Tuesday, 31 July 2018

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 1

Episode 1 - Show Notes 


The new venture I was being very vague about in my post a few days ago was Beer O'Clock Australia's first foray into a new medium; audio. Dylan & I are going to give this podcast a go for a while and see how it goes. It's going to give us the opportunity to discuss beer in a way that the blog doesn't really allow us to.

We're going to rotate some segments in and out, especially early on while we get into the swing of things - so if there is anything you love or hate, please let us know! The idea at the moment is that the podcast will be monthly, and we'll try and keep that pretty regular - at least more so than I've kept the blog up to date recently... Basically every month we'll discuss some of the latest news from the beer world, we'll talk about some beers that we've been enjoying over the last month & we'll crack something interesting from my cellar.

This month we also discuss the hottest new style in craft beer; the Brut IPA. We also speak about a bright green licorice flavoured Gose from Red Button Brew in Moscow & discuss which Pilsner's we would each take in a bottomless mixed 6-pack to a desert island. The show is embedded below & hopefully we'll have it up on a few more podcast sites in the near future.



Show Notes

News Items

  • Royal Perth Beer Awards
  • Australian Brewery & Fourpure Takeovers
  • Coopers Pale Ale in Cans
  • Crisp Malting's Australian Distribution deal
  • Canned Beer Sales to Overtake Bottled Beer Sales 
  • Bridge Road's New Hopped Cola
What We've Been Drinking

  • Red Button POiMA
  • Noz's Russia Trip
  • Noz & Dylan - Tallboy & Moose Berried Alive Brew Day
What's in Style?
  • Brut IPA's
    • Wolf of the Willows, Tallboy & Moose, Mr Banks
Desert Island 6-pack
  • We both pick 6 Pilsner's - 3 of which made both our lists
    • Pilsner Urquell, Emerson's NZ Pilsner, Bridge Road Enigma, 
    • Victory Prima Pils, Panhead Port Road Pils, Balter Pilsner, Hop Nation The Damned, Weihenstephaner Pilsner, Mikkeller American Dream  
Noz's Cellar
  • Mikkeller x Lindeman's SpontanBasil
So there we have it guys. Hope you liked the first episode of the Beer O'Clock podcast. We'd both love to hear any feedback you've got. We'll be tweaking a couple of things for the next episode, which we'll aim to have out in late-August/early-September. As usual send any questions or comments to gus.norris7@gmail.com.

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

Thursday, 26 July 2018

REVIEW: HAWKERS WEST COAST IPA


 Fridge Regular


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American IPA  
  • ABV: 7.2%
  • Serving Type: 375ml Can
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
As promised; I'm hoping to get back to reviewing more beers in full. I'm kicking that off with a beer that has been in my fridge pretty much non-stop since it was released last November.

Hawkers have been constantly improving their range of beers since they launched in 2015. The addition of this West Coast IPA came as the NEIPA trend was beginning to grip Australia. I think that is, at least in part, why this beer has gained such a following. As with all Hawkers beers, it's readily available at most places you go and is brewed so frequently that it is always in superb condition.

The beer pours a light golden colour, it is slightly hazy but is still translucent. The head is brilliant white and as with all canned beers, the head initially looks larger than it would if poured from a bottle. The true height of the head is more like 3 fingers high, and has wonderful retention with a layer of foam covering the beer throughout the duration of drinking.

Onto the nose and it packs a punch. As expected when you call a beer a "West Coast IPA" there is plenty of bitter pine aroma. There is also a fruity aspect to the aroma with passionfruit, pineapple and lychee all present, alongside a floral note that I get from a lot of the Hawkers range. There's next to no malt characteristics evident on the nose, although there is a hint of some generic sweetness underneath the cavalcade of hop notes.

The Hawkers West Coast IPA taste follows on nicely from the nose. There is a heap of bitterness up front, where the dominant flavour is pine. As the beer progresses through the palate the fruity notes open up more with pineapple, mango & passionfruit all easily identifiable. The floral notes are also there, while there are some slightly sweet biscuity malts doing just enough to stop the beer being too aggressively bitter.

