Friday, 30 August 2013

REVIEW: DEVIANT DALE'S

Untappd: New Brew Thursday (Level 4) Badge


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 8.0%
  • Serving Type: 473ml Can
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I've been pretty unwell this week and so haven't been drinking alot. Last night I felt well enough to have a beer and in doing so I ticked off another badge on my Untappd account. Deviant Dale's from Oskar Blues is there beer that got me there and here is the review.

New Brew Thursday is one of those badges that I've never fully understood. Basically you get this if you have 3 beers you haven't checked in before on 3 Thursdays in a 30 day period. Basically it comes around every month and surprises you every time.

The most obvious thing to notice about my pour of Deviant Dale's is the head, it's huge! It's a good three and a half finger head of tight orange foam that sits atop a deep orange/copper beer. There wasn't a heap of noticeable carbonation however the head retention was good and the lacing was excellent. It's a nice looking IPA but doesn't really stand out from the crowd for me.

As I'd been sick I was expecting that describing the nose would be very difficult. Thankfully this beer has a very strong aroma of both pine and grapefruit coming from the hops. There's also some malty sweetness but any other subtleties may have been lost on me...

Much like the appearance the taste was a bit average. There was plenty of hop bitterness with both pine and citrus flavours strongly present. The malt sweetness is muted to say the least, it's only present if you let the beer warm far too much. Also pleasingly for an 8% IPA there is no raw alcohol flavour.

By no means is Deviant Dale's a bad IPA; it did nothing to really stand out from the large crowd of American IPA's flooding the market. I'm never going to say no to an 8% pint can of IPA, but there are better out there. If you want to try a beer from this brewery go for Dale's Pale Ale, that's fantastic for the style!

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

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

REVIEW: BALLAST POINT SEA MONSTER

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: United States 
  • Style: American Imperial Stout
  • ABV: 10.0%
  • Serving Type: 650ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive

Here tonight we have the Imperial Stout from Ballast Point. It's called Sea Monster and judging on the other Ballast Point beers I've had I'm in for a real treat. Everything I've had from them I've really enjoyed!

Ballast Point have some of the coolest beer labels and glassware of any brewery out there. Sea Monster certainly has a label that stands up the rap I gave them and I think a glass would look absolutely stunning with stout in it. Anyway I really looking forward to this and can't wait to see how this compares to their other dark beers, Black Marlin Porter is one of my favourite beers!

Could you ask for a better looking stout? Sea Monster pours a thick looking, jet black colour. It has a relatively thin looking, khaki head. The retention however from this head is excellent for the style. There is no lacing to comment on, however at the end of drinking the glass is noticeably dirty... I don't know what else to say about it, it's a fantastic looking stout!

Onto the nose and Ballast Point delivers again with a fantastic nose. There is plenty of coffee and roasted malt aromas upfront. It's a strong assault on the senses which is carried on even as the beer warms by some nice bitter hops. This is exactly what I expect from an Imperial Stout! There is one thing that I am not disappointed to see missing... raw alcohol. I can't smell any now, hopefully I can taste any either.

Sea Monster is a beautifully balanced American Imperial Stout. The first thing I noticed about this beer was that it had a mouthfeel much lighter than I was expecting after the pour. Anyway, that just made it dangerously drinkable! There's plenty of coffee and roast which are well complimented by strong citrus hop characteristics. This is a seriously good beer, and there's no sign of alcohol at 10% either; well until you finish drinking a bomber of it....

This could be a controversial call but I think this is my all-time favourite Imperial Stout! Maybe it's because it's been ages since I've had one, but this was sensational! I can't recommend trying this highly enough! Seriously guys if you like Imperial Stouts this is a must try, it's one of the most balanced stouts that I can remember drinking.

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

Friday, 23 August 2013

REVIEW: MIRROR POND PALE ALE

Untappd: Sip on Mirror Pond Badge


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Getting this badge last night was a real surprise! Dad and I were just looking for a Pale Ale in the fridge and came up with this. I've had it in the fridge pretty much since I got back from Europe. So surprised was I that I didn't even snap a picture on the camera, so the iPhone one will have to do.

Mirror Pond Pale Ale is brewed by Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. It's the fifth largest craft brewery in American and 12th largest brewery full stop! With this sort of production it's seems odd that it's taken this long for their beers to get out to Australia. This is their best selling beer so I'm looking forward to trying it.

