Friday, 27 December 2013

REVIEW: SERIOUSLY BAD ELF

Untappd: Merry Brew-mas (2013) Badge


STATS
  • Country: England
  • Style: English Strong Ale
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
It's that sort of awkward time of the year between Christmas and New Years where you're stuck doing family things with relatively few other things to do. Hence I'm surprised it's taken me 3 days to write this review but I suppose that now is the first time I've been sober enough to.

Merry Brew-mas is a badge that turns up every Christmas Day. To get the new badge each year all you have to do is check-in to any beer on Christmas Day. This year I decided to keep a festive theme to my beer and went with Ridgeway's Seriously Bad Elf. I don't know a lot about the beer but I was interested to try it.

The English Strong Ale is a style I'm not hugely familiar with. So I thought that assessing the appearance would be a little tricky. However based on what I know the colour seems a bit light for the style, it's a golden colour with a thick creamy looking head on top. The head has good retention and at least a finger lasts for the duration of drinking.

On to the nose and my initial fears have been realized. Initially there is this relatively nice tart apple smell, however as the beer warms there is this horrendously strong aroma of alcohol. There's a slightly sweet overall feel to the beer but the nose was completely destroyed by the raw alcohol aroma.

Unfortunately the alcohol that was present on the nose is even stronger when it comes to tasting it. There's some malt sweetness, no detectable hops and a really odd chemically mouthfeel. The apple flavour is almost present and there's a tiny hint of honey, but far too much raw alcohol overrides everything else.

Overall Seriously Bad Elf was a seriously disappointing beer. It's very bland and is cursed by the high ABV which is not hidden at all well. Ridgeway makes some nice beers (Querkus springs to mind...) but this isn't one of them. One of the very few positives that comes to mind is the label which is pretty cool. Avoid this one like the plague, it horrible although somewhat festive...

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

GOLDEN PINTS 2013

Every year UK based beer bloggers Mark Dredge and Andy Mogg put out the cry for beer bloggers to produce their "Golden Pint Awards". Basically it's a celebration of best beers had during the year by people who know the most about beer, or at least think they do :P.

I remember how difficult this was last year so I'm starting much earlier this year to give myself time to work some of these out. I did keep a spreadsheet this year to remember every beer I had and hopefully this will keep me in good stead.

Best Australian Draught Beer - Little Creatures IPA. On tap this beer is amazing! It gives Hop Hog a run for the title of Australia's best IPA on tap. Unfortunately it does not translate as well to the bottle so the best way to sample this one is to find a pub and enjoy.

Best Australian Bottled or Canned Beer - Mornington Peninsula Russian Imperial Stout. This beer got a gold medal at the AIBA this year and it really deserved it! Such an excellent beer from one of the best breweries in Australia at the moment. I can wait to see what my winners of the Golden Pint for Best Australian Bottled Beer produce next year!

Best Cask Beer - For me this one wasn't as much about the beer as it was about the experience. Young's Special Premium Ale was the first beer I had on cask in a London pub and for that reason it can have the Golden Pint for Cask beer of the year. Australia is slowly embracing this and there are now a few pubs with hand pumps floating around, so maybe there will be an Australian winner in this category next year.

Best Overseas Draught Beer Epic Hop Zombie. One of my favourite IPA's and it's even better on tap! It's the clearest IPA I can think of off the top of my head. Check out my (terrible!) full review of it that I did last year here

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer - Oakham Citra. I don't know what it is about this beer but I just love it! It's a single hop pale ale and it's incredibly refreshing. One that I look out for all the time and am always thankful when I find some. If you find some of this, buy it! (Even if it's as a present for me :P)

Best Collaboration Beer - Holgate/Nøgne Ø Half a World Away. I was really tossing up between this beer and another Nøgne Ø collaboration, Aurora Borealis/Australis. brewed with Bridge Road. Both were really excellent beers but Half a World Away gets the nod for it's wider market appeal and it's story of the brewer swap. You can read a full review here.

Best Overall Beer - Pliny The Elder. Russian River's Imperial is known as one of the best in the world and it certainly lived up to that when I tried it less than a week ago! Words can't describe just how good this beer is. Check out my full review here.

