Monday, 27 February 2012

REVIEW: MATSO'S MANGO

Summer Fruit Beers #6

STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Fruit Beer
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
When starting this segment I didn't think I'd come across an Australian beer worth putting in it. Of course I'd forgotten about this little beauty from Broome. I had this beer as part of the alphabet challenge that spurned the idea for Beer O'Clock Australia, lets see how it stands up to it's Belgian contemporaries.

Mango certainly isn't a traditional fruit used in the making of fruit beer. The back of the bottle claims it's based on a traditional Belgian recipe, which I find very hard to believe, where would Belgian's get mangoes from? That's neither here nor there though, it's made using 100% natural mango fruit blend, and should be refreshing if my memory serves me correctly.

Unlike most fruit beers this one actually looks like a beer when you pour it, this is obviously helped by the light colour of the mango. The white head is maybe 2 fingers high at it's peak, but it has lots bubbles in it and subsides to nothing very quickly. We were actually quite lucky to get a photo showing off this much head, thats how quickly it disipates! There's not alot more to say than it looks almost like a lager, this beer is about so much more than the appearance though, lets see how it smells.

Upon pouring this beer you are instantly hit with a strong smell of mango, unsurprisingly! The nose is almost entirely madeup of mango flavours, but it is by no means too sweet. In fact the nose has an uncharacteristic tartness whilst still retaining it's mango aroma. There are some hints of wheat and mild malts, but they are almost non-existent. A very mangoey aroma!

The flavour is excellent actually, the lovely malt bed is light allowing the mangoes a chance to shine. And shine they do, they are fresh and seem real, nothing artificial in this beer. It's by no way sickly sweet though and is actually balanced very nicely by this strange bitter mango flavour towards the back end of the beer. It is a tiny bit thick and could become cloying if drunk in excess, however with the one I've had it's pretty much the perfect fruit beer, very refreshing and an excellent exhibition of the fruit.

I think I understand what the back of the bottle was trying to say after tasting this beer. I think they meant to say that the beer is a traditional Belgian Blonde with mango blend added. The Belgian Blonde is light and dry and actually has lovely malts with mild fruityness. It's a really easy drinking fruit beer and with the slight tartness at the end is almost balanced. It's incredibly refreshing and I would definitely buy this again, I'm also recommending this to everyone it's a quality fruit beer and reasonably priced.

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

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

REVIEW: HAAND DOBBEL DOSE

STATS
  • Country: Norway
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I'm definitely struggling on the European beer challenge and once I can source some beers from some of the remaining countries it will return. If you can help with any of the remaining coutries please email me or comment below. Anyway, this is an Imperial IPA and it has a pretty good reputation.
This brewery was on Friday night tasting a couple of months ago, and I was very impressed by all of the beers I sampled. This is the first time I've ever had a whole bottle, and after the ridiculously long day I've had at work I'm going to enjoy it! In answer to a question I received from Anton yesterday, when the word 'Imperial' is in the style name it just means the ABV is higher, and normally that the beer is better.
The Dobbel dose pours really nicely for an IPA, which are notoriously difficult to pour. The beer is very cloudy and strangely for an IPA is almost completely opaque. The beer is a nice dark orange/amber colour with a good-sized off white head. This head has excellent retention and laces the glass brilliantly, it's one of the most impressive looking IPA's I've seen! If it tastes half as good as it looks, it will be a sensational beer.
At first I was really disappointed with the nose of this beer. After letting it sit for a while the only thing I could smell was alcohol, however after a quick swirl the beer smells alot better. There a sweet malts and a really thick bready smell, that help offset the strong citrussy and herbal hop varieties. The malts are well caramelized, and have good hold throughout the mouth. Alcohol is still present in the aroma but with some swirling it is not as prevelent.
I'm quite impressed with the flavour of the HaandBryggeriet Dobbel dose, to give the beer it's full name, however the alcohol smell that was prominent on the nose is again prominent in the taste, and for mine destroys the beer. It's bready with excellent hops which have both lemony coolness and warming spicyness. I get hints of both pear and peaches, but I was slightly disappointed by a distinct lack of strong caramel malts that the nose promised. The beer has excellent warming qualities.
It's a really good Imperial IPA, however the alcohol is too prominent for my liking. Yes it gives a nice warming sensation, but in my mind it destroys the overall compilation of the beer. The beers flavour are excellent and if you are one of those people who doesn't mind a strong taste of alcohol in their IPA's this is a sensational beer for you. This would make a lovely winter beer but it's definitely not a beer that the average beer drinker should try, I don't think it will appeal at all. Don't get me wrong the flavours are good, it's just the alcohol that in my opinion really weakens the overall makeup of the beer.

