Saturday, 28 March 2020

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 14

Episode 14 - Show Notes 

What a difference a month makes! We recorded this episode in late February when the novel coronavirus COVID-19 was just starting to enter the consciousness. It's amazing how much our world has changed... In any case, I hope all of you out there are looking after yourselves & isolating appropriately.

If this is your first time listening to a Beer O'Clock Australia podcast, welcome! We change the segments up a little each month, however most months 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 reverted to form. We covered the news (pre COVID-19), we discussed a couple of cracking new Victorian beer releases as well as our impending trip to the Gold Coast (which will be covered on the next episode). We added 3 more beers to our ranking of lagers, it's quite long this month after some debates were entered, as well as our Desert Island 6-pack reappearing in the form of beers released in 2019. As usual we finish of with a bottle from my cellar. Hope you enjoy the episode!


 Show Notes

News Items
  • Stomping Ground Airport Opens
  • Hard Seltzer Festival
  • Melbourne Uni's Electronic Nose for Beer 
    • We coudln't find the link! Apologies for those looking for it!
  • Killer Sprocket Opening in Bayswater
  • Wolf of the Willows Opening in Mordialloc
  • Ratebeer Awards
What We're Drinking (14:34)
  • We're off to the Gold Coast!
  • Deeds Kapurkova
  • Hawkers Late to the Party
Ranking of Lagers (20:20)
  • This week we had to slot in Steinlager (New Zealand), Skopsko (North Macedonia) & Karlovacko (Croatia)
  • The New Rankings are as follows:
    1. Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic)
    2. Tennent's (Scotland)
    3. Carlsberg (Denmark)
    4. Quilmes (Argentina)
    5. Kingfisher (India)
    6. Gullmack (Norway)
    7. Sapporo (Japan)
    8. Birra Moretti (Italy)
    9. Corona (Mexico)
    10. Steinlager (New Zealand)
    11. Heineken (Netherlands)
    12. San Miguel (Philippines)
    13. Cantina (El Salvador)
    14. Tusker (Kenya)
    15. Skopsko (North Macedonia)
    16. Tiger (Singapore)
    17. Karlovacko (Croatia)
    18. Singha (Thailand)
    19. Red Stripe (Jamaica)
    20. Vonu (Fiji)
    21. Cusquena (Peru)
Desert Island 6-pack (46:18)
  • Best of 2019!
  • The cross overs this month were:
    •  Mr Banks The Drop #1, Quiet Deeds Survivor Type, 
  • Dylan's X individuals;
      • Cloudwater X White Hag Cairde Gan Teorainneacha, The Winston Black Rye IPA, Collective Arts Blackberry, Cherry, Lemon & Vanilla Sour, Black Arts Golden Ale with Mandarin 
  • Noz's X individuals;
      • Other Half X Monkish The La La, Blackman's Same Day IPA Super Hop, Lanikai Haleakala, Hawkers X Carwyn The Forgotten Casks
  • Honourable Mentions
    • Black Arts Biere de Coupage, Boatrocker DDH IPA, Mr Banks Once Upon a Time in Armadale, Mr Banks X Range Keep the Change, Quiet Deeds Slenderman, Littlebrew Raspberry Lambic, Alvarado Street So Delightful, Molly Rose Tretti Tre, Cheeky Pint Blueberry Raspberry Stout
Noz's Cellar (1:09:25)
  • Victory V12
    • Belgian Quadrupel
    • 12% ABV
    • Cellared for Ages (?5-7 Years)
    • Thumbs Up
There we have it guys, a little longer than we would normally like, but in these strange times it's probably not the worst thing to have a little more content than usual. Our podcast can now be found on Spotify, so if that's your preferred platform you're now able to switch over to that. As usual you can contact me at gus.norris7@gmail.com if you have any questions, thoughts or simply want to chat. Stay safe everyone & ....

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

Thursday, 26 March 2020

WILD LIFE BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Central Victoria
  • Tasting Room: 172 Maude Street, Shepparton
  • Food: No
  • Brewed At: Hawkers
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.wildlifebrewing.co/
Wild Life Brewing Co was an idea cooked up by three
mates from Shepparton, in Central Victoria. Rhys Porter joins the Thomson brothers, Jack & James trying to build a brand around core country values. They were brought together by their combined love of the outdoors & the love of their hometown.

