Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Environmental Impact of Beer 2

Hi all and welcome to that mad time of the year called Christmas,

After nearly 2 years after the original post I did on this topic, I have found it is now the most viewed post I have done on this blog, and feel like revisiting it. As I have just finished my last day of work for the year, and as of the start of next year will become a permanent part-time member of Mountain Goat Brewery, I guess the question of social/environmental/etc conscious again comes to mind. I guess after over 3 years of being a casual worker, it has been easier for me to not focus on this much in terms of my work environment, as it sometimes changed on a daily basis. However, it has been something I am somewhat conscious of in general, through the original post on this subject. Also, I can remember the appreciation I had for a removalist company called Go Green I did some work with, who used vehicles that were fuelled by old cooking oil and negated their carbon emissions through their work practices.

Anyway, doing a round of research, I found this article, which I am happy to say is Australian based, and actually mentions Mountain Goat. As for point 1, after 4 months of filling kegs at Mountain Goat (actually filled 99 today), I would hazard a guess that on average a keg there is filled 12-15 times a year. This aspect is helped by the fact that probably 10 kegs a week go across the bar that is in the same building as the brewery. In terms of transportation then, it was actually just me with a trolley that moved about 10 kegs to the bar today. This then also connects to point 3...mind you, Goat now sends their beer across Australia and have started exporting to the U.S., and am unsure if this is being offset in any way. I guess the other thing with point 3, is that this is probably the point where I fall down the most in my own consumption of beer, as I am happy to try imported beers, and as I have found over the past few years, am very happy to travel to Ireland, the U.S, and a few countries in mainland Europe (as regular readers of this blog will already know) and try beers I find (and sometimes go to just have the beers I already enjoy in the place they come from) there.
I do also like the fact that Goat collect and use rainwater off their roof, use solar power, try and give as much of their used grain to farmers, have an organic beer (which became more important to me after reading Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' this year), and saw the clause in my contract today about the 'ride to work' bonus (I wonder if I still get that for walking to work?).

Going backwards to point 2, I do remember being impressed when doing the Coopers Brewery tour and hearing about the co-generation plant. I am sure for the guide at least it was one less question I asked that was just about the beer itself. I have also heard that Anderson Valley Brewing Company has the tag of 'Solar powered beer', and Brooklyn Brewery is one of the greenest breweries in the world. When I did the Cascade Brewery tour earlier this year, was interested to see that they actually reuse the carbon dioxide naturally produced during fermentation to carbonate their soft drink line. I am sure there are many other examples out there, so please let me know if you find more.

Of course, I still brew my own beer to cover point 4 in the article, and am even happy to say we have moved on from bottles to kegs ourselves this year, not only meaning less effort in packaging beer for consumption, but now less chance of wasting bottles from accidental smashing, or exploding from some of our experiments in beer. I guess this is the only improvement we have made since I last posted on this subject.

I guess bringing this to mind at Christmas time is also poignant for me, as we see consumerism take over our lives at this time, and think more about the things we could have, rather than appreciating and retaining what we already have. For me, the environment is one of those things, and so will be enjoying 2 weeks of summer days on the family farm and our little garage on the block of land we had had by the beach for 30-odd years, and still done very little to change it from the days where school summer holidays were done in pitched tents on the block.
I hope this Christmas period you can also enjoy the simple things in life, and appreciate even the simple things in life have an impact on the world around us. As many of you seem to agree, it is something worth questioning, even in something like beer.

Merry Christmas (Ale) and a Happy Brew Year to you all,


PS: While I doubt it will happen where I am going, I'll let you know if I try any interesting beer experiences once I get back from my holiday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

31st Birthday Beers @ Josie Bones

So after getting excited hearing about Josie Bones having chrissy beers available, I arrived right at opening to find they only had one available...yep, bit disappointing. Still, with such a range a beers on offer in general, this small set-back wasn't going to stop as tasting some good beer. Thanks to Mick, Nic, Joel, Mel, Stass, Jess, Mark, and Team Harrod for coming to share a few quiet beers with me.

Seeing there was at least one of the chrissy beers available, I thought I should start on it. Still, even this gave a fight not to be drunk as it wasn't pouring very well. Once James sorted it out and gave me the other half of my taster of it. The Nogne O God Juls is a really good example of a chrissy beer, but probably more of my slant with a bit more chocolate over the dark fruit flavours to go with the spice in it. Best of all, once it warmed up the chocolate flavour only increased.
Keeping with the spice and sweetness, I next moved onto the North Coast Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Ale, but this time with some caramel instead of chocolate. I remember trying a heap of North Coast beers while I was in the US a few years back, and all of them on tap had this incredible creaminess. Having this beer on tap just proved it was a one off at the brewery, and just annoyed me more when the barman at North Coast wasn't able to explain to me how all the beers came out so creamy.
Seeing I just wanted a quiet one I just had one more after that, and having recently been interested in trying the Moylan Hopsickle, I decided to try their Imperial Stout from the bottle. there was quite a range of flavours going on in this beer, especially while it was cold. There was a bit of a floury/dusty smoke in the sweet malt on the front of the tongue. This evens out on the midpalate before hops drive it home with a fair amount of bitterness on the back...well comparative to the style anyway. Definitely an American version of the style, also shown with the big 10% alcohol in it,and was feeling pretty tipsy once I had finished it. Luckily I picked up some food at this time, and seeing there was an ox tongue cooked in beer, hops and hickory, I gave that a go. Not as good at the black pudding I would normally go for. Growing up on deviled ham spread as a kid, there was a similar flavour and feel from the tongue meat, but was a bit disappointed not to get more of the flavours from what it had been cooked in. The imperial stout went alright with it, but Stass had a beer that went much better than mine with it...yep, a smoke beer.
This is the good thing with James and the staff in general at Josie Bones, you can go in there with no idea what to drink (well, they have to expect it with a beer menu as long as it is, to see people get confused over what to try), and you just give them a few words in flavour or even what you feel, and they manage to pick a good beer to fit your mood. I would call them beer psychologists in a way.
Anyway, Stass had managed to do this with James, and he had come back to him with a Brasserie Dieu du Ciel Charbonniere. While it is a smoke beer, it is definitely not as harsh as many others I have tried. in comparison, I would say the level of smoke is similar to the Aecht Schelenterla Rauchbier Weizen, but in a dark ale malt instead of wheat. Therefore the ham/meaty taste in it is not overbearing at all, and balances well with the sweetness in the malt. This is a good beer for anyone that has only tried a couple of smoke beers and is still finding an appreciation for the flavours in it.
Stass also got onto some Moondog beers. The Pumpkin Porter was on tap and has that density and full mouthfeel that I have become use to with this brewery, and with it a floury/dusty malt that also seems to be their style with darker beers. Of course, there is not much in terms of flavour when it come to the pumpkin part, but have to say, it help mellows out the dusty malt to make it a bit more easy to drink, and seems to thin it out a little on the tongue. No wonder this beer has become their staple...if a brewery like this could have a staple beer in their range.
Which brings us to the Moondog Skunkworks cognac barrel-aged IPA. The hops in this is pretty big when cold, especially in flavour. The aging must has settled out the hop bitterness to some degree (hey, there is still quite a bit of hop bitterness anyway). I'm not too sure what cognac tastes like, so can't really say how much of it comes through. As it warmed up the hops dropped off and a warming aspect came over the beer more, but not sure if that is from it, or just how these boys roll with alcohol in their beers.

Mick also tried a Saison from a brewery in Nowra, NSW. Luckily for them I can't remember the name of the brewer, as it wasn't a good example of a Saison. Firstly, the citrusy malt front was way too cloying and sweet for the style, and then there was this really weird orange juice chemical tang in aftertaste that just killed it completely.

After the Nogne O, Joel needed to step back from having too much flavour (it's ok, I don't get it either) and James again did the trick with a Brewdog Alice Porter. It kept some of the chocolate notes but with a baltic style, it much lighter on the tongue, perfect for 'lagerman' Joel.

The only other beer I recall from the night is Nicolette's Kristal Wheat beer from the oldest brewery in the world, and I remember it mostly because for the smallest person at the table, she had the biggest looking beer of all of us. Seeing she doesn't like the overbearing bubblegum that can come through in some German wheat beers, so going for this once meant the bubblegum was at a good level and the flavour is clearer and crisper than a Hefe (and maybe not as bloating either).

So, it was a nice relaxing day-after-birthday celebration with just a few good beers and mates...a bit different from last year. Luckily it was a quiet one, as the Goat chrissy party was on the day after, and that was not a quiet one...and had to work the next day after it. Still, The Grand's chocolate tart is amazing, along with the pork...and the gnocchi...which we had with the Brooklyn Brewery Local 1...which I am happy to say I had before the Corona someone thought would be really funny to buy a round of...and supposedly there was tequila in there as well. Anyway, I ended up with a Cooking with Beer book out of the kris kringle (the dessert beer recipes certainly got me excited) so looking forward to trying out more beer and food combos in the new year.



