Saturday, 29 March 2014

REVIEW: ALDARIS PORTERIS

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: Latvia
  • Style: Baltic Porter
  • ABV: 6.8%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Winter is coming! That means it's Porter time and what better place to start than Latvia, the home of the Baltic Porter. I first had this beer in a can in Riga and now it has been brought out in Australia and I've seen it around at a few places.

Today's beer is pictured in one of my favourite glasses, the gold rim around the bottom of the glass depicts the heritage listed skyline of Riga's Old Town. Baltic Porter's are typically stronger than your average Porter and have strong roast and/or smoked characteristics. Hopefully this beer is as good as I remember it is.

Aldaris Porteris pours a very dark brown colour with a good sized head of light khaki foam on top. The head has a number of small bubbles in it shortly after pouring, although the retention is still very good. There was almost half a finger of foam left at the conclusion of drinking. The glass is well laced by the head, which I can't recall being common for the style. In my eyes it's a pretty looking beer, but maybe that's just the glass!

On to the nose and it doesn't disappoint. There is some roasted malt aromas as well as some smoke, however the real champion of the nose is these sweeter malts, which have a combined aroma of caramel and toffee with this slightly odd banana-ey finish. As the beer warms elements of dark fruit begin to become more prominent. Aldaris Porteris certainly doesn't have your standard Baltic Porter nose, but it's still appealing.

It is a particularly difficult beer to describe, initial sweetness is at times overwhelmed by an odd roasty sourness. Somehow though this works. I can't quite explain how it works but the constantly changing flavour keeps the beer interesting. Chocolate, roast malts, some dark fruits and even a little licorice are all noticeable flavours of Aldaris Porteris. The body is on the thinner side of medium, with adequate carbonation present.

Overall, I really enjoy Aldaris Porteris. It is by no means the best example of a Baltic Porter but it certainly is an enjoyable one to drink. The thinner body of this beer makes it eminently sessionable as Porter's go. At 6.8% it provides a kick without the knockout high ABV of many other Baltic Porter's which clock in at over 10%. If you're a lover of dark beers, this would be one to try with low expectations.

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

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

REVIEW: FOUNDERS BACKWOODS BASTARD

The Dark Side


STATS
  • Country: United States 
  • Style: Scotch Ale
  • ABV: 10.2%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey

I've been meaning to try, and subsequently review, this beer for months! I love Founders' stuff, from their All Day Session IPA (watch this space for a review) through to their Breakfast Stout. These guys really know how to make good beer!

Good Scotch Ales are often some of the best beers out there. They are often quite a sweet beer, with caramel malt flavours dominating over any roast characteristics. I've had 7 of the top 9 Scotch Ales on BeerAdvocate, and loved most of them - this is #1! To say I'm excited would be an understatement, let's do this!

The beer pours a dark murky brown colour with a surprisingly white head on top. The head is at least a finger and a half thick, which in this big snifter is impressive. However it is shortlived with only a ring of foam remaining after maybe 3 minutes. To me this isn't a particularly pretty looking beer - but I'm sure someone out there will appreciate it's appearance. (Secretly I'm hoping that the brewers deliberately made it ugly - Backwoods Bastard and all...)

Straight after pouring you could easily mistake this beer for a straight bourbon. There's plenty of raw alcohol up front along with lots of vanilla and oakieness. As the beer warms up it becomes more and more complex with plenty of caramel malts joining the party. I know the beer is clocking in at over 10% but all the raw alcohol is a little off putting.

I may have thought that Founders Backwoods Bastard was a bit unbalanced from the nose, but wow the flavour is amazing! It's got bourbon and caramel and vanilla and oak and even a nice hop finish. This beers got everything! With the ABV and the slightly sticky mouthfeel this is definitely a sipper. I'm really struggling for words to describe how good this beer is!

General Patton once said: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other bastard die for his country." Founders' Backwoods Bastard encapsulates the feeling behind this quote, it takes no prisoners. Every way you look at this beer it's big; flavour, ABV, body, packaging! It's an awesome beer, that I'm really struggling to describe adequately. In short buy the beer, it's awesome!