Their beers are designed with this in mind. They're aware that their home market is dominated by the big players in the industry. They aren't coming out swinging with big Imperial IPA's or with sours, but with beers that they hope will not be too foreign to the locals. Their beers are also designed to be drunk the way country folk drink (ie. in bulk & for any occassion).

For the time being the trio are a contract operation with their beer being brewed at Hawkers, through a relationship with a fellow Sheppartonian (probably not what they're called, but we're going with it!) being a brewer there. They have hopes to have their own site early in 2021 (although COVID-19 may have something to say about that timeline) & begin brewing closer to their beloved Shepp.

That doesn't mean that Wild Life don't have a presence in Shepparton. They've got a small retail shop on Maude St, one of the main streets in Shepparton, It's not a bar, although you certainly can pull up a pew and have a beer, it's more of branding exercise. Introducing the people of Shepparton to three passionate locals, making beer for them.

Their first, & until very recently only, beer is the Aussie Session Ale. Ostensibly it's an XPA with a good whack of citrus hops. The malt body is more solid than I was expecting with a fair bit of biscuit. It's more challenging than I was expecting, however it drinks easily & I wouldn't be surprised if it converts a few Shepp drinkers to craft beer!

This is one I'd highly recommend checking out their website - I really haven't done justice to the vision these guys have for what they want to do. I think we'll be seeing these guys around the scene for a long time, they're seriously passionate & I wish them good luck!

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

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

FORREST BREWING COMPANY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Bellarine Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: 26 Grant Street, Forrest
  • Food: Gourmet Pub
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://forrestbrewing.com.au/
Forrest Brewing Company was founded in 2010 in the ex-timber town of the same name in the Otway Ranges. The timber industry has been a fading industry in Victoria, & particularly in the Otway's, since the 1960's. The town knew they had to do something to replace the timber industry, a feeling that was exacerbated by the closure of Forrest's last mill in 2003. The town's population fell to 170 from a peak of ~500 at the height of the timber industry.

The town set about attracting tourism dollars. They have invested in world class mountain bike trails, through the native forests that they used to log. The town needed some amenities for the tourists that were beginning to visit the town. In 2009 in stepped brother & sister team, Matt & Sharon Bradshaw. The duo purchased the towns old General Store that had fallen into disrepair and set about turning it into something...

When they bought the property they had no idea what they were going to do with it. They were simply backing that Forrest was a lovely place & that if they applied The Field of Dreams philosophy, it would work. After realizing that all the visitors were riding around of mountain bikes and might be thirsty they set about starting a brewery with the help of a federal government tourism grant.

The resulting venue is wonderful. It's now a bright blue, wooden building with plenty of outdoor seating for those mountain bikers finishing up their rides, or for those just keen to soak up the country air. Inside there are fridges filled with their offerings to take away, which have been in 500ml bottles longer than I recall any other beer being, as well as a window through to the brewery - a second hand 600L kit out of the 3 Degrees Bar & Bistro in QV.

At Forrest the menu changes regularly & tries to source as much of their produce locally as they can. The late breakfast I had on my visit there was superb & paired really well with their malty range of beers. On the day we visited they had 8 beers on tap with a mix of core & seasonal offerings.

I enjoyed their midstrength when I visited, because I was driving & had to visit a couple of other breweries that day. The thing that sets it apart from other mids is that it's an Irish Red Ale. It's certainly not the "reddest" you'll find, but it has good malt characters & pleasant balancing earthy hops at the backend.

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

Monday, 23 March 2020

COVID-19 OUTBREAK - SUPPORT LOCAL


This certainly isn't a post I ever thought I'd write on Beer O'Clock Australia. It's far heavier than the now seemingly insignificant topic that this blog generally covers.

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the world forever. The majority of us have already been, or will imminently be, confined to our homes for the foreseeable future whilst we contain the frighteningly rapid spread of this virus. Outbreaks of deadly viruses are dotted throughout human history; COVID-19 will certainly not be the worst nor will it be the last. The difference between this outbreak & previous outbreaks is that we have the knowledge, technology & ability to limit the damage this outbreak wreaks on human lives. The fact that a small proportion of our population are flouting government recommendations is incredibly frustrating & disappointing.

