Wednesday, 27 November 2013

REVIEW: ABSTRAKT AB:05

Brewdog Abstrakt


STATS
  • Country: Scotland
  • Style: Russian Imperial Stout
  • ABV: 12.5%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Bottle
  • Price: Special Occasions Only 
  • Bottle Number: 2724/3600

What Brewdog Say:
Belgian Imperial Stout aged on toasted coconut and cacao

Once again it's been a few months between drinks in the Abstrakt series.  On the day that AB:12 turned up on my doorstep, Richo and I convened to sample the next installment in our adventure through BrewDog's Abstrakt range, AB:05. Like AB:04 this beer is also a stout, however this one is a Belgian style stout with a twist.

BrewDog's Abstrakt range are boundary pushing beers that are brewed in small batches. AB:05 is no different! Following on the success of the American Imperial Stout (AB:04) this beer is again a stout. It's a Belgian Imperial Stout and has this time been aged on toasted coconut and cacao. I can't think of another beer I've had that has utilized coconut so this will be an interesting experience, especially considering I don't really like coconut!

After we spent an eternity trying to get the cork out of another Abstrakt bottle we were somewhat disappointed by the pour. The body was a nice thick looking dark brown, almost black, colour with little to no carbonation to speak of. There was almost no evidence of any head at all! I think there were a couple, maybe 5 or 6, small tan bubbles of head when the beer was first poured but they disappeared almost immediately.

The nose is much more impressive than the smell with the exotic ingredients BrewDog have added to coming to the fore. Initially there is quite a strong sweet smell of coconut before some more traditional stout characteristics come through. There's plenty of roasted malts, some caramel malts (not alot), some cacao and even what I think is vanilla, although I'm sure if it is that... I can also get hints of Belgian yeasts, they aren't particularly strong hints but they are certainly there.

AB:05 is extremely complex with subtle sweetness blending nicely with a strong roast bite. There's a little bit of the promised coconut up front but dark fruits and coffee really dominate the flavour. As the beer warms the coconut sweetness comes more pronounced but never quite tips the beer over into the too sweet range (if that makes sense). It has all the characteristics that I enjoy in a stout but with a little something extra that I'm not 100% sure how I feel about it.

Richo and I drank this back in February and he still hasn't finalized his rant for this beer! So I think it's time to cut our losses and post this, maybe if he get's his shit together I will post a rant for this beer in the future (he claims he's got one for it...).

I think both of us agree that this was a really good stout, however it doesn't hold a candle to AB:04! There is no doubting that this is an excellent beer though and BrewDog have to be commended for managing to work a really strong coconut flavour into what is often quite an abrasive beer style, without making it overly sweet or taking anything away from the traditions of the style. It's a great beer but it's not one I would go out of my way to get.

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

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 3

Untappd Catchup


If not for all these new badges I imagine I'd be on track with these Untappd reviews... But not to be so here is my third Untappd Catchup on Beer O'Clock Australia. And inevitably there will be more to come...

Regular readers will know I'm not a cider drinker by any means. Lizzie was drinking Truffler Orchard Pig Cider and recommended I have a go as she thought it tasted like the beer. I ended up finishing about half the bottle and bought some more. Anyway this check-in earned me God Save the Queen (Level 8)

The Pucker Up badge is awarded for drinking sour beers. It's another one that has recently been leveled and so my check-in of Boatrocker's Mitte got me this badge. I had it on tap at the Gertrude Hotel and have to say it was very impressive! It's a Berliner Weiss aged in champagne barrels and definitely worth a shot if you come across it.


I managed to get my hands on some very fresh Stone Ruination and it was amazing! It's one of my absolute favourite American IPA's and thankfully it gained me my Land of the Free (Level 4) badge. If you can get your hands on a 6-pack of these, call me and I'll come over and help you drink them; they're amazing!

The next beer I'm going to discuss is Saison Dupont. It's one of the world's premier saisons and has an amazing distribution network for a beer still brewed on a working farm in Belgium. Not only is this a great example of one of the most authentic beer styles out there, the check-in added two badges to my arsenal; Belgian Holiday (Level 6) and the Coast to Coast Toast 2013. To get the Coast to Coast Toast badge simply check-in to one of these beers before December 1st.

I was somewhat thankful when Hercules from Great Divide came along and knocked over the Sky's the Limit badge. I felt this badge had been designed for the Imperial Stout connoisseur and I think that the other 4 beers that I consumed to get this badge were all Imperial Stouts. To get this badge you need to check-in 5 beers over 10% ABV. If you were just tasting it there is no way you would put the ABV anywhere near that high, it's a really dangerously sessionable IPA at 10%.


