Friday, 27 September 2013

AFL GRAND FINAL SPECIAL


Everyone knows we love sport at Beer O'Clock Australia. Every year I host a Grand Final day party crossed with my birthday celebrations. I was at a pub last night and there was a guy suggesting to the bar staff that they should just serve beer from either Fremantle or Hawthorn tomorrow. And that gave me an idea....

I picked a brewery from each suburb; Hawthorn Brewery, funnily enough from Hawthorn, and Australia's biggest craft brewery Little Creatures from Fremantle. Basically I'm going to put similar beers from each brewery up against each other over 4 quarters and see which one comes out on top. This is going to have a little added significance for me as I'm going to put $20 on whichever suburb's brewery comes out on top.


Pale Ale
Hawthorn
American Pale Ale
4.7%
Hawthorn was always going to struggle against the Little Creatures Pale Ale, the beer that started the Australian craft industry. It did put up a good fight though, a touch sweet for my liking but all-in-all a very sessionable American Pale Ale.

Little Creatures Pale Ale is far and away Australia's most popular Pale Ale. It's the first beer I really knew how to describe and holds a special place in all Australian craft drinkers hearts. So full of fruit flavours and so sessionable!

Pale Ale
Fremantle
American Pale Ale
5.2%


Pilsner
Hawthorn
Czech Pilsner
4.6%
Hawthorn's Pilsner is solid. Not a heap of hops but enough to provide good bitterness. At first it's a little over carbonated but if you let it sit a while it's fine. This could be incredibly sessionable, I'll probably buy more of this.

I'm surprised but this is the first time I've had this Pilsner from Little Creatures. It's a nice crisp Pilsner with a hint of eucalyptus on the nose, which gives it that little Australian feel. Very mild spicy hops (Saaz I think), could be a little more pronounced.
Original Pilsner
Fremantle
Czech Pilsner
4.6%

Amber Ale
Hawthorn
English Bitter
4.7%
I had the Amber Ale from Hawthorn at a tasting around 2 years ago and wasn't very impressed. I can say that it's improved now. It'd be a good introductory amber ale as it's a little bland. Good toffee and caramel flavours, just missing a bit of hop bite.

Rogers Beer is named after the two Roger's of Australian brewing; Bailey and Bussell. It's an English style beer and it's pretty average. I'm not a fan of the herbal hop flavour, which doesn't work for me at all in conjunction with the malt base. 

Rogers Beer
Fremantle
English Pale Ale
3.8%


Australian IPA
Hawthorn
American IPA
6.2%
The lights have just failed us here in the bar. We are in the last quarter of our Beer O'Clock Grand Final and this is my favourite Hawthorn Beer. The Australian IPA is delicious! The hops have tropical fruit flavours and although not particularly strong they still dominate the beer.

Was it a good idea to play with electricity in the middle of the last quarter of the Beer O'Clock Australia Grand Final? Probably not, but I did it anyway! It's a nice flavoursome ale, but doesn't live up to their Pale Ale.

Bright Ale
Fremantle
English Pale Ale
4.5%


This was a good little challenge to do and I'm glad I did it. Now we have to get to the all important results. The first quarter; Pale Ale's went hands down to the Fremantle Dockers and Little Creatures, the Dockers 3 goals up at the first change. The second quarter was a tightly contested affair with the Hawks pulling a goal back.

The Hawks came out firing in the Premiership quarter and won the quarter by a couple of goals to tie the score up going into the last quarter. The last quarter was a battle of the leftover ales; the Australian IPA from Hawthorn against the Bright Ale from Little Creatures (Fremantle), in what would be a head to head battle for the title. They are both very different flavoursome ales, but I'm going to have to give it to the Hawks by a goal.
HAWTHORN by 1 goal.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

REVIEW: IPA IS DEAD (2013)

STATS
  • Country: Scotland
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 6.7%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
After how well this was received last year there was no doubt that I would end up reviewing this years edition. Prior to doing some research I was only aware of 2 of these hop varieties, so I'm glad that I'll get a chance to sample these two new ones.

It's been one of those weeks at work and after leaving early I decided I'd try and run through this 4-pack while I try and de-stress. I've been told alot about this years edition, many of them ordinary, but I'll go in with an open mind and see what I think.

Im' going to steal this from last years post: "The experiment, as before, is simple: Four single hops start out with the same malts, the same ABV, the same IBUs, the same everything, except that each one is made with a different hop strain to showcase their individual character and talent."

Just like last time I'm starting with the American hop variety; El Dorado. It's a relatively new hop variety and I can't think of many beers that utilize it. I've heard about it before so know what to expect, but as far as I'm aware I've never had it before.  

This is actually a nice single hop IPA. The hops provide a lot of tropical fruit flavours. I get mango, pear, I think watermelon and even some citrus. The nose smells strongly of sweet mango but with enough balance from the malt. Bitterness is excellent (75 IBU's). For me it's a nice beer but it's certainly not amazing. Next!