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reflections on Another Year with Beer

I suppose it is good having my birthday at the end of the year as it means I can reflect on where I am in life in general while I think about the year that has been. The past few months have been busy so haven't had much personal reflection happening, but at least this blog has been a bit of a substitute over the year, to at least look at the growing connection beer has in my life. From a little dissolution at the start of the year, things improved in my personal experiences and thoughts, I found some contentment and started my series on Situational Drinking (1, 2, 3, 4).
In term of homebrewing, it has been great having Brad back in the brewing team and bring success in trialing a Mulberry beer that made a special appearance for me at my brothers wedding. However, I am still wary of my personal approach to homebrewing, and see I have much growth in this area to do if I am going to make it in brewing beer on a more serious level. Still it has been great brewing with these guys and going up against Team Harrod in our homebrewing contests to keep the fun aspect in it. As well as the Mulberry, it has been good to throw myself in the deep end trying the Hickory Stickory Bock, Stass with his Coffee Nut, and putting together another batch of Russian Imperial Stout. Unfortunately I had a casualty with the Milo beer, but hopefully will find another path for it in the future.
A year ago I well and truly celebrated my 30th birthday, including a big night with family and friends and Mountain Goat Brewery. For my birthday this year, it was nice to see that after having my first day of work there in March, it looks like I will become a permanent (part-time) member of staff, and wore my full Goat uniform for the first time, to celebrate birthday 31. While the 11 hours was a bit longer than I had hoped, I managed to pull myself together enough to go to the Royston by myself for a parma and try the Feral 'Raging Flem' Belgian IPA (pretty muddy looking with golden body. Get big hop smell and taste while cold, but an earthy funk takes over after 10 minutes of warming up, which also gives it a bit more body). A bit of a contrast to last year, but still visited Mountain Goat and Royston for it.

There have been some good beer events again this year, with beer launches and the usual Microbrewery Showcases, but by far the biggest was Good Beer Week, where I took the whole week off work to enjoy/recover throughout. I have heard it will be back next year, so that is definitely something to look forward to. Crafty's Festival of the Froth was also a highlight, especially seeing the team I was in won in the trivia.
In terms of my own journeys for beer, heading back to Hobart, trips to the Wheaty in Adelaide for Moo Brew and Rogue beers, and even heading North, to see how beer is growing in Sydney have been great to fit in earlier in the year, when I had time. As a faithful companion, the trip Stass and I took out to Beechworth was also special for me, and to finally hang out at Bridge Road Brewery.
I also managed to have a few beers during the Rugby World Cup (and probably went a bit too far trying to connect rugby to beer), and make sure there was beer not just at my brothers wedding, but also my cousin's. It was a good experience also this year to take a couple of my journeys with beer and turn them into entries into a beer writing comp, which while nothing came of, at least showed I should stick to just blog writing, and that any appreciation I try to give to others on beer should be done with a beer in our hands.

Speaking of which, I should probably talk about my favourite beers of this year. I don't normally do this, seeing I keep it very personal and is always hard to say what are my favourite beers. Still, after having done this for my European trip last year, this year I think I may be able to to do, so strap yourself in for a very biased list.

Yep, definitely a trend in the beers I like.

Well, I think that will do. Am pretty content with the year I've had, and what I have to look forward to in my 32nd year of life. Speaking of which, I'll be back on here soon for a beer tasting I am hoping to have at Josie Bones of Chrissy beers (tis the season), so even with only a couple of weeks left in 2011, may still be a highlight to come...

Cheers to more beers,


PS: As always, thanks to you for checking out the blog over the year, culminating in nearly 6000 views over the past couple of years, and now over 230 posts (which would make for a boring week if anyone was to read over all of them).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Few Friday Knock Offs

After another tiring week and not being able to have much of a weekend before it, I was well and truly ready to do very little at the end of it. However, after a crisis call during the week, I had to try and rework Goat to make it for another lawn-mowing Friday. At least with three of us, I found it good to smash through it pretty quickly, so I could still run an errand for my bro (while he is away on his honeymoon) and do some beer shopping with Stass after work.

Amazingly, feeling somewhat half awake after this and knowing Biero had a Vanilla Milk Stout on their taps, Stass got me into the city so we could check it out. Must have been funny seeing two guys in shirts with a landscaping logo on it in a concrete-filled city, and drinking a stout on a hot summer day, still it is a double contradiction I am happy to live with as the Thirsty Crow Jiminy Cricket Vanilla Milk Stout was well worth a try.

It poured with a translucent-edged dark brown colour with a slight brown tinge in the creamy head as well. Couldn't get much aroma at the beginning, but some slight high noted sweetness from the vanilla. Upon tasting though, we both delighted in the sweet vanilla flavour, and what I get as an alkaliny powdered lactose just after it, but generally mixed in well to help meld the flavours together on the front and midpalate. Stass smashed his a bit too quickly, so when it really sweetened up with time and warmth, he had very little of it left to enjoy. For me it got to a stage where the vanilla sweetness started creeping up the inside of my cheeks. which of course I personally enjoyed. I was happy to find that the beer did not sit too heavy on the tongue or gut, which is interesting to find in a milk stout, but while I coats your tongue generously with each sip, the almost refined sweetness of the vanilla keeps it almost refreshing in a way. The brewer has done very well in doing this and blending the lactose and vanilla flavours in this beer. I'd like to understand the base beer behind it more, and how they were able to integrate these two additional flavours above it in this fashion. It had me wanting to go back to trying at another homebrew choc/vanilla stout, or bringing in some brown sugar to get some caramel...unfortunately I think there would be too much sweetness to even pick up the different flavours in something like that. With warmth the alkaline did diminish a bit as well, so the vanilla really took over the tastebuds.

Seeing this was Stass's first visit to Biero, he was excited to try a few other beers on the menu (and on my recommendation, the pork sandwich). Seeing we had been shopping for a few smokey/peaty beers, seeing a Mash Smokey Amber Ale, we had to give that a go. I would say it looked more golden and amber and was pretty clean (maybe I am use to have wheat based smoked beers). Unlike the Vanilla Milk Stout, we found this one was better cold, as the smoke is very much on the fringe in terms of aroma and taste. The level of smoke melded better with the malt while it was cold, and would be a great beer for anyone that has never had a smoke beer before as an introduction to the style. However, as expected, when it warmed up the sweetness of the malt really took over, and the smoke was left to be simply on the sides of the back palate to clean up the sweetness.
I did make sure to keep some of the Vanilla Milk Stout for after this, but had to hold off again when Stass eyed the Mikkeller 1000 IBU, which I was surprised he hadn't tried before. Seeing he was driving he just had a taster of it, but that was enough. I mean, they have tried to have some up-front sweetness to help bring some balance of flavour, but if anything it sets you up for a bigger fall when to bitterness kicks in just off the tip of your tongue. I was surprised that it didn't offend me as much as when I had tried it previously, but then previously I was halfway through a beer tasting, so I probably reacted a bit more to it in that situation. Still, the dry bitterness just sits and stays in aftertaste, and learnt quickly not to let it sit on your tongue for too long.

Trying to end on the last of the Vanilla Milk Stout just spun my tastebuds out of control as the massive sweetness up front still wasn't enough to remove the bitterness left from the 10000 IBU. At that I started to flake and so we left, so I could tipsily and tiredly get the tram home to crash and start relaxing for the weekend.

I look forward to doing very little this weekend, even in terms of tasting beer...I know, tough times...



Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Bro's Special Day...and How I Infiltrated it with Beer!

Congrats to Mick and Nic on getting married!

It was a couple of hectic days leading up to it trying to do what I could to help the day go smoothly for them. Mind you, with the bride and groom both being engineers, it was planned so well I was actually trying to find things to do to feel like I was being useful to them. This was sorted with me brewing a beer for the day. With the Mulberry not holding up very long after brewing, by the time we went to pick up the keg the day before the wedding, it had started to sour off a bit. Luckily the keg was not full and had some spare jars of it available to dilute in some warm water and add to the keg to fill it and bring back some sweetness to balance out the beer.

That afternoon we had the rehearsal and dropped off beer and wine (luckily the keg fitted in the fridge) at the venue, where after thinking I was just going to be a signing witness in the ceremony, I was to be standing next to Mick for much of the ceremony, give a short announcement before, and be 'chairman' of the ceremony (literally, I was in charge of moving the chairs behind the happy couple during the times they were standing or sitting down). Then, upon finding the matron of honour wished to make a speech at the reception, I was asked to do the same. What I needed was a few 'stouts' to 'steady' myself over dinner that night with the two families, so a Coopers Stout and Guinness did the trick at the Union Club Hotel in Fitzroy. Finding one of Mick's mates was drinking a Carlton Draught, I quickly ordered a Coopers Pale for him to try and counter the effects of all the chemicals he had just ingested, and was happy to see a few of the girls trying out Little Creatures Bright Ale.

