Thursday, 27 September 2012


European Beer Challenge #42 Bulgaria

  • Country: Bulgaria
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 550ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive

I finally got out of work early this week and came home to find this lovely surprise in the post from Svetlomir, my Bulgarian friend. The can looks great and the mug is one of my new favourites, the lion crest is embossed on the glass and looks magnificent!

Bulgaria was one of the big beer producing countries that I didn't imagine would be that difficult to get ahold of once I started this challenge. It actually proved incredibly difficult to get, it hasn't been imported into Australia since the 1980's! This is where Svetlomir stepped in, 1 can of Boag's Draught and a Boag's mug later and I had a beautiful Kamenitza mug and can. Let's hope this beer has survived the journey!

The appearance of this beer is really good for a Euro Pale Lager. The body is clear and golden with a huge off-white sudsy head. Despite it's sudsy nature the head has excellent retention and even better lacing. As far as lagers go this is one of the best looking beers on the market. I'm really impressed with it's appearance, hopefully it tastes as good as it looks!

Kamenitza has an overall clean nose. It starts off with a very strong straw smell with some citrus that stings the back of the nostrils. The hops are bitter and are one of the clearest examples of Saaz hops on the market. The overall feeling that the nose left me with was a slightly earthy one, which seems somewhat odd considering the aroma's I had previously described... That aside it's a really clean smelling lager which is quite impressive.

The most important category for any beer is the taste and Kamenitza certainly gets good marks in this department! It has a nice straw base to the beer with moderate carbonation that makes the beer incredibly refreshing. The Saaz hops are big and strong and give the beer more than enough bitterness to make it drinkable. I'm actually a really big fan of this beer, Bulgarian's have it good with their national lager!

Bulgaria's national lager, Kamenitza, is one of the better macro lagers out there. That's a claim that I don't take lightly as I specialize (against some people's better judgement) in macro lagers. Kamenitza is very easy drinking with good flavours and moderate carbonation. It's a beer that I would highly recommend if you are ever in Bulgaria and it's a beer that an importer would be silly not to at least consider importing... Once again a huge thank you to Svetlomir!

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

Thursday, 20 September 2012



  • Country: Australia
  • Style: English Pale Ale 
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Can
  • Price: CHEAP!!!  
After having the relaunched Cascade Pale Ale for the first time yesterday I thought it should be time to bring Tasmania back down to earth after it's win in True Brew. If this tastes like it did yesterday it will certainly do that!

When I tasted it yesterday, in fairness, straight from the can I was really offended, it tasted horrendous! I may have had quite a few by the time I tried this but it was attrocious: one of the worst beers, let alone Australian beers, that I've ever had! I hope for Tasmania's sake it's not as bad as I remember.

The appearance is not awful, however it looks more like a lager than an English Pale Ale. It's got a nice golden coloured liquid with plenty of carbonation rising to a big sudsy white head. The head retention is good with at least half a finger remaining throughout drinking and the lacing is also more than good enough. It's not the worst looking beer when you pour it.

Oh God! That smell still haunts me, it is a truly awful smelling beer! It smells more like a bourbon and coke than it does like a beer, it's horribly sour. Lots of yeast, sour malts and close to no hops; it just doesn't smell balanced at all. I don't think I can think of a worse smelling beer that I've ever had and that includes very badly skunked Bintang!

Flavour-wise pouring Cascade Pale Ale into a glass does improve it, but it would be pretty hard not to improve how it tasted yesterday. It does have a distinctly English Pale Ale flavour about it but with a horrible yeast flavour that really destroys the beer. It's sour and horrible with also this strange sweet flavour which makes it almost undrinkable at times. I just hate it!

Not as horrible as I thought it was yesterday but still a really really bad beer. It's drinkability was almost none existent due to the really odd flavour. The carbonation was uncomfortably high and the mouthfeel was slightly too thick and cloying for a pale ale. Cascade Pale Ale could quite conceivably be the worst Australian macro beer I've ever had! For your sake please don't try this one.