I love this beer! Overall, there are very few traditional American IPA's in Australia that are as consistently as this beer. I would say that this, alongside the Fixation IPA, is the best value for money option out there if you're looking for an IPA that still has some bitterness - with this getting the nod due to it being in cans. I hope you can all look past the gaudy blue/green & gold label and pick up this IPA - it's sensational!

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

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: MARCH 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: March 


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!). The format is sure to change over these first couple of months as we work through some teething issues, so please hit me up if you've got any feedback.


March's lineup was packed full of new releases, along with a few classics. There was a wide mix of styles ranging from a small fruity sour all the way through to a smokey lager. The pack had 4 local Victoria beers & one each from New South Wales, Queensland, the U.S.A. & the first ever Beer-thusiast Pack beer from Germany.

Moon Dog Sun Cat - American IPA - 6.5%

Sun Cat is Moon Dog's latest attempt at a core range IPA - replacing the highly inconsistent Jukebox Hero. This beer has been rigorously tested, with multiple versions, at the Moon Dog brewery in Abbotsford. I haven't had an infected Moon Dog beer for a long time, so here's hoping this doesn't go the way of Jukebox Hero.

"This is aggressively hopped with Mosaic and Azacca. The bitterness is strong, but well tempered by the amount of fruit flavours coming from the hop combo. It’s a bloody good IPA and one of Moon Dog’s more consistent beers since its release. When fresh I’d never turn one of these down."

This beer was brand new when we got this in the Beer-Thusiast Pack. It tasted super fresh and was loaded so much fruit notes, particularly mango and pineapple, from the hops. I've subsequently had it a few times and been equally impressed every time. I would go as far to say that this is my favourite Australian IPA of the year!

Bad Shepherd Pineapple Sour Ale - Sour - 4.0%

The Brew Crew Series from Bad Shepherd have produced some pretty nice beers recently. The series allows the staff of the brewery to get involved in the formulation of a limited release beer. Number 5 in the series was saw Tracey, the "office guru"'s, turn roll around. She asked for a beer that didn't taste like a beer and hence a Pineapple Sour Ale came into existence.

"Very clean lacto tartness in here. Slightly vinous from the fruit, although it’s hard to pick out anything that’s definitely pineapple. I had a few of these during its release and enjoyed them more each time - I think a little bit of extra time helped them come into their own."


Hargreaves Hill Lager - Dortmunder Lager - 4.2%

I've been relatively vocal over the years about my lack of love for Hargreaves Hill. It's not that they make bad beers, it's that I find their beers lack character, they're a bit same-same - with one or two exceptions. They've recently rebranded and introduced some new core range beers, including this Dortmunder-style Lager. This is an under-brewed style of lager characterized by biscuity malts and assertive bitterness.

"I’ve been really digging Hargreaves Hill new core range, so it was a shame to find this as the obvious weak link in the lineup. Good things first - it looks great. Wonderfully light golden, perfectly clear. It’s reasonably clean and smooth on the palate. Sadly there’s just nothing else going on here, apart from a mild cloying sweetness that built more as I went through the glass. Don’t think I’ll be going back to this any time soon."

This did very little for me as well. I will give them some credit that they had used some relatively bitter floral hops, however there just weren't enough (I don't think there could've been!) to balance out the overly sweet malts.

Ballistic Australian Psycho IPA - American IPA - 6.5%

Ballistic is one of the wave of new breweries popping up in inner-Brisbane. Australian Psycho is one of their core range beers. It's an IPA brewed entirely with Australian hops, and although there is more than enough bitterness to make it not a NEIPA it has a reasonable haziness to it due to a liberal amount of dry-hopping.

"I remember enjoying this but am finding it hard to pick out anything that differentiates it from a heap of other good IPA's. It’s well balanced and certainly tasty, but does blend into the crowd a bit."

I thought it was a really impressive IPA, but understand where you're coming from Dylan. I got tropical fruit and citrus notes from the hops, as you'd expect from a beer only using Australian hops.