A potential mistake the night before a wedding was for my sis and I to head out to see a few bands, with the Twoks and Dancing Heals (a band I had been promising the drummer [previously of Dirty Pink Jeans/Roaring Years] I would come and see for a year) playing nearby. With a pint of Coopers Pale I felt old with the volume level being way too high, and a bit disappointed with Twoks only playing a 4 song set after the 'rockstar' late arrival of Xan. Still, managed to get to bed by midnight before Mick was around just after 8am to get on with sorting out things before the ceremony. Having picked up food, flowers, a few other bits and pieces, and giving Mick some time to relax and get changed, we arrived at the venue an hour before the ceremony to set up the courtyard for the post ceremony afternoon tea. I managed a quick taste of the mulberry as I set up the keg to find it at least fit for human consumption before realising there was only 30 mins before the ceremony was to start, so had to run to where my folks were staying to shower and change before running back to the chapel just as the bride was about the arrive. With the priest putting in my cuffs, my dad doing my tie, and mum pinning the flower to my jacket, I jogged down the aisle, made my announcement (which Mick had already done in my absence), and stood beside Mick just as the bridal procession began. Luckily the rest of the ceremony went smoothly, and was happy when it was done and I could just start pouring beer for the crowd. It was pouring pretty heady as seems to be from the tap we have for it, so was having to do two half pours for each pot.
Still, the addition of the fresh mulberry syrup not only countered the sourness well (actually, probably too much), but the additional sugars really added some body to the beer, that was tasting a bit too thin and watery before, and with the headiness gave it a wonderfully velvet texture on the tongue that I probably liked the most about the beer. Of course, in the setting of a wedding, everyone was being very nice and saying good things about the beer, and I do agree it was a very good refreshing brew and happy to see there was no residual sweetness to cloy the tongue, making it easy to go back to, sip after sip. The sourness/tartness came very late in the midpalate but created enough depth to give the brew some character. The closest I had to some critical feedback was from my aunty who said that it wasn't her sort of thing, but that it was still nice. Of the 20 litres I had, about half of it was gone in the hour and half we had after the ceremony. It was funny, not many people came up to try it while I was pouring out beers, but everytime I walked away to get something else for the table, I would find all the beers I had poured gone, followed by random people coming up to me to comment on the beer and ask a few questions (which I happily answered of course). Still, I managed to mingle a little bit before we had to pack up and head to the reception. Was happy to see Joel had been able to make it, so we had a taste of the beer together, he helped me pack up, and I gave him a Rogers as a roadie to get home on (trust it, I only had to open one beer bottle the whole day and I cut my finger while doing it).
Seeing I had to help pack up the courtyard, pack the hire car with any leftover beer and wine, drive it back to Mick's before I trammed it to the reception, I was also one of the last people to turn up at Matteo's to continue celebrating.

Of course, my brother had sorted out the wine at the venue for the reception, so only three beers were had over the whole evening by our whole party. I had one of them (LC Pale Ale) as I arrived, and it didn't last long as I started to unwind. Quickly getting a photo with the happy couple and chat to a few more people, we were directed to our tables, and from there I was on the special selection of wine Mick had sourced for us. I went with the Riesling with the mushroom ravioli, and the Pinto Noir with my beef main, but stayed away from the Chardonnay that was a bit too dry for my taste. Mind you, the dessert I had without any wine, as it didn't need it! I was enjoying the wine so much I was probably a little tipsy by the time I had to get up for my impromptu speech, which helped me get through it but probably made it a terrible speech. But like the beer, people were saying nice things anyway.

The next day, Mick dropped off the half filled keg, and seeing he didn't get to taste it on the day, we poured a few glasses for him and Stew to try...again, nice things said. Stass has come over to pick up the keg, so was using the time til he arrived to drink as much of it as I can, and seeing it is only 3%, I managed a couple of litres before he came over, to drink a bit more with me before he left with it. I would say it will deteriorate pretty quickly from here, so hopefully Stass gets on it to finish it soon.

Well, it was a good experience to be able to provide a beer for another wedding, and this time it was one of my own, and am happy to say it came off pretty well for me. I guess I need to thank my brother for trusting me to provide beer for everyone at the wedding, and to the bride's family, who we are still getting to know. So far, so good...



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Endeavour 2011 Reserve Amber Ale (5.2%)

Just been hanging out with Stew and Jarrod and went to our closest bottle shop to pick up a beer. This beer was as close to interested as I could get so I am writing up our thoughts while the boys get down to being funky with a jam.

This beer has a best after date on it, but unfortunately can not read what the date is, so not sure if I am drinking it too early. It has a dark copper colour, almost to a brown, and is relatively clear even though I found quite a bit of sediment on the bottom of the bottle, which I am not sure whether to mix in or not. What stops me is a pretty dusty, cardboardy aroma and back palate taste, which I am not sure a yeasty sediment would help. I am trying to let it warm a bit to see if this diminishes, but still ending up with a pretty dry mouth after each taste. My cynicism has me asking who is behind this Endeavour brand as the label looks a bit flashy, and have seen a connection to Fosters by one of the brewers....warning bells are ringing!

However, I do have to say I enjoy the use of chocolate barley malt in this beer, and that is heightened with warmth. The boys are focusing on this aspect to show they like the beer, but as you can see I am not truly convinced. Being a hop head, Jarrod is picking up the hops a lot better than me, and said he got a hit of like a Little Creatures Bright Ale fruitiness from the hop, but I am not really getting that. I am getting a slight bitter flavour (like a noble hop) from the back palate just the clean up the beer so there isn't a sweet residual aftertaste, so instead I get that dryness. There is a fair bit of body to the beer coming from the use of the barley malt, and while there is a bit of sweetness it isn't too syrupy.

Maybe I am just thinking too much about it (well, this is a beer blog), but mainly for the dry, almost astringent aftertaste I am not enjoying this beer that much, though I would have to say it is much better than the rest of the beers we could have been drinking from the Coles bottleshop we purchased it from.

Anyway, we also have some Bright Ale and I may dig into my stash to make sure we finish on a better note than this beer brings me. At least their tunes are helping me enjoy it a bit more...



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasting with the Brewers

I have been lucky over the past week or so to get in a few tastings with the guys at Mountain Goat, and happy they have wanted me involved, as another palate to try out their beers, and some of Stass and mine.

Last Friday, the boys and I had an hour before the public came in to try out some of the range of beers, just to see how they are tasting in general. It is funny how often this doesn't happen, even when I am tasting them quite a bit when 'testing' for carbonation when I am doing a keg run. I guess it is nice to be able to just sit down and concentrate on the beer itself, instead of being caught up in an environment of getting work done, and focusing on one aspect. All in all we tried the Steam, Bock, Hightail, IPA, IPA through coffee beans in Randal, and the Rye IPA. It was also good to talk about what sort of beers would interesting for them to try out. I was particularly happy when someone brought up chocolate beers, as it allowed me to rant a bit over my love for them, and the fact I have not done very well at my own homebrew attempts at them.
But the guys did ask me about what homebrews I was doing, which got me thinking...

The opportunity came up this week to invite Stass along to Mountain Goat to do a days work on our bottling line. Seeing he is the keeper of the kegs from our homebrewing, I wondered if he could bring in some of out beers taste with the boys. He ended up bringing all our kegs into Goat, so once we had finally finished the bottling for the day, we have the Goat boys a taste of our 'Nuts about Coffee' Nut Brown/Coffee beer, my latest batch of Birra Dut Pekmezi (Mulberry Molasses Beer) and our latest Russian Imperial Stout. It was interesting getting the opinion of the boys to them. The coffee beer is getting a bit old now, but the nut flavours are coming through a bit more. Like I have said about this beer before, I would like less coffee to have allowed more of the nut brown flavour come through and balance it out, as now the coffee taste is not fresh against it. I am pretty happy with the flavours coming from the Mulberry, but just seems a little watery, so luckily I have some more mulberry molasses that I can add to it to bring it up a bit. The RIS is just about ready for drinking after nearly 3 months of aging in the keg. I think some more malt character up front could come through to bring more dark sweetness to the beer, but apart for that it is balancing up well and definitely has enough alcohol in it.
I actually had a bit of moment at one point when we had stopped for lunch. Stass and I were having a bit of a stretch at the entrance to the brewery when Cam and Dave came through, and there was a second where two brewing duos came together, one pair that have just been brewing in a backyard shed for the past 6 months (a bit step up to what we were brewing in before then), and the others having developed a brewery that has been around nearly 15 years. It was funny to see from that moment a few parallels that came to mind from it for me...but it could be one of those moments I go back to if Stass and I take this brewing thing any further than where we are now...

Then on Thursday, as I was trying to finish off a big batch of kegging (well, get halfway through it), I was invited for my second brewers meeting, where the big news was hearing that Danish gypsy brewer Mikkeller will be doing a brew with Goat (that has got me researching a bit and thinking about what could be done) next year, but also that they are putting together a job description for me so they can out me on permanent part-time. So there is much excitement all round.

With that said, after a big week of nearly 50 hours of physical labour, no matter how much anticipation may be on my mind, my body needs rest, and am content with the past week.



Bro's (Un)Bucks Beer Bonanza, but Bereft of Boobs

I have recovered with 11 hours of sleep to go with the 11 hours of drinking we did on Sunday. The pace was good, and the beers even better, so have been looking forward to reliving this experience on here.

