This Untappd Catchup is dedicated to new badges, badges I have less than 5 levels of and badges that I haven't unlocked this year. There will obviously be a couple that slip through the cracks - but for the most part they should be relatively new.
First up is the special Belgian Beer Month (2017), which was unlocked by a Delirium Tremens during a brew session a few weeks ago. The badge can be unlocked by checking into any of these classic Belgian beers before July 21st. The beer is part of the June Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack and will be/has been analysed in more detail there.
When flicking through my badges working out what fit my criteria, I was shocked to see that I hadn't unlocked Belgian Holiday since New Years Eve! Alvinne's Wild West Grape Edition was the lucky beer that unlocked (Level 31) of the badge for drinking Belgian beers. It was a really cool beer with that trademark Alvinne teeth stripping sourness compliment by lovely dry blackberry, grape and oak flavours. These guys never put a foot wrong in my books.
A seriously long day at work preparing for a court case lead me to abandon my pursuit of new badges and instead have the first barrel aged stout I could find in the fridge. Emelisse's White Label Russian Imperial Stout that was Ardbeg Barrel Aged was just that beer and it unlocked Sky's the Limit (Level 31). If you don't know what Ardbeg is I would not recommend this beer. It's a big stout with plenty of peat carrying over from the whiskey - it was just about the perfect beer after a long, freezing cold Melbourne day!
Later that evening I ended up with Richo at The Crafty Squire in the CBD. One of the many beers I tried was the Karni Kölsch, the James Squire GABS beer. It was billed as a fairy floss Kölsch and it didn't miss the mark by a million miles. The base beer was relatively carbonated, pale and inoffensive before the cavalcade of overwhelming fairy floss sweetness kicked in. It was a struggle to make it through the whole pot. Verified Adventure (Level 17) was the badge.
By this point in the evening I'd dispensed with their lighter offerings and stuck to their far superior darker beers. James Squire's original dark beer; Jack of Spades. It's a Porter, and a pretty good one at that which also happened to unlock To the Port (Level 4). I did not recall the amount of aniseed in this Porter, but it gave off a wonderful licorice flavour which was well complimented by the dark malts.
Ramjet Day was the next day... Dylan and I decided to have a quick beer at Otter's Promise on the way through to Boatrocker. By some strange coincidence they had the new Boatrocker "Stout" on their newly installed taps. If you are looking for a straight up and down example of an American Stout, look no further. Brilliant from Boatrocker as usual! This beer unlocked a badge that you are going to get very familiar with, Middle of the Road - possibly the dumbest Untappd badge to date, which will cover beers with an ABV of 5.1%-9.9% filling the gap between Riding Steady & Sky's the Limit.
At Boatrocker we decided to ease into things with their Wilde Cherry. their take on a Flanders Red Ale which due to whoever classified it, unlocked Wheel of Styles (Level 23). I was really impressed by this beer, which was phenomenally balanced. The juxtaposition between the wood & vanilla, from the barrel aging this beer has undergone, and the fresh tart cherry was superb. I believe this is only available from the Barrel Room - but it is definitely worth the effort to get there!
The beer we were there to launch; Boatrocker Ramjet (2016/17) unlocked 2X (Level 24). It's the biggest of all the Ramjet's to date, a Starward Whisky Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, clocking in at 13.6%. In my mind this beer is still a little young, with the Starward component too far to the fore. This beer will be a serious candidate for Australia's best beer after a year or two in the cellar I think - it should age brilliantly!
The Boatrocker Ramjet (2015/16) version was the next beer to unlock a badge; this time Imperial Czar (Level 8). This beer was the perfect examply of why the (2016/17) version will be better with at least a years age on it. It was phenomenal! With whisky evident, but more in the background, combining with plenty of roast and some nice vanilla from the barrel aging - although it doesn't come close to the smoothness of the (2014/15), my favourite Ramjet to date.
Many more Russian Imperial Stouts, Whiskys and other beers were consumed without incident. The next day Richo and our respective partners had dinner planned. Despite my crippling hangover a Saint of Circumstance from Collective Arts Brewing unlocked the commemorative Canada Day (2017) badge - for drinking a Canadian beer over the relevant weekend. It was a light, easy drinking Blonde Ale which had nice citrus hop characteristics.
The second, and thankfully final, beer of the dinner was a Southwark Old Stout. Richo brought these over and I'm glad he did, as it is a classic Australian stout that often drifts into the periphery. It really is the Australian take on a Russian Imperial Stout, with plenty of dry roast and coffee dominating the 7.4% ABV body. It's a beer that I will certainly have to re-visit shortly in the future. You're hearing about it as it unlocked Middle of the Road (Level 2).
