Tuesday, 31 July 2012

TRUE BREW! WESTERN AUSTRALIA

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: SWAN DRAUGHT, EMU BITTER & BOOTLEG WILS PILS

Beer drinkers in Western Australia have been divided since the 1920's. The battle lines were drawn with the introduction of the Emu brand to the market to join the dominant Swan brewery. Swan Draught is still the states major beer, however Emu Bitter has it's loyal supporters and is not far behind.

Emu Bitter is now owned by it's major competitor, Swan, but still holds a strong share of the market. Bootleg Brewery's Wils Pils will be Western Australia's craft beer entry. The brewery is down in the Margaret River region and this particular pilsner has won Australia's best draught lager before, should be good!

We will start with Swan Draught tonight. Both this and Emu Bitter are produced at the Swan brewery in Canning Vale, near Perth. The label of beers nice and in the stubby the beer drinks well. When you pour it though, well what can you say? Little to no head present, there's hardly enough foam to cover the top of the beer.

There is almost nothing detectable on the nose except for some very subtle light graininess. In terms of flavour, again, it's very light except for some bitter grains. At least there is some hop bitterness present. For a macro the beer has a really clean dry finish. It's a pretty solid beer with not too much to complain about.

I don't know what it is about labels this evening, but I am really impressed with the green Emu Bitter label, it stands out. The pour is better than most of the macro lagers in this challenge to date, however it's still quite average. The body is a light golden colour and the head is a reasonable size but fades quickly.

The nose of Emu Bitter lives up to it's name and is noticeably bitter. It's all sour grains and bitter hops on the nose, a really fresh smelling lager. I really like this beer, technically it's not great but it drinks really nicely. There's almost no malt present but there are some relatively bitter hops. Overall though the beer goes down really nicely and has almost no after taste.

Bootleg is a brewery I'm quite familiar with, however I've never had the Wils Pils. The information I've had on this beer is that it is a Czech Pilsner with a twist, which I'm not quite sure how to take. Anyway I poured it and the beer has a huge head, has a somewhat cloudy body and loads of carbonation. It's certainly doesn't look like your average pilsner.

As pilsners go the nose is really weak, it's almost all sweet caramel malts with the grassy hops all but drowned out. This beer for me is wrecked by the really excessive carbonation and this strange sweet caramel interpretation of a Czech Pilsner, which carries through from the nose to the taste. It's one of the more unusual lagers I've ever sampled.

If I was from W.A. I know which side of the Swan vs. Emu debate I'd be on: definitely Emu! Emu for me was a superior lager with better drinkability than the Swan Draught. Both though would make good session beers. The Wils Pils from Bootleg was really unusual, I thought the bottle might have been old but it was bottled less than 2 months ago. Maybe this was just a bad batch as the things I've heard suggest this is a good beer. The scores have been recorded and we will move on to South Australia next.

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

Thursday, 26 July 2012

TRUE BREW! QUEENSLAND

QUEENSLAND: XXXX BITTER, FNQ LAGER & MY WIFE'S BITTER

There isn't alot of beer from Queensland sold down here so this post was the biggest challenge so far. XXXX Gold is the only macro lager from Queensland sold down here and it's a light beer. XXXX Bitter, or 4-X as the locals call it, is the state macro lager and I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've had this beer.

Blue Sky Brewery in Cairns provides the second macro(ish) lager. Probably technically it's not quite a macro lager yet, but it's well on the way to becoming one. The third beer from Queensland was chosen purely because I like the name as opposed to any better reason. My Wife's Bitter is from all reports is a pretty solid craft lager, let's see what the third most populous state in Australia can serve up for us.

XXXX Bitter is a banana benders beer of choice. The beer is produced by Castlemaine-Perkins and has had better sales overseas, mostly in the U.K., than it has in other Australian states. It pours a lovely golden colour with very little white head, there does appear to be heaps of carbonation though which helps with the head retention.

The appearance of XXXX Bitter is quite impressive for an Australian macro lager. The nose is mostly of sweetish malts, with little to no hops present which is somewhat alarming. The flavour however is better and there is enough hop bitterness to satisfy me. 4-X is somewhat over carbonated, which almost ruins the beer for me, however the drinkability is reasonable.

FNQ Lager is produced by Blue Sky Brewery and I assume stands for Far North Queensland Lager. This is another beer I haven't had before, but this one I'm really quite interested to try as the beer is bridging the gap from micro to macro lager. The pour is a slightly odd hazy orange colour with a strong white head of tight foam on top. It's quite impressive.

So the nose of FNQ Lager is exactly what I've been looking for in a lager. This beer has some serious floral hops on the nose and minimal malt, however there definitely is some there. The taste is slightly different to what I imagined, there's a fair bit of Munich style malts present before the hops kick in towards the end. It's actually a really nice beer, quite similar to Lowenbrau but with a distinctly Australian twist.

Unless my eyes are deceiving me, My Wife's Bitter looks astonishingly like an actual English Bitter, which would be an ale! This is either a very strange dark(ish) lager or an ale. Only a tasting will tell me what's going on here but from the appearance it would appear that my intel is wrong on this beer.

The nose and taste of this beer indicated to me what I already had suspected, this in an English Bitter! Therefore this is an ale, but we will push on regardless. The nose is pretty complex with caramel and chocolate malts dominating the aroma until some spicy earthy hops take over towards the end. The flavour is similar to the nose, but it tastes a little bland and is almost boring... I don't think it's one I'd have again.