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


BrewDog's Entry
Et Cetebeer

  • Country: Scotland
  • Style: Spiced Beer
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Serving Type: 330 Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
BrewDog and Flying Dog, two of the most innovative craft breweries around the world, challenged each other to the unthinkable; brew an IPA without hops! This seemed like too good an opportunity to turn down, which will come out on top?

From my understanding both sets of brewers will use a mix of roots, herbs etc. to recreate the bitterness that hops normally provide in an IPA. I'm very interested to try these as IPA is my favourite style of beer and I'm intrigued if the hop flavour and bitterness can be reproduced.

So first up is BrewDog from Scotland. The beer poured a really deep red colour with a 2 finger head of creamy foam on top. There appears to be moderate carbonation and the head has good retention. The most noticeable aroma I pick up on the nose is of bay leaves and spices. I also get hints of cloves, banana (oddly like a wheat beer...) and juniper berries. The nose doesn't seem to be suffering from a lack of hops, which is obviously a positive.

The International Arms Race from BrewDog has a really unusual taste. At first it was very fruity before a strong spicy ginger flavour took over. The predominant flavour though is juniper berries, which add some bitterness but doesn't pack that same punch that some hops would have. It had the dry finish that I expect from an IPA but it really suffered a little in the bitterness department from the lack of hops. It's not the best BrewDog beer I've ever had but it's certainly not the worst.

Flying Dog Entry

United States :Country
Spiced Beer :Style
7.5% :ABV
355ml Bottle :Serving Type
Slightly Pricey :Price
Now we move on to the American version. The appearance in comparison is awful. The colour is probably more typical of an IPA however the head is attrociously small and was gone within maybe 40 seconds of pouring. The nose is quite similar to the BrewDog nose. Juniper was again the bittering agent of choice, however I could also detect cinnamon, bay leaves and mint coming off the nose.

When you taste the Flying Dog entry you can instantly notice the fundamental differences in these two beers. While the BrewDog entry tried to replicate a typical IPA flavour the Flying Dog entry went really big with herbs in the same way that American brewers go big with hops in their normal IPA's. There's lots of orange, juniper berries, bay leaves, rosemary even... There's more herbs and spices than I can name, it's a really intense beer, but is it necessarily an IPA.... I'm not so sure.

So choosing the winner is going to be quite difficult. Both breweries made a good fist of trying to brew an IPA without hops, something I would have thought was impossible. In my opinion I'm going to have to award this battle to BrewDog's version. For mine it was more in line with being a true IPA, Flying Dog provided a really interesting herbal beer, but for me it wasn't quite an IPA. This is certainly something I would recommend everyone who loves IPA's trying, it's a really interesting experience.

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

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Et Cetebeer

  • Country: Japan
  • Style: Happoshu 
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Can
  • Price: CHEAP!!! 

One of Japan's biggest breweries provides tonight beer, Suntory. To be more specific it is the Magnum Dry a Happoshu, a style of beer I have never had and have very little knowledge of. There appears to be some debate in the wider beer community whether this is actually a beer style.

Happoshu is a Japanese style of beer that is ostensibly produced to avoid tax. The Japanese tax division for beer are base on malt content. Over the years the Government have lowered the tax threshold to the point now where Happoshu now has to have less than 25% malt. I hope tasting this beer will answer if this is actually a beer style for me. Let's find out!

The first thing I have to say is that when you pour this beer it looks like a normal lager. A yellow golden liquid with lots of carbonation rising to an off-white head of quite impressive size. The retention of the head is very good, probably due to the apparent carbonation, and the lacing is reasonable. All-in-all a good start for this beer.

Similarly it smells not hugely different from a lager. It's very mild with only some hints of sour grain and a very brief hop note towards the end. As the beer warms you get a slightly sweet aroma but I cannot place exactly what this is. By no means does this beer have an appealing aroma, but it I apply my lager rule it's not offensive so thats all that matters.