Best Pumpclip or Label - This one is a no contest for me. It can only be Garage Project's Death from Above. Not only was the artwork amazing but the beer was one of my favourites for the year. The combination of chilli and Vietnamese mint combined with hops was just incredible!


Best Australian Brewery - Holgate. Born in 1999 Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend is one of Victoria's leading microbreweries. I've been to the brewery before and its really cool. This year they really stepped it up and impressed me, the Hopinator (with the new recipe) is one of favourite beers of the year. The special 1000th brew, Millenium Falcon was another highlight of my year and they are deserved of my Golden Pint for Australian Brewery of the year!

Best Overseas Brewery - Mikkeller. Best Overseas Brewery is one of the toughest categories in the Golden Pints. I've awarded mine to Mikkeller this year. Their beers are just amazing and having their bar around the corner from our hotel in Copenhagen was awesome!

Best New Brewery Opening 2013 - Temple. So technically it's not a new brewery but it is the relaunch of an old favourite. The guys at Temple went into voluntary liquidation earlier this year after a business dispute and recently managed to buy the brewery back. I went to their Resurrection Dinner at Alehouse Project, which was awesome, and I can't wait for them to start pumping out Scarlet Sour and many new brews in the future!

Pub/Bar of the Year - The Gertrude Hotel. It's close to work, it's crafty, it's reasonably priced and the food is awesome! There's not alot more I could ask for in a pub. Beer Sale Friday (5-7pm) is also about my favourite time of the week, all pots $4 and pints $8 - that's cheaper than Carlton in many pubs!

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2013 - Alehouse Project. Yes technically this opened in 2012 but I never went there until this year so I'm claiming it. It's fast become one of my favourite venues, shame it's a long tram trip from home. They do a heap of events and are definitely worth checking out if you live near Brunswick, or anywhere in Melbourne for that matter!

Best City for Beer in Australia - Easy - Melbourne! The best bottleshops, the best bars, the best microbreweries - what more do you want! I haven't been to Perth recently but all the other capital cities don't have anywhere near as much "beer infrastructure" if you will.

Beer Festival of the Year - GABS. I know I said this last year but once again it was the premier beer festival in Australia. I heard Willy Beer Fest was awesome but I didn't manage to get down there. The Hopfest at Alehouse Project was really cool as well, IPA's everywhere, although it's technically not really a beer festival...

Supermarket of the Year - Coles. This is going to be controversial with alot of people, but I really think Coles (and by extension Liquorland) have really stepped up their game this year. The Steamrail beers brewed by them are solid, I haven't yet had the Pilsner but the Golden Ale was the pick of the bunch I've sampled. If you are looking for a cheap option you could do worse... Special mention to Dan's for installing Growler systems in some stores.

Independent Retailer of the Year - Acland Street Cellars. This was a tough one for me, but I've gone with Acland Street because they've been importing their own American beers for a while and brought some really interesting stuff never before seen in Australia out this year, including my Overall Beer of the year; Pliny the Elder!

Online Retailer of the Year - The Beer Cellar. These guys have a really impressive range of International beers, with stock changing regularly. I've bought stuff off them twice and both times the delivery was really quick and nothing arrived broken. I'd highly recommend using them if you are looking for some harder to find stuff.

Best Beer Book or Magazine - Beer Buyers Guide. This is another controversial selection, but I feel that we need to encourage places like Dan's supporting craft beer. This is the book that they try and flog at the registers and while not perfect has good stylistic notes and a good section of food matching. For $20 it'd make a nice little present for someone.

Best Beer Blog or Website - Tasting Nitch. There's so many beer blogs that I glance across from time to time that this is an incredibly difficult Golden Pint to award. Tasting Nitch gets the nod because it's from a different point of view than most bloggers. I'd highly recommend checking it out. 

Best Beer App - Untappd. I somewhat sceptically signed up back in April thinking I'd never really use it. Over 1000 check-ins later and a new section on Beer O'Clock Australia devoted to Untappd, you could say that I'm hooked. It's a really good way to see what other craft beer drinkers are drinking and to chat about awesome (and not so awesome) beers.

Best Online Brewery Presence - Feral. West Australia's Feral get the Golden Pint award for Best Online Brewery Presence because I can recall a number of photo's off their Facebook page. Mornington and Little Creatures are also both good on the Social Media front. 

