Thursday, 16 February 2017

THE BIGGEST UNTAPPD CATCHUP EVER!

Untappd Catchup


December 6! That date may not mean a lot to you, but that is the last day I wrote an Untappd Catchup piece... That's over 10 weeks ago! As you can imagine there is a bit of a backlog of badges to write up at Beer O'Clock Australia HQ.

To make matters worse, December and January are probably my two busiest drinking months and as usual I made sure I sample plenty of variety and quality. A simply staggering 75 badge levels have been unlocked across 37 different badges!

Rather than write a 77 paragraph review, I've decided to reprise the Good Beer Week Untappd Catchup post style and cap it at a comparatively short 41 paragraphs! I better get started, otherwise I might still be writing this piece in another 10 weeks time!

I was expecting quite a few Danish Delight badges to pop up during the course of my To Ølekalender. Four of those To Øl beers did indeed make the cut, you can check out those beers and more here. While I enjoyed one of my favourite beers of the year; To Øl's Pineapple Express, whilst watching the Australian Open Men's Final. It's wonderfully roasty with nice smokiness also present; in combination with this very fresh tasting pineapple! It's unique and in my mind completely brilliant!

To Øl Santa's Hibernation (Level 10)
To Øl My Sour Pils (Level 11)
To Øl !!!PA Simcoe & Mosaic (Level 12)
To Øl Black Bauble (Level 13)
To Øl Pineapple Express (Level 14)

The Wheel of Styles badge has gone into hiding after I raced through the first 95 different beer styles. Throughout this 10 week period Lindemans Kriek unlocked (Level 20) while Prancing Pony's Pagan Empire unlocked (Level 21). The two styles in question were "Lambic - Kriek" & Rye IPA. As a side note; I couldn't quite believe that I'd never checked in a Lindemans Kriek before on Untappd!

I was intending to write a review for the beer that unlocked Heavyweight (Level 50); Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. Sadly time has beaten me, but I can attest that it is a wonderfully decadent stout. To Øl's Black Ball, an Imperial Porter that I received on Day 10 of the To Ølekalender, had prior to that unlocked (Level 49). Like all To Øl beers it was an excellent example of the style and a beer that I would definitely revisit if given the opportunity.

The 2X badge will get a far bigger workout as the weather begins to cool down, however I've still unlocked 4 levels of this badge for drinking "Imperial" styles of beer over Summer. Those beers included the aforementioned To Øl Black Ball, Evil Twin's famed Even More Jesus (which incidentally was incredible!), Fox Hat's Metric IPA - which I would not term an Imperial IPA at 7% & finally a beer from the Renaissance Enlightenment Series - Boom! a beer that had plenty of fruityness, but lacked bitterness and had just a touch too much raw alcohol.


To Øl Black Ball (Level 10) 

Evil Twin Even More Jesus (Level 11)
Fox Hat Metric IPA (Level 12)
Renaissance Enlightenment Boom! (Level 13)

One of the newer style related badges is So Udderly Sweet. For those that have missed that pun; the badge is for drinking Milk Stouts. Elsie the Milk Stout from Batch Brewing in Sydney had the honour of being the first, and so far only, beer to unlock this badge for me so far. Unfortunately I thought the beer was a little thin bodied, although the vanilla flavour accompanying the lactose and roast was a welcome addition.

I've written numerous times on this blog about how frequently this badge was going to appear over the coming months! Riding Steady, the badge for checking in beers under 5% ABV, has been unlocked a staggering 17 - yes SEVENTEEN! - times since the beginning of December, no doubt spurred on slightly by my need to drink a number of the beers in the Hottest 100 countdown... As there's so many beers I'm not going to write about each one, but merely list them below.

Batch Elsie the Milk Stout (Level 13)
Bad Shepherd ESB by Dan (Level 14)
To Øl Don't Gose Towards the Light (Level 15)
Almanac Mandarina (Level 16)
Heineken (Level 17)
Kosciusko Pale Ale (Level 18)
Hop Nation The Punch (Level 19)
Cascade Premium Light (Level 20)
Stone & Wood Garden Ale (Level 21)
Coopers Premium Lager (Level 22)
Nøgne Ø Brandenburger (Level 23)
2 Brothers Growler (Level 24)
Little Creatures Bright Ale (Level 25)
A. Le Coq Imperial Marzen (Level 26)
Mismatch Archie's Red (Level 27)
Erdinger Alkoholfrei (Level 28)
Yeastie Boys Bigmouth (Level 29)

Four quite different sours unlocked the last 4 levels of the Pucker Up badge. Victory's Elderflower Berliner Weiss was very tart and well put together. The Quetsche, one of my favourite beers (another I can't believe I haven't checked in before!), was my first beer of 2017 and as tart as usual! Bridge Road's second Mayday Hills release you will read more about soon, while Tart of Darkness from Bruery Terreux is a beer that lived up to the hype that my expectant mind had bestowed upon it!