Queensland's beers were a bit of a mixed bag this evening. XXXX Bitter was actually a bit better than the some of the things you hear about it would suggest. FNQ Lager had a real touch of quality about it, while My Wife's Bitter from Burleigh Brewing gets ticks for the name but not alot else (remember this is a lager competition...). Overall though it was a nice session and I think I might have found a real winner in FNQ Lager. Western Australia is up next and as tomorrow is Friday I imagin it will be up tomorrow, see you all then!

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

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

TRUE BREW! VICTORIA

VICTORIA: CARLTON DRAUGHT, VICTORIA BITTER & GRAND RIDGE BITTER

Today I get to relive memories of the first beer I ever got really drunk off; Carlton Draught. This is the beer I drink when I go out, but normally when I drink Carlton it's on tap not in bottle form. It's been ages since I've had stubbies of Carlton, so this should be good.

My home state will also be represented by one of the few beers with excellent sales outside it's home state, Victoria Bitter. While the craft beer entry will come from the world's most awarded brewery, Grand Ridge. This will be their Draught Bitter beer, which I will have had before but can't remember a thing about it...

First I had the stubby of Carlton Draught because I'd had a long day at work so when I finally poured one I understood why it's normally on tap. The pour was pretty average with little to no head. Carlton Draught is always said to be at its best closest to the brewery and I bought this one all of a kilometre away from the Abbotsford brewery so this should be as good as it gets!

The best thing about the nose of Carlton Draught is that the beer is not offensive at all. The smell is very mild with some hints of yeast but not alot else. The flavour is of sweetish grainy malts with little to no hops present. The carbonation is quite high for a macro lager, as you can see in the picture. Carlton's real selling point is that it is one of the best session beers out there!

Victoria Bitter, or VB as it more commonly known, is one of the few macro lagers to find success outside of it's home state. VB has always been known as the best cold beer and is specially brewed for full flavour ice cold. VB is marketed as an unpretentious beer and aims to appeal to the blue collar market. The beer is a lovely golden colour with a reasonable white head on top, it's a good looking pour.

Despite the bad rap this beer has I really enjoyed this one. Despite it's simple nature the nose of VB has a little bit of quality to it. There's a bit of fruit up front on the nose with some nice bitter hops towards the end. Flavourwise this is better than the Carlton Draught from before. It's got a good malt base, great hop bitterness and is really drinkable. What more could you ask from in a lager.

Grand Ridge Brewery's Draught Bitter is the craft beer chosen for Victoria, which was a tough decision as there has been a number of quality craft lagers to choose from. Grand Ridge Brewery is about 2 hours east of Melbourne in Mirboo North and is definitely worth a visit. The head of the Draught Bitter is huge and frothing, the head retention is really good as well and this helps top off a nice golden coloured lager.

The nose is almost reminiscent of an ale, it's quite odd. There are some caramel malts with also hints of apricot and another fruit, maybe mango? The flavour is at first slightly unusual but it turns into a very refreshing crisp lager/pale ale collaboration. To call this a true lager would be a lie, but the flavour is nice and the beer is quite enjoyable.

These 3 beers have done the Big V proud! VB was the (surprising) clear standout, with both Carlton Draught (our main beer) and the Grand Ridge Draught Bitter performing well. Victorian lagers are cleary brewed for huge consumption, both VB and Carlton Draught could be consumed in vast quantities and the Grand Ridge lager would go down nicely as a session beer as well. The scores have been recorded and will be announced at the end of True Brew! Queenslands beers will hopefully be up either tomorrow or the next day. May the best state win!

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

Sunday, 22 July 2012

TRUE BREW! NSW

NEW SOUTH WALES: TOOHEYS NEW, RESCHS PILSNER & STONE & WOOD LAGER

The quest to be Australia's best beer state will be kicked off by New South Wales. Tooheys New is the main beer favoured by those in Australia's most populous state. It is brewed in the Sydney suburb of Lidcombe and if my memory serves me correctly it's not too bad.

New South Wales will also be represented by working class beer Reschs Pilsener, a beer that is now brewed in Melbourne but is still solely sold withing NSW. Award winning brewery Stone & Wood from Byron Bay provide the craft lager for this state.


First to the states main beer, Toohey's New. I each beer once in a glass and once out of a bottle as these beers are usually intended to be session beers. The pour is a nice deep golden colour but the head is pretty small. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of carbonation that can only help with consuming this in large volumes.

My memory clearly served me correctly, Tooheys New is pretty decent. The nose is nothing special, just your standard lager basically. The flavours are relatively light but all of them are good, the malts are ever so slightly sweet and the hops are a nice spicy grass variety, which provide ample bitterness. In the bottle it's good as well and the drinkability really shows through here as I wanted another after having the two of these.

Reschs Pilsener is up second for New South Wales and as it is in the second category this will be judged slightly harder. This is the beer my grandfather remembers drinking when he was younger in Sydney. It hasn't changed much in over 60 years according to him and if the appearance is anything to go by, it's going to be a pretty good beer.

So we have established that Reschs Pilsener looks awesome but the nose is a real surprise though; it's brilliant! It smells like an actual pilsner and after some research I found out that it is classified as a German Pilsner, nice to see an Australian produced "pilsner" that is actually a real pilsner. The flavour is a little cheap and tastes chemically, the drinkability is affected because of this. The colder this beer is the better because as it warms up it becomes nasty.

New South Wales' craft lager comes from the party capital of Byron Bay in the north of the state. This brewery is probably best known for their Pacific Ale (reviewed here) but the lager is more than serviceable as well. The pour is the best of the three beers this evening, with a big thick white head being fed by streams of bubbles that help with the retention and lacing of this lager.