For what is supposedly a low-malt beer, Suntory Magnum Dry seems to have quite a bit of malt on the palate. There are also some hops present which gives the beer a more balanced flavour. The carbonation is actually a little high and the mouthfeel is very thin. The beer is refreshing though, you have to give it that.

In terms of calling Happoshu a beer style on the evidence presented by Suntory Magnum Dry, I'm happy to say that I believe it is. Basically this was for me an average lager, which I probably wouldn't go out of my way to get again. I always like trying new styles and for the price I'm happy I bought this one. If you are looking for a really cheap 4-pack of cans you could do alot worse than picking this one up.

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

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Et Cetebeer

  • Country: United States
  • Style: American IPA 
  • ABV: 6.2%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 

Tonight I was torn whether to review one of a few beers that my father and I sampled over quite a big session this afternoon into the early evening. Lagunitas is a brewery that I'm somewhat familiar with, I've had quite a few different ales from this brewery but this the standard IPA I haven't had yet so I was quite interested to try it.

Lagunitas IPA is actually the flagship beer of the brewery and they claim it is a modern twist on an ancient style. Astoundingly this is made with 65 different malts and even more staggeringly 43 different varieties of hops! Those are incredible numbers for any beer, it should make for a really interesting tasting IPA.

Lagunitas IPA pours like a stereotypical IPA. It has a beautiful deep golden colour with a 2 and a half finger creamy coloured head on top. There doesn't appear to be a large number amount of carbonation rising to the head, however the retention is top quality and there was at least a finger left at the end the conclusion of drinking and the lacing was impressive as well.

The nose of this beer reflects the huge variety of hops that have been used in it's creation. There's citrus hops, floral hops, spicy hops almost every variety of hops you have ever smelt. The most prominent aromas are of grapefruit and pine. This beer's nose is simply incredible and really needs to be smelt to be believed, simply for the nose alone you need to try this beer if you like IPA's.

In terms of flavour Lagunitas IPA is actually quite simplistic considering the huge blurb of ingredients included in this beer. Much like the smell the taste is remarkably hop heavy, there is only some minor malt character. I particularly like the combination of some piney hops with some of the floral hops on show in this IPA. The carbonation is mild and the mouthfeel is surprisingly thick for an American IPA.

Overall Lagunitas IPA is a really nice IPA, one that strangely doesn't seem anywhere near as complicated as the blurb may make it seem. Despite having huge amounts of different malts and hops it tastes like a normal and quite simplistic IPA. The thing that has to be stressed here is that this is a good thing it is a testament to the brewers that they have been able to blend this huge number of ingredients into a very drinkable product. This is an IPA that I would recommend to all.

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


It's been quite a busy couple of weeks for me so reviewing unfortunately has been down. Today I thought we would do something that is new to this blog and basically quickly run through some of the beers I've had over the past couple of weeks that didn't get reviewed. Some probably deserved full reviews and in less busy times would have got them. If anyone is particularly interesting in any of them I can provide a more detailed explanation for them.

Amager Sundby Stout - This stout had an amazing nose, with huge hits of coffee and roasted malts. The flavour however was somewhat disappointing and a real let down after the nose. For an American style stout I thought the beer was quite weak in terms of flavour. The texture was lovely though and if you are after quite a mild stout this would be quite a good choice.

San Miguel - The national beer of the Philippinesis an easy drinking German pilsner. It's a refreshing tropical lager with enough hops to make it quite an interesting beer. In my opinion this is one of the more versatile lagers on the market, one that both your average drinking and connoiseurs a-like should be able to enjoy.

Chernigivske Bile Nefiltrovane - Chernigivske Bile was one of the beers that was supposed to represent Ukraine at EURO 2012. Upon reflection it makes sense that Ukraine would produce a Witbier of worldclass proportions seeing as it was originally the wheat fields of the Soviet Union. It's a stunningly simply, yet effective example of the style; despite the fact that it is served in a 1 litre plastic bottle.

