jack and Cordner. The carbonation let this beer down a bit, which is why Jack marked it down. The Dutch bottle had a similar, if slightly weaker, flavour however with vastly superior carbonation. While the Australian brewed beer had a much weaker flavour but similar carbonation to the Dutch bottle. And finally the mini-keg had disappointing carbonation and a disappointing flavour which in a tasting made it quite a poor beer but in a large drinking session proved incredibly drinkable.

The Even Greater Bottle vs. Can Debate end with the can again coming out on top. The superior flavour of the can brought it over the line despite the slightly weaker carbonation. The carbonation levels of both bottles were similar however the increased hop presence in the Netherlands brewed bottle saw it comfortably surpass the Australian brewed Heineken, as was expected. What surprised was the poor tasting performance of the mini-keg. The lack of hops and a flatter beer overall was disappointing.

Whilst from a pure tasting perspective I would recommend the Dutch can, I would certainly recommend the mini-keg if you are after a session beer. Not only does the slightly lower carbonation help with drinkability, the less hop presence helps drinkers with a softer palate continue drinking this for hours. In summation, all of the Heineken beers are solid drinking beers. As we should all have had at least one Heineken this is a great beer tasting to try.

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

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

REVIEW: CAFFREY'S ORIGINAL

European Beer Challenge #31 Northern Ireland


STATS
  • Country: Northern Ireland
  • Style: Irish Red Ale
  • ABV: 3.8%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive 
First and foremost thanks to Vince for the Caffrey's glass it's great! This beer has been brewed in Belfast for over 100 years, but is now also brewed in Burton-on-Trent in England after it's relaunch in 1994. I've never had this beer, so I'm looking forward to this!
After the relaunch of this beer it had drastically improved sales in the United Kingdom and also gained a worldwide market for the first time. This was in no short part due to the new plan for the beer. It was designed so it could be served as cold as lager, its texture would be as smooth as a stout while keeping its taste of an ale. It's proved popular around 15 years ago, hopefully it's still good!
My first impressions of this beer was a welcome shock, it's a surger can! I love surger cans! The surger can helps beers such as Guinness pour like they would on tap. The beer is a clear amber colour with a thick creamy head. The head has excellent retention, no doubt helped by the nitrogen agitation which comes with all surger cans, it also laces the glass well. There is no obvious carbonation, but in an ale that is not necessarily a bad thing.
There isn't alot of different elements to the aroma of Caffrey's Original. The smell is mostly made up of sweet malts and caramels. I can also smell some fruit towards the end of the nose, I have a strange feeling that the fruit is pear, but not 100% on that. Anyway it smells quite nice, slightly sweet but not offensively so, quite nice overall.
I'm a fan of the texture of this beer however the flavour leaves a little to be desired. The beer has a delicious creamy mouthfeel with very low carbonation. The flavour is a little lacking in inspiration and for my liking doesn't have enough substance to it. All elements of the smell are present in the beer but not in enough quantity. There is a sweetish taste to the beer and it finishes with a very minor bitter finish with hints of pear. Overall it's quite underwhelming.
By no means is this a bad beer, it's just not one that I would go out of my way to get again. The flavours are nice, but the brewery just haven't been adventurous enough to get the most out of this beer. The concept of a beer that can be served as cold as a lager, have the texture of a stout (which it certainly does!) and the flavour of an ale is a noble one, if only this beer tasted like an ale. It's an interesting beer to try, however I'm not going to recommend it, it's just not that good!
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

REVIEW: ZLATY BAZANT

European Beer Challenge #30 Slovakia


STATS
  • Country: Slovakia
  • Style: Czech Pilsner
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive 
This challenge is getting harder, I'm running out of ideas slowly of where to get some of these beers. I have got a few lined up over the next couple of weeks though, so there should be a steady supply of reviews to follow. Anyway, I have a Slovakian lecturer at uni and this is the beer he suggested, better be good!

Zlaty Bazant is the premier beer in Slovakia. For our American friends this beer is marketed at Golden Pheasant in the United States, which is the translation. I love a good Czech Pilsner and am really looking forward to this beer. Tomasz promised me lots of bite in this beer, and I am expecting lots from this beer.

This is an excellent looking beer! The colour is a nice deep gold colour with excellent carbonation rising to a thick white head of solid looking foam. The head is at least 2 and a half fingers high, perfect for the style. The golden pheasant is really living up to it's name in this beers brilliant colour. Spectacular looking beer, personally I couldn't ask for a better looking pilsner, bring this beer on!

On the nose this beer has lots of grassy and floral hops upfront. It basically smells like your typical pilsner, normal lager yeasts, good malts and nice biting hops. I can also smell a mild citrus aroma, which seems to help balance this beer. I can't pick the variety of hops used in this beer, which is unusual for me, but they appear to be of a high quality. With how this beer smells it should take fantastic!