The aroma of Stone & Wood's lager is quite bland, almost boring if not for some grassy hops as the beer warms up. In terms of flavour it's very similar to Heineken, but the real quality of this beer comes through in the mouthfeel. It doesn't feel at all grainy and is a nice crisp dry lager. It's not my favourite lager of all time but it's pretty decent and the drinkability is really superb, it'd be great for summer.

All-in-all I think New South Wales have put up a good challenge for the True Brew title. The take home message from NSW lagers was that they are mostly light on flavour in favour of excellent drinkability. All of these beers would make nice session beers. You've read the reviews, I've recorded the scores and we will move on to Victoria next. We will proceed through the states in reverse order of population and then an overall winner will be calculated. May the best state win!

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

Thursday, 19 July 2012

TRUE BREW!

This is the launch of the new section on Beer O'Clock Australia, True Brew, as named by Liz a few months back in the competition to name Et Ceterbeer. True Brew will endeavour to answer the age old question: Which state has the best beer? My fridge has been turned over to Australian lagers from all over the country which will be sampled and compared over the coming days/weeks.


Australia is awash in a sea of beer.... (Get it?)
I've been working on how this segment is going to work for a while and I think I've got the final formula down pat. Each state will have 3 beers represent them; beer one will be the main macro lager in that state, beer two will be an alternative macro lager from that state and beer three will be craft lager from that state. This will hopefully give a fair indication of which state has the best beer.

On a road trip I went on with the boys earlier this year we termed the phrase "state-riotic", naturally we drank the local beer, Tooheys New, but we were all drawn back to our own states beer. I will however put my stateriotic feelings to one side and review all of these beers with an open mind. May the best state win! I should also say thank you to Lizzie for the artwork, I think it looks awesome!

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


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

REVIEW: EVIL COUSIN

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 8.0%
  • Serving Type: 650ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 

Here is yet another imperial IPA to be reviewed on Beer O'Clock Australia. If you haven't guessed yet this is my favourite style of beer. If you don't understand the fascination with IPA's you really need to try some, you WILL fall in love with them!

Heretic Brewing's Evil Cousin is their take on a typical West Coast Imperial IPA. By all reports it's a bit of a hop bomb at 100 IBU and is really in your face. It's pretty much the perfect beer for me to go out on before the lager fest that is to come, details to follow later this evening...

In terms of it's appearance Evil Cousin appears to be quite a standard looking IPA. The body is a deep orange colour with a small-medium off white head sitting on top. I can't see a heap of carbonation however the head retention is good and the lacing is worldclass. Extra points for the label design as well which is pretty cool.

When you give this beer an initial smell you can tell that this beer lives up to expectations and is a huge hop bomb. The nose is almost entirely made up of very bitter grassy hops. Naturally there is a little sweet malts towards the backend and some hints of citrus, but this is almost entirely overpowered by the hops. Hopefully it tastes as good as it smells!

Contrary to what the nose indicated this IPA has quite a large amount of sweet malts up front before the hops take over. They are of both pine and grassy varieties and provide slightly less bitterness than anticipated, however that is a comparitive measure as it is still 100 IBU! The carbonation is average and the mouth feel is quite nice as well. There is nothing really exceptional about this IPA but as a collective it comes across really well. It's one that will more than likely end up back in my fridge.

The name Heretic having given this beer, Evil Cousin, makes it an obvious present for that cousin we all have. The beer is actually a really pleasant example of an Imperial IPA and one that could turn people into bonafide IPA lovers. It's on the lower end of the ABV scale for an Imperial IPA, at 8%, and this really increases the drinkability of this one. Heretic's Evil Cousin is a beer I would recommend to all, it would also make an awesome present; guess what your birthday present is Mo!

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

Sunday, 15 July 2012

REVIEW: VONU PURE LAGER

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Fiji
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.6%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
When I was last down at the beer store not alot was catching my eye, so I asked the guy what's new and he recommended this Fijian lager. He also said it's pretty good, so I chucked it in the fridge and tonights the night to have it.

This is actually the only beer brewed in Fiji, the countries main beer Fiji Bitter is actually brewed in my home city of Melbourne at Carlton United Brewery. I find it slightly unusual that we can get this Fiji brewed lager in Australia but can't get Fiji Bitter even though it's brewed in Melbourne... It seems odd but that is one of the reasons I love the world of beer.

Once I poured this beer I was instantly doubting the recommendation. The colour of the beer is a yellow/gold colour and it seems to have plenty of carbonation. That's all fine, however you then see the head or the lack thereof... It's no more than four bubbles high of white head on top of the beer at first, the rest of it disappears within maybe 30 seconds of being poured. It's very average looking.

Vonu Pure Lager has a much better aroma than the beer looks, not that that is saying alot. The nose starts off with some quite sweet malts which are quite bready, but with a sweeter edge to them almost like a cake dough. There are some slightly spicy hops towards the backend of smell but they don't seem overly bitter. I'm quite interested to see what this one tastes like now.

The taste is similar to the nose with the roles of the hops and malt reversed. By that I mean that the malts are less sweet than they seemed, although they are still sweet, and the hops are more bitter and pronounced. The body of the beer is a tiny bit sticky and the carbonation is a tad high, but I can still see this being an excellent lager to have on the beach in Fiji.

After a bad start Vonu really picked up it's act and turned into quite a nice easy drinking beer. The only real downside to this beer was the appearance of the beer in a glass, however this is easily solved by just drinking the beer out of the bottle which looks pretty cool. Overall it's not a great lager, but it is relatively drinkable and would be refreshing in hot weather. If in Fiji it wouldn't be the worst beer to drink.

