Monday, 29 December 2014

GOLDEN PINTS 2014

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.

The last two years this has proved close to impossible! So this year I've started trying to work this out in November! We will see how we go this year, I started off the year making some notes - so hopefully this will be easier... Somehow I doubt it!

I've tried beers from 36 different countries this year and somehow they've come together to create this Golden Pints post. I've met heaps of great beer people and can't wait to do it all again next year!

Best Australian Draught Beer - Feral Watermelon Warhead. I go out of my way to get this everytime I hear it's on somewhere. It's a watermelon infused Berliner Weiss and clocks in at under 3% ABV! Odd for me I know! Anyway it's possibly the most refreshing beer in Australia and I love it! The sheer volume of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale I drank this year earns it a deserved runners up placing.

Best Australian Bottled or Canned Beer - 3 Ravens The Druid. This beer was a clear standout for me this year. Few Australian brewers experiment with the bigger Belgian Abbey style and even fewer try a Quadrupel. Adrian McNulty at 3 Ravens has and for good measure he aged the whole thing in Perdro Ximenez barrels! It's a cracking beer and you will see a review of another bottle of it early in the New Year. 

Best Cask Beer - Mornington Brown! I've had this a couple of times throughout the year on the handpump. The memory that sticks most in my mind is getting absolutely trashed on pints of the Mornington Brown at The Great Northern in Carlton. It was a great night and a great beer! Check out the full review here.

Best Overseas Draught Beer - Thornbridge Raspberry Imperial Stout. It's probably the most different beer I've had this year; and it was brilliant! The was this brilliant tart raspberry flavour that combined with dark chocolate and a bit of roastiness. If you see it try it! I've heard this beer does exist in bottles and I would love to get my hands on it, so if anyone can help....

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer - Sixpoint Resin. This is the Golden Pint award that I agonized over the most! I've had so many wonderful beers this year that it was almost impossible to choose. In the end I had to go with this brilliant canned IPA from New York that I drink all the time. Check out the review from back in January here. 

Best Collaboration Beer - Moon Dog/Garage Project Chocolate Salty Balls. This years collaboration beer front was surprisingly small. I ended up settling on this salty stout from two of the most innovative brewers out there. Moon Dog is the closest brewery to work and are probably the most out there was the Australian breweries while Garage Project fit that bill for New Zealand! The collaboration was weird and brilliant in equal measures.

Best Overall Beer Feral Tusk. Tusk Day has become quite a big thing now. Feral Tusk is an Imperial IPA released twice a year at a designated time as close to simultaneously as possible at various craft beer bars around the country. The beer is a delicious; it's like Hop Hog on steroids! If you love your IPA's check this one out next April when it should be released again. 

Best Pumpclip or Label - Feral Watermelon Warhead. Not only was it my favourite Australian tap beer of the year, it had to be my favourite artwork as well! They say a picture tells a thousand words, so....


Best Australian Brewery - Mornington. Considering Feral have featured 3 times already in this post it would seem almost unfeasible for me to mention any other brewery, however the boys down at Mornington literally can do no wrong! If you haven't tried their beers you need to! Their brewery is also a great spot to have some beers and a pizza on a weekend afternoon. 

Best Overseas Brewery - Garage Project. I've already mentioned these guys above but they are worthy recipients of this Golden Pint award. The brewery is 3 years old and going from strength to strength. I love how they present their beers, whether it be an elaborate label like Death from Above (see last years Golden Pints) or something simple like their "BEER" or Hop Trial range. If you haven't had beers from these guys seek them out - they are definitely worth the price.

Best New Brewery Opening 2014 Exit Brewing. These guys brew down at Cavalier and burst onto the scene with something a bit different; a Saison. It was a gutsy call to open with such a polarizing style but they did it well and have followed up with 3 other excellent brews, a Scotch Ale, a Milk Stout and an IPA. I can't wait to see what the fifth offering from these guys will be!

Pub/Bar of the Year - The Terminus Hotel. It's far and away my favourite craft beer venue! I can't believe it hasn't won my pub of the year award before! The craft bar menu has all your favourite pub food as well as a modern Vietnamese section; the Banh Mini's with pulled pork and sriracha mayo are one of the best things I can think of to have with beer. I love The Terminus!

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2014 - Foresters Beer Hall. 50 Taps. 32 different beers. Open til at least 2am everynight (4am on weekends). It's the venue Collingwood, and indeed Melbourne, needed. They also make really awesome pizza's which you can also get to takeaway. All craft beer lovers need to make the journey to Foresters.


Best City for Beer in Australia - Melbourne. This answer will never change! We've got Australia's biggest and best beer Festival (see below). We've got the best craft beer bars and bottle shops; to go with most of the best breweries in Australia. Melbourne is THE craft beer lovers dream city!

