Wednesday, 22 April 2015


Et Cetebeer

  • Country: New Zealand
  • Style: American Wild Ale
  • ABV: 9.5%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
8 Wired are consistently one of New Zealand's best brewers. Their HopWired IPA (Fresh HopWired is even better), iStout and Tall Poppy are all world class beers! I was particularly excited when I heard that this sour was available, however...

I'm not going to lie; I've never heard of Feijoa... A quick Google search later and; Feijoa is a flowering tree native to South America. It's widely grown as a fruiting tree throughout New Zealand, where the cold temperatures promote more fruit growth. They also produce fruit in Australia, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Southern Russia. It apparently tastes like a combination of pineapple, apple and mint... This is sure to be interesting!

As sours go; Wild Feijoa pours quite a regulation colour. It's a perfect translucent golden/orange colour with a small white head that fades very quickly. The white head that is initially maybe a finger and a half, fades to just a ring around the outside of the glass in under a minute (as the photo above shows). Despite the lack of head, it's a pretty looking beer.

When we move onto the nose we get more fruitiness than I was expecting, alongside some nice brett characteristics. The beer seems quite sour at times and there is a whiff of raw alcohol, which strangely doesn't seem out of place. There's hints of the white wine aroma, but nothing overpowering which is definitely more to my liking.

Now the taste is where this beer really takes off! It's brilliantly balanced! The flavour is wonderful with this fruitiness, which is everything I described Feijoa as above (pineapple, apple and mint) that is mixed in with some sourness and just enough hints of oak. As it warms different elements come to the fore, but for the most part all three elements (fruitiness, winey oakiness and sour) mix together perfectly!

This beer is as brilliant! It's didn't quite earn a five star rating on Untappd, but it was close as you can get without getting one. The ABV is what shocked me, 9.5% is a huge ABV for a sour yet you can hardly tell it's there. At times this beer is bitingly sour, at other times the oaky white wine flavour comes through and other times there is a fruitiness that I assume is Feijoa. Most of the time though this beer is the perfect balance of all three and I highly recommend to sour beer lovers! My words have hardly done it justice; try it!

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

Sunday, 19 April 2015


  • Country: Australia
  • Style: (Broadly) Pale Ale's
  • ABV: 5.0 - 6.3%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottles
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
4 Pines was a brewery who's beers I didn't particularly rate. They were solid examples of the styles they purported to be, but were nothing special. A friend of mine recommend I revisit them and in particular their Keller Door range.

I was skeptical after revisiting the Pale Ale, which you can read about here, and the Kolsch. However the Citrus IPA and India Brown Ale from the Keller Door limited release range were both excellent. Which leads us to this pack...

The idea behind this pack is to take you on a beer journey through history. With the 5 Bastards being divergent from the original English Pale Ales. The first beer is a typical English IPA, that supposedly would be similar to those on the voyage to Australia, right through to modern day and the 4 Pines Pale Ale. I feel this could go one of two ways and be really good or really bad. I devoted my Easter Saturday afternoon drinking to this pack while I prepared ribs for dinner.

I started off bang on 12 with The First Bastard, the English IPA. This is the most similar beer stylistically to an English Pale Ale as it uses the same hops and malts, just more of them. The combination of extra ABV and hops preserved the beer making it the perfect beer to bring on long boat journey's back in the late 1700's.  

True to style; the English IPA had a great malt base with the hops prominent although not providing much bitterness. The hops were both earthy and lightly grassy while there was good biscuity flavours coming from the malts. I'm normally not a big English IPA fan but this one was quite drinkable.

The Second Bastard is one of the most talked about styles of craft beer today; the American IPA. This style has really only come into it's own in the 1980's, however it's roots date back to the end of the Civil War. German settlers in American, who favored lager, and the English, who favored English Pale Ale, began brewing. As the hops began to grow in American, the flavour profile of the style diverged from the typical English Pale.

This divergence is particularly evident in this IPA. with the citrus and in particular grapefruit flavours - that have become synonymous with American IPA's - being very prominent and you even get some pine towards the end.

New Zealand was the geographical setting for The Third Bastard. As in the case of the American IPA, the New Zealand Pale Ale gains it's major characteristics from the hops. New Zealand is producing some brilliant hops lately and these hops are beginning to infiltrate the American craft beer scene.