The pour is quite good. The photo looks quite red/brown but in fact the beer was an orange colour. The head was also off-white with a slightly orange tinge to it. Speaking of the head, it's very short lived! There's almost no retention at all and subsequently no lacing. There are definitely better looking beers on the market for the style than Mirror Pond.

My notes are not particularly detailed for the nose of this beer. In fact they just say "Too sweet! Sugary malts!!!!". I think that pretty much sums up what I thought of the nose. It was far too sweet and there was no balancing hop bitterness that I could detect.

I'm not sure what I'm tasting but this beer seemed more like a cider to me. There was this really odd apple flavour, particularly at first. It did settle down a bit but for my liking there wasn't enough discernible hops and the general feel of the beer was too sweet.

This beer just didn't do it for me. Further research indicated that to obtain this badge you need to check in to a Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale with a photo. If you to want to get this badge you have to do it by September 20. I know alot of people rave about this beer, but if you want my opinion the only reason to drink it would be to get the badge. It's just not that good!

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

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

UNTAPPD

Untappd



Guys,

I have something to confess; I have an addiction. An addiction to Untappd! For those who don't know it's a website and phone app where you check-in beers and earn badges by completely drinking objectives (responsibly of course!).

At first I was thinking this would be a bit of a chore and I'd hardly ever use it. Since these initial thoughts I've checked in over 450 unique beers and earned myself 93 badges, and now I can't have a beer without checking it in!

So why am I telling you all this? Well I've been thinking, maybe my Untappd badges would be a good way to generate some reviews. Basically I intend to review every beer that gets me a badge on Untappd from now on. Whether this happens will be another story...

HopCast Badge
I thought I'd start here with a little truncated review of the beer that just earned me 2 Untappd badges; Firestone Double Barrel Ale or DBA for short. I bought this beer just after I came back from Europe on my first beer run and only realized today that I could finally achieve the HopCast badge that I have been looking to complete for month's!

Today I finally checked the HopCast account again to see if I had 2 of the beers they had had in the last month to finally tick off this badge. Thankfully I finally did! My slightly skunky can of Schlitz got a run first and it was awful, before the Firestone DBA stepped in. It was better than a slightly skunky can of cheap U.S. lager, but not alot. I may be being a tad facetious, but I really don't get why anyone would make an English Pale Ale, they just don't do it for me at all!

Pale As The Moon (Level 10) Badge
 It's very malty with little to no hop character at all. The mouthfeel is almost creamy and makes it quite hard to drink. The other thing that surprised me was that not only did I achieve the HopCast badge, which I was expecting, but also my Pale As The Moon (Level 10). This is currently the top level for the style badges and basically means that I've checked in 50 unique Pale Ales.

For those who want to follow me on Untappd feel free, just search for Gus Norris (my username is Noz, which is too short to search for on Untappd). I'd love to have more of you come along for the journey on Untappd as well as on the blog. Keep reading and sending your ideas and questions through at gus.norris7@gmail.com.

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

Sunday, 18 August 2013

REVIEW: DEATH FROM ABOVE

Et Cetebeer


STATS

  • Country: New Zealand
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Here is a new beer from New Zealand brewers Garage Project. They are a relative newcomer on the Australian craft scene but I've had nothing but quality from them. The other thing they bring is fantastic distinctive labels, including this one!

I've had a few beers this week that I would have loved to review were it not for a minor electrical issue in the bar, which limited my ability to take nice photo's. They may appear in a wrap up at some point. Back to the Death from Above, it's a self termed Indochine Pale Ale. They've tried to combine chili, mango and lime juice with American hops. I've had this one before at GABS; I loved it then and I hope I'll love it again now.

The pour is uncharacteristically red for an IPA. It's got a cream coloured head with no large bubbles that sits atop this liquid that is about 3 fingers in height. The retention of the head is quite good but could be better, however this is probably also less important for an IPA. It's a good looking beer, but it gets overshadowed by the label, which is just sensational!

Death from Above smells amazing! It's got everything they promised it would have and then some! There are the citrus hops, particularly grapefruit, that you would expect for an IPA and then there is also a strong aroma of chili spiciness. As the beer warms there some fruitiness, not distinctly mango but I'll take their word for it. The Vietnamese Mint is also quite prominent and manages to hold it's own against the hop aroma. It's a beer you should buy just to smell!

