Friday, 30 December 2016

TO ØLEKALENDER (PART 5)

To Ølekalender (Part 5)



Having greatly enjoyed the previous few years of beer advent calendars, I went searching for one that was a little outside the box (pardon the pun) this year. I ended up settling on the To Ølekalender from Danish brewers To Øl.

We get a wide variety of To Øl beers here in Australia, of which I've had the pleasure of sampling about 20, however I'm confident there will be a number in this box that I haven't had before (Untappd's latest count is 262 beer produced by To Øl!).

I don't speak Danish, but I think it's fair to say that To Ølekalender is a play on To Øl (which I know means two beers) and calendar. Like in previous years I hope to get a post up roughly every five days, so you can follow along my progress. If you're here I'm guessing you've already read Part 1 (link), Part 2 (link), Part 3 (link) & Part 4 (link) so let's get into the last 4 beers!

Day 21 - Sur Galaxy - When I saw the name Sur Galaxy come out of the box I was genuinely excited. I was even more excited when I found our it was a sour Black IPA hopped solely with Australia's own Galaxy hops! I'm obviously very across what Galaxy hops tastes like and I'm expecting plenty of passionfruit.

Naturally I was right, with bitter passionfruit the dominant hop aroma and flavour. It was however like no other Black IPA I've ever had! {Actually on second thoughts that a lie their was sour Black IPA I tried in France, but that's a story for another day.} It was highly hopped, aggressively sour and had plenty of roast! It's a really out there beer, but it's also a really good beer!

Day 22 - Black Bauble - Day 22 brought about a beer I'd never heard of before; Black Bauble. Apparently it's a Porter, brewed with some smoked malts, that has been spiced with cardamom and orange peel. Apparently it's to evoke memories of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and Christmas... Being a Southern Hemisphere inhabitant this certainly doesn't ring true, but here's hoping the beer will be delicious.

It was! Was there really any doubt? After 22 days I should probably know that it will almost certainly be excellent. It was packed with cardamom, to the extent that that was all I could smell initially. Caramel and roast malt flavours came through to taste, along with some of the orange peel, however there was no sign of the promised smoked malts.

Day 23 - Santa Gose F&#% It All - Of all the ideas behind the beers in the To Ølekalender this one may take the cake. Basically Santa goes f&#% it all and takes December off, doesn't deliver any presents and has a holiday in The Bahamas. Naturally (with the name) this is a Gose and is supposedly packed full of tropical fruit flavours (guava, passionfruit and mango), which I'm guessing are native to The Bahamas.

I think this would go very close to being my favourite beer of the To Ølekalender; it was superb! I could pick all three of the aforementioned fruits and peach, in addition to some zesty lemon that may be a by product of the acidity. There's limited saltiness, but it is present and leads to a nice dry finish which combines beautifully with the tartness. As a side note; this beer went on sale today in Melbourne - so if it sounds like your sort of thing I would look into it quickly.

Day 24 - Snowball Saison - The honour of being the last beer fell to the famous To Øl Snowball Saison. Quite why I haven't tried this before I'm not sure, but I do know plenty about it! The idea behind it is an alternative to the big sweet malty beers that are normally the staple of Christmas dinners. This is supposed to be a very crisp, dry, liberally hopped Saison and I'm looking forward to it immensely!

It didn't let me down either with a wonderful fruity Saison greeting me. It's moderately tart and has plenty of Belgian funk, with some Brettanomyces making themselves known but not overpowering the beer. Just as they promised his would be perfect to cut through the fat of a big Christmas dinner.

Clearly my auto-posting settings weren't set correctly as this post still isn't up on December 30 and it was supposed to on the 26th, so apologies for that guys. I have absolutely loved this To Øl advent calendar and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who loves a variety of really high quality, and often highly hopped, beers. It's absolutely worth the money and I'd be keen to get it again next year!

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

Saturday, 24 December 2016

TO ØLEKALENDER (PART 4)

To Ølekalender (Part 4)



Having greatly enjoyed the previous few years of beer advent calendars, I went searching for one that was a little outside the box (pardon the pun) this year. I ended up settling on the To Ølekalender from Danish brewers To Øl.

We get a wide variety of To Øl beers here in Australia, of which I've had the pleasure of sampling about 20, however I'm confident there will be a number in this box that I haven't had before (Untappd's latest count is 262 beer produced by To Øl!).

I don't speak Danish, but I think it's fair to say that To Ølekalender is a play on To Øl (which I know means two beers) and calendar. Like in previous years I hope to get a post up roughly every five days, so you can follow along my progress. If you're here I'm guessing you've already read Part 1 (link), Part 2 (link) & Part 3 (link), so let's get into the next 5 beers!

Day 16 - Frost Bite - Day 16 saw a Pale Ale make it's way out of the box. To Øl market this as a "Winter Pale Ale", which I'm struggling to come to terms with - I'm guessing it's something along the lines of a spiced Pale Ale? In any case; just about any beer will do on this warm Melbourne evening!

Despite Frost Bite being billed as a Winter take on a Pale Ale, I struggled to find anything particularly wintry about it! To me it tasted like a standard hoppy American Pale Ale, with pine and citrus bitterness to the fore. There is also some mango and peach elements, however there are no signs of any spices or anything of that ilk. I'll have to follow this up with a bit further research...

Day 17 - !!!PA Simcoe & Mosaic - My experience on Day 17 should serve as a lesson to all young players; always read the label! I thought I'd best get my To Ølekalender beer out of the way before a big family dinner. I half read the label, poured the beer in the appropriate vessel, took a photo and then tasted it. It was not the single IPA I thought it was, it was a 13% Triple IPA!

