Tuesday, 25 April 2017

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: MARCH

The Beer-thusiast Pack: March


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!). I think it's fair to say that we've settled on this format for the time being. As usual feedback is always welcome via the usual channels.


This pack was a little different, with 4 duplicates and 4 singles making up the 12 beers. Both Dylan and I had sampled quite a few of these previously. The standouts for me in this pack were the Hobart Brewing Co. Xtra Pale Ale, a brewery I haven't had a beer from previously, and the BrewDog Ace of Equinox, their beers are always good. I've also heard positive things about the 3 Ravens, whilst the pack will also give the Sierra Nevada Sidecar a chance to redeem itself about a pretty inauspicious first tasting.

3 Ravens Thornbury Lager - Lager - 4.9%

3 Ravens have really gone up in my estimations over the last year or so. It's based on a traditional German Pilsner, but utilizes a range of Australian hops (Ella, Summer and the experimental HP-035) and malts in combination with a Bavarian lager yeast. It's a beer that I was really quite keen to try.

"Super smashable! There’s not a lot to say about it and I suspect this is what the brewers at 3 Ravens would have wanted. With that said, I did like how subtle the fruity/floral hops were while still being present. It’s very well crafted. There seems to be a big trend of suburb based beers going around at the moment and I’d put this up there with the better ones (Coburg Lager, Footscray Ale) rather than the not so good ones (which I’ll refrain from naming)."

I was really impressed with this lager. Lager's are widely derided by the Australian craft beer community but I feel that this one could change that. It's wonderfully well rounded and incredibly easy to drink. I'm sure I'll be drinking more of these in due course.


Colonial Small Ale - Mid Strength - 3.5%

The Small Ale from Colonial is a beer that I've become quite familiar with since trying it for the first time as part of the Hottest 100 Beers last year. Packaged in those wonderful cans where the whole top comes off, the beer is something of a hybrid of styles. What is certain however is that it's a damn tasty little beer!

"Nailing down the style of this beer is tough and Colonial themselves seem loath to call it anything in particular. It has been made as a scaled back IPA though so I’d put it in the session bracket of that particular style if pushed. Onto more important notes, this is a beer that has really grown on me. I first had it early last year while over in Perth, attracted by the eye catching design and ring pull cans (which I still really, really like). It impressed me then and has become a staple ever since, packing a lot of flavour into a mid-strength beer. It has a good whack of bitterness but is still light enough to easily drink all day."


Sierra Nevada Sidecar Orange - American Pale Ale - 5.3%

As I mentioned earlier I was pretty disappointed when I tried this beer a couple of weeks ago. Sierra Nevada very rarely miss, however this was a pretty boring Pale Ale with a hint of citrus, which is clearly orange from the label. It was a touch better than I recalled, but it was still lacking in flavour and was a bit boring.

"When I heard Sierra Nevada were making an orange pale ale I was excited — I love a fruity pale and they obviously know how to make a standard pale bloody well! It’s brewed with Mandarina hops (as well as more standard US ale hops) and orange peel to give it the orange elements they wanted to bring out. Sadly, I just found this to be a super bland beer. Wanting to give SN the benefit of the doubt I’ve had it a few times but I can’t imagine purchasing another after this one from the Carwyn pack. There’s orange on the nose but it’s super light in the actual pale, which just feels like a pared back version of their standard pale. It might work as a gateway beer for those looking to get into hoppy beers with fruit additions but to be honest there’s a lot of better options in that department too. A real disappointment."

Mornington Sorachi - Kölsch - 5.2%

I've been a fan of this beer since it's first release as a limited edition run in 2012 (I think it was 2012 at least!). Back then it was called Sorachi Kölsch, and I even reviewed it in full!With this beer now being available at Dans now, in very reasonably priced 4-packs, I'm going to be drinking a lot more of these!

"This is a good kind of “grab a few cans and head to the park/beach” style beer. It’s fairly light and compact, goes down very easily. There’s obviously a fair bit of Sorachi (probably unsurprisingly!) in here, with the trademark lemony characteristics showing themselves well. Lightly tangy and crisp on the finish. Not a game changer but I have no real issues with it, does what it sets out to do well!"


Hobart Xtra Tasmanian - American Pale Ale - 5.8%

Hobart Brewing Company was a brewery I've never had the pleasure of sampling. I was hoping to try some of their wares at Melbourne BeerFest, however they didn't show... I don't believe they have their own bottling line at this stage, although little information is easily available. This offering was bottled, and I assume brewed, at Hawkers.

"A very solid pale ale. Apparently the first bottled release from the brewery, it sits in that awkward territory where it’s hard to find fault with what it’s doing but at the same time is hard to strongly recommend due to the lack of standout attributes. Putting that aside I really enjoyed the bottle I had, with the hops more on the piney/citrus end of the spectrum than tropical fruits. Good strong bitterness comes from this, with the IBUs weighing in a fair bit higher than your everyday pale while still retaining overall balance."

BrewDog Ace of Equinox - Session IPA - 4.5%

Equinox is a hop that BrewDog have used in a single hop before. One of their IPA is Dead beers from 2014 was the experimental EXP 366; a hop that would later be renamed Equinox. If I'm being honest I didn't love that beer, however I did say I thought the hop would perform better in a lower ABV setting... And here we are!

"I’m a big fan of single hop releases, especially when it’s one I’m not particularly familiar with which is the case with Equinox. It clocks in at a surprisingly low 4.5%, with an obviously light malt base letting the hops shine, and shine they do. I got a lot of pine and citrus, mostly lime, as well as some pawpaw and mango undertones. It’s a really solid beer and a great hop choice for a single hop release."


BrewDog almost never disappoint! This was no exception as I thought this was the standout beer of the pack, one of the few areas Dylan and I disagreed in this pack. The malt base is light, but just solid enough to lay a foundation for the hops to do their thing. The citrus flavour is really interesting with lime dominant, but grapefruit also there. The beer is rounded out by really nice tropical fruit flavours as well as some interesting grassiness.

Rogue Yellow Snow IPA - American IPA - 6.6%

Yellow Snow is a beer that I know I've sampled before, albeit in my pre-Untappd days. I remembered it as an excellent IPA packed full of vibrant citrus and fruit flavours. What we tasted this time bore almost no similarities! The hops tasted stale and didn't mesh well with the malts. I'm not sure if it was a dud can, but I certainly won't be rushing back to it...