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

Saturday, 14 July 2012

REVIEW: ARANY ASZOK

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Hungary
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
My final beer for this evening is Arany Aszok from Hungary. This has been in the fridge for a couple of weeks but I recently received the glass from my friend Gosia and thought that tonight should be the night to open it.

I've had some previous experience with Hungarian beers with both Dreher Classic and Dreher Bak. Arany Aszok is also produced by the Dreher brewery of Budapest, so this will be the third of their beers that I will have sampled. I know nothing about this beer but if it's anything like the other two Hungarian beers I've had, it should be pretty good.

Arany Aszok pours a nice golden straw colour with a slightly disappointing off-white head atop. There appears to be adequate carbonation rising to this head, which probably explains the good half centimetre of foam that lasts for the entirety of drinking. There is some lacing of the glass, but not enough to really impress.

The nose of this Hungarian lager is slightly unusual, it is both sweet and sour at the same time. This is quite a strange sensation for the nose to deal with but I will do my best. There are sweet bready malts up front mixed with a quite sour grain smell. I note a strong citrus element as well as this very unusual fruit smell, which I believe is cherries something I certainly wouldn't expect in a lager. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of hops in this one. We shall see though...

Initially this beer has more malt than I expected, this fades into the background quite quickly though as some sour grains take over. Thankfully Arany Aszok does have some hops! They are of a flowery variety and provide good bitterness and leave a lovely aftertaste in the mouth. The carbonation in this beer is very fine, by that I mean that there are lots of very small bubbles which feel lovely on the tongue but don't affect the drinkability at all.

The beer of Budapest, Arany Aszok, is a much better than average Euro pale lager. It's brilliantly balanced and is clearly made using excellent quality ingredients. I think I need a trip to this part of the world at some point, I love Hungarian food it's delicious and their beer is fantastic as well. This is a lager I can see finding a home in my fridge in the not too distant future. It's really good, I would buy it if you see it!

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

REVIEW: CINTRA

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Portugal 
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Cintra is one of a number of Portuguese lagers that are suddenly flooding the Australia drinking market. Just 3 or 4 months ago it was impossible to get any beers from Portugal, now this is the 4th different one to turn up in that time.

So I recently received 2 cases of this beer to review for a PR company, trying to get some support for the beer. I told them I wouldn't pull any punches and if this beer isn't very good, that's exactly what I'll be saying. Straight off the bat though no glass was an error on their behalf, I like glasses. I also haven't seen Cintra in stores anywhere so I don't where to send you to buy it.

Now that my little rant is over we can get onto the beer. The pour is a lovely deep golden colour with plenty of carbonation feeding a nice 2 finger white head. The head retention is excellent and there is a thick film over the entire beer for the entirety of drinking, there is also a fair bit of lacing which I like to see in any lager. Overall pretty impressive looking beer.

The nose is fine for an American adjunct lager, however theres nothing hugely notable about it. The aroma is mostly made up of bready malts mixed with some lager yeast. Hops are present but don't seem to be particularly strong or bitter. As is often my comment about adjunct lagers if the beer doesn't smell bad then the nose is fine, and that is exactly what Cintra's nose is like. It's pleasant without being strong or exceptional.

In terms of flavour Cintra is relatively light, even by lager standards. The most noticeable thing about this beer would be the mouthfeel, it's very light in the mouth but it has lively carbonation which feels great on the tongue. For the most part the beer tastes of bready malts with the grassy hops being almost an after thought and not adding a great deal of bitterness. Theres also a fair bit of citrus towards the end of the palate.

Overall this is nothing more than an average lager. The flavours are no better than your average Euro beer brewed under license here in Australia. This would make a pretty good session beer, it's very easy to drink and served ice-cold it tastes better. If you find it in slab form and it's cheap, it's probably worth a shot. If you want to try before you buy, I've still got a heap here and you're welcome to come and have a beer.

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

REVIEW: 1936 BIERE

Fridge Regular



STATS
  • Country: Switzerland
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

This beer has the distinction of being the first beer ever reviewed twice on Beer O'Clock Australia. Previously it was reviewed under the European beer challenge heading but now it's managed to slot into the fridge regulars section.

Last time I had 1936 Biere I was sufficiently impressed to go out and buy a 6-pack. Every time I've had it's impressed me, with the exception of the odd bottle which seems to have some issues. The brewery uses only Swiss sourced ingredients and leads the way in environmental protection. Noble as these intentions are, it matters for nought if the beer isn't good. Let's pour it and find out!

So the photo is a little misleading, the beer is actual a very clear golden straw colour with a brilliant 3 finger head of thick white foam. The reason the photo doesn't quite look like this is surprisingly condensation on the outside of the glass, I wiped it with my finger and that's what I saw. One of the things that always impresses me about this beer is the retention of the head and the lacing. If you drink one of these relatively quickly, your entire glass will have lacing all over it; It's a brilliant looking lager!

Having been following this beer for the last 9 months or so, the one element that has improved the most is the aroma. Gone is the slightly sour skunky nose to be replaced by a fresh clean lager smell. There are some nice earthy malts followed up with some floral and grassy hops. There is a slightly unusual citrus aroma, which even after drinking it semi-regularly for 9 months I haven't worked out.

1936 Biere is a nice clean lager. The hops provide good flavour without overpowering the beer with bitterness. The quality of all-swiss ingredients shows through in the flavour and the drinkability is fantastic! This beer has a lovely light mouthfeel and relatively low carbonation, which makes it very refreshing. It's a really nice drinking lager which goes well in almost any situation, be it with food or even as a session beer.

