Wednesday, 23 July 2014

REVIEW: HOP IN THE DARK

Untappd: Oregon Craft Beer Month (2014) Badge


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Black Ale
  • ABV: 6.9%
  • Serving Type: 650ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
At Beer O'Clock Australia headquarters the badges (and the beer) are flowing at the moment. And for once it seems like I'm almost keeping up with reviewing! Tonight's badge earning beer was Deschutes Hop in the Dark.

This is my second Oregon Craft Beer Month badge, after the one I got last year in Amsterdam of all places. This year you needed to sample 4 different beers from breweries in Oregon, which is simple enough here with Rogue and Deschutes widely distributed. You've still got time to get it as well - you've got til the end of July!

Hop in the Dark poured a beautiful black colour with a luscious looking cream coloured head. The head is 3 fingers high and has amazing retention! I reckon at least a finger and a half of head was left when I finished drinking it. The beer just looks sensational! There really are very few words to describe how good this Black IPA looks.

The nose was quintessential Black IPA/American Black Ale/Cascadian Dark Ale/whatever else you want to call it! There was plenty of roasted malts balanced out by hops. The citrus aromas are the most dominant - I'm pretty sure I can detect Citra and Amarillo, but don't hold me to that...

By far the most balanced Black IPA I've ever had! The hops are bitingly bitter at times but the thick roasty malts manage to not only balance the hops but enhance their effectiveness (does that make any sense?) Anyway - English struggles aside - the mouthfeel is beautifully lush and the flavour is perfect!

Do Deschutes make a bad beer? (With the exception of Mirror Pond which I'm not a fan of) This Black IPA is just stunning and a worthy recipient of a review on mine, or any other, beer blog! In truth Hop in the Dark deserved a much better review than this one I've offered up today. In short though if you love Black IPA's seek this one out! Trust me it's stunning!

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

Monday, 21 July 2014

REVIEW: ROGUE PUMPKIN PATCH ALE

Untappd: Gourd to the Last Drop Badge


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: Pumpkin Ale
  • ABV: 5.6%
  • Serving Type: 750ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
Tonight we have Pumpkin Patch Ale from Rogue. It's Pumpkin Ale from Rogue, made exclusively from ingredients grown by Rogue. In this case all of the barley, hops and pumpkin used in this beer comes from the Rogue Farms. It's hard to make out in the photo but that is a Rogue Farms mug.

Gourd to the Last Drop is a badge for drinking Pumpkin beers. There is a fascination in the U.S. with this typically seasonal beer. Personally I've never really understood the style but I really really want to! If anyone is going to produce the Pumpkin beer for me it'll be Rogue - time to see what it's like!

So the beer pours a deep orange tinged amber colour. The head that tops the beer is khaki coloured and relatively short lived. Large bubbles form very quickly and quickly there is only a thin rim of foam left around the edge of the glass, whilst the head retention is non-existent. Having not had a heap of pumpkin ales it's hard for me to judge if it looks good for the style.

The nose is how I would expect this to smell, some vegetal aroma - which I will assume is pumpkin and some spiciness. There's definitely some cloves on the nose, which I wasn't expecting, and I think the most dominant spice was nutmeg - again somewhat surprising.

Pumpkin Patch Ale is the first pumpkin ale I've had where the pumpkin flavour is recognizable as pumpkin while not being over powering. There beer is slightly on the sweet side and the spices really compliment the pumpkin well. When tasting it not only are nutmeg and cloves prominent but also ginger and cinnamon - it's a really sophisticated beer.

This would be my all-time favourite pumpkin ale! So far it's a style that's never really gripped me, probably because I'm not American. This could turn it around for me, the pumpkin flavour was light and the spices just made it a really lovely ale. I would recommend this for people wanting to try the style. I would love feedback from connoisseurs of the style to whether or not this is a good example of the style or one that appeals to people that don't like pumpkin ales?

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

Sunday, 20 July 2014

BEAR CLUB JUNE - 2014

Tru Bru Bear Club - June 2014


The second Bear Club installment from Tru Bru had a seriously tough act to follow after a magnificent opening, which you can read about here. This one is again packed with rare offerings that you very rarely find on tap in Australia.