"Apparently past versions of this have been pretty spectacular. I’m not sure what went wrong with this one. Strangely sweet, stale and dusty malts give way to strong bitterness that seems to exist without any hop flavour. There’s no real balance and the individual elements don’t work well. I didn’t outright hate it but it was certainly the most underwhelming beer of the pack and not something I’d revisit unless I was assured it was back at the quality others have spoken of it being at in the past."

This was one of the worst beers I've had this year! Admittedly I curate the list of what I drink to avoid beers that I don't think will be up to it, but still... I was bitterly disappointed in this offering and would really hope to put this down to a canning issue/bad batch.

Old Wives Ales Pop's Passion Tart - Gose - 3.9%

This was always going to be a pretty special beer. Old Wives Ales teamed up with SMALT, a craft salt producer, to turn their wonderful Pop's Passion Tart Berliner Weiss that was brewed for their first birthday into a Gose. They've utilized "apple wood cold smoked salt flakes" in combination with the passionfruit pulp that made the Berliner Weiss so striking.

"Carwyn have a knack for throwing excellent sours into their packs and this is no exception! OWA have hooked up with cold smoked salt producer SMALT for this beer to give their gose a real point of difference. It works incredibly well, with the passionfruit up front melding with the tartness of the beer before giving way to light smoke and a dry, salty finish. It adds a real meaty, savoury note to what may otherwise be a fruit driven gose. I like it more every time I have it."

Apologies all for the delay in getting this post, and numerous others I've promised recently, up; I've been swamped by Financial Management as part of my MBA. I quite enjoyed the beers in this pack, although I'm not sure that there was a real "WOW" beer. The April pack has already been delivered to Beer O'Clock Australia HQ and Dylan and I have both consumed most of them - it should be a pretty interesting review, which I'll hopefully get up more expeditiously!

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

Saturday, 8 April 2017

SETTING THE BAR: HAWKERS

Setting the Bar: Hawkers



Welcome to the first of hopefully many posts on a subject dear to my heart, the unsung heroes of the craft beer world; the core range. These are the beers that keep many of the breweries we love alive and allow them to create the seemingly endless array of new beers that hit bottle shop shelves every month.

As craft beer lovers we can often be accused of having neophiliac tendencies. The constant search for new experiences and flavours, that I'm sure a number of you can relate to, at times comes between us and the wonderful beers that we know and love. This new segment on Beer O'Clock Australia will aim to showcase these beers that may otherwise slip by the wayside of seasoned craft beer drinkers' periphery.

First up I thought I'd take a look at the core range from Hawkers; a brewery that launched with a clear vision to produce a well balanced core range, with less of a focus on limited releases. The result is four of the best selling, most consistent craft beers in Victoria.
“We don’t want to be the cool brewery, we don’t want to be the hipster brewery, we don’t want to be about what’s cool and new. We just want to be about good beer.” - Mazen Hajjar, Co-founder of Hawkers Beer
While Hawkers may have begun to take steps towards being that "hipster brewery" Mazen didn't believe they'd become with the recent release of their seasonal IIPA, following on from the success of their various Imperial Stout and Barleywine releases last year, the primary focus of the brewery is still on the core range. Without further ado; let's review the four beers that make up the Hawkers core range; Pilsner, Saison, Pale Ale & IPA.

Hawkers Pilsner - German Pilsner - 5.0%

As many of you would know, I'm a big fan of a well constructed Pilsner. The Hawkers offering is just that; a classical take on a German Pilsner. It's brewed entirely with German noble hops and pilsner malt, something that translates to the flavour.

It's a wonderfully aromatic Pilsner with plenty of floral & herbal characteristics melding with the spiciness and grassiness that you'd expect from the style. The malts are crisp, yet somehow provide an almost silky mouthfeel reminiscent of the honey that the flavour carries. It's quite bitter for a Pilsner, apparently clocking in at 50 IBU's, and is wonderfully refreshing.

Hawkers Saison - Saison - 5.6%

Saison is a style of beer that should be more popular than it is in Australia. I'm pleased to find the style popping up more and more now; particularly in the core range of one of Australia's larger craft beer producers. The Saison was released about two month after the rest of the core range.

The Hawkers take is typically straight up and down the style guidelines. Lemon and orange peel are complimented by some light spice and funk, while there are plenty of fruit flavours and some sweetish malts. The beer finishes beautifully dry with just a hint of pepper and coriander. It's a lovely, easy drinking take on this classical Belgian style.

Hawkers Pale Ale - American Pale Ale - 5.2%

The Hawkers beer that I'm most familiar with is their Pale Ale. It's an American Pale Ale that I'm a massive fan of; we've had kegs at our Grand Final Day party the past two years! This beer has been hugely popular since it's release - taking out the People's Choice Best Beer at the Great Australian Beer Festival just two days after it was released!

It's a wonderful Pale Ale, very much in the American mode, which packs a serious hop punch for the style. The hops give distinct orange and floral flavours, while tropical fruits are also present. There is a nice biscuity malt base that gives the beer a lovely full body. I was genuinely surprised to see this beer slide down the Hottest 100 rankings last year, although it does lend support to my initial hypothesis that craft beer lovers prefer new tastes rather than excellent well known examples.

Hawkers IPA - American IPA - 6.5%

It seems like you're not a craft brewery any more if you don't have an IPA in your lineup. The Hawkers IPA is a very typical Australian interpretation on a American IPA. It's placed in the Hottest 100 in both years since it was first brewed and is a beer that I'm very familiar with!

As I recalled this IPA is beautifully balanced and exhibits all the flavours you'd expect; ranging from citrus and pine to tropical fruits. There's plenty of bitterness up front with just enough caramel and biscuity malts to provide some balance to the beer. I think it's a wonderfully sessionable IPA, and is more complex than most of the other offerings on the market.

All-in-all I think the Hawkers core range is very well curated. They've developed four quite different beers that are all lovely interpretations of the styles they purport to be. The one hole in this range for me is a maltier offering, with a Red Ale being the obvious candidate to fill this hole - both from a flavour point of view and a branding one (a red label would fit very nicely in among this lot!). I had hoped to include a comment from Hawkers on their range, however they have not responded at time of publication - if they do get in touch I'll be sure to amend this post!

