Wednesday, 28 November 2012

REVIEW: BIRRA PRIZRENI

European Beer Challenge #44 Kosovo


STATS

  • Country: Kosovo
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
When I initially began this challenge I didn't include Kosovo in my list. Kosovo is a disputed territory in southeastern Europe whose independence is supported by 96 UN members, with Serbia being the most vocal opposition.

For this reason Kosovo is not a recognised FIFA member and wasn't on the original challenge list. A blog reader from Albania recently popped over into Kosovo for work and offered to send me the beer, I thought, it can't hurt everyone loves the European Beer Challenge! Birra Prizreni is one of the newest breweries in Kosovo and I'm looking forward to tasting it.

The pour is very light in colour, in fact it's one of the clearest looking beers I've ever seen! The head is huge and vibrant white in colour. Birra Prizreni has plenty of carbonation rising through the beer to the head and this helps with the retention, which it has to be said is nothing short of sensational. For me the colour is a little light for a lager, but otherwise it's a good looking beer.

Birra Prizreni from Kosovo has plenty of bitterness on the nose. It's a very clean smelling lager with plenty of citrus and grassy hops coming to the fore. On the nose it's really hard to tell if there is any malt body at all to this beer, quite honestly I can't smell a thing to indicate that there is one. Overall though this is a reasonable smelling lager, I think the taste could be interesting though...

After looking at this beer there is no way I would have thought it would have tasted this good! It's a stunning full flavoured macro lager. As the nose indicated Birra Prizreni has a pretty low malt body and the hops are the driving force behind the flavour. There are both grassy and citrus flavoured hops with and they provide a crisp and refreshing flavour. It's a really refreshing beer which leaves you wanting more!

Considering this is one of the newest breweries in Kosovo I am really impressed with the product. Birra Peja is by far the most popular beer in Kosovo currently but from all reports Prizreni is closing the gap, with it's clean fresh taste being very popular with the locals. I'd be more than happy to drink it again, as macro lagers go this is a pretty good one. If you're ever in Kosovo you could do worse than to drink this beer.

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

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

REVIEW: L.A. LAGER

Et Cetebeer


STATS

  • Country: Denmark
  • Style: American Pale Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I've got a mate who loves his wheat beers and his macro lagers but isn't really into craft beer. In this, Mikkeller L.A. Lager I think that I finally found the craft beer that would be perfect for Coll! Supposedly it's a lager that craft beer drinkers can drink! Shocking yes but if anyone can do it, it's Mikkeller.

Purvis Beer's weekly Wednesday newsletter was once again my financial down fall in a week where I'd done well saving money. I was umm-ing and ahh-ing about buying this beer but the guy said I just had to try it, and suddenly I had another couple of beers in my fridge. Coll and I sampled this on Sunday watching the soccer and now it's time to actually review it.

As is sometimes the case when I retrospectively review beers I have some very sketchy notes on my phone. For it's appearance my notes were surprisingly succinct; "Not your average lager, fuller in colour and amazing head retention." That pretty much says it all! It really does look like a better looking lager and the lacing is some of the best I've ever seen!

The nose is incredibly hop driven for a lager there's plenty of aromatic citrus zest. I can also smell a hint of piney hops. It's almost like an IPA in the hop character but the malts seem much more pronounced. There seems to be both sour malts and sweeter biscuity malts that make the aroma quite complex. If the flavour is anything like the nose I'll be really interested to taste it!

In terms of flavour the Purvis guy was bang on, this is one of the best lagers I've ever had. It's a lager with a bit of an IPA finish to it, with the mixture of hops combining into a nice dry and bitter finish. Maybe the only downside of this one would be sessionability (not that that's a word but you should understand the vibe...). Seriously it's a sensational tasting beer!