I really hope that sooner or later I'm going to be able to keep my promise to keep reviews up with my Untappd badges. For now though I hope this will suffice. I've got another installment in the Alphabet Challenge Revisited up for you and hopefully an Abstrakt review, a very long time in the making, if Richo gets his shit together...

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

Thursday, 21 November 2013

B IS FOR BUDEJOVICKY BUDVAR

B is for Budejovicky Budvar


STATS
  • Country: Czech Republic
  • Style: Czech Pilsner
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Budejovicky Budvar (a.k.a Budweiser Budvar & Czechvar) is the other beer/brewery involved in the long running dispute with the American macro lager Budweiser over who has the rights to the name. At the moment the Czech's are winning and this is their flagship Pilsner.

Here's what my uneducated self said last time: "Despite it's horrible name, Budvar is a really good lager, as you would expect from the Czech's. It's very flavoursome and incredibly refreshing. You could easily knock back quite a few of these without even noticing. Definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a strong (flavoured) lager."

I try to limit beer glass talk on the blog but this one is awesome. I got given it in Prague when I told the guy in the restaurant that I collected them, apparently this was the new one that was about to be released. The beer pours a lovely deep golden colour and has a small tight white head on top. There appears to be plenty of carbonation that gives good retention to the relatively small head.

Today I had to pop into the roof at work and since then I haven't been able to smell a thing, god it was dusty up there. Thankfully I'm well acquainted with Budvar and know the nose just about off by heart! Plenty of bitter grassy hops (hint they're Saaz) some relatively sour grain and a hint of lemon at the backend. There's nothing sweet about this pilsner's nose, it's perfect!

Budejovicky Budvar (or whichever name is applicable in your county) starts off with a nice and light biscuit malt. As it's a Czech Pilsner this is quickly replaced by Saaz hop bitterness, which is distinctly grassy. I can't detect any of the lemon that was noticeable on the nose, but there was plenty of tiny bubbles that really livened up the mouthfeel. The lingering bitterness from the hops may put off many regular lager drinkers.

After reading what I wrote last time I promised myself I would be more succinct when summing up this beer this time. So here goes nothing: Budvar is a classic example of the Czech Pilsner style. It showcases the bitterness of the Saaz hop brilliantly. It's a versatile lager as it appeals to the slightly adventurous drinker and craft beer drinkers alike. If you haven't had it yet it's a beer I'd highly recommend trying, it's one of those ones that all beer drinkers should have at least once.

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

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

REVIEW: GREGORIUS

Trappist Beer #8 Stift Engelszell


STATS
  • Country: Austria
  • Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
  • ABV: 9.7%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
It's been a very long time between drinks for the Trappist Beer section on Beer O'Clock Australia! Tonight we are back with a beer from one of the monasteries that last time I wrote on the subject, I had hoped would have their brewery setup.

Stift Engelszell is only the second Trappist brewery outside of Belgium. They've been producing beer since the middle of last year but only started exporting recently. Gregorius was their founding beer; and there's a bit of debate about what style this beer is. Many people call it a quadrupel, Stift Engelszell call it a dark tripel, so I'm going to call it a Belgian Strong Dark Ale and cover all bases.

The body of the beer pours a dark brown colour with a quite dark cream, almost khaki, coloured head perched atop. The head is extremely short lived with large bubbles forming almost straight after being poured, within a matter of minutes there is not even a speck of foam left on the surface of the beer. It's certainly not what you would expect from whichever style of Belgian ale this is.

Stift Engelszell's Gregorius has an intriguing nose. There's plenty of dark sugar (maybe molasses), a bit of honey, some earthiness, even some cloves. As it warms there's notes of dark fruits, particularly dates and I think cherries, as well as some typically Belgian yeasts. Warm alcohol notes are a little off putting but it isn't hugely detrimental to the overall aroma.

Gregorius has a less complex taste than the aroma would dictate. It's semi sweet with caramel malts, honey and the molasses flavour coming to the fore early. The flavour changes over the course of drinking and there is almost a tart cherry flavour by the end. The latent alcohol is there but isn't unpleasant by any means and it adds a warming characteristic that is quite nice. I would also add that the carbonation is almost too low, if that's possible, and make the mouthfeel a bit light.