When you get a good bottle of this beer it's one of the best fully imported lagers in Australia. The only problem is that the variation between bottles can be huge. I can only assume theres an issue with distribution, but if they get his right this lager could really become a force within Australian lager drinking circles. With the quality that can be on offer here do yourself a favour and buy 1936 Biere if you see it, you shouldn't be disappointed.

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

Friday, 13 July 2012

REVIEW: KINGFISHER

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: India 
  • Style: American Pale Lager 
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
This is the first of two Indian lagers to be reviewed in the near future. Kingfisher Premium Lager is from Bangalore and what I know about Bangalore is that it's very hot in the summer months, so I'm expecting this to be a nice refreshing lager.

Kingfisher is brewed under license in Australia but I have got one of the rare imported ones. I read somewhere that this is one of the most popular imported beers in the United States, but I'm not sure what to make of that, as the people who drink this probably also think Budweiser is a top quality lager... Here's hoping it's a bit better than that.

So on to the pour and this pours a very standard golden straw colouw with a nice tight 3 finger white head. The head has reasonable retention but when it does start to disappear it disappears very quickly and leaves no trace of ever having been there. It's a very standard looking macro lager, which is exactly what I expected. You couldn't complain receiving a lager that looks like this.

When smelling the beer I'm impressed to find absolutely no noticeable smell of skunk, the biggest problem with imported lagers in Australia. Other than that it's a pretty simple smelling lager, with some slightly sour grains and mild hops. The hops seem to be of a herbal variety but I'm not sure how much bitterness they will provid. It's a clean smelling lager though and thats a big positive.

Kingfisher is a nice tasting lager and is actually a bit better than I had expected. There are more hops present than the nose indicated and they are quite bitter. This bitterness is also excentuated by some bitter graining as well. There are some bready malts upfront but not alot. The body is light with medium carbonation and it's quite a clean lager in the mouth, no grainy feel despite the large amounts of grain in the beer.

Overall it's a pretty good lager, in fact it's a lot better than I expected. India is hot and so you would expect that they can make a refreshing simple lager; this is that and more! It's very refreshing and you can really taste the quality of ingredients that have gone into this beer. Kingfisher is available nationwide at Dan Murphy's and if you're looking for a new and/or cheap lager, it's not a bad option to go with. I think more will find it's way into my fridge in the future.

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

REVIEW: WINTER TRAUM

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Marzen
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive

I typically try to steer clear of beers in this price range as they usually only lead to disappointment, this one however I had to buy! Having recently had 4 of Weltenburger Kloster's other beers and really enjoying them, plus having the mug, it seemed like I had no choice but to buy this beer.

The photo is a bit average but it's a really hard mug to photograph because of the gold lettering, and I may have had a couple before having this beer... Anyway I had this while watching the Tour de France last night and will be using my notes from then to write the review, hopefully it makes a bit of sense and my English is better than the last few days.

Weltenburger Kloster's Winter Traum is a clear deep amber colour with a monster 4 finger head of relatively loose creamy foam. There seems to be a reasonable ammount of carbonation as the head hung around for ages with good amounts of lacing and retention. It's a lovely looking beer, it basically looks like a clear amber ale and it looked even better in the glass.

On the nose this beer was incredibly aromatic. It had a huge amount of fruit characteristics to it with peaches, cherries, plums etc. all present and quite noticeable. There is large amounts of brown sugars and toffee notes as well, however I can detect little to no hops. Maybe there were some when drinking but I haven't included it in my notes on the smell of this beer. Still though it's a nice smelling beer.

The first thing I noticed about this beer was how light it was in the mouth, it was just amazing for a comparatively dark beer. In terms of flavour it was very sweet, so this may turn some off it. There was lots of brown sugar present upfront before the fruits noted in the nose came through. The carbonation was lower than expected and this really added to the overall complexity of this beer. I was hugely impressed with this beer!

Winter Traum is German for winter dream and this beer is exactly that! This beer was exactly what you want when watching sport after midnight, it was a beer that you could easily sit and enjoy over a long period of time. It got better and better as the beer warmed and is one that I will certainly be buying again despite the slightly inflated pricetag. Certainly a great warming beer for winter!

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

Thursday, 12 July 2012

REVIEW: HOPTIMUM

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 10.4%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

My nose is a tad blocked this evening so I thought I would clear my palate and nose with a huge hop bomb. This is the perfect beer for the job, it's a 100 IBU, whole hop cone imperial IPA! I've had it once before and I hope it's as good as I remember.

This beer has at least 6 different varieties of hops in it, hence the name I guess. The label claims that it is "aggressively hopped, dry hopped AND torpedoed" (a reference to their normal IPA the Torpedo?). Anyway we don't seem to be getting very far with this review so we better start drinking and hopes the words start to flow...

In terms of appearance this is quite dark as IPA's go, with a two finger creamy head resting atop the liquid. The beer itself is a deep copper colour with little to no carbonation obviously apparent. However the head has excellent retention and when it finally does subside it still rings the glass and also leaves seemy decent lacing.

Once this beer warms up you are hit with a full afront of citrus and pine elements on the nose. There is quite a lot of bitterness present from the hops, as well as some very sweet smelling grapefruit. I can also smell a fair amount of bready malts for an imperial IPA, which seems odd for a beer with 100 IBU but what can you do. There also appears to be a fair amount of alcohol on the nose. Hopefully this one tastes as good as the last one I had, as I don't remember the nose being quite like this.

