Monday, 30 April 2012

REVIEW: WELTENBURGER KLOSTER BAROCK DUNKEL

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Munich Dunkel Lager 
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
A couple of weeks ago the beer store where I buy most of my beer from had the Weltenburger Kloster beers on Friday night tasting. I've got one of each of the four beers on tasting and will be trying to review them over the next few weeks, starting with this Munich Dunkel Lager on a cold Melbourne night.

For those non-beer nerds out there, a Munich Dunkel Lager should have the smooth complex flavours of a stout without the thickness or stickyness. This brewery is the oldest abbey brewery in the world and one of the oldest breweries full-stop, beginning production in 1050 just 10 years after Weihenstephaner! This is a great style of beer for cold nights, hopefully this is a good example of the style.

Weltenburger Kloster's Munich Dunkel Lager pours a deep ruby colour with a large but airy head. The colour is brilliant for the style, and despite the very airy nature of the head it's size is impressive. Not only does the head have size to it, it also has excellent retention and laces the glass well. It's an impressive looking beer, hopefully it can taste just as good.

The nose is impressive on this beer. The malts are lightly roasted and don't give off a typically roasted smell, it's more like well baked bread. There are chocolate and woody elements to the nose as well as the faintest hint of grassy hops. I'm also picking up some dark fruit smells (cherry?), which makes the beer feel warmer. If that makes sense to you good, if not I can't work out a better way to explain it so you may just need to try this one... Onto the tasting!

This dark beer is simply delicious and is going to appeal to both lovers of dark beers and lagers. The flavours are exceptional without one element overpowering the others. The beer starts with a chocolatey taste before a slightly sweet malty taste permeates the palate. The grassy hops are stronger than the smell indicated but they flit in and out, and don't provide a lasting bitterness.The finish is a beautiful smokey flavour combined with some more sweet malts. It just goes down so nicely!

As Munich Dunkel Lagers go this one from Weltenburger Kloster is a really nice one. It's a style I think I'm going to have to drink more of, as almost everyone I have I really enjoy. This is a very drinkable beer, it may not have the most complex flavours but this I think lends itself to being almost sessionable. Not many dark beers are potential session beers, but if there is such a thing this would be a contender because of it's light mouthfeel and inoffensive flavours. Go out and try this one, its definitely one for the winter months!

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

REVIEW: STONE & WOOD JASPER ALE

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American Amber Ale 
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
The Jasper Ale is the newest addition to the Stone & Wood range. With their range also including Australia's best beer, the Pacific Ale (see review here), alot has been expected of this new arrival. I bought this one last week and have been looking for an appropriately cold day ever since.

A bit of research into this beer has made it hard to classify into a particular style. From speaking to a few people they think it's got alot of Altbier qualities to it as well as having distinct American Amber Ale characteristics. The Stone & Wood website says that it is also based upon the English Brown ale styles. All of these things lead me to one conclusion, this will be one delicious beer!

The Jasper Ale has an orange amber colour when poured with a reasonably small orange tinted head. The bubbles in the head are nice and tight and it has quite good retention. There doesn't appear to be a heap of caronation, but it doesn't a ring of head lasting all the way until the last drop. It's a really nice looking amber ale.

For an amber ale there is only a mild aroma. What little nose there is is quite grainy, a caramel touch gives it a sweetish tinge before some grassy hops balance it out. It's a little light on in terms of hops on the nose, I'm hoping there is a little more hopping when it comes to tasting this beer. On the whole though there is not alot of a nose here, and for an amber ale this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Upon tasting this beer I was instantly impressed. The Jasper ale to me tastes very similar to a traditional altbier. The beer has a slightly sweet palate to begin with, which has some nice fruity flavours and a nutty finish. There are some relatively weak hops, which provide some bitterness but barely enough to balance the beer. The body of this beer is quite thick considering the low ABV, it's a really nice winter ale.

Stone & Wood have produced another ripper of a beer here! I know the review above comes off slightly more negative than that statement, but honestly the beer is really good. The carbonation is quite low, almost in the style of an English ale, which makes this beer very drinkable. I'm definitely going to buy this beer again, it's a very worthy addition to the Stone & Wood range.

