Saturday, 23 April 2016

REVIEW: KNEE DEEP HOPARILLO

Untappd: Sky's the Limit (Level 15) Badge


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 11.1%
  • Serving Type: 650ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
This is the second of the four Knee Deep beers that hit our shores in February (there are more on the way!) that I've reviewed in full for you. Hoparillo is billed as a Triple IPA, packed with Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo hops. It comes in at 122 IBU's and I can't wait to wrap my lips around it.

Sky's the Limit is not a badge that comes around all that often, so I will forgive any of you who aren't sure of what it's for. It's for drinking beers with an ABV of 10% and above. Knee Deep's Hoparillo certainly fits that category with an ABV of 11.1%.

Knee Deep's Hoparillo pours brilliantly! The beer is a crystal clear, deep golden colour with a thick, large white head perched atop. The head is thick, with very very few air bubbles - which in turn leads to wonderful head retention and lacing of the glass. It's almost a mirror image of their Simtra Triple IPA, that I reviewed back in March.

As expected the nose is packed full of hops. It's got all the characteristics you would expect; pine resin, plenty of citrus - particularly grapefruit and orange - and tropical fruits. The malts are surprisingly present for the style, with sweet grain managing to cut through the big hop aromas.

Hoparillo tasted superb! It was wonderfully bitter, with resinous pine and grapefruit flavours the most dominant. The malts that were present on the nose, were present but much more in the background and the sweetness was not a factor. The mouthfeel of this beer was superb and greatly contributed to how easily it drank.

In my mind, this is on par with the Simtra as the equal-second best beer from Knee Deep that came out in the first batch. It's wonderfully bitter and dangerously drinkable for 11.1% ABV. If you love hops, don't baulk at the price tag! These beers have been looked over on the way over and are as fresh and hoppy as you are going to find! Some more beers from these guys are being launched the Friday before GBW at Alehouse, so if you're in the area check it out.

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

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

REVIEW: MOA CHERRY SOUR (2013)

Untappd: Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 27) Badge


STATS
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Style: Fruit Beer
  • ABV: 5.9%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
A cherry sour from New Zealand for you today. If it was from Belgium it would be called a Kriek, a term many of you would be familiar with. I have quite high hopes for this beer, the last sour I had from Moa (a feijoa sour at GABS) was absolutely sensational.

Today's badge is another that regular readers/Untappd users would be familiar with. Drink Like a Kiwi should be relatively self-explantory; it's for drinking beers from New Zealand. New Zealand may be a relatively small country by population (around: 4.5 million), but they produce a huge amount of excellent beers. Hopefully this Moa is one of them!

Moa's Cherry Sour pours a bright red/pink colour. There is a tiny amount of very, very short lived white head, although it is gone within 10 seconds of pouring so hardly deserves a mention. The colour is quite phenomenal, it's almost opaque with almost no light escaping through it. Despite this, it's strangely not murky, it's like a constant think red colour - almost like a block colour. It really is very hard to describe, maybe you should buy one and pour one.

Onto the nose and unsurprisingly a tart cherry aroma is the most prominent. It's a very fruity cherry smell, with very little overt sweetness. Woodiness is the other noticeable quality on the nose, it's certainly in the background, but is present. It's a really intriguing nose, and one I can't wait to try!

Moa's Cherry Sour unfortunately didn't quite follow through on the promise of the nose. Yes, there is cherry and woodiness, and it's even quite sour. They are just in the wrong proportions, with the woodiness around the level I would like to see it, but the cherry just not stepping up to the plate. I just wish this had more cherry flavour! It's very close to being excellent!

Despite how the above review reads; this beer is very close to being excellent. It is impressively tart with good, if not enough, cherry flavour. The beer has clearly spent a good time in barrels and this has imparted a lovely woodiness. If this beer had a stronger cherry flavour it would be truly excellent. Maybe the loss of cherry is in part due to the time the beer stayed cellaring? In any case, if you like sours I would buy any of the Moa ones that you come across, they are nice and sour and very impressive.

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

Monday, 18 April 2016

REVIEW: BREWCULT ACID FREAKS

Untappd: Heavy Weight (Level 40) Badge


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: Baltic Porter
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Serving Type: 570ml Tap
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
Hendo from Brewcult has finally reprised his much acclaimed 2013 GABS offering; Acid Freaks. It's a Baltic Porter brewed with Balsamic Vinegar, made by Hendo's own brother. I didn't much care for it back then, but my palate has changed a lot since then.

