Sunday, 28 April 2013

REVIEW: NØGNE Ø IMPERIAL RYE PORTER

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Norway
  • Style: English Porter
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive

I realized today that for the last few weeks I'd drunk almost exclusively pale ales (including IPA's) and lagers. I therefore had to rectify this as soon as possible and my favourite brewery, Nøgne Ø, came through with the perfect beer.

The beer I'm reviewing was a collaboration between Nøgne Ø and Terrapin Brewery from the U.S. To start off with I sampled the normal Nøgne Ø Porter and thought I would compare it to the Imperial Rye Porter. The difference was absolutely amazing, and so I have scrapped that idea in favour of a single review of the Imperial Rye Porter, it deserves more than a simple comparison review!

As expected a dark brown liquid poured from the bottle after the cap was popped. The head was quite large for the style but was littered with relatively large bubbles that made the head last considerably less time than could have been expected from a head this size, although there was good lacing left behind. It's a very nice looking porter.

On the nose there are a number of really heavy dark beer flavours that would be expected. There are huge coffee and chocolate that are strangely subtle enough that they still allow other aromas to showcase themselves. As the beer warms there is an unusual smokey element to the smell as well as some dark fruits and spicy hops. It's quite possibly the best Porter nose I've ever come across, it's so simple yet complex at the same time!

Much like the nose the flavour was very intense yet subtle at the same time. At first there are the expected roasted malts and coffee flavours before the beer is overtaken by a more complex side. There is some spiciness evident from the rye base in this beer as well as some good bitterness from hops that actually have a slightly grassy feel to them. The mouthfeel is beautifully weighted, not too heavy and nor too thin for the style, and leaves the mouth with a fantastic creamy warmth.

Overall, I was really impressed with this Porter. The style is I think the easiest to make a drinkable beer but one of the hardest to make a really sensational beer; this Imperial Rye Porter certainly is that! I thought their normal Porter was a really excellent example of the style but this is even better. The nose, the flavour and the mouthfeel combine to create quite possibly the best Porter I've ever had! If you love Porter's you have to try this one!

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

Thursday, 18 April 2013

REVIEW: RED DUCK GNAUME

Great Beer Styles #10


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Unblended Lambic
  • ABV: 6.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

Amazingly this is the fourth beer in a row from Red Duck to feature in the Great Beer Styles section of the blog. I'm labelling this beer as an Unblended Lambic, while Red Duck are calling it a Belgian Lambic Golden Ale. In short no one  really knows what style this beer is, so the only thing we can go is try it!

Before I get to try it however, we have to discuss the provenance of this beer. The other half of this brewing collaboration was Anders Kissmeyer (formerly of Nørrebro Bryghus and now his self-named brewery Kissmeyer.) He's a Danish brewer and almost every beer he touches seem to turn to gold! Hopefully he has managed to harness Red Duck's craziness into a really interesting beer.

The colour of the beer is an almost luminous orange colour. For such a light coloured beer it is extremely opaque and there appears to be a fair amount of sediment. It's got a 2 finger of fast dissipating oranged tinged head, which leaves almost no lacing. It's quite refreshing to see a Red Duck beer with a head!

Well to me the most noticeable element on the nose of Red Duck's Gnaume is the Brett yeast. As this is a Lambic that's a good thing and not as many reviews I've read about this beer have said, a bad thing. It's a Belgian Lambic of course it should have Brett in it! Anyway besides the Brett aroma, there is a fair bit of sweet apple flavour and some floral notes which seem quite nice.

Red Duck's Gnaume does not taste at all like what I expected after smelling it. For some reason the brewers went down a slightly more malty route than would be expected for the style. There are hints of lemon and Brett as the beer warms but nowhere near as much as would have been expected. Look the real winner for me was the mouthfeel, lots of small carbonation bubbles tickle the tongue before a nice dry finish takes over. There's definitely something to work with here if they were to give this beer another crack!

The moral of the story with this beer is that you really need to understand the style in order to like it. Gnaume is certainly not a beer I would recommend to beer novices or even beer people who don't appreciate Belgian beers. The beer is by no means perfect but you have to give Red Duck props for brewing a genuine Lambic in Australia. I don't think there's many brewers in Australia who can claim to have done that!

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

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

REVIEW: HOPWORKS IPA

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 6.6%
  • Serving Type: 473ml Can
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I was shocked to find out that I had not reviewed this beer yet! Hopworks IPA has been my beer of choice for the last couple of months and judging by the number of empty cans scattered around my bar I've had a heap of them!

When this first came into the country I was really excited to try it. As we all know canned beers travel better and so getting a canned IPA from America was a good thing. Little was I to know just how good! Particularly in the last fortnight I've drunk so many of these I've got to have almost paid the entire import costs! Now it's time to belatedly review this as I contemplate that I am on my last 4-pack...

Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) IPA is a class leader in terms of appearance; can you imagine a prettier looking IPA! A surprisingly clear orange body is topped by a three finger head of dense off-white foam. The head has brilliant retention, there's always some left in the bottom of the glass, and there is an adequate web of lacing left behind. It's one of the best looking IPA's you are likely to see.

