Wednesday, 23 September 2015

REVIEW: CRAZY DONKEY IPA

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: Greece
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 6.0%
  • Serving Type: 750ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
Despite the huge Greek diaspora in Australia, little of their beer (aside from the big players Fix, Mythos etc.) makes it out this way. Crazy Donkey IPA from Santorini Brewing Company claims to be the first Greek-made IPA. I'm definitely looking forward to trying it!

Santorini Brewing Company is based in Mesa Gonia, most famous for the Church of Panagia Episkopi, on the Greek Island of Santorini. They are a pretty small operation so it's nice to see their beers reach our shores. I remember a friend raving about their Yellow Donkey after visiting Greece, and so I was pretty excited to get my hands on this offering from them.

The beer poured a deep orange colour with a very large cream coloured head. It's quite an opaque beer, with a couple of floaties throughout the beer. The head has large bubbles in it right from the off, but does have reasonable retention. It laces the glass really nicely, which is a wonderful aesthetic. This is the colour of IPA's that I tend to least like, but it does come down to how it tastes in the end.

Crazy Donkey IPA from Santorini Brewing Company smelt wonderful! There was some nice floral characteristics as well as some citrus and tropical fruit notes. It smells reasonably bitter, but not blow your face away bitter. The malts are not particularly forward, which I found odd considering the beers colour, those that were obvious were quite earthy and grainy. The hop forward nature of the beer really stood out.

I didn't need to do any research to know that this beer is packed with Nelson Sauvin hops! It was dominated by that distinctive that true beer lovers will know. There was some malt in the background as well as some citrus and tropical fruit flavours. Melon was probably the most dominant of these, but the floral Nelson Sauvin was the dominant player. Crazy Donkey IPA finished beautifully dry.

It's not a world beater, but Crazy Donkey certainly is a nice beer. I don't regularly get to try IPA's from the newer parts of the craft beer world, so this was a wonderful experience to try. For those who love Nelson Sauvin hops this would be one to try, it's packed full of them! I'd also happily drink it again and if in Greece would definitely actively seek it out.

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

Monday, 21 September 2015

REVIEW: STONE THUNDERSTRUCK IPA

Et Cetebeer


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 8.7%
  • Serving Type: 660ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
Every year Stone release an anniversary beer to mark the birth of their brewery in 1996. This year, I assume to mark the beginning of cold shipped stock to Australia, they have brewed an Imperial IPA made with all Australian ingredients. I knew as soon as I heard about it that this would be a beer I reviewed.

When I first heard about this beer I was particularly interested to find out what hops they were using. What they settled on wasn't particularly exciting; Galaxy, Topaz, Ella and Vic Secret. I'm not a huge Vic Secret fan but I am very partial to Galaxy, Ella and Topaz. Stone had Fairview malts shipped in for the brew, which is nice attention to detail. Although I'd expect nothing less from Stone!

The pour was close to perfect for the style. The head was three fingers of tight creamy white foam that had good retention. There was some lacing on the Spiegelau glass, which is rare but not unheard of.  The colour of the beer was a little lighter than usual for the style, being a crystal clear golden colour, rather than a more orangey gold. (see previous Imperial IPA posts for more details on my preferred colour.)

Onto the nose and it's quite incredible! It's ridiculously hoppy and packed full of tropical fruit and citrus characteristics. The most prominent fruit on the nose is peach, a fruit I'm rarely able to detect. The malts definitely take a back seat to the hops, but there is a slightly earthy aroma that is accompanied by some pepperiness. There's also just a touch of raw alcohol at the end as it warms, however it isn't overly unpleasant.

I was so pleased to see the Thunderstruck IPA deliver on it's promise from the nose. It was packed full of tropical fruit flavours as well as citrus qualities and just a touch of pine. Mango comes through quite prominently from the tropical fruits, whilst peach is also still present but not as strong as the nose indicated it would be. It was well balanced with light earthy malts, but enough body to support it's 8.7%. There's great bitterness and a nice dry finish to round off the beer.

In Australia we don't make anywhere near enough Imperial IPA's; something that Stone's 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA clearly demonstrates. Our hops are clearly suited to this intensely bitter style and it's something I hope more of our craft brewers take note of. This beer shows what great Australian Imperial IPA's could be, now our industry has something to aspire to using our own local ingredients! Top job Stone; can't wait for your 20th anniversary beer!