L.A. Lager is everything I was promised it was, like a lager but better! If a craft beer drinker is going to drink a lager this is the one for them to drink. Mikkeller made this beer for his friend's Burger & Bun restaurant in Copenhagen, which serve real US burgers. This is exactly the sort of food that would compliment this beer (or vice versa depending on your preferences...) and it's a must try for all lager lovers.

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

Saturday, 24 November 2012

REVIEW: MORNINGTON SORACHI KOLSCH

Et Cetebeer


STATS

  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Kölsch
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
We are coming back into that time of year where the weather heats up and the days stay lighter later and later. Kölsch is the perfect style for this time of year and since I couldn't find any in my fridge I dug this review I never published up from earlier this year.

So as I mentioned earlier I feel that Kölsch is pretty close to the perfect beer style for a warm summer evening. The style is often confused as a type of lager however Kölsch is an ale, originating from Cologne in Germany. This particular Kölsch from Mornington Brewery was brewed with Sorachi Ace hops, one of the most distinctive hop varieties on the market.

Like all Kölsch this one is very light in colour, it's an odd cloudy yellow/straw colour with mountains of tiny little bubbles rising through the beer to the fluffy brilliant white head. Mornington have produced an almost perfect representation of what a Kölsch is supposed to look like, hopefully the flavour lives up to this fantastic looking beer.

Mornington typically produce very aromatic beers, this one is no different. There are some nice spicy and floral elements to the hops as well as the characteristic lemon flavour which is associated with Sorachi Ace. I can also smell another fruity element it's like a jam sort of aroma, raspberry maybe? Overall it just has a beautiful crisp feeling, I can't wait to drink it!

And I am happy to report that drinking the Sorachi Kölsch is not a let down in the slightest. It's brilliantly refreshing and has an amazing mouthfeel with tingly carbonation on the tongue. It has a clean dry taste that is reminiscent of what a Kölsch should be like. It has that somewhat odd raspeberry flavour in small hints throughout but it's really nice. The citrus from the hops makes this one of the most refreshing beers out there, perfect for a hot evening!

This Sorachi Kölsch from Mornington was a limited edition brew last year and I'm pretty sure they will try it again this year. The addition of the Sorachi Ace hops to the style was quite nice and refreshing, however I'm not sure how well it would go down with the traditionalist Kölsch brewers of Cologne. If you can get your hands on this one, I would recommend it. I would also recommend any Kölsch to try on a hot summers night.

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

Friday, 23 November 2012

BEER & BREWER - BEER GLASSES

Today I have good news, I've been published in Beer and Brewer! Beer and Brewer is Australia's only beer focused magazine, so this is a huge honour for me. So for all of those joining us for the first time through the magazine, it's good to have you here! Everyone feel free to contact me using my email (gus.norris7@gmail.com) or just comment on any of the posts if it's a general question.

My article focused on my rather large beer glass collection, many of which have been featured on posts on this blog. I had to submit the article a couple of months ago and thought it would be interesting just to show a few of the glasses from new countries I've added over that time.

Firstly here is another African glass I've come across, Hansa Pilsener from South Africa. This is only the fourth African country that I have a beer glass from, so I was quite excited to find it in an op-shop. The glass is quite an old one, as yet I haven't been able to put a precise date on it but I think it's from the 1960's or 70's.

As for the beer, Hansa Pilsener is a beer I've had before. It's an easy drinking pilsner with heaps of Saaz hops. It's nothing special but if you are looking for a cheap lager you could do alot worse than to pick it up.



This has to be one of the rarest glasses in my collection. It's from a brand called Moussy from Saudi Arabia. I know some collectors who do not recognise Moussy or Saudi Arabia in their collections as it's a non-alcoholic beer, however for me this doesn't matter. They are still brewing a predominantly malt beverage that tastes like beer, it just doesn't have any alcohol.

The reason Saudi's don't produce full-strength beer is because of the very strict adherence to Sharia Law, which prohibits the production or consumption of alcohol. I haven't had the beer and don't imagine I  ever will however the glass now takes it's place on my shelf.


