Sunday, 27 January 2013

REVIEW: BANKS

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Barbados
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
Tonight I really couldn't be bothered having a beer that I had to think too much about. All I wanted was something simple that I could drink quickly and easily. I settled on Banks, a Caribbean lager from Barbados.

Barbados is one of the most developed nations in the Caribbean and is also one of the most visited islands by tourists. Thus I would assume that on top of the 284,000 locals a large number of others would also get to experience the taste of Banks. One of my favourite facts about Barbados is that is ranked 2nd in all of the America's the Corruption Perception Index, only behind Canada!

When I poured Banks I was instantly impressed with the head generated by a relatively tentative pour. The beer itself is a pale straw colour with plenty of carbonation rising to a lovely thick white head. The head size was incredibly impressive, maybe 4-5 fingers high!  The retention was also surprisingly impressive for the style, let alone the region although there was very little lacing.

The nose was much more typical of a tropical lager than the appearance had led me to believe it would be. It had little to no aroma what-so-ever! If you were to strain to find something as the beer warmed there were hints of sour malts and the tiniest hop note. Really it was nothing to write home about but as I always say with tropical lagers, as long as it doesn't smell bad that's a win.

Banks is surprisingly flavoursome for a tropical lager. There is some light bready malts up front accompanied by a touch of acidity that some may find a little too high. What sets Banks apart from other tropical lagers is the strong presence of some grassy hops. They provide excellent bitterness, which helps make the beer very refreshing.

Personally I thought Banks was an above average lager. Flavourwise it was excellent, with plenty of hop bitterness. The carbonation was quite light and the mouthfeel was excellent. I think it's the best Caribbean lager that I've ever sampled. If you are in Barbados this is definitely a good option if you are looking for a beer to drink.

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

Monday, 21 January 2013

REVIEW: DE VERBODEN VRUCHT


Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
  • ABV: 8.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Firstly this evening I will apologize to all the people who have emailed me who I haven't got back to yet, I've been flat out for the last few weeks. I've seen that it's been noted that there's been a lack of reviews lately but I'm hoping to fix that over the next week or so.

Tonight's beer is a beer of many names; De Verboden Vrucht, Le Fruit Defendu and The Forbidden Fruit to name just a few. Although many may recognise it, very few know who brews it. The brewery is actually Hoegaarden, the same guys that brew the famous Witbier. It's a beer that I've heard lots of different things about so I'm looking forward to trying it.

One of the first things I noticed when I poured this beer is how light the beer glass was! For a heavy set looking glass it was incredibly light, anyway the actual beer poured a deep reddish brown colour with plenty of haze. The head on top was a bit darker than the picture shows, but a dark beige would be as dark a colour that could be attributed to it. It was quite well aerated at first but had excellent retention and moderate lacing.

Hoegaarden's Forbidden Fruit has an incredibly complex nose, so complex in fact that I think it is almost confusing. There is just so much going on from very ripe fruity aromas up front, through sweet caramel malts, some Belgian yeasts and even some alcohol. I mean there's probably 10 or 12 individual fruits that I can detect ranging from green apples all the way through plums and raisins. It's a real shock to the senses!

To say the flavour of this beer surprised me would be an understatement. It didn't quite match the intensity of flavour that the nose would have suggested. It was mostly sweet malts initially before some fruity flavours, but nowhere near as many as the nose would have suggested. There was also some nice typically Belgian yeast to accompany the slightest hint of extra alcohol. Still it was well balanced and for the style it was incredibly drinkable.

Considering how crazy the nose was I was shocked at how relatively mellow the actual flavour was. Don't get me wrong it was still beautifully balanced and had a great mouthfeel, but it was just less of an assault on the taste buds than I thought it would be. Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit has all the characteristics of a top Belgian Ale, but for me it doesn't quite do enough. It's a lovely beer but there are definitely better ones out there. It's definitely worth a try though!

