Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good Beer Week: Day 5 - 'Fitzroy-Crawl-and-First-Class-Tasting' Friday

Hey, I'm still alive! That is a good sign, and brings with it the potential to drink more beer...

Ok, having missed out on the Josie Bones lunch event yesterday, I decided to do a bit of a crawl around Fitzroy until they open in the arvo after the private function. With the sun out and wanting to start the day on a light note, I hit Little Creatures beer hall for a summery Bright Ale. With that 'settler', I went round the corner to the Rainbow Hotel, and noticed they had Good Beer Week maps in there. Talking to Jason I found they were actually a Crafty Crawl venue, and so got a photo with my first Craft Crawl treasure, while enjoying a Holgate Temptress. Hmm, a Bogan, wearing an anti-bogan beer shirt, drinking a 'just-like-a-chocolate-'milk'shake-only-beery' beer and holding a poster that seems to contain the secret to lactose brewing...that has to be one of my better photos from the week.

Finding out Grumpy's Green was also a 'crawl' venue I made my way to Smith Street, walked in and asked what their treasure was. Nick did not know, so I just grabbed a pot of Bridge Road Pale and sat outside to keep an eye on Josie Bones to see when it would open. Who should be out the front but Tom who I meet at the opening dinner to GBW on Monday, who found out for me what the treasure was. I went back in and told Nick, who then allowed me to stand behind the bar to get the full effect of the paper cranes above me.

After finishing that beer, I went across the road to see if Josie Bones had opened, just to find Jade from the Wheaty coming out of the lunch and looking desperately for a coffee. Directing her to Gertrude Street and seeing Josie Bones was still cleaning up from the lunch, I went back to Grumpy's to get a 2 Brothers Brown Ale and chat more the Nick.

Finally, Josie Bones opened and as I sat down James came across and introduced himself to me and we had a quick chat about the week, the beers they have on tap (just amazing!) and events he was looking to do. After giving me a quick taste of the Black Saison (light choc malt smell and front but with classic fruity flavour you would expect from a normal saison. Not what I was expecting, but pleased to find) before he left me in the capable hands of Sarah and Stewart, who continued my day of chatting to bar staff, and furnished me with a 3 Ravens Ale Noir. With this one I was expecting a big malty beer that would normally be barrelled, but for me it was like a lightly smokey red ale, and then after one of the tastings later that night, found it was actually more of a barleywine than red ale flavour I was getting from it. Again, I was pretty impressed.

With this Bridge Road Brew 500/Dog's Breakfast still teasing me after 2 attempts, I decided to try it again here. The vessel and temperature this third one came to me in was much better than previous, and not sure if I really just want to sense it, but did kind of pick up on a honey/maple syrup smell and slight tingle of it on the midpalate. I also seemed to notice a little more body from the oats, and of course, the smokey bacon. I'm still not quite there with it (still not getting coffee, but maybe not being a coffee drinking to making it hard for me to pick it), but this was definitely the best one I have had this week.

I then had the Moon Dog Black Lung porter, and have to say now this was more of a 'hit' then the 'miss' I felt with the pineapple beer, and the 'passable' stout. The first taste hit me pretty hard actually, with a sharp vinous quality dampened with the malty front and smokey back. Still, it seemed to clean up pretty well in aftertaste, so wasn't offensive, and the porter style didn't make it too heavy on the tongue. After that first intense taste, it came off more rounded in flavour with subsequent sips. none of the mirky midpalate on this beer, clean and sharp better describes this one, and happy to finally find a decent beer from a brewery I'd like to be more supportive towards.