Even after tasting the beer I'm not sure what I'd classify this beer as. Certainly it's got elements of all the aforementioned styles but the mix is slightly unbalanced and the result isn't brilliant. Don't get me wrong this is a very nice beer, but I'm not sure it's quite at the level of some of the other beers produced by Trappist monasteries. I will certainly be following this brewery with interest and have got a couple of these to age and see if anything comes of it as it matures.

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

Monday, 18 November 2013

REVIEW: MONTEITH'S APRICOT WHEAT

Untappd: Drink Like A Kiwi Badge


STATS
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Style: Hefeweizen
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I have not been very impressed with either of the previous two Brewer's Series releases from Monteith's. I wasn't going to buy until I was someone else walked into Purvis raving about it and expressing similar sentiments to me about the quality of the first two.

So decision made to buy the beer and here we are. I was racking my brains for other examples of apricots in beer that I've and came up with two, St Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale and an Italian one that I can't remember the name of. I remember both being good so hopefully this one is no different.

The pour is more akin to that of a lager than a Hefeweizen. Its a very clear golden colour with a small 2-3 finger white head. There are numerous small bubbles in the head and it dissipates to a light film that barely covers the surface of the beer. Disappointing to say the least but after the last two from this series I wasn't expecting anything better. Terrible appearance for the style.

In really positive news for me the nose is significantly better than the appearance; although still not showing wheat beer characteristics. The nose smells very sweet and is mostly made up of a fake apricot smell. Towards the back end of the beer there is some light citrus and banana flavours which could be reminiscent of wheat...

Onto the tasting and initially I thought this was too sweet. However a couple of minutes of warming and some more flavours developed. Thankfully there was wheat in this beer and the banana and extremely light cloves flavour complimented the sweet apricot flavours beautifully. The carbonation and mouthfeel were both spot on for me as well.

Overall I was quite impressed with this beer. I'm not sure how much wheat is in it but if we put that aside it's certainly a very quaffable which would go beautifully with curry (from my experience with what I assume is it's inspiration - the St. Ambroise version). So conlusions, this is the best of the Brewer's Series from Monteith's so far and it's worth a try, it's a nice beer.

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

Sunday, 17 November 2013

REVIEW: ROGUE BEARD BEER

Et Cetebeer


STATS

  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Wild Ale
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • Serving Type: 650ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
In honour of the passing of my beautiful beard today, I've decided to review this beer that I had earlier in the week. It's fair to say that the story behind this beer is going to turn a large number of people off it before they even buy it; but not me.

Rogue's Beard Beer utilizes one of the fundamental ingredients in of beer; yeast, but it's the way in which they acquired the yeast which may put some off. Their BrewMaster has had the same beard since 1983 and subsequently it's caught a lot of yeast across his brewing. You guessed it, they then used the yeast they found for this beer. Enough talking let's review it.

Firstly the appearance of the beer is pretty normal for an American Wild Ale. This was to be as expected though as yeast rarely affects a beers appearance. There is a 4 and a half finger head of cream coloured foam on top of a deep orange body. There appears to be quite a lot of carbonation and this helps with the impressive head retention.

It should go unsaid but I'll put it here anyway, I'm treating this beer like any other and ignoring that the yeast has come from the brewers beard. There's plenty of citrus zest on the nose with plenty of spices, particularly cloves are prominent. There's some cinnamon, pepper and vanilla as well. Bit of earthy yeast and some herbal hops at the end, it's got a really complex nose and is very nice.

The flavour is not particularly reminiscent of a Wild Ale. It's quite light with lemon zest to the fore with sweet caramel malts also relatively forward. There's banana and clove elements that lend this to being having a witbier feel. The relative lack of sour character also leads me to think that this isn't a true example of a Wild Ale. But considering the relative unknown quantity of the yeast strain, I suppose it could be what this beer would naturally have come to be and so am not too unhappy about the Wild Ale classification.

Due to the novelty factor of this beer I think it will sell a lot as either presents or as a bit of a joke. People should definitely come back and buy more of it though as Rogue Beard Beer is actually a very nice, easy drinking beer. This review took an inordinate amount of time to write and I still don't really like the wording, but what can you do... Hopefully the next one will follow a little better.

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

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

REVIEW: OUDE GEUZE BOON

Untappd: Bottle Share Badge


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Gueuze
  • ABV: 6.5%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
I was shocked to find out I haven't reviewed a Gueuze on here before and knew I needed to right this wrong. It's a style of beer that has really grown on me over the last year or two so hopefully I can do this one justice.

Bottle Share is a badge I would have thought I would have got by now. To get this one you have to share you check in on other social media platforms 10 times. Considering I've got over 900 check-ins that's very restrained. Anyway onto the review.