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

Sunday, 19 February 2012

REVIEW:EPIC ARMAGEDDON

STATS
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 6.66%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
This is the return of the sunday session with Richo. EPIC is a seriously good micro-brewery from New Zealand, and we thought it would be good to hit up this breweries beers. We actually started with the Larger (see picture below) but this was definitely the beer to review.

Both Richo and I are big hop heads, so IPA's are often our beer of choice. EPIC (what a name for a brewery by the way...) is brewed in Auckland and has a great reputation for the beers they produce worldwide. Anyway I really like the 6.66% ABV on this beer and can't wait to try this one.

The EPIC Armageddon has one of the most incredible heads I've ever seen on an IPA. The colour is a true copper colour with lots of carbonation, that gives rise to this brilliant creamy looking head. The head is close to 4 fingers in a smallish tulip glass, it's incredibly impressive. It also provides incredible lacing and had excellent retention, still at least 1 finger left at the end. It's a seriously good looking IPA!

This beer seems very aromatic, due to the strong hops. There are strong pine and citrus elements on the nose of this beer. I get hints of alcohol in the smell but it's not an over-riding issue in this beer, it almost adds to the overall complexity of the nose. It actually smells a bit like fruit-cake or christmas pudding or something like that, there are mild caramel and notes of spices that permeate the beer. But the hops are by far the most significant element of the EPIC Armageddon, they are sensational and the taste will hopefully live up to expectations.

This beer is simply sensational! Like any good Indian Pale Ale, the hops are the most dominant flavour of this beer. They have an incredibly sharp bitter taste, which has citrus elements; tangerine or grapefruit I think. The malt bed is caramelly but barely there, and really just provides enough substance to balance the beer. Alcohol is present at the back of the mouth, but if anything it adds to the overall bite of this beer. It's a really good biting IPA!

I think both Richo and I agree that this is one of the best IPA's we've had in our Sunday sessions. It has great hops which give this beer significant crisp bite, whilst also having enough else about it to keep the drinker interested. As a warm-up to the Armageddon we had the new EPIC Larger, which was a sensational Imperial Pilsner. It's definitely a style I would like to see more of and it's definitely a beer I would buy again. As for the Armageddon it's better than most of the American IPA's and it's a few dollars cheaper, this could well become a fridge regular in the not to distant future...

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

Thursday, 16 February 2012

REVIEW: LINDEMAN'S KRIEK

Summer Fruit Beers #5


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Fruit Lambic 
  • ABV: 3.5%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
It's finally back! This is probably the world's most famous Kriek, and was the inspiration for this section. This beer has been unavailable in Australia for about the last 3 months, but it's back now and hopefully it's good!
A Kriek is one of the more sour fruit beers, as it is made with predominantly sour cherries. Roughly 30 kilograms of cherries are used by Lindeman's to make one hectolitre of beer, that's alot of cherries! This particular one is a fruit lambic and one that I'm really looking forward to! Let's do this!
I popped the top on this one and had my first surprise, this beer has a cork! I luckily found a corkscrew and got this one open, unsurprisingly it pours a deep red colour with a pink head. The head is a tinted pink colour and there seems to be lots of bubbles, as you can see stuck to the side of my (clearly!) not well cleaned glass... Anyway the colour is a fantastic red colour and I don't think you can ask for much more from a fruit beer.
The odour is undeniably that of cherries, it's incredibly intense and really plain fruity. My first thought was that this smelled incredibly like children's cough medicine, or at least the one I used to have as a kid. The cherries smell both sweet and sour, with the sour ones being more prominent with just fleeting hints of the sweeter ones that lie below.
Obviously this beer tastes like cherry but it's so much more than juice cherry juice! The beer is much tarter than I hard expected, however as this initial tartness subsides it has quite a sweet juicy beer which is surprisingly refreshing. The beer is beautifully balanced and the flavours hover between sweet and sour cherry, there really isn't alot of flavour diversity to this beer, it's just cherry, cherry and more cherry; but damn it's good!
Like all fruit beers this one certainly won't appeal to everyone. The tartness of this beer will certainly help more people to like it, however it is undeniably not your average beer. Lindeman's obviously use very high quality cherries and this shows in the incredible tasting beer. The drinkability of this one would probably be quite low because of the sugary qualities of this beer. Lindeman's Kriek is probably one for a hot summer day, or maybe the perfect beer to convince the missus that beer is good. Anyway I enjoyed it, and this is one that is definitely worth a try.