The majority of the population have got the message, however there are still too many of us not doing our best to protect fellow human lives. As many of you know I work in Pathology an industry that is directly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. I'm a bit fed up with those who aren't doing the right thing; if you don't work in essential services stay inside, stop abusing my staff for doing their job & get out of the way of those of us trying to limit the impact this virus is having on the community (whilst in no way trying to big note what I do - it's just my daily reality currently).

Over the past week I've received a few emails about The Year of Local posts, which have slowed for life & now subsequently work reasons. At the same time I've been thinking about the financial impact that our small brewers will be experiencing over the coming days, weeks & months. We are going to see more closures of small brewers, Malt Shed has already gone, make no mistakes about it. To get through, our brewers are going to need our support. This is a time to think about where your dollars go. Please support independent at this time. Dan Murphy's & CUB will survive without your dollars, the local bottle shop around the corner that supports dozens of local breweries may not.

So where am I going with this? Basically I've realised that now is as important a time as any to highlight local business that others may not be aware of. It's given me a renewed vigour to push on with The Year of Local project & hopefully complete it by the end of the year - it's a massive task but one that I've realized matters to people. If I can influence 1 person to buy some beer from a struggling producer in these times then it's worth my time.

These are challenging times guys. Please look after your health, both mental & physical. Resist the temptation to crack Imperial Stouts at lunchtime. Don't be afraid to sing out & ask for help if you need it; the beer community is a wonderful place & times like this bring out the best in this industry. Wash your hands, calm down, be kind to people & support local businesses wherever you can! We will all still be here after this outbreak if we take these measure now; you want your local brewery to be there too!

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

Thursday, 5 March 2020

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 13

Episode 13 - Show Notes 

G'day all! We'd hoped to get this episode up far sooner than this! After recording only a couple of days after the Hottest 100 results came out, we had a slightly frustrating further month of technical difficulties coupled with life getting in the way. This led to this episode being a touch later than we would have liked, however Dylan has done a great job making it sound listenable!

If this is your first time listening to a Beer O'Clock Australia podcast, welcome! We change the segments up a little each month, however most months 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've done something completely different, with the whole episode centred around the Hottest 100 Craft Beers. Both of us have strong views on the Australian beer popularity contest run every year in line with the Triple J Hottest 100 (Songs). It's a poll that divides the craft beer community every year, so we'd love to hear your opinions if they differ from ours or even if they don't (who doesn't love an echo chamber!).


 Show Notes

If you're listening to this somewhere with access to a screen, I'd highly recommend having some of these links open:

Hottest 100: https://www.gabsfestival.com/h100-2019-aus-main-list
100-200: https://www.gabsfestival.com/h100-2019-aus-next-list
Indie List: https://www.gabsfestival.com/h100-2019-aus-indie-list
2019 Beers: https://www.gabsfestival.com/h100-2019-aus-new-list

Our Predictions (1:40)

100-91 (8:05)

90-81 (10:50)

80-71 (14:40)

70-61 (17:28)

60-51 (20:48)

50-41 (23:33)

40-31 (27:16)

30-21 (30:38)

20-11 (33:38)

Top 10 (36:34)

Overall Thoughts/Trends (47:45)
There we have it guys, hopefully you enjoyed our analysis of the Hottest 100 beers of 2019. As discussed in the podcast it's a poll that gets unfairly derided from certain sections of the craft beer community. I think it has plenty of merit, as it provides a good snapshot of what people outside the tiny inner bubble are enjoying.

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

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

FALL & RISE BREWING

2019: The Year of Local


STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Brewed At: Cockies
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.fallandrisebrewing.com.au/
Petros Gygtopoulos & Yiannis Psimoulis are two young Greek guys, who recently emigrated to Australia & launched a brewing company. The duo met in Greece where Yiannis worked as a pro-brewer & Petros was a chemical engineer who dabbled in homebrewing. Both wanted to come & join the large Greek community in Melbourne, which is when the idea of starting their own brewing operation crystalized.

And so Fall & Rise Brewing was born, as a contract operation in late-2019 under the name Fallen Angel Brewing. Within months, I think it only lasted one batch, the name had changed and the bottles they launched with had been replaced with cans. The name of the brewing company comes from the mythology of their homeland.

“Once upon a time, Gods and Angels of Mount Olympus had only one goal; to rule over humans using their secret brew recipes. Though one of their angels was stepping in the way! Brewing with non-traditional brewing techniques he was a liability for the Gods! The Gods had no choice but to exile him. The Fallen Angel arrived furious onto earth and started sharing his unique recipes with humans! His only goal was to Rise once again!”