After some dramas getting just getting to Southern Cross Station, we made it out to Woodend with time to check out the local market to find Mick a wig for the day before Harts pub (Holgate Brewery) opened. Of course we started the day with a beer paddle, trying all 8 of the beers on tap. As is tradition, our first taste of beer for the day was a sip of the Temptress, which while cold has some good qualities but nothing like it has when it gets warmer. Both the Pilsner and Mt Macedon Ale had much more flavour than I remember previously, especially with hop character, and found I actually enjoyed the Macedon more with a decent balance between malt and hop. Tim enjoyed the refreshing aspect of the White (Unfiltered Wheat) Beer, which was not over the top with the banana/bubblegum yeast character I am use to with this style of beer. If anything it was a little too flavourless, especially after having had the previous 2.
The sweet malt character of the Big Reg Marzen drew me in with its copper red colour and sweet caramel aroma and taste. The ESB was again contentious, as it still seems to be a watered down version of the original that I enjoyed so much. Actually, we heard from the staff that an original ESB had been available on the Friday before we arrived and run out that night (not surprisingly), still I just pulled out an old trick I learnt at Cascade Brewery and with a 3:1 ratio of the ESB with the Big Reg, found I could blend up what we thought was what the original ESB tasted like. With the UXB being an upgraded version of the ESB, the beer was too big to allow this blending to work for it, especially with the hop character, but like the ESB is still a bit thin on the tongue and need more malt character to balance it out better.
I also found myself a bit disappointed in the Road Trip, which had no where near the amount of hop character to taste like an American IPA. Ok, so I am naturally not a hop head, but still understand style enough to know this didn't fit the bill. The body was fine on it, but for some reason (old batch?) the hop flavour and bitterness just did not come through. After this, the Temptress (oh, it was on handpump too!!!) was at its best, and we lovingly sipped on this out in the sunshine...and then got two jugs of it to keep on enjoying it over lunch (I went the porterhouse with black pudding and the steak had a Temptress butter...hmmmm).
As we finished dinner I pulled out a bottle of the Empress (lucky I brought a bottle of it with me as they didn't have one at the brewery!) so for dessert we tasted this against its younger brother, the Temptress. The latter really loses a lot when drunk side by side with the Empress, which is just so much richer and deeper in flavour, and yet still has a amazing amount of balance between the chocolate and coffee, with 10% alcohol but retaining such good mouthfeel. Pure Quality! No wonder it is one of my favourite beers for this year. Of course, we pulled out Mick's wig while on the Empress, and I failed dismally to even try to improve on the Empress by blending some Temptress with it.

Feeling greatly content and buzzed we made it back to the train station. We left Woodend to head back into town, where we made our way to Beer Delux just as it was filling up with lots of Polish ladies (well, there may have been men but we weren't looking at them) with a Polish festival finishing at Fed Square.
Seeing the Korbinian on tap, I had to go that, whereas Mick went the Murrays Dark Knight and Stass hit the Dark Force. Joel brought things down just going a Stone and Wood Pacific Ale. Having had the others before, it was only the Dark Force that was something new. It had a lot of Extra Stout to it, almost to Russian Imperial, but the wheat character really lightened it up on palate to make it a bit easier drinking, so could be a good for those that find strong stouts a bit too cloying on the tongue. Of course, seeing I dig the Korbinian, a sweet cloying palate is not an issue for me.
Next round, I decided to try out the Monks Stout Dupont, and decided to step Mick up to the Rochefort 10, seeing he was a little disappointed with the Dark Knight. Joel I think stepped up to the Nogne Imperial Pilsner, which for me seemed to had a slight woodiness, and only way I could think of it was like some of the hop plant got in with the hops. Stass managed to find an even bigger beer than his previous with the collaboration beer Bitch Please, between 3 Floyds and Brew Dog. The sheer peatiness of it was enough, but at least the dark barley malt character was enough the heighten the palate a bit, even if it was a bit muddy with the peat...not to mention the alcohol. In someway it balances out alright overall, even if it is a bit over the top in many ways. That is probably the most impressive thing about it. My Monks Stout Dupont in contrast had very little malt sweetness, going more for a roasted character and not much else, and by that time, the 4.5% alcohol wasn't doing much for me either.
After that there was only one way I could see us going, and that involved a 750ml bottle of Chimay Blue. For most of us it was a step up, but not for Stass. While we were at Beer Delux, Brad and Seda stumbled in, and so happily had a couple of beers with us, and arm wrestled each other.

By this time, Mick and I had a parma craving, so we headed out to Richmond to hit a quiet Royston. I tried a Red Hill Temptation, which I found to be very flavourful for a Belgian ale, definitely one I would like to try again on a clean palate. Still, for the most part just enjoyed the classic parma that comes from that pubs kitchen, as we all reached that stage where we remembered we had work the next day.

Still, by the time the boys grabbed a cab and Stass and I made it back to my place, Stass wanted more beer, so pulled out a Brooklyn Brewery Local 1, which I have to say was pretty lackluster after the Temptation, especially as they are similar styled beers. Luckily by the point Stass was ready to call it a night before I had to go for the Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude to finally end any resemblance of taste buds we had left.

Anyway, safe to say work was not a very enjoyable prospect, or enjoyable in practice the next day. Well, I am happy to remember that much, so going to leave it at that. Thanks to Tim, Joel, Stass, Brad, Seda, and of course Mick for their involvement and input into the day...now we just have the wedding to get through in a week and a half.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yay! A Drunken random Post...

Stass and I at my place listening to Midlake and Yo La Tengo and drinking Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 and about to crack the Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude...Happy bucks to my bro! We didn't see any boobs, but we drank some good beers over the past 11 hours, which I hope to talk about on here after I sober up and not enjoy the start to a new week at work...this may hurt. That is all. Sorry for wasting this post with drunken banter.

Stass is in the toilet, and taking a long time to come out...

I'll stop now.


PS: my chocolate fudge is tasting good right about now.
PPS: Sorry!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trying to Remember Remembrance Day...and Recover

Look, I don't normally have big sessions nowadays (mind you, good weather is coming at the moment which does draw you into have a few beers), and as is always the way, when you don;t expect to have one, they tend to happen.

I had started the day really well for Remembrance Day. I had booked in to give blood at the Red Cross at 11:15, which meant after riding my bike into town on a lovely looking day, I could have my minute silence at 11am, seeing the city stop for a bugler playing near Bourke Street mall, before walking in to give blood.
Riding home I stopped at Mountain Goat to sort out work for next week before recovering at home with a good book (yes, it is about beer). Heading back into Mountain Goat early 'just for a couple', but after a couple with Crafty and Naz, it turned into more than a couple. With the Goat IPA going through Seven Seeds coffee beans in Randy, and getting a taste of it early when the beer had been steeping in the beans for a couple of days (tasted really good...and I don't drink coffee...it was nearly as good as Stass' latest coffee beer attempt) I then stepped up to the Double Hightail (mistake) before Naz and I moved over to the Royston for a Moon Dog Pumpkin Porter (still roasty...actually, I think I saw the Moon Dog boys at Mountain Goat...and Damo [which reminds me, I need to ask Damo when we are sharing in our spoils from the Festival of the Frothy trivia night]) and then tried a Mornington Penninsula IPA (which I have to say, is probably the best beers I have ever tried from this brewer). Somehow I ended up back at Mountain Goat (ok, it isn't hard when it is just across the road). leaving there to go home, I saw Naz was at his place with a few of the boys, and so stopped in for one or two more before getting hit in the balls by his girlfriend and finally deciding to call it a night at 2am. Phew!

8 hours later I was making my way out to Stass' place to keg the beers I was trialing for my brother's wedding in a few weeks, and of course, this meant drinking more beers. Firstly, we had to finish a keg to have 2 that we could use to keg the beers, then there was tasting the beers while doing a final gravity reading. After that Stass decided he wanted to taste his coffee beer again to see how it is aging, then seeing he had a taste for roast we cracked open a Stone's Smoked Porter, which while went down a bit like barbed wire, I could still appreciate a good level of smoke that was balanced well in the beer...not as big as what I would expect from an American brewer.

With a bit of 'hair of the dog' in me, I made it back into the city and managed to do some chrissy shopping before heading over to Mick's place to trial the beers with him and Nicolette and have them chose one for the big day.

So, it is fair to say, I will be off the beers for today, and may only be keeping to one tomorrow after a bottling session at the Goat.

My apologies for connecting Remembrance Day to my conduct that night. It is only through those that have given what they have in the past that allows me to pursue the life I am leading today, and while it may seem that I do not appreciate it through this post, I do feel very fortunate for what I have, and to paraphrase Midlake, I realise my path in life is not solely my own.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hmmm...Mexican Beer and Bogans?

Last night we hit a mexican restaurant and of course reading the beer list didn't impress me that much. I wonder if Corona and Sol in Mexico is like Fosters in Australia; synonymous but not actually drunk in the country they 'come' from.