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

Saturday, 19 September 2015

EUROPE UNTAPPD CATCHUP

Untappd Catchup


You've read all about my European adventure now, and what I'm sure you're all waiting for is to hear how many Untappd badges I got. Before revealing the exact total I will say it's a lot more than you'd usually read about in one of these Catchup reviews.

The exact total of badges received in Europe was 69, yes sixty nine! Naturally with this number of badges I had to come up with a different format to what we normally do in these reviews...

So I've come up with this, there will be differing levels of detail provided for different badges/beers but if you refer to the relevant country review it should hopefully be able to fill in the gaps for you. If you are still after more information please feel free to email me and I'll do my best to help you.

Holidays, for me at least, always seem to bring about a whole host of new lagers that I've never tried before. This one, despite how much craft beer I found, was no exception. Nine (9!) Lager Jack badges attest to that. It started in Austria with Wiener Original unlocking (Level 42) and finished in Liechtenstein when Swiss beer, Vollmond Appenzeller, unlocked (Level 50).
Brew Traveler is a badge that has perpetually confused me. It's supposedly for checking into beers in different states and countries - but two check-ins in different suburbs sometimes trigger it? Anyway a Wieselburger Gold in Vienna, a Kronenbourg in Paris. a Cardinal Speciale in Geneva and a Tripel Karmeliet in Brussels unlocked (Level 8-11) of this badge.

The Summer Fun badge is a relatively straight forward one. To earn this badge you need to check-in to 5 beers with the word "Summer" in their name. A Viennese microbrewery, 1516, provided the beer with their Grapefruit Summer Wit. It was quite an impressive beer. It had light banana notes combined with good grapefruit flavours, with only moderate bitterness.

Where there's lager there is usual the odd Pilsner. Slovakia's main lager, Zlaty Bazant is a proper Czech Pilsner. Sampling it in the summer sun in Bratislava was a great experience. Crisp as Day (Level 11) was the badge that it unlocked. While Corgon 10, another Slovak beer, and Cardinal Especiale also unlocked levels of Crisp as Day throughout the trip.

Czech it Out was a badge that eluded me for far longer than it should have. This is a badge for drinking beers from the Czech Republic, one of the world's best beer producing countries. The beer that finally unlocked it for me was Staropramen Tmave, which I had at the Red Stone Castle in Slovakia. It's a really nice Euro Dark Lager, the style that first got me into craft beer.

Before you ask, I did not find New Zealand craft beer in Bratislava! Panhead's Boss Hog is one of the Tru Bru bottles that came with me from home, in case craft beer was scarce - which it wasn't... This was an interesting IPA with quite a lot of vegetal qualities, which normally don't work for me. Any way this was the only time I unlocked Drink Like A Kiwi and it was (Level 21).

I always thought the Beerspotting badge would arrive in Europe and on the Slovak Hungarian border it came. The badge is for checking into beers on trains or at train stations. Kozel Cerny was the beer that got the job done. It's a Euro Dark Lager that I'm very familiar with and often drink in the colder months back home, something I should look into before those months get away from us...

Heffenista (Level 7) arrived in one of Budapest's finest craft beer shops - Csak a jó sör! The beer was from a Hungarian micro brewery; armando_ochtoa. It was called a "semi-dark Hefeweizen", although I struggled to work out where the semi-dark was coming from; it was only a little darker than a regulation Hefeweizen and certainly tasted like one.

I think my favourite Hungarian beer earned Hopped Up (Level 14). The Hopfanatic Infusion IPA, which blended a sour apple cider and an IPA was simply brilliant! IPA Citra Galactique had two of my favourite hops, Citra & Galaxy, and brought up (Level 15) in France, while La Nebuleuse's Embuscade brought up (Level 16) in Vaduz. Highly hopped beers were clearly in (relative) short supply...