Flavour-wise the Hoptimum is brilliant! The beer is nice and bitter as is full of hops. The predominant flavours are of pine and grapefruit, as with almost all Californian IPA's. The only slight downside for me is quite a strong alcohol flavour, which particularly as the beer warms up has quite an effect on the flavour. Other than that though, it's a lovely imperial IPA.

I think I hinted to it earlier without explicitly saying it, but Hoptimum is a Sierra Nevada beer. And this lives up to the quality of their other beers, it's spectacular! It's quite malty for an Imperial IPA but the huge amount of hopping comes through strongly, so don't despair hop-heads! Hoptimum is a really nice Imperial IPA but one that certainly won't appeal to people new to the style. I find it delicious though.

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

Monday, 9 July 2012

REVIEW: STONE RUINATION

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Imperial IPA 
  • ABV: 7.7%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

Tonight we have another beer from the Stone Brewery in California. This is an American Imperial IPA and I will be very interested to see how it stacks up against others I've had. It's one of my favourite styles, so hopefully this one will be good!

All of the beers I've had from this brewery have been awesome! You can see the Arrogant Bastard Ale review here. There not a lot more to say, I've had a reasonably tough start to the week and I'm just looking forward to what is hopefully a nice big hop-bomb! If not I've always got something else in the fridge, which certainly is a hop-bomb! Anyway let's do this one first.

Stone Ruination IPA pours a slightly unusual hazy orange colour with a good sized cream coloured head. There appears to be lots of carbonation rising to the head, which I imagine is why the retention is so good. Most of the head lasts for the entirety of drinking, with some minor lacing to the glass. This is an unusual looking IPA but I like the look of it, quite nice.

The nose is pretty full on from the Ruination IPA and if the smell is anything to go by, it's exactly what I'm looking for! The nose is loaded with floral hops, which overwhelmes almost everything else. There is a slight grapefruit smell towards the end of the nose, however really all I can get it those hops. If you can smell anything else let me know, I'd be interested to hear it.

Ruination IPA is a delicious IPA! There are flavours of pine and citrus, most noticeably grapefruit. The beer starts off relatively sweet and has some pale bready maltiness. But very quickly this is swamped by a huge hoppy bitterness, which is hugely refreshing and biting. The finish has a slight caramel edge to it, but it still has an overall bitter finish. A really fantastic example of what an American Imperial IPA should taste like.

It's hard to find enough superlatives for this beer, it's simply sensational! It's one of the most beautiful IPA's to drink despite the high ammount of hops present in the beer. A bit of research (reading the label) has led me to discover that this beer has over 100 IBU's, that's an enormous number and while it's bitter it's one of the smoothest beers you will ever find in this range. Simply a superb Imperial IPA, probably my favourite one ever!

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

Saturday, 7 July 2012

REVIEW: HINANO

Macro Lager

STATS
  • Country: Tahiti
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: CHEAP!!!
This has recently been my session beer to have with guys when they come over. I bought a couple of cases when it was on sale, and really enjoyed it as a session beer. Hopefully after a few weeks off it these last two will review nicely.

It's quite a sad day when my session beer runs out, it's alright though as the next one in the fridge was free and is pretty decent. Tahiti is also known as French Polynesia in some countries. It's quite a small island in terms of population but their beer is pretty decent, anyway let's review it!

What more can you ask for in a cheap beer, this beer looks pretty much perfect. It has a nice deep golden colour with plenty of carbonation rising to a three finger white head. The head disipates quite quickly but leaves a nice ring of foam around the glass. The lacing is minimal however there is some present, overall it's one of the best looking island lagers you are going to find.

The nose is quite good as well, it's not cheap or nasty. It has a lovely full-bodied malty aroma with hints of a bready nature. There is also a lot of bitterness present, this seems to be coming from the quite strong smelling herbal hops. I'm personally not seeing where the adjunct classification is coming from as I can't smell any.

I've been accused in the past of being overly favourable to cheap lagers, this is because unlike a lot of other reviewers I try to review each beer on it's merit. So as a cheap lager, Hinano is quite exceptional. It's drinkability surpasses any of the flavours present, which are mostly of bitter hops and grains. It's a great summer beer as if this is served ice cold, as mine was, it's excellent!

Hinano doesn't try to be anything that it can't be, and by that I mean that this is a simple lager brewed to drink in large quantities. By no means is the flavour exceptional, but it's more than drinkable and most importantly you can drink it very quickly. This is an ideal session beer, it's such a shame my 3 cases are gone but if I can find it again it will certainly be back in the fridge. Get on this if you find it, it's a really nice drinking lager.

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

Thursday, 5 July 2012

REVIEW: GAMBRINUS

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Czech Republic 
  • Style: Czech Pilsner
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I actually took this photo a few months ago and only just found it now when I was going through some stuff on my computer. Luckily enough I had another Gambrinus in the fridge and thought that it would be the perfect time to drink it.

This beer probably also qualifies as a fridge regular, I normally have a few lying around at any given time. This is a very nice high end lager, at a relatively cheap price considering the half litre bottle. I've got no idea how long this has been hanging around in the fridge, so hopefully it's still nice and fresh and can live up to what I've just said about it.

Gambrinus pours a beautiful deep golden colour with adequate carbonation rising to a big white airy head. The retention is excellent and the lacing is one of the best you will find in any beer. It's close to the perfect looking beer, let alone the perfect looking lager! It's hard to get a better start to any beer than what Gambrinus 11 offers up! Hopefully everything else will fall into place.