After the initial shock of it being a Triple IPA subsided; I was left with a very pleasant beer. As with most Triple IPA's there was plenty of sweet malts accompanying lashes of bitter citrus, particularly orange, coming from the hops. It hides the ABV remarkably well, with only a few hints as it warms up.
 
Day 18 - Don't Gose Towards the Light - To Øl make some beers that are really out of left field; a category that Don't Gose Towards the Light definitely fits into! Apparently it's a Gose that they've thrown some dark malts into to darken, before adding plenty of blackcurrants. I quite like the idea of a salty blackcurrant beer, I'm just unsure how much the dark malts will influence it.

I needn't have been concerned as the beer turned out very nicely. All the flavours you would expect were there; with hints of roast combining nicely with quite tart blackcurrants, whilst the saltiness really added to the overall experience. As the beer warmed a little, the sweetness of the fruit became more pronounced. It's not a beer I'd drink everyday, but I'm very pleased having now tried it!

Day 19 - Totem Pale - I hadn't heard of this beer before. Totem Pale is a 2.2% Gluten Free Pale Ale, the smaller brother of their Reparationsbajer. I had concerns over the body of the beer, imagining that it would be very thin at such a low ABV and also being Gluten Free.

Again To Øl surprised me by producing a very drinkable beer, despite it lacking in ABV and Gluten. There was nice peach and citrus flavours from the hops and they weren't particularly bitter. I even picked up a little wheat in the malt body. Admittedly it was a little thin, although the flavour was good enough that it wasn't a huge deal breaker. If you're looking for a Low Alcohol beer, this could be the way to go...

Day 20 - Tripel Trouble - I was wondering whether we'd see a traditional Belgian style come out in the To Ølekalender. On Day 20 it appeared in the form of Tripel Trouble. I haven't had this beer before and am a big fan of Tripel's so am interested to see what To Øl do with it.

To my mind; this was the worst beer of the To Ølekalender so far. I had high hopes for it and unfortunately it didn't live up to those hopes. The beer tasted like a honey sweetened Pilsner, with sharp Pilsner malt too dominant. Apparently there was some wheat (25% of the grain bill!) in there as well, but I didn't pick any of it up.

So there we have it guys, another 5 To Øl ticked off in the To Ølekalender and another 5 that I haven't tried before. The pick of the bunch was the Frost Bite, a lovely American Pale Ale that was improved by lacking in the promised festive spices. Sorry this post is a few days late - December got quite hectic! With any luck I'll get the last installment up tonight, otherwise it might be delayed a few more days... If this is the last post, Merry Christmas guys!

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

Friday, 16 December 2016

TO ØLEKALENDER (PART 3)

To Ølekalender (Part 1)



Having greatly enjoyed the previous few years of beer advent calendars, I went searching for one that was a little outside the box (pardon the pun) this year. I ended up settling on the To Ølekalender from Danish brewers To Øl.

We get a wide variety of To Øl beers here in Australia, of which I've had the pleasure of sampling about 20, however I'm confident there will be a number in this box that I haven't had before (Untappd's latest count is 262 beer produced by To Øl!).

I don't speak Danish, but I think it's fair to say that To Ølekalender is a play on To Øl (which I know means two beers) and calendar. Like in previous years I hope to get a post up roughly every five days, so you can follow along my progress. If you're here I'm guessing you've already read Part 1 (link) & Part 2 (link), so let's get into the next 5 beers!

Day 11 - Gose to Hollywood - Gose is a historical German style of sour beer that has taken over as the newest craft beer fad in recent years. This particular To Øl beer, Gose to Hollywood, is I think the beer from them that I've had the most times. Hopefully this particular example is as good as the ones I've sampled previously.

Thankfully it live up to my memories of it. It's a really nice example of a modern Gose with a light malt base, some reasonably strong citrus flavours - particularly orange peel, some saltiness, hints of coriander and nice tartness. I think this is one of my favourite Gose's and one that is just perfect for the hotter days of our summer that are coming up soon.

Day 12 - My Sour Pils - I was really excited to see My Sour Pils come out of the box on Day 12. I enjoyed the regular My Pils when it came out on Day 8 and thought the idea of a sour Pilsner could work really well. It's brewed using a sour mash, which is an idea I associate more with whiskey and haven't really heard of in brewing before.

My Sour Pils was delicious! It brought together the crispness of a nice Pilsner, with some grass and citrus hop flavours, with the refreshing tartness of a sour. The hops provided really good bitterness and plenty of lemon flavour, which was complimented by the citric nature of the tartness. At 4% ABV I think I could drink these all day!

Day 13 - ?! IPA - Day 13 brought about the "?!" IPA. Apparently the name comes from the phrase "Say What?!"... To Øl market this as a straight up and down American IPA brewed with Simcoe, Mosaic and Citra hops. I'm really interested to try this after some of the really aggressively hopped beers that have popped up in the To Ølekalender so far.

This beer was excellent and tasting particularly fresh. As promised it was a straight forward American IPA with plenty of bitterness. It had all the big American hop flavour profiles covered; with pine, tropical fruit and citrus all working in harmony. Of the tropical fruit flavours, mango and lychee stood out the most for me. I would really quite like to try this beer again.

Day 14 - Brett & Butter - Firstly; Brett & Butter! What a phenomenal name! Also added to by the disclaimer on the bottle that it doesn't contain any butter. Basically this is a Blonde Ale, that has been heavily hopped with Mosaic, and then been innoculated with Brettanomyces Custersianus - one of the more recently discovered variations of Brett.