Being on a purple patch so far at Josie Bones, and with just enough time to try it, I had the Hitachino Nest Expresso Stout. Wow, nothing like the bitter and thin beer I had tried from the bottle all those months ago, and the staff were right to recommend this one. With some chocolate on the nose, that combined with the coffee to make it taste a bit like a Mocha Porter, the richness in taste and texture this beer had completely blew me away. Again some wine character going on in midpalate, but the malt and creamy texture didn't make it sting the tongue, and again cleaned up pretty well on the back with little alcohol as well. Though, by now I started feeling it a bit. Still, this is one beer Stass needs to taste, and already thinking of getting him back here on for lunch on Sunday so we can try this, the Black Lung again, and the Nogne and Gulden Draak I didn't get to try.

With just enough time to duck home for a quick bite I wandered down to Purvis for the Gold Medal Tasting event, and finding the place starting to fill up quickly with people, grabbed a pen and tried to get my taste buds through the next 16 beers. Overall I found the order of beers to be pretty good for the mix of styles on offer, and happy to see the last 5-6 were bold beers to keep my taste buds going and get into my sort of beers. So will just go through the order, and what notes my diminishing palate/vocabulary could pick up on.
Trumer Pils - hops are too strong on that light a malt body (sorry, my personal bias comes out a lot more by this stage of my beer journey day).
Estrella Damm Inedit - sweet light malt smell with a bit of a light spirit taste to it (sorry, don't know my spirits that well). However the spirit flavour is light enough to intrigue and not offend me. Interesting.
Bridge Road Saison - light fruit but a bit sweet on smell Same on tongue and cleans up quickly while still on the midpalate. Slight sour on back but not much aftertaste.
Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus - deep, but not overpowering sour smell but with some balancing sweetness. Much rawer sourness in taste but the raspberry sweetness again helps combat this.
Holgate ESB - big malt and hop smell, but the caramel that comes off as a meld between the two helps as a balance. Same on the tongue and cleanses well on the back
St Bernardus Tripel - full blonde yeast smell with slight citrus, spice and caramel malt to carry it into the realm of a belgian tripel. Malt comes through more in taste with a smooth texture and some orange zest.
8 Wired Hop Wired - seeing I tried this the night before I didn't bother to write down any notes.
Feral Hop Hog - Stronger hop flavour than the 8 Wired but still well balanced and clean well on the back. Hops also rise on aftertase but don't linger too harshly. Reminds me a bit like the Epic's from last night.
Weihenstephaner Vitus - banana/bubblegum smell with some orange which come through more on the tongue and includes a light sweetness.
Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Aventinus - slight sour and dark fruit smell on a dark malt backing. Fruit and yeast come through more in flavour but still quite light overall.
Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock - compared to previous, this has a darker fruit with some sweetness on the nose. Alcohol really warms up as it sits on your tongue but with a decent body to carry it. Yeast lingers on the back.
Holgate Beelzebub's Jewels - deep red ale smell with alcohol - bit vinous? Good texture with warming alcohol that slightly burns at the back, making the flavour a little one dimensional, but enjoyable...that is barelywines for you.
Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer - dark fruit and caramel/toffee smell heading toward a smooth scotch/whiskey which comes across into taste but cleanses well on the back to just leave a nice warm alcohol sensation.
Orkney Dark Island Reserve - dark spirit smell with caramel to not make it overpowering. Smooth, dark fruit flavour but seems to cleanse to early on the palate to draw much from it, but there is a hint of dark fruit on the back, which with the alcohol brings with it that barleywine flavour.
Nogne Imperial Stout - dark malt smell, touch of sweet chocolate in the smell that reminds me of Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout. Toffee malt up front with slight bitterness on the back and cleanses well in aftertaste. Well balanced overall.
Armanger Hr. Frederiksen - rich/deep dark malt smell with alcohol. Light in body but smooth. A warming alcohol and slight bitter aftertaste (almost a 'knee slapper' for me).

So, probably my biggest day so far with 25 beers tried. Still, was finished by just after 8pm, so was able to come home afterwards and chill out before going to bed. It is now 5 am and have 5 hours til Stass and I meet up at Grain and Grape for the system wars, then start preparing ourselves for our own Russian Imperial Stout tasting. Bring. It. On!

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