Saturday, July 31, 2010

Belgium Beer Taster

Just put on a new chocolate-kind-of beer with Stass and after setting it up decided it would be a good idea to try out a couple of the belgium beers i have, seeing I won't have a chance to try them with him before i head off in a month.
1) Lindemans Faro Lambic (4.2%), there was a reason why this type of beer seem to intrigue me more than others when doing research on belgium beers. without even trying it, I had already started highlighting all the places i could get this style from, and especially that on tap, which now after tasting it, will be more industrious in finding. I have to be honest here and say it reminds me of the best wine i have ever had (ok, i shouldn't talk wine on a beer blog), but the sherbert sweetness with a cleansing aftertaste and light body all lead me to memories of a J. J. Prum Riesling i had with my brother some months ago. There was a slight sourness from the brewing process at the back of the tongue, not quite so much in the mouthfeel as the wine, but the closest thing i have come to that taste of that spectacular wine, and it's in a beer!!!!!! amazing. definitely one i can see me having a session on (if only i could afford to drink a beer more than once in belgium). So, anyone that has liked a J.J. Prum, try this beer, and vice versa, and anyone who just wants something completely different (no, this isn't a monty python sketch), give this a go. you will not be disappointed.

2) Ichtegem's Grand Cru (6.5%) - Ok, now to the disappointment. While again with the wine connection, this had what Stass described as a light merlot, with a tangy smell, this is a beer with a bit of sourness and alcohol, which, personally i found not to lead me to like it much. Luckily it is matured in oak barrels to mellow it out, as the mid palate spiked with sourness and then alcohol, with a weird aftertaste which wasn't all that unpleasant as straight alcohol afterburn, but did not leave me satisfied. i could get a light sweetness on the tip of the tongue as it is a red ale, but then it was overpowered quite strongly on the midpalate. I would almost say it was too complex a beer, but think it is just the spiking of flavours. The texture was a bit water, but definitely not one to have a session on.

So, a nice cross section of belgium beers in two beers, and a good chance for Stass and I to look forward to our overseas travels with. I will be buying up on the Faro and taking a few to my brother, hopefully for us to taste it against the Prum. a beer and wine taste off? For Sure!!!!



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Raspberry Stout Opening - A Montage


Good work Stass! Hmmm, good happy song. I could see people dancing to it...

Hey, I uploaded it myself. I'm not a complete tech numpty!


BBQ Beer Journey

Happy Hangover (ok, it wasn't that bad), but if we had tried all the beers shown in the adjacent pic, we may have been in some trouble (and possibly in hospital).
So the morning after the night before, I did manage to get a few notes down on the new beers we tried last night. Thanks to everyone at Stewart's housewarming to welcome back the Beef Stew Palace, and for adding any comments to me while we were drinking.

Stass and I actually started drinking early by opening 4 more of our explosive raspberry stouts, and our montage of openings is coming along well (good one stass. psst, put it up here mate). still, the beer itself is not tasting as good as it did. the Guinness-esque texture is gone, as it seems the raspberry has watered down the texture. pretty disappointing after have such a good start to drinking them. ah well, alcohol is alcohol.

Anyway, while the night was filled with drinking out malt and choc home brews, a guinness here and there, and finishing with a lovely supershine, the beers we tried for the first time are below.

1) Red Hill Imperial Stout (8.1%) - dark brown with a smell of coffee/roasted malt/choc. there is a slight over carbonation on the tongue, but then the coffee comes through. normally i don't appreciate coffee taste in beer, but it was quite inoffensive without a smokey finish or bitter tang. it mixed well with choc flavouring and had a decent texture. as it moves through the palate, the alcohol warms on the tongue but there is a nice clean finish with slight choc which was great. Everyone seemed to agree this was a good beer. I quite liked the balance of everything going on in it. would like to try this on tap. For once i agree with the description of the beer that is on the label!!!!

2) Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Brew (7%) - I have had this one before, but my taste buds were shot by the time i got to it, so was good to get this more Stew as he likes a good alcoholic ginger ale, and give me a chance to try it again with a fresher palate. it took a while for the smell of ginger to come through, but did have a slight caramel smell (from the malt) which helps compliment and build to the ginger smell and flavour. therefore, the ginger is not too intense overall and the flavour doesn't 'spike' on your tongue. it also came with a good texture, which Xani (our celebrity drinker for the night) described as 'syrupy' to me.

3) Pardubicky Porter (8%) - This Czech Republic Porter was a beer i really wanted to try, to see if czech is just good at pils and not so much on the darker styles of beer. There is a choc and slight alc smell, and whereas the choc is slight when it comes to flavour, the alcohol warms on the tongue and becomes more prominent over subsequent mouthfuls. I didn't get this much, but Stass and Joel (and I think Xani as well) did get dark fruit flavour and smell.