This is the first beer in this pack that I've been a little disappointed in. It had lovely fruitiness (mango and rockmelon in particular) from both the hops and the Brett, but had minimal funk or tartness. The beer is a little too light for my liking and doesn't offer enough of any one element. I'd be really interested to hear the thoughts of other people who've tried this beer.

Day 15 - Mochaccino Messiah - I've been hoping this beer would pop out of the To Ølekalender since Day 1! It's a Coffee Brown Ale which has a really big reputation. It's also one that I've either missed or simply bypassed, so I'm really keen to see it today! It's a beer intending to imitate a morning coffee and I'm really looking forward to trying it!

A morning coffee it is! The first thing I smelt was a bit of lactose sweetness, which was quickly swamped by lots of coffee and roast aromas. There's some nice caramel flavours that comes through as well as some citrus and tropical fruit flavours. It's quite bitter; with both the hops and roasted coffee contributing to this. It's a lovely Brown Ale with a strong coffee influence and plenty of hops!

One of my personal favourites and four beers that are completely new to me; I really couldn't ask much more from this third installment of the To Ølekalender. Both of my wishes from last time (some sours and an IPA) were granted, so I'm not quite sure what I want next - maybe a stout and some more hoppy offerings. Until next time guys...

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

Monday, 12 December 2016

HOTTEST 100 BEERS: PART 5


The Hottest 100 Beers


It's taken me a little longer than expected, but I've finally put together Part 1 of this Hottest 100 segment. I've tried at least 1 beer from each decade (yes, it's correct - it's not just used for years.) and have written short summations for you below. Assuming things go to plan, ie. I can find all the beers in time, I intend to complete this challenge in 10 posts.

#5 - Little Creatures Pale Ale Little Creatures Pale Ale is one of the most important beers in defining the Australian craft beer scene that we now know. It's Pale Ale packed full of fruit (particularly grapefruit) and floral flavours. I don't think you can call yourself an Australian craft beer drinker if you haven't tried this beer.

#14 - Brewcult Milk and Two Sugars Brewcult's owner and head brewer is known as a bit of a mad man. Some of his offerings are really out there and very rarely lack flavour! Milk and Two Sugars was his 2015 GABS offering; it also happened to win the GABS People's Choice award. It's held up remarkably well considering it's about 18 months old at the time of trying. If you want to know more about this beer click here.

#23 - Lord Nelson Three Sheets I'm not quite sure how this beer managed to slot in so high in the countdown. It's quite a sweet Pale Ale, with bready malts dominating. The hops are restrained bitterness wise, but do provide some citrus and floral notes. I suppose it's reasonably well made, and admittedly I enjoyed it on tap a few years ago. Maybe the stock that makes it outside NSW doesn't move very well and there's enough Sydney siders who vote for it...

#32 - Matilda Bay Fat Yak This was certainly not a beer I thought would ever appear on Beer O'Clock Australia. As Australia's biggest macro Pale Ale it's not a beer held in high regards. I had this in Port Douglas in July (that's how long this post has been coming for!) and I don't know if it was the conditions that made this more palatable than I recall. It has some nice biscuity malts with hints of herbal and floral hops. I personally wouldn't have it in my top 500 Australian beers, but if this gets people into drinking better beer...

#44 - Boatrocker Roger Ramjet 4Most craft beer drinkers in Melbourne would've heard of Boatrocker, a brewery in Braeside producing genuinely world class sours and stouts. Roger Ramjet is the bourbon barrel aged version of their superb Ramjet Russian Imperial Stout. It's got masses of chocolate and roast characteristics, while the vanilla that is so present in the original version gets a little lost amongst the bourbon notes. It's a really special beer and would be far higher if not for it's relatively small production quantities.

#59 - 
Holgate Temptress Holgate is one of a handful of brewers in Australia with a Porter in their lineup. Much controversy surrounds the differences between Porters and Stouts, a topic I'm hoping to have a post up about by the end of the year - but that may well spill over into 2017... This beer is little thin, but makes up for it with masses of chocolate and vanilla with complexity arriving through some licorice and roast. It's velvety smooth and drinks dangerously easily for it's 6% ABV.

#61 - Odyssey Calypso Pale Ale I thought a trip to Mount Duneed (near Geelong) was in order when I first saw this beer on the list. Then the beer gods came through for me and Odyssey began packaging their beers! I'm so glad they did as this is a lovely Pale Ale. It has a relatively light malt base, which exacerbates the bitterness of the hops, which provide passionfruit, mango and guava flavours. I will definitely be getting my hands on this again! For a draught only offering from outside a major capital city placing at 61 is absurd! Now with national distribution we can only wait and see how high this beer will be on next years Hottest 100 beers...

#74 - 2 Brothers Grizz A beer that I know I often pass by is the 2 Brothers Grizz. It's an American Amber Ale, funnily enough brewed by two brothers, and an excellent example at that. It's got a nice caramel malt base and really quite punchy fruity hops, which provide more bitterness than you'd find in most Australian produced Amber Ales. Definitely a beer worth trying - I always enjoy it when I try it (approximately every two years!)

#88 - Bentspoke Crankshaft I had the pleasure of sampling this wonderful IPA at the brewery in Canberra while visiting my Grandmother. It's a really nice IPA packed with pine and citrus hop flavours. At the time I bemoaned the lack of packaged offerings of this beer; which have been answered in the ensuing months with the canning of this beer and their Barley Griffen (Pale Ale). If you're ever in Canberra you have to check out the venue, it's really cool and they produce a very wide style of excellent beers.

#99 - Kaiju! Hopped Out Red AThe biggest surprise for me in last years Hottest 100 beers countdown, was the 80 place fall of Kaiju's Hopped Out Red! Just like the other Red IPA's that have made the list so far; it's balanced beautifully with caramel malts and plenty of piney hops complimenting each other. I have pledged to return this beer higher up the countdown next year by voting for it; you should too! It's a phenomenal beer that deserves more accolades!