Victory Blackboard Series Berliner Weisse with Elderflower (Level 47)
Oude Quetsche Tilquin a l'Ancienne (Level 48)
Bridge Road Mayday Hills T (Level 49)
Bruery Terreux Tart of Darkness (Level 50)

Despite the weather not being particularly conducive to it; Christmas time tends to see me pull out some of the bigger beers I've collected throughout the year. This year was no exception, with three levels of Sky's the Limit being unlocked. As part of the Hottest 100 challenge, Dylan and I split a Mountain Goat Barley Wine (link here), their 2015 & 2016 Christmas Ale's came out during Christmas dinner, while Hop Nation's The Kalash, a pinot noir barrel aged stout, was really interesting in the midst of a hot summer afternoon tasting session.

Mountain Goat Barrel Breed Barley Wine (Level 22)
Mountain Goat 2015 Christmas Ale (Level 23)
Hop Nation The Kalash (Level 24)

I'm constantly surprised how few beers qualify for the Fruits of Your Labor badge, as I drink a lot of beers I'd classify as fruit beers! In any case (Level 5) of this badge was unlocked by Passion Fruit Kicker from Green Flash. This was a really interesting beer with a nice light wheat base punctuated by plenty of sour passionfruit flavour, with next to no sweetness present.
A well crafted Pilsner can be one of the most refreshing beers in the right conditions; hence I'm a little confused by the criticism of the style(s) by the craft community as a whole. Two beers unlocked levels of the Crisp as Day badge in this period; the aforementioned To Øl My Sour Pils (Level 18), which was anything but a traditional Pilsner but equally refreshing! While Tuatara's recently re-branded Mot Eureka (formely Bohemian Pilsner), a clean New World Pilsner with plenty of bitterness, unlocked (Level 19).  

When I drink them I generally really enjoy Barleywines. Strangely though here we are 6 months after the last time I said that and I've only had 5 more! South Australia's Little Bang Brewery released Galactopus, a 10.1% canned American Barleywine! It was an incredible beer with heaps of sweet, mainly caramel, malts balanced out by an absolute shit tonne of hops! This beer would've been seriously expensive to brew and also unlock The Wine of Beers (Level 3).

Fields of Gold was a badge that definitely benefited from the Hottest 100 check-ins. Strangely however neither of the two levels unlocked were by beers from that challenge. The first was To Øl's Brett & Butter (Level 8), a beer that I thought was lacking in funk and sourness, especially considering Brett's in it's name! While a Two Birds Hellenic Ale at the brewery took out (Level 9), I didn't notice anything particularly Greek about it, but it had nice moderately bitter pineapple hops. 

The sister badge to Fields of Gold (they both had their badge names changed a while back), Bravo for Brown is one that doesn't pop around very often. Another To Øl beer, Moccachino Messiah, was the beer that was lucky enough to unlock (Level 8) of this strangely elusive badge. It's a really special Brown Ale, with plenty of roast coffee, combining with sweet caramel and bitter citrus and tropical fruit hop flavours. 

I thought I would rack up quite a few levels of What Gose Round over Summer, yet strangely only one level was unlocked! I love a Gose on a hot evening, maybe I just drink the same ones all the time! One of the least Gose-like Gose's unlocked (Level 5) of the badge. To Øl's Don't Go Towards the Light is a Gose that has some dark malts and a heap of blackberries added to it! It was actually a delicious beer with the salinity really adding to this mix of roast and blackberries. God To Øl make some out there beers! 

It took a surprisingly long time before I unlocked Drink Like a Kiwi over this Summer-period. Never fear though; once the floodgates opened the levels flowed! Deep Creek's beers are in Australia for the first time and are really impressive! Tuatara's new Tomahawk was a fruity Pale Ale, while their new Amarillo was a wonderful roasty dark ale that's been amply hopped to provide bitter citrus. 8 Wired delivered as usual with their new Superdank living up to it's name!

Deep Creek Long White Cloudy IPA (Level 36)
Deep Creek Dusty Gringo (Level 37)
Tuatara Tomahawk (Level 38)
8 Wired Superdank (Level 39)
Tuatara Amarillo (Level 40)

Because it's been over 10 weeks since the last Untappd Catchup installment, I've got 3 New Brew Thursday levels to bring you. We're slowly creeping towards this not being a thing anymore! To Øl's Black Bauble, a beer already mentioned in this post, unlocked (Level 27), Funk Estate's It's a Beaut APA, which was a "beaut" (Level 28) and finally the 8 Wired Superdank (Level 29).

