Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two Metre Tall Huon Dark Ale (5.5%): Take 2

After recently trying this beer, and finding I had come to it late, I was lucky to have my boss bring me another bottle of this beer today, so am going to try it now while it is as fresh as I can have it.

The apple smell is similar to the original tasting, and there is a cleaner aroma to the malt in it. While the apple does dominate, there is a real sense of a fruit beer, with even a bit of ester to make it similar to a belgian lambic. I've not had an apple fruit beer before and wonder in Lindeman's does an apple lambic, still, the dark malt does lessen any dominance this fruity ester would have. There is still a bit of a separation of fruit and malt, but is definitely more integrated than the previous tasting. The body is again a bit thin, but a lot more understandable with the juice, and there is enough to help the integration of malt and fruit, and this holds over the tongue quite well. The sourness is also diminished as that sense of fruity ester is all I get more at the end. It still leaves my tongue a bit dry in aftertaste. There is quite a bit of carbonation in this bottle, which while I guess helps to distinguish flavours/aromas, it does not help with the dry finish, and is probably the big thing that turns me off this beer. Still, I am glad to have been able to give this beer a better appraisal, even if I still don't personally enjoy it that much.

The talk of lambic/belgian beers has reminded me that this weekend will bring up the first anniversary of me going to the Belgian Beer Weekend. Therefore, it is appropriate that I enjoyed that beer filled weekend with Jaimi, I would have another beer journey this weekend, this time going to Beechworth, this time with Stass, who won the trip during Good Beer Week this year. I look forward to hanging out at Bridge Road Brewery and remembering all those lovely Belgian beers I had with another good friend.

I also remembered I have yet to tell the other news I was going to over the weekend. I did not end up doing the brew day with Stass, so am yet to try to the Hickory Stickery Bock, but Stass has been updated me and things are looking good. We look to try it out now at the end of the week. As for my journey from Wednesday, I will be able to bring that to you tomorrow. I look forward to sharing...



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Situational Drinking 2: Beer and Food

Just like when you are in a certain mood and find a perfect beer to compliment or contrast it (for the good), it is always good to find a combination of beer a food when each heightens the other. I have spoken of it a few times on here, and enjoyed when it has worked out.
In combining beer and food, I have heard there is a new book out called 'cooking with beer', and I have been on here before talking about my own 70's version book of the same name (though, shouldn't be taken as seriously). I have also recently seen a cooking with beer blog that I have been enjoying. I have had my own attempts of putting beer in food, starting with the classic beef and guinness pie, but also put our chocolate stout in a chocolate cake which did improve it some, and even tried putting the same beer into a potato bake, which did not work at all.
So coming back to chocolate beer and chocolate, this has been something big for me since first having a warm chocolate truffle cake with a Rogues Chocolate Stout in Portland back in 2009, and then backing it up by going to a beer and chocolate event during Good Beer Week this year. In this, the taste of each against the other compliments each other so well, and not out doing each other. Some may think that having chocolate on chocolate would be overbearing, and am sure this may be for others, but for me I find it hard to be out-sweetened, even after trying a Polish kreik beer that tasted like ultra cherry sherbert. It is just my personal taste.

Bringing this combination to a new level, having beer that tries to mimic the taste of some foods is also well known. Many christmas beers try basically to taste like the pudding that is eaten so often at this time of year. In a country so well known for its pork dishes, it is not surprising that the German's have produced a style of beer that for me tastes like liquified smoked/cured ham. Over this winter, I have been inspired by hickory smoked bbq sauce, and has led me to try brewing a smoke beer of my own, which I look forward to tasting tomorrow. Also, one of my favourite beers of this year is a beer actually called a Creme Brulee, which had luscious burnt caramel with vanilla. It is this that brings to a recent experience this week at my local, The Royston Hotel.