It has a typical Czech pilsner nose, it smells all of Saaz hops. For people trying to learn how to distinguish different varieties of hops, Saaz is the one to start with. It has a very distinct spicy herbal smell, which is even more pronounced when you taste it. When you really concentrate you can smell a slight malt backbone, but it's hard to distinguish with all the hops that the nose of this beer has on show.

So this beer isn't quite tasting as it should, I think it may have been in the fridge that little bit too long... The Saaz hops are there and, as expected, are slightly spicy and herbal but they aren't quite as crisp as they could be. There are more malts than the nose would suggest and it seems well balanced, but this one isn't quite doing it for me. Normally this beer is a fair bit better than this, however it is still reasonably easy to drink.

Gambrinus 11 Excelent is a more than serviceable Czech pilsner. I'm being slightly harsh on this beer because I expected more from it than what this particular example offered. Normally this beer has a bit more bitterness and I expect that this one has skunked slightly from however long its been in the fridge. I can't taste any skunk but the beer isn't quite as fresh as it should be. When this beer is fresh it can be spectacular, if you see it ask someone in the store if it's fresh, if it is buy some!

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

REVIEW: IMPERIAL

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager 
  • ABV: 4.6%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
This is a lager I've had a number of times before. It becomes available very sporadically in Melbourne, often there is a large influx of stock across many stores and then nothing for months. From my memory it's a pretty decent beer.

I've been looking to review this for a while, but as outlined earlier the stock problems got in the way. Melbourne Victory had two soccer players from Costa Rica last year one of which, Jean Carlos Solorzano, helped me out with this glass and a different one from the same brewery, which arrived in the months while the beer was away. Now the beers back, let's drink some!

Imperial pours a lovely straw gold colour. It's very clear and has a brilliant white two finger head on top of the beer. The head retention is poor, as you can see in the photo it's already subsiding quite quickly. There doesn't appear to be much carbonation at all in the beer and this is reflected by the lack of retention and lacing. Still it's better looking than many other tropical beers.

Costa Rica's national lager has a very clean smelling nose, the pale malts seem pure and although they are weak the hops have a very nice aroma. The hops appear to be of a floral variety and although weak smell slightly spicy and seem like they will provide some bitterness. This beer gives off the feeling of quality, I hope the taste can live up to this simple yet pleasant nose.

As far as flavour goes Imperial is pretty mild. The malts are quite weak and there aren't a heap of hops present. The hops that are there are of both floral and citrus varieties and just about enough bitterness to balance the beer. Towards the back of the palate a spicyness, that I believe is from the hops, helps to leave a lovely dry finish in your month, it's excellent! I'd be more than happy to drink this not just in Costa Rica but anywhere, this lager stands up to many worldwide.

Imperial is a solid, easy drinking lager. It's ingredients seem to be of quite a high quality and the flavour is excellent all-be-it mild. This would make a fantastic session beer, the carbonation is low and it stands up to European lagers in terms of flavour and price. I would recommend this lager to all who like lagers, it's got nothing that really makes it stand out from the pack but it's drinkability is excellent. If you were to get a case of this and watch the footy with some mates, it would be the perfect beer.

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

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

REVIEW: XP PALE ALE

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Pale Ale 
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • Serving Type: 650ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
This evening I didn't feel like an IPA, shock horror! But I also wasn't in the mood for a lager or a stout, hence tonight's beer choice. Apparently the name is short for Exceptional Pale Ale, hopefully it can live up to its name!

I've had Bear Republic stuff in the past but when I was down at a beer shop the other day I saw this one, XP Pale Ale. I hadn't heard of this particular one before, but the American guy in the shop sold it to me by saying that it is a better pale ale than Sierra Nevada's. I hope he's right!

XP Pale Ale pours a light golden colour with very little in the way of head. The head has bubbles throughout and is an off white colour. What the head lacks in size it makes up in retention and lacing qualities, it's simply superb! The entire glass is coated in lacing by the time you have finished drinking, while for the entirety of consumption there is a thick layer of foam across the surface of the beer. It's an exceptional looking beer!

The nose is actually quite weak on this beer. There are some citrussy hops up front, but I would expect more from an American pale ale. The malt body of the beer is pretty impressive and has a good aroma. I also am picking up a strange smell, which I have no other way to describe than like popcorn. It's a very strange aroma to find in a beer! I'm becoming quite intrigued by this beer...

It's a bit different to what I was expecting. There is nowhere near as much bitterness as I expected as this beer starts with a citrus tang. There are some pine hops present, while a bready malt backbone really holds the beer together. It's an incredibly easy drinking pale ale and the 650ml bottle disappears very very quickly! A really impressive pale ale.

Bear Republic really have delivered an Exceptional Pale Ale (pardon the pun)! This is right up there with the best examples of the style due to the superb drinkability. Sometimes APA's become slightly too sweet and almost cloying, but this one, despite a lack of real bitterness, doesn't even come near being considered a sweet beer. This is a beer I will be buying again for just this kind of night, when an IPA just won't quite cut it but you're not after something heavier. I would certainly recommend it!

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

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

REVIEW: TOWER 10 IPA

Et Cetebeer


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

This is a welcome return for the Et Ceterbeer segment and to IPA's back to my fridge. This particular IPA is from Karl Strauss brewery in San Diego, California. I don't know alot about this brewery but most beer that comes out of California is pretty good, so here's hoping this one follows the trend.

Tower 10 IPA and the Red Trolley Ale, also from Karl Strauss Brewing, are recent additions to the growing Dan Murphy's craft beer section. I've never come across their beers anywhere else so it will be interesting to see the quality of this one. The one positive of it being at Dan's is that it is very cheap for an IPA at under $4 a bottle.