This beer is a really nice example of a New Zealand Pale Ale. It was mildly earthy at first until the tropical fruit and stone fruit flavours from the hops come through. They are not particularly bitter and the beer finishes with a slightly dry chalky feeling. It's particularly sessionable and a beer I could drink all day!

The Australian Pale Ale was next up; and it's a style that is fast gaining traction - so much so that people are beginning to suggest it become it's own distinct style from American Pale Ale. For those of you who are wondering the difference, Australian Pale Ale's have lighter bodies and less hop bitterness - basically they are more suited to our hot climate. 

I've received a few emails about my statement the other day about this being a hoppier Coppers Pale Ale. I stand by it; in no way was it intended as a derogatory comment. Everyone reading this review has probably had a Coppers Pale Ale and it's a point of comparison. The hops are fruity and floral and make this beer very sessionable.

Belgian Pale Ale has been brewed since the 1700's, however never really gained a strong foothold until after World War 2. The British soldiers influenced the hops and yeast used in the style and from all reports made the style more sessionable than it had been prior. Typically they are maltier than the other styles in this pack and the yeast plays a larger role in the taste.

True to form the malt was more prominent and had good biscuity and caramel characteristics. There was nice earthiness and more fruitiness coming from the hops, which blended brilliantly with the spicy aromas of the yeast. It certainly wasn't heavy on the Belgian funk, but there enough there to appease most Belgian fans.

The pack finishes at the inevitable place; the standard 4 Pines Pale Ale. Those of you who are regular readers will be aware of my feelings towards this beer. I feel it could be so much more than it is. That's why I was particularly surprised when I poured this bottle...

It had a strong, almost pungent, hop aroma! Something I've never associated with this beer. The flavour was also surprisingly juicy, with grapefruit and pine both quite prominent. I'm not sure if this was a chance for a recipe re-tweak, a case of much fresher stock or just the rest of the beers set up this beer to seem better than it was...

4 Pines have done a good job with this pack. It's a nice trip through the "bastardization" of the English Pale Ale. If you go into this pack expecting brilliant beers, you will be disappointed. All of these are serviceable examples of their various styles and all have one thing in common; they are very drinkable! You have to take this pack with a grain of salt; at the end of the day it's designed to sell more of their flagship pale ale. It's certainly worth getting your hands on if you can find it.

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

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


Tru Bru Bear Club - February 2015

February's Bear Club pack was beset by delays, with kegs stuck in customs and some beers not even kegged in time! But the middle of March rolled around and so did the pack. It's far and away the most sour driven pack with three across the standard and all the extra's.

Hophead's never fear though; there's also a couple of big Imperial IPA's! I think a case could be made that Australia's best Imperial IPA is included in this pack and it goes up against one of New Zealand's finest! I'm also very interested to try the Renaissance Darth Imperial Black Saison and the Wolf of the Willows ISA. Anyway enough stuffing around, time to get into the beers!

Boatrocker in Braeside has not been around that long, but they have quickly developed a reputation as Melbourne, if not Australia's, best sour brewer. Miss Pinky is a Berliner Weiss brewed with 100kg of raspberries. It's one of the oddest looking beers I can recall seeing! It pours a cloudy light pink colour that reminds me of a childhood medicine... That aside it's a lovely beer with good, yet not excessive, tartness and a light raspberry flavour. I would certainly drink this again, it's lovely!

Panhead's Vandal is a beer that has been reviewed on Beer O'Clock Australia before, read about it here. It's a seriously impressive New Zealand Imperial IPA, which I am beginning to think belongs alongside the like of Epic Hop Zombie and Garage Project's Pernicious Weed as one of the best IPA's coming out of NZ! If that's not a glowing enough endorsement I don't know what is?!?!

Sticking with the Panhead theme, we are now moving onto their Whitewall - another beer reviewed here previously. (There's some serious Panhead love here!) The tap version of this beer is incredibly quaffable! It's got Stone & Wood Pacific Ale vibes with the hop bill, with just enough wheat to know that it's there, without ruining the drinkability. The bottled version has a little more wheat but is still incredibly good drinking! Definitely one for people who prefer lighter things.

Next up I moved onto Emelisse's Earl Grey IPA. As regular readers of this blog would know; I'm a huge Emelisse fan! This Dutch brewery produces some seriously good stuff and the Earl Grey IPA is no exception. There's plenty of bitterness and fruit flavours from the hops and the finish has a light herbal tea-like aroma and flavour.