Food and Beer Pairing of the Year - I almost always think the best food and beer pairing I've had is the latest one. This year there was a clear standout.The Temple Resurrection Dinner at Alehouse Project paired Temple's Resurrection Pilsner with this Roast Chicken and Scallop thing on a bed of barley with corn and horse radish and other stuff. It was amazing!

So there we go, what I spectacular year of beer it's been! Once again this task to complete my Golden Pints was almost impossible! I think next year I'm going to try and take some notes throughout the year to make this not take almost a month to actually complete. I've got a wrap up of my year of beer in the works as well so hopefully that'll be up in early January.

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

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

REVIEW: BAH HUMBUG

Untappd: Winter Wonderland Badge


STATS
  • Country: England
  • Style: Winter Warmer
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Merry Christmas everyone! Tonight I decided I needed to sample some beers that I'm gave to people for Christmas. This first one is from Wychwood, a solid English brewery that I'm pretty familiar with.

Winter Warmer is a badge that has alluded me for a long time. I would have thought this would have come along quicker than this but anyway... To get this badge you have to check-in to 5 beers that either have "Winter" in the name or in the style ie. Winter Warmer.

So onto the beer and Bah Humbug pours a deep orange/brown colour with a cream coloured head. The head is large but has a number of big air bubbles in it and dissipates quickly. There's no lacing noticeable and the head dissolves to a ring of foam around the outside of the glass. It's a very standard looking English Ale.

Onto the nose and there is plenty of caramel sweetness at first. Complexity from dark fruit and nutty flavours Maybe there was some cinnamon or a similar spice as the beer warmed up, but it was minimal to say the least. It doesn't seem to be Christmas Ale in the spicy sense that I was hoping for...

Bah Humbug is a bit too sweet for my liking. The malt base tastes of caramel and is very sweet. Unfortunately it's sweetness is not balanced by alot of hops and there is not enough cinnamon spiciness to distract you either. The body of the beer is of a medium thickness and is quite easy to drink. It's not a bad beer, it's just not excellent either.

Look it's not really a Christmas beer in the spiced ale sense that I typically think of, but it's still a really nice ale. It's one of the better beers that I can think of from Wychwood and considering it's a 500ml bottle the price is quite reasonable. This isn't a bad option if you are looking for a beer to give to someone for Christmas and it's available at Dan's, which makes life easier.

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

Monday, 23 December 2013

REVIEW: UNLEASH THE YEAST 2013

STATS
  • Country: Scotland
  • Style: Undefined
  • ABV: 6.3%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
This is a really interesting little idea from BrewDog along similar lines to their IPA is Dead range, except using different yeasts instead of different hop varieties. Again they've taken inspiration from Mikkeller who have done this before as well.

I was so excited for this that I actually ordered this 4-pack, along with a few other things, from their website and paid the surprisingly reasonable postage fees. That was probably 6 weeks ago now and they've been sitting in the fridge since waiting for the day I would drink them.

That day has come! Just so everyone is clear all four beers are the same base beer, same malt billing etc., and have the same ABV, IBU's, hops (I assume) and everything else you can think of except the yeast. Yeast is a very underrated proponent of beer so I'm looking forward to seeing how different these 4 beers are.

First up is the Pilsen Lager yeast. This yeast is the one that almost all beer drinkers would be most familiar with. It's a bottom fermenting yeast first popularized in the Czech town of Pilsen (hence the name). The beer pours a reddish/orange colour with an impressive cream coloured head. 

BrewDog have done well with this beer. It's got good citric and herbal characteristics with a relatively light malt base which allows the yeast to show it's stuff. It's got a really nice dry finish as well. It's a nice beer, think your better craft lagers - Cricketer's Arms (pre-takeover), Knappstein. It may not have the same fruitiness of those two mentioned but it's a good example of Pilsen Lager yeast.

Bavarian Weizen is next up. Again the name gives a pretty good idea of what this yeast is. It's a yeast from Bavaria in Germany and is used to make Wheat beers. I'm not sure I've been able to detect the yeast component in a Weizen before so this will be interesting to see how much flavour it imparts. 