Beer Festival of the Year - GABS. Over a 100 beers brewed exclusively for the event = me being very very drunk! It's one the award everytime I've done a Golden Pints, I'm thinking of retiring the award if other beer festivals don't start lifting their games! Check out my review of the best beers at this year's GABS here. 

Supermarket of the Year - Dan Murphy's. Dan's are getting the nod because of their (semi-successful) growler setup. I think it's a great thing for craft beer in this country if they can get a growler culture off the ground. They also do stock a number of craft beers that are hard to get from Australia and overseas. 

Independent Retailer of the Year Tru Bru. What else could I have possibly chosen?!?! Tru Bru has revolutionized the way Melbourne drinks beer. Tru Bru is Australia's first growler only store and is a must visit for all beer lovers. Tru Bru's Bear Club is the best beer club I know of in Australia; it's so good it's spawned it's own segment of Beer O'Clock Australia! 

Online Retailer of the Year - The Beer Store. I ordered off these guys a couple of times this year. They are based in New Zealand and you get some of the Kiwi stuff that doesn't normally get exported from them as well as a number of International offerings that are their own imports. The glassware range is another real plus!


Best Beer Book or Magazine - Cheese & Beer by Janet Fletcher. I really enjoyed this book, which explains how to pair different beers with different cheeses. It has nice broad explanations of styles of both and is beautifully presented with full page colour photos (see example above.)

Best Beer Blog or Website - Brewsaga. I thought long and hard about this one and ended up settling on Brewsaga. The blog started in April and it's been pretty cool watching it evolve since I found it not long after GABS. The beers that he reviews are almost always things I've just tried or want to try and it's laid out really well. Also good to see more Spiegelau IPA & Stout glasses out there! 

Best Beer App - Untappd. I tried an app called Beer Vault, for keeping track of what's if your fridge/cellar. It was alright but had far too many issues/downtime to be useful long term. Untappd is just perfect! It records everything I've drunk, which is probably incriminating, and helps me keep connected with the rest of the beer drinking community. If you love beer get Untappd! 

Best Online Brewery Presence - Sixpoint. I thought long and hard about this award. Feral's #shortshortfriday almost got them across the line, for the second year in a row, but in the end I had to go with Sixpoint. The New York brewery almost always comments on my Untappd check-ins, make damn good beers and their Facebook photo's are always really cool.


Food and Beer Pairing of the Year - Nail Oatmeal Stout and Crozier Blue Cheese. Who'd have thought that a blue cheese from Ireland and an Oatmeal Stout from Western Australia would pair so well? I'm a huge fan of beer and cheese as a combo - but this one blew me away! I had this, for the first time, at Milk the Cow on Acland Street. They've now opened a second location, on Lygon St, and are certainly worth a visit if you like cheese!

Just like the last two years this has proved close to an impossible exercise! I've done the best I can and have made my New Year's resolution to take notes for the 2015 Golden Pints from January 1 so I don't have to go through this again next year! Cheers to all the great beer people I met this year - I hope you all had as good of a year as I did!

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

G IS FOR GAMBRINUS

G is for Gambrinus 


STATS
  • Country: Czech Republic
  • Style: Czech Pilsner
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
The Alphabet Challenge Revisited is back! Sorry about the delay, Gambrinus has suddenly decided to play hard to get - but don't worry no beer could ever hide from me forever! I managed to finally find one of Christmas Eve - a Christmas miracle if you will.

Last time I said: "Gambrinus is a nice Czech lager. It looks and smells just like you would want any beer to, a nice golden colour and slight floral aromas. The taste is quite sweet for a lager, but is still very good. Like a lot of Czech beers this is definitely one that you will either love or hate, definitely worth a try!" We can certainly improve on that!

Gambrinus pours a deep golden colour with a white head. The head retention is a little lacking, I'm not sure if that's a batch issue or something to do with this thinner glass, normally it is excellent. There is plenty of small carbonation bubbles rising to the head, yet by the end of drinking there is no evidence a head was ever there. It's a shame as the body of the beer is such a beautiful colour!

The nose is quite nice, albeit light, for the style with plenty of grass and spiciness from the Saaz hops to the fore. There appears to be a nice caramel malt base which becomes stronger as the beer warms. As I said earlier though it's quite light with all of the aromas mentioned above in moderation - don't expect massive bitterness on the nose, it's a Pilsner!

I'm very pleased to report that this bottle of (a slightly different) Gambrinus has travelled better than the previous one reviewed on this blog. The beer had the Saaz bite that I like to see in proper Czech Pilsner's with plenty of grass and spiciness. The malt base is there to provide body but imparts very little, if any, sweetness while still being quite flavoursome. It's a lager with a bit more substance than most and one that I greatly enjoy.