The Slovakian's certainly know how to make a good beer! This beer is going to do really well if I end up ranking these challenge beers at the end. Zlaty Bazant is a true Czech pilsner, true to the original values of the original brewers in Plzen. The beer starts off with slightly sweet malts (almost honeyish), which is slowly overtaken by a lemony-herbally hops. The hops are brilliant and very bitter in the true Czech style. A brilliant tasting beer!!

Go out and get yourself some of these! I really really like this beer, it's very easy drinking and has enough hops for the beer connoisseur. It would make a really good session beer because of these characteristics. If you enjoy a good pilsner this is one of the better one available in Australia. It's slightly hard to get so if you are interested in trying this one, drop me a line and I'll help you out. Cheers guys have a Merry Christmas and...

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

Sunday, 18 December 2011

REVIEW: ACHEL BRUNE


Trappist Beer #4 Achel

STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Dubbel
  • ABV: 8.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Achel is the fourth Trappist beer that I will be trying for this challenge. This brewery has one of the better stories I've ever heard. The monastery has been dismantled a few time due to firstly the French Revolution and then secondly World War II, when the German's stripped the brewery for copper.

Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis to give the brewery it's full name, was officially re-opened in 1998 after a long re-build. The brewery produces 6 beers of which only 2 can be bought outside of the abbey. This is the dubbel, an 8% brown beer, it's a good style and should be a nice warming beer. I'm looking forward to this one.

This beer has significantly more head than any other Trappist beer I've ever had. The head is a tan colour and seems rather well aerated. Colourwise it looks excellent! The colour is a dark amber and looks rather appealing. There doesn't appear to be much carbonation but nor would I expect that in a trappist ale. It's a very good looking beer for the style.

I had a bit of hayfever today, which combined with the remnants of a cold made this beer harder to smell than usual; lucky for me this beer has a very strong aroma. As expected in a dark ale there are lots of dark fruits and caramel undertones, but strangely it doesn't smell sweet. I can detect hints of a floral note to this beer, which may be balancing hops? Onto the taste, should be interesting...

This tastes delicious! The first thing that really strikes me about this beer is that there is a mild spicing to this beer that was not detectable on the nose. Cloves seem to be the most notable of these and the merge very nicely with strong caramel malts. The dark fruits of which maybe figs are the prominent flavour all seem ripe and fresh, and add a tartness to this beer. The beer is (like all trappist beers) brilliantly put together, it's an absolutely terrific beer!

In my mind this is the easiest drinking of the Trappist beers, that I've had so far. The body is thinner than one would expect from a dark beer and the low carbonation makes it very drinkable. An excellent flavour that should appeal to all and the cheapest price of all of the trappist beer, make this the trappist beer I would recommend people try first if they are interested in trying trappist beers. This is also really good for beer lovers, go out and get yourselves some of these; it's a fantastic ale!

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

Thursday, 15 December 2011

REVIEW: ESTRELLA INEDIT

European Beer Challenge #29 Spain


STATS
  • Country: Spain
  • Style: Witbier
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 750ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Expensive 
This is one of the beers of the future. Ferran Adria, the creator of El Bulli, designed this beer to pair with food in the same way that red wine does. Estrella Damn, the main brewery in Barcelona, was commisioned to make the beer. Inedit in spanish means "Never been done before" and this is true of this beer.

Estrella Inedit is a unique blend of lager and wheat beers, and this makes it incredibly drinkable. I have had many many of these before and it is truly spectacular, this however will be the first time I have reviewed it properly. The beer utilises all of the usual beer ingredients but also coriander and orange peel in it's brewing. Anway let's do this!

The beer pours really well, the colour is a hazy straw with a good sized creamy looking head. This head has excellent retention and laces the glass brilliantly! The head appears to thin out a little of the course of the beer, however it's very hard to fault, possibly because of it's wheat beer origins; have you ever seen a Hoegaarden head fall over...  There appears to be heaps of carbonation and this I believe helps with the head retention. Great looking beer!

Estrella Inedit is quite soft on the nose, there are lots of soft malts coupled with a strange pilsner like sweetness. As strange as that sounds I am trying to describe the pilsner taste before the hops kick in.. The orange peel is actually quite notable, as is a strange peppery aroma which is quite intense. The hops are not particularly prominent, but they are of a herbal variety which I assume will compliment the corriander later on. It's a very pleasant overall feel!

So at this point I will point out that this is not a session beer, have it with food or it really doesn't taste that good! But, as was it's intention, the beer compliments food brilliantly. The beer is very fruity, with strong hints of the pepper the nose promised. The hops are not as strong as they could be but still do enough to balance this beer beautifully. Basically this beer tastes like a more refined Hoegaarden, with added spicyness and complexity; simply a must try for all! I don't think there is a beer that goes better with food anywhere in the world!