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

Thursday, 17 January 2013

REVIEW: 3 RAVENS BLACK

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American Stout
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Despite a lack of reviews recently I have been drinking some really nice beers. I'm stuck in a bit of a stout phase at the moment and with the relative lack of stout reviews on Beer O'Clock Australia this seemed like the review to post.

I was stuck at work last Friday evening but really wanted to go to Purvis for the Yeastie Boys tasting. Dales kindly volunteered/was forced to drive me over and in return he got one of these. It would be wrong though for me to give out a beer without having at least sampled it, so this is mine. 3 Ravens is a local Melbourne micro brewery, located in Thornbury, so freshness shouldn't be a problem.

As the name would suggest 3 Ravens Black is as black as any other stout out there. The head is maybe a finger and a half high of beige foam. The head may be a little small but it makes up for that with excellent retention and good lacing. Overall I'm pretty ecstatic with how this stout looks, hopefully it tastes as good as it looks. 

The nose has heaps of chocolate with only a light roasting smell. I get hints of coffee as well but not alot else. The nose is very simplistic for a stout however it's strangely appealing. It really makes me want to drink it, and drink lots of it!

When I said the nose made me want to drink lots of it, the flavour made me want to drink even more of 3 Ravens Black, it's stunning! It's eminently drinkable with a body that is neither over carbonated nor too thick. The flavour is quite simplistic with just large amounts of chocolate and roasted malts, but for some reason this beer just really works for me.

3 Ravens Black really surprised me with how good it was! I would like anyone to find me a better stout in the price range, it was only 20 cents more than a Coopers Stout at Dan Murphy's! The flavour and mouthfeel was everything you could ask for in a stout. It was easy to drink without feeling thin, it's definitely a stout that I will be drinking again, hopefully on tap at the brewery!

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

Friday, 11 January 2013

REVIEW: KASTEEL DONKER


The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Quadrupel
  • ABV: 11.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Tonight's beer comes from the beer lover's country of Belgium. It has been brought to my attention that it's been a while since I reviewed a dark beer so here it is, well sort of... Kasteel Donker is actually a Quadrupel, it's not your typical dark style but from all reports this one is particularly dark.

Like almost all Belgian beers Kasteel has it's own glass and it's one of my personal favourites. The chalice has a square stem coming out of the top of the castle, which has been crafted in absurd detail. According to the guys at the European Beer Cafe in Melbourne it's far and away the most stolen glass. It's got to the point you need to leave your license behind the bar when you order one!

True to form Kastel Donker poured a very dark colour. It's a very dark brown coloured liquid with the tiniest hints of light making it's way through to be recognised on the other side. The head was a little bit of a disappointment, especially for a Belgian beer. It was less than a finger high, a funny light brown colour and had poor retention, however it did lace the glass quite nicely.

Kasteel Donker has a typically Belgian nose. It's very yeasty with plenty of spiciness, almost to the level of cloves. There is also an abundance of dark fruits with some hops towards the back end. There is a worrying amount of alcohol on the nose. It's quite an intense nose as well with all of these aromas very pronounced.

Comparing Kasteel Donker to some of the other Quad's I've had is easy on some points and very difficult on others. In terms of flavour it is quite complex with a nice balance between malt and hops. The caramel malts and dark fruit flavours are complemented very nicely by some dark fruit and just enough hop bitterness. The problem with this beer for me is the mouthfeel and the alcohol content, neither are right and actually make the beer a little difficult to drink.

Ok so while I love the flavour, I'm having one major issue with Kasteel Donker; the alcohol hit. At 11% it's just too strong and overpowering, maybe if it was better disguised this would be less of a problem but for me it's just not working. If you are really into Quad's it wouldn't be the worst beer to try but remember my warning about the alcohol flavour.

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

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

REVIEW: GAFFEL KÖLSCH

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: Kölsch
  • ABV: 6.3%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
A while ago I mentioned that Kölsch was pretty close to the perfect beer style for summer. The other day I thought I would test that theory on a scorcher of a day with one of Germany's finest; Gaffel Kölsch.