Tsingtao Stout - Until last week I didn't even know that Tsingtao produced a stout. Unlike many other Asian dark beers named 'stouts' this one actually has stout-like qualities. It's got loads of roast flavours and even enough thickness. This beer not only surprised me for even existing, but with it's flavour as well. It would make a good introductory stout.

Amager Rated XXX -  The name pretty much explains why I bought this beer. For the most part I like Amager's stuff but this one isn't great. It's an American Imperial IPA which is a little underwhelming for the style. Still it has a market as a christmas present or a joke.

Gypsy & the Goat - Another beer from the Mountain Goat rare breed range and this one was brewed in collaboration with Mikkeller. They called it a Black Pepperberry IPA and it was on the complete opposite end of the IPA scale to the Rated XXX. This beer had spectacular depth and complexity to it while also retaining drinkability, which an American Black Ale (Black IPA) has a tendency to lose. I loved it!

Norteña - Norteña is another beer that was brought to me by my Uruguayan friend Sergio. In terms of the lager it is quite stock standard however I loved the can. It's very easy to drink and has some nice qualities to it. It would sell quite well if exported but I am pretty sure it is only sold within Uruguay, it definitely has a logo with sellability and the beer isn't bad.

Amasia Rumweizen - This is another beer with a fantastic logo. It's from the boys at Stone & Wood in Byron bay and it's a really interesting style of beer. The thing I can most associate it with is a barrel aged whisky beer but it has a distinctly wheat beer feel to it. It is distinctly different from anything I've had before but it was something that I would definitely drink again.

Great Divide Brewing Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout - The name of this beer is nothing short of a mouthful, drinking it however is another matter. This was sold to me as "the best stout ever imported to Australia" I was suitably hooked and bought it. I wasn't disappointed it's quite incredible! In a review this short I can't possibly do justice to the flavours. What you need to do is get out there and buy this beer, it's brilliant!

Cerveza Cantina - Cantina is the export name for the national beer of El Salvador, known in the U.S. and locally as Arriba. It comes in a clear glass bottle, one of my pet hates, but was surprisingly free of skunk. To say I wasn't expecting much is probably an understatement, but this was quite a good beer considering it's from a relatively poor central American country.
Now I would suggest that you guys all go out and buy some of these beers, most of them were quite good but as you can see I picked quite a wide range of styles. This way I don't get bored with what I'm drinking and it helps me to identify different elements of the different styles. Keep the emails coming guys at and let me know about any new beers or styles you come across.
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Friday, 7 September 2012


Macro Lager

  • Country: Cuba
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 5.4%
  • Serving Type: 350ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive

Cubanero Fuerte is the second Cuban lager that I've ever had. This one has been sitting in the fridge for a while and tonight I just felt like a simple tropical lager. Here's hoping that this beer fills that role!
I've heard that in Cuba you can buy a bottle of beer at the shops for the same amount as in a pub/club, which I think is pretty unusual. If this beer is similar to the other Cuban beer I've had, Palma Cristal, I'll be pretty happy it's exactly what I'm looking for.
Normally I don't talk about the label art-work but I really like this stylized pirate logo, the label is more detailed than you can see in the picture. Anyway picture aside the beer is still quite impressive. It's a dark golden colour, a bit darker than most lagers actually, with a thick 4 finger offwhite head. The head has some retention but does eventually all fade away leaving almost no trace of lace. Still a nice looking lager though.
Cubanero has a very mild smell with an unusually strong metallic aroma considering the lightness of the overall aroma (does that make sense?). There is a light smell of grains and the hops are close enough to non-existent. The metallic smell is actually not unpleasant, but it is quite different and may alienate some drinkers. For me this lager doesn't smell too bad. 
Like the nose of this beer the flavour is quite mild. It tastes like a standard macro lager with a corny hint of malts before some bitterness takes over. The beer still ends up as mildly sweet but the hops, which have a slightly metallic tinge, provide enough bite and the carbonation gives the tongue a nice tingling sensation. You would be able to drink so many of these on a beach in Cuba, it would make such a good session beer! 
If I had to make a decision between Cubanero Fuerte and Palma Cristal, I would probably choose this beer. Both have their positive sides but I think the extra ABV and drinkability would give Cubanero the edge. It's a nice enough lager but it probably hasn't done enough to earn a regular spot in my fridge though. Worth a try if you're interested in unusual foreign lagers.
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Thursday, 6 September 2012