By now I hope all of you know what the Heavy Weight badge is by now. For those of you who are new to my blog or Untappd, or have been living under a rock for the last few years; it's for drinking dark beers, think Stouts and Porters. This is Level 40, so that means I've had 200 distinct ones since my Untappd journey began.

The beer pours a very dark brown colour with a beige coloured head. The head was creamy in appearance and a couple of fingers high when first poured, quite an impressive head for a bar, and accordingly lasted quite a while. Accompanying the good retention, was a reasonable web of lacing, again something that is hard to achieve in a nonic pint glass. It's an appealing looking beer.

Onto the nose and straight away the balsamic vinegar shows it's head. It's a strong aroma, but doesn't overpower the malts which are predominantly roasty, with chocolate and nutty characteristics in the background alongside some woodiness. It has a very very acidic nose, which is the only thing I'm a little concerned about...

Clearly my palate has changed; I've gone from not liking this to thinking it's excellent in 3 years. The vinegar is the first thing you taste, but it is far more restrained than the nose indicated. It pairs beautifully with the roasty characters, while chocolate, oak and dark fruit flavours add complexity.

Acid Freaks is still not a beer I'm going to drink everyday; I don't think it would be that beer for anybody! What it is, is a really intriguing, complex beer. It showcases the balsamic vinegar as well as I feel any beer could, it's not exactly an ingredient you'd think to put in beer. If you are after something a bit different, you could go far worse than this creation from Brewcult.

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

Sunday, 17 April 2016

REVIEW: SIERRA NEVADA TROPICAL IPA

Untappd: North Carolina Beer Month (2016) Badge


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 6.7%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
The beer I have for you today, is Sierra Nevada's 2016 Beer Camp beer, the Tropical IPA. If you look very closely at the photo, you will notice that it's in a Sierra Nevada branded Spiegelau glass - not that the iPhone photo is doing it much justice.

Today's badge is the North Carolina Beer Month commemorative badge. To unlock this one, simply check-in any beer from a North Carolina brewery in April. Check out this link to find out which breweries qualify for this badge.

Despite what the photo shows, the Tropical IPA pours quite a light golden colour. The beer is crystal clear and is topped by a frothy white head. The head has quite good retention, despite it's appearance, and around a finger hung around throughout the duration of drinking. It's a great looking IPA, and thankfully it's time to drink it!

But first things first; the nose. It's pungently hoppy, with sweet pineapple far and away the most pronounced aroma. There are other tropical fruits on the nose as well as some citrus but there are almost no malt characteristics to speak of. The nose is also strangely short lived, which I don't know what to make off.

The taste of Sierra Nevada's Tropical IPA, is just as the nose indicated it would be. It's hoppy, it's quite sweet - whilst still maintaining good bitterness - and it's strangely short lived on the palate. There are hints of bready/bisuity malts, but they are nowhere near prominent enough to provide balance.

Overall, I think this was a bit disappointing, and it's very rare I say that about a Sierra Nevada beer. I thought the body was too thin and that the pineapple was too overpoweringly sweet, despite the ample bitterness coming from the hops. This is a beer that I would be very interested to here differing opinions on, maybe it's just me who didn't like it. Hit me up via the usual channels, email, twitter, Instagram or below. Until next time guys.

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

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

REVIEW: SNOW LAGER

Macro Lager

STATS
  • Country: China
  • Style: Euro Pale Lager
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Today I have a Chinese lager that many of you have probably not heard of. This beer is sold almost exclusively in China, and from all reports is nothing particularly special. So why am I reviewing it you ask? Snow Lager is the most consumed beer in the world.

That's right, this relatively unknown beer outsells brands like Heineken and Budweiser combined! Over 100 million hectolitres of this beer were sold last year. That's an almost unfathomable amount of beer, to put it in some context it's somewhere in the realm of 4,000 Olympic swimming pools full of beer! Anyway, enough statistics about the sheer volume of this beer produced; it's time to check what this half litre tastes like!

First things first though; the appearance. The beer pours a very light yellow colour with a small head of white bubbles. The head, not unexpectedly, does not last long and less than 2 minutes after pouring the head is gone completely. Accordingly there is little to no lacing left behind. To say this beer looks like a cheap macro lager would be pretty much spot on.

Onto the nose and I know immediately that the lager rule will be invoked in this case. The smell is almost non-existent and you have to strain to make out anything other that a light graininess. There is the faintest hint of grassiness, but there is no hint of apparent bitterness to accompany it. It certainly isn't an offensive smelling beer, in fact it hardly smells of anything at all - under the lager rule; it's getting a tick from me.