I have just finished reading a book on 'bogans' (generally meaning an uncultured person here in Australia [that is why it is quite unfortunate I have Bogan for a last name]) and one of the classic quotes to come from it reads as-

"the bogan enjoys beers that are brewed here [Australia] but are labelled as foreign to give the fictional imprimatur of international cool...the only genuinely foreign beer the bogan drinks tastes like cat's piss, and requires citrus-based assistance to enter the nebulous realm of 'drinkable'...Drinking a pale, watery version of beer somehow confers cultural cachet onto the bogan, purely because it is sourced from a Latin American country with many poor people."

-of course, they are talking of Mexican beer like Corona and Sol in the passage, therefore, at least my expectations were not high with the prospect of going to a mexican restaurant and having a beer.

Looking through the list, seeing a beer with 'amber' in the title, gave me some hope I may find a beer from Mexico that may be interesting to try, and not needing 'citrus-based assistance'. When the Dos Equis XX Amber came around, I saw at least it came in a coloured glass bottle, so felt a little more help the brewers are intending to keep sunlight for the beer, therefore making me think this beer might actually be worth something. I poured some into a glass to see what colour the beer was, and my first disappointment was seeing it barely showed much more colour than some pale ales I have tried. Upon tasting, there was not much more body than the lagers Mexico is known for, and while there is a little bit of sweetness with the slightly added malt character in the colour, it was generally pretty bland (surprise, surprise).

After that I had another look through the beer list, I saw the Negra Modelo and thinking Negra might mean 'dark', I thought I would give it a go. Well, it came in an even darker bottle than the previous (I wasn't going to be swayed twice by this), and the bottle was in an interesting shape (hmm, by now I was thinking 'the more effort in the package, the worse the beer inside may be'). Pouring it out, it actually resembled a dark beer, and while on the palate it still came out pretty thin (not the worst thing as it had been a warm day and didn't mind it as it didn't sit heavy in the gut), there was enough flavour to be able to taste it over the meal (of course, keeping with my blog name constituted mostly of beef) and there was some malt character to it.

Neither beers had many signs of bitterness or other hop character, and there was little lingering on the backpalate apart from some residual sweetness. They were both pretty clean beers so, inoffensive (unless you like more flavour in your beer) and easy to have a session on.

So, while I am literally a Bogan, unfortunately I do not enjoy 'bogan' beers. In fact, after having read the book 'Things Bogans Like', there were not many things in it I can affiliate myself to. I know, it doesn't make this post very funny. Ok, I'll stop now before I entertain you any less.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brewing for my Bro, and Drinking With my Bro

After relaxing on Friday night, I had work to do the next day.
Heading into Brewcraft and trying the shop keepers golden ale 'with a bit more hops' (well, it was nearly midday), I grabbed some brew enhancer dextrose, some Hallertau and yeast, before Stass took me out to his place...and we proceeded to try all of our stock of kegged beer. Ok, we should have just got brewing straight away, but Stass was too excited to have me taste the coffee beer we will be putting up against Team Harrod next weekend. Then of course, I had to try it against the other coffee beer he made with the wattleseed we have been experimenting with recently...and then there was our previous mulberry molasses beer to see what I had to improve on with these next brews...then the homebrew Cooper's Pale Stass wanted me to taste to see if the alcohol really was as high as he had worked out from his final gravity reading...then the Russian Imperial Stout had its 2 month tasting to see if it was aging in the right way.

So with the hard part of brewing beer out of the way, we could just relax into actually brewing the two beers I was trialing for my brothers wedding in 4 weeks. Having picked up some mulberry and grape molasses during the week, I made up the two pots and ended up with 15 litres of each, which I to taste next weekend. Actually, the grape one was looking pretty good, and with a higher gravity reading, we may be able to get a bit more alcohol or body out of the beer which would be good, especially being able to take a grape 'beer' to a wedding of two people that enjoy there wine more than beer (yeah, I don't get why they would like wine more either).

Having finished with Stass and getting a lift home from Jess (lucky, as was feeling the effects of the hard work I had put in drinking before before brewing) I had enough time to sober up a bit before meeting up with my brother at the Royston for a very quiet parma and a couple of beers. Everyone must have been enjoying the good weather and cranking the bbq. So, with the pub basically to ourselves, we first tried the Moon Dog Pumpkin Porter. I have to say I couldn't taste any pumpkin, but then didn't really expect to. I assumed there would be a bit more body in the beer, and felt this was found to be correct. Where I was surprised with in the amount of roasted malt I could taste, and just how this lingered dryly on the back once you swallowed it. I can only think that maybe the brewers thought some sweetness may come from the pumpkin and so they felt the need to use a darker malt to balance it off.
With not much else on offer for a man who frequents this pub as often as I do, the only other beer I wanted to try was the Little Creatures 'Big Dipper' Double IPA. Maybe it was just I had already drunk a fair bit of beer during the day, but there was not a great amount of hoppiness of bitterness coming from the beer. It is probably one of the easiest drinking DIPAs I have ever had, so not sure if it has hit the mark. Hey, if I find it pretty low on hops, I can't imagine what a beer drinking that appreciate hops more than I would think.

On that, I get back to my relaxing Sunday, including reading more of a book on bogans (no, not my ancesters, but the Australia subcultural entity that is the 'bogan'. There are some hilarious aspects that come up with regard to a 'bogans' relationship with beer that I will have to share sometime.



Saturday, November 5, 2011

Situational Drinking 4 : 'After a Long Week' Wind down

Just what I needed yesterday, 10 hours of pushing a lawnmower around. Still I was ready for a beer or two at the end of it.

It seems like a month ago I was MCing for my cousin's wedding, but really it was only a week ago. After that, some more family events, trying to organise a home brew and a bucks party for my brothers weeding in a month, and even with a week of work that had one day off for a horse race, I still feel like I am in recovery mode from it all.

Heading to Mountain Goat last night, it only took two beers, but had the wind down I needed. While a week previously I was wearing a silly hat and talking to a room of a hundred people, last night I sat in a room full of hundreds of people, and didn't speak to any of them, apart from the bar staff to order my beer. And the beers I went for were to two highest alcohol beers I could get from the bar. It was funny though, while I have had the Bock and Double Hightail a few times now, last night I found myself quite sensitive to the texture of the beers, and in both cases, wishing they were less carbonated. I know I am normally susceptible to texture, but especially with the Double Hightail, I wished I was drinking it from a handpump to make it warmer and with less carbonation. It took me an hour and a half to drink them both, but with each sip the alcohol in them continued to relax me, and by the end was pretty content to just have the two, and just look up and seeing the cobwebs in the brewery's roofspace.

Ok, so in general I am a pretty quiet person, but last night and at the Two Birds Brewing Launch of their Golden Ale the night before, I found myself gravitating even more to a quite corner of the bar just to chill out and appreciate a couple of beers. For me it is a bit different from Situation 1, where there is more of a physical desire for refreshment from a beer, and is better if the beer is not too high in alcohol so you can drink it quickly. Even from the bushwalking in Situation 3, there is a real group environment seeing you feel that sense of physical isolation. With this it is more of a desire to just relax within yourself, think of all you have done, and then slowly let those thoughts leave you as the beer takes its effect.

Still (or especially), being within myself, I knew when I had had enough, and even the temptation of seeing Moon Dog's Pumpkin Porter wasn't enough to make me want another beer.

I really appreciate having had the bushwalk a couple of weeks ago, and if I thought it had been a month since last week, it felt even longer since I had been on the Great Ocean Walk. Anyway, I have had my little moment last night, and seeing it will be a month til things can settle down again, I may be having more moments like these. For today though I will be heading over to Stass' to trial some brews for my bother's wedding, and hopefully have a taste of the coffee beer we will be going up against Team Harrod in for our upcoming contest.



PS: I guess I should note that yesterday was also the 2nd anniversary of beerdakari, so I guess a little bit of contentment last night can be put towards that (maybe this situational drinking post is also a long 2 year wind down). Now I am really looking forward to that beer with Stass today. So after 222 posts (Richie Benaud's favourite number), a big thanks to all those that have made up the 5,500 views of the site, and those that have added their own two cents to my rambling thoughts and tastes on beer.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Two Birds Brewing Golden Ale Launch

So have just made it back from Beer Delux after a couple of glasses of Two Birds Golden Ale on tap.

Having been given a lovely badge to display to help me get their beer at the bar from Jayne (yes, a magic badge that gives me free beer!), who should I see at the bar trying to take a dodgy photo of his beer on his 'smart phone' but James. Having grabbed my first beer, we had a chat...of course, about the beer. To be honest, I didn't actually taste anything different from when I tasted it out of the bottle at the Microbrewery Showcase. However, their was more flavour from the keg. The spice was a bit more noticeable, and the malt body really held up well to give it a good mouthfeel. I guess the only issue from this is that it slightly loses a bit of its sessionableness, but makes it a great spring beer...finally, someone is having a beer launch with a beer appropriate for the season.

With a good sized crowd, and an appropriate day to launch a beer from all women brewing team (it is Oaks day down here, which in horse racing is Ladies Day), the beer went down pretty well, and the second one didn't last that long.

After such success of their first brew, I am looking forward to seeing where they to next with future brews. Bring it on Birds!