The first of the holiday specific badges was Merry Brew-mas (2016). I think it's fair to assume most of you can work out what this badge relates to. The beer was yet another of the beers from the To Ølekalender; Santa Gose F&#% It All. The story behind this beer is pretty good and you can get the low-down on that in this post here. It's not the saltiest Gose you'll come across, but it wonderfully fruity and is a beer that I would buy again in a heartbeat! 

I'm not sure if the criteria for the Winter Wonderland badge has changed recently, but I did unlock two levels of the badge over the Christmas period. Brasserie de la Senne's X-mas Zinnebir, a Winter Ale, which was an interestingly spiced beer - it's a beer much more suited to Belgian Christmas weather rather than Australian! While Epic's Snow White was much more suited to the climate, it had a nice wheat body with aggressive hop bite.

Beers from Ægir Bryggeri arrived in Melbourne towards the end of last year with a big reputation. Their Naglfare unlocked another seasonal badge, Hoppy Hanukkah (2016). In my mind this was a really impressive English Brown Ale, don't believe the hate out there for this beer! For 4.7% it packs a heap of malt flavour, ranging from chocolate to roast with plenty of nuttiness to boot. A few more hops would've been nice to balance out the sweetness of the caramel malts but this is a small criticism. I loved it! Buy it!

Cricketer's Arms Spearheads, straight from the can, are one of my secret pleasures! After lugging heaps of drinks, ice and food up to Dave's apartment on the morning of New Years Eve, Richo and I indulged in a cheeky Spearhead to quench our thirst; this act unlocked Happy Brew Year (2017). The beer itself is underrated (although maybe not anymore after it's 44th placing in this years Hottest 100 Beers) with nice citrus bitterness it's most distinguished feature.

Only one level of Belgian Holiday was unlocked over this Summer period; it was also one of the best beers to unlock this badge (and it's in some pretty illustrious company)! That beer was Rodenbach's, extremely rarely released (read here), Alexander and it unlocked (Level 30). This beer was superb! It had wonderful fresh cherries, plenty of woodiness that had been transferred from the barrel and nice acidity. It was definitely worth the trip Dylan and I made to Thornbury for it!

After finishing up at Carwyn with the Rodenbach Alexander, and a few others, Dylan and I trekked back to The Melburnian for our NYE event. My first beer back their was the Clown Shoes Mängo, a mango infused Kölsch, which unlocked the Clown Shoes Double Play badge. This beer was a little underwhelming with plenty of malt mixing with sweet mango. The other beer I had to unlock this badge, Chocolate Sombrero, was a beautiful Imperial Stout that age had mellowed wonderfully!

Summer Fun works in much the same way as the Winter Wonderland badge, if Summer's in the name of the beer it qualifies for the badge. Strangely the beer that unlocked this badge for me for the first time, way back in September 2013, also unlocked (Level 5) of the badge sometime on New Years Eve! I can't explain why, I'm guessing it was a glitch - because 35 Mountain Goat Summer Ale check-ins over my Untappd journey would suggest I've had it before...

The second beer from Ægir to unlock a badge during this time period was their infamous Natt Imperial Porter. This is their beer that was most highly regarded when landing on our shores, and fittingly it unlocked Here Comes the Vikings! (Level 5). This was a wonderful Porter that had a similar, but less intense, nuttiness to the Naglfare from further up this monster post. It also drank dangerously easily for 10% ABV!

Another badge that I was surprised was only unlocked once during this period was the Trip to the Farm badge, for drinking Saisons. Saisons are perfect for the warmer weather, why wasn't I drinking them! Anyway; a collaborative effort between Bad Shepherd (VIC), Little Bang (SA) and Pact (ACT) produced the wonderfully titled Stop, Collaborate and Saison - taking it's name from the Vanilla Ice lyric if anyone out there was lost - took out (Level 20).

Stop, Collaborate and Saison also unlocked (Level 18) of the Better Together badge. The badge tends to come in waves so it may be next week or three months before we see it again! The beer is quite an impressive, with a nice base Saison with more than enough funk being complimented by heaps of fruity hops that also provide plenty of bitterness. I really hope they make this beer again as it's a beer that I would love to get my hands on again.

A trip around the breweries of the Western suburbs yielded a few badges; including Paint the Town Red (Level 12). The beer was Hop Nation's The Buzz, which I sampled at the brewery. It's an aggressively hopped Red Ale and is a beautiful mix of malts and hops. Bach Brewing's Duskrider Red IPA was enough for (Level 13) to be unlocked. This bottle was probably a touch old and was more malty than hoppy; not what I'd expect from a beer with "IPA" in it's name.