I'm sure I've been through this before so if you've read this before I apologize. Kölsch is the local beer style of Cologne, much like Altbier is the local style of Dusseldorf. Kölsch is a much lighter style than Altbier and is perfect for summer. Also as an interesting side not the glass I'm drinking from is called Stößche, a stange glass that is 0.1L the perfect size glass to drink Kölsch from according to connoiseurs.

Gaffel Kölsch is a made by Gaffel & Becker Co. in Cologne. The brewery is a member of the Cologne Brewers Association and is thus governed by the Kölsch Konvention, which dictates the appearance of all true Kölsch. The beer pours true to form and is a light coloured beer with plenty of carbonation rising to the smallish brilliant white head. It's a perfect looking Kölsch!

Just like the appearance the aroma is exactly what I would expect from a Kölsch. Gaffel is driven by grassy hops which appear to have good bitterness without being overpowering. There is also a light biscuity malt flavour. Overall though it's quite a mild smelling beer with not alot more than the grassy hops that are upfront.

I was really impressed with the flavour of the Gaffel Kölsch. It's quite light in flavour, as most Kölsch are, but has enough to it to make it not boring. There is adequate bitterness provided by some grassy and floral hops up front and there is enough malt for balance. However, for me, it is not the flavour that makes a Kölsch it's the mouthfeel. It must be light and really easy to drink and Gaffel ticks all of these boxes!

This beer is everything that I want in a Kölsch. It's brilliantly refreshing and extremely crisp! It's one of the easiest beers to drink on the market, it really goes down like water. As much as it would annoy the waiters at bars in Cologne, the 100ml Stößche really was the perfect glass to drink the beer in, it made it seem like you'd drunk more than you had because by the time you've filled the glass 7 times you've only had 2 bottles! I can't recommend Kölsch highly enough as a style and Gaffel is one of the best I've had! It would be a great introduction to a great style of beer.

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

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

REVIEW: SKOPSKO

European Beer Challenge #45 Macedonia


STATS
  • Country: Macedonia
  • Style: German Pilsner
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Can
  • Price: Inexpensive

Happy New Year everyone! We are starting the New Year with a bang; the European Beer Challenge is back! I am lucky enough to have recently received some Skopsko, the national lager of Macedonia. What better way to bring in the new reviewing year than to tick off another country!

With the relatively large Macedonian population in Melbourne I didn't think it would take until the 45th beer of the European Beer Challenge to find this beer. Apparently 4 or 5 years ago it used to be widely available but then the importer went broke. These things happen but it made my life more difficult so many thanks are owed to Svetlomir who picked this up on his recent trip to Macedonia.

Another interesting note about the can is that on one side it has English lettering and on the otherside is Cyrillic lettering (see inset). Anyway the beer pours a clear deep golden colour with a good sized white head on top. There appears to be adequate carbonation rising to the head which spurs on excellent retention. Overall it's a very nice looking lager.

Unlike many macro lagers around the world Skopsko is a German Pilsner. This shows through in the nose, which is a beautiful balance between malt and hops. At first the beer has quite a light, almost straw-like, malt base before some grassy and floral hops take over. The provide more than adequate bitterness for the style and they seem to give off a little feel of quality.

The flavour is actually really nice. Macedonia's national lager is a beautifully balanced beer, with the perfect mix of malt and hops. The beer has a light flavour of slightly sour grains before being swamped by bitterness from the hops. The hops have not only grassy and floral flavours that were present on the nose, but also citrus and almost spicy notes as well. There is just enough carbonation to tingle the tip of the tongue while drinking. God this beer would be easy to drink heaps of!

Skopsko is one of the better macro lagers that I've ever had. It's nice and bitter and incredibly refreshing. It's got a little bit more to it than your average macro lager and offers something that craft beer drinkers could appreciate, flavour! If someone is looking for a new lager to import they could do worse than bring this back out here, it would sell well. Thanks again to Svetlomir and if anyone else can help with any of the remaining countries we can work something out.

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