Gambrinus is now brewed by Plzensky Prazdroj in Plzen, the same brewery who brewed the first Pilsner (Pilsner Urquell) in 1842. Subsequently it's no surprise to find out it's a very good example of the style. This is a beer that I always recommend to lager connoisseurs, it's got a bigger all round flavour than many of the other Czech Pilsner's and is one that I always like to hear people's opinions about. Try Pilsner Urquell and Gambrinus together and it will really emphasize the differences. Hopefully this has summed up Gambrinus a bit better than I had previously - I promise it won't be another 7 and a half months before there's another Alphabet Challenge review - next up Halida.

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

REVIEW: VAILIMA

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Samoa
  • Style: German Pilsner
  • ABV: 4.9%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Another 2 months have passed and we have another new Macro Lager review, this time from Samoa. I've heard quite good things about this beer so I'm looking forward to trying it. But first a bit of history...

Samoa, I found out today, was actually under German rule at the beginning of the 20th century - maybe this has influenced their beer? It's a group of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand, with a population of around 200,000. Over 85,000hl of Vailima is produced annually, with very little for export, that's a big number for (relatively) so few people.

Vailima poured a pretty stock standard clear golden yellow colour. The white head that topped the body of the beer had a few medium sized bubbles right from pouring and then dissipated quite quickly. There was however a ring of foam left and some reasonable lacing to boot. It's actually a pretty good looking lager.

I was pleasantly surprised when I smelt this beer for the first time after pouring - it didn't smell of sweet grain! There were hops! These hops weren't hugely strong but had nice grassy and floral characteristics on the nose. It seems like there is quite a sizable biscuity malt base. Vailima is a crisp smelling pilsner.

The taste of Samoa's national beer wasn't quite as good as the nose - but was still a lot better than many other macro lagers I've sampled. It was a crisp lager with a nice light bitter grain base. The hops were certainly not pronounced but were there - with grassiness and a bit of spiciness coming through and providing just enough bitterness. It's nothing particularly special but it is a real pilsner!

Samoa, or the Pacific Islands in general, are not places that you would normally associate with brewing good beers. Vailima is surprisingly a good example of a German Pilsner! It's definitely the best of the, in fairness not so many, Pacific Island nations' mass produced lagers. If you're in Samoa or you're a lager fan and see this one around I would recommend giving it a go.

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

Friday, 26 December 2014

#BEERDVENT (PART 5)

#beerdvent (Part 5)



Normally at our house we do advent calendars. This year Lizzie and decided to get each something different than those cheap chocolate ones where you open a window each day. I was very happy when on December 1st I was presented with a beer from Bridge Road Brewers!

The idea is exactly like an advent calendar, but instead of getting a little unsatisfying chocolate each day - you get a different beer! Apparently Bridge Road have been saving up some of their rarer stuff for months in anticipation!

I'm really excited about this pack and naturally I'll document my findings here. I intend to post this wrap up in 5 parts so you can follow along only a few days behind me. I'm hoping it'll be a great journey and I'm looking forward to trying some Bridge Road beers that I haven't had a chance to sample yet. Hopefully you enjoyed the firstsecondthird and fourth installments it's now time for the fifth and final!

Day 21 - Rule 47 - 1/1 for me in my predictions at the end of the last post! This years offering is a hoppy witbier made by Bridge Road in collaboration with Black Dog, Bright and Sweet Water Brewing - a brewery I still need to visit! The pour is a hazy golden/orangey colour topped by a fluffy off-white head, pretty stereotypical for a witbier.

The nose is intriguing with hops fighting for supremacy with yeasty spiciness. The hops are giving me quite strong melon aromas, which I really enjoyed. The taste was once again a, beautifully balanced, fight for supremacy with fruitiness and Belgian yeast combing really well. It's a beer I'd highly recommend and will be getting more of! Hopefully India Pale Witbier takes off as a style. Can't wait for next years guys!

Day 22 - Beechworth Pale Ale - It took until beer 22 in Bridge Road's #beerdvent for us to come across our first repeat beer. It's not a bad thing with the Beechworth Pale Ale being one of the easiest drinking beers so far. Once again this one poured a slightly hazy golden colour with a brilliant white head - although this one had considerably less head retention.

Beechworth Pale Ale certainly didn't let me down, with the citrus and tropical fruit aroma's coming from the hops still very prominent. I still has more malt than I remember but it is certainly not a bad thing. The malt brings a nice balance to the taste with the citrus kicking in at the end for a nice finish.
Day 23 - Chevalier Saison - Tuesday is normally an alcohol free day for me, however for #beerdvent I've laxed that so I can keep up to date. I was pretty impressed when a whole bomber (even a little bigger 750ml) of Chevalier Saison was my reward. The pour is a hazy yellow, which is actually more reminiscent of a Witbier than a Saison, with a very fast diminishing head.