Karl Strauss' Tower 10 IPA pours a really nice deep orange colour. The two finger head may be slightly small for an IPA but the head is nice and tight and is a brilliant white colour. It has excellent retention but it eventually settles to a moderately sized ring of foam. There is some lacing left behind but it is only above average lacing for an IPA. It's a pretty appetizing looking American IPA.

Citrus and pine notes are the major elements of the nose of this beer. The hops seem to smell excellent for a Dan Murphy's IPA, which are normally stored terribly, maybe they are lifting there standards? There is lots of caramel malts up front before a grapefruit flavour takes over the beer. The hops smell nice and bitter, exactly what I'm looking for this evening.

In terms of flavour the Tower 10 IPA is relatively mild by American IPA standards. Thats not to say that it isn't tasty, because it really is! It's a bit different to most American IPA's, in this one the predominant flavour is a bready/caramel malt flavour. Some strong pine hops try to take over towards the end, but the malt flavour returns toward the end with a hint of grapefruit chucked in for good measure. It's incredibly easy to drink and one I will probably buy again.

This is certainly an IPA I would recommend to people wanting to get into the style. It would make a nice introductory IPA as the flavours aren't hugely confronting, but still give an insight into what a good can offer. For those who are regular IPA drinkers honestly I think it offers a bit, it's a really easy drinking IPA. I would think, at this price, this is one everyone should try.

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

Sunday, 1 July 2012

REVIEW: BEERLAO

Macro Lager



STATS
  • Country: Laos
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.9%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
I remember saying that I was going to jump back in on some big IPA's, but yet here I am with another cheap lager. This is the national lager of Laos, a small south-east asian country. It's a hot and humid climate so I'm expecting a nice refreshing lager.

This beer is incredibly popular in both Laos and Thailand with locals and tourists alike. The beer is slowly gaining a reputation abroad as tourists come back with stories of this beer. It's never quite as good as you remember it back home, but still this is a beer that reminds people of good times they had overseas.

Beerlao leaves a little to be desired in terms of appearance. The beer is on the yellow side, with a large number of bubbles rising to a less than impressive white head. The head dissipates very quickly and doesn't leave any sign of ever being there, absolutely no lacing and not even a ring of foam around the top of the beer. This isn't a huge issue though, as this is most commonly consumed in the bottle.

Like almost all lagers from this region, Beerlao has a very mild odour. This one has some complexities however when you really concentrate. There are hints of citrus on the nose as well as a relatively thin smelling grain. I can't smell alot of hops, but this (hopefully) doesn't mean that there aren't any. It's not a bad nose that will turn people off but it certainly won't entice people either.

After quite a disappointing start I'm pleased to report that Beerlao tastes quite alot better than either the appearance or smell would suggest. The beer has a really clean malt base and a surprising ammount of nice spicy hops. They may not be the most bitter of hops, but they provide more than enough bite to make this beer refreshing. The light carbonation and dry mouthfeel really enhance this beers reputation as a great thirst quencher.

Overall Beerlao is nice refreshing lager, which is surprisingly enjoyable to drink. Obviously this beer would be better if I was sitting by the Mekong river in Laos, but for a cold winters evening in Melbourne it's a nice lager. It drinks literally like water, one of the easiest to drink beers I've ever had the pleasure of sampling. This is definitely one for summer!

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

THE FINAL: CZECH REPUBLIC VS. GERMANY


Today is both a happy day and a sad day. This is the final of the EURO 2012 Beer Tournament here on Beer O'Clock Australia but it does mean real reviews can start again tomorrow. Budvar will take on Beck's in this final, both are macro-produced lagers and both are representive of their countries respective pilsner style. This maybe isn't the quality of final expected but it certainly is an interesting one, which country will win out in the battle for pilsner superiority?


Budvar
CZECH REPUBLIC
Czech Pilsner
5.0%
Budweiser Budvar has been locked in a long running dispute with Budweiser in America for years over the use of the name. Unlike the American brewery they haven't let it distract them from making good beer. This is a really nice Czech Pilsner with a great Saaz hop finish.

The German entry, Beck's, is just as drinkable as it's Czech counterpart, but falls down just a tiny bit in the flavour department. It doesn't have quite that same hoppiness, which really helped the Budvar stand out. Still really enjoyable beer to sit and watch the footy with.

Beck's 
GERMANY
German Pilsner
5.0%

This was a really close battle but the Czech Republic have just edged out Germany to win the EURO 2012 Beer Tournament! Budvar edged the Beck's partly due to it's better appearance but mostly due to the superior hops used. Some will say this is a stylistic difference, which in a way it is, but both German and Czech pilsners are fundamentally hoppy and for me this Beck's just didn't quite have enough... Well done to the Czech's on a superb performance throughout the tournament!

If you've been following the tournament recently and don't want it to end, check out some of the other reviews on the site. You will find some great beers (and some not so great ones...) that you will want to try. Thanks again for reading and as usual feel free to keep your emails coming.
2-1 win to CZECH REPUBLIC
On the pitch: SPAIN vs. ITALY

These two sides met in group stages are played out an intriguing draw. Spain will go in as favourites but despite all the matchwinners on their side I believe the Italians hold the key in the form of Mario Balotelli. He will cause the Spanish defence all sorts of trouble if he is on his game, while he could just as likely be sent off in the first 10 minutes. He lives for the big occassion and I feel this is his time. Italy to win 2-1, maybe after extra time.