For a beer with a reasonable amount of (mostly chili) spiciness, Death from Above is a very refreshing beer. I think the Vietnamese Mint provides a cooling effect, as it does in Pho, and combined with a nice light mouthfeel and plenty of tropical fruit flavours it's incredibly quenching. As an interesting aside, for those who say there's little to no chili in this beer leave 20ml out to warm to room temperature, you'll find out that there's plenty!

This was one of the 80-something beers specially brewed for this years GABS; and Death from Above may have just become my favourite beer from this years edition! As far as novelty (probably not what I mean but you get the idea) beers go this is the best one I've had. It's experimentation like this that makes craft beer fantastic! If you love IPA's you simply have to try this one, trust me!

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

Saturday, 10 August 2013

THE GREAT BOTTLE VS. CAN DEBATE PART 7

The seventh installment: The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.6%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Bottle/Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
 
While I was away Carlton released their new "Keg Can". For years Carlton's products have been considerably worse in either bottle or can form than on tap. With the "Keg Can" they claim to have solved this problem. Only time will tell if this is true. There's been a big advertising campaign for it as well, like everything Carlton,  with tag lines such as "Kegs you can actually pick up" and "Honey, I've shrunk the keg".

As cheesy as the tag lines may be, the mass advertising clearly worked on me as only two days after first seeing the ad I had a new keg can and a stubbie of Carlton Draught in the fridge. I had intended to compare this to a Carlton off tap as well, but I was feeling a little hung over this afternoon and couldn't be bothered walking up to the pub...

Being a regular Carlton Draught imbiber, I was not expecting big things from the pour of either of these vessels, and I think it's fair to say I was not wrong. Both beers pour a deep golden colour with tiny carbonation bubbles rising to a white head. If I had to separate them, the can has a slightly bigger head.

The old Carlton ad stated that Carlton was "Made from Beer", and that is exactly what Carlton smells like to Victorians. Carlton Draught is beer! To the more initiated, there's some grain on the nose with a little yeast. It's a very inoffensive smelling macro lager. Impossible to split the two.

After struggling to split the bottle or the can on either appearance or aroma, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a difference when it came to taste. Unsurprisingly the bottle still tasted very average, it just tastes watered down. The 'Keg Can' on the otherhand tasted like fresh Carlton on tap! It's bitter, has that slightly over carbonated mouthfeel that tap Carlton always has, it's perfect!

Carlton Draught's 'Keg Can' has acheived it's aim of bringing the pub taste of Carlton Draught into the living room, even if it's in direct opposition of their stance on the Tap King... Although that's a story for another day. I will be buying a couple more of these, I was actually really impressed. Still don't buy bottles of Carlton Draught, they're still crap! I'll leave you with this, the greatest beer ad ever made! Enjoy!



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

REVIEW: LITTLE CREATURES MR OBADIAH

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Australia 
  • Style: English Porter
  • ABV: 6.9%
  • Serving Type: 568ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

Mr. Obadiah is the latest Single Batch release from Little Creatures. It's an English style Porter brewed with Rye. I haven't had many but I've never had a Rye Porter that I haven't loved so I'm really looking for to seeing what Little Creatures have come up with.

I can hardly believe that this is the first time I've reviewed a Little Creatures Single Batch beer! From the Dreadnought to Puffing Billy right through to Shepherd's Delight, they've produced so much quality recently. Anyway, the long and short of this is if you find a Little Creatures Single Batch; but it! Now it's time to (hopefully) add another ripper of a beer to this list. Let's try Mr. Obadiah.

The pour is absolutely sensational! Beautiful dark brown, almost black, colour with a big khaki head on top. The head does have some large air bubbles shortly after pouring but this doesn't stop a relatively thick layer of foam staying for the entirety of drinking. It's a very traditional looking porter, if it tastes half as good as it looks it will be a sensational beer!

When I tried this last night, my nose was a bit blocked. I was anticipating not being able to smell alot, considering it's an English Porter, however I was pleasantly surprised. There was a great mix of coffee and roast aroma's, while I could also get hints of rye. I didn't smell any hops, but that's not to say they weren't there, they may just have been subtle.

Mr. Obadiah is close to the perfect Porter for me. The rye element isn't overly strong with only a small hint of spiciness. Coffee and roast flavours are both present and in perfect balance. There's also a nutty element which I hadn't noticed on the nose, which is very nice and adds a layer of complexity. To accompany the dry finish there is just a tiny hint at hop bitterness.