Hong Kong is another new country (well region...) in my collection. It's one of those tricky places in the world which changes hands relatively often. Currently it's an administrative region of China. This is a really nice heavy mug from the Lan Kwai Fong Brew House in Hong Kong.

Dad actually bought this mug back with him from a recent conference trip to Hong Kong. From all reports the beer there is quite drinkable, however I imagine this is another beer that I probably won't taste. At least not for quite a while anyway.



I also have Mum and Dad to thank for these three glasses from Montenegro. Niksicko is by far the most popular beer in Montenegro and it also holds significant market shares in neighbouring countries.

It's a beer that I am quite familiar with, having reviewed in for the European Beer Challenge and doing a bottle vs can on Niksicko. The beer is a nice lager, which I imagine will be in my fridge quite a bit over summer.

And finally, the fifth and final new country in my collection is from Peru. My fathers friend Cesar is from Peru and has spent the best part of the last year trying to get me, with no success but plenty of excuses! Last week Dad popped into an op-shop and found this one, Cesar was a little embarrassed to say the least!

Cusquena is the national beer of Peru and it has previously been reviewed here. It's an all malt lager and is a little different in flavour to most lagers that we are used to here in Australia. It's a beer that I think everyone should try because it is a different take on a style which is so popular here.


So there we go, they are the five countries that I've added to my collection since the publishing of the article, bringing the total number of countries in my collection to 83. If this post proves popular this may become a semi-regular section on Beer O'Clock Australia. Let me know what you all think! Also I had a special beer delivery this week so keep your eyes peeled for some new stuff in the coming days.

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

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

REVIEW: SUPER CONDUCTOR

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Style: American Imperial IPA 
  • ABV: 8.8%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I will start this review with what the side of the bottle says: "If you don't like hops, don't buy this beer. The intense bitterness and pungent, fruity hoppiness may confuse your tastebuds to an extent where there would not be enough voltage left in the world to electroshock them back into coherence."

It sounds exactly like what I'm looking for tonight, a massive hop bomb! 8 Wired is a brewery I'm quite familiar with, however I haven't had this particular one before. Their beers are brewed out of the Renaissance brewery in Blenheim, New Zealand in a contract brewing arrangement. I can't think of a bad 8 Wired beer (or Renaissance beer for that matter...) that I've had, I can't wait to try this.

Super Conductor pours a brilliantly clear dark amber colour with a really disappointing off white head topping it. The lacing is incredible despite the far below average head and retention consists of a solid ring of foam with a light film across the beer. There is plenty of carbonation rising to the head. God this would be a stunning looking beer if it had a better head...

On the nose there is plenty of tropical fruits ranging from the normal passionfruit and mango right through to the strange lychee (I'm pretty sure it's lychee). There is heaps and heaps of hop bitterness on the nose, as promised in the blurb. As the Super Conductor warms up more piney notes come through, this smells exactly like what I was hoping it would.

The electric blue colour of the label doesn't do this beer justice, it's even more in your face if that's possible! There is this tiny little malt base at the start of this beer before it is swamped by hoppy bitterness. I can taste so much fruit in the hops, there is plenty of passionfruit, mango, grapefruit, lychee (I was right!) the list goes on. There's also lots of pine, which I love. This all combines to be one of the driest IPA's I've ever had!

8 Wired's Super Conductor is a huge Imperial IPA full of the characteristic hop bitterness that one would expect from the style. Apparently it's 90 IBU but if they'd claimed 100-110 I wouldn't have argued, it's incredibly bitter but still brilliantly balanced. Quite seriously this could quite easily become a fridge regular at my house! Brilliant! If you love IPA's buy this one, you won't be disappointed!

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

Monday, 19 November 2012

REVIEW: RED DUCK GRUITER

Great Beer Styles #8


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Scottish Gruit
  • ABV: 6.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
About two weeks ago Red Duck's Ra #2 left quite an impression on me. The natural progression from that beer was forward a few thousand years to the 15th Century and Red Duck's Gruiter. Hopefully this historical beer will be as interesting as the Ra #2.