Rising Sun, the badge for drinking Japanese beers, hasn't been unlocked since September, 2016. Asahi Dry Black, a Dark Lager from the brewing giant, unlocked Rising Sun (Level 6). It was nothing particularly special, but I have to say that it did hit the spot in terms of drinkability for the style. If you have a craving for Dark Lager (rare I know) this would not be your worst bet.
A beer from the Carwyn Beer-Thusiast June Pack; Firestone Walker's Easy Jack unlocked Independence Day (2017), a commemorative badge for drinking a beer on July 4th. This is really is an excellent example of a Session IPA as it packs all the hop flavour and bitterness of its full bodied brethren.
Something very unusual happened when I checked in To Øl's Yule Mælk BA Cognac & Sherry Edition. Something that hasn't happened to me in years. Four badges were unlocked in the single check-in, completely by accident! They were; Sky's the Limit (Level 32), Danish Delight (Level 18), So Udderly Sweet (Level 2) & 2X (Level 25). How was this possible you ask? Well it's a Danish Imperial Milk Stout that clocks in at a whopping 15% ABV.
This beer was from the To Øl Beer Club, which I was apart of until the shipping cost was drastically increased - something neither of us could foresee or control. Which was a shame as it got you access to limited edition beauties like this. The lactose sweetness, so present in regular Yule Mælk, was subdued by the lovely sherry, cognac and woody notes that were imparted to this beer. It was truly decadent and the 250ml bottle was more than enough!
I don't believe I've written about the beer that unlocked Middle of the Road (Level 3) before on Beer O'Clock Australia. **HUGE CALL ALERT!!** It's my favourite of Pirate Life's excellent beers; the Mosaic IPA. Mosaic is an incredible hop that is able to provide a wide array of flavours and aromas; from pine to tropical & stone fruits. The Pirate Life combines elements of the pine with some mango and loads of stone fruit. The bitterness is punchy and at 7.2% ABV they pack a punch.
Regular readers of the blog may know that Czech Dark Lagers are the reason that I got into craft beer. Therefore it was fitting that a Czech Dark Lager; Staropramen's Cerny Lezak, unlocked the new badge for drinking dark lagers; Schwarz-buckler. This was my first time having this particular one outside the Czech Republic, my normal go-to being the Kozel, and it lived up to my expectations with the roasty, caramel body just as I recall.
Paint the Town Red (Level 17) was unlocked by surprise during a "work meeting" at Dr. Morse. The beer was Blood Moon from Old Wives Ales, one of my favourite Melbourne breweries. More in the Red IPA than Red Ale territory, this beer really strikes a balance between hop forwardness and the sweet malts you'd expect from the style. I now have a bottle of this at home to re-visit in the not too distant future.
Our homebrew is going to rear its head again now with Middle of the Road (Level 4). It took us a while to brew our first IPA as we wanted to get it right. The Gambhir, named after one of India's best batsmen in late 2000's, clocks in at 6.2% and 62 IBU's. It's generously hopped with Citra, Amarillo & Mosaic and is showing some promise. This was the first tasting of it and it was still a little green, I'm really keen to see how it has melded together once I return from my holiday.
Later that day another Full Toss beer unlocked the next level of the same, soon to be infuriatingly common badge; Middle of the Road (Level 5). Richo, Dylan & I sampled one of the last remaining bottles of The Cowan, our coffee Porter, as we sought to construct an all-grain recipe for it so we can seriously upscale the output. This was tasting as good as it ever has at around 3 months from bottling, with coffee at a really nice level and the Chelan hops having lost that slight vegetal character they displayed at earlier tastings.
Wailing for Wales has been a long time coming for me. Welsh beers are pretty uncommon here, with the exception of Tiny Rebel whose beers beers turn up occasionally. I had a number of them in the preceding weeks leading up to this badge, most of which were excellent. Unfortunately the Beat Box that I had to unlock the badge had a Brett infection. It was a real shame as the hops were fruity and juicy and I thought the beer had potential to be pretty good.
Gluten-Free beers have never really done it for me. I've slowly accumulated a couple of them towards the badge over the years and needed just one to finish it off for this post. Omission Pale Ale, a new option in Australia, has recently been stocked at Dans and was the chosen beer. I'm pleased to report it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, tasting relatively malty but not noticeably lacking in body like many other Gluten-Free beers Unfortunately the hopping was sufficient and let it down a bit. I don't think you could tell it didn't have gluten, a real win in this market. It unlocked Gluten-Free & Middle of the Road (Level 6).
