Wednesday, 27 July 2016


The Hottest 100 Beers

Part 3 of the Hottest 100 segment is upon us. I've tried at least 1 beer from each decade, for a third time, 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.

#10 - Feral Karma Citra This beer has finally made the big time! Feral's Karma Citra was their first ever GABS beers; in the days when it was just a 20 tap event at The Local Taphouse! Last year it finally made the jump from sporadic appearer to year round core range member! This beer straddles the divide of appeal between being approachable to craft beer novices, while still appealing to aficianado's. For those who haven't tried it; please do! It's body is lightly roasted with hints of nuttiness, while still allowing the Citra hops to shine. It's a wonderful Black IPA that I really hopes makes the style more widely available!

#16 - Big Shed Golden Stout Time Big Shed's GABS offering was one of the beer I voted for in last years Hottest 100 countdown. Their beer; Golden Stout Time, a take on Australia's best ice cream - the Golden Gaytime - was simply superb! It had the perfect mix of chocolate, honeycomb and caramel, that blended perfectly with the creamy texture of the beer. In short they nailed it! I really hope these guys keep making this beer long into the future; it's one of the best Sweet Stouts on the market!

#26 - Riverside 777 Quite how this beer slipped this low I'm not sure! It could be that it is hard to get outside it's home state of NSW - although thankfully that is changing! Riverside's 777 could go toe-to-toe with any Imperial IPA. It's, not surprisingly, packed full of hops - both tropical and piney in flavour - while there is a more than adequate malt base that allows them to shine. For 9.2% ABV, it's dangerously easy drinking! I'm going to try and organise a side by side of this beer and the Pirate Life IIPA (3rd in this very same countdown) and report back my findings.

#35 - 4 Pines Indian Summer Pale Ale 4 Pines released this beer, their first - and to date only - canned offering, at the start of last summer. Quite how this beer ended up this high in the countdown beguiles me. It's an inoffensive Pale Ale, with relatively low carbonation, malt flavour and hop flavour. What little flavour there is, is of light breads malts and some passionfruit. I can see the appeal of this beer, on a 35+ degree day by a pool - but frankly there are far better options available at the same price point. Most beers I can find a way to endorse their standing in the Hottest 100 beers - but #35 is far far too high for this beer, so lacking in flavour. There's a time and a place; and the Hottest 100 is certainly not the place!

#46 - Feral Tusk This one is really stretching back some time! Feral Tusk is the beer I most look forward to every year. It's a massive Imperial IPA, released on tap just twice a year at select venues around the country. The beer has a huge caramel malt base, as you'd expect for such a big Imperial IPA (11.8%), before an avalanche of hops attack your senses with pine and tropical fruit flavour dominating. It's a wonderful IPA, that's dangerously drinkable! Every year I wonder how this beer ends up this far down the countdown, but then I think that 46th isn't bad for a beer that is available for less than one week a year!

#60 - Hawthorn Pale Ale
 I have flipped and flopped on Hawthorn's beers more than any brewery I can recall. Clearly quality control is not their strong suit... I was interested to see their Pale Ale in the Hottest 100 and was quite looking forward to trying it again. I was severely disappointed. The malts were like stale bread, almost cardboardy, while there was some orange peel flavour and aroma coming from the hops. This isn't a beer that I would go seeking out - it's neither a good nor an awful Pale Ale, but it's also not one you'd expect to make the Hottest 100 beers. I don't know if this was just a bad batch, but I seem to have that feeling quite a bit with beers from Hawthorn...

#66 - White Rabbit Pale Ale Unlike most Australian brewers, White Rabbit's Pale Ale isn't American/Australian in style; it's Belgian. I was unsure what to think when they announced their Belgian Pale Ale in July 2014(ish) - Australian's always rave about Belgian beers, but could White Rabbit reproduce that flavour and capture that market. Clearly they've done pretty well - with this beer finding it's way up from #85 in it's first year. The beer is a simple Belgian Pale Ale with nice Belgian yeast phenols and flavours. There's light citrus and floral qualities from the hops that are quite nice as well. It's certainly not going to standup to the best Belgian examples but it is more than serviceable. I quite like this beer and hope it sparks a trend that more Aussie brewers experiment with different yeasts.

#79 - Australian Beer Co. Yenda Pale Ale I've been interested to try the Coca-Cola owned Yenda beers since they were first announced - for a number of reasons it hasn't happened until now. The first one I tried - was as a palate cleanser in the middle of a large sour session - and was truly appalling! The second, on a clean palate, was slightly less galling - but still pretty appalling! The malts were more reminiscent of cardboard than malt and there was some slight floral hop qualities - although slight may be being kind...