PS: I also heard today is International Stout Day, but seeing it seems to be a twitter thing and it is nearly summer here in the southern hemisphere, I am going to disregard, even though I am generally happy to drink a stout anytime of the year.

Grand Imperial Porter, Poland (8%)

After the big weekend I was happy to see the empty keg of Hightail Ale sitting in front of my bedroom door on Monday. Taking it back to Mountain Goat, I then filled it that day with more Hightail...and so the cycle continues.

Having taken it easy after such a weekend, it was only yesterday that I finally visited a mate that move to Melbourne a couple of months ago and had a beer with him, then proceeding to leave my keys at his place and finding trains to be a mess, I eventually got home ready for another beer. Luckily from last week's beer shop, the overcast weather led me to the Grand Imperial Porter, one that has been on the list for a while to try. It poured with a good amount of head, but this diminished fairly quickly. There is a definite red hue to the dark brown body, and while cold, chocolate sweetness and dark malt was all I could get in aroma. On first taste there is definitely a syrupy sweetness on the very front, fairly bland on midpalate before some coffee notes come towards the back and linger with some dryness. Unfortunately, after my experience in Germany with many syrupy, high noted/artificial sweet dark beers, sensing that here turned me off a bit, even if it is guided with a chocolate flavour, and with a rich body that coated my tongue completely in it.

At this point I could not help feeling a little disappointed, even if previous experience should have informed my expectations better. As it warmed up, and Stew and I listened to the new Wilco album and thought of Stass when hearing the keys part in one of the songs, the alcohol did come through a bit more in aroma and on the back of the palate. I probably enjoyed it a bit more as it warmed up as the dark malt come through a bit more too to give the beer a bit more depth. I guess it reminded me of the Asam-Bock I had the other day at The Local Taphouse, but instead of caramel high notes, this was chocolate, but both still with just enough depth in malt to make them enjoyable.

Now I am off to the Two Birds Brewing launch of their Golden Ale.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beer Shopping, Tasting and Mr & Mrs Saaksjarvi


So I am still in recovery mode from Friday night, and have a few days to catch up on here. Taking a few days off working to get myself ready for Anna and Pete's wedding, and my role of MC for the reception, I decided I needed to do some beer shopping for them...and of course get a few for myself while I was at it.

Having heard that for the Queen's visit to Melbourne, Chapel Street Cellars had 6 bottles of a special beer available, I made my way down there as soon as it opened.

As you can see from this post's title, the happy couple have a fairly unusual surname (I should know with my own last name being Bogan), and with Pete's Finnish heritage, it was great to find the Nogne Sahti available, as it is a traditionally Finnish style of beer that is used to help celebrate marriage in Finland. This then became one of the beers I gave to the couple on the day.
Also from Nogne, and again with Pete's Finnish background, a beer with a sense of Viking was also purchased. Having tried a barley wine while on Pete's bucks day, I thought the Andhrimnir Barley Wine Ale would be appropriate. I have yet to give him this beer once things settle down.
So the beer available for that day was the Brew Dog Royal Virility Performance, a beer brewed for the Royal wedding between Wills and Kate earlier this year, and brewed with such ingredients as herbal viagra, chocolate, ginseng and Horny Goat Weed. Seeing Anna cannot drink it herself (she is gluten intolerant) it can be a beer she can get some pleasure from without drinking it. Therefore, I told her on Friday night to 'dispense at her own will'.

Seeing I was down that way, I thought I should visit The Local Taphouse, seeing it was a while since I had been there, for my usual paddle of beers to try.
With a fresh palate I decided to start on the collaboration India Saison between Bridge Road Brewery and Nogne that I had tried the week before. The tropical fruit on the nose and tongue was as I recalled, and really enjoyed picking up on pineapple, orange and apple aroma and flavour. It flowed quite well across the tongue with the bitter notes picking up on the sides of the midpalate, which builds towards the back. However, even with the light fruitiness of the beer, the 7.5% alcohol is well hidden, and the bitterness is well balanced with sweetness. Overall, it is just a bitter topical fruit punch for mine.
Next was the Weltenburger Kloster Asam-Bock, a bit of a fave since coming back from Germany and with my current interest in the Bock style. However, maybe having delved into this style a beer quite a bit since first having tried this particular one, the caramel sweetness came off a bit too high noted in aroma and taste, and with it a sense of artificialness to it. Still there is enough malt body to help round it off a give it a bit of depth behind the high notes.
Testing my theory of Murray's not coming out with a bad beer, I tried their Best Extra Porter. With the smell of dark malt and alcohol and a light but full texture, it definitely has an imperial edge to it, however, not with a massive amount of flavour.

Stepping up to a Russian Imperial Stout, the Murray's Wild Thing has a very brown head and chocolate aroma helps dull the alcohol sting on the nose. Some licorice does come through through this combo, and there is a creamy body to boot, but it does come up a bit too roasted on the tongue that lingers in aftertaste. As the beer warms, coffee aroma does become apparent, and the alcohol does come through more.
Finally, I ended on the Nogne Batch 100 Barley Wine. There is the classic amber malt and alcohol nose you would expect from a beer of this style. There is a nice tight head over a hazy dark amber body. It is quite light and fluffy on the tongue with a sweet body upfront. The alcohol does come on hard on the backpalate, but bitterness cleanses and lingers in aftertaste. As it warms the malty front does become sweeter, but the bitterness does come off a bit stingy for my personal taste.

After that I was ready to do more beer shopping at Slowbeer, with new shipments of Rogues Chocolate Stout and Grand Imperial Porter having come in. I found Chris speaking to Jayne from Two Birds Brewery offloading some of their new Golden Ale (which I embarrassingly said I thought had aspects of belgian yeast/spice in it...seeing I have the blog, everyone should know my memory is terrible) . After a chat she gave me a couple of the beers to take home, who I shared with my sister as she was staying at my place for the wedding.

Speaking of the wedding, I also stopped off at Mountain Goat Brewery and took a keg of Hightail Ale, that I am happy to say was finished at the reception...well, as good as. Picking up the keg from the venue the next day, I thought there was still enough in it to share with the family my brother is marrying into. However, having just set it up and pushed through the stale beer in the line, I was just about to put the glass under the tap when the keg blew, so for the first meeting of Nicolette's family, I was embarrassed by the keg.

So, after a few very busy days, I am happy to say I have to time to write up about all this and recover from it all. I am also happy to say I managed to get a few pots of the Hightail (and now just have to get the equipment from my place back to the brewery), and the presentation of the Royal Virility Performance helped save my performance as MC. Congrats to Anna and Pete, and also well done to myself for hopefully not ruining the day for them (thanks to those that made me feel better by saying I had done a good job).


Beefy (cousin to a Saaksjarvi...but don't ask me to pronounce it)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Situational Drinking 3: Bushwalking

Ok, so maybe not a situation we find ourselves in that often, but there is a certain sense you get from these moments that bring a certain desire and reaction to the beers I have when on the trail.

I just came back from a weekend away on the Great Ocean Walk, just doing the last 40kms from Johanna Beach to Princetown Tavern (yes, I always helps to have a pub at the end of the journey). At the end of each day, with the sun going down over the bush/coastal scene, it seemed appropriate to have a great beer to go with it.

In the simplicity of trekking, the senses seem to become more sensitive as you become more in tune with your surroundings and yourself. There is also the sense of contentment at the end of each day knowing you have made it to your destination, set up shelter and nourished your body ready for rest. At this time there is only one thing that can improve it, a tasty and bodily numbing beer.

On the first night, having reached Ryans Den, set up camp and just finished dinner, we went to the lookout to watch the sun set with a Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial Ale. Having given this to Harriet for her birthday last week, it seemed appropriate to bring it out here where we could all share it together. Having only had this beer once before when I was pissed on Russian Imperial Stouts, I was interested to try it again on a fresh (and sensitive) tongue. There is a great amber malt sweetness on the nose, melded greatly with the American hop character. This corresponds well into the flavours, with a good amount of body in the beer to help it coat your tongue early with the sweet malt, with the hops rising from the midpalate, some bittering sting coming through towards the backpalate , but still with some residual sweetness to keep it just in check before as it lingers into aftertaste...For me, this is a classic structure of an IPA, and happy to find that in one of the most hoppiest beers I have ever had (hoppy, not bitter), this structure is upheld, to show off a balance overall. Okay, personally, after a few sips the hoppiness does become overbearing for someone of my palate, but the undeniable quality shown in this beer was expressed by all of us tasting it. At its alcohol content, and after a day of physical exertion, the buzz came quickly, and contentment even faster.