I've realized I really need to get cracking on this if I'm to finish the challenge by Australia Day. With any luck I'll get at least one more installment of this up before Christmas, in addition to some more advent stuff and the long awaited glassware post. You can follow me along live on the Beeroclockau Instagram page, I'll be trying to get a post up most days in order to meet the deadline. Until next time...

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

Sunday, 11 December 2016

TO ØLEKALENDER (PART 2)

To Ølekalender (Part 2)



Having greatly enjoyed the previous few years of beer advent calendars, I went searching for one that was a little outside the box (pardon the pun) this year. I ended up settling on the To Ølekalender from Danish brewers To Øl.

We get a wide variety of To Øl beers here in Australia, of which I've had the pleasure of sampling about 20, however I'm confident there will be a number in this box that I haven't had before (Untappd's latest count is 262 beer produced by To Øl!).

I don't speak Danish, but I think it's fair to say that To Ølekalender is a play on To Øl (which I know means two beers) and calendar. Like in previous years I hope to get a post up roughly every five days, so you can follow along my progress. If you're here I'm guessing you've already read Part 1, link here if you haven't, so let's get into the next 5 beers!

Day 6 - Raid Beer - The 6th beer out of the To Ølekalender sounded quite interesting. Raid Beer is billed as a hoppy Pilsner, with Amarillo, Citra, Nelson Sauvin and Simcoe hops all playing their part. It's another beer I haven't had before and it's one that I'm really interested to try!

My immediate impression of this beer was that it's not a Pilsner. The malt base had a bit too much caramel, and was even a little bit too thick, to be called a Pilsner. The hops provided great bitterness, with grapefruit and pine the most prominent flavours. I really quite liked the beer, although just because you want it to be a Pilsner - that doesn't make it one. In my mind this is close to the definition of India Pale Lager.

Day 7 - Santa's Hibernation - Santa's Hibernation is an American Pale Wheat Ale produced by To Øl exclusively for a French craft beer website (saveur-biere.com). Obviously they've held a few back for their own advent calendar, something I'm very thankful for as I love the style when done well.

Thankfully Santa's Hibernation was one a well made example of the style. The wheat was prominent, although balanced out with regular pale malts making it not too banana-ey. The hops aren't overly bitter, but they provide nice fruit and citrus flavours with passionfruit, mango and grapefruit the most apparent. It's a very easy drinking beer which I'd recommend if you can get your hands on it.

Day 8 - My Pils - After my last experience with a To Øl Pilsner, I was a little hesitant about what this beer would offer. My mind was put at ease somewhat by the rear label, which mentioned the use of Tettnanger hops (a German noble variety) as well as a handful of different American hop varieties.

This was far closer to being a traditional Pilsner, with a more typical light Pilsner malt base and grassy hops. Naturally, being a To Øl beer, it's more heavily hopped than many conventional examples and this comes through in the form of some citrus and passionfruit. It finished dry and clean and left me wanting more! I would definitely seek this one out again.

Day 9 - Sur Amarillo - When I pulled this beer out of the pack on Day 9 I was thrilled. I have loved all of the beers that I've had from this "Sur" series before, although have found most to be lacking in hops/having dull hop flavours, probably due to the time it takes for these beers to get here.

This was truly superb! Of all of the To Øl sours I've had, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. There's plenty of lactic acid tartness, which combines really well with grassiness, lemon and melon flavours coming from the Amarillo hops. This is probably the freshest I've ever had one from the "Sur" range and it tasted excellent! Hopefully there's another one or two hiding later in the To Ølekalender...

Day 10 - Black Ball - This beer came out in the midst of a tasting session Dylan and I were having. It was billed as a "Potent Porter" which, in typical To Øl fashion, has been heavily hopped. It's been quite a while since I've had a good Porter so I was really looking forward to this.

Black Ball was a lovely Porter. It was massively roast driven, with some chocolate also present, while heaps of hops provided good bitterness but little flavour that could make itself known over the roast and chocolate. As the beer warmed there was a nice smack of licorice, that was more present on the nose than to taste. This beer was exactly what I want from a Porter, all the flavours of a Stout, just with a thinner body that promotes ease of drinking.

Amazingly; I believe I've managed to keep a self imposed deadline! Almost as amazing is that I'd had none of these five beers previously, after only having had one of the first five. I'm looking forward to (hopefully) seeing a couple more of their sours pop up over the next few days and maybe an IPA or two. Stay tuned over the next week or so - I've got a few posts which are 90% completed - while the next installment of this should be up at the weekend.

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

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

TO ØLEKALENDER (PART 1)

To Ølekalender (Part 1)



Having greatly enjoyed the previous few years of beer advent calendars, I went searching for one that was a little outside the box (pardon the pun) this year. I ended up settling on the To Ølekalender from Danish brewers To Øl.

We get a wide variety of To Øl beers here in Australia, of which I've had the pleasure of sampling about 20, however I'm confident there will be a number in this box that I haven't had before (Untappd's latest count is 262 beer produced by To Øl!).

I don't speak Danish, but I think it's fair to say that To Ølekalender is a play on To Øl (which I know means two beers) and calendar. Like in previous years I hope to get a post up roughly every five days, so you can follow along my progress. So without further ado, let's get into the beers!

Day 1 - Hundelufter Bajer - First up was Hundelufter Bajer, an American Pale Ale. It's name is Danish for "Dog walker beer" and it's not one that I'm familiar with. I think Jimmy was a little disappointed I didn't take the name literally and walk him while drinking it!