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

Friday, 27 April 2012

REVIEW: PILSEN

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Uruguay
  • Style: German Pilsner 
  • ABV: 5.1%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Metal Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
    Uruguay is not a country that I would associate with making good beer. If I'm being honest it's a country I hadn't even heard of before Australia beat them in the World Cup playoff in 2005, and I know my geography!

    I also would never have imagined I would get to sample some beer from Uruguay, as none is imported to Australia. However I made an acquaintance in the form of Sergio, a Uruguayan who hooked me up with not only the beers (4 in total) but a number of different glasses as well. Again Sergio thank you my friend! I'm looking forward to this beer as I've never had beer in what is effectively a can-bottle!

    This beer pours quite a yellow colour for a lager, some might term it light golden, with a heap of carbonation. The head is a brilliant white with some large airy bubbles, the head has excellent retention for a lager, probably spurred on by the seemingly high carbonation. I'm really impressed with the pour of this beer, it's a good looking lager.

    Pilsen smells like a really high quality lager. It's a maltier smelling lager than most, but the malts are sweetish. There is a fruity aroma to this beer that I can't quite place, which helps to balance the mild hop smell. The hops are of a herbal variety and smell reasonably bitter. As with most lagers this one doesn't have a huge nose to it, but unlike many Pilsen's smell doesn't offend!

    This lager starts off with a nice grainy malt taste which is sweetened by a nice honey and fruity taste. The herbal hops come in after this which add some really nice bite to the beer, and also justifies what was an otherwise unusual classification of a German Pilsner. While the carbonation is slightly higher than usual, it actually helps to make the mouthfeel a little lighter. Pilsen is a really impressive all round lager, which would make a really nice session beer.

    Pilsen is what most beers in South America are called, however Pilsen from Uruguay has to be one of the best! This beer is a standout for me in the macro lager category. I'm really looking forward to the other Uruguayan beers that Sergio has provided me with, and might have to be on the lookout for some more South American beers. If you get the opportunity to try this beer, jump on it! It's a much better than average lager and you won't be disappointed!

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

    Thursday, 26 April 2012

    THE GREAT BOTTLE VS. CAN DEBATE PART 4

    The fourth installment: The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate


    STATS
    • Country: Scotland
    • Style: American IPA
    • ABV: 5.6%
    • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle/Can
    • Price: Inexpensive
     
    Brewdog is probably my favourite brewery worldwide and the Punk IPA is one of my favourite beers to drink regularly! This is post #100 on this blog, thank you all for coming along for the journey so far. This post was originally reserved for another beer from this brewery but due to a number of extenuating circumstances that beer will be saved for another day.

    Comparing the bottle and can of one of my favourite IPA's seemed an almost acceptable replacement. My beer store recently got the cans in for the first time and the guy in the shop says it's one of the best tasting IPA's on the market, and heaps better than the bottle version. Previous results in this challenge lead me to believe that he may be right. Let's hope so as I have bought a whole case of it...

    They say a picture tells a thousand words and here you can already tell which beer has travelled better. The can is a clear golden colour with a good sized, if somewhat airy head. While the bottle is slightly cloudy with a significantly smaller head.

    Both the can and the bottle have a beautifully hoppy aroma, which is almost overpowering at times.The fruity character of the beer seems to have survived well in both containers. There is some elements of pine present in the can which are not noticeable in the bottle, which is the only difference I can detect.

    It's instantly clear when tasting these side-by-side how much better the beer travels in the can. This is a great day for me as one of my favourite beers has just got even better! There is a light malt base to this beer but the real winner in the beer is the amazing hops! There are citrus and grass hops that add good really good bite and flavour. The beer has some fruity characteristics that are just delicious and make it one of the best drinking IPA's out there.

    This one is no contest! The canned IPA is far superior to the bottle to the point that I would not even consider buying the bottle again! Similar to the Anderson Valley IPA it's like two completely different beers when you taste them side-by-side. With the relatively low ABV this beer was never going to travel as well in a bottle, so I'm not hugely surprised by the results. If you are after a relatively cheap, but very good IPA this would be a good beer for you to try, but make sure you get it in a can!


