Monday, 30 January 2012

REVIEW: BALTIKA 7

European Beer Challenge #33 Russia


STATS
  • Country: Russia
  • Style: Dortmunder 
  • ABV: 5.4%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive 
Baltika is the leading beer producer in Russia and produce a large number of beers. This particular one in the #7, the Export Lager or Dortmunder. The brewery in St. Petersburg was founded in 1990 just before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

This is the first time I've sampled the #7 but I have had the pleasure of sampling many of the other beers produced by Baltika. I must say the raised glass logo on the bottle looks brilliant! A Dortmunder is basically a pale golden lager which should taste similar to a German Pilsner. It's just what I'm looking forward to right now!

It looks like a German Pilsner so that's a positive start. The beer pours a clear golden colour with a three finger white head. The head doesn't last long however and disipates very quickly but it does lace the glass quite nicely. Baltika seems well carbonated by the large number of bubbles rising to the head. It's a nice looking beer, should be good.

Baltika #7 smells alot like Baltika #3 and for that matter Baltika #5. The beers all smell of slightly sweet grains with a hint of citrus. I can also smell some quite bitter floral hops, which seems to balance the nose. This beer doesn't have any of the nastiness that many other beers of this style can have on the nose, there is no element of skunking present; just a nice clean smelling lager.

This is by far the least sweet of the 3 Baltika pale lagers. The grain base is very slightly sour, before some, surprisingly, bitter floral hops bite into the palate. These hops also have a spicy note to them that was not evident in the smell, but definitely are a welcome addition to the beer. So far so good but the finish is rather disappointingly watery and slightly sweet. It really let down what was otherwise a really good beer.

For mine this is a serviceable lager without being a standout. The spicy hops have a good level of bite for the style and give the beer a bit of character. It's quite drinkable but the relatively high carbonation might make it difficult to drink as a session beer. Overall though it's a nice lager with good drinkability and certainly worth a go. It's also easy to get, so no excuses!

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

Saturday, 28 January 2012

REVIEW: TUBORG GREEN


 Fridge Regular
STATS
  • Country: Denmark
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager 
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: CHEAP!!!
This is the last beer before we get back onto the European Beer Challenge, been emptying the old fridge to make room for the beautiful new fridge with extra beer capacity. Denmark is a great beer producing country and this is probably my favourite Danish beer.

Whilst that is a lovely pilsner glass I think there is only one true way to enjoy this beer, in a proper beer horn (pictured below). There's not a whole heap more to say here, but I do like the pull top cap which is useful when one can't find an opener. Let's do a quick review and hopefully get onto new beers tonight.

The beer pours like any good pilsner should. It has a nice pale straw colour with excellent carbonation rising to a good sized white head. There is excellent retention and a solid lacing all around the glass. If drunk in the correct vessel however there is no way to tell what this beer looks like, hence the pilsner glass. It's a nice looking lager.

Tuborg Green smells like your average macro lager. There isn't a huge ammount on the nose apart from your standard pilsner malts and some mild smelling hops. The hops are probably a disappointment on the nose they don't smell particularly fresh and a mild grassy hops is not really what this beer called for. At least the smell isn't offensive but it by no means a strength of this beer.

After what this beer smells like you wouldn't expect a hell of a lot from the flavour. This beer however is an exception, the flavours are much stronger than the smell suggests and incredibly complimentary. The flavour starts off with typically sweet pilsner malts before the hops kick in and the beer comes to a nice slightly bitter finish. The mouthfeel is light and bubbly, with excellent drinkability.

Like most Danish lagers this one is not one for the connoiseur, however it is a great session beer. If anyone is looking for a change-up from your average Euro slab this is a good option. At only $40 a slab it's cheaper than Heineken or Becks, and I would say that's its not a step down in quality. It's a quality beer so if you can get your hands on it, give it a go.


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

Friday, 27 January 2012

REVIEW: SCHNEIDER AVENTINUS

Great Beer Styles #5
    
The World's best beer contender?


STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Eisbock
  • ABV: 12.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive 

This has always been one of my favourite beer glasses that I'd managed to find in an op-shop. Naturally when I saw the beer I had to get it even just to give it a go. Hopefully the beer that goes with one of my favourite glasses lives up to the glass.