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

Friday, 31 March 2017

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 49

Untappd Catchup

Note to self; never promise deadlines again! My corporate governance assignment has completely consumed me for the best part of the last fortnight and once again Beer O'Clock Australia has fallen behind...

Richo and I kicked off the long weekend in style a few weeks back. One of the many beers consumed that evening was The Bruery's So Happens It's Tuesday, a monstrous bourbon barrel aged stout that was seriously luscious and packed with roastiness and vanilla. Sky's the Limit (Level 25) was the badge.

The next day Dylan and I took our first collaborative steps in the world of home brewing. Being responsible; we decided to stick to low ABV options - at least until the brewing was done. The first level of Riding Steady (Level 34) for the day was unlocked by Hargreaves Hill's new Small Sour Ale, a lightly hopped Berliner Weiss with nice citrus elements.


Nomad Rosie's Summer Punch unlocked Ich Bin Ein Berliner (Level 2). I was really surprised that this was only the second level of Ich Bin Ein Berliner that I had unlocked - I'm sure there will be more in the future. It had nice sourness for a Berliner Weiss and was reasonably fruity. however it was lacking in the floral aspect I was expecting from a beer espousing itself as having plenty of hibiscus... A nice summer refresher nonetheless.

Riding Steady (Level 35) was unlocked by Nøgne Ø's Strandhogg, a blackberry Gose from these famed Norwegian brewers. This beer I still remember vividly! There was this strange vinous characteristic to the beer that I presume was coming from the tart blackberries. This was accompanied by a distinct pepperiness (again something I'd associate more with red wine) and light salinity befitting it's Gose status. This wasn't mind blowingly good, but it certainly was memorable.

The last beer of our brewing session to unlock a badge for me was the Kereru Karengose. This beer gets a bad wrap, but I really quite enjoyed it. It's wonderfully refreshing and has nice light wheat flavours that combine with the salinity really nicely. There's a very faint salty vegetal aroma, which I'm guessing is the seaweed mentioned on the bottle, but it doesn't translate to the palate at all. Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 41) is why you're hearing about it now.


One of the reasons this post has blown out a bit is that I was lucky enough to win tickets through the Crafty Cabal to the Good Beer Week Gala trade show. The very first beer I had; Fury & Son Pale Ale unlocked two badges, something of a rarity these days, New Brew Thursday (Level 31) & By the Campfire (Level 10). This one redeemed the brewery in my eyes after the disappointment of their Pilsner recently. This was a nice bitter Pale Ale that I would like to try again in the future.

Tallboy & Moose recently opened their Brewpub in Preston, somewhere I've been meaning to get down to! I knew I had to try at least one of their beers and stumped for Honey I Shrunk the North East IPA, a 3.3% New England IPA. It was everything I expected it to be, very cloudy and impressively bitter. You're reading about it because it unlocked Riding Steady (Level 36).

I mentioned earlier that I thought there would eventually be a run on of Ich Bin Ein Berliner badges. (Level 3) was unlocked by the much hyped Pirate Life Apricot Berliner Weisse. As I've come to expect with these guys, the beer was excellent! It was quite tart and had plenty of distinctly apricot flavour. I would love them to package this in the future.


One of the highlight of the GBW Gala was getting to try some of the rarer Boatrocker offerings. 2X (Level 15) was unlocked by their Coffee Ramjet. It's a pretty huge statement to make, but I believe that this beer may well be leading the race for my Golden Pint awards at this stage of the year! It's such a brilliant stout, which the coffee is just blended into so seamlessly.

I found out many things at the Gala but one new piece of information took the cake; 7 Cent have re-released Big 'n Beardy! It's got even bigger since the first release; now clocking in at 10.1%. At this point in time I thought it was still a bit too young, with a little alcohol burn detracting from the wonderful roast, chocolate and caramel flavours. I'd be keen to get my hands on a bottle and review towards the end of winter. The beer unlocked Imperial Czar (Level 6), the badge for drinking Russian Imperial Stouts.

Two badges that are almost a certainty to occur every year; St Patrick's Day (2017) & Happy St Patrick's Day from Guinness (2017) were unlocked by a Guinness Draught at P.J. O'Brien's on St. Patrick's Day - funnily enough. As it is every year, the first Guinness on St. Patrick's Day always tastes special. I'm sure all of you know what I'm talking about! There will be far more Guinness talk in my Porter vs Stout post which is nearing its completion.


Later that night, for some unknown reason, I decided it would be a good time to try my Guinness West Indies Porter. This happened to unlock a special Guinness badge, Who's Afraid of the Dark, for drinking two different Guinness beers during March. It's pretty similar to the regular Guinness, however it's a bit richer and a bit fuller bodied with a nice hint of licorice on the back end.

Moon Dog cop quite a bit of flack, most of it unjustified, for their beers and their propensity to explode from time to time... One from their core range that was launched early last year, Old Mate Pale Ale, unlocked Riding Steady (Level 37). It's quite bitter for a Pale Ale, but the hops provide wonderful flavours of citrus, pine and passionfruit - and is a beer that I'd quite happily session on.


Dylan and I ventured to Thornbury and the wonderfully dangerous place that is Carwyn Cellars for KBS Day a couple of weekends ago. With KBS not being tapped until late in the afternoon we had plenty of time to sample some of the other offerings from Founders. Lizard of Koz, a blueberry, chocolate and vanilla Imperial Stout that has been aged in bourbon barrels. Despite the weird assortment of ingredients the beer turned out beautifully, although it was quite sweet and because of that I doubt you could drink more than the 150ml that Dylan and I both consumed. Beer City Brewsader (2017) & Sky's the Limit (Level 26) were both unlocked by this unique beer.

Whilst waiting to try two more stouts (KBS 2016 &2017) well over 11% ABV, I decided it'd be a great idea to have a full pot of Ægir's Ratatosk, a 9% Imperial IPA... (In fairness; great at the time - less so the next day...) 2X (Level 16) was unlocked and so were my tastebuds! This was an IIPA heavy on fruit, with nice citrus notes in the background against a back drop of sweetish caramel malts.


