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!