Monday, 29 February 2016

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 34

Untappd Catchup


It's been almost a month since the last of these Catchup reviews, which is pretty good going for me at the moment. Check out 11 really good beers in this review and let me know your thoughts if you've had any of them.

A couple of quiet Saturday afternoon beers turned into a very big session at Tru Bru. One of the beers sampled was the excellent Wireless IPA from 8 Wired. It's a sour IPA, which has great fruit and Brett characters. Quite why Tru Bru unlocked Find the Source (Level 6) is still a mystery...

Later that night I head to The Local Taphouse for the Almanac launch. Farmer's Reserve Citrus unlocked two badges Pucker Up (Level 28) & Land of the Free (Level 45). It was quite late, but I thought this was a bit less sour than some of the other Almanac offerings and consequently was dangerously drinkable. Thankfully I've got a bottle to sample on a clean palate one day soon.


The Super Bowl 50 badge appeared somewhere in the early hours of the morning. Another Almanac beer, Farmer's Reserve Blueberry, unlocked said badge. This was the pick of the bunch for me. It was terrifically sour at the start and finish with plenty of sweet fruit (which I'm guessing was Blueberry, but honestly couldn't tell you) packed into the middle. Another beer that I'm very pleased I have a bottle of...

I've made it abundantly clear in the past that English Bitter's are not my favourite style of beer. For some reason the stupidly shaped St Peter's Organic Best Bitter bottle made it's way into my fridge and had been causing havoc ever since. Naturally I took one for the team and sampled it. At first I quite enjoyed it's caramel malts and lightly herbaceous hops, however over the full course I found it became a little cloying. You're Extra Special (Level 20 is why you're reading about it.

Liberty Citra is one of my absolute favourite beers. It's close to perfect for my palate, with plenty of tropical fruit & citrus flavours coming through over the quite solid malt backbone. There is heaps of bitterness, but the beer remains beautifully balanced. I reviewed this be in full over 18 months ago, which you can check out here. Mardi Gras (2016) was the badge.


Little Creature Pale Ale earned another badge, I believe this to be the fourth badge that this beer has unlocked. On with the Show is a badge for checking into theaters, cinemas etc. and a going away drinks at Rooftop was the reason for this badge finally being unlocked. Anywhere you can get Little Creatures for less than any other beer by the pint is fine by me. As usual the beer was excellent!

Not Your Father's Root Beer was one of the most divisive beers I can recall from last year. The boys at Acland Street are always good at getting this sort of thing in and they didn't let me down this time. Not having had a Root Beer before I didn't really know what to expect... I actually really enjoyed it, once I got past the distinct Deep Heat aroma! It's got sweetness, this odd herbal quality, some cherry and cola. I would recommend trying it if you get a chance. This beer unlocked the badge of the same name. Well done Small Town Brewery for introducing me to the world of Root Beers!

Amager have been releasing plenty of collaborative efforts recently, the latest of which; Pocketful of Dollars, earned Better Together (Level 9). I've been lucky enough to have 5 or 6 of these collaboration beers and have been impressed with all of them. Pocketful of Dollars has a nice, thick spicy rye body. The beer is pretty decently hopped as well, with orange a particularly strong flavour and great bitterness being imparted. I don't quite understand why this beer is getting a bit of a bad wrap...


I know it's early in the year but one of my most highly anticipated beer releases of the year was the Bridge Road & Doctors Orders Spontaneous Fermentation 4-Pack. Basically it was 4 Berliner Weisse's with different fruits added. The first of these; the SF-Base, was exactly what it sounds like - the plain Berliner Weisse. It was a lovely example of the style, which was slightly sweet, slightly sour and very crisp. Pucker Up (Level 29) was the badge.

Not unexpectedly Better Together (Level 10) came along in the Spontaneous Fermentation pack. SF-Raspberry was the last one of the pack that I tried and was probably the most interesting. This beer at times was far and away my favourite, and at others tasting a bit disappointing... I can't remember a beer that changed back and forwards as much as this one. It was sweeter tan the other beers in the pack, with great raspberry flavour and mild tartness.


Sixpoint Hi-Res is a huge IPA, over 10% ABV, which recently had a badge - Sixpoint Hi-Res View - that you could unlock by checking in to two Hi-Res'. This beer is brilliantly balanced despite it's monstrous, sweet malt body. Accordingly there are plenty of hops and at 115 IBU's it's very bitter, despite what my previous review says. If you want more details about this beer, read my review from 2014 here, which was a slightly different version admittedly.