Snow is clearly a cheap macro lager. It's very watery, with hints of grain initially. The grain flavour isn't sweet, which is a big tick, but doesn't become strong enough even as it warms. There are some grassy hops, which are lightly bitter, although they certainly aren't prominent. Where this beer gers some real points is in it's ease to drink; Snow goes down brilliantly! I could quite easily see myself having a few of these with Chinese food.

This Chinese lager may be the most consumed beer in the world, but I can safely say that Snow isn't the best beer in the world. It's a serviceable lager that I think would best be served ice cold. It's a beer that I would recommend people try, after all it is the most consumed beer in the world. If you like lagers and get the chance to try it, give it a go; just don't go in expecting the world!

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

Monday, 11 April 2016

HOTTEST 100 BEERS: PART 1


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.

#3 - Pirate Life IIPA Pirate Life shocked the Aussie craft beer scene with their 3 core beers all placing in the first 11 places in the countdown. Their IIPA was the highest placed beer, coming in at #3. In my mind it is far and away the best Imperial IPA brewed in Australia. It has that malt sweetness that so many of it's highly lauded American counterparts have, whilst also packing a monstrous 120 IBU's of tropical fruit and citrus bitterness.

#17 - Feral War Hog I would like to think that my ravings about this beer helped earn it 17th place in the Hottest 100. When War Hog was fresh it was the juiciest IPA I can recall having. The hops are full of tropical fruit and citrus flavours, with passionfruit and grapefruit the most prominent. Like all things Feral do, it's sensational! If you haven't tried this beer yet, get your hands on it! It's incredible and I think there is a new batch!

#21 - White Rabbit Dark Ale Ask non-beer drinkers to name a dark beer and the majority will say Guinness, ask them to name an Australian dark beer and often the answer is White Rabbit Dark. I'm often surprised how many of my macro lager drinking friends are quite partial to one of these. I can see the appeal; it's wonderfully roasty, with some dark fruits flavours and just a touch of hop bitterness. As winter rolls in, this definitely goes higher up my list of beers when out an about. #21 is about right, it's a wonderfully consistent beer that you know you can trust.

#39 - Vale Ale This was the first beer that I was a little skeptical about. It's a Pale Ale from South Australia and it's a bit pedestrian. I'd certainly have one again if someone gave it to me, but I don't think I'd buy one again. It was just a very standard, undistinguished Pale Ale. Quite how this rated so highly I'm not sure...

#41 - 4 Pines West Coast Red Rye IPA 4 Pines have been producing some magnificent beers with their Keller Door range recently. The West Coast Red Rye IPA was no exception to this rule. It wonderfully blends the orange and tropical fruit of the hops, with some thick almost treacly malts and hints of rye spiciness. If this beer had been released later in the year, I'm sure it would've finished higher up the countdown - I loved it!

#53 - Hawkers Pale Ale
I love this beer, #53 is far too low down for this fantastic Pale Ale. It was one of two kegs we got through over Grand Final Weekend last year. It's an incredibly sessionable Pale Ale with a light biscuity malt base. The hops are quite bitter for the style with orange, tropical fruits and floral hints the main detectable flavours. It finishes wonderfully dry, just making you want another; and another... This is a beer I'm predicting to go flying up the countdown next year!

#67 - Two Birds Sunset Ale It's been a couple of years since I've had a Two Birds Sunset Ale. After sampling it, I'm surprised I waited so long! It's a wonderful Red Ale, with plenty of nice caramel & biscuity malts along with hints of nuttiness balanced beautifully by the hops. The hops are predominantly citrus driven, with grapefruit dominant, while tropical fruits like passionfruit are also present. It's a very easy drinking Red Ale and one I will be drinking more of in the future.

#75 Exit #010 West Coast IPA This was one of the beers I was worried about finding heading into this challenge. Before the recent release of their core range, all Exit beers were brewed just once. Thankfully I saw that Forester's Beer Hall had a keg on and popped in for a pot after work one day. It's a sensational IPA, with a light biscuity malt base complimenting the real stars of the show; the hops. There's plenty of citrus, resinous pine and even a hint of spiciness. I love Exit, and I believe this is my favourite of theirs yet!

#86 - Rabbit & Spaghetti The Fox Lager I have to thank the guys at Naked Wines for helping me get my hands on their beer. The story behind this beer is very interesting and can be found in this link and this link. I really enjoyed the beer, it didn't have quite as much rye as I'd hoped it would, but did have plenty of fruitiness and hints of citrus. It's a very easy drinking lager, and one I'm quite looking forward to having a few more of!

