Thursday, 1 June 2017


The Beer-thusiast Pack: April

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 4 duplicates, after a recent format change. 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.

This is our seventh month doing this now and I think it's fair to say that the format has been pretty well received and seems to be working. We'll keep dividing the reviews this way unless we hear otherwise via the usual communication channels. With any luck I'll get these posts up on a more regular basis some time soon!

My initial thoughts on this lineup were mixed; nothing really jumped out at me as being amazing, besides the first release of Hawkers' Hop Edition - an IPA primarily hopped with Mandarina Bavaria. The two offerings from Bodriggy promised to be interesting, one comes with a phenomenal backstory, whilst I'm interested to revisit the 3 Ravens Black, a stout I used to rave about. Also of interest will be Oskar Blues Pinner, which will hopefully be more enjoyable than it's Passionfruit infused cousin of a few packs back...

New Belgium Fat Tire - American Amber Ale - 5.2%

First up is a beer that I reviewed in full way back near the start of this blog in 2012. New Belgium's Fat Tire is an Amber Ale that is well renowned. It's incredibly drinkable for the style although I think it lacks a little in flavour complexity that many good Amber Ales possess, although that could be just be palate shift...

"Not hard to see why this was a ‘gateway beer’ for many in the US craft scene. Reminds me a bit of something like Mountain Goat’s Steam Ale in terms of drinkability mixed with characteristics well apart from the major macro lagers. It’s an easy drinking red, light bodied and refreshing with mild grassy hop character. Slightly sweet and fruity malt/yeast flavour. It’s not the game changer it would have once been for many but is still a nice little beer, one I’d happily drink again if I saw it on a taplist."

Hawkers Hop Series IPA Edition 1 - American IPA - 6.0%

The only beer I was truly excited for in this pack. Hawkers have teamed up with BARTH-HAAS GROUP, the world's leading hop producers, to create the first, of hopefully many, beers in their Hop Series IPA range. As I understand it, it's a range of IPA's that will showcase hops that they love. Contrary to popular belief they are not single hop IPA's!

"I wasn’t as keen on this as I’d hoped I would be. The Mandarina hops are there in spades, lending it a lot of juicy orange flavour, but as a whole it just lacked a bit of spark for me and felt a bit muted. It’s one I’m looking to revisit down the line as Hawkers rarely miss the mark when it comes to aligning with my tastes."

Unlike Dylan I really enjoyed this beer. Since the one in the pack I've tried it a few times and think that it utilizes Mandarina Bavaria as well as any beer that I can recall. I'm really looking forward to seeing more beers in this series.

Murray's East Coast Lager - Lager - 4.8%

I was a bit confused when Murray's launched this new beer. Murray's have always preached about how they do things differently and don't brew bland beer. According to their own website they're known for "brewing exciting, quirky and sometimes just plain weird craft beers". Personally I'm not sure a straight up and down lager fits that bill...

"Nothing complex to remark on here — this is just a good, smashable lager. Very clean and the Kiwi hops used give it enough grassy and citric notes to brighten the beer as a whole. I’m often not great when it comes to discussing lagers but I’m always stoked to see more coming out of Australian craft breweries."

3 Ravens Black - Stout - 5.5%

I have fond memories of this stout! It was one of the first beers I checked into Untappd all those years ago. While it's not the 5-star beer that I rated it as then; it is a very easy to drink stout showcasing coffee and chocolate flavours. There is just enough bitterness to prevent this becoming a tad cloying. It's an excellent, locally made, example of the style.

"This is so easy to drink for a stout! Super smooth and creamy, no doubt helped along by the oats. Full bodied and flavoursome with nice roast, chocolate, coffee, nutty flavours. It’s a great example of a traditional, straightforward oatmeal stout. The colour is fantastic too, it’s pitch black and opaque which is always a good sign!"

Bodriggy Chuckaboo - White IPA - 5.5%

The closest brewery to my work (all of 150 metres away) is Bodriggy; located in the inner Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford. These guys have been producing some pretty good stuff and showcasing it at their bar (Dr. Morse) across the road. Chuckaboo is a White IPA, an IPA with a reasonably large percentage of wheat in the grist.