As soon as I cracked it I knew I'd enjoy it. There was a bouquet of tropical fruit flavours on the nose, which transferred to the palate. Mango, peach and nectarine were the main flavours that I could identify. It's surprisingly bitter for the style and finishes quite dry. I'm torn on whether this would make a good dog walking beer - I think it's almost too drinkable and wouldn't last the length of the walk! This is one to seek out if you enjoy bitter Pale Ale's.

Day 2 - First Frontier - The first beer that I've sampled before arrived on only Day 2. Thankfully First Frontier is a beer that I really like and as an added bonus this will be the first time I've sampled it from a can. It's brewed as an out-and-out American IPA with hops taking centre stage.

First Frontier lived up to my past recollections of it. It tasted super fresh with heaps of pine and grapefruit bitterness dominating both the taste and the nose. I also picked up some passionfruit notes, that I previously haven't identified with this beer - possibly a by product of the can or it being brewed more recently than the stock we normally get. In any case; this beer is absolutely worth taking the time to track down - it's a lovely example of the style.

Day 3 - Kaffe og Røg - Day three brought another beer I hadn't had before with a Danish name. This one means coffee and smoke and it's name is a throwback to Danish bodegas of old; where men and women would sit in near darkness, smoke and have a coffee. It's a really good advent calendar beer as it's one that I probably wouldn't have bought of my own volition.

It was a really interesting beer, with roast qualities abounding. Accompanying these roast flavours was subtle smokiness and this really quite unusual herbaceous quality. For the life of me I couldn't place it, although I know it tastes like something! As the beer warms the coffee begins to distinguish itself from the roast, while there is also just a hint of vanilla. Clocking in at 9%, it's not a beer I'd be rushing back to - but it may interest fans of maltier offerings.

Day 4 - Sur Yule - I was really excited to see one of To Øl's "Sur" beers pop up on just day four of this beer adventure! I was even more excited to see that it was Sur Yule, the Christmas sour (although it's not in Danish!), and one I haven't tried before! I remember reading about this beer last year and so know it's supposed to be reminiscent of Christmas pudding - just in sour beer form!

Sur Yule delivered exactly what I was expecting. The beer was aggressively tart, with cherry dominating the aroma and flavour whilst some other dark fruits hid in the background. There were some hints of Vic Secret hops, but not to the extent that I was expecting, this is possibly due to age if this is not a re-brew. I was a little tipsy when I tried this; and it's one I'd like to visit again on a clean palate.

Day 5 - Cloud 3 Wit - I was a little skeptical when presented with a 2.8% Witbier, a toned down version of their Cloud 9 Wit, on the fifth day of To Ølekalender. I then thought about it a little more and thought why does a Witbier need ABV? I came to the conclusion that it probably doesn't - being a style where the body of the beer isn't particularly important, and the flavours don't need a heap of malt to carry them through.

As soon as I tasted it I loved it! This is a phenomenal example of brewing skill. It has all of the characteristics of a Witbier, whilst losing almost nothing - maybe the beer is a tiny bit thinner than it's stronger counterpart (Cloud 9 Wit). There's light wheat flavours, masses of orange peel, some peach and lemon. I really need more of this beer in my life - a session Witbier could revolutionize summer! Dylan, this is one you'd love I reckon!

What a fantastic start to the To Ølekalender! It may have been a couple of days later than I'd hoped, but it's great to finally have this up. I've only had one of these previously, First Frontier, and I'm pleased to say that I've been really impressed with the quality of the beers. If things go to plan, you'll see the second installment of this on Sunday - hopefully the beers to follow are just as good as those that have preceded them! Are any of you guys partaking in a beer advent calendar? Please let me know via the usual channels!

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

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 46

Untappd Catchup

I've finally finished exams for the year! I'm hoping that means this will also be the last Untappd Catchup for the year, although December can be a busy time... Today I've got 23 beers for you across 27 badges! As usual let me know your thoughts on any that you've had the pleasure (or displeasure) of trying before.

First up was Mikkeller Spontandryhop Citra, which unlocked Danish Delight (Level 8). This was a beautiful beer, with pleasant sourness mixing with plenty of juicy Citra hops. It finished beautifully dry and I know I will be getting plenty more of these over summer!

I can't remember how long it's been since a beer unlocked 3 badges in one check-in for me! Tiny Rebel's Cwtch (one of the most Welsh words I can think of!) did just that, with God Save the Queen (Level 37), Paint the Town Red (Level 11) and Riding Steady (Level 8) all unlocked. This was a really nicely balanced Red Ale with malt and hops combining perfectly.


Cavalier's Imperial Stout is one of those beers that I try and imbibe at least once a yeah. This was one of the first Russian Imperial Stouts that I really enjoyed; and this time it unlocked 2X (Level 8) - the badge for drinking "Imperial" styles of beer. It's a lovely chocolaty RIS, with roast coffee, dark fruits and some licorice also present. I feel this beer gets bypassed for some of the better known Australian examples/internationals, but it's definitely one worth trying.

As has become tradition; I headed to Dr Morse before my last MBA exam of the year. That day happened to be the day that Untappd released their new range of core badges including, Cheers to You! (Level 3), a badge celebrating the day you joined Untappd - which will be unlocked the first day you check in a beer after your personal Untappd Anniversary. In any case; a pint of Hop Nation's The Chop was the beer that unlocked this somewhat convoluted badge. It's an IPA packed full of tropical fruit notes and is a must try for all IPA lovers!