#100 - Bad Shepherd Hazelnut Brown Last position in the NFL draft is referred to as Mr Irrelevant, Normally players selected in this position don't amount to much, the same cannot be said of Bad Shepherd's, one of the newest additions to Melbourne's craft beer scene, Hazelnut Brown. It's a wonderful Brown Ale with great malt joined by a distinctly hazelnut nuttiness. It's very smooth and is a beer that I will be looking to sample plenty more of during the winter months.

So there we have it guys, the first 10 beers that I've reviewed from last years Hottest 100 Beers. All in all I've been impressed and I've got to try a few beers that I otherwise wouldn't have tried. I'm not entirely happy with the layout of this post, so there may be changes before Part 2 gets posted. If anyone has any feedback or ideas on it, I'd love to hear it! You can follow me along live on the Beeroclockau Instagram page. Until next time...

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

Friday, 8 April 2016

REVIEW: 4 PINES IMPERIAL IPA

Untappd: Hopped Up (Level 33) Badge


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 355ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
4 Pines have been releasing some seriously good beers over the last year or so under their Keller Door range. This beer has been earning rave reviews over the last few weeks and so it was only a matter of time before I got around to trying it.

I'm not going to lie; today's Hopped Up badge was a surprise, hence the iPhone photo. This is a badge for drinking beers with over 65 IBU's, something that I do a lot of! Something that many people don't know is that most Russian Imperial Stout count towards this badge, the hops are just obscured by the big malt base. Anyway, this is an Imperial IPA clocking in at 84 IBU's that I'm really looking forward to trying, let's get into it.

The Keller Door Imperial IPA from 4 Pines pours a very clear deep golden, almost amber colour. The head is quite large, maybe 4 fingers in height and has quite good retention. The beer eventually settles to a small rim of white foam, somewhat disappointingly leaving no lacing behind. Despite the lack of lacing it's still an appealing looking beer, especially when first poured.

Onto the nose and the first thing I notice is that there is plenty of sweetness coming from the malts. There's also plenty of sweet, almost syrupy fruit, with pineapple and grapefruit prominent. I also get a bit of pine resin as the beer warms. The hops don't appear to be particularly bitter on the nose, but I hope they can do enough to balance out this overt sweetness.

Unfortunately they couldn't... The caramel malts and pineapple sweetness were over the top for me. It's very, very sugary sweet. The pine flavour tries it's best to cut through the sweetness, but it really struggles. As it warmed bitterness became more pronounced, however the malts were still a little cloying.

I am the first person to call out people who don't understand balance in their Imperial IPA's. The style is supposed to have some sweet malt character and not just be a hop bomb. Initially at least this beer crosses the line into the too-sweet, almost cloying category. That said, after it warms up, and the bitterness becomes more apparent, the beer becomes quite enjoyable. I certainly wouldn't buy this again, but I know a few of you out there would prefer this style IPA much more than I would.

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

Thursday, 7 April 2016

REVIEW: ALMANAC IPA

Untappd: National Beer Day (2016) Badge & Land of the Free (Level 48) Badge


STATS
  • Country: United States
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 7.5%
  • Serving Type: 650ml Bottle
  • Price: Expensive
Almanac's first shipment of beers landed on our shores in early February. I ended up at the Local Taphouse launch and had alot of their excellent sours! One beer I didn't have was the IPA, a beer that I didn't expect much of considering they are so well known for their sours. I've heard rave reviews about it subsequently, so I sourced a bottle and here we are.

If you want to unlock the National Beer Day badge, you better get on it quickly! This badge can only be unlocked by checking in to any beer today, April 7th. I'm coming towards the end of Land of the Free, this is Level 48 after all, so you should all know what the artwork looks like by now! It's time to start thinking about what is going to cap off Level 50... Enough about badge artwork and future beers, you're all here to hear about this one; the Almanac IPA.

The beer pours that spectacular, clear golden colour that I like my IPA's to look like. The head was slightly off white, trending towards cream, and was quite large (maybe 4 fingers) with a few bubbles forming not long after pouring. The head reduced to a ring of foam by about halfway through drinking, but then hung around for the duration. It also laced the glass quite nicely. A really good start for the Almanac IPA!

Onto the nose and it's packed full of tropical fruits and pine bitterness; to call it dank would be an understatement! Accompanying the big hop flavours are quite sweet caramel malts, that admittedly fall into the background behind the cavalcade of hops attacking the olfactory.