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

    Sunday, 15 April 2012

    WE HAVE A WINNER!

    Thank you all for your entries over the last week or so, we were actually shocked how many of you bothered to enter, clearly free beer is even more powerful than I thought! People have clearly got me pinned with a number of hop related puns. Notable mentions to "Hop-ocalypse", "Tricerahops" and "Modus Hoperandi", all are good and may actually spawn a big hops IPA section down the track.

    We ruled out the contenders above because they were, in a way, style specific. The same ruled out "Miscel-ale-nous", which is also a horrible mouthful, "Alement" and "What Ales You". A very special mention to "To beer or not to beer, that is the question.", but really we all know it's not a question, always beer. After careful deliberation myself and my fellow judges narrowed it down to 4 entries, all of which could have got the gig.

    True Brew

    Et Ceterbeer

    Miscelbeerneous

    Brewprint

    After many beers this afternoon we have come to the conclusion the "Et Ceterbeer" most captures the spirit of what we were looking for. Congratulations to both Jack and Ari, who both came up with it. I will be in touch soon to give you your prize. True Brew is also brilliant and will be the name of a new section, which will be starting soon, Liz you will be contacted soon. To everyone else thank you for entering and please keep reading.

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

    Saturday, 14 April 2012

    REVIEW: RACER #5

    Et Ceterbeer



    STATS
    • Country: United States
    • Style: American IPA
    • ABV: 7.0%
    • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
    • Price: Slightly Pricey

    Bear Republic's Racer #5 is widely regarded as the best American IPA to touch down on Australian shores for a long time, if not ever! Recently some fresh stock has come in at the beer store, and naturally I jumped all over it!

    Somewhat unsurprisingly Richo's here to try this one after a long day at work. My beer guy stressed that this is vastly superior to both Sierra Nevada and Green Flash IPA's, which I am extremely excited about if true. Lets hope the hype doesn't destroy it!

    This beer pours a lovely deep golden colour with a smallish off white head. Don't let the size of the head fool you though, as it has amazing retention and laces the glass brilliantly. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of carbonation as I can't see many bubbles rising to the head. It's a really pretty looking IPA although the head could be bigger.

    It's the nose where this beer really excels, it promises everything that a good IPA should. There is a huge ammount of citrus and floral hops present on the nose, as well as smaller pine and honey elements. There is also much in the way of fruits on the nose, with pineapple and grapefruit the most noticeable to me. It's a simply stunning smelling IPA!

    Racer #5 has a fantastic taste to live up to the nose. As with all of the American west coast IPA's the hops are the main drawcard, and this beer is no exception! There are both floral and citrus hops present which provide ample bitterness to the beer. The pine hops are more present than the nose would suggest and in my opinion really make the beer. There is adequate malt to balance the beer, but this is definitely on the hoppier end of the scale.

    This really is an exceptional IPA and lives up to the tag of the best American IPA to land in this country! The hops and stunningly flavoursome and bitter. Those who like a Belgian style IPA will not like this beer as it's a really big hoppy IPA.  For those, like Richo and myself, who love their hops you will not be disappointed in this beer. It's a really nice easy drinking IPA with almost no alcohol flavour to speak of. Definitely one to try!

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

    Tuesday, 10 April 2012

    REVIEW: VICTORY STORM KING

    The Dark Side


    STATS

    • Country: United States
    • Style: Russian Imperial Stout
    • ABV: 9.1%
    • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
    • Price: Slightly Pricey
    Easter Monday has to be one of the most boring days of the year, only mildly better than Good Friday because the footy is on! It's another cold and wet day in Melbourne so what better way to warm me up than a big U.S. stout!

    Victory is brewery that I am quite familiar with having had 4 of their other beers before. Judging by the quality of all of their other beers this Imperial Stout will be good. That's enough of an intro, I really want to drink this.