So there we have it guys, another Untappd Catchup review done and dusted. Work looks like it is finally settling down a little bit now, and accordingly I'm hoping to get a few full reviews up in due course. Please let me know if there is anything you would like to see me try or if you've got any thoughts on the beers above. Cheers guys!

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

Sunday, 21 February 2016

REVIEW: NØGNE Ø #500

Untappd: Here Come the Vikings (Level 2) Badge


STATS
  • Country: Norway
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 10.0%
  • Serving Type: 340ml PET Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
Nøgne Ø are one of my favourite brewers in the world. These guys make consistently brilliant stuff with #500, initially brewed to mark their 500th brew, no exception. It's got to be at least 3 or 4 years since I last had one of these so am very pumped to get to try it again!

#500 is a really big Imperial IPA. The numbers are significant with this beer comprising 5 malts, 5 hops, 10% ABV and 100 IBU's. It's a fittingly large beer to unlock Here Come the Vikings (Level 2), the badge for drinking Norwegian beers. I can't wait to try this beer again, so let's get into it!

Firstly apologies for the iPhone photo again, I thought those days were behind us... The beer pours a deep orange, almost amber colour which is quite cloudy. The head is cream coloured and relatively small, maybe two fingers high at it's peak. The head is comprised of quite large air bubbles and accordingly dissipates quite quickly. It's certainly not a typical looking Imperial IPA, but it is nonetheless enticing.

Onto the nose and it's similarly intriguing. Unlike most IPA's it is not hops that dominate the nose, it's malt. It's a big, sweet smelling beer with caramel and bready notes both evident. There are plenty of hops there as well with citrus, particularly orange and grapefruit, the most prominent.

My first sip brought memories flooding back. Nøgne Ø's #500 tastes exactly like it smells; caramel malts dominate at first, diluting some of the bitterness of the hops but, thankfully, not limiting the punchy citrus notes. There's almost no sign of the 10% ABV other than quite a thick body.

If you can't guess I thought this was an absolutely cracking beer! It's too big to drink consistently, but even 4+ years later I still remembered it vividly. Everything from Nøgne Ø is sensational and #500 is no exception. They are certainly not the cheapest beers going around, but they are truly worth it. If you're an IPA lover try and track down a bottle of #500, you won't be disappointed!

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

Sunday, 14 February 2016

HOTTEST 100 BEERS

 
The Hottest 100 Beers


The dust has settle on The Hottest 100 Beers for another year. As usual their was some consternation among beer lovers as to the results. This year I felt their was a greater sense of unrest than previous years, so thought I may as well throw my own two cents in the ring.

For those who don't know, the Hottest 100 Beers is a poll run in much the same way as the Triple J Hottest 100, the general public vote for their 5 favourite Australian beers of the year in no particular order. Accordingly, and again similarly to the music version, this has thrown up a few anomalies which has disillusioned different members/sections of the community.

Statements like Dan Murphy's, first time sponsors of the Hottest 100 Beers this year, have artificially inflated the rankings of beers they stock - are not helpful. Nor are statements of brewers like Pirate Life getting employees to vote multiple times for their beers, and subsequently landing their 3 core beers in the top 11 of the Hottest 100. Neither of these statements, both of which I've heard multiple time, do I believe to be true.

I've taken a couple of weeks to collect my thoughts on the whole thing. I've read various pieces from a number of people, ranging from people I know and value their opinion through to a guy on a forum who said that he couldn't believe Fat Yak didn't win, as it was "clearly Australia's best beer!"... I believe, but sincerely hope not, that this individual was being 100% genuine.

After analysing some of the critiques and comments, as well as my own initial thoughts, in conjunction with the results I've come to the following conclusions;
  • The Hottest 100 Beers list is comprised of the most popular beers in the Australian craft beer community, albeit contrary to popular belief.
  • The Hottest 100 Beers list is a reward for consistent quality of product.
  • Brilliant beers will be rewarded, albeit not with the top positions in the rankings.
  • And finally something we all knew already, the Australian craft beer community is great because of it's diversity, and our ability to express different opinions.
I intend to address all four of the these dot points in more detail below. Starting with first; the Hottest 100 is without a doubt the most popular beers across the broader craft beer drinking community. I can accept that not everyone enjoys drinking huge Imperial IPA's, stout's or barley wines all the time like I do. The Australian craft beer scene is constantly growing, and a lot of that growth is through brands such as James Squire, and in particular their 150 Lashes. Their own head brewer recently admitted that they were a gateway product for people moving from mainstream to the pointier ends of craft beer. I believe it's place in The Hottest 100 is a true indication of how many more people are seeing the light and moving on from mainstream lagers. James Squire's key is their quality control and people knowing what they will get every time they order a pint, which brings me onto point 2...