On the second day, as the trials became slightly more difficult to overcome within ourselves, but our bodies became more use to the constant effort of another 15km of walking, we were again rewarded with a lovely view over the beach at Devils Kitchen campsite. Again, as we prepared for rest, the sun appeared from behind the cloud 30 mins before it set, and so we could enjoy another beer as light left the day. This time we had a different beer to try. After the trials of trying to find this beer after having it during Good Beer Week, it seemed appropriate for me to bring this out after the efforts we had gone through for our final night on the trail. I doubt if Les Trios Mousquetaires Grand Cuvee Porter Baltique has been drunk in this setting much before, but for me, it was a perfect ending to the day. Save, I could have enjoyed many other beers in this state, but for me this beer had an added edge that makes it memorable for me.
The look of tar being poured out of the bottle is the first impression this beer gives as it filled my enamel mug. A lovely tight but fluffy off white head sat over the top even in this vessel that is less than perfect for pouring this beer into. There is almost like a creamy and dark malt/chocolate aroma that comes from the beer that instantly relaxed me and encouraged me to take my first sip. It is like a sweet dark cloud of malt has landed on my tongue, with a mix of coffee and chocolate to give it a mocha flavour. However, unlike many mocha porters I have had, the lager aspect of the beer allows it not to sit so heavily on the tongue, and for a dark beer, not heavy on the stomach either. This also then gives it a refreshing aspect perfect for having while doing a walk, and gives it a delicate quality and gives the beer nowhere to hide when it comes to a balance of flavours.

And this is my point. Even though we have two quite diverse beers, there are two things both have, quality and balance. Quality is one of those hard to describe terms, but something you know when you experience it. Both these beers have it, and I hope somewhere in what I have written above, this comes through. Balance can also be hard to describe as we are all sensitive to different aspects and flavours in beer. Words like 'evenness' and 'roundness' are probably terms I use when it comes to taste and texture when I think of balance, but then that only puts in a second tier of meaning that can make it even harder to bring general understanding. But let me say this, having been 18 months since I had last done a multi-day walk, the contentment I feel from doing a walk, after so many days being caught up with life in the city, it is nice to bring back some simplicity, bring back some sense of balance in life. For me, these beers show it by themselves and in diversity against the other.

I don't know if what I have said is going to make sense to anyone reading this, but I guess it is just another example of seeing the situation in the beer, which is the point to these series of situational drinking posts. I guess by now, anyone having read a few of my posts can see that I like the story behind the beers I drink, and trying to remember the beers I have had over the past couple of years with this blog, I am also remembering the story and situation I had that beer in, and how they may have 'coloured' the way I tasted it.

Anyway, like I was saying, we finished the walk at a pub where I enjoyed a country pub meal of a chicken parma. Though, with my initial thoughts on a drink, we quenched our thirsts with a Coopers Pale (which of course tasted good because of the situation) before I pulled out a round of Baileys to gives us something to contemplate our journey over...hey, sometimes something else fits the situation better than the beers that were available to us...mind you, a Southern Tier Creme Brulee would have done just as good.

Thanks to Brad, Seda, Stass, Jarrod and Harriet for organising and coming on this 'journey', and to the breweries that produced beers suitable for this situation.



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Microbrewery Showcase 19/10/11

I managed to get to Fed Square early again this time around so had time for a Murray's Big Wednesday before I started on the tasting (I thought it appropriate for what could become a big Wednesday). Again, quality shows through with some nice citrus notes coming through with the malt, but think there was a bit too much alcohol for a starter beer. Anyway, to what I can recall and have noted on the beers I tried.

1) Two Birds Brewing: Golden Ale - Had to try this first up while my palate was still fresh out of respect for Jayne, and have to say I was pretty impressed. A good sweet malt aroma with a tinge of spice/dryness that corresponded well into flavour. Rounded mouthfeel that had some length to it and a slight dryness at the back to help clean up the palate.

I think the Big Wednesday had done it's job when I forgot to give one of the 'Birds' a ticket for the beer, and then proceeded to lose my glass between this tasting and the next. Maybe this was going to be a long and big Wednesday...

2) Mornington: Sorachi Kolsch - With the use of a Japanese hop, unfortunately all I could see, taste and smell was a standard Japanese lager/pils with too dry a backpalate and aftertaste (Kirin)

3) Forrest Brewing: Kolsch - After the previous disappointment, this one came up much better and a good start for me at trying out what this new brewer has to offer. Clean, slightly lemon and malt aroma, with the ale character allowing the beer to coat the tongue well with the lemony malt but still having a refreshing feel and only slightly dry at the back to make you want to go back for more.

4) Kooinda: Valhalla - Smelt slight sulphur with malt, but some decent malt flavour. Tainted with what seems like overcarbonation in flavour, but somehow does not come through in the texture with a cleansing hop at the back.

5) James Squire: Spear Tackle Ale - Heard this was brewed for the Rugby World Cup (even though it is an American Pale Ale) so had to give it a go. Would say it is a standard aussie pale ale, with only with a bit or a dry bitterness at the back to have any sense of 'Americaness' to it.

6) Grand Ridge: Vienna Rye - Spicy sweet smell that gives the beer a bit of a dark honey aroma, with good sweetness on the palate to go with it. There is also decent texture to go along with the flavour and slight dry back to help cleanup.

7) 2 Brothers: Super Rusty - Just to step up nicely from the previous beer, this Belgian ale was super sweet, which allowed me to personally enjoying it. The belgian spice was offset not just was dark malt sweetness, but also a sherberty sweetness that made me think of candied sugar. Sweetness hits the palate upfront as well as at the back, and belgian yeast characters come through on the midpalate as it warms up.

At this stage, I stumbled across Brad in the crowd and so we shared the next few beers.

8) Cavalier: Belgian Golden Strong Ale - I haven't any notes, but did put a tick next to it, so can only say I found it a good example of the style, and continues the quality of beers that seem to be coming of this newer brewer.

9) Buckley's Beers: Dark Bock - Again, just a tick next to this one, but having been getting into bocks at the moment, did find this one pretty good for the style, with a refreshing palate but with enough dark malt flavour to keep it interesting. Was caught talking to one of the brewers that seems to have had a bit too much of his own product (or product from other brewers), which didn't help with my note taking.

10) Black Heart Brewery: Dunkelweizen - Why on a German tangent and getting into darker beers, thought this dark wheat would be a good step. While the malt was pretty good, I did find it a little off in carbonation which gave it an alkaline smell and taste.

As always, from here, the order and notes on beers start getting pretty dicey (ok, dicier than previous notes anyway) so will get down whatever I can.

11) Moon Dog: Black Lung - Having seen one of the Moon Dog boys at the Local Taphouse stall, we had a chat regarding our respective recoveries from the previous Saturday and gave this beer a shot. Had me thinking of our own Hickory Stickory Bock with light palate, but with dark malt and smokey character to it.

12) Hawthorn Brewing: Belgium Witbier - good wheat cloudiness with spice and yeast aroma. Is pretty light on the tongue and a bit blandish in flavour, but cleans up at the back alright with no dryness

13) Red Duck: New Holland - Touted as an 'aussie dubbel' it certainly had the darkness and alcohol reminiscent of the style which I enjoyed. I am not sure where the aussie came from, but there was something different in the spice high noted flavours I would normally expect, but was not offensive. At this point started chatting to a few people so they could of distracted me, along with seeing Red Duck's Ox available.

14) Red Duck: Ox Imperial Stout - Pretty classic to the style, and as have probably noted before, like it over the Red Hill Imperial Stout, well, at least the one I had a few nights ago in the same spot. Worth it for the two tickets I gave to have a taste of it.

15) Holgate: Temptress - This one was thrust upon me by James after we spoke a bit about our thoughts on where Holgate is at the moment, and the quad we tasted from them a few nights ago at the Festival of the Froth. Normally I leave this beer til last, but not going to say no to this beer at any time, and happy to see it was tasting good after some recent mixed reviews.

16) Tooborac Hotel: Swaggies Stout - with a head that was as dark as the beer it floated on top of, this beer showed signs of the malt being heavily roasted, and unfortunately for me tastebuds, just tasted too much like coffee for me to enjoy it much. Luckily my tastebuds had died off a bit by now.

17) Forrest Brewing: Oatmeal Stout - Having enjoyed their Kolsch, thought I should try one from the other end of the scale. There was a nice chocolate malt nose, but the oatmeal limited the flavours coming through on the palate. Still, it helped give it a decent texture and sweetness did come through on the midpalate. Another win from this new brewery.

18) Bridge Road: India Saison - Had thought my tastebuds would have been too far gone to get on this, especially as I was expected quite the nuance between the hop characters of the Indian with the fruitiness of the Saison. But I have to say, I still enjoyed the tropical fruit punch aroma and taste that came from this beer, getting quite a bit of pineapple out of it. Really well done and what you expect from this quality brewer. Will want to taste this one again with a fresher palate.

19) Using my last two tickets and time running out to use them, I did the bolt back to Holgate and had a double of the Temptress. Always a great way to finish the tasting, and having seen me go for the double, was mimicked and officially given legend status by some pissed people trying to finish off their own tickets.

And so another Showcase is completed for me. I have to say the crowds are getting bigger and earlier each time it is on. Luckily I get in as early as possible, hoping to be finished by the time the crowd gets too big, and each time I am running around trying to use up my tickets before the stalls close. Maybe I should stop talking to people there and just get the drinking done. Still, with me only getting more known in these circles, it is going to only get harder. This is why the industry people get on it early...I just need to become one of those.
Anyway, top three beers would have to be the Super Rusty, India Saison and Dark Bock, with special mention to the Vienna Rye, and to Forrest Brewing.