The nose has lots of citrus combined with the usual farmhouse funk. There's also a fruitiness which I can't quite place. When it comes to the tasting this beer is stunning! All the qualities mentioned above come together perfectly with spicy yeast leading the citrus and fruitiness. I haven't had one of these for a couple of years, but I'll have to get myself some more - it's great!

Day 24 - Fat Man Red Suit Big Sack - Repeat beer number two arrived on Christmas Eve as the Fat Man in the Red Suit with a Big Sack prepares to come down the chimney. Anyway, just like last time this beer poured quite a red colour with a large creamy coloured head, note the size difference in the IPA glass as opposed to the Bridge Road glass.

This is only the second of these I've had, both in this pack, and I'm really impressed with it. The nose is brilliant with vibrant tropical fruit flavours abounding with just about enough malt to balance it. The taste is similar with good fruit flavours and bitterness being balanced by some sweet, but not too sweet caramel malts. It's a beer I'd highly recommend.

Day 25 - B2 Bomber Mach 4.0 - Bridge Road certainly saved the best for last! I sampled my present from them after the cricket on Boxing Day. The B2 Bomber series have been Imperial Black IPA's brewed each year to mark the breweries' birthday. This is the first time I'm having the 4th offering and it pours an opaque dark brown liquid topped by a tan head with large bubbles.

The aroma is strong with plenty of roast and hop bitterness. It only improves as it warms (and at 8.6% it certainly warms)! The taste is similar with the roastiness combining perfectly with the fruity hops. My words are doing this justice, that may have something to do with the amount of Carlton I imbibed before this monster... (Shush!) In short it's a brilliant way to finish what has been a brilliant idea! #beerdvent is one of my beer highlights of the year!

I think the finish to the B2 Bomber review says it all. The idea was brilliant; and the execution almost better! The other thing it's shown me is just how much good beer is coming out of Bridge Road! There would be very few brewers in this country who could put out 23 different beers over 25 days and have very few let downs. Bridge Road well done!!

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

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 16

Untappd Catchup


Christmas time has caught up with me! By now you guys probably realize that means it's time for an Untappd Catchup. There's four badges in this review that aren't as common, so check out the artwork - particularly the Down in Smoke badge (first pic, on the right).

With how many Bridge Road beers I've been drinking in December, due to #beerdvent, I'm surprised that there aren't more than 2 of their beers that earned badges. The Posse Winter Ale earned the Winter Wonderland (Level 2) badge. They've laxed the rules on this one so it's now easier to get.

Pale as Moon (Level 30) went to a brand new Victorian brewery, Wolf of the Willows. The beer was their XPA, apparently the new term for Session IPA standing for Extra Pale Ale. Anyway that aside it's a damn good first up effort with plenty of hops and amazing drinkability! If you see this one out and about you could do much much worse than this!


Down in Smoke is the latest of the relative new batch of core badges that I've unlocked. To earn this one you need to drink 5 smoked beers (Rauchbiers, Smoked beers, Grodziskie's etc.) Epic's Love Bacon was the beer that got the job done for me. From my understanding it was a smoked IPA and there were certainly plenty of hops to go along with the expected smoke and bacon. It's less intense than something like the great Aecht Schlenkerla, although it's not going to be for everyone...

Bridge Road's second mention in this Untappd Catchup was their 1000th Brew. It picked up the Heavy Weight (Level 24) badge and it certainly lived up to it's name, clocking in at 11.2%! It was a really interesting stout with roast and chocolate both prominent as well as a spiciness, which I'm beginning to think is hop driven. It's a beer that I really want to see what it's like after a year or two of age.

Birra Dell'Eremo Fiera. It's hard to get a more Italian sounding name than that! The brewery is actually in Assisi, far and away the best place I've been to in Italy yet I had no idea it was there! Anyway the beer, pictured at the top of the page, has a great label and is an American IPA. There's citrus, pine and quite a bit of fruit coming from the hops as well as some caramels malts. It's a really nice balanced IPA, I'd recommend it if you're looking for Italian craft beer. The Badge? The Gondolier (Level 4).


Today was our last day of work for the year, and so we decided to pop out to the Little Creatures Dining Hall for a couple of beers and pizza's to finish off the year. I started off with the standard Pale Ale, and was really surprised to see the Finding the Source (Level 3) badge pop up. The dining hall isn't quite a brewery, but I'll take it. The beer highlight of the day though was the White Rabbit Dark Christmas Ale on Randall, with Christmas pudding in the Randall! It was stunning!