Young Henrys Foo Town - American Adjunct Lager - 4.0%

I thought including another Young Henrys beer in the Beer-thusiast Pack, so soon after their last awful offering in December was a strange choice to say the least. Somehow Young Henrys managed to team up with the Foo Fighters to produce a limited run of 60,000 cans to serve around the country on their Down Under Tour. The result is an Australian lager hopped with American hops.

"Do Young Henry’s just suck at making lagers? This is a shocker of a beer. I was actually somewhat looking forward to it - the description said ‘Azacca hopped lager’ not ‘sickly sweet and flat flavoured’. Found it hard to detect any traces of hops, rendering what it was hopped with moot. I’d expect better from macro brewers, let alone craft brewers, especially given how far local lagers have come in the last couple of years."

This was a genuinely appalling beer! The one thing I hold out hope for is that 50,000+ of these beers are picked up by Foo Fighters collectors and never consumed!

New Belgium Citradelic - American IPA - 5.9%

It's been a few years since the craze of adding citrus peel or juice to IPA's. One of the few to stick around, alongside BrewDog's Elvis Juice, is New Belgium's Citradelic. The beer has a heap of tangerine peel added to it, which really compliments the fruity hops used in the brew (Citra, Azacca, Mandarina Bavaria & Galaxy).

"One of the best citrus IPAs around when you factor in price and accessibility. The way they’ve used the tangerine seems to help the hop flavours stay intact for longer too - even the less fresh cans of this I’ve had have been good. You’d want to like tangerine as there’s a heap of it here, but it’s super well executed."


Hargreaves Hill/Sailors Grave The Bramble - Saison - 5.2%

I love everything Sailors Grave touch! This beer. brewed in collaboration with Hargreaves Hill, sounded really interesting & right up my alley. It's a farmhouse ale, to which each brewery has brought a product from their own region; Hargreaves Hill brought blackberries from the Yarra Valley whilst Sailors Grave took elderflowers that they'd foraged in East Gippsland.

"Full disclosure - I had this on tap at the brewery, leaving Angus to have the bottle. This may or may not lead to us rating it slightly differently! For my part, I found it hard to fault. You can see the Sailor’s Grave influence in how the elderflower/blackberry has been used - well integrated into the beer while still presenting as fresh and bright. Dry, funky, floral and crisp. I’d be stoked if I made a beer like this."

We definitely rated this beer very differently! I got next to no elderflower, normally a reasonably dominant flavour, and only light blackberry notes. I wonder if this was a bad bottle, or if the kegged version just held onto those flavours better than the bottled version.


Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen - Rauchbier - 5.1%

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. The name has meaning to most beer afficianado's. In English it translates as the Orignal Schlenkerla Smoked Beer, and is known as the most famous smoked beer in the world. The brewery has been brewing a variety of smoked beers in the Franconian town of Bamberg since 1405!

"You’ve gotta give it a few sips to settle on the palate, but this is one of the world’s most acclaimed and famed smoked beers for a reason. The base marzen is rich and full bodied, leaving the waves and waves of meaty smoke to present fully without overwhelming the base beer. I think I prefer their helles for everyday drinking, but if you’re in the mood for a smoky beer this will hit the spot like nothing else."



That's another of the backlog of reviews ticked off. The April pack review will hopefully be up shortly, it's one of the best packs for a while so keep your eyes out for that in the coming days. There's plenty of exciting news here at Beer O'Clock Australia HQ; our first involvement in a commercial beer is being released in about 10 days & we've got an exciting new venture that will be made clearer shortly. I'll elaborate on both of these developments soon. Until next time...

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

Monday, 23 July 2018

UNTAPPD BADGE REVIEWS

Untappd: Announcement


After careful consideration I've decided that I will no longer be doing posts about my Untappd badges. These posts take up the majority of my writing time and have become a bit of a burden. When I first started the segment in August 2013, unlocking a badge was a relatively rare thing. There were far fewer core badges and I thought it would be a good way to help me decide what beers I would review in full. Less than two months in, Untappd decided that badges should have levels; in retrospect this probably should've been a sign of the beginning of the end!

