Monday, June 28, 2010

Winter Warmer Weekend @ Woodend

Happy Monday,

got back yesterday from a day out in the sticks (but only a hour on the train) of Woodend, having enjoyed tasting all the beers available at the Holgate brewhouse 100 mtrs from the train station. Mick and I went into the brewhouse as soon as it opened and found a good position where the sun was coming in, but also close to the bar.
We started with the taster paddle, with 8 of their beers on tap. While we just wanted to get to the choc porter, we tried to go through them in order (ok, so we both failed to do that). anyway, here is what i can recall from the tasting.
1) Pilsner (4.5%): very standard lager with just enough going on in taste to keep you interested. when going back to this after a few others, just tasted like carbonated water. overall, summer chugging beer.
2) Mt Macedon Ale (4.5%) - grassy hops from the States give this a bit more nose and aftertaste which wasn't overpowering but a bit more than i would like.
3) The Mild One (3.5%) - in the same style as Little creatures Roger's and Grand Ridge's Moonlight with a malty nose and taste. really basic beer but good for a winter light beer, instead of having to have a lager style light beer.
4) Brick Kiln Road Wheat beer (5%) - this one grew on me over the tasting. had just a touch of the classic bubblegum yeast flavour i have become accustomed to with some european beers, which i was able to enjoy. However, mick found this beer to have a bit of a dishwasher/chemical flavour that i didn't get.
5) ESB (5%) - if i was the be unbiased and choose the best structured beer of the range, this would be it. good blend of hops and malt, but it was the creamy texture that won us both over too. Mick got sentimental for English bitters with this one.
6) UXB 'unexploded bomb' (6%) - similar to the previous but the malt and hops were not blended so well, so got a sugary malt foretaste but with a hop aftertaste. while not offensive, in this stable range of beers came off poor in comparison.
7) Hopinator (7%) - very similar to the ESB, just raising the bar in terms of hops and malt, but still keeping the creamy texture. preferred the milder taste of the ESB over this one, but very little between them in terms of a well crafter beer.
8) Temptress (6%) - ok, the one we had been waiting (or not waiting) for. having had this on tap once before at the Royston, realised that unlike the Rogue's Choc Stout, having this out of the keg doesn't improve the taste or texture much. still, to have a dark beer that bottles this well is a good feat, but still good to have on tap. the dark choc overwhelms the tastebuds while the malt character of their beers in general gives it a good structure to allow the choc to come through. ok, i'll stop before i start on this beer again. this must be the 3rd time i have written about it on this blog.
after sampling the paddle we stepped up things with two european styled beers they also produce.
9) Big Reg Red Lager (5%) - comes off more as an ale than a lager with a full body and malty character. i would have been happy to sip this on a winter day with the caramel flavour, but then we had a blockbuster that it wasn't able to overcome...
10) Double Trouble (8%) - having getting into belgium beers at the moment, i was surprised to see an aussie brewer giving this a go, and doing pretty well at it. a full malty taste with some smatterings of spirit-ish flavour as the aclochol takes over the mouth from the malty start. great beer for the winter, and reminded Mick of the scotch ales that Grand Ridge do.
11) Tempress - ok, so we finished with this one before getting on the train back to melbourne. what can we say, just a good beer.
so, everyone knows what my fav is, but the double trouble, mild one and reg were also personal standouts. still, as i said, if i was being objective, the ESB is a great beer, reminds me a bit like the Hawthorn Pale Ale, which personally i don't keep running back to, but just a good beer in its own right. i would recommend if you want to try the 3 hop beers, do it on tap to make sure you get the creamy texture as it probably won't come off as well in the bottle. the rest seem to be fine out of the bottle, but was happy to hear a few places in melbourne having it available on tap (Royston, Terminus [Clifton Hill], Sherlock Holmes).
Thanks for the suggestion Mick, and to Holgate for putting the effort into their beers and into the brewhouse to serve them in the best way possible.