I did not expect this beer to taste anywhere near as strong as it did! It tastes and smells amazingly like a wheat beer. Plenty of banana, cloves and bubblegum. It does seem a little under carbed though and has this strange aftertaste as the beer warms a bit. Not a bad beer, but I'm really surprised just how much the yeast plays apart in a Hefeweizen.

The American Ale yeast is third on my list. The first thing I notice about this beer is that the colour is significantly lighter than either of the previous two. I'm by no means an expert in brewing but I'd doubt that a yeast would effect the colour as significantly as this differs from the previous two...

Despite my skepticism that this beer is the same recipe I will push on with an open mind. However as I smell and taste this beer this instantly becomes harder. There are alot of hops in this beer that weren't present in the others with grapefruit the must abundant hop flavour. Either the American Ale yeast promotes the hops in the beer exclusively and limits the malt or BrewDog are cheating...

Last but not least was the Belgian Trappist yeast. This is the beer that going into this set I thought would be the best, so I'm really interested to see how it turns out. Yeast plays such an important part in all Belgian beers, particularly Trappist beers, that this beer has the potential to be very good. Let's see...

For me this beer was definitely the pick of the bunch. It had a sweetish malt base, more like the first two beers in this series, with the yeast really driving the flavour. There was a bit of honey, some herbal aromas (that did not translate to the flavour), some cloves and some generic Belgian yeast spiciness. Overall I think that this beer did the best job of accentuating the qualities of it's yeast.

It's fair to say I feel a little let down by this whole experiment. The idea itself is sound and something I was really looking forward to however the base beer clearly differs (especially the American Ale!). Other than that they are all reasonably nice beers. After tasting the American Ale I now have my doubts whether the Bavarian Weizen is all the work of the yeast or if there is some wheat in there. I've sent an email to BrewDog to express my doubts about whether they are all the same base beer and if I get a response I'll post it here.

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

Sunday, 22 December 2013

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 5

Untappd Catchup


Monday is my last proper day of work for a few weeks so I'm hoping to actually keep on top of this. But in the meantime here is another quick look back at my Untappd badges over the last few weeks.

Ballast Point Sculpin in a can is even better than Sculpin in a bottle! This IPA is amazing and one that I recommend to people all the time! Land of the Free Level 8 is the badge that this beer clocked up. These American badges are just flying by!

The next beer finished off the God Save the Queen badge by reaching Level 10 & acheived Level 4 in the Pucker Up Badge for sour beers. That beer was Magic Rock's Salty Kiss and it was amazing! I bought a squealer of this from Tru Bru, right near my place, and couldn't be happier with the quality of their service and freshness of their beer! This is a Gose, which is a really cool beer style; basically it's a sour wheat beer. Anyway check it out if you get a chance.



The completely unpredictable badge that is New Brew Thursday rolled around again last Thursday. This time it was Level 7 and India's Kingfisher lager that took out the honours. It's a serviceable lager, especially on a hot day. The beers only ended up in my fridge because Dan's had an awesome beer and glass combo pack for sale and I really liked the glass. Still I'd recommend it if you are looking for a cheap lager.

These Land of the Free badges are really coming thick and fast at the moment, this one is Level 9 (and the second one in this Catchup...). The beer that unlocked this badge? HUB IPA of course! This has probably been my find of the year. It's an amazingly sessionable IPA and one that I think all IPA should try if they can get their hands on it. The can makes it taste so fresh! Read about it in more detail here.

Johnny Appleseed was a badge that had to come along sooner or later; simply check-in to 5 different ciders and this one is yours. This badge was characterized by my odd check-in of some disgustingly sweet cider at 3am, which inevitably led to a horrendous hangover the next day. Not this one though; Stella Artois Cidre (yes they make a cider!) was bought for me by Lizzie and is something that I could actually drink, maybe not often but once in a while.


This took a little longer than usual for me to write, but I've been trying to finish my Golden Pints for this year which is just taking an inordinate amount of time. Hopefully I'll have that up tomorrow, considering I'm not working. Obviously most of these are really truncated reviews so if you want more details on any of them, or anything else for that matter, feel free to shoot me an email at gus.norris7@gmail.com.

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

Thursday, 19 December 2013

REVIEW: PLINY THE ELDER

     The World's best beer contender?