    This beer pours an almost opaque black colour with a good sized light tan head. The beer appears to be quite thin for the style. The head is made up of quite big bubbles, and the retention is average at best. There is little to no lacing, which is not uncommon for a stout with such a high ABV. All in all it's a pretty good looking stout, hopefully it drinks well.

    For an imperial stout the Storm King is not particularly aromatic. What aroma there is, is mostly roasted malts with a hint of chocolate. There is a hint of alcohol towards the end of the nose as well. It is surprisingly hoppy for a stout, I don't think I've ever smelt a stout with as much hops on the nose, it's quite incredible! I can't wait to taste this now!

    Victory's Storm King is very different to most stouts out on the market. The body is quite thin for a stout but the flavour is full-on. The flavours of chocolate and coffee are both normal for stout and the roasted malts are naturally strong flavoured. The strange part about this stout is the strong floral hop flavours, it really adds a new level of complexity to what is already a delicious stout.

    Most stouts I find difficult to drink on a regular basis, this one is so good I think it could become a fridge regular over the rest of winter. I think the relatively thin body helps the drinkability of this stout and the overall nature of this stout isn't slightly sweet. The malts are roasted to perfection which adds a beautiful smokey texture. If you like stouts you need to try this one, it's right up there in my books!

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

    Sunday, 8 April 2012

    REVIEW: INFINIUM

         The World's best beer contender?


    STATS
    • Country: United States
    • Style: Biere de Champagne
    • ABV: 10.5%
    • Serving Type: 750ml Bottle
    • Price: Special Occasions Only 
    This beer is a collaborative effort between the brewers at Samuel Adams and Weihenstephaner (famed for being the world's oldest continuously operating brewery). There's a huge ammount of fanfare surrounding this beer, so Richo and I have been pretty interested to try it.

    Biere de Champagne or Biere Brut is one of the newest and most interesting beer styles out there. They are often matured for long periods of time before being subjected to the "methode de champenoise", which is the process by which yeast is removed from the bottle. They are supposedly delicate beers with high carbonation and can be spiced. This will be the first Biere de Champagne that I've ever had, so it should be interesting.

    The high levels of carbonation promised by the style are evident straight away. The beer is just a swarming mass of bubbles which leads to an enormous head, see photo lower. The beer is an orange golden colour with the huge carbonation leading to a very large head of tight white bubbles. It's a very pretty looking beer with excellent retention, almost certainly due to the bubbles rising from seemingly everywhere in the glass.

    A large yeasty aroma is the first thing that greets the senses when one smells this beer. It has good spicy elements to it as well as have a sweetish malt aroma. There are hints of butter and even some tart green apples, as well as a bit more fruityness. I can't get over the yeasty smell though, I'm not sure if it was meant to be this overbearing but it's strange and I don't think it suits the beer at all. I'm intrigued what this will actually taste like.

    The carbonation is far too high and really puts me off this beer. Words can't describe what a let down this beer is! The flavours are mostly of yeast and malt as well as a strong alcohol taste, which is too strong. There is a flavour similar to butter as well which is just really strange and is actually unpleasant. It's not a pleasant beer at all!

    I don't know if it's the style I don't like but this tastes terrible to me! I really think the high carbonation has destroyed any chance of this beer tasting good. For me it destroys the palate and makes the beer taste really nasty. I'm extremely surprised Weihenstephaner have sullied their name by putting it to this beer, but it could be that I just totally don't get the style. It's not for me especially at the price, but maybe if you like champagne it's for you, just don't invite me over to try some!

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

    REVIEW: BINTANG

    Macro Lager



    STATS
    • Country: Indonesia
    • Style: American Adjunct Lager
    • ABV: 4.7%
    • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
    • Price: Inexpensive
    Bir Bintang Pilsner is the most widely consumed beer in Indonesia. The country has a population of over 238 million people, that's a huge population to supply almost exclusively with one beer! The red star on the label is a throw back to Dutch control of Indonesia when Heineken actually ran the brewery.