June's selection featured no Australian beers, not necessarily a bad thing but just an interesting observation. I'm very interested to try the Tiny Rebel Urban IPA, it will be one of not many Welsh beers that I've had the pleasure to try over the journey. The Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux is also one I'm really looking forward to, I've heard lots about it but can't remember having had it.

My curiosity got the better of me and so I kicked this months pack off with the Tiny Rebel Urban IPA from Wales. The beer is wonderfully aromatic! The fruity aroma carries through into the taste, where resinous pine flavours are also present. It's got a slightly earthy feel to it and a bit chewier in the mouthfeel than many IPA's in this ABV range. I can probably count the number of Welsh beers I've had on one hand and this well balanced IPA really stands out above the crowd.

Next up was Birra del Borgo's Stelle & Strisce (Stars and Stripes in English). It was a really nice hoppy low ABV (3.9%) beer that I would highly recommend! I did a bottle vs. keg comparison and am pleased to report that there were very few differences, so those of you who aren't yet Bear Club members go grab yourself a bottle!

I was very pleased to see one of my favourite styles make an appearance in this Bear Club pack; the Black IPA. The beer was Moor Illusion from the U.K. and I was pretty impressed with it. The hops were nice and bitter and there was good roasting at first. I did get left with a lingering, slightly odd flavour from the roasting which saw it marked down slightly, although it was only minor.

After a quick break in Queensland, I was back into the Bear Club beers with Dupont's Avec les Bons Vouex. There is plenty of conjecture about the style of this beer; Saison, Tripel or Belgian Strong Pale. Personally I sit on the side of Tripel, it's got that sweetness about it and I can confirm is seriously tasty! It's a wonderful beer and you'd never ever guess that it's 9.5%, it's just so drinkable! You can read more about it in the latest Untappd Catchup, where it earned me a badge.

One beer that I was particularly keen to try on tap was Rogue's Morimoto Imperial Pilsner. I had it a couple of years ago in the bottle and was blown away; on tap it was even better! The sweet malts at the beginning are balanced by lovely floral hops which provide intense bitterness. Many people have asked me if it's worth paying the big dollars given "it's just a pilsner" - I can categorically say this is so much more than just a pilsner! Go buy it!

Summer Wine's Barista Stout was the last beer in this month's Bear Club for me. I actually intended to have this to celebrate the Tour de France starting near the brewery, in Yorkshire, but it ended up slipping to the second week. It's a stout with plenty of roast and coffee flavours, while still having quite a thin body. It's a very drinkable stout that I really enjoy on tap.

Tru Bru's Bear Club really is the gift that keeps on giving. Again we've had 6 really excellent beers this month that I probably wouldn't have been able to get to try on tap otherwise. The standout this time has to be the Dupont, while the Morimoto from Rogue is the beer I'd recommend to the most people. Having just seen the list for July's Bear Club pack this morning (I'm super excited about it!) - now would be the perfect time to join! Contact Anton and Tru Bru and make sure you say I sent you!

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

Saturday, 19 July 2014

REVIEW: LIBERTY C!TRA

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
My intake of New Zealand Imperial IPA's has been down a bit recently, as the colder months have encouraged the imbibing of more darker and Belgian styles. The fluoro green label really caught my eye and now here we are.

Liberty Brewing Company was not a name that I immediately remembered having had beers from. A quick look at their website later and I realized that I've actually had a few of their beers; Yakima Monster probably being the best well known. I actually had this beers baby brother (C!tra Junior) at GABS 2013 - it wasn't memorable, but I'm really looking forward to trying this I've heard great things.

My first impressions of C!tra were very good. It pours that lovely clear golden colour that my favourite Imperial IPA's pour. The head in an IPA glass is always amplified, but at 3 and a half fingers of tight white foam this is certainly impressive. If looks were everything Liberty's C!tra would be a fantastic beer, it's time to check out if the rest of it can cut it!

With a name like C!tra you knew what to expect - citrus hop aroma's everywhere on the nose! Liberty didn't disappoint either with a nose chock full of citrus, grapefruit and orange the most prominent, as well as tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. Despite this bitter, fruity hop assault there is also an earthiness to the aroma of this beer, indicating to me that it could be a quite well balanced IPA.