On to the nose and it's just as good as the appearance of the Hopworks IPA. There's heaps of citrus bitterness on the nose with very sour grapefruit and oranges the most prominent. Both Amarillo and Centennial hop varieties are both very easy to detect. As the beer warms there are signs that this beer is more than just a hop bomb as a nice caramel malt aroma becomes more prevalent. It seems like a really well balanced IPA.

The taste is again on another level, it's one of very few beers that build on positive elements all the way through to produce a really top notch beer. It's only 75 IBU's but not one of them have been wasted, it tastes much more bitter than that with citrus flavours running a muck. Besides the normal citrus hop flavours (grapefruit, oranges etc.) there is also plenty of pine characteristics. There's just enough malt to balance this beer and make it incredibly drinkable.

This review has taken me over a week to write and I have absolutely no idea why! It's probably got something to do with me tossing up which words to use to describe this beer as I have had it so many times before. Anyway my final thoughts on this beer are that it is one of the most sessionable IPA's out there. Hopworks IPA is a beer that all IPA lovers should try and get their hands on.

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

P.S. I have just been informed that mentioned this IPA before in "A Busy Few Weeks in Review...", but this beer certainly deserved more than just a passing mention!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

REVIEW: DARK ISLAND RESERVE

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Scotland
  • Style: Scottish Ale
  • ABV: 10.0%
  • Serving Type: 750ml Bottle
  • Price: Special Occasions Only

The beer that got put on the back burner so Ursus could be imbibed was in fact this beer; Dark Island Reserve. From the Orkney Brewery in Quoyloo, North of Scotland, it's whisky aged version of one of my favourite beers; Dark Island.

Orkney Brewery took their normal Dark Island ale and matured it in Orkney malt whisky barrels for three months to create the Reserve. With Dark Island having become a regular in my fridge since I first had it, this was a beer that I just had to try. Dark Island should lend itself quite nicely to whisky barrel aging, let's find out just how well now!

When this beer was poured I noticed one obvious difference from the normal Dark Island, the head colour! The usual Dark Island has a light cream coloured head, which is quite unusual for such a dark beer. The body of the Reserve looks very similar to the original with a very dark brown body that appears to be quite thin for such a coloured beer. The head retention is poor however and subsequently there is very little lacing.

Dark Island Reserve's nose shows clear signs that the aging process has affected the beer substantially. There's plenty of noticeable whisky as well as the peaty aroma that I have become used to in the normal Dark Island, although it is nowhere near as dominant in this brew. There's also plenty of roast and nuttiness on the nose. It's a very enjoyable nose, hopefully it will taste just as good.

This is the best beer I've had from Orkney, no doubt! It's strangely complex yet simple at the same time. On the surface it's a nice smokey/peaty ale with hints of whisky coming through. As you look a little deeper there is a lot more complexity to the beer as flavours of molasses, chocolate, vanilla etc. begin to come to the fore. The body of the beer is incredibly thin for a beer that's 10% alcohol and the slightly sticky mouthfeel also seems out of place due to the thin body. This is all semantics though as this really is an exceptional beer!

Only 3111 bottles of this beer were produced when they were bottle in June 2011. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these savour it, it's such a sensational beer. It's not a beer that you can drink quickly though and at 10% it's definitely one for sipping on. You have to try Dark Island before sampling this one, as I did this evening, to really see the difference in flavour that three months in a whisky barrel can make to a beer.

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

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

REVIEW: URSUS PREMIUM

European Beer Challenge #46 Romania


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

I had to significantly alter my drinking plans this morning when my package from a Moldovan reader arrived. That beer will have to wait as the European Beer Challenge is the pinnacle of this blog. Country 46 is Romania, one I never would have expected would be this hard to get hold of!

Romania has one of the highest consumption of beer per capita of any country in the world, let alone Europe! This is one of the countries that I thought would be easier to get than it was. The country has a population of around 20 million people, similar to that of Australia. Ursus Premium is the highest selling beer in the country and now I'm finally getting to try it!

So the pour of my first ever Romanian beer is quite light in colour. It's quite a standard yellow straw colour that is common in macro lagers around the world. The head however really stands out; it's about 4 fingers high of tight white foam. It has reasonable retention and leaves a nice trail of lace down the glass as you drink it. Purely for the head alone I would rate this an above average looking lager.

Ursus Premium claims that it is an all malt lager and this claim certainly seems valid after first smelling it. It's aroma is initially mostly made up of sweetish malts and that unmistakable corn adjunct aroma. There are some hops detectable after a while and they have a slightly spicy hint to them while having a predominantly floral characteristic. It's certainly not an appealing smell, but it's also not one that would dissuade you from drinking it.

Much like the aroma Ursus Premium is initially particularly malty before it mellows out and the hops kick in. Although not particularly bitter they do just about enough to balance out what seems to be a very sweet malt base. The finish is the tiniest bit dry and the spiciness left behind by the hops really leaves you craving another. It's a pretty decent macro lager.

The beer that calls itself "The King of Romanian Beers" did enough to justify that name in my eyes. A clean crisp lager that would be very drinkable in a number of situations. If you get the opportunity to try this beer I certainly wouldn't say no, although I probably wouldn't be jumping through hoops to get it either. A huge thank you is owed to my friend Mircea for providing this and a number of other Romanian beers for my consumption. If you can help with any of the remaining countries I'm looking for please drop me a line and we can work something out.

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