#89 - Mornington Pale Ale In contrast to the Yenda offering, Mornington's exceptional Pale Ale somehow slotted in a whole 10 places lower in the countdown. It's a beautifully constructed Pale Ale, with a light biscuity malt platform allowing the passionfruit and citrus aromas and flavours of the hops to shine! I drink this beer regularly and can only imagine that other people aren't drinking it if it was to slip this far down the countdown. These guys are exporting to China so you should be able to find it throughout most of Australia.

#97 - Coopers Sparkling Ale It had been years since I last tried a Coopers Red! I was so pleased to see this sneak into the Hottest 100 so I could reminisce a bit. It tasted similar to what I recall - with pale malts and some distinct yeastiness. There's more citrus hops than I remembered, but they aren't particularly bitter. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane - and it certainly won't be years until my next one!

I know this post has been a long time coming! A combination of Uni, work, holidays and I.T issues saw this post delayed and delayed and delayed... Part 4 won't be more than 2-3 weeks away I wouldn't have thought. As usual fire any questions you have at me/let me know what you thought of my comments on any of the above beers. If you want to follow this challenge along live, you can follow me on the Beeroclockau Instagram page. Until next time...

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

Sunday, 10 July 2016


Untappd Catchup

Some computer issues have seen this post get delayed several times - and subsequently get longer and longer! Anyway; during the last 3 weeks I've had a number of really good beers - some of which are reviewed below. Check it out, and remember to leave me your feedback on any of the beers you've had!

First up was BrewDog's Black IPA from their Prototype range, a beer that unlocked God Save the Queen (Level 32). Initially, it was nicely roasty but lacking a bit in hops. It wasn't a bad Black IPA, but it didn't have the wow factor that I normally associate with BrewDog.

Another beer from the new BrewDog Prototype range that unlocked a badge was the Milk Stout. I thought this was the pick of the 4 beers, and one that I'd love to see incorporated into their core range. It was slightly sweet, and had that nice chocolate/lacto thing that many Milk Stouts have going on. Highlander (Level 4), the badge for drinking Scottish beers, is the reason we're talking about it. Interestingly - 19 of my 20 Scottish beers since the introduction of the badge have been from Brewdog.

James Squire's new release last Summer, The Swindler unlocked Blondes Do It Better (Level 4). This beer has been in the news recently after beating out Stone & Wood's Pacific Ale in The World Beer Cup English-style Summer Ale category. On first tasting, James Squire have swindled a Gold Medal! The beer is almost flavourless and I can't for the life of me understand how it rated so highly, unless the beer they entered in the competition is different to the packaged product... Cynical? I know! But I can't explain it any other way. I've got another one and will be revisiting in the future to confirm my previous findings.

Better Together has become one of my favourite badges, I love seeing two brewers collaborate and produce something incredible! Better Together (Level 13) was unlocked by the Nomad Cross Pallet Nation, a beer brewed at Nomad with input from Pallet Magazine and Sam Calagione, of Dog Fish Head fame. It's a wonderfully complex beer, an Amber Ale with plenty of smokiness accompanied by some maple sweetness. Apparently there's some Australian spices in there as well, but they don't add much noticeable flavour.  

Knee Deep's hoppy beers have once again made it to our shores. The best way to sample them is from a keg, so naturally I visited Tru Bru to get my fix! Man Juice, not only evokes an image I could do without, is a seriously good IPA. It's packed full of citrus flavours, with mandarin the most prominent - I can't recall ever having a beer which was so clearly dominated by mandarin. Although it's not massively hoppy, 69 IBU's was enough to earn Hopped Up (Level 40).

Hop Surplus was another Knee Deep offering that I picked up at Tru Bru. This IPA was monstrous; clocking in at 10% on the dot, it unlocked Sky's the Limit (Level 17). It's certainly not a subtle beer! It's got plenty of sweet caramel malts upfront, before being swamped by a bitter hit of pine resin and hints of citrus. The ABV is well hidden, but certainly shows itself after you finish! It's a big beer; treat it with caution.

New Brew Thursday (Level 19) was unlocked by Exit's Amber Ale. This badge has continually confused me since the start, and once again it randomly arrived. This beer is part of the new core range and Exit and was a lovely example of the style. It had all the malts you'd expect from an Amber/Red, while having a nice citrusy hop bite that kept me interested. You honestly can't go wrong with any of the beers these guys produce.

To celebrate the completion of my piece on the history of Grisette (see here), I opened the 8 Wired/Modern Times collaboration Halfway to Whangarei Grissette (quite why Grisette is spelled with two "s's" I can't explain...). It was beautifully funky, with Brett relatively restrained, and a nice grassy & citrusy zing. Stylistically it wasn't a Grisette, but it was a very tasty beer! Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 30) is why you're hearing about it.