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Beef Latest Br(ew)dings

Well, winter is a good time for drinking for me as i get to savour my chewy ales. I went to slowbeer the other day to pick up a few more and had a couple last night while watching the wallabies lackluster win over ireland at Joel's place (yay foxtel). out of the latest mountain goat sweet stout (rare breed surefoot), a oak aged robust porter and a new zealand Clydesdale stout, I have to say i probably enjoyed the New Zealand one the most (bad work Oz!). i was quite basic, but inoffensive and went down very easy. the mountain goat had some roasted notes on the back palate but had this over-riding cleaning fluid mid palate flavour that lost it for me. not only that but it could have then ruined the robust porter by making it taste sweeter than normal. that is weird, the so called sweet stout, making the oak aged porter taste sweeter?
Still, at slowbeer i also found a gluten free belgium beer so got one for my cus Kristy to try out. It was a the day Juilia Gillard became our first female prime minister, and luckily Kristy had just done a trip to a gluten free store and found the O'brien's brown ale. we also had an O'brien's lager with them. I have to say i was surprised to see how dark the brown ale was and how much of a malt-ish flavour actually came from it. i was left wondering what they did to give it that. of course the lager wasn't good, so that came last, for the fact that the brown ale tasted like a brown ale, that came first, but where the brown ale lacked a little for me, the Glutener Pilsner came through. it was quite smooth in texture and had a nice roundness in flavour. i guess using hops to mask the flavours that come through in a gluten free beer steadies the taste. If i could combine the flavours of the brown ale with the structure of the pilsner, it would be a great beer. still, at least it was good to find some decent gluten free beers on the market.
So, looking forward, today Mick and I are going for a winter warmer weekend jaunt out to Woodend to get some of Holgate's great ales into us, then the coming week will have bottles of the latest Moo Brew vintage stout arriving at my door (YES!!!). I also hope to get together with Stass to open another raspberry stout and even try a couple more belgian beers i got while i was at slowbeer (another Sint Bernardus and also my first lambic beer to get may taste buds rocking). keep an eye out for more winter beer adventures, and please give us any good winter beers recommendations for us to try out.



Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sint Bernardus Tripel (8%)

So, onto my second Sint Bernardus beer, and looking forward to trying a style of beer i have become fond of early in my belgium beer appreciation. it pours a slightly cloudy orange with a nice foamy head. can definitely smell citrus on first whiff with the tell-tale spice that seems to be commonly present in this style of beer. the alcohol is quite present in the flavour but letting it warm on the tongue the caramel flavour with the citrus does come through. it leaves the mouth slightly dry but there is a lingering of the alcohol and citrus which isn't displeasing. the alcohol does sting a little as there is not a heavier flavour to mask it, and like the Abt 12, can't help think a slightly less alcoholic version may allow more complex flavouring to come through. the taste pattern seems to follow as spice, alcohol, warming into caramel and then citrus before running down the throat. i did leave this beer out for a bit before opening, so the temp is pretty close to right at 8 degrees. maybe this is because this is just after having already had the malt runner, but their is a warmth in this beer that has made it an appealing autumn style beer. easy drinking enough and not too heavy on the stomach, but rich and warming to take the edge off cooler weather.
I have a feeling the Sint Bernardus do a fairly standard job at their beers. luckily enough the standard of beers in belgium seem to be quite high through competition that many of them have a blockbuster quality. quite strong in flavour just to make you take notice and appreciate the simple act of putting beer-alcohol in your system. there is a bit of a deeper flavour in this particular beer that i think correlates with the slightly darker look of the beer, and helps mix in the complexity of flavours, almost like the foundation of a building, where the stronger the base/footings, the more you can build on top of it. yes...i think i do like this style of beer. i probabaly tend to talk more shit like this when i just want to keep talking about a beer. anyway, for those that like a leffe triple, i think you will also find this appealing. and while it isn't as caramel as the leffe karmeliet, it is still very good. it is funny, the only tripel that i think has let me down slightly is the Westmalle, which is an authorised trappist brewery. i hope this isn't a sign that the imitators of trappist beers tend to do a better job than the trappist brewers themselves.
time will tell.