The Dark Side

  • Country: Vietnam
  • Style: Altbier
  • ABV: 5.9%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive

Tonight I'm reviewing the beer I had at lunch time today and was suitably impressed to buy a 6-pack off the restaurant I was eating at. I hoping it will taste as good after dinner as it did with Vietnamese chilli soup for lunch!

Curiously this beer mentions of the label that it is brewed in accordance with the Rheinheitgebot, a.k.a the German Purity Law of 1516. This is somewhat unusual as you normally don't see this marking on any beer other than those from Germany or a former German colony (Namibia for example). Anyway let's review this one and hope the chilli soup wasn't masking a nasty underlying flavour.

Dai Viet Dark Ale is an Altbier, the first one I've reviewed on Beer O'Clock Australia but certainly not the first one I've ever had. In terms of appearance this beer is most comparble to Coca-Cola. The colour is a dark brown with hints red when held up to the light. There is a creamy-brown head which leaves very little lacing and doesn't last that long. It's not a bad looking beer but nothing special.

On the nose this beer has the malty characteristics of a light porter and also has strange hints of whiskey, like an oak aged beer. The nose gives an overall sweet sensation however there is nice bitterness provided from the hops, which smell typically Asian. Dai Viet Dark Ale doesn't smell like your typical Altbier, but doesn't smell bad either.

Drinking this beer tonight I think I am picking up a fair bit more flavour than I did at lunch. There are lots of caramel malts and there is still that hint whiskey. The beer is actually quick thick and a little gluggy with little to no carbonation to liven it up. The finish is quite dry and has a nice hop bitterness to it. Overall it's a really quite interesting dark beer to have with food.

In my eyes this beer is more of a Bock than an Altbier. Despite this potential classificatioon muck-up Dai Viet Dark Ale is nice beer. The malt flavours are fantastic and the hops provide just enough bitterness to balance the beer. Some, including myself, would say this beer is a bit too thick and it is a little hard to get through if it warms up. If you aren't adverse to thicker beers give this one a go, the flavours are surprisingly good for a South-East Asian beer.

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

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


European Beer Challenge #41 Moldova

  • Country: Moldova
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Can
  • Price: Skightly Pricey

Today I have been able to tick off one of the countries I expected to be the hardest to obtain in this challenge, Moldova. A huge thank you is owed to Vasile, who has provided both the mug and the beer for this evening.

Moldova is a former Soviet country which gained independence in 1991. It is a country of about 3.5 million people and Bere Chisinau is the main beer that Moldovans drink. Apparently it sells quite well in neighbouring Hungary, however this may very well be the first can ever to enter Australia! I imagine this will be the only time in my life that I will sample this beer, let's crack this can open.

Once the can is poured the first thing that I notice it the big, thick white head that gushes forth. It's made up of very dense small bubbles and has excellent retention for an Eastern European lager. The beer itself is a light golden/yellow colour with plenty of carbonation. It's a really good looking lager! Hopefully it tastes as good as it looks.

Bere Chisinau smells slightly different to what Westerners would consider an average lager. It has a very malty aroma with only hints of hop bitterness as the beer warms up. This all sounds normal but there is also an odd honey aroma which I can only assume comes from the malts. It may smell a tad sweet for some but it's not offensive in anyway which is always a good thing.

Moldova's national beer is an easy drinking lager. It has a really interesting malt body with clear notes of the honey that were present on the nose more pronounced than expected. The beer is actually quite bitter and has some really hop character, which is a pleasant surprise considering the lack of nose to this effect. The finish is crisp and dry, everything you want in a lager.

