Saturday, 29 December 2018

CARWYN CANVENT 2018 (PART 4)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 4)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's one of, if not the, preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

I'm not 100% sure why I didn't document my BrewDog Advent Calendar this time last year - I wonder if it got lost with moving in and recovering from surgery... In any case; I'm not going to make the same mistake this year!

The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days. Normal service has resumed at Beer O'Clock Australia, as we're now running well and truly behind schedule. If you haven't already, you can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here & Part 3 here.

Day 16 - Frenchies Oceanna - First up in this set of 5 beers was a Saison from Frenchies. Frenchies are a Sydney based brewery that we don't see a lot of beers from down here in Melbourne and frankly one that I don't know a heap about. This beer clocked in at 3.5% ABV and had also had a heap of fresh raspberries added to it.

The nose started off particularly promisingly with fresh raspberry the most evident aroma. There was also a bit of barnyard funk but little else - probably not surprising in such a small beer. Unfortunately the flavours didn't really translate to the flavour. There was some raspberry and some light funk, but not enough of one, the other or both for my liking.

Day 17 - Blackman's Sea Spray IPA - Day 17 brought an interesting offering from Blackman's, in Torquay. This is a brewery that I've been meaning to visit for a long time - maybe 2019 will finally be the year! This is an IPA that has had sea water from the beaches near the brewery added. It's semi-common in Gose's, but I've never had it in an IPA before...

This was another one that belongs in the great idea, shame it didn't quite work camp. It was a nice enough beer, but was a bit lacking on hop flavour and bitterness. The sea water addition was noticeable, although I wonder if it had an unintended impact on the hop character? The beer finished lightly salty and was quite dry. If they upped the dry hopping on this, it's a beer that I could quite easily see myself drinking a 6-pack of it.

Day 18 - Cheeky Monkey Mixed Berry Gose - I've been aware of Cheeky Monkey pretty much since they opened in 2012. They were locked in legal battles with a neighboring winery for a couple of years before opening their doors. Recently they installed a canning line and now we see some of their beers in Victoria. This is a Mixed Berry Gose, which should be relatively straight forward.

My initial thoughts were proved correct. If I was asked to describe a berry Gose to someone I would describe this beer. There was plenty of sweet berry flavour, I'm guessing it was extract as it didn't taste strongly of any particular berry. There was also nice tartness and plenty of salinity. It was nice and refreshing and one that I could see selling well.

Day 19 - Last Rites Count Dunkula - Last Rites are a Tasmanian brewery with a burgeoning reputation. From what I've seen of their beers over here on the mainland, they mainly focus on the hoppier styles. This beer is no exception; an 8.2% Imperial Black IPA. I love Black IPA's so can't wait to try this one!

I need to double check my notes, but I'm pretty sure this has now taken the lead as the best beer in the Canvent so far! It's a great example of a Black IPA; packed with roast and coffee notes initially before pine & citrus hops take over and provide a real bitter kick. I can see this beer being perfect on a cold Tasmanian evening - it went down beautifully in the middle of Melbourne summer after all!

Day 20 - Ocho Silent Night - Another Tasmanian brewery with a growing following is Ocho, who provide the beer on Day 20. This will only be the second beer I've had from these guys, so I'm pretty keen to get into it. It's a Dark Saison brewed with Blood Oranges, very Christmas-y but possibly not particularly weather appropriate.

Maybe it's a Tasmanian thing; but this was another excellent Canvent offering! There was a whole heap of orange on the nose and as soon as it hits the palate. There certainly were dark malts, but there was very little funk. Whether that funkiness was lost underneath the malt I'm not sure. I got more of a slightly funky Brown Ale vibe than a Dark Saison vibe. But whatever you call it; it's certainly tasty!

This set of 5 beers got better as they went on. Apologies that it's a little late - I got caught up in the ridiculously busy Christmas/Boxing Day Test period. With any luck the next installment will be up in a day or two. We've also got a podcast that is a little overdue as well as plenty of content - both well overdue & new!

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

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: JULY 2018

The Beer-thusiast Pack: July 


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.

Carwyn changed it up a bit in July. This month there were only 2 duplicates accompanied by 8 singles. This pack is one of the reasons Dylan and I ended up falling so far behind in these reviews! All 10 beers in this pack are from Australia - although 5 states are represented. There was a good mix of styles with a leaning towards the maltier side of things, something that is understandable given the winter timing of this pack.

Clare Valley Red IPA - Red IPA - 6.9%

Clare Valley are a brewery with an increasing reputation. Their beers have reportedly gone from strength to strength since their rebrand, which I want to say was early last year. Red IPA's are a great style for the cooler months, and when done well provide some of my favourite Australian beers.