Their first beer is called The Rise, & it's a Hoppy Kolsch which is quite an interesting beer style to launch with. However upon my first sip I was sold. Kolsch tick, hoppy tick. It's actually quite bitter. There's a real whack of hops which give off floral aromas alongside tropical fruits. Really interesting beer - I'll be keeping an eye on these guys into the future.

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





Friday, 7 February 2020

CARWYN CANVENT 2019 (PART 5)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 5)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's 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".

After the success of last year there was only ever going to be one Advent Calendar I'd buy this year! Once again this year I'll be cataloging the contents of the Carwyn Canvent Advent Calendar. 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 21 - Modus Operandi Margie - I was pretty surprised to see the Modus Operandi offering was a sour. I guess it's good that they're branching out and trying new things, however I would've expected they would produce something more hop forward. Anyway a Lime Gose sounds like the perfect beer to crack after a hot summer's day.

My tasting notes for this weren't particularly good... However I do strongly recall there being plenty of salt, plenty of lime & some nice acidity. I don't particularly remember the day, although I guessing it was cooler as my tasting notes mostly reference how refreshing it would've been in the day befores heat...

Day 22 - New England Imperial Chai Brown Ale - At the complete opposite end of the spectrum for beers I'd like to drink on a hot December's night was the offering from New England Brewing Co, from Uralla in Central NSW. I'm normally not one to complain about seeing a Brown Ale, but an almost 8% adjuncted version isn't normally what I'm after in December...

Thankfully, the beer was really good! There was plenty of sweet malts, which blended quite nicely with the chai. Chai is one of those things I find can very easily be overpowering, although I think they got the level right in this beer. I know some people were disappointed to find out that this beer had previously been released in 2018, which isn't really the point of the Canvent.

Day 23 - Otherside Tropical Imperial Sour - Otherside are making some really cool stuff at the moment, so I was really pleased to see one of their distinctive cans come out of the Canvent box on Day 23. Their offering is billed as a Tropical Imperial Sour. Honestly I'm not sure where I sit on Imperial Sours, often I don't think the additional alcohol is doing anything for the flavour of the beer.

I really enjoyed the flavour of this beer. There was heaps of tropical fruit juice flavours, not dissimilar to a breakfast juice, which was then paired with some acidity. The carbonation was spritzy and at sub 4% ABV I would drink many of these. Unfortunately it clocks in at almost 7% & I don't understand what the additional ABV is doing to improve the beer.

Day 24 - Boatrocker B.A. Humbug - This years Canvent had been relatively light on for Christmas related puns. Boatrocker have delivered a beauty with their Barrel Aged English Strong Ale; B.A. Humbug. Boatrocker are one of the best exponents of barrel aged beers in the country so I went in with high expectations!

I'm sad to say those expectations weren't met; although that's probably because I expect so much from Boatrocker. The beer was nice, just a little unbalanced. I thought it was overspiced. particularly with cinnamon & all spice, whilst it was also a little hot. In more positive thoughts, I liked the earthy malt based as well as the vanilla you get from whiskey barrel aging. I wonder if this would be better with some further age on it...

It's only taken until early-February, but my Canvent wrap up that I aim to have up around Christmas is finally done & dusted. Overall I think this years Canvent was a little bit down on the very high standard they set last year. At this stage I think I would probably get another one next year, although the door is slightly ajar in case something truly truly exceptional comes along.

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

CARWYN CANVENT 2019 (PART 4)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 4)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's 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".

After the success of last year there was only ever going to be one Advent Calendar I'd buy this year! Once again this year I'll be cataloging the contents of the Carwyn Canvent Advent Calendar. 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 16 - Hop Nation Sweater - I was really excited to see a Red IPA make it's way into the Canvent pack, particularly after the somewhat lacklustre offerings in the last set of 5. I was also pleased to see that Hop Nation were the brewery charged with the responsibility of producing this beer. They're a tricky thing to balance with the malt sweetness almost as important as the hop characters, despite the IPA name.

Hop Nation knocked this one out of the park. The balance between sweet caramel malts and quite sticky, resinous hop characteristics (a real throwback to a few years ago before Hazy/New England IPA's became all the rage) was perfect! I would love this beer to become a year round offering!