In the years since Untappd have added so many core badges that I can't keep up. It used to take me a fortnight or more of pretty heavy drinking to get to the 6 badges I would write a Catchup post about; this past Saturday I unlocked 9 badges. Dylan & I sampled quite a few beers, but certainly not enough to unlock 9 badges in the past.

So what does this mean for Beer O'Clock Australia? Well I think it will allow me to do more long form posts; particularly in the form of full beer reviews. I'll still certainly be using Untappd, it's a wonderful resource, but I don't think it will form a significant part of the blog anymore. Any questions about Untappd or about beer in general; hit me up at gus.norris7@gmail.com 

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

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: FEBRUARY 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: February


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!). The format is sure to change over these first couple of months as we work through some teething issues, so please hit me up if you've got any feedback.


In February we were served up a different pack to usual; only 2 duplicates were included, meaning that there were 8 singles. There were a couple of issues with this month's pack - firstly the card above states Feb 2017 instead of 2018, which in the scheme of things isn't the end of the world. Secondly both Caltoria beers were missing from the pack, something an email sorted in a couple of days. We also saw an appearance of a beer we've had in the pack before; Rodenbach Original - at least it was a good one! This was a period where the pack suffered a little - however those minor issues aside the beer lineup was really impressive!

Little Bang Icon - Steam Ale - 5.0%

First up was a beer from Adelaide craft brewery Little Bang. We don't get many of their beers over in Victoria, outside the Galactopus, so I was pretty keen to try this Steam Ale/California Common. It's a style that isn't brewed that often in Australia, with Mountain Goat's Steam Ale the only one jumping out at me. I'm keen to see what Little Bang have done with this style.

"I love the can for this beer! It’s by far the most interesting thing about it. Not to say that it’s a bad beer though - certainly one that has a place. Very clean, lightly tropical, finishes smooth. Skews very close to Mountain Goat Steam Ale."

Personally I thought it was a bit lacking in flavour in comparison to the Mountain Goat. Given the choice between the two, I would stump for a pint of the Victorian offering.


Lost & Grounded Keller Pils - Kellerbier - 4.8%

Lost & Grounded is a brewery in Bristol, England started by an Australian; ex-Little Creatures brewer Alex Troncoso. They're a brewery with a growing reputation for brewing quality lagers. This is the first time that their beers have made it down under, in any significant quantity.

"I’d heard a bit of hype about these guys, an English brewery focusing on German and Belgian styles. This certainly made a good first impression. It’s a really refined, well built pils. Lovely grassy and floral hop notes, clean malt and that bite on the finish that all good pilsners have."


Caltoria Belgian Pale - Belgian Pale Ale - 6.6%

If I'm being perfectly honest, I had never heard of Caltoria before. The brewery is based in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Bayswater. Their flagship beer is a Belgian Pale Ale - another style that we don't see anywhere near enough of in this country. From that perspective, it seems like quite a strange choice for a beer to base your brewery around...

"I was surprised this clocked in at 6.8% ABV! Hides it really well. It does come across in the form of a really full, rounded body which supports the yeasty funk and light hopping well."

Caltoria Citrus Wheat - American Pale Wheat Ale - 4.9%

Caltoria had a second beer in the pack; their brand new (at the time!) Citrus Wheat. The beer was so new that the labels hadn't arrived in time and we had generic Caltoria labels on the bottles. Billed as a citrusy wheat beer, it's a beer that should be suited to the warm weather.

"I’m not sure if the citrus in this came from a fruit addition or the hops, but it’s definitely there (especially on the nose). Really refreshing beer overall - distinctive wheat character and a bit of Belgian yeast. Didn’t blow me away but enjoyed it well enough."


Beer Farm West Coast Lager - Lager - 4.6%

Another brewery that got two beers into the February Beer-Thusiast Pack was Beer Farm from Western Australia. Western Australian stuff very rarely makes it to Melbourne and after their impressive attempt at an IPL in November's pack I was very keen to see what else they had to offer. The first is dubbed a West Coast Lager - so I'm guessing there should be plenty of hop punch here.