Find me one example in the Top 100 that is not a continually excellent product - I think you'll struggle. The list is a reward for consistency - there's no two ways about it. There is not a single beer, that I've had, on that list that I've ever had a bad one of. One of the hardest parts of being a brewer is producing the same product time and time again. The Hottest 100 has, inadvertently, become an acknowledgement of brewers who take great care of their sanitation and quality control measures.

The very best beers, the ones spoken about ad nauseam on beer groups and forums, simply do not reach enough people to earn the top placings in the Hottest 100 Beer rankings. Furthermore, in many cases, they are simply to complex for the average persons palate. Before jumping up and down about the placing of Mountain Goat's Barley Wine or Boatrocker's Roger Ramjet, we all must recall that this is a popularity contest - not an awards ceremony voted on by expert beer judges. With this in mind, it is a huge achievement for such beers to even crack a spot in the Hottest 100. If one of these beers can capture the imaginations of the 10% of craft beer drinkers that love bigger, more ostentatious brews and get enough of that 10% to vote for said beer so it gains enough votes to feature, they must be pretty special.

Finally we are brought to a point we all already knew; that our craft beer community is great. Despite what I've said above, I think it is great that people are getting so passionate about beer. At time we all need to remember that at some point in our lives we were all mainstream macro beer drinkers, without those beers we wouldn't be where we are today discussing some of the wonderful beers craft brewers are producing in this country!

This is a post that I didn't intend to make this long - it's just kept snowballing the more I thought about the subject. On a somewhat similar note; I'm announcing that I am going to follow in the footsteps of Crafty Kev and try and track down the Hottest 100 Beers of last year over the course of the next year. A couple of these will be very hard, with limited stock/not being in production any more, but I'll do my best. You can find the results, and subsequently my list I'm chasing down here. I'll be posting updates here throughout the year, if you want to follow my challenge live it'll be on my Instagram - beeroclockau. Looking forward to hearing all your thoughts on the above guys - hit me up via the usual channels. Until next time.

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

Monday, 1 February 2016

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 33

Untappd Catchup


It looks like I didn't quite get on top of my reviewing as I hoped... Here is a quick wrap up of the last two weeks of Untappd badges, there's 16 beers across 18 badges for you enjoyment. As usual let me know if you've had any of them and your thoughts on them.

I don't drink a lot of Mexican beer and according Cerveza Matador is only on Level 2. Hop on or Die an IPA from Cerveceria Mexicana (who I believe own Tecate) was actually a pretty serviceable beer with great bitterness. Along with the Mexican badge, it also unlocked Hopped Up (Level 29).

Arctic Fox is a brewery that have seemingly dropped off the face of the planet, since their sale in 2012. I've found it very hard to find their beers since. Their Chocolate Stout seasonal is however still excellent when you can find it. It's got great chocolate flavours and hints of vanilla as it warms. It's a wonderful sweeter stout and Heavy Weight (Level 39) was a fitting badge.


Just my second Belgian Holiday (Level 26) badge I've unlocked since my own Belgian holiday, arrived in the form of Alvinne's Omega. These beers arrived on our shores with a huge reputation and this is, strangely, the first one I've got my hands on. This was quite a strange beer, in which raw (albeit subdued) sourness dominated the flavour. There were nice hints of Belgian funk as well as plenty of citrus and hints of apricot. It's a beer I'd love to try again.

Sixpoint has been a favourite brewery of mine ever since they arrived in Australia a few years ago. Their Hi-Res, a beer I've previously reviewed, unlocked Land of the Free (Level 43). The beer has been toned down a little (11.1%-10.5%) since I last tried it - although it's lost nothing in terms of it's hop punch, in fact going up 4 IBU's to 115. Despite this high bitterness, it's actually a very balanced beer with a very sweet malt base. It's a huge beer - drink in moderation!

Home Brewed Goodness has been a very long time coming. If you can't guess this is a badge for drinking home brews. For Christmas I got a voucher to go brew down at U Brew It in Keilor. It was a pretty great day and one that I think will be the catalyst for my own home brew... Whilst there you get to sample a couple of their beers. Their Mexican Crown, a Corona clone, was nice to drink than a real Corona as it had very low flavour and was the beer that unlocked this badge. Their Small Animal (Little Creatures) Pale Ale was really good and only had a little excess sweetness. I'm really looking forward to seeing what my beer turns out like in a couple of weeks time!


