Tuesday, 27 September 2016

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 41

Untappd Catchup

It's time for work's accreditation once again, combine that with a law degree and a business degree and suddenly I'm drinking a lot of beer - and writing very little about beer once again. This Untappd Catchup has got a little out of hand... So please bear with me throughout this review, there are some wonderful beers hidden away in here.

Elysian's Dragonstooth is an Imperial Oatmeal Stout that has been aging in my cupboard for a couple of years. This beer pre-dates their 2015 sale to AB Inbev. The beer was beautifully creamy and unlocked Heavyweight (Level 47) & 2X (Level 2) - which for those who can't remember is for checking in beers with "Imperial" or "Double" in the style.

Bodriggy's Highbinder was my beer of choice before my exam at the end of August. New Brew Thursday (Level 22) was unlocked by this beer, which was a beautiful example of an American Pale Ale. It had lovely stone fruit characteristics, the specifics of which I can't remember, while having nice restrained bitterness. I remember thinking I could drink many many pints of this beer.


As a treat for smashing my exam, later that evening I delved into my cellar and picked out a collaboration between Amager & Hopping Frog. Frog Hops to Amager was an incredible example of an American Stout/Imperial Stout, with this wonderful velvety smoothness, which is apparently brought about by a significant amount of wheat in the grain bill. I can't recall having another stout with a significant amount of wheat in the grain bill, so this was quite a thing for me. Wheel of Styles (Level 14) is why you're hearing about it - although you probably would've anyway, I loved it!

La Sirene's Avant Garde series were three of the beer I've most looked forward to this year. It was always likely that one would unlock Trip to the Farm (Level 17). That honour fell to Long Table, the middle of the three. Dylan and I split all three, and a number of other beers, on a Friday night in front of the footy. I thought that the body on this beer was a little bit too heavy, maybe that was just in comparison to the Biere de Provision that preceded it. The beer was also less tart than the Biere de Provision but it was far funkier. Flavours of grassy hay, citrus, light pepper and some hints of cloves.

Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 33) was unlocked by the Tuatara ITI. Dylan brought this over as part of our tasting night, it's always good to have some low-ABV options. It had pronounced hop characters with floral and tropical fruit flavours and light malt characteristics. It was a seriously impressive mid-strength option, clocking in at only 3.3%, I reckon I'll be back for more. We compared it to Pirate Life's Throwback IPA, a beer I love, and it compared favorably. I would highly recommend trying this beer if you come across it.


The 2500th unique beer I checked-in was Stone's Enjoy After 07.04.16 Brett IPA. This beer was fitting I thought to bring in the Elite badge, and coincidentally Hopped Up (Level 44). Having lived in my beer aging cupboard for the best part of, if not slightly more than, a year I thought it was a fitting beer to bring up this milestone. It was a beer worth aging, with plenty of Brett character and some nice, albeit expectedly faded, citrus hops.

Prancing Pony's Amber Ale is a very underrated beer. This was strangely the first time I've checked it in since the Paint the Town Red came in; and accordingly unlocked (Level 9). Like all the Prancing Pony beers, this beer has this wonderfully pronounced caramelisation. This is accompanied by nice balanced pine hops. It's an Amber Ale that I need to drink more often.


The Brunette's Have More Fun badge, along with the Blonde's Have More Fun badge, has been killed off by political correctness and replaced with Bravo for Brown (Level 7). Croft Biscuit Blast Brown Ale was the first beer to receive this new badge. It was a low-ABV Brown Ale (3%), which had nice biscuity malts but was (probably expectedly) thin bodied. As far as a cold winter's day lunch beer goes - it's a good option, the flavour is lovely.

Red Duck are known for producing really interesting offerings. "Dude, You Smoked My Cherry!' is no exception to that rule. It was actually reasonably light on cherry, with a nice light smokiness. Accompanying this was a subtle tartness, which actually paired very nicely with the flavour. It wasn't at all what I expected, it far exceeded my expectations. Pucker Up (Level 40) was the badge.