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

Sunday, 23 March 2014

REVIEW: SOUTH PACIFIC LAGER

Macro Lager


STATS
  • Country: Papua New Guinea
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Can
  • Price: CHEAP!!!
Nowadays the opportunities to add a new country to my list of countries I've had a beer from are becoming less and less frequent. Today though is one of those days, with South Pacific Lager from Papua New Guinea joining the list!

South Pacific Brewery was founded in 1952 and has been the most popular beer in the nation of 7 million people almost since it's inception. For a brewery in a relatively small country, they put out ALOT of merchandise; I've got drink's trays, coasters, hats and of course glassware. I'm looking forward to trying this lager more than I do most - I've known about it for so long and just assumed this moment would never come.

The pour shows a light straw coloured beer with a brilliant white head. The head is not huge, although the small, wide mug could be a contributing factor to that. The head has a number of large bubbles present quite quickly after pouring, however retention is reasonable for the style. By the conclusion of drinking there is still a thick ring of foam around the edges of the glass, with a thin film across the surface. In summary; it looks like a beer.

When first smelling this beer I thought that it was just a nasty cheap lager, smelling only of sweet grains. After further consideration I think I can smell some hops, although it may just be my nose hoping that there are some hops there, and the grains aren't as sweet as I initially thought. This definitely isn't a nice smelling lager though, it's falling into the offensive category.

Thankfully for me South Pacific Lager tastes better than it smells, although not much better... The taste of the beer is neither sweet or bitter. The grains are very mild and there are no detectable flavours from any hops present. It's a bit watery but has a nice effervescent tingly carbonation which gives it some resemblance to a beer. It's certainly not a lager to write home about.

Overall; you get what you pay for. South Pacific Lager is a cheap beer and it tastes like it as well. It certainly has some refreshing qualities and in Papua New Guinea, where I imagine the range to choose from is limited, you could do worse. In Australia though, don't both buying this beer - there's many much better lagers out there. Maybe as a novelty or to cross a country off your list like me, but otherwise I'd save the money.

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

Saturday, 22 March 2014

THE GREAT BOTTLE VS. CAN DEBATE PART 10

The tenth installment: The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate


STATS
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Flanders Red Ale
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle/Can
  • Price: Inexpensive - Slightly Pricey
The history of "The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate" has been full of lagers and hoppy ales. With such a limited number of beers available in both vessels it's rare that this section gets to host such a prestigious beer. Rodenbach is a Flanders Red Ale, an unusual Belgian beer style which involves barrel aging the beer for long periods of time and then blending the aged beer with new beer.

Until only 2 weeks ago I was unaware that Rodenbach was even available in can form. Since then I've had quite a few of them, it's one of the most sessionable sours out there. I know I've had the bottle before but can't remember it, so I'm very interested to see what differences there are between the can and the bottle. I think it's fantastic that there is a sour available in cans, imagine taking a couple of sours to a festival as morning palate cleansers!

Both the bottle and the can pour a similar red colour. The head from both vessels has a pinkish tinge to it with a number of large bubbles dissipating it quickly. The can appears to have a slightly larger head - although both are comparable.

On to the nose and again it is hard to distinguish a noticeable difference between the two. Both have good tartness with sour cherries being the dominant aroma. There's also hints apple, plums, grapes, vanilla and a very light oaky aroma.

Unlike the appearance or the aroma there is a noticeable difference in the flavour between the bottle and the can. Both have a distinctly tart cherry flavour initially before the can takes on a distinctly vinous characteristic. The bottle has a longer lasting sourness than the can as well as having an extra layer of complexity with the fruit flavours more prominent. The can is slightly less carbonated which makes it easier to drink. Both are excellent beers, but which is better?

This is the hardest decision I've had to make in the whole of The Bottle vs. Can Debate. Most of the time there is a clear cut winner due to the presence of off flavours or clearly more prominent hops. Rodenbach is different, the vinous quality of the can makes it seem like these are two completely different beers. After much consideration - I'm going to award it to the bottle. It's just a touch more complex and definitely slightly more sour. Don't look past the cans if you see them though - they are very good in their own right and more sessionable.