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

Saturday, 11 February 2012

REVIEW: ST. AMBROISE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT

        The World's best beer contender?


STATS
  • Country: Canada
  • Style: Russian Imperial Stout
  • ABV: 9.2%
  • Serving Type: 341ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
I've grown into a real stout fan over recent months and when the guy in the beer shop suggested this one, I wasn't going to not buy it. This stout is from one of the breweries that sparked my love of different beer, as strange as it sounds you should try the St Ambroise Apricot beer!

The difference between an American Imperial Stout and a Russian Imperial Stout is vast, the Russian Imperial stout is a bigger fuller flavoured stout with huge roasted malts. The American variation often has cleaner alcohol tastes and is generally sweeter than it's Russian equivalent. The Russian Imperial Stout is often considered the king of all stout varieties, and I'm really hoping this is one of the better ones.

Like a typical stout the Russian Imperial from St. Ambroise pours an almost black colour. The beer is completely opaque, absolutely no chance for light to get through this one. As for the head, it's quite a dark brown colour and of a good size. The head has excellent retention for an Imperial Stout and when the head finally settles down it forms a thick ring around the glass with a thin film over the surface of the beer. The lacing is superb, and this is a sensational looking stout! 

On the nose there are obviously large ammounts of roasted malts. I should have mentioned earlier that this beer is aged in a bourbon wood barrel, and you can really smell the rich wood and I also get hints of bourbon on the nose. It has hints of coffee on the end of the nose, as well as something that I believe is cherry on the end which adds a touch of sweetness to the nose. It's a very complex smelling beer and I don't think this review has done what I can smell justice.

Normally when I write one of these reviews I take a sip and instantly know what I'm going to write, this beer I've got no idea how to do it justice. Ok so there are loads of roasted malts, and this beer is actually smokier than I expected. There are flavour pockets of bourbon but I'm really getting a strong coffee flavour, which is ust delicious. I can hardly taste any alcohol at all, which is impressive in a 9+% beer. It's superb!

All the things I've heard about this beer are true this is a sensational beer, and one that I would more than happily drink again. I'm so thankful I bought 3 other ones which I will age for the next couple of years. Anyway this stout is incredible, it comes in a cool cardboard tube and at about $13 a pop it's not cheap but it's absolutely worth every cent! It's an incredibly enjoyable beer, definitely one for stout lovers!

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

Friday, 10 February 2012

REVIEW: SIERRA NEVADA TORPEDO


 Fridge Regular


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American IPA 
  • ABV: 7.2%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
The Torpedo from Sierra Nevada is one of five beers the brewery brews year round. This is one of my favourite breweries and this is one of my favourite beers. It's been a really long day at work and this should be the perfect wind down beer.

An American IPA is a hoppy style of beer, and a fuller flavoured variant on the English IPA style. IPA stands for India Pale Ale and was so named because it was initially brewed in England and transported to British troops stationed in India. The relatively high alcohol content was used to keep the beer fresh on the long journey, and remains to this day as a reminder to the history of this delicious beer style.

This beer pours a brilliant deep amber colour, with hints of orange throughout the beer. There are good streams of carbonation rising to a perfect creamy looking head. The head retention is reasonable for the style but the lacing is superb. You are left with a beautiful spider-web of head left in your empty glass. The Torpedo is pretty close to the perfect looking IPA, it's a brilliant looking beer!

The first thing you notice, almost when your pouring this beer is an incredible hop aroma. There is only the slightest hint of malt character but there are pine and citrus elements are present. It's slightly sweeter than I expected and this has to be due somewhat to the fruity nature of the hops, I think I'm smelling grapefruit or something similar. The hops also appear to have some bitterness, which helps make this beer smell seriously good! 

I honestly don't know what more you could ask for in an IPA! The Torpedo has a slightly sticky mouthfeel while being both bitter and sweet at the same time. Despite this sticky texture the beer remains refreshing, as any good IPA should be, because of the excellent hops used in this beer. These hops are strong and flavoursome without over powering the other elements of the beer. The grapefruit that was present on the nose is delicious and there are hints of other citrus flavours throughout the beer. It's a simply brilliant IPA!

Sierra Nevada make so many good seasonal IPA's, the Winter Celebration springs to mind, and this one is no exception. In my opinion this is one of the best IPA's out there and certainly the easiest drinking of all of them. I'm quite happy to have this beer with dinner or even as a session beer (if a very expensive one..). Seriously if you've never had an IPA you need to try this beer, and if you like IPA's and haven't had this one, you need to go get one! 