    This beer has gained an infamous reputation within our friendship group. We were heading away for the weekend and decided our money would best be spent on cheap beer. A local bottleshop had some just expired Bintang on sale, we did our due dilligence and the 6-pack we had seemed alright, 4 cases were hence bought. The result was probably half the beers being almost undrinkably skunked and the somewhat cruel nickname "Bin Juice" arose. Hopefully this fresh one can show that it's a more than serviceable lager.

    Indonesia's premier lager leaves quite an average impression after being poured. The colour is the standard golden lager colour with a small head made up of very large airy bubbles. The head retention is non-existent as the head fades away in less than a minute and there is no noticeable lacing. I imagine the pour appearance is down to the fact that you normally drink it straight from the bottle or can, but that doesn't excuse that this is a poor looking lager.

    The nose of this beer is actually not too bad for an American Adjunct Lager. Bintang has a very malty smell with only minor bitterness. There is balancing bitterness but I don't think it's from hops, as I can't smell any. There are some citrussy notes to the nose as well as a smell which seems like honey. It's pretty nice, but for a beer which calls itself a pilsner the lack of noticeable hops on the nose is disappointing.

    Bintang is a slightly sweet malty lager. There is some generic bitterness which is coming from a grainy taste. Hops don't appear to be present but there is a fruity taste which I can't quite place. The finish has a slightly dry feel to it and has good bitterness. It's the epitome of a session beer, very easy to drink with a nice flavour and excellent carbonation. This could be drunk all day long, especially with the relatively low (4.7%) alcohol content.

    This beer is perfectly suited to the hot and sticky climate of Indonesia. I remember when I went to Indonesia about 4 years ago and played golf in the morning, by the time we finished I was soaked in sweat. 5 or 6 Bintang cans later (in about 15 minutes!) and all was good again. This story indicates what Bintang is good for, it's a thirst quencher. This isn't the beer for the connoisseur, but in Indonesia there's nothing else I'd rather drink! Bintang should be bought in the summer months and consumed on a really hot day, if you do this you won't be disappointed.

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

    REVIEW: BROOKLYN BLACK CHOCOLATE STOUT

    The Dark Side


    STATS
    • Country: United States
    • Style: Russian Imperial Stout
    • ABV: 10.0%
    • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
    • Price: Slightly Pricey 

    Happy Easter everybody! I hope everybodies holidays are going well. I was thinking of what beer to drink over easter and came up with this topical beer; chocolate stout. This is from a really interesting brewery in the United States, which is quite easy to find here, however this is the first time I've seen the Chocolate Stout.

    The weather gods have conspired to make the perfect weather for my stout drinking today, it's cold and raining. Not good for the gardening I was supposed to do but very good for stout drinking. At 10% this is towards the top end for stouts, but if the roasting is good I won't mind one bit!

    Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout is as black as night! This is one of the darkest stouts I've ever seen and it has a dark tan head atop this black body (the head is much darker than the photo makes it seem). Unusually for a stout I can see bubbles rising to the head on the outside of the glass, they aren't big bubbles and there aren't many of them but they certainly are present. The head retention is good however I can't see any lacing, not that that's important in a stout. It's a really nice looking stout.

    The nose of this beer is exactly what I was hoping for! There is heaps of coffee and chocolate aromas, while also having a smokey quality to it. I'm getting a hint of something spicy, maybe nutmeg, as well as some nice warming alcohols. It's not hugely dissimilar to Kahlua on the nose. It's definitely easter-y it's a very promising aroma for a stout. I can't wait to drink this!

    This is one of the most full-on flavour onslaughts I've had from any beer, let alone a stout! The Black Chocolate Stout from Brooklyn Brewery is full of chocolate and coffee flavours, which bite hard with bitterness up front and just stay at the back of the palate throughout. There are only some minor roasting, or the roasted flavour is well covered by the chocolate flavour. It finishes with a nice creamy texture and a touch of warming alcohol. Excellent stout!

    What a perfect easter beer! It's really quite chocolatey, while still not being sweet. It's a very easy drinking stout and the carbonation that seemed to be present when looking at the beer, doesn't seem strong at all. You really wouldn't know anything about the alcohol percentage when drinking this beer, other than a small hint towards the end of tasting it. It would be a really easy drinking stout except for the alcohol, the flavours are good and its not cloying in anyway. I'm very impressed with this stout, if you like stouts this could be the one for you.