All-in-all Bere Chisinau Blonda is a reasonable lager and is much better than my expectations were for a Moldovan beer. This beer would be a really good nice beer on a hot summers day. Chisinau Blonda is certainly not a lager that I would go out of my way to get, but you could definitely do alot worse than to drink this beer.

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

Monday, 3 September 2012


Macro Lager

  • Country: Taiwan
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 485ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
This used to be the only beer brewed in Taiwan. It was (and still is) produced by the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation. Since the breakup of the monopoly and subsequent open trade, Taiwan Beer has continued to have a strong market share.

I was shocked to find when I just googled it that Taiwan has a population of almost 24 million people! That's a larger population than Australia in an area about a third of the size of Tasmania. Not that that has anything to do with beer, but I thought it was a useful little tid-bit of information. Anyway onto the beer.

A fizzy golden liquid is topped by an enormous 4 finger thick off white head when this beer is first poured. There is a large amount of carbonation rising to the head and this continues for the duration of drinking while the head subsides to a ring of foam which laces the glass quite nicely. It's quite a nice looking lager, if not a little yellow...

The nose is clean but with heaps of sweet corn to compliment some sour grains. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of hop character to this beer and I would be surprised to find out that there are any in the beer. Taiwan Long Chuan Beer is a very mild smelling lager, which is probably a good thing as the nose that is present isn't very good.

Right from the outset you can tell that this isn't a world class lager. I didn't expect this to be a great beer and it certainly isn't, but it isn't horrible either. Taiwan Beer tastes mostly of sweet grains with a tiny hint of bitterness towards the backend of the palate. The finish is dry and the zing of the carbonation of the tongue makes this quite a drinkable lager.

Overall this beer leaves a very average feeling on the drinker. It was quite a refreshing beer however it didn't have anything that made it stand out from the crowd. For the price it's certainly a beer that is worth trying as a one off, but not one that I expect anyone will fall in love with. I'd be interested to hear anyone's thoughts on this one if they'd had it.

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

Sunday, 2 September 2012


European Beer Challenge #40 Ukraine

  • Country: Ukraine
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive

The Ukrainian Euro 2012 squad has finally arrived! Only a couple of months late for the tournament... All of the beers look good but I've decided that Obolon Premium will be the beer that will represent Ukraine in the European Beer Challenge.

Last night I drank the other Ukrainian beers that I was sent and was suitably impressed. I was also pleased to note that the beers didn't seem to show any signs of damage due to the 3 months they have spent on a boat on the way to Australia. Hopefully this is a nice easy drinking lager, like the Chernigivske one I had last night.

Obolon Premium, poured like an Euro Pale Lager should. The beer is a light golden colour with a good three fingers of white head on top. The head is made up of quite large bubbles and dissipates quickly leaving no sign it was ever there with only tiny bits of lacing. Still it's better than what I was expecting.

So onto the nose and pleasantly there is no skunking present in this beer either. There are some nice bitter malts up front with some strange smelling hops towards the back end. These seem somewhat bitter but unlike any variety I can think of. The overall aroma is relatively light and doesn't leave any negative impression, all I ask of a macro lager. Ukraine gets a tick in this column.

Ukraine's national lager is actually a pretty reasonable beer. The grains are both sweet and sour at different points through the drinking, which is somewhat unusual. The hops are mildly bitter and really unusual as well. This is why I like drinking lagers from different parts of the world, the different hops and malts make for huge differences in flavour. Obolon Premium was certainly different, but definitely drinkable.

This is a serviceable lager. It's quite easy to drink and I certainly wouldn't complain if given it again, however it should be noted that it is nothing special. If in Ukraine the beer I would suggest is Chernigivske Bile, an unfiltered Witbier which was delicious. A big thanks to Anton for securing these beers for me, it brings us one country closer to completing this challenge. If you can help me with any of the remaining countries or just have any beer related questions feel free to contact me at

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