4) Rochefort 10 (11.3%) - the blockbuster on the night, and one i really wanted to try after the trappist beer tasting from last week where we had the 8. my god, it had the same orgasmic inducing smell the 8 had, but unlike the 8, the flavour stood out more to be more like the smell, which was exactly what i wanted to get from it. This has become my favourite trappist beer so far. by this time we had this beer, tipsiness was coming on, so some of my notes read as "One of the best smelling beers I have ever had. warming alcohol gets me mellow. I like it!!! my fave trappist". This one is going on the beer wall of 'noteworthy' beers.

5) Hunter Chocolate Porter (5.4%) - I was a little dubious of this one because it comes from my home area of NSW, which is known for wines, and the only well known brewery is Bluetongue (owned by Coke Cola. enough said). However, it had won a gold medal in stouts at the latest Australian International Beer Awards, so thought it was worth a go. Luckily we had chocolate cupcakes when we got to having the beer, so they complimented it well. However, the beer itself is not much better than our own attempt at a chocolate porter, with only a bit less cocoa to diminish the 'dusty' flavour and texture in ours. Joel and Stass did sense some smokiness from it as well that i didn't taste. However, I was being harassed by 'someone' with a camera while i was trying to taste it, so that may have diverted my attention. either way, it was a disappointing experience drinking this beer.

So, while the last beer did put a bit of a dampener, we managed to pull the journey out of the fire and finish on a Supershine that did just as I wanted, got me ready for Twister. Still, I lost the game to Xani, who i may remind was drinking pineapple juice all night...

Anyway, a great night and an interesting beer journey. Thanks to all that came on it with me. And seeing we didn't get through all in the photo, there will be another beer journey to go on soon. keep an eye out for belgium (lambic focused) beer tasting coming soon!



Friday, July 16, 2010

Cooking with Beer: Experiment 2 - Beef and Guinness Pie

About bloody time I tried to make one of these myself.



Monday, July 12, 2010

Ice Cream and Choc Beer

Ok, this may not sound like the best idea, but after getting inspired by this guy (, i thought i would try this with our double sedimenty choc porter.

So, this is what it looked like. the carbonation of the beer seems to really break up the ice cream and gave it a cream choc look, which i actually liked. also because the ice cream is broken up by carbonation, there is a creamy smell that combines well with the chocolate of the beer, again making it appetising.

When it came to tasting it, the combination of cream and choc did come across which was really interesting. However, when doing this, your really need a rich flavour in the beer, as shown in the youtube demonstration that inspired us. the problem is that the sediment of the beer really took away from the taste and so the chemical/alkaline became too much to actually enjoy it overall. I found I needed to find any small clumps of ice cream i could just to have the creaminess overcome the bad flavours in the beer. But i do have to say that i can really see the potential in this, adding a creaminess to a rich dark choc beer really adds a new dimension of appreciation, and so can imagine why this guys was orgasming when trying it with the Brooklyn beer. Luckily i know of a few good choc beers that would go great with this technique, so i am really looking forward to trying this out with them.

well, a worthy experiment with great potential. you just have to keep trying this sort of stuff to find new ways to appreciating beer.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trappist beer tasting @ Belgian Beer Cafe

Well, I am on the 'come down' from going to this event last night. I did end up getting a bit tipsy i must say and rattling on about beer to anyone that would listen. Very poor form for me and unlike me at all (hmmm). still, as an introduction to trappist beers, i have to say it was great. Our host Charles (who I remembered sold stass and I our case of Grand Ridge's supershine at this years microbrewery showcase) was very good at giving us some good background and going along for the ride with us as we tried 6 trappist beers. was good to also see a familiar face in Rohan doing the tasting as well and getting some of his thoughts. still, i knew i had had enough to drink when during the desert of Bell-vue Kriek with dark choc mousse, i was in deep beer conversation with two other blokes and the barman. I am not sure if this is a good sign or not, but was surprised to see i knew a little more than the average punter there, but was highly overshadowed by Charles who puts any tasting notes i could have to shame. still, he does it for a living...
Ok, down to business, here is the notes on the trappist beers i had last night
1) La Trappe Triple (8%) - the only one i have tried before. had the nice citrus smell with a slight bubblegum yeast. dark orange but translucent colour with a fine bubble head. has a fairly subtle fruity taste with a slight alcohol hit on the mid to back palate, but that is warming if left on the tongue.
2) Westmalle Dubbel (7%) - wasn't sure at first as mine seemed very sedimentary giving it a similar dusty brown as our choc porter stass and i brewed. there was not much head as well but came up creamy when swilled. definite choc malt smell and flavour which increased as it warmed, but tasted a bit chemically on the back palate while still cold. the alcohol become more prominent as it warmed, taking away the chemical flavour. was drinking this with pork, which added a nice sweetness to the beer, which for all the sediment was quite clean in taste.
3) Orval (6.2%) touted as 'dry' it had a hazy orange colour with a very creamy head. had an almost 'showbag' sugary smell which came through in taste early on, but then the dryness tingled the mouth and cleansed the tongue after swallowing.
4) Achel Brune (9.5%) it was her my tastbuds took a hit with the complexity of this beer. a slightly cloudy light brown beer with a dark fruit smell with some alcohol. has a fruity then yeasty taste with alcohol on the back palate. the latter gets harsher as the beer warms. i also thought i tasted some caramel as it warmed as well. quite complex, but just stable enough in roundness so no spiking of too many flavours to confuse me too much.
5) Chimay Blue (9%) dark amber colour with little head. had a dark malt smell with a slight alkaline or chemical which also came out early in the flavour. had a nice warming alcohol taste and seemed like a good texture, with caramel smells and taste as it warmed. still a very stable flavour and not sure if it is texture of flavour roundness that i got from this one.
6) Rochfort 8 (9.2%) dark reddy brown colour. was absolutely stunned by the massive caramel malt smell that i enjoyed more than the actual taste of the beer, which i felt was a bit over-carbonated before the alcohol comes through. though, for the smell along i was very happy with this beer. that it had 9.2% alcohol was a bonus. would really like to try the 10 in this now to see if more flavour can come from it.