After a nice Sunday session at the London Tavern for a mates birthday, a few of us decamped to Jimmy Grants on Church St for some souvlaki's. Naturally at any Greek restaurant the beer of choice is Mythos; a beer I haven't had in years! It wasn't awful, with reasonable grain flavour, little sweetness and even a touch of grassy bitterness. What I do know is that it paired beautifully with my souvlaki and also unlocked Riding Steady (Level 38).

Lizzie and I popped out for GAMI after seeing a play the other night. GAMI is known for their wonderful Korean Fried Chicken, but they also have a reasonable selection of beers at reasonable prices. The infamous Thunder Road Pacific was the beer that unlocked On a Roll! This is a badge for checking into various types of Asian restaurants. The beer certainly isn't up to the standards of it's namesake from Byron Bay, but it's a perfectly serviceable knockoff.


I think after the last 6 or so months I can finally answer one of my most hated questions; who is your favourite brewer? I think the answer has to be the wonderful Danish brewer To Øl - they simply never disappoint! Their DIPA Underground was a beer I had, and really enjoyed, this week and in doing so it unlocked 2X (Level 17). It poured a bit darker than I generally like my Imperial IPA's, but the taste was phenomenal - with near perfect balance between grapefruit hop flavours and biscuity/earthy malts.

Levels of the Crisp as Day badge don't roll around all that often anymore. That's why I was pleasantly surprised when Who You Callin' Wussie unlocked (Level 20). Craft Pilsner's are very hard to find - mostly due to the extra fermenter times, and therefore costs, that lagers require. This is brewed by Arrogant Brewing, a subsiduary of Stone, and was a lovely clean Pilsner with plenty of hop bite. If you're looking for a straight up and down American take on a classic Pilsner - look no further!


Last but not least was Magic Rock's Inhaler, a Pale Ale x Session IPA that unlocked God Save the Queen (Level 39) & Riding Steady (Level 39). For a hoppy beer that clocked in at only 4.5% the beer had held up pretty well on it's journey over from Huddersfield, England - but I can't help but feel that this would've been a better beer fresher. That said, the hops still packed nice bitterness but the tropical fruit and citrus flavours were a tad muted.

So there we have it guys! I've finally got this post up, shame it took me over three weeks between posts! Hopefully a few of the posts that I have in the works will get finished in the next week or so, especially the Porter vs Stout post that I'm particularly excited about. Keep your emails coming through on gus.norris7@gmail.com as I'm almost up to date on them at the moment. Until next time guys!

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

Monday, 6 March 2017

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: FEBRUARY

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!).


This lineup was headlined for me by the two beers of Kiwi origin. The Tuatara Amarillo is a hoppy Dark Ale, which I found very impressive when I tried it a weeks before sampling it in this pack, while the Yeastie Boys Bigmouth is the first beer brewed at their Australian facility. Of the 5 Australian offerings the Exit Saison stood out to me as a beer I was excited to try, whilst I always enjoy trying the 4 Pines Keller Door releases.

Exit Saison - Saison - 6.2%

As a self confessed Exit fanatic, I was really surprised that I hadn't tried their core Saison since its release. Having initially launched their brand with a Saison, you know these guys have a strong affinity with the style and are not going disappoint with their core range offering. This was probably the beer I was most excited to try in the pack after Dylan had (massively!) hyped it up to me!

"I was worried going back to this after a little while would challenge my stance of this being the best Australian brewed saison around...but it’s even better than I remember out of the can! There’s a lot of savoury yeast character, some lemon driven spice, honey malts and a real meaty body to it all. Finishes dry which is always important and brings it all together. I might be hotter on this beer than many people but I’d be shocked if anyone who enjoys the odd saison isn’t a fan."

I have to concur here; this was a seriously good Saison! I'd love to know what yeast they've used, as they've managed to illicit this wonderful lemony pepperiness, which to me really makes the beer stand out. I'd put it right up in the top echelons of Australian Saison's; alongside the likes of Boatrocker, La Sirene & Bridge Road. I enjoyed it so much, I've already had a couple more since I had this for the first time in this pack.

Temple New World Order - American Stout - 6.5%

I still vividly remember this beer being announced, quite why I'm not sure... It was the first beer released by Temple after the departure of founder and brewer Ron Feruglio and one that I haven't tried for the best part of two years. I'm looking forward to trying it again, as I remember it as quite an impressive Stout, with plenty of hops leaving it quite dry and bitter.

"Just a tasty, straightforward American style stout. Not a heap of roast in the flavours but the malts are very rich, plenty of dark chocolate in there. There’s some pepper that comes out more as it warms and complements the richness nicely. There’s light bitterness throughout and a touch of sweetness on the finish. "


Yeastie Boys Bigmouth - Session IPA - 4.4%

I was pretty excited when I heard New Zealand brewers Yeastie Boys were opening their second overseas brewery (after the U.K.) in Australia. The brewery has been setup in partnership with leading distributors ExperienceIt and will see fresh Yeastie Boys beers available Australia wide. Bigmouth is a Session IPA which, from the description, definitely has Nelson Sauvin hops in it (like any self respecting Kiwi leaning beer!) alongside a host of other tropical fruit hops!

"This is delicious! Yeastie Boys always seem to make beers suited for my palate. Body isn’t too light which I think is important for a session pale, need a little something there to hold it all together. Hops are wonderfully fruity, but not in the generic ‘tropical fruit’ sense that a lot of beers go for. There’s lychee, peach, apricot and a couple of other things I can’t quite place. Almost a sauvignon blanc kind of tropical rather than the normal mango/pineapple explosion for mine. It’s juicy and very tasty, I’ll definitely be back for more."

Tuatara Amarillo - Dark Ale - 5.0%

When Tuatara announced that this beer, an Amarillo hopped Dark Ale, was coming to Australia in late-January my interest was piqued. A subsequent search for the beer proved fruitless, despite coming across many of the other beers announced at the same time, until a couple of days before this pack arrived... Thankfully I was very happy to have two!

"This is a great example of how to do a dark ale. Don’t make the body too heavy but make sure you still stick with plenty of roast flavour and plenty of hops. It’s easily drinkable but there’s a lot to it. Citrus and coffee lead the way in terms of flavour and it finishes smooth. I haven’t had a bad beer from Tuatara and this one definitely continues that record."