In preparation for my trip up to Beechworth I decided it was finally time to crack my Bridge Road Mayday Hills: Yee-Hah!. A Brettanomyces Pale Ale; it's the first beer to come out of their new Foeder. I've heard varying reviews of this beer; however I thought it was lovely fruity Pale Ale with nice Brett characteristics. I enjoyed it so much I picked up a 4-pack at the brewery to try over various time frames. Pucker Up (Level 45) is why you're hearing about it.

Up in Beechworth I assumed a Bridge Road Brewers beer would be the first to unlock a badge... Then we made a stop in at Beechworth Honey Discovery and sampled their paddle of Meads. Their Classic Mead unlocked Hey Honey, funnily enough the badge for drinking different Meads. The tasting notes said it would be dry, and it certainly was. The honey was far less pronounced than in most other Meads I've had and it was dangerously drinkable for the 9.5% ABV.

Somehow Bridge Road escaped without a badge being unlocked. but back home along came Riding Steady (Level 9). The beer was Dainton's new Blood Orange Berliner Weisse. I quite liked this beer but thought it could've had a bit more of everything. The orange flavour was a little weak, as was the tartness. It was however particularly refreshing and a nice Australian example of a Berliner Weissbier.


The Better Together badge has dried up a little in recent months. (Level 16) was unlocked by Saison du Buff, a collaboration between American powerhouses Stone, Dogfish Head and Victory. It had a nice amount of Belgian funk. Where it was different from others Saisons I've had recently was this strong herbaceous qualities, with sage the only one I could identify positively. I'd be keen on trying this one again in the future.

Keep Your Wits About You is a badge that doesn't come around all that often for me; Estrella Inedit unlocked (Level 6). It was the first time I'd sampled this beer in a number of year. By itself it's a relatively straight up and down Witbier with orange peel, coriander and pepper all present. When you pair this beer with food it changes completely; gaining this malt sweetness and drawing out some extra fruitiness. It comes in a 750ml wine bottle and I'd recommend trying half of it before eating and then the other half whilst eating - it's a very strange experience, you'd think you're drinking two different beers. 

Epic's new IPA Gods of War was my first of many beers last Friday. Consequently it unlocked Beer-giving (2016), a badge commemorating the most American of holidays - Thanksgiving. Epic very rarely disappoint and this IPA was no exception. It was packed full of passionfruit with a nice resinous pine backing. This is from their new IPA Hysteria range, something there is little information about at this stage - but that I'm certainly looking forward to!


On Saturday I was supposed to head along on a pub crawl that ended up falling through. Instead a few of the boys organised a more truncated route and whilst pondering said route I sampled Brewcult's One Fish. Two Fish. Red Fish. Brew Fish. at The Gertrude Hotel. For 3.8% this packed a heap of flavour with good caramel malt flavours as well as more than adequate hopping. Riding Steady (Level 10) is why you're reading about it.

Later that very night, my first visit to the Commercial Club Hotel yielded Hotel Hopper (Level 7). Vale IPA was the beer of choice while we watched the last session of the cricket and bet on some particular dubious dog races... The beer is pretty solid, with hops and malt nicely balanced. There are some citrus, passionfruit and pine hop flavours, although it is lacking in bitterness. As far as non-craft venues go - having this on tap is a pretty good step in the right direction.

All throughout November I'd been meaning to crack into my Fullers Brewers Reserve #4 to unlock Fullers British Pub Month (2016); I finally did on the 31st... Reserve #4 is aged in Armagnac barrels and this comes through in the finished products, with hints of Armagnac complimenting the dark fruit and malt flavours beautifully. There's also a touch of earthiness and wood. The beer is wonderfully mellow and three years in the back of my cellar appears to have done it wonders! Can't wait to see what happens to my last one of these in another couple of years...


I've written a little bit about Orbost's Sailors Grave Brewing in the last few weeks; their new one is a Whisky Sour Berliner Weisse which unlocked New Brew Thursday (Level 26). I was a little disappointed with the flavour of this one - the whisky was barely present and it was more like a woody sour, with just the faintest hint of citrus towards the back. Despite this sounded unappealing, it was nicely carbonated and quite refreshing.

For once I was thrilled to see the Riding Steady badge! I don't think I would've spoken about MoonDog's Beer Can unless it had unlocked (Level 11) of the aforementioned badge. Firstly what a name! Secondly; it's actually a really good beer! It's an incredibly easy drinking lager, with nice tropical fruit and citrus notes. This beer is going to be a real winner with your non-craft drinking mates!

Deschutes' Sagefight Imperial IPA unlocked a badge I wasn't expecting; it's own! Battle Royale was the name of that badge and was only available until December 1st, 2X (Level 9) was also unlocked by this check-in. This was billed as a battle between hops and botanicals, and in my opinion botanicals came out well on top. Juniper dominated the nose and palette, while there was also some some sage that made itself known. It still had that IIPA sweetness, but was lacking the hop bite. It's not a beer I'd be rushing back to, although I am pleased I got to try it.


Just as I was saying that the Better Together badge was drying up, (Level 17) rolled around with perennial contributor Amager again at the forefront. Their collaboration with Cigar City, Game of Arms, is an "Imperial Licorice Porter". It certainly lived up to that tagline with plenty of licorice, possibly even too much, accompanying nicely roasted malts. I wouldn't rush back to it - however I will never not buy one of these Amager collaboration beers; they're consistently excellent!

I love doing beer advent calendars and this year I have got the To Øl version; To Ølekalender. Their Kaffe og Røg was a Smoked Beer I haven't tried before and a great one to get in an advent calendar as I probably wouldn't have bought it myself. It unlocked Danish Delight (Level 9) and had subtle smokiness as well as some interesting herbal qualities. If things go to plan you'll hopefully be reading more about this beer later tonight!


