Wednesday, 26 July 2017


The Beer-thusiast Pack: June 

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. 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.

If not for my thesis taking up inordinate amounts of time I would have had this post up on time. Dylan got his notes to me in ample time, I just dropped the ball a little... In any case; my draft is now submitted and I plan to use the next week or two to catchup on a few long awaited bits and pieces.

I was really impressed with the pack presented in June. The duplicates were all Australians - with four unique styles represented. Probably the most interesting of these was the newest release from Mornington's #tinnage series. While it was pleasing to see two of the new-to-Australia Firestone Walker beers included, particularly after the great chat I had with Adrian during GBW, while the Courage RIS was a real blast from the past!

Hawkers Stout - Stout - 5.4%

This beer has been an inevitability since Hawkers launched. I wrote a piece in April of this year (link here) about their core range focus, rather than the slew of single releases other breweries put out. Like all their beers, this is a well crafted example of the style; in this case an Irish Dry Stout.

"Hawkers have one of the best core ranges if you’re looking for simple, polished examples of individual styles and their stout follows right along with that philosophy. It’s a dry stout, with a rounded body and the expected coffee and chocolate notes. Oats add a nice, silky note to the mouthfeel. The flavours as a whole are fairly restrained but the balance is great, there’s no perception of the beer being too thin or too heavily trained towards bitterness or roast. It’s just a good dry stout, one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone looking for an easy going winter brew."

Since drinking this one for the review, I've had countless of these during cold late nights slaving over my thesis draft. It's a phenomenally easy drinking stout that I can't recommend highly enough!

Mornington Brain Squeeze - Sour - 4.8%

The #tinnage series has been quiet in recent months, I think the Mosaic IPA (#007) was released in September/October last year. #008 is called Brain Squeeze; a hoppy kettle sour. I'm really keen on hoppy sours, although this is the first one I think I've had from an Australian brewer (Almanac's & To Øl's spring to mind as excellent international examples).

"Number 8 in their ‘#tinnage’ series (which has been solid across the board so far) comes Mornington’s hoppy kettle sour mishmash. I’ve drank a heap of Mornington beers but as far as I can remember this is the first sour I’ve had from them. It’s super refreshing, using a hop combo that calls to mind some of the trademark flavours from their wider release beers. There’s some tannic bitterness, citrus peel and juicy orange, with nice palate lifting tartness and a crisp finish. I quite enjoyed this and would have no trouble downing a six pack on a hot day."

Feral Karma Citra - Black IPA - 5.8%

I feel like I've told the story of this beer a thousand times before. It was Feral's very first GABS beer, back in the days that it was still held at The Local Taphouse in St. Kilda. The beer has been toned back a little since those heady days - however it's still a respectable example of the style.

"This is one of those ‘I should really have this more often’ beers. I tend to forget what it tastes like, especially with more black IPAs floating around nowadays. This is first and foremost a Citra bomb, with big, thumping citrus flavours and bitterness supported by a light roast profile. It can be a tough thing to balance a black IPA — I feel like the most important thing is to know what you want to go for and back your ingredients in, rather than just going for either ‘roasty IPA’ or ‘super hopped stout’ (which I taste a fair bit from the style). Feral have definitely done that here, clearly using the chocolate/coffee notes in the background to let citra’s flavour come out even more than it would normally via the roast/hop juxtaposition"

Holgate Mt Macedon Pale Ale - American Pale Ale - 4.5%

I was pleased to see this beer appear in the pack, purely to see if the last bottle of it I had was an exception or the norm. The last one I had was massively over-carbed although not noticeably affected flavour wise, however it could only have been caused by an infection. Holgate are a brewery who used to be renowned for quality, I was surprised to see this issue in their flagship Pale Ale.

"I remember this beer being very tasty in the past, but recent bottles I’ve had have been overcarbed to the point of ruining the beer. The bottle in the Carwyn pack didn’t quite suffer to that degree, but it was still overcarbed. It’s a shame as the flavours are really nice, with Cascade/Ella/Topaz all showing through on a well balanced malt base. Hopefully it’s just a temporary issue."

Although better than the last one, this was still too carbonated for my liking. It's a real shame that Holgate's beers are turning out this way at the moment, as they used to produce quality beers all the time. I may stay off them for a while until I hear more promising reports.

Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion 005 - American IPA - 5.9%

The Luponic Distortion series from Firestone Walker is a seriously cool idea. The beer changes every 90 days and uses a raft of new experimental hops to create different flavour profiles. The base beer is always the same, clocking in at 5.9%, whilst IBU's are kept at a moderate 59. I'm really excited to get to try this - well within it's 90 day window to boot!