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

    Thursday, 5 April 2012

    OVERVIEW

    G'day guys,

    Thanks for all of your messages and emails recently. Beer O'Clock Australia has gone from strength to strength in the last few months and it's all down to you guys. If you have any suggestions for new sections for the blog they would be appreciated. This is just a quick overview of how all the challenges and sections are progressing.

    European Beer Challenge - The main reason this blog was started. We are 37 countries down and 16 to go. This challenge is proving much harder than anticipated. If anyone can help me with any of the remaining countries I would be incredibly grateful.
    Summer Fruit Beers - So far we have sampled a number of fruit beers, both traditional and non-traditional flavours. There are more to come in the coming weeks so stay tuned.
    Great Beer Styles - This is quite a niche section. As we find any really exotic styles more beers will appear in this section. Suggestions are particularly welcome here.
    The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate - One of the most popular sections on this blog and one of my favourites to do. There will be a new installment here soon.
    The World's best beer contender? - There is at least one beer in the pipeline for this section, I'm just waiting for the right moment to unleash it.
    Trappist Beer - Our first completed challenge on Beer O'Clock Australia. As mentioned in the last post we will continue this when I get round to drinking more trappist beers.
    Fridge Regulars - This is the section where I write about the beers that appear regularly in my fridge. A few beers I've had recently will be making their way into this category quite soon.
    Oktoberfest Beers - This challenge has sort of stagnated a little in recent times, it will return but probably not until August or September when Oktoberfest beers come back into stock.
    Macro Lagers - One of the newest segments on the blog, and I guarantee it's going to become one of the biggest! Lots of Asian stuff coming soon.
    AND finally we need your help! Our new section needs a name and we are offering a beer prize pack for the person who comes up with the wittiest name! It's a fantastic prize pack! The section is basically the beers I drink that don't fit into the other categories.

    All you need to do is email your name for the section to gus.norris7@gmail.com, find the beers reviewed so far here. In complying with state law their are a set of terms & conditions available (but don't ask for them!)

    Cheers guys and thanks for your continued reading, get those suggestions in quickly as we would like our new section to be named come the weekend.

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

    AIBA DINNER MENU SNEAK PEEK

    Yesterday I was afforded the opportunity to head down to Josie Bones in Collingwood for an exclusive look at the Australian International Beer Awards menu for the presentation dinner to be held in May. The AIBA, now in it's 20th year, is bigger and better this year with a record 1,352 beers entered.

    The event was aimed to showcase the menu, designed by Chris Badenoch a former Masterchef contestant, for the AIBA presentation dinner. Assorted media (including me for some strange reason...) were joined at this event by 3 of the AIBA judges for this year, who were going to go through a mock judging at the conclusion of the food tasting.

    First up we were served a trout and spanner crab riette(?) matched with the Bootleg Brewery Sou' West Wheat beer. This combination worked really well, the beer is slightly spicy and was the Champion Wheat beer from last years awards. My favourite dish was the spiced pork belly served with a pickled peach on top. It was delicious even before being matched with a Feral's Hop Hog, one of the best IPA's in Australia, which really brought out the sweetness in the pork.


    Stout Pannacotta
    For desert was a lovely caramel and stout pannacotta served with rhubarb, on the night it will be served with raspberries. This was matched with one of my favourite stouts, Renaisaance's Craftsman Oatmeal Stout, which also goes into the pannacotta. The texture was fantastic! The only thing that I will say about this is that it may be a waste of a fantastic beer putting it in this pannacotta. At least I got to have some! This dinner is going to be fantastic if this sneak peek was anything to go by.

    My favourite part of the afternoon was the mock judging, run by AIBA chief judge Peter Manders with Anders Kissmeyer (of Nørrebro Bryghus fame and his new brewery Kissmeyer) and Masayoshi Kaji of Japan. All three are experienced beer judges and they all gave good insight into judging beer and also Anders said something that I think will help all people in tasting new beers, which I will share with you in due course.