"Nice clean lager base here. The hop combo is really intriguing/weird, somewhere between traditional and new world, German/Czech and American. It comes across in the form of pear, lemon and some other mystery fruitiness. Certainly more memorable than I’d anticipated."


Beer Farm Pineapple - Berliner Weisse - 4.2%

The second beer from Beer Farm was a beer Dylan has been keen to try for a long time! Pineapple is, funnily enough, a pineapple flavoured sour. The can artwork is awesome, based on the Australian $50 note. It's a Berliner Weisse which has been fermented with plenty of real pineapple, rather than extract which is always nice.

"Lip puckeringly tart! I love the idea of pineapple sours but every time I’ve had one it seems like the flavour gets lost in the mix. When a fruit is primarily juicy/sweet more than strongly or distinctively flavoured it’s a challenge to keep it at the front of the palate. This beer had the same issue, with the tartness and doughy wheat dominating the pineapple, but it’s still a really nice, fully flavoured berliner."




Rodenbach Original - Flanders Red Ale - 5.2%

The first double up in the history of the Beer-Thusiast pack finally arrived. Thankfully it's an absolutely superb beer and it's one of the beers I always recommend that people who claim to love craft beer, or simply want to get into craft beer, have to try. It's a widely available Flanders Red Ale and is an excellent example of the style.

"We’d gotten one of these in a pack not too long ago so I won’t elaborate too much here. It’s a classic for a reason. I bought a slab of these shortly after this if you require any indication of how good this beer still is."

Dylan & I both wrote a lot more about this beer back in the July 2017 review of the Beer-Thusiast Pack. There's actually plenty of content on the site about this beer so simply search "Rodenbach" on the right hand side of this page if you're looking for more information.

Quiet Deeds Juice Train - NEIPA - 6.5%

Initially their 2017 GABS beer, Juice Train has gone on to become their best selling beer (I assume so at least - it's the only one I ever hear spoken about!). It's quite a change for a brewery that never really seemed to excite the close knit craft beer community here. This beer has some pretty significant in-batch variation with oxidation issues striking seemingly randomly. Quiet Deeds assures that they've resolved the issues and have been replacing any affecting cans.

"Quiet Deeds haven’t impressed me a lot in the past so I was apprehensive about their take on an NEIPA, but this is a really strong effort. While not reaching the heights of the Jedi Juices of the world, it has a soft body, plenty of juiciness and somewhat restrained bitterness (probably still a touch too high, but that’s Australian NEIPA's for you). Be warned that there’s a heap of batch variation with this beer - I’ve mostly had good luck but they’re obviously still tinkering to get it consistent."


Garage Project Full Fathom Five - English IPA - 5.5%

I'm always excited when I get to try new Garage Project beers, particularly when they're from less hyped styles; such as the good old fashioned English IPA. This IPA comes in at 5.55% ABV (give or take) and is loaded with 5 different Old World hop vaieties. It was also supposedly on nitro - but I couldn't find a widget or anything along those lines in the can...

"A canned English IPA on nitro? Sure, why not! I didn’t actually get much sense of the nitro from what I had, but it’s a great showcase for classic English hops. I’d like to see more modern breweries have a go at the style."

This beer would be great for showcasing what Fuggle hops taste like to people. I have never tasted more Fuggle in my life than I found in this beer!


Old Wives Ales Horn Swatter - American Stout - 6.0%

My love for Old Wives Ales' beers is well known, and has been professed on this blog more times that I care to remember! I've ha this beer a few times and have always been impressed with it. Horn Swatter is an American Stout that would fit straight into the BJCP style guidelines. If you're looking for a straight up and down stout with some hop bite - look no further!

"Really roasty, nicely bitter. Hop flavour doesn’t quite come through as much as you’d hope but they’re definitely there behind the malt. Just a good, sturdy, hair on your chest kinda stout."

We're getting closer to back on track. Dylan & I have recently got our July beers and are working our way through the remaining back-catalogue of reviews. There's a couple of posts that I've been meaning to put up for the last few days that will hopefully get there in due course. In the meantime guys, keep drinking great beer and...