I don't tend to unlock location related badges all that often, I'm a creature of habit and tend to frequent the same places all the time! Visit the Beer Garden was unlocked while I was up in Canberra visiting my grandmother. The beer was a Cascade Premium Light at the Southern Cross Club (I was driving!). It was actually a bit better than I recall it tasting and is a mid-strength I could see myself drinking again - maybe somewhere like a golf course?

Another location related badge that was unlocked on my trip to Canberra was By the Campfire (Level 9). The beer was another from Ægir, their Littlebro Session IPA, which was truly excellent. It had great bitterness and plenty of fruitiness and was enjoyed straight from the big open mouthed tin. These cans, where the whole top comes off, are amazing! I really hope these become more widespread, they're great for camping/in any situation a glass isn't available.

When I saw Gänstaller Bräu's Rauch Royal at Slowbeer a month or so ago, I knew I had to try it! It's billed as a smoked Imperial India Pale Lager, a combination I've never heard of before from a brewery I've never heard of before! The beer has that very distinctive meaty smokiness that characterizes the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier's from nearby Bamberg. It's also got some bitter citrus hops, although they are a bit light and get drowned out by the smokiness. It's a really interesting beer, but certainly isn't one I'd rush back to...

One of the new core badges released last November was Terviseks. Terviseks is Estonian for "cheers" and accordingly this badge is for drinking Estonian beers. After slogging through some Estonian macro lagers we arrived at the payoff; Põhjala and To Øl's collaborative Ginie (in a bottle). It's a gin inspired Gose and it's really tasty. There's plenty of juniper, light citrus, light salinity and restrained sourness. I really hope this is the first of many Põhjala beers we see in Australia!

Typically I don't love Bocks or Doppelbocks. I don't know if it's the sweetness or the overly malty nature of the style but they generally don't agree with me. Hence it was no surprise that I've only just unlocked I'll Be Bock (Level 2). The beer that unlocked this badge was Samichlaus Classic from Schloss Eggenberg. Samichlaus Classic is anything but classical, it's a 14% Doppelbock!

Not only is Samichlaus Classic a massive Doppelbock, it also unlocked Trekking the Alps - the badge for drinking beers from Austria. This was my last beer before entering FebFast, with a few cheat days locked in in advance. This beer is brewed just once a year, on December 6, and at one point was the strongest beer in the world. The beer tastes almost like an English Barleywine; there's no hops present and the majority of the palate is consumed by sweet malts.

Germany is the country that produces the most alcohol free beer in the world, in part due to their very strict drink driving rules. One of the best I've found this far into February was the Weihenstephaner Original Helles Alkoholfrei. It's one of the few alcohol free lagers that doesn't taste just like wort. This is still slightly on the sweeter side, but could easily pass as a full strength offering in a blind tasting of lagers. Das Boot (Level 11) is why you're reading about this now.

I knew that this badge would come along in FebFast! I'm glad it did as I'm not going to come across it at any other time of the year... Low Gravity is the badge for drinking beers classed as Non-Alcoholic. The honour of being the first beer to unlock this badge for me was Erdinger's Alkoholfrei, a beer that I amazingly had the correct glass for! The alcohol free wheat beers appear to be better on the whole than the lagers and this one is pretty similar to a regular wheat beer, if a little sweet.

Brewbowl LI was this years badge for drinking a beer on Super Bowl Sunday. Being FebFast my beer of choice was the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei. I haven't had one of their regular Hefeweizens for a while, but I don't think this alcohol free version is that far off what their full strength one tastes like. I'm going to have to try one either on one of my cheat days or in March!

Valentines Day was obviously one of my cheat days! Lizzie and I popped down to Dr Morse for lunch and naturally had a beer or two. Wild Beer's Wild Goose Chase unlocked God Save the Queen (Level 38). This was awesome! It had plenty of funk, nice acidity, plenty of citrus and gooseberries and was really effervescent. This was brewed to be an "all-day" wild beer, it's certainly that as it drinks really well. I would quite happily session this beer on a warm afternoon, it's a beauty!

THANK GOD THIS IS FINALLY DONE!!! This was a marathon effort, but I needed to get it up for my own sense of record keeping. This would be comfortably the longest post I've ever written on Beer O'Clock Australia - clocking in at a lazy 3,535 words. Now that this is out of the way I'm hoping to get a few things posted by the end of next week; Beer-Thusiast Pack January, the long awaited glassware post, a new edition of The Thirst and my analysis of The Hottest 100 Beer for 2016! If you've got this far, thanks for reading guys! Until next time...

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

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