The Gruiter is a dark sour ale more commonly known as a Scottish Gruit, a beer flavoured and predominately bittered by a combination of herbs instead of hops. The style has almost been eradicated by the popularization of the use of hops in beer. I can't wait to see what Red Duck will produce for this style.

When poured Gruiter seems to have slightly more combination than the Ra #2 but that is where the similarities end. It's a very dark beer with only a tiny layer of brown bubbles forming a "head". At first the beer is a relatively clear dark brown colour but as it warms it seems to cloud over a bit and by the end it looks simply like liquid vegemite. Odd indeed!

The nose is actually very nice, there is plenty of a grape like aroma. This is accompanied by the aromas of lots of spices, ginger and pepper seem the most prominent to me but my track record with distinguishing spices is pretty average. As the beer warms more dark fruit aromas emerge as does an oddly yeasty smelling malt. All of these aromas combine to produce quite an impressive combination.

Red Duck really try and push boundaries and with the Gruiter they certainly have. I'm torn between my love of sour things (which this certainly is!) and wanting it to taste a little bit more like a beer. As for what it tastes like, it's mostly very acidic (or salty I'm undecided...) grapes and this pretty much swamps everything else. However there is a little bit of smokiness towards the backend. The beer is also completely flat, which makes the mouthfeel unusual to say the least.

After tasting Red Duck's Gruiter I know the answers to a few questions which I never would have thought I would need answers to. 1. Would I have liked to be a beer drinker in the 15th Century? No. 2. How would you describe a Scottish Gruit in one word? Odd. and 3. Are historic brewing styles a good thing to brew? Absolutley. I didn't particularly like the taste of the Gruiter but I didn't hate it either. Red Duck are doing a very brave thing with these historic styles of beer and I think it's something that should be promoted and supported more. Well done guys!

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

REVIEW: FERAL HOP HOG

Australian Critics Choice 2011


STATS
  • Country: Australian
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive 
Recently I ordered beer from the International Beer Shop in Perth. I was only after a couple of things from them, but seeing as postage is the same for a full carton as for only a couple of beers I needed a full case fillers.

Feral's Hop Hog has long been one of my favourite Australian beers. The guy from Perth suggested getting some Hop Hog as their stock is the freshest in the country. Why not I thought? The fresher an IPA is usually the better, hopefully it holds true to this little gem from W.A.

The beer pours a hazy golden orange colour with an off white fluffy head, which dissipates quite quickly. Despite the short lived nature of the head it does lace the glass beautifully and there does appear to be above average carbonation for an IPA. The colour of the beer is slightly on the lighter side of perfect for the style, but not alot, shame about the head though...

All you can smell on the nose are citrus and other fruit aromas. Lemons, oranges and mango are all prominent as is a light caramel maltiness. As the beer warms you get a huge hit of grapefruit as well, which is so pungent it seems odd that you couldn't smell it from the beginning. The overall aroma leaves me with a very summery feel and is making me crave a hot day to drink this beer on.

Today was unfortunately not that hot day, but still what a spectacular beer. There's plenty of bitterness coming from the hops which have all the fruity flavours that I mentioned in the aroma. There's some pine as well but nothing on the scale of some of the big American West Coast IPA's. The malting is actually very reasonable, there's enough to balance the beer but it doesn't impede the progress of the hops as they lay siege to your palate. It's just fantastic!

Last year's Critics Choice winner Stone & Wood Pacific Ale was one of my first reviews and is still one of my favourite beers, Hop Hog is just as good! As far as I'm concerned it's Australia's best IPA and I've had alot of them! It's got all the bitterness of an American brewed IPA but with a slightly Australian twist to it. A truly deserved winner!