The way Liberty C!tra tastes is pretty much as expected from the nose. The beer had a slightly bigger malt backbone than I would've expected; but a cavalcade of citrus flavours from the hops made sure you knew this was a big bitter IPA. The bitterness is stronger than I expected as well - although after checking the bottle it did say it was 99 IBU's. The mouthfeel is lovely, not too thin or too thick. The alcohol is beautifully hidden and you wouldn't even know if was 9%, a really dangerous combination of deliciousness and ABV!

I'm not going to lie, I love this beer! Citra hops are one of my favourites and Liberty Brewing have really captured them beautifully in C!tra. It's not quite on the level of Hop Zombie or Pernicious Weed but it is a very very good New Zealand Imperial IPA. I'm going to have to get myself some more of this and do a big side by side; I'd recommend those of you who love really hoppy stuff do the same!

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

Thursday, 17 July 2014

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 11

Untappd Catchup


A mid winter trip to summery Queensland combined with the World Cup and the start of the Tour de France has put my reviewing well and truly behind again. Here are 6 beers that have earned me Untappd badges since the start of July.

I've really got into my Italian beers lately and the Gondolier (Level 3) is evidence of this. The beer was Birra del Borgo's Cortigiana, a Belgian Pale/Blonde Ale. It's readily available in a 750ml bottle at Dan's and had light Belgian characteristics but for me was a little bland.

My badge whoring tendencies got the better of me again. I didn't understand the reasoning behind this badge but if you had a Newcastle Brown Ale, which I thankfully always have in the fridge, on Independence Day Eve you got the middle badge below... I'm not complaining! I also realized I've never reviewed it before, I might need to fix this in the near future.


When I think of the Czech beers, Hefeweizen's aren't the first style that springs to mind. Hence my surprise when I found Praga Hefeweizen. Heffenista (Level 4) is the badge that means I'm talking about it now. The beer itself was quite good, plenty of banana and bubblegum flavours. Praga Hefeweizen had a good sized head and was quite clear, suggesting it was a filtered Hefe. Personally I thought it was quite good, to the point that I would buy it again if I come across it. A good affordable Hefeweizen.

The ubiquitous Independence Day 2014 badge has come and gone. For no reason at all I had quite a big night on Independence Day and my first beer was Sixpoint Spice of Life - Ella. It was in a growler from Tru Bru and it was so good! Ella is an Australian hop, and is a less intense version of Galaxy. The beer was resinous and lightly spicy and fruity, it was a lovely IPA that I'd highly recommend everyone trying. I'm also keen to get my hands on more of the Spice of Life beers.

Once again I have a beer that crosses over between the Bear Club review and Untappd badges. The beer was Avec les Bons Voeux from Dupont, which Untappd classifies as a Saison. That I disagree with, it's clearly a Tripel! Being from Tru Bru I had it on tap, although if this beer is even half as good in the bottle it will still be a sensational beer! If you are a lover of Belgian beers go seek this one out, it's a seriously good Tripel/Saison/Belgian Strong Pale Ale/whatever you want to call it!


I'm not sure what's going on with the Brew Traveler badge but I got another level (now level 7) in my bar yesterday. It was even my first beer! In fact it was my third and it was pretty sensational. Weihenstephaner's Hefeweissbier is simply the best Hefeweizen on the market! Full stop, no questions asked - this is the quintessential Hefeweizen and a must try for all beer lovers! Check out a full review here if you still have more questions.

Six more Untappd badges down. There's a number of really good beers in this lot that I would highly recommend you checking out. I've really got back into Hefeweizen's recently, after going off them for a while, so really pleased to see two get in this Untappd Catchup. The pick of the beers in this catchup would have to be the Bons Voeux, which you'll hear more about when I finish my Bear Club review. I've got plenty of beers on order at the moment so expect the next few months to be chock-a-block full of new stuff. Cheers guys!

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

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

REVIEW: TWO METRE TALL HUON

Summer Fruit Beers #15


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Fruit Beer
  • ABV: 6.2%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Winter is well and truly here in Melbourne! Summer's been and gone and only 2 beers were added to the Summer Fruit Beer scetion. Never fear though, I've found what I hope will be the perfect winter fruit beer!