I was lucky enough to be selected from the Crafty Cabal cohort to attend a tasting session with the guys behind Old Wives Ales as part of their first birthday celebrations at Carwyn Cellars. One of the highlights from the day was their Red Sky at Night, a raspberry Saison which has been aged for 9 months in the keg. Whilst not being particularly pink, the beer packs a nice raspberry bite with reasonable tartness being imparted by some lactic acid. There's also some lovely pepperiness, which has come from the 3711 French Saison yeast that they utilized (there's a funny story about that, which I'll save for another day. Trip to the Farm (Level 19) was the badge.

In addition to the Old Wives Ales first birthday celebrations; Carwyn are holding a month long BrewDog tap take over. Highlander (Level 6), the badge for drinking Scottish beers, was unlocked Chili Hammer - the chili infused version of Jack Hammer. This reminds me so much of Garage Project's Death from Above, with mango and peach being complimented by a reasonable, yet not overpowering, chili kick.

Just before I was to leave Carwyn the Old Wives Ales guys managed to get their Pop's Passion Tart, a Berliner Weisse, keg pouring correctly. Boy was I glad they did! This was a wonderfully refreshing beer with plenty of tart passionfruit flavour. I really hope this gets bottled down the track, it'd be perfect for an afternoon by the pool. Pucker Up (Level 46) and Ich Bin Ein Berliner, the new badge for drinking Berliner Weisse's, is why you're hearing about it now.


The second beer from the To Øl Ølekalender was their Sessions: Cloud 3 Wit, basically a lower ABV version of their Cloud 9 Wit. Clocking in at just 2.8%, this beer unlocked Riding Steady (Level 12). For what it is this a superb beer; it has a night wheat body, with orange peel, peach. lemon and some unidentified fruit complimenting it. The beer is slightly lighter bodied than a full strength witbier, but I may have only noticed that because I was looking for it. I can't understand the lack of love this beer receives for the life of me; it's great!

Dubbel, Tripel and Quad Oh My! (Level 6) rolled around with a true classic; Westmalle's Tripel. I love this beer; yet still don't think I've written or said something succinct about it. It's lightly fruity and has light sweetness from the candi sugar, but the real winner is the peppery spiciness delivered by the yeast. This beer has previously been reviewed on Beer O'Clock Australia, which you can check out here. It's a beer that all beer lovers have to try at least once; it's the quintessential Tripel!


What a monster review! I'd get close to posting it and suddenly two more badges would appear! Anyway it's finally done and hopefully that's the last Catchup post for a little while. I'm hoping to have a couple of other posts finalized either later tonight or tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled for those. As usual keep your beer recommendations and email questions coming in; I've almost caught up on them! Cheers guys and...

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

Sunday, 27 November 2016

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: OCTOBER

The Beer-thusiast Pack: October 


Since the temporary demise of Tru Bru's Bear Club, I've been looking for a beer club to fill the void. Up stepped The Beer-thusiast Pack from one of Melbourne's finest craft beer establishments; Carwyn Cellars.

The Beer-thusiast Pack is delivered to your door monthly. It's composition is a complete mystery until it arrives - although it's likely to include a number of local offerings. Each month 12 beers arrive, including 5 duplicates. As many of you know I'm not generally one for duplicates, which is where Dylan comes in.

Dylan and I share a love of sport and have been playing indoor soccer together for a few years now. Dylan's love of craft beer has grown over the years to the point that he's now an avid Untappd user and works at a boutique bottle shop, with a large craft beer range. His tastes are not dissimilar to mine; with a preference for sours and hoppy beers over maltier offerings.

For the first time in a few years I'm going to have a co-reviewer on Beer O'Clock Australia. The plan is that we'll divide the duplicates at soccer soon after they arrive. We'll both drink them individually and record our thoughts, before getting together to share the single beers in the pack (and possibly a few more!). For this first post I'll write a pre-amble about each beer, Dylan will take care of the tasting notes (in italics) and then I'll add thoughts where I see fit. The format is sure to change over these first couple of months as we work through some teething issues, so please hit me up if you've got any feedback.


This lineup convinced me to sign up! The locals were really impressive with four beers from Victoria, of which I'd only tried two, as well as the Nomad's Freshie in a can - a beer I love in bottle form and was thrilled to see in a can. The internationals were inspiring; I love BrewDog's Black Hammer, whilst I've walked passed the Founders Imperial Stout so many times and know I should've tried by now. After one of the longest introductions I've ever written, let's get into it!

Bodriggy Highbinder - American Pale Ale - 4.8%

I was really excited to finally try the Highbinder in a bottle. Bodriggy Brewing Co. is owned by the same guys as Dr Morse, my work local. I've had this Pale Ale numerous on tap and found it very impressive each time. With some proper distribution this will be a very, very popular beer. I can't wait for these guys to get their brewery up and running on Johnston St in the not too distant future!

"Even with Noz’s recommendation I have to admit I came into this with a few reservations, pale ale fatigue coupled with an unfamiliar brewery, perhaps. I was very happy to be wrong. This is a cracking pale, lovely fruity hop flavours as you’d expect but the balance is really where this stands out. You can taste everything they put into this in every sip. There’s citrus and passionfruit on the nose supported by a great malty body giving way to just enough hop bitterness. Impressive."

Boatrocker Saison du Bateau - Saison - 6.4%

Fresh off taking out the latest Crafty Pint Blind Tasting (link here), Boatrocker's Saison du Bateau has found it's way into the Beer-thusiast Pack. It's a straight up and down interpretation of a modern Saison. It's also a beer that I found far better this time round, than when I first tried it more than a year ago.