Despite my high expectations of this beer, something that often leads me to disappointment, I was really blown away by this beer; it's close to my perfect Dark Ale! The body is thinner than it looks, whilst the malt provides nice roast and chocolate flavours. There's also a bit of sweet caramel, which lays the platform for the citrusy (orange and tangerine) hops to cut through and provide a complimentary flavour and adequate bitterness. It's incredibly drinkable!


Himmel Hünd - Vienna Lager - 4.8%

Vienna Lagers are a style that aren't particularly suited to our climate. That little bit of extra malt should provide complexity but often just adds unnecessary sweetness. When done well they can be phenomenal, unfortunately most aren't done well... I haven't had the Himmel Hünd version before, however my first impressions of the packaging are positive - it's a striking label!

"Eye catching label! Enjoyable little lager, earthy and malt driven. Not particularly exciting but well crafted - if you wanted something on a warm day that had a bit more heft to it than your average lager then this would be a great choice."


Personally I don't think I'd re-visit this beer. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, I just felt it didn't do enough to keep me interested. Although in saying that, I'm not sure how fresh the stock we sampled was... It tasted a little old and oxidised. If you're into lagers it may be worth tracking down, just maybe check how recently it was brewed.

4 Pines Keller Door Grapefruit IPL - India Pale Lager - 6.3%

I think I've made it clear on this blog before that I always think it's worthwhile picking up the 4 Pine Keller Door releases when they come out. This one is an IPL, a style that is rarely produced by brewers and a style that is even rarer to find done well! 4 Pines have jumped on the hoppy beers infused with Grapefruit train that was 2016 with this IPL and I'll be interested to see how it finishes.

"I’m not 100% on IPLs - I’ve had some good ones and some that just confused me as to why the brewer bothered. You get some interesting flavours and finishes from them, similar to imperial pilsners, that you won’t get anywhere else but I’m just yet to have that one beer that totally turns me onto the style yet (I’m talking the kind of beer that’ll make me seek an IPL out over a new IPA). This beer isn’t quite the one but it’s definitely one of the better ones I’ve had, the grapefruit is really there and it finishes very smooth given the solid whack of bitterness. It’s a bit like a fresh grapefruit jam with bunch of the peel and pith thrown in. 4 Pines definitely hasn’t held back on the hops and it’s what makes the beer work above all else."


Red Duck White Garden - Witbier - 3.9%

Red Duck are best known for the weird and (sometimes) wonderful beers they produce. This purports to be a raspberry and rhubarb infused witbier that has been crossed with a Berliner Weiss. I've had a couple of iterations of this in the past and been pretty underwhelmed... Their quality has appeared to pick up since their new brewer came on board so I'm going into this with an open mind.

"This was surprisingly not particularly weird by Red Duck’s standards! It’s apparently part witbier, part Berliner weisse but it certainly seemed to be firmly in the fruited witbier camp to me. There’s a fair bit of wheat there, with the fruit being complementary rather than at the forefront. It reminded me a touch of Bad Shepherd’s Raspberry Wheat. The rhubarb was very subtle - possibly a victim of the raspberry outshining it in terms of flavour - but what was there worked well. I enjoyed this without loving it, it was definitely refreshing and I liked the way the flavours worked together but not something I’d seek out again in its current form personally."

I think this may be the first time that I've managed to get the Beer-Thusiast Pack review up before the new one has arrived at Beer O'Clock Australia HQ! Stylistically I think this was the most diverse pack to date, with all seven beers being quite different from each other - although I think the quality on the whole was a little down on previous iterations. I'm really looking forward to finding out what the March installment has in store for us! Until next time guys...

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

Sunday, 5 March 2017

UNTAPPD CATCHUP 48

Untappd Catchup


I'm making it my mission to try and stay more on top of the blog this year. I've set myself some deadlines, but given my track record at meeting self imposed deadlines I'l keep those to myself for the first few months...

I've currently got 5 posts in the works, once they're completed I hope to get some full reviews up again! It's been so long! Anyway without further ado, we better get into this Untappd Catchup before I unlock any more badges...

First up was the brand new Two Birds Pale Ale, which is replacing the very nice Bantam in their core range. I was really impressed with the beer, something I don't always say about offerings from Two Birds. It's brewed with oats and has the silkiness you'd expect from that, while the hops are quite forward and provide plenty of pine and passionfruit. I'll be interested to see what this tastes like when it's not super fresh, as the pungent hops really made it for me. Riding Steady (Level 30) is why you're reading about it now.

I wrote in "The Biggest Untappd Catchup Ever!" about the impressive beers that we've recently received from Ægir Bryggeri from Norway, another of their beers - Lærdøl Sour Cherry Rye - unlocked Here Come the Vikings (Level 6). All the elements mentioned in the title were present; there was pleasant lactic tartness, nice cherry flavour and just a hint of the spiciness that characterizes rye in beer. It's a beer I really enjoyed!


Old Wives Ales Pop's Passion Tart, a beer that debuted as a keg only Berliner Weiss for their first birthday, has been re-imagined as a Gose using smoked salt! It's still got nice refreshing qualities and passionfruit, but what has really taken it to the next level is the salinity with this faint smokiness making it stand out from the crowd. It's a really interesting beer, perhaps more a baby Lichtenhainer than a Gose? Just like when I checked in the Berliner Weiss two badges were unlocked; What Gose Round (Level 6) & New Brew Thursday (Level 30).

Dogfish Head are one of the foremost producers of IPA's in the world. Their beers don't make it to Australia with great regularity and so, when fresh, I always pick them up when I see them. This time happened to coincide with the release of their Continually Hopped IPA badges. The first of which (60 Minute) was unlocked by their 60 Minute IPA. This was as fresh as I can recall having this beer, with grapefruit and pine exuding from the hops.

The second and final of the two Continually Hopped IPA badges was the (90 Minute). No prizes for guessing that the beer that unlocked this badge was Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA. This is a really big, sweet Imperial IPA. The hops are quite bitter and provides masses of pine resin as well as notes of tropical fruits and herbal qualities. I'm really glad these badges came along as I've quite enjoyed sampling these again!


Yeastie Boys Bigmouth unlocked Mardi Gras (2017), the annual badge Untappd releases to commemorate Mardi Gras. This badge is unlocked by simply having a beer during set dates around the annual gay community celebration. I will write more about this beer in the Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack review, which should be up any day now. All I'll say for now is that it's new and dangerously drinkable!

