Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gearing up for Beer Awards

G'day all,

Have been gearing up for the Beer Awards starting tomorrow, and looking forward to hearing what the critics choice is of the best beers in Oz after having been disappointed by the voting polls that came out a few months ago. Have been keeping updated as we count down the top 12 beers (and putting my 2 cents in as well), and was happy to find out yesterday that I have been one of the lucky people to win a pack of the top 12 through the Beer Lovers Guide to Australia page on facebook. Was really happy to see the Holgate Temptress get in at my lucky number 8, and the Bridge Road Saison at 9. At the time of writing this, we are still yet to hear what is number 1, but whatever it is, I will be getting a sample of it to try (if I haven't already had it before), and be at the Local Taphouse tomorrow arvo to try them out on tap.

The only problem I have is with so much beer at home already, I am running out of room to hold it all. It may mean a session of drinking is upon us to cull back the stocks to make room for this, and the bottles of the honey dark wheat beer we are to bottle tomorrow. I just bought a new camera yesterday, so the first photo I took with it was of 'Beer Alley' beside my bed to give you all idea of the beer I have sitting in my bedroom at the moment.

After buying the camera and giving blood, I thought the best thing I could do was fuel up on a parma at the Royston and have a couple of beers there and across the road at Mountain Goat. Being in wheat beer mode at the moment, had another of the Bridge Road Hefe Dunkel and then tried the Jameson Beast IPA. Luckily I had the parma while I was tasting this beer, as the hops were pretty intense for my palate, but at least the beer cleansed the palate so I could enjoy the beer, and found the acid from the tomato in the parma helped cleanse the mouth of the beer. I was surprised at the fruity hop smell from the Beast, and the nicely textured sweet malt front palate to it. The hops definitely came through on the mid palate, but have to say I enjoyed the taste profile which seem to go from sweet malt, the citrus before the hops came through. If I had not had the parma, am sure the hop flavour from each mouthful would have become too much for me, but with food it was quite bearable. Ok ok, the saying 'there are not strong beers, only weak men' may apply here, but am happy to say that when it come to hops, I am a weak man. I think my recent tasting of Brew Dog's Sink The Bismark would make that pretty clear.

After being satisfied by the Royston parma once again, I went to Mountain Goat to sample the Hightail with Cascade hops through the infuser. Was glad for a step down from the previous beer, and probably why I was able to enjoy it more than what I would normally. As I was handed the beer, I found Shane was doing a tour of the brewery so tagged along to get a better idea of how they do things here. Was pretty good to get that insight and picked up a lot from Shane's tour, and manage to get in a few questions during the tour and have a quick chat to Shane after the tour. Then one of the ladies in the crowd came up to us and asked to get a photo of me seeing I was wearing my 'I'm what Willis was talking about' shirt on (you know, Different Strokes...'What you talking about Willis?'), so I roped in Shane into the shot with me.

Anyway, tomorrow looks like bottling latest brew, hitting the Taphouse for the beer awards, then beer tastings at both Purvis and Slowbeer, where I can hopefully also fill up my growler with Brew Dog's 5am Saint, which I am interested to try from the tap. I will also sign up for Slowbeer's 'round the world' tasting happening in May. Still, for today, I get to test out my camera so I can use it for a Twoks and Tim Cannon gig at the Rainbow tonight. Finally, I get to see two of my favourite Melbourne bands in the one night.

Here is to Beer, and to craft brewers at the beer awards.


PS: Hot off the press, I hear that the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Adelaide will be having the Rogue's Chocolate Stout ON TAP(!!!) next month, so have teed up my sis over there to let me know when it is on so can do the dash to try it out again. I am sure I have put it too high on a pedestal 2 years after having tried it for the first time in Portland, Oregon, but it holds too dear a place in my heart not to go over for it (oh, and see my sis of course!).