Richo and I caught up for the first time in ages later that night and shared a few really good beers. The first to earn a badge was the Almanac Tropical Platypus, which unlocked Pucker Up (Level 36). I was already well on the way by this point - but I vividly remember this beer. It was spectacular with kiwifruit and passionfruit both prominent flavours, as well as lovely acidity and vinous qualities - presumably from the white wine barrels it was aged in. The Almanac sours, and the IPA as well for that matter, are all awesome! I'm doing a big tasting on their stuff soon, which I will try and write up.

Another beer from that night unlocked Fruits of Your Labor (Level 4). Founders Blushing Monk was the beer and I was surprised by it as soon as it was poured. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't a bright red beer! It had a very sweet raspberry raspberry flavour initially, yet finished strangely tart. It straddled this line between, almost too, sweet and tart. It was a really interesting juxtaposition of different raspberry flavours and one I'd recommend trying.

The last beer to earn a badge that night (but unfortunately not the last beer of the night...) was Panhead's Black Sabbath. I was quite surprised that I was only up to (Level 2) of The Wine of Beers, the badge for drinking Barley Wines. In any case, I remember this was a really tasty Barley Wine - my notes confirm this and also say that it was packed full of licorice flavours. I will have to source more to confirm however...

Canadian beers rarely make it to our shores. So when the Collective Arts Brew beers made it out here for Good Beer Week I had to grab some. Their Collective Project; Black IPA was a lovely example of the style. It was definitely malt drive, with roasted coffee the main flavour proponent. There's also plenty of piney hop bitterness. This was the first beer in this review to unlock two badges; Wheel of Styles, a new core badge for trying 20 different beer styles, and Hopped Up (Level 41).

Last weekend Lizzie and I were driving around the western suburbs; and what trip out that side is complete without stopping for lunch at Fox in the Corn? For those who don't know; it's a pasta restaurant in Footscray with an amazing beer list, specializing in sours. After consulting with Josh I ended up starting with BrewDog's B Side: Sour Red Ale. This is the first offering to come out of BrewDog's new sour only brewery. It had all the complexity of a proper Flemish Red but is only a 4 week kettle sour, I think with pediococcus rather than lactobacillus but I may be wrong. The badge? Independence Day (2016) - for having a beer within 3 days of July 4.

Epic's Hopdozer unlocked Paint the Town Red (Level 8). These New Zealand brewers are known for their copious use of hops and this holds true with this Red Ale. This was a pretty sensational example of a hoppy Red Ale/Red IPA, Red IPA is a term I'm not huge on - but similarly to Black IPA it does explain what you'll get. This had nice maltiness and wonderful hop bitterness! I'm looking forward to get back to the shop and buy more!

A lunchtime work trip to Dr Morse for Lizzie's birthday unlocked Heavy Weight (Level 44). It was a particularly cold Melbourne's winters day and the Akasha From the Shadows Porter was the only way to go. The beer was nice and malty, with roasted malts dominant and hints of chocolate and coffee becoming more prominent as it warmed. For the ABV(5.5%) it drank beautifully, with a thick creamy body. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for this in the future.

After a long day in the cold at the footy, I knew it was time to crack the Townshend's Flemish Stout that'd been in my fridge for a few weeks. As soon as I smelt the beer, I knew it was exactly what I was after! This beer had lovely chocolate notes that contrasted beautifully with this complex sour wood and cherry flavour - which was very reminiscent of a Flanders Red. It was a touch over carbonated for my liking, but this was a very minor issue for me. Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 31) was the badge.

Last but not least was the Nøgne Ø Saison Reserve, which unlocked Trip to the Farm (Level 16). This beer gushed as violently as any beer I've ever had before. The best part of two thirds of the bottle hit the ground and unfortunately not my glass. What little I did get to taste was a little disappointing. I was quite surprised to not pickup any elements of the wine barrels this beer is aged in (although their contribution may have been the gushing...). There was a nice orange peel taste but it wasn't particularly strong. I thought this was a bit weaker that what I've come to expect from Nøgne Ø.

There we have it guys I've finally managed to get this post finished without it deleting itself (third times the charm)! I hope you've enjoyed the read and possibly found some beers you'd like to try. As usual, let me know if you've had any of these via the usual channels; email, Twitter or Instagram. I've got a few pieces in the pipeline, which hopefully you'll see over the next week or so. My camera is operational again, so I may finally be able to get that glassware post up for you! Until next time...

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