So an Eisbock is a very distinct style of beer from the district of Kulmbach in Bavaria, Germany. Basically it is made by partially freezing a doppelbock and removing the frozen water. This inturn increases the alcohol content and concentrates the flavour of the beer. Being a Schneider Weisse beer this is an example of the style is actually made from freezing a Weizen-Doppelbock, technically making this a Weizen-Eisbock. Anyway I digress, lets drink this!

Never having seen an Eisbock before I am going to assume that this beer is supposed to look like a normal Doppelbock. The beer is a dark brown colour with a large tan head. There appears to be high carbonation, which helps with excellent head retention for a beer with such high alcohol content. The lacing is average but this may be due to the frosted glass lower down which seems to have much less friction. It's a nice looking beer.

This is an incredibly aromatic beer, with what I can best describe as three complex layers of aromas. Firstly there is a fruity layer with dark fruits and that distinct Schneider Weisse banana ester. I am calling the strong cloves smell it's own layer as it completely overrides the fruity layer and prepares the nose beautifully for the last phase a nice caramel and bready malt bed. It smells sensational, this could be a fantastic beer!

When tasting this beer you are firstly hit by the incredible sensory overload. There are just flavours everywhere! The dark fruits that were so evident in the smell become clearer, with strong plum and raisin flavour, before the standard Schneider Weisse banana flavours and incredibly strong cloves come through. The malt finish is bready with mild roasted caramel elements, as well as a slight spiciness that I can't quite put my finger on. Quite simply brilliant!

What a sensational beer! This beer is probably in the top 10 beers I've ever had and thats a big call! The flavours are strong while not overpowering each other. They actually compliment each other extremely well considering how strong all of the flavours are. The mouthfeel is quite light considering the high alcohol and large levels of roasted malts. It's a simply brilliant beer, I love it almost as much as the glass. I'll be getting more, and you should to if you come across it.

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

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

REVIEW: SÜNNER KÖLSCH


Great Beer Styles #4


STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Kölsch
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
I've been looking forward to having a real Kölsch ever since I had the Australia beer porporting itself as a Kölsch. I loved the 4 Pines Kölsch, it was a delicious beer but, much like how Champagne must come from Champagne in France, Kölsch must come from Cologne in Germany.

A Kölsch beer is characterized by it's pale straw colour and its distinct hops flavour, which is not particularly bitter. At the Kölsch Konvention it was decided that Kölsch was to now be brewed at precisely 11.3% gravity. The beer is served in Stange glasses like you see above with purists arguing that even the standard 200ml glass is to big as the beer quickly loses flavour once poured.

Sünner Kölsch pours just like the style promises, a light straw colour with lots of carbonation rising to a big fluffy white head. The head is brilliantly white and has amazing retention and lacing. This beer is sometimes described as the beer equivalent of champagne, and you can see why after looking at this beer. It looks good to me, and from what I have read this is exactly what the style calls for, an excellent looking beer!

On the nose the beer is light and sweet. There are strong citrus flavours up front with mild smelling floral hops. I can also smell a honey-like sweetness with some slightly spicy hints. The beer is balanced beautifully with both major elements, the malt and hops, acting in perfect harmony with neither gaining the upper hand at any time through the smell.

The taste is unusual and is probably not going to appeal to the average beer drinker. It's slightly sweet to start before strong grain and bread tastes comes through. The herbal hops are quite mild but turn to a light peppery flavour which tickles the tongue quite nicely. The mouth finish is nice and crisp with soft grass notes and a flowery taste. The beer is impeccably balanced and well made.

Overall the beer is excellently put together, however I'm not sure I like it. The elements of the beer all sound good but it is slightly to sweet and the moderate to high carbonation puts me off somewhat. I don't know what to think of this beer, it's strange and I personally wouldn't drink it again. I can see the merits of the beer, but am not a big fan. It could be a refreshing summer beer and after trying more examples of the style I will decide whether or not I like it. Don't right off the style straight away, try a Kölsch if you see one.