Day 17 - Edge Burnt Toast - Edge really hit onto a winner in 2018 with their Toast, an all-Australian ingredients take on a traditional European Pilsner. Following that success with Burnt Toast, a dark multigrain lager, as their Canvent beer seemed, to me at least, like a stroke of genius! Maybe it's because I love Dark Lager...

It was a really interesting lager. I was impressed with the malt complexity & the full, yet not heavy, mouthfeel. Carbonation was on the low side & there was just enough hop bitterness to balance out the residual sweetness. The real star of the show however was this subtle smokiness that permeated the entirety of the drinking. It was in no way overpowering but it really did add nicely to the experience.

Day 18 - Bells Beach G&T Gose - There were actually two different Bells Beach beers in the Canvent this year. Due to some unexpected losses at packaging the G&T Gose came up a few cases short, meaning some people ended up with a different Gose that the Torquay brewery were planning on releasing shortly along with a voucher for a drink at the brewery.

I got the original G&T version, which I quite enjoyed. It ticked a lot of boxes on the execution of the idea front. There was Juniper, there was salt, it was tart & there was some citrus acidity. What I found slightly strange was a spice that I couldn't quite put my finger on - which was possibly nutmeg.

Day 19 - Burnley Cucumber Mint Lager - Regular readers would be aware of my love of Burnley Brewing & particularly their lagers. A Cucumber & Mint Lager, seems like an ambitious beer to brew but that is what the Canvent is for! It seemed to me like it had the potential to be really refreshing although I have had mixed results with cucumber beers in the past...

After my first sip I knew this beer would be seriously polarizing! There is heaps of cucumber on both the nose & the palate! This masks most of the grain flavour components. The real star in the beer though is the mint, which comes in and the back end and provides a really refreshing minty hit leaving you wanting more. I was quite disappointed I didn't have another when my can was empty.

Day 20 - Sailors Grave How to Make Gravy - There would have been a collective gasp around the nation when a beer named "How to Make Gravy"came out of the box on Day 20 rather than 21! For those this reference is lost on, it's a lyric from the iconic eponymous song by Australian artist Paul Kelly.

It was also one of the most controversial beers of the Canvent owing to one of it's ingredients; bone broth, which naturally upset some vegetarians/vegans. I thought the bone broth actually added an interesting umami character as well as some salinity. There's a good amount of caramel malts as well as some floral hops. It was ambitious & for me worked

It feels good to be back writing after a few pretty shit weeks with an infected wisdom tooth, not much sleep or drinking. I'm hoping to bust out these last two Canvent posts, finalize the Golden Pints & then get back into The Year of Local posts. I thought this set of 5 beers was much better than the previous set, with ambitious beers more in keeping with what I think the pack is supposed to be about.

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

Thursday, 16 January 2020

CARWYN CANVENT 2019 (PART 3)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 3)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's 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".

After the success of last year there was only ever going to be one Advent Calendar I'd buy this year! Once again this year I'll be cataloging the contents of the Carwyn Canvent Advent Calendar. 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 11 - Venom Hazy Christmas Snakebite - I really liked the idea behind Venom's beer in the Canvent; a play off the reason the brewery was named Venom & a traditional Australian pub drink. A snakebite is traditionally a 50:50 mix of lager & cider, however Venom's has used a truckload of raspberries in a Hazy IPA.

The idea may have been great, but the execution didn't quite work for me. There was clearly too distinct elements to the beer, with tart raspberry upfront before some tropical hop notes became more apparent. The flavours never quite meshed for me
Day 12 - Black Arts Santa's Little Helper - Black Arts received a very late call up to the Canvent pack after the sale of Green Beacon to Asahi. Carwyn has a strictly enforced independent only policy. This beer is quite similar to their Biere de Coupage; a blend of fresh Saison with some of their barrel aged stock.

And just like their Biere de Coupage, this beer is fantastic! There's this lovely bready malt base that combines with light Belgian funk. I pickup touches of wheat as well as plenty of stonefruit on the backend. If these were canned year round, I would drink them year round! Superb! This is a brewery that everyone should be keeping an eye on.

Day 13 - Tallboy & Moose Oat Deer - Tallboy & Moose is the closest brewery to Carwyn Cellars. It's a small brewpub, which have been releasing cans in the last few months. This is a blended Oatmeal Stout, which is a mix between barrel aged & un-aged stouts.