"I really dig the idea of a rotating IPA series and based on this one I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for more. There’s a fairly light, clean malt base with lots of snappy bitterness from the hops. I mostly remember the amount of fruit I got, lots of guava, pineapple, lime and lemon. It sits at about 6% ABV so it’s a reasonably sized IPA, but as a whole it’s definitely on the lighter and more sessionable side flavour wise."

Firestone Walker Easy Jack - Session IPA - 4.5%

It's really refreshing to see an American brewed example of a Session IPA that comes in at under 5% ABV, anything over that is bordering on regular IPA territory for mine. In any case, Firestone Walker employ hops from Germany, New Zealand and the United States in creating this wonderful beer. This is going to be my first "properly" imported Easy Jack and I'm really looking forward to it!

"4-4.5% is where I like my session IPAs to sit, with punchy bitterness, well rounded mouthfeel, plenty of fruit and/or pine and a crisp finish. This ticks all the boxes, with the bitterness level also right on the money. They’ve really gone big in the fruit varieties with Mandarina Bavaria, Hallertau Melon and Mosaic and it shows, with plenty of stonefruit and juicy citrus. I probably sound like a broken record by now but to be honest my biggest qualm with this beer was that it was a bottle rather than a can! If I can track down the latter I’m definitely drinking more of these."

Considering how highly the Firestone Walker guys value freshness, I was really surprised this beer was released here in bottles rather than cans. Cans would make a significant difference to the shelf life of a product that is eminently drinkable.

Courage Russian Imperial Stout - Russian Imperial Stout - 10%

Courage Russian Imperial Stout is a beer steeped in history. This incarnation is supposedly a recreated version of the Russian Imperial that Courage exported to Catherine The Great's court in 1795. After numerous ownership changes the beer was re-introduced to the British market in 2012 by the Charles Wells Brewery after a 30 year hiatus. True to the original recipe the beer is now aged for at least 5 months before it is available to the public.

"This was a cool little surprise to get in the pack. Hopefully Noz elaborates on the history a bit - it’s interesting stuff! Nice full body, interesting foamy texture, some apple/pear and dark fruit notes, very dry finish. Brett seems to work well with this, doesn’t dominate but adds a few interesting notes you wouldn’t normally expect in a big stout."

Delirium Tremens - Belgian Strong Ale - 8.5%

Delirium Tremens is one of the beers I hear the most when people tell me which beer started them on the path to craft beer. The beer is synonymous with all things good about Belgian beers. It's flavoursome, it's yeast driven and it's boozy. People may not recognize the name, but everyone will recognise the white bottle, light blue label and trademark pink elephant logo of this beer.

"I’m a big Huyghe fan, although weirdly enough it’s for their Floris fruit beers rather than their bigger Belgian ales. Having said that it has been a long time since I last had a Delirium Tremens so it was great to have the opportunity to crack one again. This is a really nice strong golden ale, the yeast flavour especially stood out to me. There’s a bit of sweetness and booziness but it’s all well balanced. This is another one of those classic beers that everyone should try, good from Carwyn to include it."

As Dylan said; "it's one of those classic beers that everyone should try". It's not the best Belgian Strong Pale Ale out there, but it is the most iconic and a gateway beer for many people.

Due to my slackness, the July pack has already been consumed by both of us and writing is well underway. With any luck I'll be able to use the remaining days of my post-thesis draft submitting holiday to finalize a few posts that I've been promising for far too long. Sadly the glassware post will not be one of them, as I'm still trying to resolve the issues with Photobucket!

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

Sunday, 9 July 2017


Untappd Catchup

I've been stuck in this cycle of being behind in recent months, which has stopped me getting out new content that is 85% complete. We are slowly getting on top of things and fingers crossed I can get some new stuff up next week - after this bloody thesis proposal is finally accepted!

Going back to the end of May, I had a Hop Trial Cascade Pale Ale at Beer Deluxe before my exam that unlocked New Brew Thurday (Level 34) & Verified Adventure (Level 8). It was a Single Hop Pale Ale clocking in at 4.5% ABV and showcased Cascade very nicely. I knew next to nothing about the brewery beforehand; and while there is very little information readily available I've deduced that they are based in Tasmania and are focusing on Single Hop beers.