James Squire Malt Runner (5.2%)

So, another Squire limited release beer is on the shelves, and having seen it shown in the paper a couple of weeks back, finally been able to fine it for a tasting. it pours quite a chocolate brown colour with little head. it actually smells a bit like the choc porter stass and i have made, but just a bit milder. there is a definitely a chocolate flavour in the beer which for me is pleasing. there is a carbonation tingle on the tongue but apart from that the chocolate malt dominates. i think it is the alkaline smell and taste long with the choc that reminds me of our try at this sort of style of beer in the choc porter. am not getting much in the so called cherry or caramel that is suppose to be in this beer, but there is a heightened aftertaste which i am not able to put my finger on yet. Will have to let it warm to see if i can discern the 5 malts and cherry that are in it. the body seems to be a bit thin for this sort of beer, but it is smooth, and good to see there seems to be no real taste of hops in it. something i have been searching for myself. the fruit and malt combination is something i have enjoyed with the raspberry stout we recently made.
The chocolate taste is quite dominant in the beer, but i wouldn't call it rich or bold after the many other choc beers i have tried in my time. but it is good to see this style of beer getting a commercial run in australia, even if Holgate's Choc Porter better. I am not sure if there is a carbonation style that works better with stouts and ales to allow for a more thicker and chewier beer, but the carbonation here is taking away from getting more flavour and body from the beer. i reckon this would be a better beer on tap (duh, i hear you say). while i equate winter warmer beers as Moon/Supershine or Brewdog's Tokyo, the choc malt does give it something like that characteristic for people that don't normally drink big malt beers.
as it warms i am getting something of the lighter malts in the beer, and it is smoothing out a bit better in mouthfeel as well, so maybe 8-10 degrees is probably about right for it. the cherry sweetness has also come through on the tip of the tongue and possibly as it is artificial, wondering if maybe that was the alkaline flavour i could taste before. the cherry and choc come off well in the aroma. The carbonation has reduced to get a fuller flavour overall, and allow the beer to sit on the tongue better for chewing. it does leave the tongue a little dusty in aftertaste, but without hops to cleanse this is understandable, but doesn't take away from the beer overall as allows the sweetness to linger slightly. Still, the aftertaste is different enough from the fore and mid palate flavours to make you easily go back for more. I can't get much alcohol flavour from it, and with the beery carbonation diminished it could even be suitable for the ladies to try. however, it does sit a little heavier in the stomach, so the girls may not appreciate that.
Still, another Squire success in bringing something a little different to the aussie beer drinkers palate, which is always appeciated by people like me. go and try it out for yourselves, and give me your thoughts. am sure they will be different from mine.


- Beefy

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sint Bernardus Abt 12 (10%)

After giving blood yesterday and going over to my cus's for dinner with her and friend Immy, I heard we were going to be having a choc caramel self saucing pudding, so thought i needed to bring a blockbuster beer with me to try and top it. unfortunately, or fortunately, the pudding was amazing, so it overshadowed the beer. however, I will try to keep to the beer.
I had found out yesterday this brewer came about when they were trying to mimic some of the Westvleteren beers, a trappist brewery also in Belgium. This was interesting as it seems to be quite hard to find the Westvleteren beers (for reasons well know by trappist drinkers... even at an upcoming tasting of trappist beers i will be attending at the belgium beer cafe in southbank, the only brewer that will not be represented will be the West... at least they will have a beer at the belgium beer weekend festival i will be attending within 24 hours of arriving in Belgium in Sept).
So to the strongest beer in the Sint Bernardus range, it came out quite frothy with a nice dark body, but the fine froth dissipated quickly. there is definitely that 'belgium' flavour that is hard to describe, apart from bubblegum, but with the dark malt that reminded me of another dark beer i had at the recent belgian beer tasting i had at Purvis. however, by the mid palate, the alcohol takes over. it is not stinging, but does tingle on the tongue, before it warms in the mouth, however it does not linger on the tongue in aftertaste which is good. while i am still getting over a 55km walk i did at Wilson's Prom on the long weekend, i still managed to smell the alcohol. after tasting this beer, i think i would like to try a lighter alcohol version, to blend the beer more to allow more malt flavour through and diminish the alcohol. i can sense the dark malt as a characteristic that structures the beer, but not so much in the actual flavour.