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 8.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Special Occasions Only
Last Friday I was perusing Facebook at work and saw something that really caught my eye. Instantly I jumped up from my desk and left without a word to anyone else. Acland Street Cellars had just posted that they had 8 bottles of the #1 beer on my beer bucket list; Pliny the Elder!

This beer is widely considered the best IPA in the world. I first heard about it not long after I got into beer and ever since this has been the top beer on my bucket list. I'm still pinching myself that I have got a bottle of this beer, which is rarely shipped far from it's Californian brewery. As the bottle says; "Pliny the Elder is a historical figure, don't make the beer inside this bottle one!" Anything you say Pliny! Let's do this!

If ever there was a time for the IPA glass this is it! Russian River's Pliny the Elder pours a perfect orange colour when the beer spews forth from the bottle with a thick, creamy looking head on top of it. The retention of the head is excellent and it leaves behind lovely webs of lacing, that I'm not sure I've seen the equal of. For the style; Pliny the Elder is the most aesthetically pleasing beer that I can think of!

Pliny the Elder's nose, amazingly, is even better that how it looks! It's just hops on-top of hops on-top of hops! There's huge amounts of pine resin and citrus. There's floral and tropical fruit elements on the nose as well. It's a really awesome hoppy aroma; that's really all you can smell hops, hops and more hops!

WOW! My mind & palate were both blown away by how much flavour Pliny had! There is nothing but hops detectable, no malt whatsoever. Russian River's Pliny the Elder is just a huge hop bomb, almost every hop flavour you can imagine is in this beer. Pine, grapefruit, lemon, orange; you name it it's there! I'm really struggling for superlatives to describe this, it's just amazing!

I am so pleased to report that this beer lived up to my expectations and then some. It justified it's billing as the top beer on my bucket list and on a world scale. This beer is simply amazing and worth every cent I paid for it! I don't have the words to describe how good this beer was to drink; it's simply a must for all IPA drinkers!

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

Sunday, 15 December 2013

WITBIER WEDNESDAY

So it's summer here and inevitably when the warmer weather rolls around a number of Witbier's end up in my fridge. What also happens is that these beers often get left there and trumped by more interesting IPA's or Saisons; not this year! Today is Witbier Wednesday and all the Witbiers in my fridge will be gone at the end of it.

Now the question that many people have been asking me; what is a Witbier? Well its a Belgian style of beer made with wheat. The Witbier is a very old style of beer; it originated about 600 years ago's. It's most recognizable feature is the Witbier yeast which imparts the characteristic spiciness.

Camden Town Gentleman's Wit was the first cab off the rank on Witbier Wednesday. It comes from a really interesting English brewery that recently swapped their beers with Stone & Wood. I've tried 3 of their other beers and their GABS release and been impressed by all of them. The appearance of Gentleman's Wit was very good for the style, nice and cloudy with a slightly smaller than average white head.

The aroma and taste were both dominated by citrus. There was plenty of lemon zest and orange peel as well as some spiciness coming from cloves. The bottle says it's brewed with lemon and bergamot, whatever that is, so I assume this is where the very strong citrus aroma and flavour comes from. Light banana flavour as the beer warms a little, a good start.

Beer 2 on Witbier Wednesday was Feral's White. Witbier's are often referred to as white ale's and are not, as I have seen a bit recently, a separate style. This is the first time I'm having Feral's White and I'm really looking forward to it, I love all their beers! Again excellent cloudy appearance, maybe a touch lighter than the Camden Town example with a slightly bigger head.

The first of three Australian Witbier's on Witbier Wednesday had alot of similarities to the Gentleman's Wit. The biggest difference would be the huge amount of coriander flavour that becomes more and more pronounced as the beer warms. For me there might be a little too much carbonation but other than that it's a good example of the style.

The thing that annoyed me most about beer 3 on Witbier Wednesday was that I couldn't find the glass. I know I have a La Trappe Witte glass floating around somewhere but I couldn't lay my hands on it. Anyway the appearance certainly isn't traditional for the style. It has a very clear body with a light, quickly diminishing head; it's more reminiscent of a lager than a Witbier.