"Rich caramel malt base, you get plenty of fruit from the Citra and Summit too. My main qualm was that the bitterness needed a bit more punch to stand up to the big malts - while the hop flavour was nice, the malts took over a bit as it warmed. Enjoyable regardless."

I think this is the best Clare Valley beer I've had, with the balance between malt & hops really working for me.

Morrison Irish Stout - Dry Stout - 4.7%

Morrison is a brewery that we don't see much of in Melbourne. They're based in the Launceston suburb of Invermay. From my understanding they're a brewery that focuses on English style of beers. This particular one is an Irish Dry Stout, as the name may suggest. I've had a few of their beers before and never been blown away by any of them - although they have all been solid examples of the style that attempt to replicate.

"Really dry and roasty, nice body for the ABV. I could drink a few of these in a session I reckon. There’s a chocolate liqueur esque sweet flavour that comes through which I quite like, almost fruity."


Colonial Robust Porter - Porter - 6.3%

Colonial is one of the growing number of brewers in the country with multiple brewing facilities. Originally from WA, Colonial setup their second brewery in Port Melbourne in 2015. Since then their beers have had much wider reach on the East Coast. This beer is a straight up and down Porter that clocks in at 6.3% ABV.

"Smooth, powdered cocoa and toasty coffee on the palate. Finishes fairly creamy. The ABV is mostly reflected in the body, which holds up well to the little hit of bitterness they’ve got in here. Like most of Colonial’s beers it’s a good example of the style, well priced and pretty easy to drink."

Green Beacon Windjammer - American IPA - 6.0%

Green Beacon is a brewery that has seen steady growth since launching in 2013 in the Brisbane suburb of Teneriffe. They were one of the first early adopters of canned craft beer in Australia. Their Windjammer IPA is the beer that;s included in the pack. It's their flagship beer, which features Simcoe & Cascade hops.

"Really solid IPA. It’s a bit sticky, with plenty of pine and fruit to round it out. Pours a very attractive golden orange in the glass, with good lacing and a bit of haze. There’s not a ton more to say - I suspect most people have tried this one before - but it’s a very solid ‘everyday’ IPA option."


Hope XPA - American Pale Ale - 4.7%

Hope Brewhouse is located at Hope Estate in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley. It's the most iconic wine region in Australia's most populous state - probably the last place you'd expect to find a brewery. This XPA is widely regarded, and utilizes Cascade, Galaxy, Citra & Enigma hops.

"There’s nothing wrong with this beer, but nothing that really makes it stand out either. XPA’s are becoming such a crowded space in the market and while this is well made and perfectly drinkable, there’s not much here that will make me come back to it. Flavour wise, it’s well balanced, with the typical tropical fruit/light malt characteristics you’d expect."


Hope BA Extra Stout - Stout - 6.2%

Another beer from Hope Estate, in the heart of NSW wine country, to appear in this pack is the Barrel Aged Extra Stout. There aren't that many sub-8% ABV Barrel Aged Stouts around and at only 6.2% this is particularly low.

"Beefy beer, with stylistically appropriate punchy bitterness and some good roast and malt. Apparently spent some time in wine barrels, which doesn’t come across much at all in the final product. It’s a well crafted and enjoyable extra stout though, so I guess it couldn’t have hurt!"

Modus Operandi Silent Knight - Porter - 5.6%

Silent Knight has been a staple at Modus Operandi since their early days. The beer is a Porter that was designed as a small Russian Imperial Stout.
This year it got elevated to their Black Label range - basically 3 of their dar beers that they make sure to brew during the cooler months.

"Not what you’d expect when you hear there’s a Modus beer in the pack, but it’s great to have a look at how they tackle another side of the beer spectrum. This is a very well made porter, one that is immensely drinkable but with enough complexity for those who want to seek it out. The malt leans towards chocolate, which is helped along by the creamy mouthfeel, with bitter hops to stop it from becoming too soft on the palate. Finishes dry with a bit of coffee."


Social Bandit Sooky La La - Berliner Weiss - 4.0%

Sooky La La is a Guanabana Berliner Weiss brewed by Social Bandit in Mansfield, Victoria. Guanabana? Is this not ringing a bell for anyone else? I had to look it up and found out that the fruit is more commonly known as Soursop - a fruit I had heard of, but can't say I've tasted. Anyway - I'm really keen to see how it works in a beer!