My parents went to the Bahamas a few months ago and brought back a couple of cans from the preeminent craft brewery on the islands; Pirate Republic. Their Gold & Haze of Piracy, a fruity Belgian Ale billed as a Witbier (but clearly not one!) unlocked Deep Blue Sea; the badge for drinking beers from select Caribbean countries. I wasn't sure what to expect of Bahamian craft beer, but this was a better Belgian Pale/Blonde Ale than most found in Australia.
I thought that the Kees Double Rye IPA, which unlocked Going Dutch (Level 5), might have been pushing it age wise. I loved the concept of the beer, not enough Imperial IPA's employ the lovely spiciness of rye in a meaningful way. This beer had a bunch of that distinctive rye spiciness, which was unfortunately let down a little by the citrus hops which seemed faded and dull. Despite the slightly less than vibrant hops, I still think the beer worked excellently.
Radler's, some call them Shandy's, are a very common thing in some parts of the world; Australia is not one of them. Basically they are a mix of lemonade and beer which, depending on the concentration, can be quite nice. The RADler badge was unlocked by the first Croatian beer I've had for a longtime, Pan Radler Limun. In my mind this one was far too sweet, although I will admit it was quite refreshing, whilst Lizzie loved it. To each their own I guess...
Winter Wonderland (Level 7) rolled around in the form of Two Birds' new seasonal Winter Stout. This is the first of 4 beers that will change with each season from this brewery. It's an Oatmeal Stout and it packs all the creaminess and roastiness you'd expect from the style. There's also this interesting berry finish as the beer warms. I'd highly recommend this to anyone looking for an easy drinking stout.
Almost 2 years to the day since my last one, a Rodenbach Original unloccked, you guessed it, Middle of the Road (Level 8). This was part of the July Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack, refer to that post for more detailed tasting notes. Dylan and I shared the singles from the pack whilst bottling our N.E. IPA, which looks and smells amazing! This beer is an absolute classic, even better Dan Murphy's has it and even they would struggle to ruin this beautiful sour - everyone should try it!
Another beer from the July Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack unlocked The Dark Side (Level 4). I'm not really keen on this badge due to the heavy crossover with the Black as Night & Schwarz-buckler badges, but I digress. The beer was from Last Rites Brewing Co. and was their Dead Man's Revenge Black IPA. Black IPA, I'm very pleased to say, is having somewhat of a revival in Australia. This one had a lovely balance between sweetish malts and bitter tropical hops.
To Øl very rarely disappoint, however by their standards their Shock Series: !!PA Citra & Galaxy was somewhat disappointing. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice Imperial IPA - I just don't think it's up to their usual lofty standards. There's a reasonably big malt base which combined with some aggressive alcohol somewhat masks the intricacies of the Citra & Galaxy hops, that in my mind, work better in lower ABV beers with restrained malt bills. It unlocked Middle of the Road (Level 9).
My first Hawkers Stout since the badge update unlocked yet another level of Middle of the Road; this time (Level 10). As Dylan and I both mentioned, it's an Irish Dry Stout by name and by nature. It's very easy drinking with all the Stout flavours you would expect; roast, coffee, chocolate etc.. It has a small edition of oats, which makes the beer feel quite creamy. If you're looking for an everyday affordable Stout, look no further!
We're starting to see the first of the Good Beer Week collaborations finding their way out in the world. Kaiju teamed up with the guys at The Catfish and Breakside Brewery from Portland to create the Peregrination IPA. The beer is based on Breakside's award winning Wanderlust IPA, but has been rejigged and packed full of Australian hops. The resulting beer is excellent! The malt is relatively light which allows the stone fruit and resinous notes of the hops to really shine through. Better Together (Level 24) is why you're reading this.
As has become a very strange, completely unintentional tradition, my pre-exam beer unlocked 2 badges; New Brew Thursday (Level 36) & Middle of the Road (Level 11). The beer was Mornington's ESB, which I'm assuming is a re-working of the #tinnage nitro ESB. I've really come around on ESB's as a style, with this one being one of my favourites yet. It had this really fruity and marmalade thing going on, which was beautifully complimented by some earthiness.
After years of disappointing beer selections I've decided to take a styrofoam box of cans everywhere I go from now on. Up in the Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland the first beer I cracked from my stash was Pogo from The Wild Beer Co.. I was genuinely impressed with this Pale Ale, which oozed with tropical fruit aromas and flavours, with guava the most dominant of these. It unlocked God Save the Queen (Level 43).