It's been a long time since a Beer Connoissuer badge came along, over a year in fact. My first ever beer from Madagascar; Three Horses, unlocked Beer Connoisseur (Level 16). This was actually a pretty reasonable pilsner, with light pilsner malts punctuated with some grassy noble hops. There's much better, and probably fresher, pilsner's available in Australia - but if you're in Madagascar this would be a perfectly acceptable lager to drink,


Speaking of lagers; Paulaner's Original Munich Lager unlocked their own badge; The Original and Authentic Oktoberfest Biers. This is one of these beers that I often overlook, but really shouldn't! I have vague memories of this beer being one of our Grand Final kegs a couple of years ago. It's a phenomenal lager with nice bready malts and plenty of grassy hops. If you are one of those people who say they hate all lager, try this beer!

A good Pilsner can be as good as any beer! Crisp as Day (Level 16) was unlocked by Cernovar Svetle. It's a Czech beer, although it's not quite a traditional Czech Pilsner. It's much maltier, with hints of caramel, than a traditional Pilsner. The hops are grassy, and I also gets hints of citrus, although not particularly bitter. It's not a beer I'd rush back to anytime soon, but I certainly wouldn't turn it down if offered it.

Dugges are a Swedish brewery producing some pretty awesome stuff! Their new labels inspired me to dig out my Idjit, their Russian Imperial Stout, that has been aging away in my beer cellar for a couple of years. It was a really big RIS, with plenty of roasted malt flavours as well as a coffee forward element. Heavy Weight (Level 48) is the reason we're talking about this badge now.


Garage Project's Lupus the Wolf Man unlocked 2X (Level 3). I had this wonderful Imperial IPA after soccer a week or two ago. It was originally brewed as one of their "Bro's Freak Show" range at GABS. I didn't get to try it then - but god I'm glad I bought this bottle! It had a wonderful resinous pine hop flavour, and was nicely bitter to boot. It drank dangerously well for 9%. If there is still any of this lying around, it's well and truly worth the price!

I've been at Dr Morse at least twice a week for work over the past month. Thankfully these meetings are usually after lunch and I can sample their excellent tap offerings. Batch's Wardell Nut Brown Ale was one of the beers that got this treatment. It was a very nice English style Brown Ale, which had a lovely, albeit relatively restrained, nuttiness about it. The badge was Wheel of Styles (Level 15).

A beer I remember very little about; Mountain Goat's Swoop Season IPA, unlocked the Hopped Up (Level 45) badge. What I do remember is that I had this beer during the middle of a very long drinking session; and that this beer was at the Dan O'Connell Hotel. My Untappd notes say that this was an enjoyable, bitter IPA. Unfortunately this is all I've got to offer regarding this beer... I may have to seek this one out again.


Oskar Blues' have finally officially launched their beers in Australia. The market has had plenty of grey imports before but fresh Oskar Blues was a first. Their Gubna Imperial IPA unlocked Sky's the Limit (Level 19). It was a beer I brought out after finalizing my latest assignment and it was just what the doctor ordered. Despite's in 10% body, this beer drinks dangerously easily. There's heaps of citrus and pine hops accompanying some sweet malts.

Murray's Auld Bulgin' Boysterous Bicep was a beer brewed in collaboration with James of The Crafty Pint in 2013 for a Beervana media award. It's billed as a "Smoked Belgio Imperial Mussel & Oyster Stout", I can safely say it's the only beer I've ever had that falls into this category - funnily enough. The few years in the back of my cupboard have done it wonders; it's a beautifully mellow beer, which combines the aforementioned smokiness with the light saltiness of the mussels and oysters. I doubt there are many of these left in existence - if you come across one you have to try it! Imperial Czar (Level 4) & 2X (Level 4) were the badges that were unlocked by this beer.


Almanac launched their range in Australia in February this year. They've gained quite a following since the, despite their hefty price point - I shudder to think how much I've spent on their stuff... Their Citra Sour is the latest of their beers I've tried. It was a wonderfully constructed beer; a blonde ale, aged in white wine barrels and then extensively dry hopped with Citra hops. The result was nothing short of outstanding, and truly worthy of unlocking Pucker Up (Level 41). It's was quite tart, with vinous hints and plenty of citrus and lychee flavours - that are so synonymous with Citra hops.