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

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

REVIEW: KILIKIA

European Beer Challenge #53 Armenia


STATS
  • Country: Armenia
  • Style: American Adjunct Lager
  • ABV: 4.8%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
It's been almost 3 years since I last managed to tick off a country in the European Beer Challenge. Thankfully that day is finally here! My recent trip to Russia gave me the opportunity to finally try a beer from Armenia - an ex-Soviet member bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan & Iran. Armenia is actually the 100th country I've reviewed a beer from on Beer O'Clock Australia.

We stumbled across this beer at an Armenian restaurant in Moscow: Ноев ковчег - which translates as Noah's Ark. It should also be noted that the food was really good - if you're looking for Armenian food in Moscow, I'd highly recommend this place. Kilikia is the most consumed by in Armenia and is brewed by the Beer of Yerevan brewery in the capital city Yerevan.

Kilikia pours like you would expect a good lager to. The beer pours a far more golden colour than I was expecting, it looks like they've actually used malt in it! The beer also had quite a thick white head topping it, which lasted for the duration of drinking - admittedly not that long for the first one. It looks like a lager that should cost more than what I paid for it - it looks well crafted.

Onto the nose and it's time to invoke the long unspoken rule of lagers; if it doesn't smell bad that's a win. Kilikia certainly ticks this box. Kilikia has initial notes of sweet grain, followed by some more sweet grain and very little else of note! I get next to no hop character on the nose, however it does smell "crisp", if that's even possible.

The taste follows on in a manner you would expect from the nose. Slightly sweet bready grains dominate the malt bill, yet the body stays relatively light. There is some faint grassy notes, reminiscent of a European Noble hop, which imparts just enough bitterness to cut through the sweet malt. It's crisp and finishes slightly dry leaving you wanting more & more!

All things considered, Kilikia is a pretty solid lager. It's well balanced with hops and malt working in harmony. I'd be quite happy to drink Kilikia again in the right circumstances - the second day of my Russian World Cup adventure was certainly that! It was a dangerously drinkable beer, Coll and I knocked of quite a few of them whilst we feasted on wonderful Armenian food. Now if anyone has any contacts in Kazakhstan, we might be able to finally finish this thing!

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

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: JANUARY 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: January 


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!). The format is sure to change over these first couple of months as we work through some teething issues, so please hit me up if you've got any feedback.


The lineup for January was, in my opinion, really well crafted. It featured a number of newly released beers, spearheaded by Stomping Ground's first canned releases, as well as some classics. There was a wide variety of styles, with almost everything coming from Victorian brewers. The one exception being Alesmith's Sublime - a Mexican Lager, a style experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in the craft beer scene at the moment.

Stomping Ground Gipps St - American Pale Ale - 5.2%

Stomping Ground's flagship Pale Ale has been canned! Named after the Collingwood street that the brewery calls home, Gipps St is a classical American Pale Ale. These cans are seriously fresh and so I'm expecting big things from a Pale Ale that I think is improving everytime I try it.

"I’d imagine the cans of this we got were stupidly fresh, what with Stomping Ground recently starting to can their beer and all. You could definitely taste it! Big, punchy hops, sitting somewhere between the citrus/pine and tropical fruit ends of the spectrum. Straightforward, packed with flavour, good stuff."

Stomping Ground didn't let me down - this is a bloody good Pale Ale and one that everyone should try!


Bad Shepherd Reserve Road Draught - German Pilsner - 6.4%

The second beer in this months back is also named after the street that the brewery that brews it calls home; in this case Bad Shepherd's Reserve Road Draught. It's a Czech inspired Pilsner, featuring two of the four varieties of Noble Hops (Saaz & Hallertauer Mittelfrüh) alongside a couple of others.

"I’m hoping we’ll see more Bad Shepherd beer in cans soon! This is another good take on a lager by a craft brewery, something we’re seeing more and more of lately. It’s simple and clean - definitely something you can give to the macro lager head without any complaints, but also drink yourself pretty happily."