Better Together is a badge that has been long over due, collaborations are one of the great things about the craft beer world. Vari Noverek was an easy drinking Pale Ale between two Hungarian breweries; the aforementioned armando_ochtoa & Szent András Sörfőzde unlocked (Level 2). While Extraomnes (Italy) and Stillwater (U.S.) was a wonderful saison that unlocked (Level 3). I can't wait to unlock more of these, I love collaborations!

Still in Hungary, a Soproni at the Balna Building by the Danube unlocked Tailgater (Level 2). I was a little confused why until I saw I checked into the hockey stadium next door. Anyway, the lager itself is a little too sweet for my liking but despite this is still relatively easy drinking. I think Soproni is available in Australia, if any of you are looking for a Hungarian beer...

I always assumed that I would unlock a lot of Belgian Holiday badges on my own Belgian holiday. It started in France with a Grimbergen Blanche for (Level 16), took in a collaboration beer by Brasseries de Blaugies and the famous Hill Farmstead, an Orval and 3 different Cantillon's before finishing back in France with a Bush Ambree at (Level 24). It was a great ride

By the Campfire is a relatively new badge for drinking beers in locations considered to be outside. A Kronenbourg 1664 in Aix-en-Provence brought up (Level 3), whilst an Orval (god it's good!) in Brussels was enough for (Level 4). The Lervig Sour Suzy I had at the Tour de France unlocked (Level 5), I was disappointed with this beer it just wasn't quite sour enough!

Naturally I had to source an American beer for Independence Day; and thus I came to be drinking a Reserve Special Black Ale from Dark Horse, a brewery I'm aware of through Dark Horse Nation the TV show which I've seen once or twice. Anyway the beer itself was a nice Porter, although in close to 40 degree weather, I think I've had more weather appropriate beers...

Get Radical's Mars Needs Women was a brilliant Bretty Saison packed full of honey. It earned Pucker Up (Level 19) and was one of many impressive offerings from these guys. The brilliant sour producer that is Cantillon provided beers for (Level 20 & 21), whilst that Lervig Sour Suzy that you've already heard about wrapped up (Level 22) at the Tour de France.

Keep Your Wits About You is a badge for drinking Witbiers. They were in relatively short supply throughout Europe, as I only unlocked 2 levels of this badge (Level 3 & 4). The first was La Trop's Blanche from St. Tropez. It was pretty light on flavour and body but perfectly drinkable. The second was the wonderful Blanche Hull Melon from Brasserie de la Vallée du Giffre - this beer would be sooo good in our summer!

La Trop got their second beer in this monster Untappd Catchup. Their Ambree unlocked Paint the Town Red (Level 2). This was a better beer than the other one of their's that I tried. It had the flavour of a full amber, something I'd missed while I was away. The body of the beer was a little thin, but I think in the French summer heat it was a blessing that it was thinner rather than heavier.

It's fair to say that I'm not really a cider drinker. That said I won't turn one down when it offered to me. At Brasserie de Monaco they had a cider on their tasting paddle. I'm not going to profess to being a cider expert, but I quite liked this one. The colour was very distinctive, it was very effervescent and it wasn't sweet. It was quite refreshing on a hot day.

Going Dutch is a pretty straight forward badge, drink 5 Dutch beers to unlock it. 8.6 Absinthe from Bavaria Brouwerij was the beer to unlock (Level 2). I bought this as a joke for Lizzie and was better than I expected it to be. It's quite herbally, similar to Absinthe, and doesn't have much overt sweetness. It was also not particularly hot, despite it's 8.3%. It's a good novelty beer to split.

Find the Source (Level 5) was the first badge I unlocked in Milan. It was actually the first beer I had in my walk around Milan! It was at this bar called Beerbacco, which is strangely classified as a brewery (I confirmed they don't brew on-site). The beer was Kamaleon from a brewery called The Wall. It was an American Pale Ale, but was lacking in hops and tasted a little watered down. A disappointment!

I had feelings that The Gondolier badges would flow in Italy. That they did as well with (Level 5-9) all being unlocked - in 2 and half days... Trübes Weiss kicked it off at Beerbacco. A trip to Baladin Milano was good for (Level 6) with their wonderful Isaac (how many breweries have a Witbier as their flagship beer?). Farnese Chica was quite bland, while Trhibu IPA was apricotty. Last but not least was the Hoerdum Moka, which was a nice coffee stout.

