Thursday, 21 February 2013

REVIEW: NØGNE Ø INDIA PALE LAGER

Et Cetebeer


STATS

  • Country: Norway
  • Style: American Imperial Pilsner
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
When I went into Purvis the other week the guy took me out the back and told me that I needed to get this beer, it wasn't even on sale yet. It's something I'm so interested to try, an IPA brewed with lager yeast; effectively!

The concept, in my mind anyway, is brilliant! My favourite style of beer is being crossed with the world's most popular by one of the best breweries in the world! I have absolutely no idea what to expect! In Belgian beers the yeast is a huge component and considerably affects the flavour; how will lager yeast change an IPA? I can't wait to find out!

I've decided I'm going to review this beer in comparison with other IPA's, an area I would consider I'm an expert in. The pour is excellent. A nice three finger cream coloured head tops a slightly cloudy orange liquid. There appears to be reasonable carbonation as the head retention is superb, this head also leaves lovely lacing behind on the glass. It's a close to perfect looking IPA!

On to the nose and I again it is very similar to an IPA. There's lots of the standard strong citrus hop aroma's that you would expect to find in an IPA as well as the piney hop aroma that is very strongly associated with American West Coast brewing. The only hint of a lager I can find is a lightly grassy hop smell up front but it is very quickly swamped by the stronger hop aromas.

Very fleetingly I thought this was going to be an amazing beer. Quickly though reality dawned and the initially promising lager flavour was over run by something that can only be described as a slightly scaled down IPA. There was all the hop flavours that you would expect in an IPA; most noticeably pine and grapefruit, but they seemed to just be that little less intense than an IPA rather than being a new take on a pilsner.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed. I really thought if anyone could do this it would be Nøgne Ø. I'm not saying by any means that this is a bad beer, it's just not quite what I was expecting. It's like a slightly muted IPA, which only pays passing lip service to it's "lager" name. If someone gave me one I would happily drink it again, I'm just not sure I'd splash out Nøgne Ø prices for it.

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

Monday, 18 February 2013

REVIEW: TRIPEL KARMELIET

        The World's best beer contender?


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Tripel
  • ABV: 8.4%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Today it was finally time to dredge up this segment. It's been just over 9 months since I reviewed a beer in this category and I guess I was just waiting for the right beer. Tripel Karmeliet is brewed by Brouwerij Bosteels, the same brewery that produces Pauwel Kwak a personal favourite of mine.

From my experiences Tripel's can either me very good or very bad, there doesn't seem to be the middle ground that you find with a number of other styles. Having spoken to quite a few people about this beer I think it's the kind of Tripel that I like, but only time will tell... I'm also slightly surprised I've never had this before, I certainly see it around enough!

Tripel Karmeliet pours with the famed head I have heard so much about. The glass is huge for this reason and almost manages to contain the huge cream coloured head. The body of the beer looks almost like honey, it's appears to be quite thick and to have reasonable carbonation. With a head this big it's pretty obvious to say that the head retention is good, but the lacing is also excellent. This is one of the best looking beers I've seen for a while.

At first all I can smell on the nose of Tripel Karmeliet is a spicy alcohol presence. As the beer warms up the nose becomes much more complex, but with spices still to the fore. Cardamon, cinnamon and cloves are all very prominent. There is also an element of fruitiness but it definitely plays second fiddle to the spices. Like a number of Belgian beers there is a hint of warming alcohol on the nose, but it fits into this nose beautifully.

WOW! Tripel Karmeliet tastes like no other Tripel I've ever had. The flavour depth is incredible with the spices spicier than I could ever have imagined. While the fruit flavours become more pronounced with peaches seemingly the most prominent now. The mouthfeel is so silky and the tingle left by the carbonation on the tip of the tongue is just perfect! The extra alcohol gives this beautiful dry finish that I am really struggling to find fault with.

I think the conclusion to draw from today is that I don't drink anywhere near enough Belgian beer! It's one of the best put together beers that I can think of. Every single element of the beer adds to it, there's nothing that's just been put in for the sake of it. Tripel Karmeliet really is world class! If you like Belgian beers or even if you don's this is a beer not to miss!

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

Friday, 15 February 2013

REVIEW: WINDHOEK LAGER

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Namibia
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
After work tonight I really couldn't be bothered with something overly complex. This Windhoek Lager had been taking up room in my fridge for a while so seemed like the perfect beer to just sit back and relax with.

It seems odd but this is another African lager (along with Tusker) that was one of the first beers I can distinctly remember drinking, considering I've only had 4 that's a huge percentage. Anyway Namibia is a former German colony that only gained independence from South Africa in 1990. Windhoek is not only the main beer of Namibia but also it's capital. Approximately 2.1 million people get to drink this as their national beer.

Windhoek pours a pretty standard golden colour with a thick white head on top. The head has quite large bubbles in it and dissipates quite quickly. However a small ring and light film of foam is left behind on the surface of the beer. There is some lacing left on the sides of the glass but not enough to be impressive. It's a solid looking macro lager, nothing special though.

The nose of Windhoek Lager reminds me more of a German Pilsner than an Euro Pale Lager. It's very crisp and has a good amount of grassy hops bitterness. There's also noticeable amounts of grain up front. Part of the reason this beer might remind me of a German Pilsner is that it is brewed in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law of 1516, and that Namibia is a former German colony and brewing experience may have been passed on.

Namibia's national lager is a beautifully balanced beer. At first there are some lovely grassy hops which provide excellent bitterness before some nice light malt character begins to come through. The carbonation is light and the beer goes down just like water! It's one of the easiest drinking beers out there and the lingering hop character is incredibly refreshing.