"A Guanabana Berliner from Social Bandit in Mansfield? Sure, why not! This is probably my personal favourite from this month’s pack - lovely tartness, with an intriguing fruit profile from the Guanabana. Can taste a fair bit of wheat which I always like if the fruit doesn’t dominate. I’d seek this out again."


Wolf of the Willows The Woodsman - Amber Ale - 4.5%

Wolf of the Willows probably fly a little under the radar. Even for someone like me who keeps relatively on top of new releases didn't even know that this beer was about to me released. It's billed as having good stonefruit character from the hops, which excites me a bit.

"I have nothing wrong with malt focused ambers, but I think this one needed some more hop character. It could still be smooth while offering up something more in that regard. The body is nice and the beer goes down easily, but there’s not a heap of flavour and what is there isn’t anything spectacular. I can see what they were going for, but think this just misses the mark."

I think Dylan was a little harsh on this beer. I thought it was a really solid Amber Ale; one of the better Australian ones that I've had, despite it lacking the promised stonefruit flavours... Caramel malts were really good.


Valhalla Aragon - American IPA - 6.3%

Valhalla is a brewery that not that many people know about. I'm guessing more people are aware of them for their striking can designs than anything else. Aragon is their core range IPA, which uses Centennial hops for bittering alongside Chinook, Mosaic & Summer for flavour.

"These cans are awesome! Striking and minimalistic design. Sadly, the beer didn’t wow me anywhere near as much. IPAs have to either do something different or do the usual things super well to stand out and this doesn’t do either. It’s certainly bitter, but there’s nothing else really there apart from that. I suspect I didn’t have this in the best condition (both in terms of can age and my own palate…) so I’d like to revisit it, but I wasn’t impressed."

There we have it guyts that's another one to tick off the list! I'm not sure if we'll quite be up to date by Christmas with these, but we've still given ourselves a chance. I've got a pretty ambitious project in the works for 2019 that I'm currently working on - so stay tuned for more information. In the meantime keep your emails coming at gus.norris7@gmail.com and we'll be back with more outdated beer stuff soon!

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

CARWYN CANVENT 2018 (PART 3)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 3)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's one of, if not the, preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

I'm not 100% sure why I didn't document my BrewDog Advent Calendar this time last year - I wonder if it got lost with moving in and recovering from surgery... In any case; I'm not going to make the same mistake this year!

The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days. If you're joining this segment for the first time you can check out Part 1 here & Part 2 here. It's been a great pack so far and definitely worth checking out.

Day 11 - Stomping Ground Imperial Ned - First up in this third installment of the Carwyn Canvent wrap up is an Imperial India Pale Lager from Stomping Ground. Stomping Ground produce consistently excellent beer across a wide range of styles and I'm backing them in to nail this!

And nail it they did! This is everything I want in an IPL, yet alone an Imperial IPL, You'd have no idea of the ABV from drinking this. There's plenty of hop flavours, with pine the most dominant characteristic and citrus not that far behind. The thing that really sets this beer apart though is the lovely dry finish - that only IPL's manage. Maybe Brut IPA's should take a leaf and use lager yeast...

Day 12 - Artisan Felonious Monk - Artisan is the first brewery in the Carwyn pack that I've never heard of, let alone ever have a beer from! They're a tiny brewery from Parryville, 450km south of Perth! These guys focus primarily on Belgian influenced beers.

Felonious Monk is billed as a "Session Quad" and is made with the second runnings of their full strength Quadrupel, a beer I definitely now need to try. Session Quad is the perfect moniker for this beer, it's got all the dark fruit and maltiness that you'd expect from a proper Quadrupel but with lower alcohol!
Day 13 - Mornington Galaxy Pash - Regular readers of this blog would be aware of the special place Mornington, and in particular their special releases, hold in my heart. Galaxy Pash is a passionfruit kettle sour, which is obviously laden with a whole heap of Galaxy hops - to further accentuate that passionfruit flavour.

This beer is superb and one that I really hope gets brewed again. It toys the line between sweet and sour really well. With the sweet fruitiness of passionfruit playing off beautifully against the acidity from the kettle souring process and the natural acidity of the passionfruit. There is quite a bit of Galaxy hop character, although not that much bitterness. It's a seriously refreshing beer!

Day 14 - Bad Shepherd American Brown IPA - I was really intrigued to see a Brown IPA brewed by someone for this pack. I've noticed, particularly in home brew circles, that this style is having something of a renaissance. I'm not sure if Bad Shepherd is the brewery I would've picked to give it a go, but I'm glad someone is nonetheless.

This would be one the best beers I've ever had from Bad Shepherd. I may have had this a little later in the evening that I would've hoped, but I thoroughly enjoyed the malty side of the beer with predominantly chocolate malts on the nose although there is some roastiness as well. The hops add pine and citrus characteristics and there is plenty of bitterness that comes along with them.