Brilliant, brilliant beer! This beer should be in every single restaurant that serves beer! Quite seriously this beer costs $9 for a bottle as big as a wine bottle, if you couple this with your average stubbie selling for $8 at each restaurant, they could easily sell this fantastic looking bottle for $20 making a profit over 200%. This is one of the best quality/price beers available in Australia, whatever you do go out and get this beer and have it with dinner. You will not regret it, I guarantee it!

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

Friday, 9 December 2011

REVIEW: HACKER-PSCHORR OKTOBERFEST

An Oktoberfest Special #3


STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Oktoberfest (Marzen)
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
As I think I have mentioned before on this blog, I have a strong affinity with beers with a real ceramic top. Hacker-Pschorr is one of the few breweries that still use real ceramic tops and is also one of the 6 beers able to be served at Oktoberfest as it is brewed within the Munich city walls.

The Hacker-Pschorr Brewery was established in 1417, 99 years before the enactment of the Reinheitsgebot. The brewery is famous for their weisse beers and they also claim to be using almost an unchanged brewing process for the last 580 years. This is one of the few Oktoberfest beers that can legitimately call itself a Marzen, as this brewing for this particular beer is always begun in March, and finishes not long before the start of the festival.

Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest has a lovely dark copper colour, this is much more in accordance with a traditional Oktoberfest beer than the previous two beers reviewed. The head is massive, 3-4 fingers at least of slightly off white head, however this head is well aerated and disipates relatively quickly. There is medium-high levels of carbonation present and this helps the beer lace the glass very nicely. This is very close to the perfect example of an Oktoberfest beer.

Sweet bready malts dominate the nose of this beer early on. There are some earthy hops also present, I'm not quite sure on which variety they are but they smell nice an bitter. I also get a hint of spices, mostly nutmeg. This gives it almost the feel of a Christmas Ale, but with a more bitter feel to it. The malts really are the star of the show here though, they smell sweet and appealing and with any luck they will also taste good.

This beer tastes spectacular! Although it's not the dominant flavour, the first thing that jumps out at me is the ammount of spices I can taste in this beer. There are nice slightly sweet bready malts first up but they have a nutmeg flavour over the top, this flavour is very unusual but very pleasing. The hops are not overly bitter but are there to provide this beer with some balance. The carbonation is not so high that it makes the beer hard to drink, infact it's very very easy to drink.

I really love this beer! The flavours are excellent and it's incredibly drinkable, I've had the two that I had here and I'm craving more! I could honestly see myself sitting at Oktoberfest drinking nothing but this, it really is an excellent beer. It's quite hard to get here in Australia but if you are interested Dan's have a 4-pack of Oktoberfest beers, which this is included in or you can order them from the International Beer Store in Perth. If you are interested drop me an email or a comment and I'll split the shipping with you.

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

Thursday, 8 December 2011

THE GREAT BOTTLE VS. CAN DEBATE PART 2


The second installment: The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate 

STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 7.0%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle/Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
Before trivia on a Monday night, I often pickup my friend Jack after work to drive him to the pub. We however often have a couple of pre-drinks at mine, and this week we sampled the Anderson Valley IPA in both bottle and can form.

This is a an American craft brewery, which produce alot of good beers, the Summer Solstice also in a can is a wicked beer! The brewery is in California but is up in the sticks somewhere, as the back of the bottle shows. It is written partly in Boontling, the local dialect of the people of the Anderson Valley the language apparently developed in the 1800's sometime. The label also promises lots of hops, so I'm really looking forward to this IPA, it's one of my favourite styles.


So to make this a true blind tasting we had my lovely girlfriend Lizzie pour these for us thinking that they would look similar and as such it would be down to our powers of perception to determine which one was which. However it was pretty obvious straight away, to me at least, which was which.

The head on the beer poured from the bottle was pathetic, while the can beer had a big thick head. The colour of the can beer also looked darker. The lacing of both beers was quite good, but I'd personally much prefer the look of the can beer.

Anyway on the nose there was a distinct difference. Both have big caramelly malt's to go along with the expected big hops. The can has much more sweet fruit flavours on the nose as opposed to the bottle which has a strange bitter smell to it. It's very obvious that the can has protected the delicate elements of this beer significantly better. Both of these beers were brewed on the same day and were in the same shipment over so differing conditions can't be blamed, it's looking good for another resounding can victory...

The flavour difference in these two beers was amazing! The bottle beer was a flatter beer with less hop characteristics, it also had this very unusual aftertaste. It seemed, somewhat ironically, metallic... Make of that what you will. The can on the other hand had excellent carbonation and amazing floral hops. The aftertaste that made the bottle beer hard to drink was not present in the can at all. In a can this beer is spectacularly hoppy and incredibly tasty.