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

Friday, 16 November 2012

REVIEW: BRIDGEPORT KINGPIN

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Red Ale 
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
This week has been really flat out, so it feels good to finally be able to sit back and relax with a beer. This is the third of the BridgePort beers I've had over the last few weeks and in terms of style it's a bit different to anything else I've reviewed so I thought we would give this one a go tonight.

Kingpin is a double red ale which is triple hopped, this sounds right up my alley as I'm a massive hop head (as some of you may have guessed...). For the most part I find red or amber ales to be a little boring however with the quality of the beers I've had so far from BridgePort and the fact that this one has a bit of a difference, I'm really hoping for a good one.

One of the first things I noticed when I poured BridgePort's Kingpin was a real lack of head. What little head that was there presented as an orange coloured foam which faded very quickly to almost nothing. The beer itself is a deep amber colour with a fair bit of sediment floating through it, however it is remarkably clear. It's not a bad looking ale, however the colour (red or amber) could be argued...

The nose is mostly made up of some sweet caramel malts, which is really the only thing that catches the senses attention unless you strain to find anything else. When you do strain you almost wish you hadn't! There's a slight hint that some citrus and spicy hops have come in contact with this beer but nowhere near enough for a beer that is supposedly triple hopped! It's quite a disappointing nose.

In positive news for Kingpin, the taste is considerably better than the nose indicated it would be. The base of the beer is still predominantly caramel malts however there much more complexity to the taste with the hops that were barely noticeable on the nose providing quite a good hit of bitterness at the backend. There's not a lot of carbonation and it actually makes the beer feel quite weird in the mouth.

After having the other two BridgePort beers that came out here (the IPA and the Hop Czar) I was left feeling a little let down by this beer. For me this was just a little bland and boring. Yes there was some impressive bite at the back end, however I would expect nothing less from a triple hopped beer. It definitely was my least favourite of the three but I do know quite a few people (mostly red/amber ale fans) who really like it. If you are a red or amber ale fan it would certainly be worth a try.

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

Thursday, 8 November 2012

REVIEW: RED DUCK RA #2

Great Beer Styles #7


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Ancient Herbed Ale 
  • ABV: 11.3%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

Something that quite few people know is that beer, in it's earliest form, was first recorded in ancient Egypt. The beer back then was made when grain was added to water and the natural yeast in the air made it ferment. It probably didn't taste great and the alcohol percentage would have varied massively depending on conditions.

This is where Red Duck step in with their Ra #2, an Imperial Egyptian Bread Beer, with the aim of recreating this ancient style of beer while still putting their own unique spin on it. In Egypt they quickly became aware that if bread was placed in water it made better beer that grain did, to the point where they made bread specifically to make beer! Red Duck have done the same, I can't wait to see the result!

Ra #2 certainly isn't your standard looking beer! It appears to have almost no carbonation and as a result no head. The beer's colour is a really odd almost orange colour and there are trails of yeast that hang throughout. It's fair to say this is one of the strangest looking beers I've seen, but what was I expecting with a beer based on a 5,000 year old concept?

The nose is also unique. There is plenty of honey and orange as well as something that smells similar to sultanas. I can also smell plenty of the sour yeasts the boys made from their last attempt at an Egyptian bread beer. It's actually quite similar to the nose of a fruit cake, if not a slightly weird one. I did also like the comment my girlfriend made upon smelling it; that it smells like "salty (read sour) berocca."

As for the flavour again it's just out of this world different! It's very sour upfront, in the realms of the most sour of lambics. The mouthfeel, with no carbonation, is really unusual and not like a beer at all. As for flavours there is plenty of orange, even if it is a somewhat salty version of an orange, as well as a flavour quite similar to white wine. There's also the sour yeast and some sweeter grape flavours (possibly sultana's?). I'm almost lost for words...

I'm finding it really hard to decide whether I like this beer or not, however I think I'm leaning towards liking it! It's one of the strangest beers I've ever tasted! But as it went on it sort of grew on me and the salty orange flavour actually became quite nice. I would certainly recommend this beer as a one-off, especially if you are interested in the evolution of beer from where it began to where it is today.