So I did just manage to get that extra review out before Christmas and you just never know, there could be more... In case there isn't, every one have a safe but Merry Christmas! Make sure you drink great beer and I'll be back with more content soon. Let me know what you're drinking over the Christmas period, or just drop me a line at gus.norris7@gmail.com Cheers guys!

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

Sunday, 21 December 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014

Merry Christmas 2014


I am one of those people that likes to try a range of Christmas beers when they come each year. After my bad experience with last years Christmas beer, Ridgeway's Seriously Bad Elf, I've decided this year to return to breweries I'm more familiar with. I've also given myself more options to find one that will be good, so you guys can hopefully find one for Christmas Day.

BrewDog Hoppy Christmas - Every year our family does a pre-Christmas Day party for the little kids. Basically the extended family kids all see their cousins and the rest of us get very drunk! I kicked off the day with BrewDog's Hoppy Christmas, which poured a deep golden/almost amber colour with a good sized head.

The aroma definitely lived up to the name with dank hops the standout. Grapefruit is the aroma that I get the most, although is changes throughout drinking with peach also quite prominent. The flavour was great with citrus (mostly grapefruit) and tropical fruits to the fore, the malt backbone is there but only for mouthfeel and doesn't do a heap to the flavour.

BrewDog There is No Santa - I've struggled to find much info on this one but I believe (although could be wrong) it was last brewed for Christmas 2010. That being said I found it at Vintage Cellars in October this year! With some trepidation I poured it into the glass and saw that it was almost black in colour with a light tan head on top which had good retention. Positive start!

When I smelt it I was blown away! MINCE PIES! This (supposedly) 4 year old beer smells exactly like mince pies! (Dark fruit and spices for those who haven't had mince pies.) In the Christmas spirit I paired my There is No Santa with a mince pie and it tasted brilliant! Cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon dominant, while there is sultanas and another dark fruit, which I can't quite put my finger on, in the background. I think it's fantastic but it won't be for everyone...

BrewDog Santa Paws - After a quick couple of (very unfestive) Resin's in the park, I was back on the Christmas beer and BrewDog bandwagon. Santa Paws is the second of this year's Christmas releases from BrewDog and is a Scotch Ale, a style that to me lends itself more to being a Christmas beer. Anyway, the pour is also very dark with a khaki head with plenty of large bubbles.

The nose was a bit of a let down, with not much in the way of spices and only a light malt base. I thought it was a little nothing and needed something more. The taste was a bit the same - it was nice and quite drinkable as far as Scotch Ales go, but it was lacking in a lot of things that could have made it a more interesting beer.

HopDog BeerWorks Secret Santa - We moved on from that slight disappointment to something I knew wouldn't let me down; HopDog BeerWorks and their Secret Santa. It's apparently a "Festive Spiced Belgian Ale" - so I'm expecting nutmeg and cinnamon. The pour is a deep reddish/brown ale with a big white head.

Nutmeg and Cinnamon were both present on the nose, however the real star was the dark fruits and their combination with the Belgian yeast. This trend continued onto the taste with dark fruit, particularly sultana's and I think fig, as well as spicy yeasts. There's good alcohol and the spices really make it feel like it would make a fantastic winter beer.

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale - I actually wasn't going to include this one, but then Coll brought a few over to watch the soccer the same night I'd sampled the other beers. This beer (as expected) poured a very red colour with a nice cream coloured head of quite thick foam.

The nose was relatively muted with only some caramel malts really coming through. As you all should know I'm not a huge fan of Amber Ales on the whole, but this one is excellent! It's got quite a light mouthfeel and doesn't have too much malt. The flavour is relatively light as well with caramel the most prominent flavour before a nice bitter pine finish comes through. It's a lovely beer and you can easily knock a bomber off by yourself.

There you are guys. Hopefully this quick little wrap up can help you pick a Christmas themed beer. Other Christmas beers I'd highly recommend are the Red Hill Christmas Ale, it's good every year so I can't see why this year would be any different, and the Delirium Noel. It may be a little harder to find but if you're into Belgian styles it would be one to keep an eye out for! If I don't get anything else done before Christmas guys, have a great one and I'll be back soon!

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

Saturday, 20 December 2014

#BEERDVENT (PART 4)

#beerdvent (Part 4)


Normally at our house we do advent calendars. This year Lizzie and decided to get each something different than those cheap chocolate ones where you open a window each day. I was very happy when on December 1st I was presented with a beer from Bridge Road Brewers!

The idea is exactly like an advent calendar, but instead of getting a little unsatisfying chocolate each day - you get a different beer! Apparently Bridge Road have been saving up some of their rarer stuff for months in anticipation!