Second-up in my 2013 IPA is Dead is Goldings. This is a British hop that almost all beer drinkers will know, and most will dislike! I really don't rate it as a hop at all, in most of the beers I've had it tastes bland so I'm really hoping BrewDog can enlighten me as to it's potential. 

The Goldings beer is noticeably cloudier than the El Dorado I had first. Both aroma and taste are very similar. There is plenty of citrus to accompany the malt. This is the first IPA is Dead beer I've had where the malt is very prominent. As it warms (and it did warm because I didn't like it!) it becomes a little more complex with some spiciness and floral elements coming through. It doesn't save the beer though, I'm not a fan.

I'm keeping the same pattern as last year so this is the hop from the random country, this year Dana from Slovenia. Having been to Slovenia I can vouch for their hop varieties, they are excellent and the Slovenians are very proud of them. It's a cross breed of Hallertau with some native Slovenian varieties. I know nothing about this variety and am really looking forward to trying it!

BrewDog's IPA is Dead - Dana is possibly the worst beer I've ever had! Honestly it's disgusting! The flavour is a mix of dirty dishwater crossed with mushrooms with a hint of truffles, certainly not an ideal combination for a beer! I don't think this beer has a redeeming feature. Does anyone like it? Seriously I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Last but not least is Waimea from New Zealand. It's a hop I'm very familiar with, probably most famous for it's use in the Tuatara/Beer Here collaboration Waimea Hopcat. I know what to expect; a bit of pine and some citrus and this unusual fruit flavour which I'm still undecided what type of berry I think it is..

Waimea was a solid IPA without being exceptional. There was plenty of pine balanced nicely from some citric acidity. The odd berry taste was there, according to BrewDog it's gooseberry, and there was some malt balance. This one is certainly not going to become a go to IPA of mine, but it showcases the hop nicely and should give anyone drinking it an idea of what the hop can do.

There's no hiding from the fact that these are not as good as last years. There are some nice IPA's in this lot and for me they do still serve a purpose. BrewDog have taken this a step further, they've used new harder to find hop varieties, which in turn have done what single hop IPA's are meant to do; further educate the drinker. Dana certainly isn't the best IPA I've ever had but at least I know now never to use it in a homebrew! I'm glad I bought this 4-pack but I wouldn't buy another one, it was once again a hop education.

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

Saturday, 21 September 2013

REVIEW: MURRAY'S PUNK MONK

Untappd: Legendary Badge


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Serving Type: 640ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
My trip to Sydney to support the mighty Blues may have delayed this review a little, but this was a beer worthy of having some time to think it over. It's also mellowed what I was initially going to say, which is probably a good thing.

This is not the only beer named Punk Monk. BrewDog famously brewed a beer of the same name, although it was only a short lived run. Basically it was regular Punk IPA but brewed with Belgian yeast. I never actually sampled the BrewDog version but from all reports it wasn't great. Anyway here's my Murray's Punk Monk review.

Stylistically the pour was close to perfect. The colour of the beer was deep golden with plenty of small bubbles rising to a cream coloured head. The head retention certainly wasn't great but this thankfully didn't effect the lacing, which was excellent. Punk Monk is a very nice looking beer, despite my dirty beer glass...

The nose delivers everything that the label promised it would. The beer is a hybrid mix of Saisons, Belgian Blondes and Tripels and the nose indicates this beautifully. There is all the fruit characteristics that you would expect from a blonde with the alcohol and funk that you would expect from a Saison. The subtle addition of some spice as the beer warms is lovely as well!

Murray's Punk Monk didn't disappoint when it came to taste either. It's got everything! The perfect mix of bitter/sour fruit at the back end mixes beautifully with a creamy spiciness up front. The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin given the creamy texture of the beer. I'm describing this terribly; but seriously it's a great Belgian-influenced summer ale.

As I drank this I thought it was one of the best beers I've had this year! Upon reflection this certainly wasn't the case, but it was very good. That said I'm still going to buy some more. For Australian drinkers who aren't huge on Belgian beers this would be a good intro beer if you are looking to get into them. All lovers of beer; you should try this one.

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

Sunday, 15 September 2013

REVIEW: HIX IRISH STOUT

Untappd: Heavyweight (Level 8) Badge

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Irish Dry Stout
  • ABV: 4.3%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Been a little while between reviews for me as I've been pretty busy. This is a backdated Untappd review from last weekend when I visited the Hickinbotham brewery. I had this on a tasting paddle and hadn't taken a photo, so the only logical thing to do was to buy a bottle.

It's actually the first time I've visited the brewery, despite having been down that way a number of times. The range is pretty good considering that it's a side project to the very successful winery. The pick of the bunch, for me, was this beer; Hix Irish Stout. Hopefully this tastes as good in the bottle as it did on tap at the brewery.