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

Sunday, 4 November 2012

REVIEW: OLD RASPUTIN

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: United States 
  • Style: Russian Imperial Stout
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

I was slightly confused when I was looking through the stouts I've reviewed earlier and realized I hadn't done this one yet. North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin is one of mine and my fathers favourites and is very rarely not in the fridge.

This North Coast glass is one of my favourite glass in my collection. The gold really shines when you have a dark beer (ie. Old Rasputin) in this glass, it just looks fantastic! Anyway North Coast is a brewery I've had alot of beers from but don't actually know that much about. This I imagine will change in the future but for now it's time to review one of my favourite stouts.

Old Rasputin pours a very dark, almost black, colour with brilliant hints of ruby throughout the beer as the light passes through it. The head is quite large for the style and is of a tan colour with some bubbles permeating it. In terms of retention this beer isn't too bad and it does lace the glass although the lacing is quite short lived. Still it's a really nice looking stout.

The nose is quite hoppy at first for a stout, they are big and bitter, but are very quickly swamped by coffee and roast aromas. There's a fair bit of chocolate on the nose as well, which is always nice in a stout. As the beer warms up there are some hints of dark fruits, mostly cherries and figs I think however I could be very wrong here.

Old Rasputin tastes exactly like the nose would indicate, it's a big hit of chocolate and coffee! This beer has a really big personality with this huge flavour coupled with a really thin body. By that I don't mean that the body is short lived but the actual texture of the beer is much closer to that of a lager than that of a stout. It's something to behold and is a really dangerous quality in a beer that's 9.0%...

North Coast very rarely fail to deliver and Old Rasputin has definitely lived up to the earlier rap I gave it. It's quite a thin stout, which makes it incredibly drinkable and not cloying at all. Despite the thin body it has a very full on flavour. In my opinion it's one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts on the market, if you're a stout person and haven't had this one; I can't recommend it enough, go get some!

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

Thursday, 1 November 2012

REVIEW: SPENDRUPS OLD GOLD

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: Sweden
  • Style: German Pilsner
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive 
This beer tonight is for all the Swede's who keep emailing me telling me that there is good beer in Sweden. I know there is good beer in Sweden I've just never been able to get any! Here (hopefully) is a good bottle of Swedish beer.

Spendrups is the oldest and biggest brewery in Sweden. They have a number of sites around the country where they produce their beers, including the Gotlands Bryggeri which is their experimental brewery for new beers. In the near future there may even be a Gotlands beer reviewed... Stay tuned! But for now it's time for Spendrups Old Gold.

Spendrups Old Gold looks like you would want every single lager to look like! It's a beautiful golden colour with a three finger head of solid white foam on top. There is more than adequate carbonation rising to this head to sustain it for the entirety of drinking. The head laces the glass brilliantly. It's pretty close to the perfect looking lager, if this continues Sweden will finally have a good beer on Beer O'Clock Australia!

I was crippled with hayfever today and so really struggled with writing something to do with nose. What I could smell was lots of grassy hops. They seem to be quite bitter and from the little I can smell incredibly dominant. This would be expected from a German style pilsner. So despite not being able to smell it properly I think I may be on to a winner here.

After just one mouthful I know I've found that first good Swedish beer reviewed on here. It's quite bitter for the style with really impressive carbonation, it's so refreshing! The hops are grassy but also quite spicy and are very interesting! The malts are quite light in flavour and are biscuity. Overall it's a pretty impressive pilsner.

Nils and Aleksander I hope you guys are both happy that I've finally found a good Swedish beer and reviewed it. Seriously it's a nice lager and so much better than Pistonhead, not that that's saying alot! I actually really enjoyed this beer and am really glad I bought a 4-pack. It's a nice easy drinking lager which will probably find it's way into the fridge again over summer. It's worth a shot if you like lagers.

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