Venom Refreshing Ale - American Pale Ale - 3.5%

I was really pleased to hear that Venom were releasing a mid-strength offering when they announced it back in September last year. Venom produce some really nice beers - they don't seem to be quite as prevalent as they used to be however.

"Being the type of person who is always on the lookout for lower ABV beers, this caught my eye, clocking in at less than a standard drink per (very nice looking) can. They haven’t tried anything outlandish here but it’s a bloody tasty little beer given the constraints, with a nice barley/wheat base letting light tropical hops come through well. It’s well priced too - I bought a six pack for the fridge the day after having this one and was pleasantly surprised."

Bridge Road Bling - American IPA - 5.8%

Bridge Road's Bling is an incredibly important beer in Australia's craft beer history. The beer has evolved over the years with the more English leaning hops it started with, being replaced by the more American hop characteristics of citrus and pine. Every time I have this beer I'm surprised by the dark body, a throwback to it's former life as an English IPA no doubt.

"A consistently underrated IPA (much like those from Mornington and Colonial), this is a beefy beer with an intriguing dark amber colour and strong malt presence while still letting hops be the star. It has the balance of a brewery that has been at it for a long time, which makes total sense."


Stomping Ground Pridelweisse - American Pale Wheat Ale - 4.4%

The Pridelweisse is a beer brewed by Stomping Ground each year to support the LGBTQI community, with 50 cents from each can/pot going to support a charity that helps support aspiring LGBTQI community members in the arts. It appears that the beer itself will change each year, with last years Peach Witbier replaced by a straight Pale Wheat Ale.

"It’s a fair change from the peach hefe it came out as last year but it works as a nice little companion piece to the Gipps St in its current form. It’s now a hoppy wheat, which isn’t a style we see a heap of in Australia. There’s fairly firm bitterness and a good wheat base. If it sounds like something that’d be up your alley then it’s definitely a well made beer and shouldn’t disappoint."



Mr Banks Brown - American Brown Ale - 5.0%

Mr Banks opened in the Melbourne South Eastern suburb of Melbourne in 2016. They've quickly established a reputation for brewing excellent classical examples of the styles they are trying to produce. I really like that these guys have a Brown Ale in their range; they're really under appreciated in this country!

"A pretty classic brown ale, with nutty, toasty malt that has a rounded and lingering flavour profile. Definitely not on the hoppier side of things, but if you want a drinkable, malt driven brown then this is a good one."


It really was a beer that is hard to write about; it's a very good, straight up & down example of a Brown Ale. I've always thought this Brown Ale has good bitterness without being overtly hoppy - malt is definitely the driving factor, but the bitterness is still there.

Fury & Son Citra Sour - American Wild Ale - 3.5%

Fury & Son are another beer brand that opened in Melbourne in 2016.  They've subsequently opened their own brewery in the North Western industrial suburb of Keilor. I really intrigued to try this beer, a mid-strength hoppy sour is something that really should work in the Australian summer - which is why it's strange that we don't see many here...

"I first had this a while back and there was so little tartness that it might as well have not been there. I think it threw the balance off the beer as a whole. I’m happy to report there was a fair bit more this time - it’s still quite a light beer (and the ABV reflects that) but there’s a nice hop/acidity balance now. Super drinkable. "

Alesmith Sublime - Mexican Lager - 5.2%

The only international offering in the January Beer-Thusiast pack is a Mexican Lager, of all things, from Alesmith in San Diego. Brewed in collaboration with the band Sublime to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their "40oz. to Freedom" album. Alesmith have taken a traditional Vienna Lager recipe and made it "more refreshing", leaving a sweeter malty Mexican-style Lager.

"Super drinkable. There’s not a lot to separate it from other straightforward craft lagers but it’s cool to see the Mexican lager of all things having a bit of time in the spotlight. It’s a little sweet, very crisp, lightly hoppy. Solid. I’m keen to see more interpretations of the style in 2018 with any luck."


It feels good to have finally knocked this off - having had it 3/4 written for months. Dylan and I are both currently working on the next couple of these and with any luck we'll be back on track soon! I've got a few things that I'm working on right now, so there may well be some more posts before February's Beer-Thusiast Pack review.