For me it didn't taste like a Witbier at all. There was more apple than banana or coriander and there's only some mild notes of pepper and orange peel. I'm quite disappointed in this beer, La Trappe have let themselves down with this beer. It tastes like it's been made with inferior ingredients and just doesn't fit the style.

So we head back to the Australian craft scene after the disappointment that was the La Trappe Witte; Wicked Elf Witbier. This is made by the Little Brewing Company, who also brew the Mad Abbot range. I've never had this beer before and I'm looking forward to it.

Huge notes of coriander and citrus zest on the nose, which is followed up by the flavour which is lovely and light. It's got a lovely dry mouthfeel, which is slightly unusual for the style but works brilliantly. It's lightly spiced as the beer warms and is a Witbier I will attempt to try again in the future. It'll be very refreshing on a hot summer's day.

Red Duck's Half Wit was the fifth beer of Witbier Wednesday and it was about this point in the evening that the hashtag #witbierwednesday took off on Untappd. Red Duck are one of Australia's most prolific brewers and have brewed just about every style of beer you can think of. The name refers to it being a 3.8% Witbier, which should be interesting.

This was a really lovely beer and you wouldn't have had a clue that it was a low(er) ABV beer. Plenty of lemon and coriander on the nose of this one and it follows through into the flavour. Half Wit is a really really easy drinking Witbier and was gone almost too quickly for me to judge it properly... Oh well, clearly that means I enjoyed it!

One from left field here with the Witbier from 961 Beer out of Lebanon. I really like a couple of their beers, many of which are a bit unusual, and Mazen the brewer is a really good guy. I've been to a few things where he's talked about his beer but I've never had the Witbier. The pours quite good although I wouldn't have minded it being a little cloudier.

961's Witbier is brewed with all Lebanese ingredients and you can tell that it tastes a little different than the more traditional examples of the style. It's a bit more herbal than many of the previous Witbiers with coriander and orange peel being the most prominent flavours. I like it as a bit of a change up, but it's certainly not one for the purists.

What sort of look at Witbier's would be complete without a Hoegaarden. This beer saved a style that was all but dead in the late 50's - early 60's. The town of Hoegaarden has been known for Witbier since the middle ages and this brewery can trace it's origins to 1445, although not in it's current form. Much like Guinness is to Porter/Stout, it's pretty much the only mass produced Witbier in the World.

With all of that said, Hoegaarden has the perfect appearance for Witbier; it's the world standard. Hoegaarden has a nice cloudy appearance with a big head and the aroma and taste are legendary. Wheat, coriander, cloves and lemon zest, what more could you ask for from a Witbier?

So there we have a not so quick wrap of Witbier Wednesday. It was good, made alot of space in the fridge to replace it with things I'm more likely to drink. The Witbier is a very underrated style and one that people should be more open to. Hoegaarden is one of those beers that all beer drinkers need to try at least once in their life times, and some of the Australian ones were excellent. The pick of the bunch for me was probably the Camden Town Gentleman's Wit and that is a beer that I can highly recommend!

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

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

REVIEW: MONGOZO BANANA

Summer Fruit Beers #14


STATS
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Style: Fruit Beer
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
Tonight I'm trying to review Mongozo Banana. This is one of those reviews that has taken me forever to write because it sounds stupid everytime I try and write it; so forgive me if it still does.

When thinking of fruits that would lend themselves to making good fruit beers, banana wasn't near the top of my list. Whether this beer changes that perception waits to be seen, but I'm worried that this will be disgustingly sweet. Only time will tell...

For a fruit beer the appearance of Mongozo Banana looks startlingly similar to what many people consider a beer to look like. The colour is maybe a bit light, in the flesh it looks even more like urine than it does in the picture! The head is off-white but of an excellent size for a fruit beer, it also has excellent retention and even a hint of lacing.

The aroma of Mongozo Banana leaves you in absolutely no doubt as to the fruit subject of this beer. It's chock full of banana! There really is very little else on the nose. The beer smells remarkably similar to those banana musk lollies. Once that realization hit me it was hard for me to get anything else out of my head, maybe if you've had this beer you could share your thoughts on the nose with me.

Mongozo Banana has more to it than the nose would indicate. Yes there is still plenty of fake banana sweetness but there is also some hop bitterness to start with. The carbonation is quite spritzy and the mouthfeel is about right for the style. If you like those banana lollies or banana Paddlepops this is the beer for you!