The appearance of this beer is excellent for an Irish Dry Stout. It appears to have a thinner body than most stouts with a very dark colour. The head is a khaki colour with some small air bubbles throughout. It did appear initially that the head was subsiding very quickly however it staged a mini-revival and towards the end of drinking there was a thick film of foam on top of the beer.

My nose was blocked as anything on both the day I tried this at the brewery and at home, so I had to rely on what dad said he could smell. Apparently it smells of licorice and roasted coffee. That's good enough for me, they are close to beery words!

Hix Irish Stout, fit's the bill for an Irish stout perfectly. The flavour is lighter than other styles of stouts, although there are still pronounced flavours of coffee and roast. There's even some dark fruits as the beer warms. The best part about this beer for me though is the finish, it's lovely and dry; simply perfect!

Irish Dry Stout are probably my favourite style of stouts, behind Imperial Stouts obviously! This is the best Australian example of the style that I've come across. It was just beautiful, one of the nicest and driest stouts going around! I cannot recommend this highly enough if you are a fan of dry stouts.

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

Thursday, 5 September 2013

THE SESSION #79

STATS
  • Topic: USA vs. Old World Beer Culture
  • Session Host: Ding's Beer Blog
  • Announcement: Here

For those new to the Session the idea is on the first Friday of every month beer bloggers from around the world unite and write a post on a common topic. Find more info here.

This month Adrian from Ding's Beer Blog has the pleasurable task of ready everyone's words of wisdom/drivel. His topic is sure to provide plenty of debate, I certainly know which side of the fence I'm sitting on!

So the real question here is what have the USA, and by extrapolation U.S. brewers. done to change beer? For me the answer is obvious; they've improved it!

Old World beer culture revolves around English Pub culture. While I haven't experienced a heap of this , I'm aware that is based around (on the whole) relatively bland, low ABV beers which can be consumed en masse. This is all well and good, and certainly has a place in society but can it be improved...

Everyone knows that everything is bigger and better in the U.S., and this certainly applies to craft beer. The reason IPA is the most drunk style of craft beer is certainly not due to the English take on the style!

The American beer styles (not just IPA's) are all hop dominant. Small breweries have always been around, however it is the Americans' addition of flavoursome, and sometimes excessive hops, that have commercialized an entire industry. Whether it be huge hoppy stouts or IPA's through to American takes on traditional Belgian classics, Americans beers have struck a chord with drinkers around the world. 

As much as it hurts me to admit it, without U.S. intervention craft beer wouldn't be advanced or appealing as it is today. American brewers are at the forefront of hop use and innovation; and subsequently they are at the top of their field. Without U.S. beers, and the subsequent breweries around the world that they have inspired, craft beer would still be a tiny niche market; not a world phenomenon!

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

REVIEW: SHEPHERD NEAME IPA

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: England
  • Style: English IPA
  • ABV: 6.1%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Tonight's review is one that I've been inundated with requests to review it. Due to my well noted dislike of English IPA's (and to a lesser extent Pale Ale's) a number of English readers have been sending me beers of the English style that I might enjoy; this is one of them.

And "this" is Shepherd Neame IPA and it's probably been the beer most requested. I finally found this about a week ago and knew it was one I had to review. Shepherd Neame is the oldest brewery in Britain, so you hope would be able to produce a decent beer. The brewery is probably best known in Australia for it's Spitfire beer, readily available at Dan's and the like. Anyway let's see if my English readers know what they are talking about.

The body of this beer looked excellent, despite my dirty pint glass! It's deep orange/amber colour with a thin off-white head. The head had a number of large air bubbles in it and didn't last long, it left almost no trace behind either which was a little disappointing for the style but not the be all and end all. Shepherd Neame IPA really caught the light well and despite the head (or lack thereof) it's still a good looking beer.

Aroma; where I began to worry this was just another boring English IPA. It just smelled dull! Don't get me wrong there were some nice spicy hop elements to the nose, there just wasn't anywhere near enough for my liking! It had that malt driven aroma that I associate, rightly or wrongly, with dull English Bitters or ESB's. This nose just didn't do it for me at all and I was really worried this would be another

Thankfully I was wrong. There was enough bitterness coming from the hops that I could withstand the sweeter English malt base. There is a toffee flavour that comes from the malt which when combined with the grassy bitterness from the hops is rather alluring. It's not so bitter that it would wreck your palate either, could be quite sessionable in fact.

Shepherd Neame IPA really surprised me and I think jumps to the top of my English IPA list. It's still not a style that I've grasped yet I can at least now see some merit in it. I will be trying more English IPA's and more from Shepherd Neame in the future. Suggestions, as always, are more than welcome. Thanks guys, have a good weekend.

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