A trip to FNQ wouldn't be complete without a stop at the huge Hemingway's in Port Douglas (and soon to be new location in Cairns). I got to try a few of their core range beers which weren't ready shortly after their opening last year; including Pitchfork Betty, an Australian Pale Ale. It was the best of the beers I tried on this visit. It's quite a bitter Pale Ale with plenty of pineapple and passionfruit flavours. I was surprised to see that it unlocked Verified Adventure (Level 18).
Middle of the Road (Level 12) was unlocked by a beer that I've been a big fan of for a while; 3 Ravens Juicy. It's the best Australian take on a N.E. IPA I've tried to date. It's incredibly fruity, no doubt helped by an obscene amount of dry hopping. It looks like juice and is barely bitter at all. It's also just about the perfect shower beer, particularly in hot humid conditions.
Sailor's Grave are becoming known around Melbourne for their weird and wacky (and often sour) releases. One of the latest is Milky Way, their ode to Calpis (a Japanese fermented milk drink) & first GABS release, which is brewed with lactose, custard apple and vanilla beans. It's a unique beer, which has a slightly lactose sweetness and a slight tartness. It's a beer you really have to try if you like genuinely odd things - I'm at a loss for words to explain it. They've called it a Berliner Weisse, which is probably the closest style to what it is, and hence it unlocked Ich Bin Ein Berliner (Level 5).
As my holiday drew to a close, I popped down to Cairns to watch the footy with a mate who's up there for work. Pre-game we had a couple of Mountain Goat Steam Ale's at The Courtyard, which was a pretty cool bar/pub/restaurant. The first of these unlocked Beer Foodie (Level 4). The Steam Ale's were cheaper than in Melbourne and tasted really fresh - it may have had something to do with the 28 degrees and brilliant sunshine but they went down a treat. I'd highly recommend eating at The Courtyard, I had a chicken schnitzel with pulled pork on top which was excellent.
Back in Port Douglas I was trying to polish off the last of my beers I brought from Melbourne, one of which; Nomad's Freshie Orange & Caramel Gose unlocked What Gose Round (Level 8). I love regular Freshie, however this take on it didn't work for me. The beer lacked salinity and tartness, whilst the orange flavour was faint and the caramel a little overpowering. I wouldn't have called what I was served up a Gose. This was the first real dud I've tried from Nomad, everything they do is usually pretty solid.
The boys down at Hop Nation are producing some really impressive beers at the moment. Their latest creation in collaboration with Exit & Big Shed is Black Rhino Cherry Lips, a smoked black Gose which has been laced with cherries. It's an incredibly complex beer; salty and sour at first, before chocolate, smoke and dark cherries become apparent on the palate. It finishes relatively dry with a lingering peaty finish. It unlocked the cursed Middle of the Road (Level 14) badge, and features some of the best beer artwork I've seen this year (see top of page)!
The first brew that went through my recently acquired Grain Father unlocked Home Brewed Goodness (Level 6). The beer was The Boult from Full Toss Brewing, which is an American Pale Ale based on The Southee with a fair bit of Galaxy added to the Falconer's Flight. The resulting beer is one of our best yet, with some passionfruit joining the masses of mango that characterized The Southee.
The last Middle of the Road badge for this Catchup was (Level 15), which was unlocked by Wayward's OATIS. Wayward is a Sydney based brewery that is slowly seeing more beers stocked in Melbourne. This is the first time I've had their regular IPA, which was apparently their GABS beer in 2015. It's a really clean malt bill, with the oats shining though from a texture point of view, which allows the hops to shine with grapefruit and apricot to the fore. I'd happily drink it again, it's a lovely beer.
New England IPA's have been all the rage over the last year or so. Naturally Dylan, Richo & I thought it would be a good idea to brew one. Last Thursday I cracked my first Full Toss The Orchard (we broke our naming rule and named it after an umpire, so fitting was the name) after my holiday.
The flavour was spot on with masses of fruit, particularly mango, coming through with little to no bitterness. The colour was just a touch off, nothing that some additional oats won't fix next time. IPA Day 2017 was the badge.
I think this may be the longest Untappd Catchup ever! In huge part due to the silly introduction of the Middle of the Road badge... In any case, I'm hoping to get back on top of things as my thesis wraps up soon. With any luck the Stout vs Porter post will be up this week, but knowing my luck sometime in September may be more likely. Keep the emails coming in, I'm just about on top of them all again!
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!