I wasn't wrong that I thought this beer might be a little sweet. Thankfully though it's not disgustingly over the top sweet. The banana flavour comes through nicely although it is not a natural banana flavour, it's clearly chemically designed. It tastes remarkably similar to a banana icecream except it's in beer form which can only make it better. Right? Mongozo Banana is not a world beating beer but is worth a shot if you are interested in finding out what a banana beer tastes like.

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

Saturday, 7 December 2013

C IS FOR CUSQUENA

C is for Cusqueña


STATS
  • Country: Peru
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive

Cusqueña is a Peruvian all-malt lager brewed in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot. It's brewed in Cusco, near Machu Pichu, and incidentally it's name means "from Cusco". Cusqueña is the number one selling beer in Peru and a winner of multiple awards from all around the world.

My former self had this to say a couple of years ago: "When I started this challenge I never thought I would take in a beer from Peru. But when I was recommended it I thought why not, and really that is what this beer is about. It's nothing fancy with complicated flavours, it's just a simple Malt Lager. I reckon it's worth a go if you see it, even if it's just so you can say you have had a beer from Peru."

Peru's beer of choice pours as you wish every lager would; it's close to perfect! The body of the beer is a beautiful golden colour with plenty of tiny bubbles rising towards an off-white 2 finger head. The head has good retention with a layer of foam lasting throughout consumption. It's also worth noting the bottle has a very cool design of the Incan wall in Cusco. It'd be had for a lager to look better than this.

Strangely enough for an all-malt lager, Cusqueña has plenty of malt on the nose. The overall feel of the nose is pretty sweet but there is some bitterness from the hops and some citrus characteristics as well. There's hints of corn, but it's good corn it's not disgusting skunked smelling corn. There's certainly better noses out there and this one may put a couple of people off.

Flavour is important in South American beers and Cusqueña has that in bucketloads. It's very big on malt with hints of lightly sour lemon. The overall feel is of the beer is slightly sweet, but not unpleasantly so the citrus does just enough to balance it. It's very refreshing and has a similar mouthfeel to a European pilsner. It's a beer that would make an excellent thirst quencher.

Cusqueña claim that because beer is over 90% and they use melted glacial water from above 18,000 feet, that they're beer is one of the best in the world. I'm not so sure about that but this is an excellent all-malt lager. It manages to satiate the South American need for flavour while also accommodating the more Western need for crispness. If you are a lager drinker it's certainly a beer to keep an eye out for.

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

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

REVIEW: FESTINA PECHE

Summer Fruit Beers #13


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: Berliner Weissbier
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Today I've got a real treat to share with you, DogFish Head's Festina Peche. It's a neo-Berliner Weisse that's been fermented with peach juice. It sounds delicious so I can't wait to get into it now!

DogFish Head is one of the premier craft breweries in the United States. It's known worldwide for it's amazing IPA's and I don't think I've had a beer from them before that I haven't loved! Recently Acland Street Cellars brought in a heap of their rarer stuff including this so watch this space for some more DogFish Head stuff in the near future, for now it's reviewing time!

Festina Peche pours a very light yellow colour, which is reminiscent of other Berliner Weisse beers I've had. This probably wasn't the optimum glass for the style but it was clean, which is more than can be said of alot of other glassware in the bar. There appears to be some small bubbles rising to a brilliant white head that is incredibly shortlived and fades to nothing very quickly.

The nose has a lovely sour smell with hints of wine, green apples and peach all present. For something with alot of fruit aromas the overall smell has almost no detectable sweetness. I can't recall the noses of many other Berliner Weissbiers that I've had but I doubt that this one was like any other one I've had. I've never smelt anything like it before!

OK so the beer has big wraps, the appearance looks right for a Berliner Weissbier, the aroma is like nothing I've ever had and the flavour is.... awesome! The overall feel of the beer is sour but there is a respite when the fruitiness of the peach comes through. There's some wheat characteristics in the flavour which helps the mouthfeel feel more rounded; even though it is still very light and bubbly. If I was to be extremely tangential I would say it's beers answer to champagne, with sour peach flavour as an added bonus.