PPS: Oh, and as for the wedding I went to on the weekend, luckily the groom asked for Fat Yak, as am sure the Carlton Draught would have stopped me getting on the dance floor and made me worse for the morning after. Cheers Tim and Sus!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another Local Taphouse Tasting

Having found out on my way to the Eddie Vedder gig on Thursday (by the way, the gig was amazing [comparable to the Brew Dog Tokyo]!!!!) that the Local had Brew Dog Tokyo on tap (!!), I had to go back yesterday and try it out. Of course having a look at the other beers on tap, I had to have a tasting paddle, and while I was initially told that the Tokyo could not be put on the paddle, after willingly paying more, they happily added it for me (Yay!).
So the order of tastes went as such:
1) The Zephyr (5.6%) - Have not heard of this Doctors Orders brewery in NSW, but was pretty impressed with this Belgian wit. By the end of tasting it, the analogy of a pastel painting came to mind, as it is nearly a blank canvas, but with delicate flavours going on. This beer reminded me of the big difference between delicately flavoured beers and tasteless beers. Could pick up on the citrus and spice, and the slight favouring of sweetness which I also enjoyed. Overall well balanced in flavour with a slightly dry back palate and fairly watery texture that worked well for the style. The bar staff were also nice enough to give me a taste of this beer through the Randy they have filled with pepperberries and orange zest. The pepperberries brought a nice sharpness to the beer (sort of like mint/peppermint) and removed the slight yeasty flavour in the uninfused version, and the orange comes over more in smell than taste, but is still present and helps keep it balanced enough. Got me thinking of the Faro style of beer that has that nice delicate fruitiness with the sherberty sugarness that I really like.
2) Imperious (11%) - Okay, a bit of a step up in alcohol, but again impressed by another brew from Murray's Brewery. There is some mild hop smell, but is overpowered by a slightly heavy/dark citrus smell, which made it a good step up from that last beer. For an Imperial Belgian Blonde I got very little yeastiness and hops from it overall, as the citrus sweetness takes over the front to mid palate, then the alcohol comes through from the mid, but then finishes sweet again in aftertaste. Still, the texture allows for the flavours to meld nicely so the alcohol does not spike and this balance gets even better as it warms.
3) Bridge Road Robust Porter (5.2%) - Was surprised to think that I hadn't had this beer on tap before, so had to give it a go here. It was funny, but the first flavour I got was a sort of dry smokiness on the back palate, but I guess for a porter this is pretty delicate, and the previous beer was big. As it warmed the smoke became more coffee but quite light, and more chocolate comes out in smell as well. Overall, on tap there is a better roundness of flavour but the texture is still a bit watery.
4) Nogne O Porter (7%) - Again, a very light on flavoured English porter style which was surprising for this Norwegian brew. There is some chocolate on the nose which translate into the front palate flavour before a heightened fruit flavour takes over to then leave with a slight dry finish. It is an interesting combination of flavours which while light, has a good texture while cold to hold it together. However, it does water as it warms, along with a bit more coffee flavour.
5) Brew Dog Tokyo (18.2%) - The Big Mumma! What can be described about this beer? The Taphouse notes are pretty good, and better than anything I can do. There is a dark (almost spirit) alcohol smell with some spice, and can get some dark fruit on the tongue that becomes alcohol pretty quickly. Still for me, the main reason to have this beer on tap is to see if the texture is any better, and that it definitely is. The smoothness just helps compound the expanding and warming alcohol sensation in the mouth, down to the gut, then back up through the lungs and back out the mouth. Letting this beer sit on your tongue for 10 seconds does help reduce any burning you can get at the back of the throat. I get so caught up in the experience of this beer, I must just lose the ability to describe it at all as I get lost in its immenseness. It had such an impact on me that my nose started to bleed (it's okay, just an old rugby union injury that comes back to me when my head gets overheated in a certain way, not helped by the alcohol thinning my blood) after I finished just 70 ml of the stuff. Luckily I could get on my bike and ride home, and let the cool air flow over my head to cool it back down.
So a bit thanks to the Local Taphouse as usual for a good array of beers and knowledge to go with it to help me on my journey, and to the two blokes that had a sit and chat with me just as I was getting towards the end of my journey. Thanks for taking my suggestions and hope they got you through til your girls had finished their pampering next door.
I also have to say Happy Birthday to my brother Mick, and my grandma for yesterday. At least someone got to drink some good beers for your big day.