    Anders, Peter and Maso
    Each beer is judged on 5 different criteria, and it's very similar to my system which was vindicating. These 5 categories are appearance (3 points), aroma (5 points), flavour & body (6 points), style (3 points) and technical quality (3 points). The first 3 should be pretty self explantory while the last 2 are slightly more complex. The style section is how appropriate this beer is for the style it's been entered in and the technical quality section is the absence of faults and the drinkability. Medals are then awarded based on these scores. The judges have the ability to move beers into a new style bracket if they feel it would be a better fit.

    We 3 beers with each judge taking a turn to explain what they were tasting in each beer, the highlight of these was clearly the black IPA, which was of exceptional quality. It had great bitterness without burning the back of your throat. We were unable to know the names of these beers, as they were all still to be judged. It was a great insight into the judging of beer.

    At the end there was a Q & A session, where Anders Kissmeyer said something that really struck a chord with me. His advice was to all beer drinkers, whether experienced or just starting out. It was quite long winded so I will paraphrase, his point was that as we all taste things differently it doesn't matter what we call each individual part of the beer we taste. As long as we label that taste in our heads and remember what we call that particular taste and that way we can work out what we like, and then the correct terminology will follow. I think this advice can help more people who don't really understand beer to learn what it is about beer that they like.

    The judging on the Australian International Beer Awards has another 2 weeks to run, before results are released at the dinner in May. I would highly recommend people getting tickets to the World of Beer event which will be held on Friday 18 May starting at 4:00pm which will showcase the best beers from the competition. Also everyone in Melbourne should head down to Josie Bones in Collingwood and check out the amazing selection of beer and food served by Chris and his team. If this event was anything to go by the presentation dinner will be amazing, the judges have a huge task on their hands in picking the winners.

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

    Monday, 2 April 2012

    REVIEW: ESTRELLA GALICIA

    European Beer Challenge #37 Andorra


    STATS
    • Country: Andorra
    • Style: American Adjunct Lager
    • ABV: 4.7%
    • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
    • Price: Inexpensive
    Now yes Estrella Galicia is not produced in Andorra and so probably shouldn't be the Andorran candidate for this challenge. However Andorra's only brewery has closed down and so Andorra is now the only European country to not brew it's own beer.

    That is where Estrella Galicia comes in. For years the Galicia, which has a limited hold in it's native Spanish market place, has been the highest selling beer in Andorra. This beer has contributed to the collapse of Andorra's only brewery and so naturally is the beer that will represent Andorra in this challenge. I haven't had the Galicia before but have heard it's a pretty good beer. Let's see if the Andorran's made a good choice to dump their beer and (effectively) make this their national beer.

    Estrella Galicia pours a really nice colour for a lager, it's a deep gold colour with a heap of carbonation rising to a white airy head. The head has quite weak retention but it has some really good lacing. There is a strange ammount of sediment in this beer for a lager, but it seemed to all stay in the bottle whether by design or just luck. All in all it's a pretty good looking lager, that's a good start.

    The overall smell of this beer is slightly sweet. The malts give off a slightly honey-like aroma, while also having a strangely lemony smell that isn't related to the hops, which are a grassy variety. It has a slightly spicy twinge to it towards the end of the nose. It's very similar on the nose to Gambrinus, I'm pretty impressed with the nose.

    Galicia has a very different flavour than most European lagers. It's a sweeter lager that starts with a spicy hint to go with the honey flavoured malts. The beer is well balanced by some grassy hops, which have a good kick. The hops are actually quite bitter and make this beer really different and very drinkable. The moderately low carbonation definitely adds to the drinkability. It's a really nice lager which could make a fantastic session beer.

    Andorra's adopted national beer is one of the better drinker lagers I've had recently. It's incredibly easy to drink, and is of a significantly higher quality than the normal Estrella Damn. It's also one of the freshest lager's I've seen out here from Europe, the brew date was just 3 weeks before I bought this! All of these things together make it a good drop and definitely worth a go if you find it, from what I understand though there isn't alot of this brought out to Australia so if you find it buy up!

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