Overall, these are all very well made beers, and show how much effort has gone into them and can see why they are exclusive and wanting to be kept at a certain standard. having the kreik with mousse was great, but the artifical-ness and watery end of the cherry beer really brought me back to earth. couple of other noteworthy things i gained was in terms of hops, Noble style hops are not bitter but fruity, which gives me hope in finding a hop i can really enjoy and look for in beer. also, as a base, I had a Leffe brune which tasted different after each beer i tried, but was quite sweet overall in comparison to the trappists.
Thanks again to Charles for hosting us so well and Belgian Beer Cafe for putting on the event. I found it very interesting speaking to Dan afterwards who works there and seeing my ego get built up by the couple of blokes who were taking my beer advice (and actually taking notes). luckily when the alcohol wore off, my humbleness returned, so sorry if i sounded like a snob to them.

well, that has set me up very well now for my trip to Belgium in a couple of months. I think i will be having a trappist day at the belgium beer weekend to try all these again in their home country and finally get to try the Westvleteren that wasn't available last night.



Saturday, July 3, 2010

80th post and it's all getting too much...

Hi all,

So we are well and truly into winter drinking now with it being July and it being particularly chilly here in melbourne. I have been stocking up on winter beers since march and trying to get as many down my gullet as i can while the good drinking weather is here. But I have to say, it is nearly getting too much for me. I bought a case of Supershine with Stass when the microbrewer's showcase was on earlier in the year, and as yet have not drunk one of mine. I still have 250th Anniversary Guinness still sitting around the place, just purchased 6 moo brew vintage stouts (which luckily are yet to arrive), and been buying up big on european winter beers in readiness for my trip over there in September. Then last night i went to the Roysten, had trouble choosing beers from the great range they had on tap and then found mountain goat across the road had a seasonal brews of Dunkel and Doppelbock that i had to try also. by the end i was hardly able to appreciate the beer, apart from the alcoholic properties and their impact on me. All this after Thursday, were i was able to drink Holgate's Choc Porter all night at the Rainbow Hotel while enjoying the sounds of the Twok's. Life is hard!!!
While many would say this is not a bad situation to be in (and they would be right), i am actually feeling a little frustrated at all the winter beer i have (ok, want) to try, and the limited time winter has to go for. I mean, we still haven't gotten through our own raspberry stout, choc porter or malt beer that we have brewed, and already wanting to brew a triple malt dark ale. who would have thought that after 80 posts on this blog i would be feeling this way, but i am. and now i have (ok, want again) to go to Slowbeer for the 3rd time in 2 weeks to get a new imperial stout that red hill have just come out with, and like the supershine, will probably buy 6 so i can let some of them age a little bit to try next winter.
Stass, you are right to get a little concerned for me with my drinking season in high swing, i am getting concerned for myself. Still, do you want to come round this weekend to open another raspberry stout, try a raspberry lambic from belgium, a czech republic porter and a red hill imperial stout?
Yep, I'll never here is to winter drinking and our 80th post on this blog. Cheers,


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sint Bernardus Prior (8%)

Welcome to a new financial year (i know i am excited), but after ended the end of the last financial year with 2 bluetongue pilsners and a VB (hey, it had been in my fridge for months and just wanted to get rid of it), I am starting this one going back to some belgium beers, and back to Sint Bernardus.

This one pours dark brown with a nice head that dissipates fairly quickly. smells like a normal brown ale and with a little alc in the background.
Wow, a darker bubblegum sort of flavour which overpowers any other flavours that may come from it. there is a bit of alcohol on the mid-palate but the beer finishes very clean with only a slight bubblegum taste left. the texture if fairly watery, but just enough body that it doesn't taste diluted or sense a great separation of flavours.

So a fairly straightforward and subdued beer. the alcohol does come through more as the beer warms, but if you like bubblegum in your beer, this has it, and not are harsh as other belgium beers. With the cleansing finish, it makes it easier to go back for more.

Hmmm, i just bought 5 more beligum beers, a czech republic porter and the new little creatures brown ale. I just can't help myself...