Good luck to those that head to the second day today. Unfortunately I will be heading down to Apollo Bay with the Showcase is on, for a three day trek on the Great Ocean Walk.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pete's Buck's/Festival of the Froth Drinking Sess

I survived, and in not too bad a state either. But asking me what I had to drink and my thoughts on what I drank is a very hard task. After 18 hours of drinking, and not often having the same beer twice, it is hard to remember them all. Still will attempt to, and see what photos I have to help jog my memory.

So, at 11am 10 of us started Pete's bucks with a tasting of beers at Slowbeer. While we waited for a few stragglers, we had a taste of the Weiphanstephaner Festbier, which was a nice light and crisp beer to get out palates ready for the tasting. The first beer was The Timothy Taylor Strong Pale Ale. There is definitely some upfront sweet malt but it dulls off on the midpalate and ends with a dryness that was a bit too much for the beer. Fuller's Golden Pride was next, and had some really good malt sweetness body, and a beer that converted many of the mainstream beer drinkers in the group. It probably doesn't stack up against the modern barleywines now available, but at 8.5% it was still enough for us as a morning beer. Moving from the UK to Germany, and a Bamberg Helles really hit the vegetarians in the group with a bit of ham flavour in the beer. It is probably even lighter in flavour than the weizen version of this smoke beer, so was a great choice to show of this style of the group.
Stepping up to 12%, the Aventinus Weizen Eisbock put a shock through the system of most of the drinkers, and the freezing technique used in it really does build up the body of the beer to make it coat your tongue. Moving onto Belgium, 2 classics came out to be drunk, the Tripel Karmeliet and the Rochefort 10 (okay, I won't go on about these). Getting into some modern beers, the Shmaltz Coney Island Pilsner seemed to me to go too far against the style to be overtly coying on the tongue. The hops seemed to be quite good for the flavour of the beer, but the texture just did not site well and found I probably wouldn't be able to have a session on it because this (even if the boys did like the label). Lastly, the Yeastie Boys with Pot Kettle Black I found to be a good Black IPA with a decent blend of malts and hops, even if the hops do feel a little overbearing. Still, was a good beer to end on the freshen the palate.
Over lunch, we had a Heineken which really brought me back to earth (in a bad way). I hope this then showed the boys the difference between mainstream and craft beers. Things improved slighty with a Squire's Golden Ale, but this was just the step down I needed for what was to come.

I like lawn bowls, and it is a great way to spent the arvo. The beers may be a bit cheaper too, but the quality is quite low, and apart from Little Creatures Pale, I just could not handle the beers on offer. Of course by this stage, the boys were not worried about flavour, and just wanting the alcohol hit from the beer (the best man ended up doing a streak along the bowling green at this stage, even including a handstand in the venture). Even moving onto a couple of pubs from there, the majority of boys were sticking to mainstream beers (what was mainly available at the premises), but happy to see after the beer tasting in the morning, some boys were trying out some beers they hadn't had before that they could find in the fridge behind the bar. Then just as I was leaving the boys to dinner at Gasometer, I managed to find 2 Brothers James Brown Belgian Ale, which I enjoyed a bit of belgian yeast with some darker malt flavours. I have not heard from the boys since, but hopefully they came through the night ok.

I quickly ducked home to get changed and arrived at Beer Delux just was we were being allowed into the atrium to start the dinner and trivia. There was a Stone and Wood Pacific Ale on arrival to our table, so reset my tastebuds on that while looking on what to have. I was finding it pretty hard to get a beer during the event (unfortunately the Bridge Road Saison wasn't pouring well), and ended up only managing a Mountain Goat Steam Ale from the atrium bar. Luckily I was able to go into Beer Delux to grab a Red Hill Imperial Stout and a Moo Brew Barrel Aged Vintage Imperial Stout and let them warm up over the evening. I literally tasted water when the mystery beer came out (Corona from a can), which only made my tastebuds ready for the Holgate Beezlebub Quad Belgian Ale, which I actually found to be quite subtle for the style and what my palate expected. Mind you, the alcohol was quite high at 12%. The Moon Dog boys on our table also gave us a taste of their latest beer, which had quite a bit of a lambic flavour with cherry and belgian yeast flavours in it which intrigued me quite a bit. I did manage to get the Feral King Brown as well, but by then the tastebuds were dying fast, or maybe my focus was more on the trivia, as we ended up winning it!

We ended up hanging around at Beer Delux til about 3am before I headed out to Moon Dog (just around the corner from my place) for a couple more beers and a brewery tour in the wee hours of the morn.

I was surprised to wake up 4 hours later and feel somewhat ok...mind you, it has taken me a while to get around to writing up on it.

Still, no rest for the drinker. Today is the microbrewery showcase at Fed Square so will get there this arvo to taste some more beers and see what is new in brew.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Just in case...no, not 'case' as in 'case of beer'

Ok, I have a buck's party starting with a beer tasting at Slowbeer at 11am, with drinking to continue through the day before then going to Crafty Pint's Festival of the Froth from 7pm, which I have heard may not finish til 5am.
If I don't happen to make it through the next 18 hours of drinking, I would just like to say it was worth it, and in the words of Bridge Road Brewery, who paraphrased Ned Kelly, 'Such is Beer'.

However, if I do survive I expect to be in quite some pain, so I hope you all appreciate the lengths I will go to for beer. If I can recall anything from the day, I will try to put up what I can here...if I survive...

Cheers to beers,


Monday, October 10, 2011

Rugby World Cup and Beer: Quarter Finals

Holy Fermented Vegetable Beverage Batman (!), Wallabies make it to the semi finals, and with a terrible performance. Luckily my own performance on beer was ok, but like Quade Cooper, saw plenty of shockers.

After drinking a bit more than what I should have on Friday night (the Mountain Goat Rye IPA was just tasting too good), I managed to get down to Cherry Tree and test out my stomach on a Little Creatures Bright Ale before Goater Naz rocked up, so we pulled up a pew just as the first quarter final began between Ireland and Wales. I have to say it was a pretty enjoyable match to see equally matched teams go at it, but having seen Ireland play over the past four rounds, I thought they would have superior fitness to get them over the line. However, my prediction was proved false, and as I finished my nicely refreshing but sufficiently tasty Bright Ale, I found the Welsh and my belly were stronger than first thought.

With the England vs France game about to start, Naz and I got onto a beer we taste quite a bit of through Mountain Goat Brewery, the Hightail Ale. The decent texture of the Bright was only improved with the Hightail, and with a bit more sweetness going on, my tastebuds appreciated the upgrade as well. However, what I saw around me did have my laughing quite a bit. With a decent selection of beers on tap and in the bottle, I still found a couple of people drinking long necks of Melbourne Bitter, and was further astonished to see a bloke with a longneck of Carlton Draught sitting in an ice-bucket, yes, and ice-bucket.

The hilarity both Naz and I got from this was only improved when seeing France get some early points, and make England start trying to play real rugby to get a try. Of course, they just couldn't convert with drop balls, bad passes and plain losing of the ball at every opportunity that came up. My desire of seeing a world cup where running rugby began to show its dominance again in the sport was coming to fruition, and just liked watching England lose, and lose in such fashion. That has definitely been my favourite game to watch in this World Cup, and even recorded the game and watched it the next day, just to relive the joy of it all. Is it bad to hate a team more than you like the Wallabies.

Still, when it came to the Wallabies, there was not much to like with their performance. Set play was dismal, our backline found it hard to fire, mainly through the disappointing performance of Quade Cooper. Luckily there is enough depth in this squad to allow us to continue even when our main play maker is struggling, and our work in defense and at the breakdown were good enough to see us through. As I was so agitated at the game (probably the worse game I have seen for quite a while from the Wallabies), I only managed to get one beer down, but at least it was a good one in Moo Brew Pale Ale. Still, with focus on the bad game and terrible reffing to go with it, I am happy to say I already know this beer is good as I have tasted it many times before, as I failed to register much this time around.

After my brother and I paced around his place for much of the game in frustration, and be astonished that we actually beat South Africa, it was nice to go round the corner to Little Creatures Dining Hall, for another Bright Ale and a Rogers while celebrating Harriet's birthday (Hoppy Beerthday Harriet!!!!!!). I was happy to find Rogers is still a good midstrength beer with enough sweetness and body to stand up against decent full strength beers of similar style. It is nice to see some breweries are still putting some effort into these types of beers, as the market is generally poor for those wanting less than full strength beers.

Getting home after this, I found that New Zealand had beaten Argentina, and so we are to meet them next Sunday, where we will probably be demolished after having put in such a massive effort to beat the Springboks. Still, at least we have made it further than England, and with the French having played their 'big' game of this World Cup, I expect a Wales vs New Zealand final...which reminds me of when I saw the two teams play each other in the 2003 quarter finals, Welsh were playing out of there skin and leading the All Blacks for most of the game, when...

As for beers next weekend, I have Pete's bucks party starting with beer tasting at Slowbeer at 11am, then Crafty Pint's Festival of the Froth to go to on Saturday, so unsure what state I will be in for watching the semi's...