As Jack put it, it's like these are two different beers, thats how different they are! The bottle was hard to drink, because of this strange metallic aftertaste and both of us had to drink it first so we could finish on the can. The can was a fantastic beer, it's a very hoppy IPA and obviously won't appeal to everyone but those that like their hops this is the beer for you! Only buy this beer in a can though, it clearly can't handle the travel in the bottle. The can better protects the beer and preserves the hop taste for us to enjoy here in Australia. Another reason why to buy imported beers in cans! Victory to the can!!


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

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

REVIEW: LASKO ZLATOROG

European Beer Challenge #28 Slovenia


STATS
  • Country: Slovenia
  • Style: Czech Pilsner
  • ABV: 4.9%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Can
  • Price: Cheap!!!
It's been a few days since I posted on here and it's good to be back on the European challenge. This is a country I have had the pleasure of visiting and from what I remember their beer was actually quite good, and you needed alot of it, it was incredibly humid!

I had sampled the Lasko Club previously and also had Union, while in Ljubljana so know a fair bit about Slovenian beer. Naturally when I saw this I thought to myself I have to try this, and the guy at the shop says it's a fantastic beer. A good recommendation however he also thinks Carling Black Label is a good beer, best served warm...

The Zlatorog looks excellent except for the uncharacteristically small head for the style. In any pilsner I would like to see at least a 3 finger head, especially a Czech style pilsner. Other than that though the colour is an excellent golden hue with lots of carbonation rising to the small white head. The small ammount of head, has good retention and laces the glass very nicely. I'm quite impressed with the look of the beer, however more head would be nice.

The aroma of this beer really surprised me! It's really very crisp and fruity on the nose, and has a strangely tropical edge to it. This comes from the hops which have a passionfruit aroma. There are also some grassy hops present. The malts in this beer smell cleaner than many other similar beers from the region, you can tell this beer is of a higher quality than any of the others I've had from the region. Hopefully it tastes as good as it smells!

What an incredibly refreshing beer! Lasko have produced a beer that has far exceeded my expectations after drinking their other much more average beer. All the ingredients used in this beer must be of a much higher standard than other beers from the region. The hops do have a slight passionfruit flavour they are a very strange variety, which I have never had before. It's very crisp and incredibly drinkable, good thing I've got a few more!

In my opinion this is one of the better mass-produced (well all things are relative) national beer brands. The Slovenian's have close to the perfect beer for their hot summer months. The 4.9% isn't excessive, the beer has low-medium carbonation, which allows for mass consumption and of course this excellent flavour. I think this is one of the best beers so far in this challenge and at only $2.40 for a 500ml can I'll be stocking up before it sells out!


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

Saturday, 3 December 2011

REVIEW: TIMMERMANS PECHE

Summer Fruit Beers #3


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Fruit Lambic 
  • ABV: 4.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Don't worry the European challenge will hopefully continue later this evening. Another beer from the Timmermans arsenal, and this one apparently is the highest selling fruit beer in Belgium. This is also the cheapest fruit beer I've ever seen, so hopefully it's not too bad.

From what I've heard about this beer, it is quite unusual to find it in a bottle. Apparently in Belgium it's served almost exclusively in cans, mostly at food kiosks... figure that out. Anyway hopefully this bottle form has survived the boat trip, because I'm really looking forward to this one.

The pour is at least encouraging, this is the first of my fruit beers in this challenge that actually pours like a beer. The colour is a dark golden colour, with a thick looking white head but it does have a number of bubbles in it. The beer seems rather thick as the bubbles rise quite slowly through the beer. The head is magnificent, a good sized ammount remains for most of drinking and laces the glass brilliantly.

On the nose it was hardly a surprise to find a sweet peach smell at first. What did surprise me was the presence of apricot's on the nose. The beer smells very sweet and fruity, the smell overwhelms anything else that may be present in the beer however it smells pleasant enough so this may not be a bad thing. I think we know what to expect when tasting this beer...

I'm not sure whether I can honestly call this a beer, the beer is very sweet and thick it's more like a jam than a beer. The flavour that is there is very pleasant but not complex. Basically all you get in this beer is a peachy/apricotty flavour with maybe a tiny hint of peppery hops. The thickness of this beer would make it really hard to drink lots of, however it's actually quite good in it's own rights.

As fruit beers go this one is on the sweeter side. This isn't everyone's cup of tea I know but I am still going to recommend it anyway. This is a good fruit beer, albeit on the slightly thick side. It showcases all the positive elements of the peach without being disgustingly sweet. I would suggest this beer as an after dinner beer as it is probably the last beer you are going to be able to drink for the night. I know this review has rambled on a bit so hopefully it makes some sense.

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