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

Monday, 17 March 2014

REVIEW: GUINNESS FOREIGN EXTRA

Untappd: St. Patrick's Day (2014) Badge


STATS
  • Country: Nigeria
  • Style: Export Stout
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Serving Type: 325ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! This day has become synonymous with one beer, and one beer only; Guinness. Here at Beer O'Clock Australia we try and do things differently, so here today is Nigerian Guinness.

One of my favourite Guinness facts relates to Nigeria and people are normally shocked when I tell them. Nigeria is actually the second highest consuming market of Guinness in the world; only behind the whole of the U.K.! The recipe of Guinness brewed in Nigeria is different to that of Irish Guinness and I'm really looking forward to trying it.

As expected Guinness Foreign Extra (Nigeria) poured a dark brown, almost black, colour with a bulbous tan head. The head appears to be quite thick, but does have some large air bubbles at the top off the head. The retention of the head is nothing short of exceptional, with at least 2 fingers lasting until finishing - with excellent lacing also left behind. It's a good looking beer.

The nose was slightly understated for the style initially. As the beer warmed notes of coffee and roast were particularly dominant with dark fruits and licorice in the background. There was the slightest hint of alcohol as well, but not raw alcohol more like Port or something similar.

Guinness Foreign Extra really surprised me with how it tasted! Initially it was very fruit, before coffee and roast flavours kicked in. There was also a good smattering of hop bitterness and the tiniest hint of corn - I assume a byproduct of it being brewed in Africa where Barley would be less common. Anyway this is a really really tasty beer, much better than standard Guinness.

I missed this earlier, but this badge is for checking into any beer on St. Patrick's Day (sort of obviously...) so you better get checking in quick if you haven't already done so. This is a really nice stout and I can understand why the Nigerian's enjoy drinking this so much! At 7.5% I can see this being a bit dangerous in the summer in Nigeria... Still I'm going back to get more and I recommend you do the same.

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

Thursday, 13 March 2014

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 7

Untappd Catchup


Unfortunately I'm giving up on trying to make up the deficit of reviews from when my computer was powerless. While it's a sad day, I did want to review some of these by themselves, you do get to read about the latest 6 beers that have earned me Untappd badges today!

Amazingly Blanche de Namur got overlooked at my house over Christmas and lasted all the way to February before I cracked into it. One of my absolute favourite Witbiers, and I love Witbiers! Plenty of citrus and peppery spiciness, such a wonderful beer!

Drink Like a Kiwi Level 5, the badge for drinking beers from New Zealand, was awarded for Moa's 99 Not Out. 99 Not Out is a collaboration between Moa and the "Sheikh of Tweak" himself, Shane Warne, in his first foray into the craft beer world. Affectionately known as an SKW pale ale, it's not a bad beer. Nor is it amazing though, more of an English style Pale Ale with a strong malt backbone dominating the hops.


The Risk Taker badge is possibly the most frustrating badge I've ever unlocked. All you have to do is check into 10 of your recommended in a 60 day period. For months this badge has been sitting on 6 or 7 out of 10, before finally putting some effort into it. I thought I had the 4 beers required to get over the line and then remembered that every time you check into one of the beers from the list, the list changes! Anyway in the end, amazingly, my first check-in of Boag's Draught got me over the line! Can't believe it's been that long since I had a Boag's...

As craft beer reviewers go, I feel I'm right up there with those who can deal with lagers. Most whinge incessantly if they're even in the presence of someone drinking a macro lager. However even I felt disgusted when I drank the last beer to earn the Lite Weight badge. Bud Light is possibly the sweetest lager I have ever come across, it was horrendous! (Secret admission; I actually quite enjoyed Miller Lite...)

Prickly Moses Black Panther IBA gained me a surprise badge; Mardi Gras. It was another badge for checking a beer in on a certain day - so that ones gone for another year if you want it. More importantly this beer was excellent, Prickly Moses beers don't always do it for me but this one is a really nice roasty black IPA with strong citrus hops coming through. Really one to look out for around Melbourne, not sure how their distribution is interstate...


A simple check in to Oakham Citra at home the other night earned me a surprise badge; Brew Traveler Level 4. This is a badge for checking into DIFFERENT locations in different states or countries. This seems to me to be an error unless home as magically moved into a different state without me knowing; but it does at least give me another excuse to tell you all to go buy Oakham Citra! Read my full review here.