Two Metre Tall is a brewery located in Tasmania, about 40 minutes from Hobart, on the banks of the Derwent River. It's a brewery I've been interested in trying the beers from for a long time. All of the ingredients to make their beers are farmed on site, which is a very rare thing indeed. As far as I'm aware they are the only Australian brewery to do this and I'd hazard a guess that there are not many others worldwide.

True to it's name, Huon Dark Apple Ale, pours a very dark murky brown colour. The head was somewhere in the spectrum of beige to khaki, depending on how the light was hitting it. It was quite a large head, which only had small bubbles form in it. The retention was excellent and there was at least a finger of head left when I finished drinking it.

Onto the nose and the first thing that struck me was just how acidic the nose was! I had no idea what to expect with this beer, but a bitingly sour nose would not have been in my first 20 guesses! Once you ge over that shock to the system, dark malts become quite prominent and the sourness is more distinctively apple. It's a really interesting nose, which has piqued my interests for tasting!

After the nose I knew what I was expecting and Huon certainly delivered. There was a light roast backbone of malt with the faintest hint that there might be some hops buried in this brew. The real feature of the beer though was a very strong acidic sour flavour of apples. At times I thought it might have been over the top and at others thought they could have gone a bit harder with it. The more the beer warmed the more the roasted flavour came through and really balanced out the beer.

Two Metre Tall's Huon Dark Apple Ale is so much more than your average fruit beer. It took me almost half of the beer to work out if I loved it, was indifferent towards it or hated it. I think this was due to the unexpected, but greatly appreciated, sourness. I would highly recommend this to sour fans, it was really quite an enjoyable beer as it warmed up. I got all of dark, apple and ale so I think that Two Metre Tall have done a great job with this beer; can't wait to try more guys!

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

Sunday, 6 July 2014

REVIEW: IPA IS DEAD (2014)

STATS
  • Country: Scotland
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 7.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
BrewDog's IPA is Dead is back again in 2014! This year we've got 4 hops again of which I'm only properly familiar with one, Amarillo. I've had Comet, but not sure if it's the same variety as the one in this beer. Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying all of them as usual.

The base IPA recipe has been modified this year, with the ABV upped to 7.2% (from 6.7%) as a result. Hopefully this years beers allow the hops to show off their full characteristics, I thought last years were a little overpowered by a strong malt backbone. You can check out 2013 here and for good measure 2012 here.

Once again I'm going to use this intro from the first IPA is Dead review that I wrote. "The experiment, as before, is simple: Four single hops start out with the same malts, the same ABV, the same IBUs, the same everything, except that each one is made with a different hop strain to showcase their individual character and talent."

So I'm kicking things off today with Comet. It's quite hop variety, being used in the U.S. for about the last 40 years. It fell out of favour in the states and was largely forgotten about until this new German variety, where it's crossed with Hallertau, started being grown recently. 

So this single hop IPA promised strong bitterness and grapefruit flavours; thankfully it delivered on both! It's actually a really nice IPA. The other thing that I think needs to be mentioned now is that the change of malt billing should allow for easier detection of the hop characteristics than last year. It's quite light and inoffensive.
Beer #2 in the 2014 IPA is Dead pack is EXP 666. From my understanding this is an experimental hop variety bred off HBC, a hop in the 2012 IPA is Dead pack. Since this beer was brewed the hop has been given a new name, Equinox. I've been told to expect a distinctive pineapple flavour coming off this hop so I'm excited to give it a go!

The flavour certainly is not typical. The hop has relatively little bitterness and the flavour and mouthfeel is unusual. I'm getting a resinous, chalky mouthfeel with pineapple, apricot and other fruit flavours to the fore. This is going to sound like a strange comment but the bitterness is sweet. You'd really need to try it to fully understand what I'm talking about. I think this would make a nice hop in a low ABV summer pale ale, good fruitiness.

Amarillo is the third single hop IPA I'm having from this pack. It's the first hop I've had a really strong understanding of in this years edition. Normally it's predominantly an aroma hop but it imparts citrus and tropical fruit flavours as well, while not being particularly bitter. It's privately grown and is not available in rhizomes, which is pretty unusual.