However, the day did not end there beer wise. As a welcome to their new home, Stass and Jess had an impromptu housewarming for their first night in the new place. The shed out the back is ready to start our next stage in brewing (WOOHOO!), and I took around the growler of Kooinda Raspberry Wit for us all to try. So with 3 JUMBO (yep, I mean jumbo) and crownies (special occasion!) from the pizza place (yep, we felt like we were in the burbs! Cheers Redgum Pizza. We will be back!!!) we went back to the new home and I cracked the wit. In the end nearly everyone had a taste which says a lot. The raspberry is good in it and if anything a little more powerful than what I thought looking at it. More raspberry flavour than what I expected after having the Belgium Wit at the Microbrewery Showcase and guessing how raspberry could combine with it. Still, was happily surprised by the sweetness, the lack of yeastiness and the bloating that I would normally expect from a wheat beer. I have a little left over from last night, so seeing how it goes a bit flatter as there was a bit of fizz on the tongue last night. A good beer that we found last night is a good all rounder that many can enjoy.

Now to get ready for a wedding where probably the 'best' beer will be crownies (another special occasion). Come on Tim, I have better faith in you than that. Let's hope there is something decent...



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gimme some shugga' for making 150

Welcome to the 150th post on this blog!

I have decided to keep with my personal flavour and try out a sweet beer I saw a couple of months ago and have wanted to try it since. Having a sweet tooth, when I saw the Lagunitas Brown Shugga Ale, it caught my eye, and thought 'even if it may end up being a novelty beer, it was worth a go' and on an occasion like this, seems appropriate to have a novelty beer for a novelty beer blog.
With a dark amber colour, smells of sweet caramel (hmm, good start), but even more on the sweeter side. I have actually tried using brown sugar before in a scotch ale, and really liked how it came out, and the smell reminds me a bit of that. There is a nice caramel sweet upfront taste, and a decent body to carry it along to the midpalate. I am actually tasting a bit of trappist beer with the sweetness up front, like a Chimay Blue or Rochefort 10 but not as dark (am I building up this beer too much because of the occasion?). Coming back to earth, there is a bit of a fizz that comes over the tongue from mid palate that does take away from the flavour a bit. However, am hoping this reduces as it warms. There is also a hop on the back palate that while isn't bad, also takes away from the flavour I enjoy on the front, but does cleanse the tongue quite well. As it warms the fizz does diminish, but the hop flavour does increase. I guess that has to be expected from a U.S. beer, but still an flavourful and interesting beer overall.

As always, thanks for checking out this blog, and big thanks to Stass for setting it up, even if he doesn't contribute this much up front. Still, his behind the scenes support has helped this blog and myself to where we are. I'd also like to add that we have also reached the 3000 mark in terms of people coming and looking at the blog, so averaging 20 views per blog, which I am pretty pleased with. I hope though you have taken into account my personal bias into any accounts I have made on beers and those thoughts I have around beer (which I guess is pretty wide for me). Anyway, thanks for checking it out. It continues to be an interesting journey for me, and happy to have documented the hundreds of beer I have been able to record in this medium. From my own and other beer tastings, brews we have put on, beers I have tried while traveling, the people I have met through all this, and to have my first day working in a brewery as a bookend to all this so far, it has been a great experience, and has helped develop me this far.