Lizzie and I went to Estelle for our anniversary last weekend. They had a Boatrocker pairing option to accompany their degustation, that naturally I partook in. Their Epice, a wonderful Belgian Blonde Ale, was the beer that unlocked Field of Gold (Level 6), the badge that replaced Blonde's Have More Fun. For those who've been to Belgium, this beer should bring back memories. Epice is lightly funky, while it's got nice citrus elements. Accompanying this is a delicate carbonation, which tickles the tongue nicely, whilst star anise provides a distinctive finish.

Another Oskar Blues beer was responsible for unlocking Paint the Town Red (Level 10). G'Knight is an Imperial Red IPA and a beer that I've had years ago, as a grey import. It's a beer with plenty of big sweet malts. The hops aren't quite as big and are mostly pine driven, although there is also some citrus elements to them. Despite these elements all being quite nice individually, they don't quite gel in this beer. If you're looking for a Red IPA, look to better Australian examples (Modus Operandi or Prancing Pony both spring to mind).


I have to thank Dylan for the Vienna Lager that unlocked Wheel of Styles (Level 16). Bridge Road's Posse beers are normally reserved for their Posse members, so I was very pleased to have a Posse Spring Lager delivered to me. This was a lovely lager, although personally I wouldn't have classed it as a Vienna Lager. It's much less malty than a traditional Vienna Lager and has some slightly bitter hops that provide wonderful light citrus and grassy flavours. This would be a wonderful beer to knock back a few of on a hot summer's day.

My pre-MBA exam beers at Dr Morse are becoming a bit of a recurring theme. The latest beer was the Watts River IPA, which happened to unlock New Brew Thursday (Level 23). It was a really well put together IPA. The caramel malt base was present, but firmly in the background, while the hops provided plenty of orange flavour and good bitterness. I was suitably impressed with this beer and will be keeping my eyes out for more of their beers.

By the Campfire (Level 8) was unlocked somewhere between Abbotsford and the MCG last Friday night. Our "walk beer" this week was a stubbie of Carlton Draught, a beer I haven't had in packaged form for ages. I have no idea how long these stubbies had been in the work fridge, but mine tasted reasonably fresh. I'd prefer a lot of beers to packaged Carlton (tap is a completely different story), but I'd quite happily have another one.


This post got a little out of hand... Thankfully it's finally done and posted. Some of these beers really surprised me - and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on them. In the meantime; I have a massive Grand Final Weekend party to host, but I hope to get my next special Untappd post up before then. Keep sending your emails in - I'm slowly working through the backlog! Cheers guys - hopefully October will be a more productive blog month than September (the bar hasn't been set high!).

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

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

HOTTEST 100 BEERS: PART 4


The Hottest 100 Beers


It's taken me a little longer than expected, but I've finally put together Part 4 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.

#9 - Modus Operandi Former Tenant Former Tenant is named after the "Former Tenant" of the brewery. He was an interesting character to say the least; and was particularly unfortunate to get apprehended when he did. If you want the full story, you'll have to check out my Instagram post on this beer; I think it's worth the read. The beer is particularly dank, with tropical fruit also playing a part alongside the superb caramel malts. This is as good as Red IPA gets and a worthy recipient of a top 10 placing in the Hottest 100!

#12 - James Squire Hop Thief 7 For all the bad press James Squire receives; their Hop Thief is probably the beer that is educating the most Australian beer drinking about craft beer. It may not pack the hop punch of almost any proper craft Pale Ale, but it does have reasonable flavours and showcases different hops with each edition. The seventh edition had Galaxy & Mosaic, there was some tropical fruit notes but this was lost under the malts. For me; either the hops had to be stronger or the malts less intense. For the average drinker? This could be the stepping stone to trying something else...