At 7.4% it's the biggest beer of the Canvent so far. As a mix of Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatwine & an Oatmeal Stout you'd expect the body to be luscious; Oat Deer doesn't disappoint. There is the vanilla you'd expect from the bourbon barrels as well as licorice & dark chocolate. It's a lovely beer, but probably not the most appropriate beer for an Australian Summer...

Day 14 - Helios French Oaked New World Pale - This is the first beer that I've ever had from Helios. They're a brewery based in the South Brisbane suburb of Yeerongpilly. I've heard little bits about them, although not much about the quality of the beer. I generally don't like the idea of adding Oak to a Pale Ale, but we'll see if this offering changes my mind on the idea...

I'm sad to report that it did not. It's just a Pale Ale, admittedly quite a nice one, that has some oak character. There's spicy citrus & pine hop aromas which was on top of a creamy cereal malt bill. It finishes with this vanilla character from the oak, but really it was oddly dry & I don't think it added to what otherwise could've been a nice Pale Ale.

Day 15 - Beerfarm Watermelon & Basil Sour - Beerfarm are a farm brewery from the Margaret River region, in the South West corner of Western Australia. Carwyn have been bringing their beers over for the last couple of years & I've been impressed with most of the things I've tried from them.

Their sour beers are the ones that have really caught my eye, with many utilising native ingredients. This sour uses locally grown basil & watermelon, two flavours that should work well together. The beer was nicely tart, with a touch of sweetness coming from the watermelon. There was just enough basil on the finish to justify its use in the name.

Only one of these 5 was truly exceptional. There were for the most part well executed beers, although some of the ideas behind them were a little flawed. On the most part the beers in this section of the Canvent were good without being exceptional. I was actually a little underwhelmed by these beers, which is one of the reasons I fell behind on this post...

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

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 12

Episode 12 - Show Notes 

A few technical issues led to us not quite making our goal of getting this episode out by the end of the year! We've got a few plans for the podcast in 2020, but we'll hold onto those for now until things are a little more concrete. One thing I can let you in on is that we've changed up the theme music for 2020 - any comments are always appreciated. A reminder; we now have a Facebook page where you can interact with us & get timelier answers than via email. We also, at the behest of Apple Podcasts, are now having to give our episodes names; so if you have any ideas on how we should name them we'd love to hear the feedback.

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 (roughly) 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 discuss we discuss a number of brewery takeovers, including the big one by Australian standards; Balter. We talk through some of the Victorian breweries we visited as part of The Year of Local & we attempt to slot beers from El Salvador, Thailand & Italy into our Ranking of Lagers. There was no Cellar segment this month as we were recording in the morning before a Tequilla, Beer & Cheese event. As usual we hope you enjoy the show!


 Show Notes

News Items (0:15)
  • Balter Sale Discussion
    • Investors, Independence, Hottest 100, CUB Portfolio
  • Ballast Point Sale to Kings & Convicts
  • Little World Beverages Buy New Belgium
  • Anderson Valley Becomes Craftier?

The Year of Local (18:20)

  • 3 Breweries To Visit (At time of recording)
    • Contract Breweries All Completed
    • I did manage to finish despite Alchemy opening!
  • Geelong & Surrounds Overview
  • The Worst Brewery of the Year?
  • Thunder Road & Temple
  • Yarra Valley

Ranking of Lagers (36:20)
  • This week we had to slot in Cantina (El Salvador), Singha (Thailand) & Birra Moretti (Italy)
  • The New Rankings are as follows:
    1. Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic)
    2. Tennent's (Scotland)
    3. Carlsberg (Denmark)
    4. Quilmes (Argentina)
    5. Kingfisher (India)
    6. Gullmack (Norway)
    7. Sapporo (Japan)
    8. Birra Moretti (Italy)
    9. Corona (Mexico)
    10. Heineken (Netherlands)
    11. San Miguel (Philippines)
    12. Cantina (El Salvador)
    13. Tusker (Kenya)
    14. Tiger (Singapore)
    15. Singha (Thailand)
    16. Red Stripe (Jamaica)
    17. Vonu (Fiji)
    18. Cusquena (Peru)
There we have it for another episode of the Beer O'Clock Australia Podcast. As usual you can hit me up at gus.norris7@gmail.com or at our new Facebook page, if you have any questions or feedback. We're hoping to get a couple of special episodes out to you in the next few months, so stay tuned on the podcast feed for those. In the mean time I'm going to keep plugging away on The Year of Local posts, if there are any breweries you'd like to see prioritised let me know & I'll see what I can do!