I have chosen a good day to bring up this mark, as am about to head to an Eddie Vedder gig tonight. So, in his words...UUUMMMQQUUAAAAAYYYY



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Otway Limited Release Organic Raspberry Ale (4.5%)

Seeing I am on a sugar rush at the moment, thought this fruit beer would give me some different sweetness from the chocolate beers I have been on recently. It looks pretty light on in the red hue, but there is some good raspberry smell coming from it. There is a bit of sourness to it and unfortunately is a bit more watery that I would like, having tried brewing my own raspberry beers. I noticed this beer was brewed for the summer and so has had a few months in the bottle, and from my experience can understand that it has probably come on sourer and more watery as it gets older. I know it only took a month after bottling ours that we noticed these things come into the raspberry beers we have brewed, and probably why we headed towards going towards sweeter and thicker stouts to overcome these issues. The only other aspect I found was it had a slight dryness on the back and there was a slight sherberty/fizz feel on the midpalate. Overall, would be a great summer beer with a bit more flavour, if not a bit more texture.
However, to have tried this beer on tap I reckon it would have tasted much better to get a bit more mouthfeel and carbonation to bring out the flavour of the raspberry more. Having had Otway's blueberry wit on tap at the microbrewery showcase last week, it definitely had better flavour and texture, and so would think this raspberry ale would have more going for it. I have also just found out that Slowbeer have the Kooinda Raspberry Wit on tap so think it would be worth getting in on the growler and trying this beer out (I also heard Slowbeer will have the Empress on soon too, and will definitely need to have some of that at home).
One last thing, I tried a new recipe for beef and Guinness pie yesterday that Stass gave to me, and have to say it was pretty good. I look forward to making this over the coming winter.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Magnus Czekoladowy (6%) and my first day of work at a brewery

Hi Gang,

Found out through Slowbeer that they had this Polish beer, so went in their over the weekend to pick this new chocolate beer up. Yes, I know I already have 50-odd other beers, but you should know by now, when it come to chocolate beer, 'I must 'ave it!', and having just had the Choc Hops beer at the Microbrewry Showcase, I just had to try it straight away.
I had heard it was pretty sweet, and if I hadn't just had the Choc Hops, this beer would have had more of an impact than it did, but to be honest it is very sweet and was pretty difficult finishing the bottle. It definitely has that similar 'chico' smell but with a darker edge from the chocolate used. I baked a chocolate mud cake and made sure it was still warm when I had a slice with the beer. The warmth of the cake boosted its flavour, and so brought out more of an alkaline and bitter taste in the beer. However, I noticed as the beer warmed this reduced quite a bit. To be honest, the sweetness is pretty similar to the Choc Hops, but unlike the Choc Hops that was all front palate, and no back, this left the mouth with a sweet aftertaste, making the Magnus harder to go back to after each sip. It was probably good to have the cake, just to cleanse the mouth a bit. It has a decent body to the beer and works for the flavour in it. Did not notice the alcohol at any stage, but the sweetness just overrides anything else that could be in this beer. However, I would still say the Choc Hops is slightly sweeter due to the darker edge the Magnus has. For those like myself that were impressed with the Choc Hops at the Showcase, definitely try out this beer.
I also have the standard version of the Magnus without the chocolate to try as well. There is not so much of the sweet choc smell but still has dark malt, and the head retention is a bit better with the standard, probably because the use of actual chocolate includes cocoa butter, and the oils from that ruins the head of beer. Also, while it is cold, there is a slight alkaline smell coming from it, but it does not come out so much in flavour. The sweetness seems to be reduced as well, but is still the major taste like the chocolate version. The body of the beer is still the same and there is still the sweet back palate, but because it is reduced it does not hang around as long as the chocolate version, overall making it more of an easy drinking beer. In terms of ingredients, the only difference to the standard and the chocolate is that instead of the chocolate, the standard has caramel, which I guess, keeps that sweet taste in the beer. However, the caramel taste is not prominent in the beer as much as I would normally get from a beer with use of caramel malt.