Normally I go for a parma and just have an IPA or something similar to help cleanse the palate for eat bite of the parma. With a meal that good, I just like a contrasting beer to allow me to appreciate every morsel of the food. Seeing it is steak night on Thursday's, I was able to get a good and well priced porterhouse with fat chips and gravy (and salad my body enjoyed) and drunk it with a Holgate Nut Brown Ale. The dark but not overbearing flavours of the beer went great with the steak (actually, with the slight nutty flavour, I reckon it would be a good base style of beer to put Stass's wattle seed with), but then things got even better when I noticed the dessert menu. Seeing a Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee (with honeycomb ice cream, with honeycomb pieces) and noticing a Lobethal Oatmeal Stout on tap, I jumped at the chance to try these off with each other. Apart from residual sugar from the creme brulee that would cause the beer the fizz across the tongue a bit, the texture of the beer went so well with the custard/ice cream. I found the best way to consume this was the have the creme brulee, then the ice cream and then the beer. Of course the sweetness was outrageous, but of course I loved it.

After the steak experience, I think with Australia's love of bbq's, I reckon there is a better approach to beer that will help aussies get into darker beers, and even smoked beers that can compliment bbqed meat. Having a cold can of mainstream beer just doesn't cut it for me at these times. To be honest, the only times I drink a mainstream beer is when I don't care what beer I drink (eg, after a hard day's work) or if I am drinking to just get drunk (boring).

Anyway, I hope you all find a beer and food combination that works great for you.

I am busting to say some news I also received during the week while on a bit of a beer journey, but I have been told not to say anything about it until I have been given the 'all clear' to announce it. However, seeing the story is so much a part of me expressing my beer experiences, I wouldn't be able to talk about the beer without letting the cat out of the bag. Therefore, I will hold off until then. Also, I look forward to tasting the Hickory Stickery Bock tomorrow, so will discuss that later also.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Home Brew: Trial and Error Approach

I guess after a few years of home brewing, I can see pretty clearly the approach Stass, Brad and I are taking with it now. We have gone through the stage of just learning how to make beer with extract and enjoying to simpleness of it to get an idea of differing styles on a general basis, and then improving on those to try and clone the beers we like, again, mainly through the use of extract can with minimal addition. We have been lucky in a way to come into brewing at a time when it is expanding, and home brew shops are coming out more with clone kits that are simple and easy to make yourself, our recent Guinness showing we still use this approach.
I guess looking at home brew sites and forums I see that one aspect we have not fully engaged ourselves in is the technical aspect of brewing, and doing full mashes to get into the real basics of brewing. As I now look at trying to get involved in a brewing course, and seeing my own personal lack of chemistry knowledge, I can see this is going to be a difficult challenge for me to overcome.

At this time I look at the way at which I like to brew, and how we generally like to be a bit experimental in our approach. We have a pretty basic understanding, but enough for us to try and bring some common sense when doing a brew. Still, it does get a little disappointing when a 'trial and error' means we make many mistakes, and I really feel that lack of knowledge hit home. While we have some successes with the Mulberry Molasses Beer, and and Honey Wheat Beer, we have also had the Milo beer that we had to tip out, and there is some trepidation with out latest Wattle Seed Beer that we kegged last night.

We also put on a new experimental beer last night, and ended up making a mess when trying to caramelise sugar for it. We ended up stepping it back and the wort tastes very interesting. I guess it is a little strange though that we had the name for the beer before we thought of how to brew it...Hickory Stickery Bock. I'll leave it to your imagination to see what we have done with it at the moment, and will see this weekend how it come through the fermentation process.

Overall, I just feel a little downhearted that we have to go through the mistakes, even though this is offsetted by the excitement of just trying to do something different. I can't help but think we may be making simple mistakes that a lack of technical knowledge is bring us down on. But knowing I am not naturally a technically minded person also brings with it much uncertainty of trying to make a career in brewing.

Ok, so it may seem like I am being melodramatic, but I guess at this time, I am quite concerned in my weaknesses as a person and how it has affected my approach to brewing, and how that will affect me getting into, and being able to do well in, a brewing course.

Anyway, just wanted to get that down.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Darkness Reigns after 200

So after 200 posts, it is fitting that I celebrate with a night out drinking predominantly dark beers... the only problem is trying to remember all the beers I tried.