Anyway, am sure i will learn to appreciate these beers a lot more and like them more personally than i do right now, and looking forward to that adventure. still, for now still have the Sint Bernardus Triple to try, so will hopefully do that once i am over my cold.

In other beer news, I have booked my brewery tours of cascade and moo brew for when i am in Hobart with my brother and Joel in August. I have also ordered 6 moo brew vintage stouts, so a taste test with the previous years batch will also happen soon. Stass, get your taste buds ready...
Also, Stass and i will open another bottle of the raspberry stout. if we survive i look forward to letting you know if they continue to taste ok.



Monday, June 7, 2010

Raspberry Stout Opening.... and some sillyness

Hi All,

It's been a while since I've (Stass) posted anything on Beerdakari, so I apologies for my slackness.  Luckily I have a very enthusiastic partner in beer (Beef) whose been keeping the posts coming thick and fast!

We recently opened our most recent batch of our Raspberry Stout experiment.  The results were very encouraging and some what explosive.  We thought that we'd make a video for you so you can see us enjoying the beer journeys.

Let us know what you think.

- Stass

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Local: another beer journey

So, after the few beers i had yesterday, did the journey down to The Local to catch up with my mate Rick and see if the winter beer menu was up yet. Thanks to Rick for coming along, giving me his own thoughts on the beer, and coping with my continual interruptions in our conversation with notes on the beers.
1) Leffe Brune (6.5%) - ok, so much for a starter. still, is a classic belgium beer that is rich with a dark bubblegum sort of flavour that almost masks the malt. there is a slight alcohol sting and the texture is a little watery.
2) Hofbrau Munich Helles (5.1%) - yep, a bit of a step back from the Brune, but did find the flavours in this german beer well blended. there was a slight sulphur smell but with a sweet midpalate and dry hop flavour that continued through to the aftertaste, but did not take away from the beer.
3) Brewboys Maiden Ale (4.9%) - has quite a fruity smell and seems to be structured on a little creatures pale ale (good call Stroudy), but also picked up a pine/citrus flavour in it.
4) 5IBC Trainspotting Ale (6%) - a bit of a disappointment. a red coloured, malty sulphur sort of smell with a bit of an alkaline taste that kills what caramel malt sweetness could be in this beer. ends up being a bit of a nothing beer that doesn't know what it is.
5) True South Aged Porter (5%) - from bad to worse. if it has been aged, maybe it was in a steel vat as dark malt fully overpowered by hoppy smell, and a toilet cleaner taste rounded with metallic.
6) James Squire Porter (5%) - australia redeems itself slightly with the classic, with a stronger malt smell and more resolute beer overall. there is a slight dry roasted aftertaste and comes off a bit watery.
7) Maredsous 8 (Brune) - so we come full circle and back to a brune. has a dark red ale flavour with big alcohol burst on mid to late palate. it was smooth with well blended flavours, but still not much texture. at least we were able to end on a decent note, even if the girls we were speaking to didn't appreciate beer that much, saying this particular beer was disgusting. Thanks to Joel for recommending this beer to me a while ago, I finally found it mate. You would have had the 6, which is the Blonde. also, the 'd' in Maredsous is silent (thank you beer nerd staffer at the Local)

In latest news, have found the Belgian Beer Cafe is doing a Trappist beer tasting on 10th July. Stay tuned, if anyone tunes in at all.

- Beefy

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grand Ridge Tastings #2

Seeing today is great drinking weather thought it appropriate to finish off the Grand Ridge beers my mate Joel got for me 6 months ago. seeing it is winter, am into the ales, and drinking from my bed (yep, i'm one of them cultured drinkers). sorry, but am drinking straight from the bottle.