Ok, I have waited long enough, time to describe the very first day I worked in a brewery, which happened on Friday. So Mountain Goat had the (cough, cough) privilege of having me in their brewery to help them bottle their first batch of the Surefoot Stout for the upcoming winter (hmm, stout, a good sign for me). With Dave, Shane, Jayne, and another noob Dan, we got set up and took the first half slow so us noobs could keep up. Once you get into the rhythm of the bottling and labeling machines, it was ok, but after a break at the Royston (yep, tough day), they stepped up the speed and then it was a bit more chaotic to keep up with the process. Still, just being able to focus on a small part I was able (barely) to keep up. The work was fine physically for me, but while it wasn't exertive, the repetition does get to you a little. I guess that is part of why they life to get it done quickly. Still, in the end we got there (and just in time for the bar to open) so we had one of the staffy beers (we have about 8 boxes of them at the end, and I have brought one home to enjoy) and then sat by the bar to have a few beers with the gang. I tried the cucumber sandwich (surprised and how much cucumber gets into the beer through the Randy) and then the new Black IPA. I have to say,a lot of hops, but the dark malt really contrasts the flavour to give it decent balance overall. The malt is almost of a smokey flavour it has been burnt that much, but was pretty impressed with it.
Anyway, let's just say I am looking forward to the next opportunity to do another days work there. Not only is it the closest brewery to where I live, just being able to hang out in that environment, and talk to the brewers to understand their progress individually and as a brewery, was a great experience for me personally, and hopefully it is the foot in the door that will open this area for me career wise. And so it starts...again.



Friday, March 18, 2011

St Patrick and his Goat

Happy St Pat's Day,

Like I hope many of you did, I had a great day yesterday. I managed to get to the Drunken Poet right on 12, and over the 8 pints was able to soak up the atmosphere of a real Irish style pub with the best Guinness in Melbourne. I reminisced of my St Pat's Day in Ireland 3 years ago, and traveling through the country.

Just as I was finishing my last pint before the Drunken Poet closed, I get a call from my mate Jimmy, who tries to inform me that Mountain Goat Brewery will be calling me to see if I can work their tomorrow (ie, today). Of course the rowdy crowd made it hard for us to hear each other, but managed to understand enough to get very excited, finish my Guinness and head out of the pub. I managed to sober up enough on the tram trip home and the walk to the Royston so that by the time Jane called me from Mountain Goat (while I was walking past Mountain Goat) I could have a half decent conversation and have it confirmed I will be working their today bottling their latest batch of beer. WHOOOO HOOOOO!

So then I get off the phone and walk into the Royston, high five Stass and get myself a Holgate Empress before sitting down the tell him my good news. Such a good experience having my second favourite aussie beer (sorry, Moo Brew Vintage Stout '08 still beats it) and my brother in beer together in that moment, and reminded me of when we sat down at Beer Delux and tried the Moo Brew Vintage Stout on tap. Another great St Pat's Day moment was made. Then after a feed and a couple Empress', we headed off to the Rainbow for a Twoks gig. The only unfortunate thing was after Guinness and the Empress, it was really hard to find a beer that didn't bring us back to earth. First I tried an Erdinger Dunkel, but the wheat only bloated me a bit, so went harder and Stass and I shared a a Chimay Blue, which while good, still didn't sit well. Anyway, in the end we were able to talk with an Irishman to finish off the day, so it all worked out.

So now I woke up at 5am this morning and had my life in beer flash through my mind as I take this first step of working in a brewery. I look forward to just being in that environment and soaking up the realisation something has happened, I have a start.

Here is to the luck of the Irish, and the steadiness of the mountain goat. Let's see what happens from here.