"Boatrocker’s funkier efforts always get me excited and I came into their take on a saison with high expectations. It’s a very solid effort, hits all the notes you’d expect with a bracingly dry finish. It’s great to see more and more Australian saisons doing the rounds as time goes on; for mine, this doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of Exit’s Saison and Bridge Road’s Chevalier but it’d be in the next rung down."

This is a perfect example of one of the reasons I've been keen to get someone else's opinion on the blog again. Both of us enjoyed this beer as a straight up and down Saison, with this fantastic dry finish. However; Dylan prefers the Exit and Bridge Road offerings, whereas I would have it right at the top of the Australianpile (probably with La Sirene in arrears). This subjectivity is the part of why I enjoy talking about beer so much - there are no right or wrong answers.

BrewDog Black Hammer - Black IPA (American Black Ale) - 7.2%

BrewDog's Black Hammer was one of the beers from this pack I'd had before. It's part of their Hammer Head series, where they take their big American IPA - Jack Hammer - and change it up. From memory they had a Belgian yeast one, Monk Hammer, a chilli infused one, the name escapes me, and one infused with Brettanomyces, Brett Hammer.

"Funnily enough this is more of a ‘breakfast beer’ than many others that actually claim that title in their name or description. Coffee and grapefruit flavours abound. It’s an excellent black IPA as you’d expect from BrewDog, scarily drinkable considering the ABV and IBU numbers too."


Sailors Grave Southern Right Ale - Altbier - 4.7%

Sailors Grave Brewing launched in September with a range as eclectic as their Orbost location. It comprises a Gose, an IPA and, this, an Altbier. I can't think of another brewery in Australia with an Altbier in it's core range, although I'm sure one of you will remind me of one I've missed. Altbiers are an intriguing style of beer, basically a German Brown Ale, which are often characterized by nuttiness and fruit.

"Wasn’t too sure what to expect from this one going in, have not delved into SGB’s efforts much before. A lagered brown ale with a whack of bitterness should give you a rough idea of what you’re getting, but going a little deeper I found some grassy and fruity notes with what seemed like noble hop character. There’s bite and a touch of spice but it never becomes harsh. It was reminiscent of some of the classic English bitter brands more than anything - I’d like to hear if the brewers by chance took inspiration from any of them. It’s an interesting little beer and one I’d like to revisit down the line. The cans are great too!"


Old Wives Ales Hair of the Dog XPA - American Pale Ale - 5.8%

Old Wives Ales is one of the best brewery names going around. The story of their formation is pretty unique; with the four partners meeting at the Merri Mashers home brew club. This was their first release in 2015 and was only recently bottled in August this year.

"I’d happily drink these all day in the Aussie summer. Fruit salad and citrus peel flavours up front with well balanced bitterness. It’d be bloody hard as an Australian brewer to make your pale ale stand out but this is an admirable effort, the contrast of the tropical fruit flavours and lingering bitterness are memorable."

XPA is one of these terms that I don't love although, much like Session IPA, the term explains what you're getting. They do sit in that grey area between American Pale Ale and IPA, both in terms of style and hop bitterness. To me this is a really nice hoppy American Pale Ale - and that's how I would've preferred it termed...

Nomad Freshie Salt & Pepper Gose - Gose - 4.5%

I was so pleased to see Freshie launched in a can! I've been saying for years that sours will really take off in Australia when Feral's Watermelon Warhead is released in cans and this is a step in the right direction. If you're reading this blog I'm sure you know what a Gose is - it's only the hottest style in craft beer at the moment!

"I’ve always described this as what salt and pepper squid would taste like as a beer. The more I drink it, the less accurate that seems to be but the broad strokes still work! Most would know this is brewed with a couple of buckets of actual sea water from Freshwater and it really does add a lovely saltiness to this beer. It’s a different salt profile from many other modern goses. There’s a bit of light spice and it’s bloody refreshing. I’d definitely recommend this to somebody who hadn’t tried a gose before and wanted to give something different a go."


Founders Imperial Stout - Russian Imperial Stout - 10.5%

I've walked passed this beer on the shelves of various craft beer establishments innumerable times. Whether it's in part due to it's relative availability compared to other Russian Imperials I'm not sure. In any case; after tasting it. it's a beer I will certainly be going back to in the future!

"This is one that probably flies under the radar a bit due to the relative ease of which it can be acquired. It deserves to have its praises shouted from the rooftops - it’s one of the best dark beers I’ve ever had. It’s silky smooth, creamy and full-bodied with wonderful umami packed yeast and barley flavours. If you’re a stout lover (or even just an occasional partaker like myself) you’re doing your tastebuds a disservice if you pass this one up when available."


Bridge Road Enigma - Czech Pilsner - 5.0%

There simply aren't enough craft pilsners produced in this country. This example from Bridge Road is superb, and I believe the first commercial release to utilize Enigma hops when it was first released. I actually visited Bridge Road Brewery last weekend and while I didn't have this beer I'd highly recommend popping in, their beer is great and Beechworth is a lovely country town.

"Cracking pils, sharp and bitey with some nice citrus notes. You get a lot of hop flavour which is unsurprising given the name. I prefer this quite a bit over their chestnut pilsner, it has more of that crisp bitterness that I enjoy in a pils. It’s one of my favourites in Australia."

What a wonderful introduction to Carwyn's Beer-thusiast Pack! The November pack has already been delivered to Beer O'Clock Australia HQ and the lineup is just as good! We'll be aiming to get it reviewed in the upcoming weeks. Please hit me up with any feedback you have regarding the layout of this post, I've been tweaking it for the best part of the last week and I'm still not entirely happy with it...

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