This beer definitely deserved a better close up of the beer itself, but when you've had quite a few before midday on Cup Day the brain doesn't always work the way it should. Anyway it looks like you would expect a Gueuze to look. It pours a cloudy deep golden colour with a brilliant white head. There were no signs of the explosive head that can occur once in a while with one of these.

For the nose I'm relying off iPhone notes, which is always a bad sign. There was plenty of citrus aromas with a tart aroma that gave off a vinous feel. There was a bit of Belgian funk with some spices on the back end. I remember the nose being quite alluring.

How this beer tasted I remember more; it was spicy and there was plenty of citrus and vinous qualities but it wasn't hugely sour. Most of the citric flavour came from lemon but there was also some grapefruit and even some oranges. The mouthfeel is wonderful! It has this light feel and spritzy carbonation, which makes it dangerously drinkable.

Overall I was a bit disappointed with this one. It's a beer I've heard very good things about but for me it wasn't sour enough for the style. Since getting into Gueuze's I've developed a taste for the extreme; the sourer the better. Although this one didn't do it for my extreme palate, maybe it will appeal to you. It's certainly a beer that people rave about, maybe I'll have to get a couple more for further investigation. I'd love to know what you guys think, let me know your thoughts on this beer.

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

Friday, 8 November 2013

THE GREAT BOTTLE VS. CAN DEBATE PART 8

The eighth installment: The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle/Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
I'm really excited about today's Bottle vs. Can Debate because of the test subject; Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. This is one of the most influential craft beers ever! It also happens to be a personal favourite of mine. I came across a can of this the other day on a website and so there was no way I wasn't doing one of these reviews!

What makes this possibly the best installment in the Bottle vs. Can debate is that I have been guaranteed by the importer that these two specimens came in the same container from the US. So there can be none of the conjecture I sometimes get about different batches, different container conditions etc. etc. Let's get into them.

You can probably notice slight differences in the appearance of these two beers. Both have the distinctive golden amber colour that many Sierra Nevada beers are. While the canned version is brilliantly clear the bottle has little bits of sediment floating in it. The head sizes are both similar and have good retention.

I couldn't distinguish a heap of difference between the nose of either beer. Both have a nice light caramel malt base with plenty of citrus and pine hop characteristics. Maybe there is a touch more citrus in the can but it's very close...

Upon tasting however there is a clear winner.... the can. Both taste excellent but the can clearly has more hop flavour than the bottle. Both beers have light citrus hops first up before bready malts take up a more prominent role, which is much more obvious in bottle form. Piney hops take over for the finish, it's just a beautifully constructed pale ale.

Based on tonight's tasting we are going to have to chalk this one up as another win for the can. The thing I will say though is that bottle still is one of the best examples of an American Pale Ale that you will find in Australia. This is the beer that really sparked the craft beer movement in the U.S. and the beer that inspired Australia's pioneer the Little Creatures Pale Ale. The bottle is far more readily available than the can and it's certainly a beer I'd look out for if you haven't had it.


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

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 2

Untappd Catchup


I've been swamped with Untappd badges recently so am going to have to do another of these little catchup reviews. Exams are finally over though so hopefully now I'll be able to keep up with beer reviewing and forget about tax laws for a while!

The Witch's Brew badge was acquired for checking into a beer on Halloween. I had a really big session that night but the first beer and the one that unlocked this badge was Rogue's Dad's Little Helper, an awesome Black IPA that available at Dan's for something like $8 a bomber! Great value!

Later on that night another Rogue beer unlocked Land of the Free (Level 3); Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale. The name certainly is a mouthful and the beer divides opinions to say the least! 3 of us tried it; 1 loved it; 1 hated it & 1 was indifferent. Certainly worth a try just because of how odd it is, it's got nothing on the original Voodoo Doughnut Maple bacon though...

International Stout Day 2013 is today, November 8. To get this one simply check in to any stout before midnight in your timezone. Right now I'm drinking one of my all time favourite stouts; Renaissance Craftsman Oatmeal Stout. It's a very hard stout to get your hands on but if you can it's definitely worth the effort. It's worth it just for the amazing creamy mouthfeel!


I unlocked one of the badges with one of the worst beers I've had in a long time. Brass Belgium Lager is a really cheap and nasty lager which is available at Dan Murphy's in PLASTIC, yes plastic bottles! You'd think that should have warned me off but curiosity got the better of me; don't let it get the better of you! At least is unlocked the Belgian Holiday (Level 5) for me.