Another huge beer, MoonDog's Bad Boy Bubbly, unlocked Sky's the Limit (Level 14). It's a Biere de Champagne, a beer style I will admit knowing very little about. If it's aim, which I'm assuming it, is to mimic a Champagne then it has done a fantastic job! It had nice vinous characters, plenty of aggressive carbonation, big alcohol and a wonderful dry finish. It's certainly not a beer I'd drink regularly but as a celebration once in a while, why not?

Nomad Brewing Co. are absolutely kicking goals at the moment. Everything I've tasted from them recently has been superb. Myrtle's Summer Fling is their new low-ABV beer (2.8%) packed full of lemon myrtle. It's very light bodied, with lemon myrtle the strongest flavour, although by the end of drinking some tropical fruits from the hops come through. It's great; and Summer Fun (Level 4) (for drinking beers with the word "Summer" in their name) was the badge.

Paint the Town Red (Level 5) is badge I thought I would be racking up levels in much faster. Mornington's Rust Bucket is the second release in their #tinnage series. It is a seriously good Red Ale, not that this was unexpected considering it's coming from Mornington. It's got an amazing passionfruit aroma that carries through into the tastes, where caramel malts blend beautifully together. I'm so shattered that this is a one off release...


Since coming back from Belgium I've had the urge to have Blonde Ales more often. Passchendaele is named after one of the most famous battles in WW1 and part of the proceeds of the sale of this beer goes towards maintaining WW1 memorials in Flanders. The beer itself was a straight up and down Blonde, with a nice lightly spicy finish. Any fruitiness that was their had faded by the time I got to try it which was a bit of a shame. One of the newer badges, Blondes Do It Better (Level 2), is why we are talking about it.

Two badges in one for this beer - Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 26) and a new one Wee Bit of Scotch, one for drinking Scotch Ales. The beer was from Renaissance's Enlightenment Series, the Scotch on Rye which I found in the back of my fridge. I've got no idea how long it's been there, but I'm guessing it's a long time. Despite this, the beer tasted great! It was quite woody, with a nice raisin flavour and even some candi sugar.


I'm going to preface this next beer with; it was Australia Day... I checked in a Peroni that my mate gave me for our journey to the BBQ we were going to. Clearly I checked into a new location outside and subsequently; By the Campfire (Level 6) was unlocked. I have nothing against Peroni when it's ice cold, there are certainly worse lagers out there. This fitted into that category and was actually quite a refreshing beer to start a very big day.

A trip to Forester's inevitably yields at least one badge. On this particular occasion Crisp as Day (Level 15) was unlocked by Newstead's Tinderbox. It's a Pilsner, obviously, and it's a bloody good one. There was plenty of citrus character, some of which was slightly sweet, - which won't make sense unless you've tried it - as well as this lovely grassy and peppery finish. It really was like the best of New World Pils meeting Old World - it was sensational!

I find it hard to turn down new Sierra Nevada beers when I see them. Strangely it was another Pilsner, Nooner, which was actually a very nice clean example of the style. It's got a nice pilsner malt base with plenty of grass, some floral notes and just enough peppery spiciness. It's crisp, dry and particularly refreshing. This is as good of a German Pilsner that I've had that has come out of the U.S..  Land of the Free (Level 44) was the badge, getting close to finishing this badge...


HopDog Beerworks are one of best known sour brewers in Australia. Accordingly, I was really looking forward to trying their Gose; Gose & the Pussycat. It earned Pucker Up (Level 27), but it was a bit of a disappointment, with almost no carbonation, very little salt and only small waves of sourness that hit intermittently. It had the very distinctive HopDog bugs present though... A small saving grace...

Imperial Czar (Level 3) was unlocked by a collaboration between famous Norwegian brewers, Nøgne Ø, and two Mexican breweries - Central Cervecera & La Chingoneria. M.O.L.E. can courtesy of Tru Bru and is full of the flavours of Mexico, with dark chocolate, coffee and chili abounding. The chili is particularly noticeable as the beer warms. It's a phenomenal Russian Imperial Stout! Hopefully I can find a copy of bottles to stash away for later consumption.

Another Nøgne Ø beer from the Tru Bru pack was their excellent Two Captains Imperial IPA. This was one of the first Imperial IPA's I ever tried, and immediately I understood hops in a whole new light. It's really dry and has fantastic lingering piney bitterness. I have no idea why it's been so long between drinks for me - it certainly won't be that long again! Hopped Up (Level 30) is why you are reading about it now.


This Catchup post kept getting longer and longer, as everytime I sat down to write this review I checked-in a new beer that unlocked a badge. In fact there is even one more, which I intend to review in full in the next day or two! It's another marathon review so hopefully a few of you made it to this point! As usual hit me up via email, on Twitter, in the comments below or on Instagram, which I've recently joined.

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