Drink Like a Kiwi (Level 42) arrived at Slowbeer Fitzroy, whilst sipping on an Epic Magic Dust as I perused the shelves. It's a seriously impressive IPA, as most brewed by Epic are, that's brewed with lupulin powder. This lupulin powder is a new product and provides a lovely dry finish to the beer that accompanies plenty of citrus and tropical fruit flavours. I would highly recommend this beer to those looking for a fresh NZ IPA.

As I mentioned a while back, I've jumped head first into brewing. Our home brew brand is slowly gaining an identity, with a name (Full Toss Brewing), a theme and a new logo. We've pumped out a number of beers since starting in late-March, one of which unlocked Home Brewed Goodness (Level 3). That beer was The McDonald, an American Red Ale with rich caramel malts, a light smokiness complimented by orange and tropical fruits notes from the hops. It's a nice Red Ale but will certainly improve with some minor recipe tweaks.

Another beer from Full Toss Brewing unlocked Riding Steady (Level 49). The Carberry, is a raspberry wheat beer that is loosely based on Bad Shepherd's similar beer. It had multiple raspberry additions, with added some in the boil before being racked onto fruit for the duration of fermentation. The result is a beer with a lightly tart but distinct raspberry flavour, there's some grassy bitterness (possibly a touch too much) and some light wheat notes.

Home Brewed Goodness (Level 4) rolled around in the same session as we sampled the first offering from our The Nets Sesh range, our non-beers. Full Toss' Apple and Blackcurrant Cider was better than I expected it was going to be - I'm rarely a cider drinker after all. We decided to experiment by not sweetening a number of them, including this one which turned out beautifully dry and packed full of fruit.

Evil Twin's Luksus One, a rhubarb Berliner Weiss initially only brewed for the Restaurant Luksus in New York, unlocked Ich Bin Ein Berliner (Level 4). This was always going to be polarising and I think it succeeded in being that throughout the course of the bottle, going from lovely to awful to weird and back again through various temperature ranges. In the end; it was quite tart and packed a weird vegetal flavour, that wasn't distinctly rhubarb. I wouldn't rush back but I'm glad I tried it.

I'm always surprised by the relevant infrequency that levels of Paint the Town Red roll around. Illawarra's The Chuck Norris unlocked (Level 16). It's a hoppy Red Ale that I picked up on my trip to Canberra a while back. It's got an impressive malt body, which is slightly more complex than most, while Mosaic hops dominate with their trademark tropical fruit notes.

Dieu du Ciel's Isseki Nicho is a Black Saison, something of a rarity these days, brewed in collaboration with a Japanese brewery; Tamamura Honten. I thought it was a really cool beer with roastiness the dominant characteristic, while there were hints of funky yeast coming through. It was definitely closer to a Stout than a Saison, however I think it was a worthwhile endeavour. Trip to the Farm (Level 24) is why you're reading about it now.

One of the most hyped Australian beers of the year so far unlocked Black as the Night (Level 2). Sydney based, Modus Operandi's Cascadian Howl is a Black IPA that debuted as their GABS beer. This was the best Australian example of a Black IPA, since the peak of the style boom a few years ago. It struck an almost perfect balance between roasty malt and clean hop bite. This is a beer that I can't recommend more to lovers of the style - and those looking to get into it.

I've lost count of how many badges Stone & Wood Pacific Ale has unlocked down the years; this time it was Beer Foodie (Level 3) and I'm sure it won't be the last... This was unlocked during a visit to The Standard Hotel in Fitzroy, coincidentally one of my favourite pubs, for a mates birthday drinks. It was a pretty good pint of Pacific Ale with the pungent passionfruit of the Galaxy hops really shining.

Moon Dog are back! Just as I was feeling disappointed that their weird bottle offering had dried up in recent months, out came Dunbar's Dream; a Passionfruit and Coffee Porter. It's a beer that really worked for me, with the sweetness of the passionfruit diluted by the coffee bitterness that struck later in the palate. It's not a beer that I'd drink everyday but nor is it supposed to be. The badge; To the Port (Level 3).

A beer that I thoroughly enjoyed from the Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack; Fuller's ESB unlocked You're Extra Special (Level 4). I'm slowly coming round on English Bitters, and by extension ESB's, and it is in part due to this fruitier take on the style. The beer is earthy, with nice nuttiness and fruits also coming through. The mouthfeel is quite creamy, whilst the carbonation is low. I'm beginning to understand why they would be quite easy to down pint after pint...