On a similar note I had a Red Angus Pilsner that unlocked the new Crisp as Day badge. This one is simple enough to get, just drink 5 different pilsners. Anyway this was a real disappointment to me, I used to really rate this beer but the one I had tasted more like a macro lager than a craft pilsner. I don't know if this was just a bad batch or if the quality has just dropped off badly. Does anyone have any info on this?


Again I'm going to hold a badge back because it's a beer that deserves reviewing. I'll give you a hint as to what badge it is though; it's one I feel I should have got a long time ago! Again this was a really long sort of rambling post so I apologize for that. Keep the beer suggestions flooding in; I really enjoy the challenge of tracking them down, the more obscure the better!

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

Thursday, 7 November 2013

REVIEW: KUROFUNE PORTER

The Dark Side


Untappd: Heavyweight (Level 9) Badge


STATS
  • Country: Japan
  • Style: Baltic Porter
  • ABV: 6.0%
  • Serving Type: 360ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Another badge that took me a little by surprise and hence another iPhone photo. Kurofune Porter comes from Baird Beer in Japan. To me a lot of their beers are hit and miss so I'm looking forward to see how this Porter goes.

Heavyweight is a badge that I'm coming towards the end of. Basically it indicates how may different dark beers, I think just stouts and porters, that you've had and is leveled up in the same way as the other badges. It's a really enjoyable badge to go out and get because I would hazard a guess that at least 30 of my check ins have been big Imperial Stouts. This isn't one though; it's a Baltic Porter and it's time to review it.

This beer has the stereotypical appearance of a Porter. A deep brown body is topped by a creamy looking white head. The head almost looks like what you'd expect on top of a Latte. Kurofune Porter's head has excellent head retention and leaves awesome lacing. This is a great start from Baird Beer, really looking forward to seeing how it tastes now!

My dreaded hayfever struck again when I drank this the other day and it made it much harder to discern any subtle nuances of the nose. The main elements were roast and some slightly sweet chocolate smell, somewhat reminiscent of Kooinda Milk Porter. Anyway moving on...

Kurofune Porter tastes like what little smell I could detect indicated. There was moderate roast at first and there was also some chocolate sweetness. I also got hints of nuttiness which added complexity. The mouthfeel was disappointingly thin which has to mark the score down in my books.

In a nutshell; appearance was excellent, nose seemed okay from what I could tell, flavour was good but the mouthfeel stuffed the whole beer. Honestly that's how this one was for me, everything was good for the style up until the mouthfeel. If this beer had a fuller body it would be an excellent example of the style. Possibly worth a try but if you're a Porter fan this isn't the one for you.

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

Sunday, 3 November 2013

REVIEW: HARP LAGER

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Ireland
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Harp Lager is the most consumed lager in Ireland. It's owned by Guinness and was launched in 1960 when Guinness realized they were losing alot of business from their world famous stout to people trending towards lighter European style lagers.

So keen were Guinness to compete in this lager market that they converted the Dundalk Brewery, which they had recently purchased from Smithwicks, from an ale and stout brewery into a modern lager brewery with the help of a famous German brewer. Anyway, history lesson over it's time to taste this beer. I've had it once before, in Tbilisi of all places but don't really remember what it tastes like.

The beer pours a typical golden lager colour with three fingers of off white head perched atop. Although the head has a number of bubbles in it shortly after being poured it has excellent retention, at least two fingers, and leaves some lacing behind. For a lager Harp pours very well, I would like someone to tell me that they can think of a prettier one.

Ireland's national lager has a typically non-existent lager nose. There's a touch of sweet grain as the beer warms up but if you drink it while it's cold you wouldn't know it had a nose. If I'm being kind I think I can smell some grassy hops but I'm straining to smell it and I may just be dreaming they're there. Anyway I don't know anyone who buys a lager for it's aroma...

Harp Lager has a little more quality to it than some other macro lagers I've had. It starts out with a slightly sweet malt base before some impressive bitterness kicks in. I've got no idea what variety the hops are but they certainly add bite to the beer. Although the carbonation is a little high at first, it's a lot of small bubbles that tingle the tongue and really begins to grow on you. It's one of the more drinkable lagers I've had in a long time.

Overall this is a better than average macro lager. According to it's Wikipedia page Harp Lager is popular in Australia, maybe it is in other states but I think I've only seen it once in Victoria. It certainly would be a popular lager if it was readily available at a good price. It's incredibly drinkable so hopefully the distributor gets more of it out there, it'll sell well.

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