I'm really excited about this pack and naturally I'll document my findings here. I intend to post this wrap up in 5 parts so you can follow along only a few days behind me. I'm hoping it'll be a great journey and I'm looking forward to trying some Bridge Road beers that I haven't had a chance to sample yet. Hopefully you enjoyed the firstsecond and third installments it's now time for the fourth!

Day 16 - Beechworth Pale Ale - Almost every large craft brewery in the world has a flagship Pale Ale; Beechworth is that beer for Bridge Road. Every year they play with the hops in this beer to make sure it's fresh and on trend with the beer communities ever evolving palate. The beer pours how you'd expect an APA to; a slightly hazy golden colour with a brilliant white head.

Beechworth Pale Ale smells amazing, with citrus and tropical fruits (particularly what I think is Guava, but could be wrong). The beer is particularly nice and is well balanced. The malt is more pronounced than I remember but plenty of citrus and passionfruit flavours from the hops combine with it beautifully. Would make a great session beer or even gateway beer to the proper world of craft beer.

Day 17 - Brew 1000 - Wednesday night rolled around and so did a beer that I was hoping would be in this pack - Brew 1000, strangely enough named for being Bridge Road's thousandth brew. It's a Russian Imperial Stout and clocks in at 11.2%! The appearance is just about perfect with a oily black body and creamy head!

On to the nose and it's surprisingly sweet initially with plenty of mocha and caramel. There is some chocolate and roastiness as well. The flavour is quite different with roast and chocolate leading the charge, with mocha taking the back seat. There's a spiciness to this beer as well, which is quite interesting. I can't wait to age one of these for a year or two!

Day 18 - Strong Scrumpy Cider - I'm not going to lie, when I saw that this was a Cider I was pretty disappointed. That said; my time on England's south coast did give me something like an appreciation of Scrumpy (or maybe that was getting drunk...) Anyway the pour is a hazy yellow colour with minimal white head.

The nose was relatively weak with - funnily enough - only sweetish apple on the nose. Maybe this is just my uneducated cider nose talking though... Likewise the taste is mostly apples although there is a bit of funk and it's quite tart after the initial sweetness originally detected on the nose. Cider's certainly aren't my area of expertise - so don't discount this one based on my review!

Day 19 - Celtic Red Ale - This is a beer I remember having had before, despite what Untappd says! It was in an Amber/Red Ale tasting, when I still thought I might like Amber Ales. The jury is still out on that, but what I can say is that this beer pours a very deep red colour with a creamy head that fades very very quickly!

The malt dominance is what I don't really like about amber ales. That curse strikes again here with Celtic Red Ale; there's plenty of biscuity malt and a little butterscotch on the nose but that's about it. It tastes a little less bland with hints of coffee breaking up the biscuity malt, but still it's quite bland. Amber Ale's just aren't my thing and this one is no exception.

Day 20 - Bling Bling - I've reverted back to my IPA glass for this beer. It's a beer I've had before and really enjoyed before. Check out the first of these #beerdvent reviews for it's little brother. Bling IPA. The pour is quite dark with plenty of red and a huge cream coloured head.

There's plenty of pine and fruit on the nose, the most dominant of which I believe is passionfruit. There's a reasonably amount of caramel malt on the nose but it struggles to provide balance - it's very hoppy! The taste is similar with particularly strong fruit flavours coming from the bitter hops, there is more caramel malts than I had thought from the nose and it is well balanced.

Only one of these reviews to go now. I'm really going to miss this! I'm racking my brains to think which beers could still be left, maybe the Victorian High Country Trail collaboration, Rule 47? I think most of the core range is done - maybe a Chevalier? Whatever it is, I'm sure it'll be good.

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

Monday, 15 December 2014

#BEERDVENT (PART 3)

#beerdvent (Part 3)


Normally at our house we do advent calendars. This year Lizzie and decided to get each something different than those cheap chocolate ones where you open a window each day. I was very happy when on December 1st I was presented with a beer from Bridge Road Brewers!

The idea is exactly like an advent calendar, but instead of getting a little unsatisfying chocolate each day - you get a different beer! Apparently Bridge Road have been saving up some of their rarer stuff for months in anticipation!

I'm really excited about this pack and naturally I'll document my findings here. I intend to post this wrap up in 5 parts so you can follow along only a few days behind me. I'm hoping it'll be a great journey and I'm looking forward to trying some Bridge Road beers that I haven't had a chance to sample yet. Hopefully you enjoyed the first and second installments, it's now time for the third!

Day 11 - Fat Man Red Suit Big Sack - This third #beerdvent review kicks off with another beer that I've yet to have before. Apparently FMRSBS was initially brewed as a beer for export to Canada. It's IPA and it pours an amber colour with a cream coloured head. The head has limited retention and it doesn't take long for only a ring of foam to be left behind.