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

Monday, 23 January 2012

REVIEW: TUSKER

 Fridge Regular

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Kenya
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager 
  • ABV: 4.2%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive 
When you think of prominent beer producing countries, Kenya isn't the first one that comes to mind. For many people I would be surprised if it's in the top 30! However they produce a lager which I rate highly enough that is has become a fridge regular at my house.

Personally I'm not usually a fan of adjunct lagers however in this case the adjuncts are only used to lighten the colour of the beer rather than in a taste and cost cutting measure. Normally adjuncts are used to replace a proportion of the malt to help with spiralling costs of mass producing beer. Basically they normally just make beer smell like your standard cheap lager, this beer however is different...

The pour is a surprisingly light golden colour with significant bubbles rising to a large 3-4 finger white head. The head is magnificent, it appears to be quite dense and has excellent retention. It just looks fantastic, it's quite clear that the adjuncts are doing what they claim as the beer is one of the more pale lagers I've come across. However in my opinion this does not detract from what is a sensational looking lager.

On the nose there does, at first, not appear to be alot of difference from your average adjunct lager (aussies think VB or Carlton Draught). Further down the line however there appears to be a bit more quality than first comes across. I can smell a slight sweetish grain aroma, that brings a bit of quality to this beers aroma.

This quality definitely comes through in the tasting! Tusker has a full bodied flavour while still keeping a light mouthfeel. The taste has the same slightly sweet grain flavour with elements of grassy (very mild) hops and a sweet citrussy malt. It is very crisp and easy drinking, the low ABV (4.2%) helps make this one of the easiest beers to drink that I have ever come across. It's a great session beer and you can just drink it all night.

Legend has it that this beer was named for a stampeding bull elephant that killed one of the brewery's founding brothers in 1923. For the absolute purest it's not the most spectacular beer, but damn it's refreshing and easy to drink. I like it, all the people I've shared it with like it and it sells well whenever it's in stock at the beer store. It can be hard to find but it's definitely worth a try, there's something strange about this beer that makes you want to keep drinking it. If you find it grab some, you've got nothing to lose, it's good, cheap and you may just find a new regular beer for your fridge!

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

Friday, 20 January 2012

ROADTRIP BREW REVIEW

G'day all, I know it been a while but I'm back! For the last couple of weeks I've been on a roadtrip with the boys, and as inevitably happens on these types of trips many many beers were consumed. This is just a quick run-down of what we drank and then we can get back into some real reviews.

We drank a whole heap of beer while we were away so I'll do my best to recall as many of them as I can. In an attempt to try and do this trip for as cheaply as possible, I was sent on a mission to find some cheap drinkable beer to start the trip with. $126 later and we had 5 slabs, 2 Tecate cans, 2 Carlsberg bottles and a slab of Tiger cans. Quite successful if you ask me...

Of these original slabs the Tecate, pictured left, was by far the best rather surprisingly. The beer tasted fresh and distinctly not like a Mexican beer, the can looks strikingly like a coke can as well. Carlsberg is a solid beer and nothing more, while the Tiger cans also went down very nicely in the hot sun. These beers didn't last long and pretty soon we needed to go and get some more beers...

Again motivated by price we decided to try a relatively new beer on the market, Victoria Pale Lager. Being proud Victorian's ourselves it seemed like a good idea, and indeed it turned out to be so. The lager was very drinkable while not having a heap of hops. As Australian macro-lagers go this is one of the better ones. At the other end of the Australian beer spectrum, Stone & Wood Lager, was sampled by most members in our group after a small walk into town. This lager is made by the local brewery in Byron Bay, where we spent a few days, the brewery's Pacific Ale won the Australian Critics Choice beer award for 2010. The lager was decent without being exceptional.

Tecate Barcode

After over a year of enjoying the Pacific Ale, previously reviewed on Beer O'clock see link, I finally managed to sample it on tap! The beer is simply superb on tap, all of the flavours which are prominent in the bottle are even more pronounced, and the crispness is sensational. It was the perfect beer for a hot day in a pub, on the beach in Byron Bay!