Beef/Guinness Man

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Microbrewery Showcase 16/3/11

Hello Fellow Beerers,

So another showcase is on and got in early yesterday to try and give me a chance to chat to some brewers and pass out my resume to see if I could find some interest in my limited but enthusiastic experience with beer. Unfortunately, this setting just does not work well for talking to people about job opportunities, and my interest in beer took over from looking for work. Overall, I have to say that there is a lot more experimentation going on, so found it easy to find beers I hadn't tried before, and beers I wanted to try again. As well as speaking to the bar staff about the beers they were serving, I found it enjoyable to talk to general punters to find their flavour and give them some tips on beers to try (especially chocolate beers, but will get to that later). I also got to see a few familiar faces like Ian who I see at the Royston and Dave from Moo Brew in the crowd. For the first time I got through all my tickets, and had just returned my glass when random people started giving me tickets and the servings started getting big at the end of the event.

Ok, so with my notes, I did try and number them so I knew the order of tasting, but that fell through, so will try and get my journey as close as possible.

1) Prickly Moses - Otway Brewing Organic Blueberry Hefeweizen - Okay, I was warned by 'Irish' at this bar that this was not a starter beer as it was too flavourful, so maybe my tastebuds are getting too dulled, but for me this was a great starter beer. The style gave it the bubblegum i would expect and found banana in with the blueberry. It was quite refreshing with a light sherbert sugar that held on well into the midpalate. A very good start!

2) Kooinda Belgian Witbier - I had also wanted to try the Kraka Raspberry Wit and the Valhalla (darker ale), but unfortunately they hadn't made it. As for this beer, I found it a bit generic in fruitiness and had a good texture for the style. I could really see where some raspberry would fit in with this beer to enhance it, so will be on the look out for the Kraka and Valhalla. Also saw this brewery are using Eco-kegs, which was interesting to talk to the staff about and my thought that there may be carbonation issues was true.

3) Mildura Choc Hops - This was the most interesting beer of the whole night for me (and Ian as it turned out). I am sure the staffy was overwhelmed by the excitement I showed over this beer, and yes I did go back later in the night for a second helping. My tasting notes go as this "wow - actually tastes like chocolate, most real chocolate taste I think I have ever had from a beer. So sweet on front palate, nothing after. Texture not there (problems with keg), but that flavour is incredible (How!!??). Smells like Chicos! Does dry on back palate but no flavour. All Choc sweet!". It was pretty cloudy (they used cocoa powder) and they use cocao nibs to get the chocolate flavour, but I was a bit confused as to how they got it so sweet as I thought these would bring more of a bitter style of chocolate to the beer. Still, it is what it is, and I was amazed by it. I would be happy if I could brew something similar.

4) Arctic Fox Chocolate Stout - After the last beer I had to then compare with this one. Well, like all my experiences with Arctic Fox, this one also left me disappointed. The beer was too cold. There was a slight sweet choc smell which converted to taste, but then bitters up quite early on the palate and lingers in aftertaste. What a comedown from the previous beer.

5) Holgate Temptress - Ok, an old favourite of mine, but had to go for it after the previous two. Compared to the other two as a great balance of sweet and bitter choc flavour and better roundness of flavour overall because of it. I also had the chance to try their new 'Empress' at the Royston the night before which is basically an imperial version of this beer (10% Woah!). Compared to that, the Temptress is a bit sweeter and rolls over the tongue a bit easier. Still, who wants easy when you can have a much more flavourful version of the Tempress in the Empress, which still retains good texture and the higher alcohol does not burn or take away from that classic flavour of the Tempress. Empress actually reminded Mick and I of the Rogue's Chocolate Stout, so had to congratulate the Holgate staffy on the Empress when I got this beer. Too bad they did not have the Empress there last night.

6) Mornington Peninsula Saison - After the chocolate beers, needed to refresh the mouth, so went for this beer. Was a lot darker than expected with a slight darker fruit smell that what is usual for the style. Has a decent flavour and is pretty standard for my taste, so is probably more robust than normal. was also a bit overcarbonated, but a good attempt at this style.

7) Bridge Road Chevalier Saison - After the previous beer had to taste off against this one. I prefer this one over the Mornington, as it has much more of a traditional Sasion flavour to it, and has the lightness and fruitiness that makes it such a good summery beer.