I won tickets to the Melbourne BeerFest through the Crafty Cabal. I decided beforehand that I'd use the day to mostly taste beers from brewers I was less familiar with. The first beer I had unlocked Riding Steady (Level 31). That beer was the Pale Ale from brand new brewery Jetty Road, which will be based out of Dromana once council issues are resolved. At the moment they are producing this very tasty, quite bitter Pale Ale at Kaiju.

A few hours and many many beers later, the next iteration of the Riding Steady badge (Level 32) rolled around. The beer was from Little Rivers, a Tasmanian brewery that I didn't know much about. The beer that unlocked the badge was their Hefeweizen; a beer that was true to the style with plenty of banana and clove characteristics. Apparently I'd had this beer before, at The Gertrude during GBW 2014..., but have no recollection of this at all.


My final beer at the Melbourne BeerFest unlocked 2X (Level 14). Sauce Brewing are a Sydney brewery that launched in November last year. Their beers have started appearing around Melbourne in the last week or so, in pretty striking cans. Naturally because it was the end of a big days drinking I thought it best to try their biggest beer; Mega-Hop Sauce - an Imperial IPA. It had lots of sweet malts, with caramel taking centre stage, whilst the hops were mostly citrusy and provided lovely bitterness.

I don't know what to think about the beers from Sailor's Grave; some of them are excellent and some are very mediocre. Thankfully the Grapefruit and Marigold Saison, which unlocked Trip to the Farm (Level 21), was one of the excellent ones! A lovely yeastiness (apparently they use the original DuPont yeast) combines with bitter grapefruit flavours as well as a strong floral aroma, with elements that carry over to the taste. I think this is my favourite beer from these guys so far!

One of the most anticipated beer releases of the year so far was Balter's new Pilsner. I was expecting this to be a straight up and down interpretation of the style, as Balter have done with their first two packaged releases. That's exactly what I got, with a lovely light maltiness being complimented by grassy and floral hops. The beer finishes nice and crisp with enough bitterness for the style. Riding Steady (Level 33) is why you're reading about this beer now.


Last but not least for this Untappd Catchup is the new(ish) Voodoo Ranger from New Belgium Brewing Company. Apparently, despite it being based in Colorado, this beer qualifies to unlock "NC (North Carolina) Beer Month is Coming! (2017)" - to unlock this simply check-in to any beer from any brewery on this list. I really enjoyed the clean bitterness of this IPA, which was driven by tropical fruit notes but also had nice biscuity malts.

There's been quite a nice variety of beers in this Untappd Catchup, so hopefully you've all found something that will pique your interests. I'm hoping that this will be a big week on Beer O'Clock Australia as my Corporate Governance assignment is seemingly *touch wood* under control at this stage. The Beer-Thusiast Pack review should be up in the next few days, whilst there should also be another couple of long awaited posts. Until next time guys...

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

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

THE THIRST #4

The Thirst



Today we're back with another installment of The Thirst. The four months since the last one have simply flown by! Naturally over these four months I've collected quite few articles that I've found and that you guys have sent into me. I've got far too much for one post - so if yours isn't in this lot, it very may well make the next post!

25 MOST IMPORTANT AMERICAN CRAFT BEERS EVER - Josh Noel of Chicago Tribune (Link)

These list articles always generate plenty of conjecture amongst the beer community. I regularly talk about the significance of some of the pioneering beers of the Australian craft beer scene and thought it would be fitting to post this piece talking about the craft beer scene that inspired our own.

WHAT THE HELL WAS TUATARA THINKING? - Jono Galuszka of From Drinker to Brewer (Link)

As a qualified, well almost qualified, lawyer I take great enjoyment out of some of the ridiculous trademark disputes/applications that the beer world throws up from time to time. This piece from former NZ Beer Writer of the Year, Jono Galuszka, is a thoroughly interesting piece - which explores the recent re-brand from Tuatara and explores the subsequent trademark issues that have arisen. Trying to trademark the name of their new beer "Amarillo", a beer named after the proprietary trademarked hop that is used liberally in the beer, may have taken the lead in my books...

DIEU DU CIEL!’S PÉCHÉ MORTEL, SIX WAYS - Noah Forrest of Beerism (Link)

I stumbled across this piece from Beerism a little while ago. I was really taken with the layout of the post and particularly the photo's that were accompanying the post. This piece takes you on a journey through 6 vintages or incarnations of the wonderful Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel - a massive Imperial Stout! I really enjoy doing vertical tastings and have a couple of different vintages of various stouts aging in the beer cupboard - maybe one day you'll see a post along similar lines to this on Beer O'Clock Australia.

THAILAND'S FIRST HOP FARMERS ARE ABOUT TO GIVE THE LOCAL CRAFT BREWING SCENE A MAJOR BOOST - Diana Hubbel of Munchies (Link)

The story of two brothers attempting to grow hops in the inhospitable conditions of Thailand and the challenges they face. It also provides interesting information regarding the brewing regulations in Thailand, which I had very little idea of. It's always good to see craft beer taking off in new markets and this, if they succeed, can only help the scene in South East Asia.

MAP: THE HIGHEST RATED BREWERY IN EVERY COUNTRY - VinePair (Link)

Love it or hate it; Untappd is the biggest beer rating network in the world. Accordingly the data acquired from it can be of significant interest/value. This map contains the highest rated breweries from each country. The usual suspects are up there; Cantillon from Belgium, The Alchemist from the U.S.. A bit closer to home Liberty Brewing took out New Zealand's title while Brewtal Brewers, a Brisbane based brewery that I know very little about, took out the Australian title from Pirate Life in second place.

A BEGINNERS' GUIDE TO THE ESTONIAN CRAFT BEER REVOLUTION - Tom of Hidden Tallinn (Link)

When I traveled through Estonia a couple of years ago there were hints that craft beer was starting to take off. I found it quite hard to find Estonian craft beer with Finnish beers far more readily available. It's good to see that their own craft scene is finally taking off; I tried one of Põhjala's offerings the other day, which was pretty good and that I assume was distributed through collaborator To Öl's distribution network... Hopefully I'm wrong and we see more Estonian craft beer downunder!