DogFish Head's Festina Peche is a lovely example of when a sour meets a fruit beer. The balance between the two elements is often overplayed by brewers but this is well balanced and although their is no overt sweetness the peach flavour still comes through strongly. If you like sours and can get your hands on this beer do so, it's really impressive and very refreshing.

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

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 4

Untappd Catchup


I had heaps of stuff on this week so once again I've fallen along way behind on reviewing, and when I say along way behind I mean ALONG way behind! This is going to be the longest Untappd Catchup to date.

We're going to kick this review off with Arcobrau Zwicklbier. I think it's only the second or third Zwicklbier I've ever had and it was a very refreshing beer with good citrus character. This beer got me the Das Boot Level 4 badge, for drinking German beers.

Caldera IPA disappointed me once again. It's a beer that I've had a few times and it comes with big wraps. For me it's not hoppy enough. Maybe it's just not an IPA that travels well... Anyway at least it clocked up Land of the Free Level 5.

The Crisp as Day levels are going to fly by over summer I reckon. Palma Louca from Brazil is the latest one to pass my lips and it's fair to say it wasn't great. It's very sweet for a German Pilsner and it's not a beer I'd be rushing out to find. It's a run of the mill lager, but if for some reason you are looking for a Brazilian beer you could do worse than Palma Louca.


Two fruit beers landed me Land of the Free Level 6 & Belgian Holiday Level 7. Founders Rübæus was an excellent example of a raspberry beer, with an initial sweet taste overpowered by a fantastic sourness towards the backend. Timmermans Kriek was the Belgian beer and is simply the best Kriek (Cherry) sour out there! If you haven't had this one you like sours this is a must!

The Trip to the Farm badge was another one of the 12 newly released badges. As it's coming into summer here this was always going to be an easy one for me to get. Simply knock off 5 different Saisons and this one is yours. Colette from Great Divide was the beer that got this one for me. It's an interesting Saison with plenty of spicy coming from flavours of cloves and pepper, with citrus zest bring the whole thing together nicely.


Drink Like a Kiwi Level 2 has taken longer to acquire than I anticipated, I love New Zealand beers so I wonder whats happening. Harrington's re-branded The Rogue Hop was the beer that clocked this one up and frankly I was pretty disappointed. There are some really excellent Pilsners being produced in New Zealand (Emerson's comes to mind...) but this isn't one of them.

Last Thursday I was at Alehouse Project for Temple's Resurrection Dinner (Great to have you back guys!) Naturally I arrived early and the first beer I had was Garage Project's Day of the Dead. I remember having the Double Day of the Dead at GABS and it was awesome. This was just as good as that, still plenty of chilli flavour but well balance and clocking in at a manageable 6%. Drinking this was good enough to earn Beer-giving (2013), just for drinking on Thanksgiving.

Abbotsford Invalid Stout was the first of three beers to earn badges on an epic day of drinking which will forever be known as Stout Day! It was the first beer of the day and earned Heavyweight Level 10 badge. As macro stouts (and especially CUB products!) go this was a really high standard beer. It's a sweet stout and is definitely more creamy than many with roast and coffee flavours present but taking a back seat.


One of my favourite stouts brought in Land of the Free Level 7; Sierra Nevada Narwhal. It clocks in at 10.2% and has a huge flavour to match. It's a rich flavour as well with decadent dark fruit and molasses flavours. If you are a stout lover and haven't tried this beer you really need to work hard and get your hands on it, it's worth the effort! We tried this straight after the regular Sierra Nevada Stout and that excellent stout is just blown out of the water by this beer.

Black Sheep Imperial Russian Stout is one of very few beers that I can think of that have the words Russian and Imperial that way around. This is a beer I've been that I've had in the cupboard for a very long time; Stout Day seemed the perfect time to bring it out. It had a very warming feel to the beer and felt like it had mellowed nicely with time. God Save the Queen Level 9 was the badge that this beer earned and was one of the last beers consumed on Stout Day.


That was an absolute monster of a review to cap off a monster month of work and drinking. Hopefully I will get my shit together soon and manage to pump out some more reviews. I'm going to start one right now for the beer I'm drinking now, I won't say what it is in case I don't finish it but I will say it's amazing! Anyway, until next time keep your emails coming I will get round to them all eventually.

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