A few slabs of Becks served as pre-drinks for the rest of our time in Byron, before our trip down the NSW coast to Jervis Bay where we would spend the rest of our time. Being in NSW we thought it was only right to at least try their state beer, Tooheys New. It was a lovely beer to drink while watching the cricket on TV, but had nothing on Carlton Draught (our state beer) and really had no substance to it.

We stumbled across some cheap Tooheys Extra Dry and were so impressed by the crisp dry taste that four slabs suddenly ended up next in our fridge. Normally I'm not a fan of beers in clear glass bottles, but there is always an exception to the rule. A slab of Grolsch was bought to appease the people who wanted a Euro beer, and it was strangely disappointing. As all other times I've had Grolsch it was better than this slab.

Our final beers in Jervis Bay were a few slabs of our states other beer, Victoria Bitter and some very cheap German beer called Henninger. The Henninger was a solid lager with good hops throughout. VB is a solid beer, best served absolutely ice cold it's one of the beers that you have to try when in Australia. Our last night was spent at a mate's farm on the way back home. We finished a great trip with some Becks and some red wine for good measure. Becks in my opinion is one of the better imported beers in Australia because it travels alot better than any of the others. It's clean taste helped make it a fitting end to a wonderful trip.

Hopefully I've remembered all of the beers we sampled, if not it's still a very substantial list. I'm looking to make tomorrow a special day beerwise, so hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with a new interesting review. Hope you all enjoy this quick rundown.

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

Sunday, 1 January 2012

REVIEW: INVERCARGILL BOYSENBEERY

Summer Fruit Beers #4


STATS
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Style: Fruit Beer 
  • ABV: 6.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
New Zealand is one of the world's most progressive craft beer markets, and Invercargill is one of the countries leading micro-breweries. I've had a couple of their other beers but when I saw this Boysenberry flavoured beer I thought to myself what an excellent fruit beer this could make...

Don't worry the title of this post is not a typo, it's just some New Zealanders trying to be funny. This has quite a high alcohol percentage compared to most fruit beers I've had, so it will be interesting to see how this one goes. This will hopefully be the perfect beer for a 38 degree Melbourne day, I'm going to go outside and enjoy it, hopefully!

When I poured this beer, almost instantly I was impressed with it's appearance. The colour is superb, I would call it quite a deep pink colour. It also has a pink coloured head, which was quite a bit bigger than what the photo shows, but it does disipate to a thin layer quite quickly. This pink layer does hang around though for the duration of drinking and leaves a mild lacing on the glass. It's a great looking fruit beer.

As expected the dominant smell in this beer is of boysenberries. Now whether those boysenberries are real is another question, this beer smells almost like a syrup at first. However over the course of the nose there are elements of sour berries and a strange creamy nature. The overall impression I receive from this beer is that it smells strangely like a boysenberry ice-cream. Strange but surprisingly good.

This beer has a rather strange mix of sweetness and tartness. The initial taste is of quite tart almost unripened boysenberries before quickly being replaced by a more palateable sweeter berry flavour. There is a creamy texture to this beer which I would never have expected from a normal fruit beer, but it actually works really well in this beer. The carbonation is surprisingly low, but for mine it doesn't detract from the beer at all.

The Invercargill Boysenbeery has surprised me quite alot. The texture of the beer is excellent, the strange creamy mouthfeel I think helps to disguise the high level of alcohol in the beer, which while you can't taste it, you certainly do feel it after a couple. The beer looks good, tastes strange but quite nice and most importantly does it's job! The beer is very refreshing and not too bitter, this is quite an approachable beer for most and is certainly worth a try, although it won't be to everyone's taste.

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

REVIEW: TRAPPIST WESTVLETEREN

Trappist Beer #5


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Quadrupel
  • ABV: 10.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
The rarest and most difficult to get of all the Trappist beers, Westvleteren! This was my Christmas present to myself, I knew after I found 2 of the glasses in an op-shop that I just had to get myself the beer. For those who know anything about this brewery, you could know just how hard this would be!

The monastery produces a tiny ammount of beer (only about 5000hl) per year and have strict rules about the sale of the beer. They are able to control the sales because the only place you can buy the Westvleteren beers is from the monastery. Customers must first call the breweries phone lottery system to be placed in the draw to buy a maximum of one case of beer at a time. A person can only register for the lottery once per month and the monks forbid the resale of the beer, however, thankfully for me, this is widely ignored.