I'm very pleased to be able to find some Naparbier beers with relative ease around Melbourne after Good Beer Week. Their Willy el Tuerto, a Russian Imperial Stout brewed in collaboration with Cerveses La Pirata - a Spanish microbrewery, unlocked Imperial Czar (Level 7) & Better Together (Level 23). This was a seriously good beer, with coconut and vanilla additions adding a real depth to the prominent coffee flavours. If you love stouts, this is one I'd grab before it leaves our shores (or I buy all of them...).

Another Russian Imperial Stout unlocked 2X (Level 23). This time it was a local one from Bad Shepherd. Simply called "Russian Imperial Stout" this beer comes with a striking deep red label, with a gold two-headed Imperial Eagle embossed upon it. The beer is equally impressive with lots of licorice and roast combining to make a lovely sipping beer.

Riding Steady is done and dusted! The beer that unlocked (Level 50) was The Bruery's Frederick H. The beer is a straight up and down Berliner Weiss, something of a rarity these days. It's a pretty spectacular beer, with that incredibly tart earthiness that many of the sours from The Bruery have complimented by some oak and the faintest hint of funky Brett. It was a fitting beer to cap off this badge that you've seen 50 since October!

Regular readers would be aware that Czech Dark Lagers are the reason that this blog exists. Kozel Dark may not be the best example of the style, but it certainly is the one I can get most regularly. It comes in at only 3.8% ABV yet provides sweet dark and caramel malts. I seem to regularly drink it once a year, I think I better make it more than one this year! The Dark Side (Level 3) is why you're reading about it now.

Home Brewed Goodness (Level 5) was unlocked by our first all-grain attempt, a simple SMaSH brewed with Pale Malt and Falconer's Flight. Full Toss' The Southee is dominated by mango on the nose, which translates to the palate along with some orange. The grains are in the background, as intended, and they impart only a slight cereal quality to the beer. We've already made a couple of alterations to the recipe and re-brewed a larger batch of this beer for our soccer teams end of season celebration.

One from the back of the cupboard, Edge's Rye Pilsner brewed in collaboration with Evil Twin unlocked Crisp as Day (Level 21). I have no idea how old this beer was, I don't remember buying it, but I'm happy to report that it held up remarkably well. The was nice citrus bitterness that combined well with a lot of malt flavour and just a hint of rye. It certainly wasn't a traditional Pilsner, but it was a tasty beer.

By the Campfire (Level 11) rolled around while watching the Champions Trophy Final at a mates place, somewhere in Brunswick. The beer of choice was Victoria Bitter (VB) and they went down quite nicely - almost as nicely as watching Pakistan roll India with two very vocal Indian supporters in the room!

My most recent pre-exam beer; West City's American Brown Ale also unlocked two badges New Brew Thursday (Level 35) & Bravo for Brown (Level 10). I was pretty impressed with this beer, a really nice hoppy Brown Ale that combined lovely citrus hops with complex slightly nutty malts. I've been consistently impressed with West City's beers, hopefully they'll soon be more readily available.

A beer that I don't drink anywhere near enough of is the Courage Russian Imperial Stout. It was included as part of the latest Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack and unlocked God Save the Queen (Level 42). This was one of the first Imperial Stouts I ever tried and I think back then the complexity was lost on me. It's a really interesting mix of sweetish coffee notes, licorice and a hint of Bretty pear - remember it's brewed to an old English recipe, where Brettanomyces (the English yeast) originated.

There we go guys; another wrap up of some pretty interesting beers I've tried recently. I'm hoping to get a bit of stuff done on the blog over the next month or so as I wait for my thesis proposal to come back. Hopefully my impending holiday will see me finish the Porter vs. Stout post that I have been talking up for months! I'm in the midst of a week of attempting to unlock some badges that you haven't seen for a while/are brand new - so keep an eye out for that in the coming days.

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

Monday, 3 July 2017


Hi All,

This is just a quick note to let you all know I am across the photo issue on the blog and am working on resolving the issue as quickly as possible. Basically the issue has come about because Photobucket, who host the majority of my larger photos, have decided to change their terms and conditions to limit third party use - unless users agree to pay an extortionate yearly licensing fee. I accept the rights of Photobucket to profit further from the service they provide, however the lack of notice really irks me. I've struggled to update the blog regularly in recent months, let alone have time to re-host and then subsequently re-link ~2000 photos. It will happen in due course but please be patient as I sort it out. If anyone has any recommendations for new photo hosting sites - I'm all ears!

Cheers Guys