WOOD & BEER - Dick Cantwell & Peter Bouckaert

This book was everything I'd hoped it would be! Written by two of the beer worlds most respected figures, this book covers everything you can possibly imagine about about wood and it's relationship with beer. From the history of why beer and wood came together, through the microbiological changes that wood can have on beer to the maintenance required to keep wooden barrels in optimum conditions to enhance beer. If you're a beer nerd, this is a fantastic read!

As it's been so long I'll leave you with another couple of bonus articles. First, a state by state look at the American craft beer scene in numbers (link). Secondly, a graph that's usefulness I'm not sure of - but it is cool (link). The Beer Healer's look at mid-strength beers is an interesting read (link), whilst I'll leave you with this piece about Melbourne's craft beer pioneers, Mountain Goat, from Good Beer Hunting (link).

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

Monday, 20 February 2017

HOTTEST 100 ANALYSIS


The Hottest 100 Beers


Having finished my Hottest 100 Beers Challenge a couple of weeks ago, I've taken some time to reflect on what was an excellent journey. I tried a number of great Australian beers that I otherwise wouldn't have re-visited and sampled a number for the first time.

As is my wont; I've subsequently converted a lot of my Untappd data into a spreadsheet and had a play around. I was actually pleasantly surprised with my findings, some of which will be presented below.

Heading into this challenge I felt sure I would try a number of below average beers. I made sure I entered this challenged with an open mind and found that a number of the heavily derided macro offerings are actually pretty decent beers - not beers I'd drink every day, but not bad beers either.

To more positive findings; if you were a hoppy Red Ale you did very well in my rankings, five of them got scored at 4.5 or above on Untappd! Pirate Life make great beers that I drink a lot of (probably not news to many of you)! 2 Brothers from Moorabbin produced my best new find of the year; their Kung Foo Lager is delicious and something I probably would never have tried if it were not for this challenge.

Stone & Wood Pacific Ale is a deserved champion. This beer is produced so consistently. They manage to maintain this consistency despite the huge volumes of the beer they must brew, across multiple sites now, to placate the masses of drinkers across this country that now drink this rather than macro lagers. Craft beer drinkers who complain about this are missing the bigger picture; it's better the masses drink a fantastic Australian craft beer like Pacific Ale rather than macro lagers. The playing field is slowly shifting in our direction. Simply; it's the best Australian Pale Ale and a deserved winner of back-to-back Hottest 100 popularity contest titles.

I "ummed" and "ahhed" about writing this paragraph, but thought its not an objective piece if I abstain from criticism. I was surprised to find Gage Road Atomic, Little Creatures IPA & Hawthorn Pale Ale in my bottom five beers. I checked all the bottles and they were all well and truly within date... The Gage Road beer, in particular, was one of the worst beers I had last year - I even had a second Atomic which further confirmed this! Whilst Yenda Pale Ale, owned by Coca-Cola, was the only one of the macros to really disappoint.

Findings by Numbers

29 - The number of beers I rated at 4.5 or above. Massively above my expectations!

5 - The number of beers I rated under 3. I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the macro offerings that are much derided.

4 - The number of beers from Feral that found their way into my Top 5! I was shocked by this, but by the criteria I set before analyzing any data (the only fair way to do this) War Hog, Watermelon Warhead, Hop Hog & Tusk all found their way into the Top 5 - behind Stone & Wood Pacific Ale.

69 - The number of places jumped by Thirsty Crow's Vanilla Milk Stout, in my rankings compared to the 2015 Hottest 100 voters.

86 - The number of places fallen by James Squire's 150 Lashes. It's a serviceable but certainly not one that'd find its way into my Top 10.

14 - The position that Brewcult's Milk and Two Sugars finished in 2015 - the highest ranked beer from 2015 to miss the 2016 Hottest 100.

146 - The number of places that Hangman Pale Ale from Rocks Brewing fell - from 36 down to 182 - I remembered to analyze the 101-200 Beers this year!

21 - The number of beers I tried for the first time (according to Untappd) as part of this challenge.

37 - The number of beers to fall out of the Hottest 100 in 2016, including the two beers from Coopers' which were not entered by the brewery this year.

23 - The number of beers to rise up the Hottest 100 countdown in 2016.

38 - The number of beers to slide down the Hottest 100 countdown in 2016.

2 - The number of beers to hold their positions in Hottest 100 2016, headlined by Stone & Wood Pacific Ale retaining its crown atop the countdown.

3.875 - The average Untappd score that I gave beers in the 2015 Hottest 100. This is significantly higher than I expected and just shows how far Australian beer has come! It's almost in-line with my figures across all of 2016!

All in all I have to say that I'm very glad I tried the beers that the Australian beer drinking public voted as their favorites. Overall the quality of the beer being produced and consumed in Australia is better than I thought it was. The 2016 results, which you can find here, also show that more drinkers are moving away from macro craft beers and moving towards fuller flavoured independent offerings (as seen by the falls in James Squire 150 Lashes and Fat Yak in particular). 2017 is going to be a great year for Australian craft beer!

Now that I've wrapped the 2015 Hottest 100, I'm intending to try and track down the 37 new entries in the countdown of 2016's Hottest 100 beers. There were a number of wonderful beers that have made their debut in the countdown on January 26, 2017 and I feel it would be prudent to keep you all informed of them. There's a couple of limited releases that I'm not sure I'll be able to track down - however 37 is a lot easier than 100! If you can't wait for my posts you can check out the full 2016 results here. Until next time guys...

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

Sunday, 19 February 2017

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: JANUARY

The Beer-thusiast Pack: January


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!). The feedback I've received on this format has so far been quite positive, keep the feedback coming in though!


I was impressed with this lineup on paper. It's packed with a good mix of styles and really topped off by the addition of the latest release from the Bridge Road Mayday Hills range; Green T. This pack contains mostly Australian offerings with the now standard 4 Victorian beers sitting alongside a South Australian (Mismatch) offering and a West Australian (Nail) offering, neither of which I've had before. The sole international offering is from Anderson Valley in California. Without further ado; let's get into it!