The nose is incredible with grapefruit, mango and guava all jumping out at me. There's also quite a big bodied bready and caramel malt base, which gives the nose good balance. The flavour was well balanced as well, with more sweetness than expected from the malt combining beautifully with quite bitter, fruity hops. It's lovely; one of the best of the bunch so far!

Day 12 - The Harvest - Our work Christmas lunch and subsequent beers got a little out of hand and so I'm getting into this beer on the 13th. I've had a couple of these years version of The Harvest and so knew what to expect. The beer poured quite a clear golden colour with a foamy white head on top.

The aroma of this beer surprised me. Despite being an 8 month old Harvest Ale, a style meant to be drunk fresh, it smells very grassy and hoppy. The hops don't appear to have faded much at all! They are bitter and have tropical fruit and grassy elements. There is also an interesting Belgian yeast character that I don't remember coming across in this beer before.

Day 13 - Posse Summer Ale - As I predicted at the end of the last #beerdvent we have now got the other Posse beer; the Summer Ale. Just like the Winter Ale I haven't had this before, but have heard rave reviews about this being a quaffable Belgian Pale Ale. The pour was interesting for the style, with a slightly cloudy straw colour that seems more in line with a Saison/witbier.

Despite it's appearance Posse Summer Ale had plenty of the characteristics normally associated with Belgian Pale Ales. The nose was light with hints of citrus hops and a nice Belgian yeast character. As I'd been told the beer was nice and light, with the Belgian-ness (for want of a better word) kept quite restrained. It'd make a nice Summer beer.

Day 14 - Robust Porter - Robust Porter is a beer that I don't think I've had before. I'm a big fan of Porters so I'm definitely surprised that I can't remember having it before. The pour is what you'd expect for the style, with a relatively small tan/khaki head covering an opaque dark brown body.

The nose of this one was big and bold, with chocolate taking pride of place up front. There was also plenty of roast character. The flavour was likewise with chocolate to the fore, although there was plenty of roast and more than enough coffee to balance out any sweetness. It's got a brilliant dry finish with plenty of bitterness. I highly recommend this one for Porter lovers!

Day 15 - Aurora Borealis Ⅱ - This really made my day when I saw this! Aurora Borealis Ⅱ, was the other beer I predicted we would see in this set of 5 beers, and here it is! This beer was brewed by Kjetil at Nøgne Ø and then shipped to Australia in cognac barrels, The base beer for this one is a Tripel and it pours a nice orange colour with an off-white head.

Aurora Borealis Ⅱ has a very strong aroma of cognac straight from being poured. As it warms you begin to get more of a Belgian yeast aroma, which leads into the taste. There's spicy Belgian yeast, there's malt sweetness, there's fruitiness, there's hints of cognac. It's a particularly nice warming beer.

We're over half way through the Bridge Road Beerdvent and I'm sad it's coming towards an end. Thankfully though we have 10 beers (yes, there is a Christmas day beer!) left. I'm not sure which of the rare beers are left to have! I've pretty much exhausted my knowledge of Bridge Road beers and so can't wait to see what comes next!

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

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

#BEERDVENT (PART 2)

#beerdvent (Part 2)


Normally at our house we do advent calendars. This year Lizzie and decided to get each something different than those cheap chocolate ones where you open a window each day. I was very happy when on December 1st I was presented with a beer from Bridge Road Brewers!

The idea is exactly like an advent calendar, but instead of getting a little unsatisfying chocolate each day - you get a different beer! Apparently Bridge Road have been saving up some of their rarer stuff for months in anticipation!

I'm really excited about this pack and naturally I'll document my findings here. I intend to post this wrap up in 5 parts so you can follow along only a few days behind me. I'm hoping it'll be a great journey and I'm looking forward to trying some Bridge Road beers that I haven't had a chance to sample yet. Hopefully you enjoyed the first installment, let's get into the second!

Day 6 - India Saison - This beer has been a favourite of mine since it's initial release. It was brewed in collaboration with Norwegian brewers Nøgne Ø. As mentioned ad nauseam on Beer O'Clock Australia Nøgne Ø are one of my favourite international brewers and hardly ever put a foot wrong! If I had never had this beer before, looking at that pour I'd be excited!

The beauty of the head, which laces the glass and maintains good coverage, is completely overshadowed by the smell and taste! The aroma is strong with hop bitterness complemented by a spiciness from the yeast. The taste is more funk driven than the hop driven nose, but the two distinct elements contrast beautifully. It truly is an IPA crossed with a Saison!

Day 7 - Enigma - I first had this beer back in May on tap at the Gertrude and was immediately in love! Here was an Australian pilsner to rival all of the great ones produced across the ditch in New Zealand. Much like the Chestnut Pilsner, it pours a light straw colour with a brilliant white head.