Yarra Valley Gold (4.9%) - with the caramel tasting malts in these beers, they all seem to enjoy to be drunk at a higher temp. however, there are some definite hops going on, and a type/amount i don't really appreciate. as you have probably noticed by now, anymore than a teaspoon of flavoursome hops tends to push me past my tolerance, and whatever hops they are using is flavoursome in the same way dog turds add character to a lawn. they kick in way too early and while they don't sit long after swallowing, don't allow me to get much more from the beer. the texture is quite good though, which helps, but in this weather that is a bit of a basic i need to enjoy beer. i can get malt on the nose and on the tip of the tongue, and as it warms, more if it is able to come through taste, but this dry springing hop taste just keeps overpowering it leaving me unsatisfied at the end of each mouthful. I just want to drink it and not let it warm so it can be over with. not my best response to a beer. I have just put the other two beers between my legs and under the doona to help warm up so hopefully i have a better response to them. ok ok, i am being pretty snobby, but winter is my time for beer appreciation, and days like this are perfect for drinking, so want a beer to be a certain something. still, can say this is better than the VB i had before dinner last night (hey, free beer is free beer). yes, i guess it is a bit of a contradiction that i drink VB but bag out this beer, but we all have our contradictions in life, and beer is one that helps me see it in myself.

Anyway, onto the next beer...

Black and Tan - supposed to be a combination of gippsland gold and hatlifter stout (the beer after this). it sort of frothed up when i opened it so had to take a quick gulp so i didn't get it all over my bed. definitely more roasted malt in this one, but see still sense the separation of beers in this. there is definitely too much carbonation in this individual beer, so is not helping me taste it. while i can sense the separation between the two types of beer, i do have to say it is quite well blended, though on a personal note, do have to say i don't appreciate it. why water down a stout? it doesn't make any sense to someone like me. The over-carbonation is at least allowing me to sound like Barney of The Simpson's (well, not the voice, but at least the burping). There is still a decent texture, but there is a bit of smoke and coffee from the stout, which may be reason for the blend, to appease the average aussie drinking. this will hopefully become more apparent when i have the hatlifter on its own. i guess the blending lends itself to more of a brown/red ale, but can clearly separate the caramel malt in the gippsland with the more heavily roasted malt of the stout. at least the hops are not pronounced. the roasted malt does leave the tongue a but dry, but this is compensated by the smooth texture so it slides down without the dryness fully attacking the tongue. this may be where the slight smokey aftertaste is coming from.

Hatlifter Stout - can smell some choc in this beer combined with the caramel malt for a heightened sweet smell which do enjoy. having let the beer warm it is at a good temperature to fully get the stout flavours, and surprise, surprise, i am enjoying the taste. most of the flavour is compressed onto the front of the tongue, with the smooth texture running throughout to leave with the slighty coffee dryness i had from the previous beer. still, there is a consistency that goes with this style of beer through that. it is not as overbearing as i thought it would be seeing i just had the watered down version from the pervious beer. i am still picking up the caramel in taste as well, but again only on the front palate, but before the choc, smokey coffee comes along. this compression of flavours almost make it seem more delicate than most aussie stouts, which can be a bit too coffee and dry, but the texture really does fit well with this style of beer. not as complex as a moo brew vintage stout, but still one of the better ones coming from australia. as it warms further the caramel becomes more present. this caramel os something i have enjoyed over the whole range, and something i see as something that has drawn me to the scotch ales they do. still, there is a small, but certain something that leave the mouth not fully right with these beers. maybe again it is a slight dry hop/roast aftertaste. i actually would have thought there was a slight chemical taste, but that can't be right with these non chemical/preservative beers. somehow they don't leave the mouth very satisfactorily, in a way cleansing the tongue bit is a way stripping it as well. yes, i am nit-picking and being a snobby bastard, but we should all be use to that by now.

