Friday, 31 March 2017


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 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: 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

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!