The night started with the usual Friday tasting at Purvis, and was good to see Belgium get a start with two trappist and a saison. However, even before that, I arrived just as Damien was cracking a few other beers. So under the new beer sign over the table, we tried out these seven beers.

The Doss Blockos Pale Lager had some slight malt sweetness, but was pretty short on flavour for me. The James Squire Pale Ale was even more featureless, apart from some slight sulphur in aroma and flavour. Brewboys Ace of Spades is one I have had a few times, and just find the coffee to be a little too much for my taste, and has some dryness at the back for those that like that roasted aspect in their stout. I was happily surprised by Little Creatures 'The Dreadnought', which had a great dark malt body and was even picking up licorice in smell and taste coming from the malt and alcohol (7.4%). Pretty close to an imperial stout actually. A bit of a change getting onto the Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux after that, but with 9.5% alcohol, this saison actually held it quite well, and had some good fruity flavour. The Orval actually tasted better than I remember, and went well after the saison with some nice citrus going on in it. Still, having the classic Chimay Blue reminded my why the Orval is still one of my least favourite trappist beers. I guess it is tough at the top, and for me that velvet caramel will always out do a blond.

With the tastebuds engaged, Damien and I went into Biero, and with the menu looking like this, I was very excited to try out the beers on it I hadn't tried before. I wanted to start off with the black IPA's, but the Kooi had some trouble in the keg. Speaking to one of the brewers he said it wasn't pouring very well as they were a late call up for the night, so again I missed out on trying this beer. So with the Feral Karma Citra, we just tried the Meantime London Stout. Both are pretty low in alcohol, especially when compared with the imperial stouts they had on show. I don't mind the citra hop so enjoyed this beer. Having the Meantime against this was probably not the best idea, especially as Meantime seem to be quite subtle in the brews they do. Still, I quite like the malt and body to the Meantime, and found it a good cleanser, to keep my tastebuds up for the next round.

But before that, we tried out the Viven Imperial IPA while trying out the pork burgers Biero had for the night (delicious by the way). I really liked the balance in this beer, and was very well rounded with a great meld of malt and hops. In terms of balance, it even reminded me slightly of the Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique. It was pretty short in length, but just made you want to go back and try it again. One aspect I quite like to find in beers, and was happy to find it again in the Nogne O Two Captains Double IPA.

Ok, now for the main event: a taste off of imperial stouts! grabbing a Bright Brewery Stubborn Russian, Feral Boris and Hargreaves Russian Imperial Stout, I happily lost my taste buds with these beers. The Hargreaves was the most impressive and the one I enjoyed the most with good malt and warming alcohol, which does become a bit overbearing. But luckily I had already had quite a few beers before this one, so the tastebuds were dulled by the time it came to this one. The Feral Boris is probably one of the most disappointing imperial stouts I have had, with it tasting more like a black IPA with an overuse of hops. It is suppose to have 11.5% alcohol, but none of that warming aspect came through, and the malt is quickly dominated by the hops. The Bright are known by me to be quite limited in flavour, and this one held that tradition for me. Very standard, and was almost a good middle ground for the others.

Before finishing up there we also had a quick try of the 2 Brothers 'Terminator' Double Bock. Expecting (and wanting) that lovely caramel, I was disappointed not to get that, and to find it had a fairly thin body to it as well. We have also tried one or two other beers before we left, but by then the tastebuds were dying quickly, and my ability to remember was also diminishing.

Making our way to Penny Blue (my first time at this bar), I saw the Hargreaves was on the handpump (dangerous), but before I could tempt fate Damien brought me a bottle of the Kooi black IPA I had missed out on trying at Biero. I actually did not enjoy it that much as I felt the malt was thin and fairly flavourless. Speaking to the brewer about this, he said they actually intended this, which I was pretty surprised with, but understand if you don't want the malt taking away from the hop flavour they wanted to get from the beer. The hop is quite strong and was even able to make a mark on my tongue, so must have been pretty hoppy. After another couple of random beers (one was called Hopsickle I think, and another was a decent stout), we finally called it a night.

Well, that is as much as I can recall from that night, and happy to get as much of it down here as I could. I can definitely say that without this blog I would have forgotten many of the beers I have had over the past 18 months, and do find myself coming back to remind myself and compare beers I have had previously.