#25 - Prancing Pony India Red Ale If the Modus Operandi Former Tenant is as good as Red IPA gets, then Prancing Pony's India Red Ale is a very close second! The malt caramelisation is as good as in any beer I can recall, which the hops provide a wonderful range of flavours; with peach, apricot, passionfruit and a strange herbaceous quality all easily identifiable. This beer would be a strong contender for my desert island beer... I reviewed this beer in full at the start of last year; which you can check out here.

#34 - Colonial Small Ale This was a phenomenal little mid-strength! The citrus hops are punchy, while there is a reasonable amount of malt considering the ABV. The best part of this beer however is not the beer itself; it's the packaging! Instead of the little pull tab system, the entire top of the can comes out leaving a huge hole for you to drink out of - much like a glass. It's really cool and not something I'd seen before - it's as good of a reason to purchase a Colonial Small Ale.

#47 - Little Creatures IPA I've loved this beer since it first came out, however the sample I tried for this challenge was really disappointing. The bottle was relatively fresh, yet it was lacking the hop bite of previous version. The malt seemed a little less chewy than past iterations as well. I hope this was just a bad batch, something I wouldn't normally associate with Little Creatures, rather than a Lion forced downturn in quality.

#51 - 
Mountain Goat Fancy Pants I have loved this beer since it was first released in 2010. It was one of the first beers I had back in Melbourne after my European sojourn that inspired my love of beer. It's a nicely hopped Red Ale, which has plenty of caramel malt layers. There's also some hops, but not enough to excite my palate as much as they would've 5 or more years ago. This beer being available year round now is such good news! I love this beer!

#63 - Big Shed F-Yeah Big Shed is a brewery that I think we will be seeing a lot more of in the not too distant future. They're from Adelaide and continually improving their excellent range of beers, 3 of which made the cut for this years Hottest 100. F-Yeah is well balanced American Pale Ale with biscuity dominating the malt front. There's a light amount of spiciness, which I keep wondering if it's rye - but think it's not, while the hops provide mostly citrus characteristics. If you are after a Pale Ale you can do a lot worse than pickup this beauty from S.A.

#77 - Mornington IPA I can't for the life of me explain why it's been the best part of a year since I last sampled this beer. It's an excellent Australian IPA; which has heaps of stone fruit flavours and some pine bitterness. The malts are mostly biscuity although there is also some caramel malts present. As far as balance IPA's goes, this is as good as they come in Australia.

#83 - Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout One of my favourite Australian beers slotted in at #83. If Thirsty Crow was based in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane (instead of Wagga Wagga) this beer would be in the top 10 every year, without a shadow of a doubt! It's a luscious Milk Stout, with chocolate, roast, vanilla and lactose sweetness combining beautifully. Having this beer in their Brewpub in Wagga Wagga is one of the great Australian beer experiences, something I managed to experience, for the third time, on the way to Grandma's 90th in Canberra.

#94 - Hargreaves Hill ESB Regular readers will be aware that ESB's aren't really my thing. That is slowly changing, in part due to this fantastic beer from Hargreaves Hill. It's definitely not a traditional ESB, as it's been hopped with plenty of "New World" hops. There's this lovely orange flavour I get every time I try it that reminds me of marmalade, while there is also some passionfruit. There's a traditional ESB malt base with some nice earthy and fruity notes. It's a lovely beer, and one that too often gets passed over due to it's plain label.

It may have taken a little over 2 weeks to get this up, but Part 4 of The Hottest 100 Beers is done. I'm starting to run into some availability issues early than expected - so I've made a list and will be being more organised from now on. I'm aiming to get Parts 5, 6 & 7 done by the end of October, which would leave near enough to one month for each of the remaining three parts. 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!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

THE THIRST #2

The Thirst


Since the first edition of The Thirst proved so popular with you guys, it's back for a second edition (and probably here to stay). I got sent heaps of emails with articles, so apologies if I have included an article you sent me and I haven't credited it.

There's plenty of variation in the articles posted this time. The articles range from quite in-depth pieces on the Australian Craft Beer scene, to an exploration of a rare Finnish style of beer, a look at North Korea's beer scene (yes, they have one!) and everything in between.