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

Monday, 13 January 2020

KOOINDA BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Northern Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: Heidelberg - Temporarily Closed
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://www.kooinda.com.au/
Kooinda was started by a group of mates from a suburban garage in Heidelberg. They had a home made 400L which utilised the family pool to help cool the beer on the way to the fermenter. After years struggling to get licensed, they finally entered the market in 2008 as one of about 25 Victorian brewers at the time & the first residentially licensed brewery in the country.

Within two years the brewery had outgrown it's humble suburban beginings & relocated to an industrial warehouse in Heidelberg West. As the brewery grew the founders dropped off one by one, moving on to other projects some within the beer industry & some outside. By 2015 only one of the original founders, head brewer Mick Opie, was left!

Unlike most craft brewers, Kooinda have gone through a number of ownership changes. In 2014 the brewery was acquired by a group headed by Brian Hardie, a former BrewDog Operations Manager. They had plans to reinvigorate the brand, however by September 2016 they too had sold to another group.

That group made significant changes; with a major overhaul of the packaging the most externally obvious. They also made the decision to outsource the production of their core offerings to BrewPack in NSW, to hopefully eliminate the consistency issues that had plagued them in recent years. This allowed the brewing team in Heidelberg to focus on new recipe development.

In March 2019 Kooinda announced that their Heidelberg taproom would be closed indefinitely, but that the wholesale business would continue unabated. I'm not sure that's true, I've found it very hard to find their beers & I haven't been able to get a response from them despite attempting to contact them via a number of channels.

It took me until late-November but I finally found one of their beers! The Milk Porter was always one of my favourites of theirs & one of the few beers that didn't suffer from the re-brand. It's still a lovely Porter, with chocolate & lactose up front before some bitter roasted coffee notes take over. It finishes slightly creamy, leaving you wanting more. There's far less around than their used to be, but it's still a lovely beer.

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

ODYSSEY CRAFT BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Bellarine Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Brewed At: Cockies
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttp://odysseycraftbrewing.com.au/
Odyssey Craft Brewing Co, originally Odyssey Brewery & Tavern, launched way back in 2012 in Mount Duneed. It's a suburb about 15 to 20 minute drive South of Geelong. The brand was started by Grant Byrne, a Geelong local, who had dreamed about having his own brewpub for the best part of 15 years before biting the bullet.

His venue was revolutionary for the region, only Forrest Brewing Co being open in the region & that being the best part of an hour away. He knew he was onto a winner when he had local visit, initially disappointed by the lack of Carlton Draught, but after some samples ended up trying their first Imperial Stout later that evening!

Grant operated a small 200L brewery in a room behind the bar at The Odyssey Brewery & Tavern from 2013. They peaked on a national front when their flagship Calypso Pale Ale placed 61st in 2015 Hottest 100 Beers, which resulted in them beginning to package their beer. After being readily available for the best part of 2 years, the beers began to disappear.

This came to a head in June 2018 when Odyssey offloaded the venue to The Hop Inn after 6 and a half years. You're still able to find their beer at The Hop Inn, which is a realatively open wooden pub with a beachside feel, befitting the area. There's plenty of surfboards around & they apparently serve a mean burger!

It was at The Hop Inn that I came across my Odyssey beer for this post; their Apocalypso Double IPA. It's very much an old-school IPA with plenty of caramel malt sweetness upfront, almost to the point of being cloying, before some hop bitterness cuts through along with plenty of pine. It's a nice beer, but is somewhat of a relic from a bygone era - possibly something behind their fading in the eyes of the public.

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

*I've received an update that Odyssey are currently on a short hiatus - with plans to relaunch soon.

Friday, 3 January 2020

BALE-WORKER PROJECT BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 14-16 Station St, Moorabbin
  • Food: UberEats/Local Restaurants
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.bale-worker.com.au/
Most Melbourne craft enthusiasts would be aware of the Grape & Grain bottleshop in Moorabbin. It has become something of an institution since opening in 2013. Far fewer would be aware that the little bottleshop & bar also houses the Bale-Worker Project Brewery. I was slightly surprised to find out that the brewery and bottle shop are seperate entities, although I was vindicated when I was advised that they had previously been a single entity & possibly the first licensed brewery, bar & bottleshop in the country.