Darth Saison from Renaissance was next up. I didn't know what to expect from an Imperial Dark Saison, but this beer delivered! There's spiciness, there's some funk, there's plenty of banana, there's roastiness and there's chocolate! This beer has got all the individual elements you can imagine from the style and somehow brings it together into a brilliant beer!

Rogue Hazelnut Brown is a beer I've had many times before. It's a beer that I've normally passed off as a run of the mill Brown Ale. Now that I've had it on tap all of that has changed! On tap there is this nutty character that combines brilliantly with the bitter chocolate taste I know. This is a brilliant ale on tap and one I highly recommend to all!

Black Dog Brewery is run by a winemaker in central Victoria. James produces some seriously good stuff and Hell Hound, his Black IPA, is my favourite of his beers. It's a style that is very difficult to perfect, and this highly roasty offering with plenty of pine and citrus bite on the back end is as good as Black IPA gets!

I believe I am right in saying that Riverside 777 is the first beer to appear in the Bear Club twice. Being as rare as it is, I would encourage it being in many more packs! It's a brilliant Imperial IPA, possibly the best that Australia produces! It's got heaps of pine and citrus, as you'd expect, and is certainly not for the faint of heart with a very strong bitterness.

Saturday afternoon watching the footy seemed like the perfect time to crack into Boon Kriek. This is an iconic beer! As you'd expect from a traditional Kriek (cherry lambic) there is plenty of cherry sweetness and enough tartness to make it not cloying. It's a seriously good beer and one that everyone should try. The tap version is spectacular!

The second Renaissance beer in this Bear Club pack was the Fifth Element (aka Chocolate Thunder). This beer was produced in collaboration with a Wellington bar's bar manager for their 5th birthday celebration and is a re-working of their Elemental Porter. This beer is backed full of dark chocolate flavours with a little roast and spiciness at the back end that makes it a special beer!

MoonDog's core range gets some mixed reviews; but one think most people agree on is that their sours are excellent. Mr Mistoffelees is a Passionfruit and Mango infused sour, and it's sensational. It's even better off tap with huge passionfruit flavours. If you love sours you have to try this beer.

I have no idea how this beer managed to slip to last in the February Bear Club pack! Wolf of the Willows ISA (India Saison Ale) is the much anticipated followup to their excellent XPA, and I have to say it was excellent. It was predominantly a Saison, which was lovely and dry, but with nice tropical fruitiness and some bitterness coming from the hops. It's one to look out for!

This Bear Club review has been full of high praise. I will go as far to say that this is the best Bear Club pack yet! If you are reading this review and thinking you want 3 or more of these beers; JOIN THE CLUB! If you're interested in drinking the best quality beer that can be sourced in Australia, call Anton and say I sent you - he'll look after you. And when in the future you run into me, you can buy me a beer for suggesting one of the best decisions you'll make this year.

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

Friday, 10 April 2015


Untappd Catchup

It's been a shockingly busy couple of weeks, so apologies for the lack of content recently. As a result there is also a HUGE backlog of Untappd badges from a couple of cool events and a big Easter long weekend. Thoughts on these beers are welcome as always!

If you can only have one beer on St. Patrick's Day it has to be a Guinness! Everyone reading this now will have at least tried a Guinness once in their lives. Almost everyone I know has at least tried a Guinness! It's the ubiquitous stout, what Ireland is most famous for and earned me the lovely St Pat's Day badge below.

Boatrocker's Miss Pinky was the beer for Pucker Up (Level 14). These guys have very quickly made a name for themselves as makers of great beers and also have one of Australia's best sour programs. This is a raspberry infused Berliner Weiss and pours a fantastic light pink colour. You'll read more about this beer in the February 2015 Bear Club review...

Two weeks ago Tru Bru hosted a very special event with 6 beers very rarely, if ever before, seen on these shores. Basically it was a blind tasting of Russian craft beers blindly matched against similar Australian and New Zealand examples. It was a really nice intimate event, with I think 7 of us joining Anton for what turned into an excellent evening. Naturally a couple of badges were acheived along the way...

The first of which was Pale as the Moon (Level 36). The beer was an AUS/NZ offering, however it was also one of the most disappointing beers of the evening. I was shocked by the reveal; Renaissance Perfection! I don't think I've previously had a Renaissance beer I've disliked, but this was a very earthy English Pale Ale that just didn't do it for me... I will certainly be revisiting this in the future.