This is a really top of the range macro lager! Windhoek Lager is incredibly crisp and combined with the excellent hop bitterness it's one of the best drinking lagers you will find. The price of this lager is also very reasonable in Australia so if you can find it, it's certainly worth a try. If you are a lager fan this is a must try, even if it's just to say you've had a beer from Namibia!

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

Sunday, 10 February 2013

REVIEW: SAIL & ANCHOR BOX

Sail & Anchor Craft Beer 4-Pack

A few months ago I was given one of these to see what I thought. To say I was less than enthused was an understatement! I've had the Sail & Anchor Draught and while drinkable, it's very ordinary.

The Sail & Anchor brand is synonymous with Australian craft beer. The name comes from a brew pub in W.A. where they brewed ales on-site until 2010. Now the beers are brewed in W.A. (either at Gage Roads or Feral) and are featuring prominently in Dan Murphy's and all Woolworths stores nationwide. Now that I really need the fridge room it's time to knock these beers off.

I was unsure where to start with these, so left to right seemed like a logical way to do it. First up was Monkey's Fist, the pale ale which packs a punch (supposedly). The beer was quite a dark golden, almost amber, colour with plenty of carbonation rising to a disappointingly thin white head. The nose was very limited, only a tiny hint of apricot was evident.

This is barely a pale ale. It's overly sweet, there is little to no hop character and there is no bitterness. It's a malty beer with a little apricot for flavouring. The mouthfeel isn't the worst, but the flavour really marks this beer a long way down. There's none of the punch that the back of the bottle promised. If this is the highlight of the pack I will be in for a long day!

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 4.9%

The next beer was also an American Pale Ale. This one is the Lark's Foot, it's called a golden ale and it's apparently well balanced. The colour is certainly golden, however the head is attrociously small! It's pathetic and dissipates within second of being poured. As for the nose, there's caramel matls, there's hops and it smells like a beer! Much better than the last one.

Lark's Foot doesn't let it's nose down, it's a much better beer than the Monkey's Fist. As American Pale Ale's go it's got some quite herbaceous hops, which add just enough bitterness to keep the discerning drinker interested. It's a little lacking in flavour is probably the only real criticism I can give this beer. Overall it's not too bad.

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 4.5%

With some renewed optimism I cracked the third beer in this set, the Cat's Shank Kölsch. The Sail & Anchor take on this uniquely German style is perhaps a little darker than is typical and the head retention is not as impressive. The nose is pretty mild with some citrus notes and some sour grains but not alot else. 

The Cat's Shank has the really crisp and dry mouthfeel that I would expect from a true German Kölsch. There's almost enough hop bitterness but like the other beers it's again lacking in a little flavour. So far this is probably my favourite of the beers, I can see this being quite drinkable on a hot summers day while I'm not sure that there is a real niche for the other two...

Style: Kölsch
ABV: 4.6%

Last but hopefully not least is Boa's Bind an Amber Ale with a grip from start to finish. If it's anything like the previous 3 beers I highly doubt that, but on we press... The beer is a nice amber colour, although it's a little clear for my liking. The head is again smaller than average but there is plenty of carbonation. The nose is the pick of the bunch, both hops and malt are present in equal amounts.

Boa's Bind is the first of these Sail & Anchor beers that can really stand up to what it claimed to be. It's a very heavily malt based beer with just enough hop bitterness to satisfy. It's much better than the others in terms of having enough flavour although it could also be considered slightly lacking in this department. In my opinion it's the pick of the bunch.

Style: American Amber Ale
ABV: 5.0%


The Sail & Anchor Box gave me more than I was expecting but I still left a bit disappointed. The Amber Ale was quite a nice beer and the Kölsch was serviceable but the other two beers were a bit of a let down. All the beers lacked some flavour, which didn't surprise me. For a range of beers that are effectively Woolworths' homebrand they are not too bad. None of them are beers I would recommend but you could do worse than drinking them.
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!  

Saturday, 9 February 2013

REVIEW: FRIENDSHIP BREW


The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: Saison
  • ABV: 5.7%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I've been so busy the last couple of weeks that I haven't been able to get any reviews done. With any luck I will finish this one today and be able to pump out a few more in the coming days. Enough of the housekeeping tonight's beer is a Belgian/American collaboration, which is simply sensational!

When the forefront of American craft ingenuity (Green Flash) met one of the master Abbey brewers of Belgium (St. Feuillien) the result was never going to be boring. The 2nd collaboration beer between these great breweries was like the breweries themselves, a mix between old and new. It's a Black Saison, a modern take on one of the most traditional beer styles.

When hearing of this beer I was interested to see what these two great breweries would come up with. The pour is as dark as any stout or porter you are likely to come across. The head was rather aerated with heaps of large bubbles in the tan coloured head. It had excellent longevity as well with plenty of tiny bubbles rising up the sides of the glass to the head. The only downside was that the lacing was a little disappointing.

Friendship Brew in
Green Flash Shaker
The nose is massively floral. It's a dominant smell that at first seems to hide any other elements but as the beer warms more flavours become apparent. There's not a huge amount in the way of dark malts, which seems odd to me considering it's a Black Saison. The nose has a warming alcohol smell that accompanies a spicy finish to the nose.

Green Flash and St. Feuillien's Friendship Brew has a very different taste to what the nose suggested. It has a very strong taste of roasted malts, that mix brilliantly with the floral flavour that was so prevalent on the nose. There are some spices that give it the feel almost of a Christmas beer. There's close to no bitterness and the mouthfeel is slightly thinner than expected. It's so well balanced!

Overall I thought the Friendship Brew was more indicative of a Green Flash beer than a St. Feuillien beer. That is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, I just thought the floral and spicy notes were very similar to those found in a Rayon Vert. Typically I'm not a massive Saison fan but I really enjoyed this one. I would recommend this beer to anyone it's so beautifully balanced!

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