Currently the brewery is owned by Matt Askeland & Neil McIntyre. Their brewing area is one of the smallest in the state (at just 16sqm), probably second only to Buffalo Brewery located in a pub in Boorhaman in Northern Victoria. The brewery backs onto the bars coolroom & has windows that you can view it through from the bar area.

It's a two man operation which, despite the space limitations, is capable of producing up to 600L of beer a day. Currently the duo are focused on improving efficiencies & cutting down their waste as much as possible. They don't package their beer for this reasons & only sell their beer through Grape & Grain. They have no intentions of increasing their size until they've perfected limiting their environmental footprint.

When I was in the bottle shop one afternoon I noticed their Galaxy Pale Ale was on tap & thought it's now or never! Knowing the guys down there I was pretty surprised with how bad the beer I was served was. It's one of very few beers in this Challenge that I didn't even finish... It was an oxidized mess! There was some passionfruit sneaking through underneath, but the beer wasn't salvageable.  Hopefully this was a one off issue & not a true indication of what they usually put out...

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

REDDOT BREWHOUSE

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Western Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.reddotbrewhouse.co/
Ernest Ng was heavily ensconced in the construction industry in Singapore before falling in love with beer whilst on holidays in South Africa after being offered a home brew by two soldiers protecting wild life at Kruger National Park. Ernest had never heard of homebrewing before, but was encourage by the soldiers that it was easy and pointed him in the direction of a home brew store in Johannesburg - which would eventually provide the inspiration for the name of his commercial brewery.

That was 1997. Ernest spent the next 10 years teaching himself how to brew, before working through the complexities of opening a brewery in Singapore. Red Dot Brewhouse was opened in a reconditioned 100 year old military barracks in 2007. The business expanded rapidly with a second 300 seat brewpub opening in Singapore & demand for their beers from all around South East Asia.

So why are we talking about a Singaporean brewery in The Year of Local? Well, in 2015 Ernest & his daughter Crystalla Huang, a professionally trained brew master, decided to open a production brewery to meet their demand both at home & throughout South East Asia. After investigating potential sites in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia & China - they settled on a site in Truganina on Melbourne's western fringe after lobbying from the Victorian State Government.

Despite this lobbying almost 4 and a half years on from the first beers leaving the Truganina site, the originally proposed beer garden & tap room hasn't eventuated due to council issues. Their brewery is one of the larger ones in Victoria at almost 2,000sq/m and annual capacity exceeding 2 million litres.

Sauvignon Ale is the only beer of theirs that I've ever come across, so I guess that's what we're reviewing. It's a really unique beer, which has been fermented with both beer & wine yeast. The resulting product has a slight vinous character accompanied by plenty of grapefruit & other citrus notes on top of what seems like a pretty solid Pale Ale.

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

THE YEAR OF LOCAL UPDATE

2019: The Year of Local

Hi Guys,

Quick little post to update you all with what's happening with The Year of Local. I've received a number of emails afer the brewery writeups seemed to drastically slow down in late-October/early-November. I think I answered this on the podcast, but never actually put it up in text form so apologies for that!

Basically I realized that I wasn't going to be able to complete the writing component of the project within the calendar year, which was probably obvious to anyone who's ever read this blog before this year - self imposed deadlines aren't really my thing... I instead focused my energies on ensuring that I managed to get to every brewery & try at least one beer from every brewing entity in Victoria.

I'm very pleased to report that I was successful in this mission; despite the best efforts of Alchemy Brewing Co who opened to the public for the first time on December 27th! As mentioned in the previous post, by my count this makes 2019 tied for the most brewery openings with 2016. My final count at the end of 2019 is 176 brewing entities currently operating in Victoria.

Over the next few months I intend to try and knock off the remaining posts, before indexing it to make it far more user friendly. I have a few plans for the completed project so stay tuned... I will also be endeavouring to keep on top of new brewery openings & keep the database as up to date as possible. Before I go here I'd like to shout out to everyone who helped me with adding new breweries to the database, as well as all those who visited breweries with me in 2019. Special thanks is due to my darling Lizzie, Dylan, Dave & Roz without whom I literally couldn't have completed this project!

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