Bottles from Westvleteren are distinctive because of their lack of labelling. All information relating to the beer is located on the cap of the beer, see picture left. The beer is best aged for a long period of time and mine conveiniently has been. Anyway I'm really excited for this so let's get into it!

The beer is a lovely dark brown colour, with ruby hints when held up to light. There is a large tan coloured head on this beer, which is quite unusual for the style. I would also say that I haven't seen a quad with as much carbonation as this beer appears to have. It's a sensational looking beer with excellent head retention and lacing. Simply brilliant start!

Westvleteren should be served at around 10 degrees, and around this temperature the aroma's really come into their own. It smells amazingly rich with the most prominent smells being the caramel malts and candi sugar. There is a large tail end of dark fruits of which I can clearly make out cherries, figs and plums however I expect there are definitely more than that. The overall aroma is incredibly complex and my words honestly don't do it justice, its amazing! I can't wait to drink this!


It's simply amazing! I honestly don't think words can describe how good this beer tastes, however I will give it a go. There is an incredible array of flavours on display and it's quite hard to identify each individual element, as the beer blends together so well. I can identify the sweet caramel malts that are just spectacular and the dark fruits that were so evident in the nose. I honestly can't fault anything about this beer, it's so well put together and just beautifully balanced! 

Is this the best beer I've ever had? Maybe, it's pretty damn good! This beer is widely considered the best beer in world, and boy did it live up to it! The flavours are incredibly complex and just delicious! This beer is almost perfect in everyway, even at over 10% alcohol there is no evidence of it in the taste. There is still a reasonable ammount of foam left whilst drinking and most importantly you can't put it down it's that tasty! In saying that if you ever get the oppourtunity to try one make sure you savour it and take your time with it, it just gets better with every mouthfull!


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

REVIEW: LAPIN KULTA

European Beer Challenge #32 Finland


STATS
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager 
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive 
The Gold of Lapland, is a brewery with almost 150 years of brewing tradition in the town of Tornio. However due to Finnish regulations it was not until 1963 when the brewery acquired a gold mining company with the same name, that the name Lapin Kulta was adopted. To this day the companies line of business is listed as "prospecting for gold and the manufacture and sales of beer".

Recently the brewery was bought by Hartwall, a Finnish soft drink and beer maker, who have moved the brewery out of Lapland. Coincidentally Hartwall are the brewery in Finland which brews Foster's under license. The beer I am sampling is the Premium Lager from Lapin Kulta, after a further recent takeover the brewery is now owned by Heineken meaning that this should hopefully make a good beer.

The beer has a dark golden hue with lots of carbonation rising to a larger than usual head. The head is an unusual colour for a Euro Pale Lager, with an almost cream-like appearance. There does appear to be quite a bit of air in this head, which gives it that excellent lager look. Sensational looking beer, I would say appearance wise this beer looks better than a Heineken.

On the nose there are big flavours of sweet malts and bitter hops. Most of the malts present appear to be of the bready variety as there is only a small hint of fruity sweetness towards the end of the nose. There are also grassy hops, which appear to be quite bitter. I am going to assume they are a Finnish variety as I can't pick it. The beer smells very refreshing and has a nice dry feel, I'm very interested to find out how this tastes, it's got all the elements so far of a great beer.

The flavour doesn't let down the excellent lead up work, it's a really tasty Euro Pale Lager! The taste really follows the nose on this one, quite big sweet malts upfront before a mild fruitiness comes through. The hops are mild to strong and have a grassy feel to them, they are quite bitter and for mine really make this beer. It's quite a dry beer and is incredibly refreshing! This is close to the best Euro Pale Lager I've ever had!

This is a really excellent lager. The beer looks great, smells great and tastes sensational! What more could you want? It would also make an excellent session beer, as the drinkability is very high. The overall feel of the beer is quite light in the mouth without compromising on flavour at all, and when you couple that with the amazing lacing this beer generates, you can see the quality that this beer is produced with. I can see this becoming a fridge regular in the not to distant future! If you are going to try just one beer from this challenge make it this one, it's brilliant!

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