'KIM JONG-ALE': NORTH KOREA'S SURPRISING MICROBREWERY CULTURE EXPLORED - Ian Steadman of Wired (Link here)

The story of a man's journey through North Korea following their craft beer scene. I knew that North Korea made beer, Taedonggang beer has a reasonable reputation, but had no idea of the others mentioned. It's a fascinating insight into their culture and their love of beer. I found the Steam Beer craze in North Korea to be particularly interesting - but it makes sense given the lack of electricity and therefore refrigeration.

CRAFT BEER AND AUSTRALIA'S CHANGING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION HABITS - Thea Halpin and Harriet Tatham of ABC News (Link here)

It's rare to see craft beer crack the mainstream media in Australia; so this article from ABC News deserves mentioning. It talks about the decline in the overall consumption of beer in Australia, while we're experiencing a boom in the craft beer industry. It espoused the theory that Australian's are choosing to drink better, rather than more.

BEER LOVERS: IT'S TIME WE SOUR ON USE OF THE ADJECTIVE 'SOUR' - Justin Grant of The Tampa Bay Times (Link here)

Justin argues that sour beer styles are as diverse as any other beer styles and should be treated accordingly (ie. call a Gose a Gose, not a sour). I understand where the author is coming from - I'm just torn whether I agree or not... I think the word 'sour' has a place in the beer vernacular, it's a very easy to understand descriptor to use to the wider community. On the other hand, I really dislike talking to other beer people who instantly write off all 'sour beers' when they probably just don't like Flanders Red Ale's or Gose's. Read the article and let me know your thoughts.

TRACING THE HISTORY OF BEER GEEKS - Jessica Boak & Ray Bailey of All About Beer (Link here)

Speaking of the beer community, I thought this was a good read about my craft beer drinking forebears. I found the history interesting, it's not surprising that the Germans and Scandinavians were ahead of the trend here, and also found some books to track down; The Local by Maurice Gorham and Brew Brittania by the authors of this article.

SAHTI, THE ANCIENT BEER OF FINLAND, IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS - Illka Siren of Munchies (Link here)

Finnish Sahti is one of these rare styles of beer that has always intrigued me. It's very rarely produced outside Finland, and what little is isn't very good. The article explores the style and also explains the reasons behind why it's not found elsewhere in the world. Check it out if you know, or don't know, what Sahti is - it's a good read, with some good photos thrown in for good measure.


CHALLENGING 10 PERCEPTIONS IN THE AUSSIE CRAFT BEER MARKET - The Beer Healer (Link here)

This was a well constructed piece about the Australian Craft Beer scene. I thought there were a number of sentient points, in particular the comparisons with America. I rarely get upset with things in the beer industry, but our tendency to dump on brands who "sell out" is frankly ridiculous. This piece handles that topics are others very nicely. It's probably the pick of the pieces in this post.

THE FREEZE-DRIED CRAFT BEER OF THE FUTURE: CRAFTWERK WITH TO ØL - Munchies (Link here)

The Craftwerk series from Munchies is a must watch for any beer lover! Thanks to Dylan for introducing me to this series; I've wasted many hours watching them since you showed me! I've picked the To Øl one to showcase; it's the newest one and not only introduces their new Brewpub, but also their freeze-dried beer concept. It's such a cool idea, hopefully it's something that's come to fruition down the track.

THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN BEER GUIDE - James Smith

James is the number one craft beer voice in Australia. Many people may not be aware that the man with the unassuming name is better known as The Crafty Pint. This is James' second book and is similar in style to the first; 150 Great Australian Beers. If you want to know a short summation of the history of Australian beer, with a slight craft beer leaning, I cannot recommend any source higher than pages 10-18 of this book. It's a wonderful resource for information on the best beers on the Australian craft beer scene; I certainly found a few that I'll be seeking out!

I hope you've enjoyed perusing these articles guys - keep sending them in via email; gus.norris7@gmail.com. As soon as this post gets finalized I'm going to start on hopefully getting some beer content up for you. The camera is finally working again, so with any luck I'll get that glassware post up in the coming week or two.

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