Hopped Up (Level 5) was badge 2 on the AUS/NZ vs Russia tasting night and thankfully it was a Russian brewery who took this one out! The beer was Jaws Atomnaya Prachechnaya IPA, which translates as Nuclear Laundry apparently... It was a seriously impressive IPA, from these guys in the based in what you would've thought as a craft beer desert, in the middle of the Ural Mountains. If this is indicative of the quality of Russian craft beer I can see why it's taking off!

Another Bear Club beer to make an appearance in this Untappd Catchup is another New Zealand beer; Darth Saison from Renaissance. It earned two badges Trip to Farm (Level 8), a badge for drinking Saisons (also known as Farmhouse Ales, and Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 16). It's a black Saison, and there is darkness, banana and funk in abundance. This was back to what I was expecting from Renaissance, it was bloody good! You can read more detailed notes in the Feb 2015 Bear Club review.

4 Pines's latest Keller Door release is a trip through the history of Pale Ale. Fittingly one of these, the 4th Bastard, earned the Pale as the Moon (Level 37) badge - the second time this badge has been earned in this badge. I won't talk too much about this beer now, there's a full review of this pack on the way... To summarize it in a sentence, it's a Cooper's Pale Ale clone with a little added hops.

Sierra Nevada's (relatively) new IPA is called Boomerang. It's hopped with Australian hops; Galaxy, Ella and Vic Secret. It was packed full of citrus, passionfruit and pineapple and was wonderfully bitter! I really enjoyed this beer and it earned me two badges; the North Carolina Beer Month (why, I honestly don't know) and the Sierra Nevada; New Year, New Beers badge - a badge for drinking and Sierra Nevada beer between March 5 and April 5, so if you're looking to add that to your collection you are out of luck.

Lizzie took me to a BBQ cooking class a couple of weekends ago. Halfway through smoking some ribs, chicken and fish and the guy offered us some beers. Thinking there was potential here for a nice IPA (ribs and IPA go so well together!), I accepted. Having got my hopes up a little, I was particularly disappointed to be then handed a Sol... If I'm being objective; it wasn't that bad for a Mexican Lager, although I would still advise all readers against drinking Mexican lagers! Lager Jack (Level 40) was the badge.

Victory's Dirtwolf is a beer I have been looking out for for a long time! Hopped Up (Level 6) is why we are here talking about it. It's a huge Imperial IPA packed with citrus, tropical fruit flavours and pine. It somehow leaves behind a very crisp finish, despite a big chewy body. It's a beer that I know I will have to buy more of and hopefully give a full review to in the future.

Land of the Free (Level 33) was earned by a beer that's been in my fridge for months; Twisted Manazita's Chaotic Imperial IPA. I'm not sure why this sat in my fridge so long, but it held us really well. The beer had quite a sweet, almost syrupy, malt base before a cachophany of bitterness drowns out any citrus and pine flavours that the hops briefly offer. It's a nice, different take on an IPA, although I probably wouldn't buy it again.

Another beer that I've really been looking forward to try was BrewDog's This. Is. Lager. These Scottish guys may be abrasive and put a number of people off, but they do know how to make excellent beers! This. Is. Lager. is an lovely example of a German Pilsner with light malts and a spicy and grassy hop bill. God Save The Queen (Level 26) was the badge.

My decision to buy a wide selection of the Bacchus range is being vindicated every time I have another one, they are really impressive across the board. Atomic Boysenberry was no exception, with an excellent Berliner Weiss base complimented by a strong boysenberry aroma and flavour. Pucker Up (Level 15) was the badge that means we are talking about it now.

A beer that I have been seeing raved about on Facebook for ages has been Mikkeller's Better Half IPA. It was a beer that I had to track down, which I naturally did and then decided to (unbeknownst to me) sample it on National Beer Day (2015), thus earning the badge. It was malt forward at times, yet there was also plenty of piney hops. The artwork on the can is pretty cool too, keep an eye out for this one.

This was one hell of a wrap up! Hopefully a few of you have had these/will keep an eye out for them now that you've read a glowing recommendation on many of them. As usual, shoot me emails, tweet me comment below, whatever is easier for you and let me know your thoughts/suggestions for beers I should have in the future. Cheers guys!

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