The taste follows along similar lines to what the nose indicated. It has a slightly sweet, caramel malt base that is overwhelmed by a huge amount of hops. They're mostly resinous pine flavours, but there is also some fruitiness, particularly what I think is apricot and peach, and hints of grapefruit.

Almanac's IPA blew my expectations out of the water. It's a sensational IPA that deserves far better accolades. I was surprised to read that it only clocked in at 60 IBU's, I thought there was more bitterness present than that. The beer had a wonderful mouthfeel, with it's slightly thick body complimented by slightly above average carbonation. It was a dangerously easy drinking IPA for 7.5%. If you find this beer and love hops, I can't recommend this highly enough, it's awesome!

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

Saturday, 2 April 2016

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 35

Untappd Catchup


A few busy weeks at work have seen me fall behind in my reviewing once again; something that seems to happen almost every month... I know I've said it before but I'm going to make a concerted effort in April to turn all Untappd badges into full reviews. Hopefully there isn't an Untappd Catchup post for a couple of months... 

Every year I make sure I have a Guinness on St Patricks Day. Normally that just unlocks one badge, this year it was 3! St Patrick's Day (2016), Happy St Patrick's Day from Guinness {for having a Guinness on St Patrick's Day} and March is for Guinness {for having a Guinness in March}.

Guinness is arguably the most recognizable beer in the world. I've been drinking stouts at semi crafty places and been asked where I got the Guinness from. It's the ubiquitous dark beer. It's a beer I should review in full again, it's coming up on 5 years since my last attempt... Although, if you don't know what Guinness tastes like, can you call yourself a beer drinker? As for a question I'm occasionally asked; Melbourne's best pint of Guinness is found at the Charles Dickens in the CBD.




Another beer to earn multiple badges was Knee Deep's Hoptologist. This beer was recently ranked #1 among American Imperial IPA's in a blind tasting, knocking Pliny the Elder into second. It was spectacular, with wonderful resinous bitterness. Was it better that Pliny? I'm not sure. In saying that the last time I had Pliny, in a blind tasting, I did not rate it highly... Land of the Free (Level 47) & Hopped Up (Level 32) were the badges. If you love hops, buy any or all of the Knee Deep IPA's.

Danish brewers To Øl have been brewing seriously good beers since they started in 2010. Sur Simcoe is from their "Sur" range, which are single hopped, sour, pale ales. Simcoe is a hop that I'm quite familiar with, so I was surprised when I could only pickup some orange and grapefruit flavours from the hops. It's quite a light bodied beer, with light sourness. It would be an incredible beer on a hot day as it's very quaffable! I'm going to have to try more of these "Sur" beers from To Øl. Pucker Up (Level 30) was the badge.


Rye it Up is a relatively new badge and, given my current lust for rye, one you will be seeing a lot more of! The beer was Jester King's Wytchmaker; a Rye Farmhouse IPA, which I shared with Coll last weekend. This beer changed dramatically over the course of drinking. At first it was purely pine hoppiness, as it warmed more spiciness from the rye became prominent. As we were just commenting that the Farmhouse element was missing, the beer changed again and some light Belgian funkiness became apparent. I think there was a little too much going on, which subsequently diluted each element and nothing shined through enough to take it to that next level.

Another beer Coll and I had earned Keep Your Wits About You (Level 5). Doctor's Orders' Zephyr is branded as a Double White Ale, or an Imperial Witbier if you will... It's very citrusy, with a strong lemon flavour most prominent. There's some peppery spiciness as well as some hints of coriander. You'd have no idea that this beer was 7.5% if not for the label, it drinks incredibly easily - like a normal Witbier. It's one that's worth trying if you haven't already.


I used to drink Canadian beers quite regularly, clearly this has dropped off since the introduction of the Great White North badge, as Dieu du Ciel's Rigor Mortis ABT only unlocked (Level 2). I actually aged this Quadrupel for 3 years and it's mellowed beautifully. It's lost a little bit of the raw alcohol that characterized it's early days, while the malty sweetness, spices and dark fruit flavours that you'd expect from a Quadrupel have melded together perfectly. Glad I've got another couple in the beer cellar!

So there we have it guys; 6 beers, 9 badges and 1 more Untappd Catchup in the book. As I said earlier I hope it's the last one for a while. Please hit me up if you've got any thoughts on any of the beers mentioned above or if you've got any general beer questions, suggestions or comments. In the next week or two I hope to have a macro lager review up, a post about some of my beer glasses and a post on The Hottest 100 beers. Until next time guys!

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