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

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

BLOG UPDATE

Hi Guys,

I've been pretty quiet on here over the best part of the last year, basically since I bought my apartment & had surgery on my foot. I had high hopes of kicking it back off at the start of the year but then life intervened again. A couple of mates and I won the ballot and suddenly had FIFA World Cup tickets, so despite being a new home owner I had to find the money to go on a 3 week life changing holiday to Russia - unfortunately something had to give and it was the blog!

I'm back now and with a renewed enthusiasm for Beer O'Clock Australia. I've done a fair bit of prep-work on the lane on the way home and with any luck I'll get a fair bit of content up soon. I haven't done one of these whole blog updates for a few years - so I thought I'd give that another crack to begin with.

European Beer Challenge - A challenge that was initially (optimistically) expected to take 4 months has almost stretched to its 7th year. There will be an update here shortly to take us down to one country remaining!
Et Ceterbeer - It has been over two years since I wrote a full Et Ceterbeer review - I've been meaning to begin writing more full reviews but life hasn't allowed me to just yet...
EURO 2012 - This segment finished with the culmination of the 2012 European Championships. I doubt I will ever have the time again to write reviews in this style. 
Macro Lagers - This is a section that I get a lot of emails about! I'm intending to get to the store I find the majority of my international lagers at shortly, so I may well come across some for you guys. 
The Dark Side - Much like a number of the other sections, my reduced full reviews has really impacted The Dark Side. It is winter so if I rediscover the full review writing side this may well be added to. 
Summer Fruit Beers - Fruit beers, in the way this segment was setup, have really fallen out of favour in Australia. Barring an unlikely revival I don't see this segment being updated any time soon.
Beer O'Clock on Tour - Beer O'Clock on Tour will be making it's return very shortly! Unlike most of my holidays I only visited one country, Russia, so it may be a long piece!
Great Beer Styles - I definitely need to update this section this year!

True Brew - The most comprehensive review of the Australian macro scene anywhere (I'm not 100% sure that's a good thing)! Unfortunately for my taste buds, there have been some changes here that should probably be addressed...
Fridge Regulars - This segment faded into the periphery as my beer drinking changed. That's come full circle and it's now relevant again. I should write about some of the beers that I buy regularly.
Trappist Beer - This still holds the title as the first completed challenge on Beer O'Clock Australia. I have a beer that I've been intending to drink for this segment, but haven't found the time yet. 
World's Best Beer Contender - I've got some truly World Class stuff floating around - another segment depending on me writing full reviews again. 
The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate - I've always loved these reviews, it's just far harder to come across beers that are packaged in both bottles & cans these days. If anyone has any suggestions please send them my way!
Oktoberfest Beers - I haven't written in this section for over 3 years. I'm going through a real lager phase at the moment so will see if I can source anything.
Abstrakt - Richo & I actually had one of these not that long ago - we should probably write it up...
Out of Office - Another neglected section and one that I really have to deal with sooner or later - as a number of you ask me about breweries to visit, particularly around Melbourne. 
Untappd - The number of Untappd badges is getting a little out of hand. I'm going to do a post World Cup wrap up and then think about what I do with this section. 
Alphabet Challenge Revisited - I've been stuck on Ha Lida for almost 4 years! No idea where that Vietnamese beer has gone...
Bear Club - Tru Bru appears to be gone for good now, despite promises of a reboot. This section has in any case been replaced by the Carwyn Beer-Thusiast Pack reviews. Dylan & I are hoping to have that up to date shortly. 
What's in Style? - My longer format style history segment has stagnated since the first post on Grisette. I've been promising a Stout vs Porter post for over a year that I really should finish.

With any luck I should be able to keep to about 50% of what I've promised! At least I'm up to date on emails thanks to the free WIFI I had in Doha Airport. As usual keep any questions and suggestions of things you'd like to see coming to gus.norris7@gmail.com and I'll do my best to answer them. Let's see if I can't get back to the halcyon days of posts most weeks.

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