As the rain comes down harder and the alcohol starts to affect me more, i can at least say, i have ended this journey on the right beer. now i have an hour or so before i head to the Local to meet up with my mate Rick and have a few more. stay tuned.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Barrel aged beer tasting @ Slowbeer

G'day beer drinkers,

I am coming down from the first beer tasting organised by Slowbeer, and can i say, didn't they ever start on the good foot with this theme. some surprising tastes overall. Thanks to my brother Mick for joining me on this journey.
As previously, my notes are as drunk (or tasted as the case may be).
1) Mikkeller Weinbrand Barrel Aged Red Ale (10%) - It had a fine frothy head that held throughout the tasting with the dark caramel colour, which corresponded into smell and flavour. there was an expected alcohol sting but was not harsh or lasting, and definite brandy tones as well. the head showed a good texture, but contrasted to the body which was slightly watery. taste spectrum went from malt to alcohol.
2) Southern Tier Cuvee 2 (american oak) (11%) - my first reaction was of a coconut smell, which is suppose to be present from the american oak. this then corresponded to a sweeter taste with the malt in the beer. there was also a smell of barelywine. there was no head with this beer. The other surprise with this beer was a mellow aftertaste once the malt and alcohol went across the tongue, making it quite easy-drinking for the style.
3) Holgate Beelzebub's Jewel's (12.5%) - another surprise in smell, this time with fruit punch with a sweet flavour. taste of malt mixed with fruit/berries which masks the alcohol quite well, unless the beer is left to warm on the tongue, which also delivers a dryness in aftertaste, probably from the Pinot Noir barrel it was in. still, i found there was little texture to speak of from the beer.
4) Murray's Anniversary Ale 4 (10%) - this was a pretty straight forward barelywine with the caramel start leading to an alcohol burn, which lingered in aftertaste. frothy with big bubbled head.
5) Bridge Road Anniversary Oak Aged Imperial Porter (8%) - the only one i had actually tasted before. dark brown colour with a brown head. dark malt and a coffee smell. smooth flavour with slight hop/alcohol midpalate and roasted malt/coffee finish. malt definitely roasted til they need an industrial cleaner to scrap it out for use. still, just has a nice pleasant mellow feel to it overall.
6) Brewdog Paradox Springbank Stout (10%) - whiskey smell and flavour overpowers anything else in this beer. dark brown beer with no head, has some malt characteristics of a stout, but no stout texture, and a spirit aftertaste that lingers.
7) Brewdog Tokyo (18.5%) - Officially the highest alcohol beer i have ever tasted, but had a gut feeling this was going to be a beer i enjoy when coming to the beer tasting. and wasn't my gut confirmed! This imperial Stout is aged on french oak chips to really mellow it out, and found myself comparing it to the bridge road previously drunk. well blended malt with alcohol slowly warming through the mouth, which had me thinking of Grand Ridge's Moonshine or Supershine. very well balanced beer which will definitely become a winter favourite. after the previous beers, this one went straight to my head...woohoo.
8) Nogne O God Jul Islay Edition (8.2% - Islay is supposed to be a whiskey of peaty and smoky characteristics, and my word has it ever come into this beer. there is almost a Rauchbier smoked ham characteristic in this beer, but yet the aging has help it blend and balance this out. had a good smooth texture, but for the smoked ham/whiskey flavours am happy we had this last.

So, overall, favourites from the night were Tokyo, Cuvee 2. Of course enjoyed the Bridge Road, but also liked the Mikkeller as well. least impressive was the Springbank. So brewdog got best and worst on ground, but definitely a good experience and looking forward to what slowbeer try for subsequent tastings.

- Beefy

PS: who can go past a happy monk? not me, as my brother happily said thanks for the invite to the night by buying me two belgium abbey ales from St Bernardus. I went for the trusty Tripel and the Abt 12. yep, going to enjoy getting drunk on two beers with a total cost less than $15. love your prices Slowbeer, and will be back for a $15 Brewdog Tokyo very soon.