True lovers of hoppy beers know what Amarillo tastes like. BrewDog have managed to capture this perfectly with this single hop IPA. There was plenty of citrus tang, as expected, and hints of floral hop notes. The floral elements came across much more strongly in the nose than the flavour.

Kohatu is one of these New Zealand hops I'm sure I've had in a beer before, but wouldn't be sure when. It's a relatively new hop variety and like alot of citrussy New Zealand hops is lime driven rather than grapefruit. The roots of the hop are unknown/not well publicized but Kohatu is said to be from a European origin. 

The Kohatu has a really nice flavour with very little bitterness. There is plenty of tropical fruit flavours initially, before a distinctively lime citrus flavour comes through. I get sort of earthy undertones on this one as well. This is, in my mind, the weakest of the 4 - there's just not enough bitterness or flavour to overcome this lack of bitterness.

So there we go, BrewDog's IPA is Dead is done for another year. Once again this years pack has been an education. In terms of which beer was best I'd have to say the Amarillo, with a special mention to the EXP 366 which was a truly unique beer. The hop is really quite unusual and one I think that could lend itself to a number of styles. If you take these packs for what they are and don't expect them to all be world class beers you won't be disappointed; they really do showcase the hops well!

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

Thursday, 3 July 2014

OUT OF OFFICE: MORNINGTON PENINSULA


Out of Office


STATS
  • Location: Mornington, VIC
  • Tasting Paddle: YES
  • Food: YES
  • Branded Glassware: YES
  • Merchandise: YES
Roadies is a section on Beer O'Clock which seems to constantly be neglected. I visit microbreweries far more regularly than this section would suggest and clearly just fail to remember to write them up. I have no idea why this happens but I'm going to make a concerted effort to rectify this and so I've decided that today is the day I begin, starting with quite possibly my favourite Victorian brewery...

That honour goes to the Mornington Peninsula Brewery, strangely enough located in Mornington. It's one I thankfully get to visit quite regularly as it's not far from the family holiday house in Somers. Launched in 2010, the brewery exploded onto the scene and has become a firm favourite of Victorian craft beer enthusiasts.

Mornington is the first brewery I've reviewed for this section to tick all the boxes. They offer a tasting paddle, what self-respecting micro brewery doesn't? They offer food, the have branded glassware and there's jumpers, t-shirts, hats and the like for sale. Top job Mornington!

The brewery is located in a warehouse, maybe a kilometer from the main drag, in Mornington. It's in this industrial area and there's plenty of parking available in this big car park across the road if the brewery parking is full. The brewery itself is located just behind the bar and they've even got an upstairs area you can walk up and look down over the brewery.

Mornington's core range is made up of 5 beers; a Pale Ale, a Brown Ale, an IPA, a Witbier and a Porter. All of these are excellent and if you come across any of them around the traps it'd be remiss of you to turn them down. They're turning up at restaurants more and more frequently so keep your eyes peeled.

The seasonals are a great part of the brewery experience at Mornington. Favourites or mine have been the Black IPA and Sorachi Kolsch, a beer I highly recommend everyone trying - because it's so unique. If you do make the journey down to Mornington make sure you try all of the seasonals.

What Mornington have really become famous for recently has been their Imperial range. The Russian Imperial Stout is seriously stunning! It won gold at last years AIBA from memory. I know my dad is a huge fan of the Imperial Amber Ale, he's always disappointed when it's not on when we visit the brewery. And the Imperial IPA is a very good example of the style and one I look out for every year.

I've just checked my Untappd, for research of course, and found that in the 16 Mornington beers that I've had, I've never rated one under 3.5 - and that was only 3 seasonals! The core range has never been below 4 (out of 5 or the uninitiated). They are pretty incredible numbers considering I'm not generous with my ratings.

Their pizza's (see left) are stunning! There's always new choices, complete with suggested beer pairing, to sample everytime you go. There's live music in the bar, I've been told, on Friday and Saturday night as well as some Sundays. Even without the beer it's a top venue, when you chuck the beer in on top; it's amazing!

If I was asked to pick a Victorian brewery for a traveler to visit if they could only visit one; Mornington would be the one. It's a combination of all the things I love; great beer, great food and a great atmosphere! Now if only they could put it next to a train station and I'd be there every week!

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