That is where the similarities end; the nose is full of melon as well as some other tropical fruits and some crisp malts. The flavour is a bit different with more malt coming to the fore. It's very hoppy with melon and citrus dominant flavour and floral and spiciness in the background. If this is anything to go by I can't wait to see more brewers utilize Enigma hops!

Day 8 - Golden Ale - We kicked off week two of #beerdvent with Bridge Road's Golden Ale. It's a beer I've had before and thought was pretty easy drinking back then. Given it's called a Golden Ale I thought the pour was a little on the yellow side, but that minor criticism aside it's a good looking beer.

Golden Ale is a term I'm always wary of - I feel it gives brewers a license to make a very macro style pale ale. This is exactly what I feel has happened here. The nose is quite subdued with grass and apricots aromas there but sweet malts dominating. While the taste was similarly disappointing with very little bitterness coming through and only some citrus adding to the grassiness. I though it was just a bit lacking overall.

Day 9 - Aurora Australis - Today we get to the first of the beers I was really hoping we'd get in this pack; another Nøgne Ø collaboration, Aurora Australis. This beer was brewed at Bridge Road and then shipped to Norway in red wine barrels to be bottle by Nøgne Ø. It's a hell of a journey and it's now almost two years old, pretty close to the perfect time to crack into it!

Aurora Australis is a very dark looking quad with excellent head retention, albeit a little patchy in the picture. The nose is full of red wine, oakiness and funk as well as some sultanas and caramel malts. It's an amazingly complex beer with a sour red wine flavour dominant and dark fruit sweetness in the back. It's got a creamy, boozy mouthfeel and I can't wait to see what another two years does to this beer!

Day 10 - Posse Winter Ale - Posse is the Bridge Road Brewers club and this is one of the two exclusive beers they brew for them. This is my first time getting my hands on this and I'm really looking forward to it. The beer pours a deep brown colour with reddish tinges. The head is about the best I've seen so far in #beerdvent, it was thick and had great retention.

I had very few ideas what to expect when I saw the words "winter ale" on the bottle. It was fair to say smokiness wouldn't have been in my top 10 guesses! The nose and taste were similar with smokiness and nuttiness dominant. I was very impressed with the drinkability such a smokey beer offered.

This batch of five beers from #beerdvent was pretty spectacular. We had two of my favourite Bridge Road beers, and two beers that I was really hoping to try for the first time. Having had the Posse Winter Ale, I would assume Summer can't be too far behind and hopefully the rare stuff will keep coming out, I feel an Aurora Borealis wouldn't go astray somewhere...

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

Sunday, 7 December 2014

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 15

Untappd Catchup

We're back in catch-up mode again after the big Untappd badge update. Bit of a shame that I can't give all these beers the full reviews they deserve, but there is only so much time in the day... Oh well enjoy the review!

Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA earned me God Save the Queen (Level 22) and Pale as the Moon (Level 29). I really enjoyed this beer, the grapefruit bitterness was exceptional at the low ABV (only 4.3%). The can design is pretty cool as well.

Holgate Little Heifer was the first beer I had after work a couple of weeks ago. For that reason I earned the Beer-Giving '14 badge and it was my 25th unique Hefeweizen which earned me Heffenista (Level 5). There was plenty of banana flavour, which was a nice surprise, but the body was a little too thin for my liking.


Back into beers that only earned one badge and the beer was the relaunched Cricketers Arms Keepers Lager. The badge was Lager Jack (Level 36). I didn't have an old Cricketers for comparison, but I was a bit disappointed... I think it's lost a bit of the fruity hops that made the original such a tasty lager. I will get a few more in a couple of weeks and revisit, hopefully I just had a bad bottle...

An English Barley wine from Black Sheep Brewery notched up God Save the Queen (Level 23). It was a special brew for their 20th anniversary called Progress. Dad's cousin used to regularly visit Masham and absolutely raves about Black Sheep. I try and get all of their beers that make it out here - I'm very happy I bought this close to 2 years ago and have aged it, it turned out beautifully! It was a very smooth Barley wine with plenty of dark fruit flavours.


Somewhat fittingly I had a Hot Water Walker's Porter whilst walking Mum's dogs in the park while she was away. The badge? Heavyweight (Level 23). This New Zealand porter was an absolute beauty straight out of the can. It was almost the perfect park porter (alliteration much?), with great roast characteristics but still quite a light body, without being too light. I don't think that makes a heap of sense, but trust me buy it! It's good.

For this review that's a wrap guys! The two standout beers from this review are the Hot Water Walker's Porter and the Session IPA from Beavertown. Interestingly these were also two international can offerings... Speaking of which I better try and find a beer and do a bottle vs can debate review, I know a few of you are hanging out for another one.

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