8) Bright Brewery Raspberry Lambic - So, while on Belgium styles I had to give this a go. Expecting it to be a real lambic I made sure the dull the tastebuds a bit before getting to it, but then cleanse the tongue with the previous saisons. When it poured I saw it was pretty light in the red colouring, and after tasting it, realised it was a very subtle version of a lambic which was fairly sweet and not much sourness at all. I guess not being able to use to real approach to lambic brewing in Australia really confines what you can achieve, but happy to see this is being attempted at all here.

Ok, from here I stopped noting when I had the beers.

9) Three Troupers Amber Ale - Sweet caramel smell with some artificial sweet caramel taste that dies off from the mid palate.

10) O'Brien Rat Bitter Ale - Good to see a mainly gluten free brewery at the showcase and to come out with a non-gluten free beer. While I guess from the title of the beer it is suppose to be bitter, there is only a very slight bitterness in the beer itself. There a pretty sweet caramel honey smell and taste before the slight bitterness on midpalate, but then the sweetness come back and lingers on the backpalate. Chatting to the staff from here I could finally have answered a question I had always wanted to know about their Gluten Free Brown Ale which was how they achieve the malt flavour, and found they are able to malt the sorghum same as other grains.

11) Cavalier Brown - Nice caramel smell but does not translate into flavour. Still has a decent amount of texture though.

12) 2 Brothers Chief (Oktoberfest Marzen Bier) - has quite a dark look and smells of dark wheat. There is some sweetness from the malt but not so much wheat flavour. It also has a fairly watery texture, which I probably only notice because I would expect more from the colour and flavour.

13) Holgate Road Trip (American IPA) - Very hoppy smell and just enough malt to carry the hops. Still, this was getting later in the tasting, so am sure with a fresh palate this would be way too overbearing for me personally. Therefore, it is a good attempt at an American style IPA.

14) Bridge Road Red Rocket - A 9% beer with caramel and big hop smell. Was a little unsure on the taste of this one. Wasn't sure if it was a dark fruit or a spice flavour I was getting out of it. It seemed to be a bit heightened but wasn't harsh, just distinct. It melds alright with the red ale style and of course do get the alcohol, but was only when I went back that I found they used Muscat barrels. Very interesting.

15) Bridge Road Robust Porter - While I was back asking about the Red Rocket, I got into this old favourite.

16) Mornington Peninsula Brown - Waited way too long to try this beer, but then was too cold, had an artificial sweet brown taste, and was overcarbonated, so not much of a loss.

17) 2 Brothers Guvnor - After the Red Rocket, thought it was time I tried this Barely Wine. It definitely had the dark red colour and dark sweet smell I would expect. There was a good creamy texture and tasted pretty sweet with some wine flavours coming through. However, it does not leave an aftertaste, so was quite easy to go back to.

Okay, from here I went back and tried the Choc Hops again, had a hit of the Mirboo Midnight and 2 hits of the Supershine also from Grand Ridge, and then a taste of the Hawthorn Pale Ale and Amber Ale. Ok, so all up that is more than 20, but who is counting.

This event just seems to get better each time they have it. I really like the European slant that I could take with my journey, and seems there is more out there for fruity, sweet, and chocolate drinkers, which am sure will be good to attract women into beer.

Well done to everyone involved and even though I didn't get to do much to help me job wise, as always just good to see what is happening in Victorian brewing.

Now to keep the drink up for St Pat's Day. If I can remember it I'll let you know how I go. My plan though is to hit the Drunken Poet for the best Guinness in Melbourne, then maybe come back this way for some Empress at the Royston before hitting the Rainbow for a Twoks gig. Bring it on!


Beef/Guinness Man

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Europe do over does me over, and other tales of beer...

Going the a BBQ on the weekend, and seeing Joel, Sean and myself had all been to Europe, I had a few beers to try out and get them in on.