As mentioned in the earlier wrap up of my Italian holiday - Suds Samba has finally arrived! This is the badge for drinking Brazilian beer, they have a thriving craft beer scene but very little of it makes it outside of Brazil. I've suffered through 5 lagers (one a Black Lager) to be at this point today. Skol is the beer that unlocked it and is consistently on the most consumed lager in the world list.

A beer I already talked about in the Better Together badge above, unlocked Trip to the Farm (Level 10). The Migdal Bavel from Extraomnes and Stillwater Artisinal Ales. Stillwater are lauded worldwide for their Saisons and this was no exception. The was wonderful! It had this wonderful spiciness to it and was very very drinkable. This is a collaboration that I hope makes it out our way soon.

New Brew Thursday... I was so pleased when I hit Level 10 and thought you were gone forever, Not to be though and so he we are with New Brew Thursday (Level 14). It arrived in Milan at the start of what was to be a huge day of drinking. This was a very apricot driven IPA, not like an I can recall. I enjoyed that the IPA was called Trhibu and was brewed by Hibu.

One of the badges with the longest name is Dubbel, Tripel and Quad Oh My! As the name suggests it's for drinking Dubbels, Tripels and Quads. I earned two of these on my travels (Levels 2 & 3). The first was the Extraomnes Tripel, which was sensational! The second was the Staffe Hendrik Wild Tripel, which I had in Belgium - which I thought was a really interesting take on a traditional style.

Heading into my trip I didn't think I'd be unlocking a couple of different levels of the Beer Connoisseur badge along the way. The first was the Moroccan beer, Casablanca (a full review of which you can read about here). The second was Presidente from the Dominican Republic. Both of these beers came from Drinks of the World in Geneva and earned (Level 14 & 15) respectively.

One of the world's finest beers earned Sky's the Limit (Level 10). That beer was Trappistes Rochefort 10. I couldn't quite believe that I haven't reviewed this yet - something I will attend to as soon as possible! This beer is simply spectacular! It's a spectacular mix of sweet maltiness, dark fruits and spices. I can't recommend this highly enough.

Big Stouts and Porters were definitely off the table due to the prevailing weather conditions throughout my trip. Hence it wasn't a surprise to end up with just one new level of the Heavyweight badge; (Level 33). The beer was La Nebuleuse Malt Capone; these Swiss brewer's really know how to brew! This was lovely and chocolatey without being overly sweet.

Fruits of Your Labour (Level 2) was wrapped up in Brussels. Rince Cochon, who'd let me down so badly in Nice, was the brewery who provided the offering. The beer was their Rouge; a strong (7.5%) fruit beer. It had this medicinal flavour, that reminded me strongly of children's panadol, and showed almost no signs of the ABV. It's not really my thing but I can see the appeal.

Bush Ambree was quite a nice amber ale that I had little idea that it was 12% ABV. This was the first beer we had at our Hotel in Paris and it unlocked Hotel Hopper (Level 6). I wouldn't rush out of my way to get it again, but if I was handed it I'd happily share it with someone. It's well crafted to somewhat hide the ABV, but it's not something that I particularly enjoy.

Normally I love it when Untappd releases new badges; not the latest lot though! My first day in Italy, after over 2 weeks in France drinking plenty of French craft beer they released a badge for drinking French beer; Creme de la Creme! Never fear though, I still managed to notch up 3 Levels with La Rioule Simcoe (1), La Levalloise (2) and La Debauche India Sout (3). Read all about these beers in my France Part 5 review here.

Thank god I've finally finished this review! It's taken over a month to finally get this all done. Europe provided 31 different badges which you can see above. It was a truly amazing trip and this post has finally concluded everything to do with it. I'm hoping to get back to regularl reviewing in the next few weeks - so stay tuned.

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

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

EUROTRIP 2015 - FRANCE (PART 5)

Beer O'Clock on Tour


Our final stop on our European adventure was back in Paris for (in part) the final stage of the Tour de France. Naturally standing in unseasonably cold Paris for a number of hours to watch some cycling would require some refreshments...

Once again I decided to shop at Caves a Bulles. I had a different shop assistant this time but he was just as helpful and I walked out with 12 different beers to the ones I had in my travels through France so far.