My thanks and apologies to those that have come this far with me.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Two Metre Tall Huon Dark Ale (5.5%)

Getting into tomorrow nights Biero dark beers extravaganza, but still with the fruit feel that the mulberry beer, I thought it appropriate to try this dark ale but with the use of apple juice.

Unfortunately, I think I have come to this beer a little too late. I smelt the dustiness that comes from older malt in a beer, but could still smell the apple in there as well. With the flavour, the dustiness of the malt comes through, which isn't helped with the carbonation. Body has been lost in the beer, so it comes across quite thin on the tongue. There has definitely been a separation of the beer with the apple juice, which I am not sure if that is a by-product of age or how it came across fresh. The apple juice dominates from the midpalate and with age has turned a bit tart/sour on the finish.

Therefore, yet another disappointment from this brewery, but at least this time it is my fault not drinking it sooner, as is seems to have been brewed 14 months ago.

Ah well, doesn't seem to be too bad, so may just finish it anyway. Can't let good (ok, maybe only decent) alcohol go to waste. Still have another day of work to get through before the weekend starts. I may need this drink to get me through it.



PS: I have been able to come back and try this beer again. Click here to see a better appreciated review of this beer

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wigram Harvard Honey Ale (6%)

Keeping with the theme of honey from the last honey beer I had from my stash, I decided to try out this New Zealand attempt.

The translucent copper body holds a slight veil of head. The honey has a much better aroma in this than the previous honey beer I had. With a lighter malt, it mixes better with the honey, and without a sense of artificial sweetness on the nose, I am definitely more tempted to try this one. The first thing I really notice with this beer is the texture. It almost coats the tongue like honey, and the sensation of it rolling over the palate is quite enjoyable. Of course, the honey dominates in flavour, and the malt seems to simply be a vehicle for the honey in the beer. There is one thing that I think honey in general takes away from beer. All the honey beers I have tasted or attempted to brew have had a taste like there has been too much dextrose or carbonation sugar used, leaving a zing across the tongue and a sort of residual sweetness that doesn't smell of taste like honey, but must be a by-product of the process of brewing with honey. It does take away slightly from the beer to have this high noted aspect that does leave a little bit in back palate/aftertaste, but I guess it is only through having such a decent version of a honey beer, I can see this must just be something that is common with many honey beers. Luckily though, this aspect does not linger long. I guess it is the same thing that turned the honey porter into something that taste like cola. Still, this is probably one of the better honey beers I have had, so well worth a try.

A few weeks ago, I noted finding a beer style called sahti, and have been lucky enough to find some more bottles of it around. Therefore, I had a chance to taste it a week ago. The juniper berries do actually come through quite a bit, but like these honey beers, the honey in it dominates quite a bit. This doinates brings with it a slight medicinal aspect which I think is just a bigger sign of the aspect I have found in most honey beers, but by far the biggest thing in this beer is the alcohol, at a staggering 11.3%. The alcohol doesn't sting, but then doesn't quite have the warming aspect (in taste anyway). Mind you, it doesn't take long for the bodily effects of the alcohol to start coming through. I have to say I was pretty impressed overall.

After my recent taste of the Mountain Goat Coffee IPA, I did a couple of days work this week doing a bottling run of this beer, and have to say it does have a lot more coffee sense the fresher it is. The gang did leave the beer to sit on the beans for a bit longer, and the body of the beer has definitely improved through the process. The hop aspect is slightly diminished through this, but with good carbonation in the bottle, the body of the beer really holds up well. Mind you, I had this beer after two days of hard work bottling the stuff, so my enjoyment of seeing it was all over may have slightly affected my experience (for the better). I also took in a bottle of our Mulberry Molasses Beer for the boys to try, and am happy to say they were pretty positive, and got us talking about fruit beers in general. It is quite sessionable and the fruit sort of fits between raspberry and blackberry in the beer, bringing a good balance of sweet and tartness. I noticed there was a little more acidity in it that may come from age, and something I wasn't getting so much from the keg. I look forward to us trying it again, and remembering what the the recipe actually is...