Little Creatures Mr. Obadiah may have just taken the title for my favourite Little Creatures Single Batch release! That's how good this beer is! It's just a fantastic example of a balanced porter. This one was released back in June, before I went away, so stocks will be limited now. If you find some buy it, if you're a dark beer lover you won't be disappointed.

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

Monday, 5 August 2013

REVIEW: SERENGETI

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Tanzania
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
I get back from a 6 week trip where all I've done is complain that there was too much lager and what do I choose to review first when I get back home? A Lager. Figure that one out! Anyway, Serengeti is the national beer of Tanzania.

Tanzania is a country in East Africa which borders the other great beer drinking country of the region, Kenya. Kenya's East Africa Breweries actually owns the Serengeti brand, which is very popular in Tanzania since it's relaunch as a 100% Malt Lager in 2003.

When cracking open a Serengeti I was treated to an impressive fizzing noise of carbonation. The beer pours a lovely straw golden colour with plenty of carbonation bubbles rising to the surface. The head was a tad unusual, very dry and foamy. It's hard to describe, it's almost like the head that you get left with when a keg is running on empty... Despite the head it's an appealing looking lager.

Unlike many lagers, Serengeti has a pleasant nose. Crisp grassy hops were very prominent initially before subsiding as the beer warmed up a little. Funnily enough for an all malt beer, the aroma on the whole could be described as "malty". The grains were relatively clean and there was also a hint of caramel. Overall it's a pretty good smelling lager.

Serengeti has a really unusual airy, dry head which hangs around for ages and feels funny when you try and drink the beer. Once you get past this the beer is of quite a high quality. It has lots of carbonation without being overpowering and the flavour coming from the malts with just a tiny bit of balance from the grassy hops is very refreshing. Maybe the hops don't provide quite enough bitterness, but they definitely are quality for the little quantity that is in there.

How to sum up Serengeti? By no means is this a world beating lager, but I do think it's the best African lager I've had. Some people may be put off by the head, it's really unusual and sort of hangs around for ages, just thins out alot. If you can get past this; Serengeti is a good example of an all malt lager. I'd put it on a par with Cusquena, which is a superb all malt lager. If you're a lager fan it's worth a shot, even if it's just to say you've had a Tanzanian beer.

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

Saturday, 3 August 2013

PROGRESS REPORT

G'day guys,

I'm back from Europe now and ready to get stuck into some more proper reviews. I've got a heap of darker beers stockpiled for what's left of winter and also plenty of fresh IPA and new releases. But before we get onto that I though we should just quickly let you all know how your favourite segments are going and if there's any updates to come soon.

European Beer Challenge - After returning from a successful European trip, there are only 4 beers remaining in the challenge that started it all on Beer O'Clock Australia! Armenia, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan and Liechtenstein.

Et Ceterbeer - Our reader named segment, it deals with most of the ales review on Beer O'Clock and with my love of IPA's you know there will be more to come!
EURO 2012 - This segment finished with the culmination of the 2012 European Championships. To answer your questions; there may be a 2014 FIFA World Cup one but it would be different.
Macro Lagers - Almost every country in the world makes a lager and this segment tries to sample the more exotic ones. I have one lined which may be the next review.

The Dark Side - The segment for the thick and dark stuff. It's winter time in Australia so expect a few updates here soon.

Summer Fruit Beers - This segment will probably pickup more in Summer. Very few breweries release fruit beers in Winter.

Beer O'Clock on Tour - Country reviews from my latest trip. This segment will be shelved until my next overseas trip, whenever that may be.
Great Beer Styles - Lately this has almost become the Red Duck review segment of the blog. It showcases the best and weirdest styles of beer that the world has to offer.

True Brew - The most comprehensive review of the Australian macro scene anywhere (I'm not 100% sure that's a good thing)! There will be an update here soon.
Fridge Regulars - I only realized today that I haven't updated this segment in over a year. I will endeavour to change that at some point...
Trappist Beer - Still holds the title as the first completed challenge on Beer O'Clock Australia. I have plenty of Trappist beers in the cupboard to be drunk soon.
World's Best Beer Contender - Beers that are hugely hyped find there way into this segment. I don't think there's anything on the horizon at the moment.
The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate - One of my favourite segments to do, this will definitely return when I find the appropriate beer.
Oktoberfest Beers - Clearly this has been forgotten about a little... Hopefully come September/October I will revistit this.
Abstrakt - Here Richo and I sample BrewDog's Abstrakt range. AB:05 review is just waiting on us to combine our 2 pieces, shouldn't be too long.
Roadies - Work permitting this segment should grow a bit in the next few months. I love visiting micro-breweries, I just need to remember to write about them!