We decided to stop and have lunch on the walk back to our hotel. Over the course of lunch I had a regular Kronenbourg, which was better than 1664 but still a little too sweet. I followed it up with a Pelforth Brune a beer which I have a well documented adoration of. It's a nice brown ale that I can't quite explain why I love, maybe it's that it's not a bog standard lager?

We also brought a couple of things with us from Belgium that we hadn't managed to finish there. Bush Ambree was one of these. It tasted quite nice at first but did begin to seem a little hot (ABV-wise). A quick check of the bottle later and I realized why, it's 12%! For 12% the ABV is definitely well hidden... After this I knocked off a Delirium Tremens, which should speak for itself - if you haven't tried it, do!

After a morning at the Palace of Versailles Lizzie and I thought it best to get a few beers in. The first was the Jurassic Creation Ephemere Huell Melon Summer Beer. It was a lovely light beer with excellent Melon flavour. I would love to get more of these - it's a great hot weather beer!

I really enjoyed the first Brasserie de la Valle du Giffre beer I had in St Paul de Vence, so I thought why not try another of their IPA's. The lucky beer was the La Rioule Simcoe, which I was assuming was a Simcoe Single Hop IPA. It was a well balanced IPA with a good citrus characteristics and bitterness. This is another excellent beer that I really enjoyed. The French have come good!

Volcelest Blonde brought us back down to earth, it was a middling tasting Blonde Ale with some light citrussy hops. At dinner that evening I had a Grimbergen Blonde, which I enjoyed, and a Kronenbourg 1664, which I did not enjoy. You'd have think I'd have learnt by now...

The Brasserie de la Goutte d'Or Why Here? is a Black IPA that I enjoyed, but certainly wasn't outstanding. It was predominantly chocolatey, with some roast and hops. La Maline from Brasserie Thiriez, this wasn't what I was expecting (a Belgian Strong Dark) and was far sweeter, almost Porter-like.

In the morning we had enough time before staking out our spots for the Tour de France foooor a beer and some lunch. I had an Edelweiss, an Austrian Hefeweizen, which was potentially an odd choice... After a long walk in the pouring rain, esky in hand, we settled on our spot and I cracked a La Levalloise. It's an American Pale Ale and a pretty good one at that. Judging from the two I've had, I'd highly recommend trying beers from Les Brasseurs du Grand Paris.

I had bought my beers with warmer temperatures in mind, who'd have thought it would be 14 degrees and pouring with rain in July in Paris! Brasserie de la Valle du Giffre provided me with another beer, this was their Blanch Hull Melon, clearly Melon wheat beers are a thing in France... I can see why though, this was light and refreshing with good wheat and melon flavours. I'd love to try it in warmer weather.

Brasserie Correzienne is another brewery whose beers I returned to. This time I had their Prairial IPA. It was of the maltier variety but had good orange zestiness. Etoile du Nord from Thiriez is not a beer I remember a lot about and all my notes say is "loved it!" Not particularly helpful...

Another Jurassic beer I had was their Indica IPA. This was probably the best IPA I had in France with great pine and grapefruit flavours combined with good bitterness. Sour Suzy from Lervig was my last craft option at the Tour de France, by this stage I was almost swimming it was so wet! This was only lightly sour, which was slightly disappointing - but probably better for the situation. I finished off the Tour with a few cans of 1664, which didn't taste awful - maybe I'd had a few too many?

This didn't stop me and Lizzie knocking off the last two beers that wouldn't fit in our suitcases to come home for dinner. The La Debauche (what a name!) India Stout, which was a wonderful mix of hops and roast. It was distinctly more "stouty" than a Black IPA. We finished off the holiday with something very special - Struise's Black Albert. This stout is rightly regarded as one of the worlds best and if you have any way to get your hands on it I would highly recommend you do it!

What a way to end the holiday, the Black Albert was simply sensational, while I think I found some of the best craft beer France has to offer. Now, I intend to get the monster Untappd catchup post up in the next little while. Then we'll get that surprise review up that I've been promising for a while before resuming service as usual. Thanks for reading about the beer side of my journey throughout Europe, hope you all enjoyed it!


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