Mismatch Archie's Red Ale - American Red Ale - 5.0%

Mismatch Brewing Company is a gypsy brewer based in Adelaide that has been operating since 2013. I first came across them in 2015 and have been pretty impressed with all of their beers I've had to date. I've also heard they are setting up their own brewery in the Adelaide Hills this year. This is the first time I've sampled an Archie's Red Ale. It sounds promising with Centennial and Cascade hops in the bill.

"An easily quaffable red. Mellow flavours, mostly malt forward. Low hop bitterness and some laid back citrus flavours on the finish. Definitely not something that jumps out at you with big flavours but it’s a very drinkable red and it worked for me."

I tend to agree, this beer is very easy drinking but lacks a real "WOW" factor. There's some nice caramel malts that are supplemented by a light spiciness. The two C hops provide some citrus, but I would've preferred a little more liberal use given they mention them in the description.

Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose - Gose - 4.2%

Of the 4 Anderson Valley Gose variants; I rate this one the highest. This was the second spin-off, after the Blood Orange Gose, from their straight up and down Gose (which you can read a full review of here). I've said for a long time that when Feral finally can Watermelon Warhead will be when sours really take off in this country; this beer should be further proof of that - it's basically Watermelon Warhead with salt added!

"Was stoked to see this in this month’s pack, definitely one of the beers I enjoyed most in 2016! I’d recommend any brewery looking at trying a gose have a gander at Anderson Valley’s offerings - their balance when it comes to the style is second to none. Perfect harmony between acidity, salt and fruit. Watermelon is a great choice for a gose addition and predictably works bloody well in here. I’m a huge fan of this beer, in case it wasn’t obvious!"


Blackman's Reginald IPA - American IPA - 6.2%

Blackman's is based down on the Surf Coast in Torquay, near Geelong. It's a brewery I've long been meaning to visit - in part due to this beer! I've had it a couple of times on tap, but have started having more regularly since the brewery launched their canning line in the middle of last year.

"The first thing that hit me after the waves of citrus, stonefruit and pine was how easy this is to drink! It has a really nice, smooth malt body and the bitterness is quite subdued considering the amount of flavour they’ve got out of the hops (Citra and Cascade if I remember correctly). Mellow but flavoursome, very enjoyable."

Nail VPA - American Pale Ale - 6.5%

Nail's VPA (Very Pale Ale) was released towards the end of 2015 - yet strangely I hadn't heard anything about it! At 6.5% ABV and with a big hopping regime I would assume this name is related to it being closer to an IPA than a Pale Ale. Nail very rarely disappoint...

"The surprise of the pack for me. Nail do good work and I love cans but it was hard to get excited about the prospect of yet another pale. This was quickly put to bed when I cracked the can — the combination of Azacca and Galaxy lends this a wonderful tropical fruitiness, while the slightly sweet and quite hefty malt base gives it great balance. Clean flavours and finish. Real quality."


I really needed to jump in here - I loved the beer as well and agree with almost everything said above. When I tasted this beer I got this dominant tropical fruit aroma that I've only just managed to place; PINEAPPLE! Thanks for mentioning the Azacca hops Dylan that triggered my memory! This was alongside an array of passionfruit, peach and mango - but pineapple stood out from the crowd!

Moon Dog Love Tap - American Pale Lager - 5.0%

Fresh off the Moon Dog lager in the last Beer-Thusiast Pack we have another; Love Tap from their core range. This beer started life as a massive Imperial Lager (from memory it was in the 8% range) but after a few tweaks different iterations is now a hoppy 5% lager. I haven't had it for a while so am looking forward to seeing how this tastes.

"This tastes quite different to how I remember it! It has always been a fairly hoppy lager but the bite has never been this pronounced before. Possibly a new recipe or simply a fresher bottle than I’ve had in the past. This is somewhere near imperial pilsner territory for mine — it’s not quite at that level of hop saturation but it has the smooth, punchy bite and medicinal bitterness I’d expect from the style. Hard to say how I feel about it, I quite enjoy it every time I drink it but I never feel the urge to go back to it. Certainly intriguing enough to recommend everyone give it a go at some stage though."


Hargreaves Hill Zenith IPA - American IPA - 6.2%

I was really pleased to see this beer finally bottled! I've had it on tap through the Bear Club, at the brewery itself and around the traps a few times. It's a seasonal beer that these guys put out, where the hop bill changes each time. I believe the current iteration has Warrior, Simcoe and Chinook.

"After we had this from memory the overriding opinion was “this sure is an IPA”. It’s not meant to be disparaging as it’s quite a good one, but it really is a straight up and down interpretation of the style without a lot to make it stand out. There’s some good pine notes and the bitterness primarily comes through on the finish. If you enjoy IPAs this will certainly do just fine if you see it on the shelf."


That was indeed the sentiment around the table. I actually think this is usually a more impressive beer than what was presented before us. I feel that the bitterness is slightly more restrained in this version, whether that's due to the bottling or the different hop regime I can't be sure. Basically this version is a nicely balanced IPA with pine and tropical fruit notes.


Bridge Road Mayday Hills T - Sour IPA - 7.4%

The second installment in Bridge Road's Brettanomyces inoculated Mayday Hills series was a wonderful choice for this pack. It's relatively limited and definitely interesting! This beer is a 100% Brett fermented IPA aged in their new foeder with green tea. The series aims to showcase local ingredients with the green tea in this beer sourced from nearby Alpine Tea Co.

"I was very impressed with Bridge Road’s first foeder effort under their Mayday Hills banner and came into this one with pretty high expectations. While it wasn’t quite as good as Yee-Hah was for me, there’s a lot to like here. Great oak and brett character, almost a chardonnay like woodiness with some berry fruitiness rounding it out. There really wasn’t much of the green tea (sourced locally) evident in the brew apart from some tannic notes that did add a little in terms of how it finished and how the bitterness presented. It’s an enjoyable IPA, one that has a real point of difference from many others around which gets a big tick from me. Can’t wait for what Bridge Road do next in this series (from what I hear it has something to do with blackberries…)."

I will take this opportunity to apologize for some of the photos in this review, my lighting issues have returned... At least The Beer-Thusiast Pack reviews are back up to date! Now just to get everything else back up to date... February's pack was delivered to Beer O'Clock Australia HQ at the end of last week and Dylan and I have already got stuck into a few of them. Hope you enjoyed this review guys, I think this one may have been the best yet! The next pack promises to be one of the most interesting yet.

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