So hopefully this answers everyone's questions about what's happening with their favourite segments. Keep the questions and suggestions coming at gus.norris7@gmail.com. I'm looking forward to getting back into some reviewing and I hope you'll all be along to read it.

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

Friday, 2 August 2013

EUROTRIP - ESTONIA

Beer O'Clock on Tour


The last stop on Beer O'Clock's European tour was Tallinn in Estonia. I've had a couple of Estonian lagers before and was quite impressed with the quality so was looking forward to checking out the full range of beers available.

Estonia's supermarket beer range was probably the biggest of any country we've been to on this trip. It was mostly dominated by different brews from the two big companies, Saku and A. Le Coq, with a smattering of micro's and foreign imports.

Try with food
A. Le Coq Premium was the beer I had the most of in Estonia. As you can see from the photo the beer pours brilliantly. It's not a particularly memorable lager, but that can also be a good thing. Personally I think it's a little boring by itself, but when you have it with food it really comes into it's own.

Some of A. Le Coq's other notable beer include; the Porter, the Double Bock (for how terrible it was!) and the Imperial Ale. I'd recommend trying the Porter and the Imperial Ale. The Porter is a good example of the style while the Imperial Ale is a good change from the monotony of lager. They are also the makers of Viru, a lager I have reviewed here before.

Really interesting brew
The other big Estonian brewery is Saku, which is also available in Australia. The Saku Originaal tasted as expected, from my knowledge of it back home. I was particularly impressed by the Saku Kuld, an export style lager. The Pilsner was a little disappointing and light on hop flavour.

Estonian beer drinkers are becoming more savvy about what they drink and this is inspiring the breweries to start producing a wider assortment of flavours. Saku Dublin is a Cream/Irish Red Ale cross, and although not very good is at least a different flavour. H.F. Puls Tume Kirss, or Dark Cherry, was a really enjoyable beer that has apparently gained a little cult following, even amongst the older Estonians.

Estonian craft beer
One afternoon we were looking for a shop Lizzie wanted to go to and stumbled across this great little pub & bottle shop. They specialized in international craft beer and positively had the Ashes on TV. The food is really good as well. It's called Drink and it's located in the Old Town at Müürivahe 15.

Despite us already having heaps of beer, 3 beers came back from the shop. The first was Gourmet Beer's Piney, my first proper Estonian craft ale. It's a Pale Ale but I was left disappointed by the relatively mild flavour. Olleklubi was an Estonian craft brewery who didn't skimp on flavour. 2 of their beers were exceptional, while 2 were very run of the mill. If you do go to this brewery, order the burger and add blue cheese and bacon; Incredible!

Finnish craft beer is good!
The other beer that I bought from Drink was one I have been searching for for 3 years! Who'd have thought Tallinn, of all places, would be where I'd find it! Xingu is a Brazillian Schwarzbier that I have wanted to try ever since my alphabet challenge.It was nothing spectacular but I'm glad I've ticked that off.

Being very close to Finland it seemed only logical that there would be Finnish craft beer around. The Huvila ales are produced by Malmgård brewery and I sampled two of them. The Huvila Pale Ale, pictured right, was a really good example of an American Pale with plenty of citrus hops. While the Arctic Circle Ale was the first Sahti (a Finnish specialty beer) that I've ever had and I thought it was sensational. Definitely look out for these beers and if you see any buy them!

This may seem like an odd thing to say, but I think that Estonia had the most varied range of readily available beer of any of the countries I visited on this trip. From big breweries with a wide range of very serviceable beers to tiny micro's with a good understanding of how beer should be produced. Drink and a number of other venues around Tallinn are spreading the word about craft beer and it is becoming the norm for young Estonians to drink better rather than the macro swill. If you are in Tallinn definitely check out the craft beer scene, it's growing quickly and we will hopefully be hearing alot more from it soon! Until the next trip this segment is retired! Europe, it was fun!

My Estonian macro haul!

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