"White IPAs are something I’m not super keen on, even as I’m coming around more to wheat beers nowadays. This beer doesn’t do a lot to change that; the main issue I have is the wheat often gets covered up by big hops and that’s definitely the case here. Ignoring styles and classifications it’s a tasty beer though — Centennial, Melba and Mouteka is a great hop combination and there’s some witbier like spice that comes through after a few sips."

I have to agree with Dylan, the beer is nice, but doesn't do alot to stand out. There is nothing that wrong with it per se, it's just not particularly exciting. I've been of the opinion that this is the worst of their range for a while, which is a compliment in a way as this is perfectly serviceable and will appeal to some. With the brewery to open to the public at the end of this year or early next, I know where I'll be on Friday nights in the future...

Bodriggy Bruno Bitter - Cream Ale - 4.5%

Another Bodriggy beer; Bruno Bitter, was included in this pack. The beer is named after the former inhabitant of the site their brewery now sits on. Bruno was an Abbotsford legend, who ran the largest LPG converter shop in Australia. He emigrated to Australia in the 1950's and worked on Johnston St right up until a year or two ago. He recently passed away, and one of his last acts was signing his lease over to the Bodriggy crew. I'm sure Bruno would be thrilled (and possibly embarrassed!) by having a beer named in his honour,

"This beer has a good story behind it which Angus will hopefully elaborate on! This beer most resembles an ESB, with earthy malts and bitter, floral hops. I really enjoyed it and it seems like a great all-weather beer, smooth enough to go down easy with enough depth and body to stand up to colder weather too. It has a nice creamy texture to it that balances everything out nicely."

Oskar Blues Pinner - Session IPA - 4.9%

Oskar Blues are renowned for their hop forward beers, which is one of the reasons I was so disappointed with the Passion Fruit Pinner that was previously offered in this club. This regular version of the beer thankfully redeemed the brewery in my eyes. It was a lovely crisp Session IPA with nice tropical fruit and citrus flavours.

"After being disappointed by the passionfruit variant in one of the earlier Carwyn packs I think Angus and I were both a tad wary cracking this beer. We didn’t need to worry though, this beer is very enjoyable! Super drinkable and clocking in at a surprising 35 IBUs (there’s a heap of hop flavour in here), this is a nicely balanced session IPA with all the tropical fruit and citrus notes you’d expect. Typical session IPA characteristics really — slightly thin body, dry finish, bright and lively hop flavours cutting through the background malt. It’s all executed well and obviously made by a deft hand."

Wolf of the Willows Wolf Blood - Red IPA - 7.1%

Wolf of the Willows are a brewery that produce really good beers. They seem to be less prevalent on stores at the moment and so I was quite pleased to see this Imperial Red IPA in the Beer-Thusiast Pack. I loved this beer when it was first released on tap last year, and the artwork is top notch. Unfortunately, in my eyes at least, the beer hasn't lived up to expectations...

"This was a slight letdown, just because I’m usually so impressed with the beers WotW put out. The good to start with — there’s great hop presence here, they’re punchy and have real bite in terms of bitterness and flavour distribution. Lightly resinous too which I enjoy. The bad — there’s just not enough malt here to balance that out, especially for a red. I’m not sure if the bill needed to be bigger or if a richer variety should have been used but what was there wasn’t enough for me and took the whole beer down a couple of notches. I still enjoyed the bottle and it should satisfy any hop cravings, just overall lacked the body and balance to be a really strong entry in the crowded IPA field."

Overall I though this was a pretty interesting pack, with a good mix of styles. I'm slowly getting back on top of things on the blog and hopefully there will be plenty of new content soon! Dylan and I have both got stuck into the beers from May's Beer-Thusiast pack and with any luck that may be up towards the end of next week. Keep your emails coming in, I should be caught up on all of them by some point tonight.

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

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