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.
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!).
Green Beacon 3 Bolt - American Pale Ale - 4.5%
Green Beacon's 3 Bolt is regarded as one of the best examples of an Australian brewed American Pale Ale, recently taking out that segment of Getting Blind with Crafty. This is the first time I've been lucky enough to try this beer from the can, previously having it on tap at a Pint of Origin event during Good Beer Week 2015 - when I was pretty underwhelmed by it... Maybe it's improved in the ensuing 2.5 years.
"This beer recently won the Crafty Pint’s American pale ale blind tasting so my expectations were pretty high - I’ve liked Green Beacon’s stuff a lot in the past. I’m not sure if it wasn’t at optimal freshness but I was a bit underwhelmed. While certainly being a clean and well crafted pale with a fair bit of grapefruit and passionfruit coming through it didn’t reach any particularly noteworthy heights. You could do far worse if you wanted a straight up and down American pale though! "
I have to agree with Dylan on the freshness point, for a beer that is widely regarded this didn't really strike any chords for me...
Fury & Son is a brewery based out in Keilor Park, a suburb to the north-west of Melbourne. I've been impressed with their new release beers of late and am quite looking forward to this new Red Ale. It's billed as a classic American Red Ale, with strong citrus and pine hop notes.
"Definitely more on the American red side of things with a good hop presence, plenty of pine and citrus. Sturdy body with a bit of caramel malt holds it all together. Not a heap to say about it but it’s well made and enjoyable. "
I don't have a lot to add to this, other than that the bitterness was slightly higher than you'd expect for a Red Ale. It work really well in this beer as it balanced out the sweetish malt bill well.
Yeastie Boys is a New Zealand based brewery, which also brews/contracts out of the UK and Sydney. Since the launch of their Australian operation we've seen a lot more of their beers around Melbourne. This is a Witbier, a style that I have a love-hate relationship with, and one I didn't have particularly high hopes for.
"I had really enjoyed the Yeastie Boys stuff I’d tried to date so I was excited to see this, even if I’m not particularly fond of witbiers. This is billed as a witbier with chamomile which seemed like a solid pairing. It worked quite well, with some sweet spice and floral elements coming through the light wheat base. I had a bit of an odd experience with this beer as I really enjoyed it on the first sip and then gradually liked it less as I went through it - whether it was undesirable flavours showing through more as it warmed or a buildup of the botanicals and sweetness I’m unsure, but I finished the can fairly down on the beer as a whole. "
Akasha Brewing has been a favourite of mine ever since it was founded by the ex-Riverside Brewing head brewer, Dave Padden. Given that, I was really surprised that I hadn't tried this beer before. It's a lager that has been heavily hopped with Galaxy. This was apparently the first beer to come out of their own facility at the end of 2015.
"One of the best lagers I had in 2017. I assume the cans we had were very fresh because the hop profile was wonderful, big nose with mellow pine and tropical fruit upon taking a sip. It’s super clean, refreshing, balanced and packed full of flavour at 4.4% ABV."
Left Barrel Schwarzbier - Schwarzbier - 5.3%
Being completely honest; I'd never heard of Left Barrel before seeing this beer in this pack. I thought a Schwarzbier was a really interesting choice for a Winter Seasonal, until noticing the brewery's location barely 5 minutes from the German speaking town on Hahndorf, SA. These guys are really small and only launched at the end of 2016.
"I had vaguely heard of Left Barrel through the grape (or hop) vine but hadn’t had any of their beers before. This was a cool introduction as Noz and I both love dark lagers! A solid effort, roasty malt with a well rounded body. It was a very hot day when this was opened but it went down very well. Happy to have tried it."
As Dylan mentioned, I'm a massive fan of dark lagers - a category that Schwarzbier fits into very comfortably! I was really impressed with this, particularly its drinkability. Here's hoping that this is the start of a rise in the popularity of dark lager in this country!
I was pleasantly surprised to see the first of two Killer Sprocket beers to appear in this pack. I hadn't seen any of their beers for ages and assumed they'd gone out of business. I used to really like this beer 4+ years ago when it was readily available.
"Killer Sprocket was another brewery that stirred some vague recognition within me without having tried any of their beers. Apparently their amber ale is their first commercial release and has won a couple of awards. I wasn’t a big fan. There was a strange menthol/mint note on the finish that really put me off and I found the body a bit too thin to support the nice malt flavours. I respect that they’re trying something a little different but it didn’t work for me."
Either my palate or this beer have changed. I'm sure I would've picked up the weird herbal/menthol flavour that put Dylan and I alike off!
We're back to Killer Sprocket for this one as well. After a little bit of research I believe that Killer Sprocket is still brewing out of Cavalier Brewing in Melbourne's west. The second beer from them in this pack is a Smoked Beer, which utilizes Peated Malt - the most polarizing malt out there! It's sure to be interesting...
"I liked this a lot more than the amber. I didn’t get much smoke from it but there is a bit of weight and depth to the body that I think is partly because of the peated malt. It’s quite a drinkable and flavoursome beer. "
I'm a big fan of peaty whiskey, so I wasn't surprised to find that I liked this beer. I thought it was lacking a little in smokiness and the percentage of the Peated Malt in the grist must have been very low!
Originally brewed by Stone, Arrogant Bastard Ale has spawned its own brewing company; Arrogant Brewing. Despite Stone's protestations to the term; they are a gypsy brewing company who brew Arrogant Bastard Ale (and it's variants) at some of the most high profile breweries across America & the World.
"One of those beers that every craft beer drinker has had at some stage and, most likely, underrates. It’s a beautiful strong amber ale, with a surprisingly big hop presence (clocking in at 100 IBUs) balanced with a heap of malt. It’s a full on flavour bomb in all facets, yet somehow still comes out wonderfully balanced. You’d need a bloody good team to pull off a beer this good and flavoursome in the quantities they produce while still retaining drinkability. I’m not normally a strong ale fan but polished this off very quickly; a cracking beer and one I’ll go back to."
We're slowly catching up! I thought this pack had an interesting mix of beers, without any real standouts. The one beer I would return to regularly is the Akasha Tradewind Lager, which was an excellent example of the style. The review of the November pack will hopefully be up in the first week or two of January, with December not too far behind! Keep your eyes peeled on Beer O'Clock Australia as there should be more contact over the next week or so.
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!