So there we have it, back up to date with the Untappd badges again. There's a few good beers in this lot that I recommend you check out. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few days, there's an Alphabet post coming, at least one bottle vs can, a dark one and hopefully a macro lager from a new country! I'm still trying to track down some of these last remaining European Beer Challenge beers and hopefully I'll be able to bring you one soon. Check out the remaining countries here. Please email me, gus.norris7@gmail.com , if you can help out with any of them or if you have an suggestions for reviews or questions.

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

Monday, 10 March 2014

REVIEW: BREWDOG FAKE LAGER

Untappd: Crisp as Day (Level 4) Badge


STATS
  • Country: Scotland
  • Style: Czech Pilsner
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Laptop power issues now rectified (thank you eBay!), I'm going to try and pump out some reviews and catch up. Today's is another Untappd review. The beer; BrewDog's Fake Lager, a beer I've beer wanting to try since I heard about it. I can't wait to see what these guys are going to do with a lager!

The Crisp as Day badge is awarded for drinking different pilsners. This being level 4, means I must have had 20 different pilsners since this badge was introduced a couple of months ago. For the average Australian beer drinker, a pilsner is the most similar style of craft beer to Carlton Draught or any of the other macros. A good craft pilsner can be a great stepping stone into the craft beer world.

Fake Lager pours very dark for a typical pilsner, with a deep amber coloured body topped by a quickly diminishing head of cream coloured foam. The head retention was particularly disappointing, while there was also no noticeable lacing left behind. For the style I would have to say Fake Lager has a very poor appearance.

The nose smells much more like a typical pilsner than the appearance would suggest. There is a light bready malt base, which is slightly ever so slightly sweet, before strong grassy hops take over. Over the course of drinking, a light citrus character begins to become detectable.

BrewDog's Fake Lager is a very tasty Czech (or Bohemian as they termed it) pilsner. Basically it's a more flavoursome example of the style, which thankfully they haven't bastardized. The beer starts with that slightly sweet malt that typifies most macro pilsners and lagers before the grassy (I assume they're Saaz) hops kick in with good bitterness. There is more citrus hop flavours than I would normally expect to find for the style.

Overall I think BrewDog have done a really good job with their lager. It's a nice easy drinking Czech pilsner, which is exactly what BrewDog were aiming to achieve. It has that craft element that they were looking for without completely ignoring the original foundations of the style. I'd highly recommend this to all beer drinkers, it's a really interesting take on a traditional style.

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

Monday, 3 March 2014

REVIEW: MOON DOG BJORN TO BOOGIE

Untappd: New Brew Thursday (Level 9) Badge


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Fruit Beer
  • ABV: 5.3%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Sorry for the review delay, we've been having some laptop power cord issues recently. I had this beer almost 2 weeks ago and am doing this mostly off my Untappd check-in and a couple of notes, so bear with me.

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

Moon Dog's Bjorn to Boogie is a watermelon flavoured Hefeweizen. I didn't know what to expect from the pour - so I was pleasantly surprised with what was offered up to me once I poured this one. It poured a hazy yellow colour with a big thick head of white foam. It's everything you'd expect a witbier to look like, which I'm going to accept.

The nose is quite impressive as well and only has a slight hint of watermelon to indicate that it is anything other than a normal Hefeweizen. There's plenty of banana and wheat as well as something which could be mint or an odd bit of bubblegum.

Now the taste is where the watermelon really comes into it's own. As the beer first touches your lips you get a hint of sweet watermelon, before the banana flavour of your typical Hefeweizen kicks in. There again is this odd minty/bubblegum flavour, which I can't quite place, before some lime and another stronger watermelon hit.

I always look forward to Moon Dog release day! Recently they've been releasing 2 or even 3 new beers on the same day. Many of them are a bit of a disappointment, they almost always promise a lot and deliver less. Bjorn to Boogie is why I'll always buy they're new beers, they are capable of producing great beers. This is one of the most sessionable beers around, if you like Hefeweizen's and/or watermelon; BUY THIS BEER!

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