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

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

REVIEW: BUDWEISER

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.9%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
    Yesterday was Superbowl day! My mate Richo recorded the game and a group of guys went round to his place after work for some beers and some FOOTBALL! There was no other beer that we could possibly drink, only the 'King of Beers' would suffice.

    This is a new sub-section of the blog for mass produced lagers that don't fit into any other section. It's also quite interesting to compare the micro breweries of certain countries with their macro counterparts. Being real men we drank full-strength Budweiser as opposed to Bud Light, which disgustingly is the most consumed beer worldwide!

    The pour is surprisingly good for a beer with such a bad reputation worldwide. Budweiser pours a clear straw colour, with streams of bubbles rising to a reasonable size off-white head. The head looks impressive at first but falls very quickly to a poor half ring of foam. There is almost no lacing to speak of, it does give a slightly cheap feel. It's not a great looking beer.

    One of the most controversial beer ads
    EVER!!!

    The nose of this beer is not impressive at all, it's very very bland. This is not necessarily a bad thing however as many adjunct lagers can have a very offensive smell. It smells like slightly sweet grains, with tiny hints of floral hops also present. It doesn't smell good, but it doesn't smell bad either; not bad for a macro.

    Budweiser's claim that it is the King of Beers is a big call, and while the Anheuser-Busch corporation may produce the most beer it certainly doesn't taste the best! The flavour isn't appealing and is mostly grainy with some bitterness but a lack of any real hop flavouring. The carbonation is really high and even a mildly crisp finish, can't save this relatively weak beer.

    Now the above is a technical review of this beer, and technically it fails. However in the context of watching some FOOTBALL and eating some wings coated in Louisiana hot sauce, it was a sensational beer. It's a surprisingly good drinking beer and (judging by how my head felt this morning) makes an excellent session beer. I'd be happy to get on it again, if you haven't had it before it's not a bad bet if you need a cheapish 6-pack.

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

    Saturday, 4 February 2012

    REVIEW: WESTMALLE DUBBEL


    Trappist Beer #6 Westmalle


    STATS
    • Country: Belgium
    • Style: Dubbel
    • ABV: 7.0%
    • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
    • Price: Slightly Pricey
    Beer number 6 in this challenge is from the Westmalle brewery. The abbey was founded in 1794 and became a Trappist abbey in 1836, a year later a small brewery was built inside the abbey walls, and the beers have been extremely popular ever since.

    This brewery is a bit unusual in that it still uses whole hop cones in it's brewing. There are 3 beers produced at the abbey of which only the dubbel and tripel are available for public consumption. Today I will be sampling the dubbel, which has been brewed to the same recipe since the 1920's. Westmalle is considered one of the most influential breweries of recent times and former head-brewer, Brother Thomas, was the technical advisor for the setup of the Achel Brewery in 1998. That's enough history, it's time for some drinking.

    The beer pours a chestnut brown colour with a quickly dissipating tan head. The head laces the glass really nicely considering how quickly the head falls to a thick ring, however this ring sticks around for the duration of drinking. When held to the light this beer has a strange slightly orange tint to it, I believe this is caused by the Westmalle malts, but I'm unsure. It's a nice looking trappist beer.

    For once I am slightly thrown by the smell of this beer. It's one of the times where I know I've tasted something similar before but can't quite place it. There are the usual roasted caramel malts, dark fruity undertones as well as some apple and a spicy hint at the end. But despite being able to identify those elements I know, there's something else in there and it's bugging me a little that I can't work it out. The beer smells incredibly complex and it's lovely, I can't wait to taste this!

    Whatever that smell is, this beer tastes fantastic! The flavours are strong and along the same lines as the aroma suggested. The caramel malts are of an extremely high quality and really make this beer. The beer retains a fruity character, with elements of figs and other dark fruits. There is also apple and I think pear present before some nutmeg/cinnamon spicyness gives the beer a lovely warm finish.

    Like all trappist beers, you can see the care that has gone into making this beer. The quality of the ingredients used is incredibly high. The mouthfeel is not too heavy and has enough carbonation to make the beer work, as alcohol is present in the taste but it seems to fit quite well. It's a seriously high quality beer and I would suggest that this would be an excellent introductory trappist beer, for those looking to try one. Remember to serve this at about 8-10 degrees to really help bring out the flavours.

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