Day 15 - Ballistic Hazy IPL - I think this style of beer was something I was, at least half, expecting to see in this pack. NEIPA's are huge in Australia at the moment, and so a Hazy IPL makes a lot of sense. Ballistic are a brewery in Brisbane that I've been really impressed with - from the limited beers of theirs that I've managed to get my hands on. I'm expecting good things!

I was right to expect good things; this was excellent! It was crisp like a lager & it was particularly juicy like a NEIPA. What more could you ask for? There was so much fruit with passionfruit & pineapple the most evident flavours.

All things considered I think I'm doing pretty well. I'm only a few days behind on these, although the Carwyn Beer-Thusiast posts may have fallen somewhat behind... It'll all works itself out in the end. This set of beers had a great range of styles and I hope is a bit of an insight into what we see in the Australian craft beer scene in 2019.

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

Thursday, 13 December 2018

CARWYN CANVENT 2018 (PART 2)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 2)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's one of, if not the, preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

I'm not 100% sure why I didn't document my BrewDog Advent Calendar this time last year - I wonder if it got lost with moving in and recovering from surgery... In any case; I'm not going to make the same mistake this year!

The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days. You can read about the first 5 days of the Canvent Calendar here. It's been a great ride so far and I can't wait for these next 5 days!

Day 6 - Akasha Brut IPA - Another Brut IPA kicks off Part 2 of the Carwyn Canvent Calendar. This one is from Akasha in Western Sydney. Akasha could lay claim to having one the finest IPA brewers in the country, in Dave Padden, as their Founder & Head Brewer. If ever there is going to be a Brut IPA I really get - this will be it!

My hunch proved to be correct; this was the one! This beer clocks in at 7% ABV - but you'd have literally no idea! It's dangerously easy to drink and is loaded with tropical fruit notes - which is from what I believe is a heavy dose of Citra. It's also nice to have an IPA with a fair whack of bitterness again. If all Brut IPA's were like this I could see the style taking off...

Day 7 - Little Bang SNEIPA - Day 7 brought with it a Sour New England IPA from Little Bang in Adelaide. These guys are best known for their spectacular Barley Wine, Galactopus. All of their packaged beer is in cans and they are slowly making their way more and more into the eastern states. I make a point of grabbing their beers whenever I see them as they are usually excellent.

Unfortunately I was left a little disappointed here. I thought the idea had promise but the flavours just didn't gel how I thought they would. It had a strange sweet and sour thing going on, where I think the malt sweetness was accentuated by the tartness of the beer. There was some fruity hop notes although this was also lost amongst the sweet & sour thing going on. In summary; good idea, shame it didn't work.

Day 8 - Left Barrel Red Wheat Ale - Another brewer from South Australia, this time Left Barrel from up in the Adelaide Hills, was on show on Day 8. These guys have limited distribution in Melbourne, I think I've only ever seen their stuff through Carwyn, but make really good beer! Probably the most interesting thing about this beer is that it's brewed with Kveik - a strain of Norwegian Farmhouse Yeast that ferments at really high temperatures.

I thought this beer worked quite well; there was plenty of wheat character, whilst the addition of juniper was evident without being overpowering. The body was a little thin, something I wouldn't normally associate with a wheat based beer, and there were some slightly funky citrus notes that I'm going to put down to the Kveik. This is more the sort of beer I was hoping to see in this pack.

Day 9 - Hop Nation Jedi Juice - Black Edition - Hop Nation probably produced the most confusing beer of the Canvent so far, when it appeared on Day 9. I hate to think how many messages that Carwyn & Hop Nation would've received about this beer... The confusion was caused by the standard Jedi Juice can, with no differentiation other than a black lid...

The beer that poured from the can certainly wasn't regular Jedi Juice, one of Australia's best NEIPA's. This was superb, possibly the best beer of the Canvent so far! This combined the chocolate and roasted malt flavours associated with a Black IPA with the juiciness of a NEIPA. This was a brilliant idea that worked! I imagine this will be re-brewed - hopefully with clearer labeling!

Day 10 - Sailors Grave Summer Pudding - One of the most eccentric brewers in the land comes out of far Eastern-Gippsland, in the most unlikely town of Orbost. Sailors Grave are the those mad enough to brew in one of the least likely places in Victoria. Named after the English dessert; Summer Pudding is a kettle sour with plenty of lactose added alongside a whole heap of fruit.