However, to start with, seeing Summer had only just past and found Red Duck do a Bright Ale, we were able to taste it off with the great one from Little Creatures. While I could get the citrus notes on the nose with the Red Duck, it just did not have the taste or texture. It tasted more like a wheat beer with only a slight hint of citrus towards the back. It was also quite cloudy and seemed to be a bit watery which also denoted wheat. I will get back to wheat in a bit...

I also had two Belgium beers to try. The first being Brugs Zot Bruin, which Joel brought back from Brugge. I think I remember having this over there and not being overly impressed by it. Some dark malt and a bit too much carbonation maybe, but not a lot of texture. Mind you, we were watching the Super Rugby so not all of my attention was on the beer. The other beer was the Duchesse de Bourgone (or something like that). I had remembered having it over there for the Belgium Beer Weekend, but could not remember when I was at Slowbeer whether I had liked it or not. Upon tasting I was reminded that I didn't, and out of the bottle was worst than when I had it on tap. definitely a lighter lambic taste with some of the slight serberty sweetness, but not enough to overcome the sour. Much prefer a Faro over this.

The last one was actually from Czech Republic, the one beer that taunted me while I was in Prague...The Cenra Hora Granat. Unfortunately it tasted pretty much like the other dark Czech beers I tried over there, but a bit worst (possible from traveling, as Joel also sent this one back). Had less of a the sweetness I generally had with the dark beers, about the same texture, but also this alkaline flavour. I know Joel and Duff mentioned it was highly carbonated when they tried it over there, so maybe this is an effect from that after the beer has aged a little while.

So, unfortunately not one of the best beer tastings I have had for a while, and sorry to put you guys through it.

However, things did pick up as Stass and I bottled our Russian Imperial Stout and had a go at an Ace of Spades Stout which was quite chocolaty, and enough texture to help it go down nicely. I did sense some alkaline as well on aftertaste, but then realised my glass was a bit dirty when I poured it, so that may not have helped. Still, in terms of the Russian Imperial Stout, there is some good texture out of the barrel, and looking forward to it mellowing out for a few months before we taste it. The barrel did take some punishment with this brew, so hopefully it was worth it. I have already set the date for the tasting, and managed to have 15 other Imperial Stouts to taste it against, which will be awesome.

Okay, as for our next brew, as with our Choc Raspberry Stout, Team Smith/McKnight have challenged us to a Honey Wheat beer off. I have heard from Smith that their beer is in the bottle already, and we have yet to start brewing ours (a bit different to last time!). Still, after some discussions with Stass, we have found an approach that we think will bring something interesting. I haven't actually brewed a wheat beer before, so is a big leap to try what we are. Still, I hope over the last 40-odd brews I have developed a little commonsense to be able to pull this off. I will not give away anything yet (I know they will be reading this), except to say we will probably use the grain mill the opposing team gave me for my birthday.

Finally, I have to thanks all my friends for giving me a voucher for Purvis for my birthday last year. You will be happy to know I spent it all in one go this week, and picked up enough beers to keep me tasting and putting notes up here for a long time to come. The hardest part was carrying it all home, but there was no way I was going to drop any. I look forward to being able to share many of them with you.

Here for Beer,


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ode to Mark Leahy

This is the man...

And this is Stass and I trying out one of the Black Chocolate Stout's he brought back from New York for me...

Thank you Mr Leahy! Come the start of winter, you will be invited as a special guest to our Russian Imperial Stout taste off that will include this and many other RIS's (including the one Stass and I are about to bottle and will be unveiling on the night). After a mild summer, expecting a cold winter, so will be great to have these 'warming' beers on hand.

Speaking of coolish weather and great men of Irish heritage, looks like this St Pat's Day will be great for Guinness drinking here in Melbourne. I nearly went for one yesterday at the best place in town for the black gold, but think I will hold off til the day. Your pints will be on me Mr Leahy! Only 2 weeks away...

Cheers again to you Mark Leahy,