The descriptor held true to the taste with plenty of fruit flavour present alongside some lactose sweetness. That would be an overly simplistic take on the beer however, the berry flavours in particular have a sweet yet tart thing going on. It really reminds me of a tart creamy soda - it's something that I would quite happily drink regularly.

This post may be a couple of days late, but it is finally up! I think this set of 5 beers was more what I was expecting from the Canvent pack - with more brewers reaching outside the box. With the exception of the Little Bang SNEIPA, I thought these were all really good attempts at what the brewers were trying to achieve. Join me in a couple of days when the next 5 beers in the Canvent go live.

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

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

CARWYN CANVENT 2018 (PART 1)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 1)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's one of, if not the, preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

I'm not 100% sure why I didn't document my BrewDog Advent Calendar this time last year - I wonder if it got lost with moving in and recovering from surgery... In any case; I'm not going to make the same mistake this year!

The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days. In the interim, let me know what Advent Calendar you've got this year and your initial thoughts on it so far.

Day 1 - 3 Ravens Juicy Brut - First up we had a really interesting offering from 3 Ravens. Juicy Brut is billed as a Brut NEIPA. From my understanding they've taken the juiciness from a NEIPA and utilised the enzymes and filtration more common to the Brut IPA style to come up with this beer.

The beer is crystal clear and has a very short lived white head. The first thing I noticed was the nose, which smells exactly like a piece Juicy Fruit gum.There is plenty of fruit up front, before a bone dry finish kicks in. I don't think I've ever had a beer that finishes as dry as this one does! Something I didn't notice is the 8% ABV! It's dangerously well hidden in such a smashable beer! This is the first Brut IPA to really grab me & I wondering if it's because of the additional fruit that this one packs; the dryness really suits it!

Day 2 - Kaiju Mutation Program Main Squeeze - Day two saw the boys from Kaiju step up to the plate. Their beer is a Session Ale packed with Guava & Passion Fruit that comes in at 3.2%. There's not a lot of information out there about this beer yet, however the #0001 on the back of the can gives me hope that they may be releasing more experimental stuff in the not too distant future!

Up front I get a big whack of passionfruit, which has a bit of tartness about it. There's limited Guava, although this is probably to be expected - as I don't think it'd be particularly easy to brew with. The beer would go down beautifully on a stinking hot day! For 3.2% they have packed a lot of flavour into this little beer.

Day 3 - Mr Banks Sticky Bandits Hazy IPA - It was inevitable that NEIPA's would play a significant part in the Canvent experience. I'm glad that Mr Banks is one of the brewers to take on the style. Mr Banks is based in the outer Melbourne suburb of Seaford and are producing some consistently excellent stuff.

Sticky Bandits is no exception! This is a superb beer! The first big tick is that they've produced an Australian NEIPA that is actually hazy! The second big tick is the wonderful aroma & taste of tropical fruits! While finally, it doesn't pack that unnecessary bitterness that many Australian examples tend to. All-in-all a superb beer and one that I hope they release again!

Day 4 - Brouhaha Cherry Sour - As you may be able to tell from the picture, I'm not going to be at home for the next couple of days. Never fear I enlisted Lizzie's help to ensure I could get this post up on time. Day 4 brought a 4.2% Cherry Sour from Brouhaha in Maleny, QLD. I've heard quite a lot about these guys, but this is the first beer I've had from them.

The beer itself is pretty interesting. It pours with quite a white head for such a pinkish-red beer. There's some sourness, although it's certainly not overpowering. The fruit flavour isn't distinctly cherry, but it's definitely one of those red fruits, although not one I can name right now...

Day 5 - Exit Next Level Beer - I'm a self confessed Exit Brewing fan-boy - there's simply no point hiding that fact. These guys burst onto the scene in 2014 and haven't looked back since. I was shattered when I couldn't try their 4th Anniversary Beer "Better Late Then NEIPA" earlier this year and am so pleased that I get the opportunity to try an Exit NEIPA now.

I may have waxed lyrical about the Mr Banks NEIPA above, but this is even better! There is so much to like about this beer. There is so much pineapple, mango and even citrus notes on top of really well rounded base beer. There's perceptible bitterness, although it certainly doesn't feel out of place in this beer. Please, please, please Exit; brew this beer again!

Five days in, I'm so glad that I've stumped up for the Carwyn Canvent Calendar! All five beers are beers that I would happily buy again if they were to be reproduced down the track. As expected Victorian breweries are well represented, with four of the offerings so far from Carwyn's home state. It will be interesting to see if that changes as the Canvent continues. I will say that I think this is a wonderful example of the state of Australian craft beer; long may it continue to improve!

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