Well, I missed out on brewing last weekend, but hoping to make up for it this weekend to put on a brew that has been rolling around our heads for a little while. Am wondering if it is a good thing to come up with the name for a beer and then trying to build a recipe around that. Well, looks like we will find out soon.

But before that, have found Biero has a black beer friday this week, so looking forward to a situation similar to the the Font of Darkness I had recently at the Wheaty. Let's see what I can remember from it to put up here.



Friday, August 12, 2011

Bridge Road Stella vs Feral Hop Hog @ The Royston

Just back from the Royston for the second time this week (damn their parmas are good!) and while introducing Joel to the Hargreaves Imperial Stout, I decided to do my old thing of trying a hoppy beer with food (yes, still trying to train myself onto hops).

Starting with the Bridge Road single hop 'Stella' batch, did notice a bit of citrus aroma on a fairly light malt body. Not much malt comes through in flavour but the zesty orange does come through quite well with the hop, but does not quite have the bitterness I was expecting, unless it is hidden well with the zestiness. Therefore a good start for me. There is not much at the back, and with low bitterness seemingly though this hop variety, it did not need much to clean it up at the back.
Having not really had much of the Feral Hop hog on tap, thought it a good opportunity to taste it off against the Bridge Road attempt. The malt does come through a bit more on this one, but think it is needed with the more bitter hop also coming through. There is a still a little bit of fruitiness coming through with the hop, but it is the bitterness that is more that star with this beer. To be honest, I think there may be a bit more flavour or power to the hop in the bottle form, unless it is simply that after having the 'Stella', my tastebuds were already in that mode of hoppiness.
In terms of personal taste, I may just prefer the Bridge Road, just as there was more flavour and less bitterness in the hop, but in terms of a well rounded beer, I think the Hop Hog wins with good use of malt melded with the hop flavour and then also having bitterness to step it up further.

After these I ended up 'helping' Joel finish his Imperial Stout, and noticed more a roasted coffee flavour on midpalate and in aftertaste that I did not get the other night. It was good to have this beer warm and while my tastebuds were still working, and not just getting the major flavours of licorice and alcohol. It really does give you a bit of a warming jolt with its alcohol, but still, not so much of the warming contentment that I like to get from this style of beer. Have a I gone too far when I start assessing the type of 'warming' to come from a beer?



Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Beer Routine

I have decided with all the beer sitting at my place, I need to make an effort to get through it all...okay, not a problem most of you with sympathise with me over.

Before I get on that, I should note a few beers I have been having recently. On Tuesday I snuck into Purvis just after a rep from Tooborac Brewery came in with their Pale Ale they have started bottling. Damien decided to crack one while I was there, and has to say, while it is easy drinking with a good malt texture, the beer overall left me a bit wanting. There was quite a bit of sulphur on the nose, and was only as it warmed up that this dissipated to show a very slight fruitiness. Damien noted it had a sort of wheat beer feel, taste and look, and have to agree, it did seem a bit cloudy. Too be honest, I could not find much of note to say about this beer.
After my Southern Tier tasting a couple of weeks back, I have been anticipating further beers to come from this brewer, and Damien recommended we share a bottle of their Phin & Matt, with Damien describing it as smelling and tasting like wort. While there is a little more refined malt flavour up front, there is still a dank depth of malt sweetness that I do normally taste in an unfermented beer. While this does sit a bit heavy to midpalate, from here, the hops come through to nicely cleanse and show this beer really is a beer.

Later that night I hit the Royston with my brother for a parma. Upon seeing the Hargreaves Hill, Russian Imperial Stout (11.7%). I found quite a bit of chocolate when I first tasted it cold, but big malt body to cove your tongue quite well. There was also some liqourice before the alcohol hit. I was impressed to find that even with this high an alcohol content, the taste did not spike much. However, with that high an alcohol, its flavour came earlier on the palate as it warmed up, and while the texture held, the malt flavour was lost to the licorice. Towards the end, the warmth from the alcohol was going straight to my head, and was happy not to have another beer after it. Still, pretty impressive all round I thought.

Yesterday after being rained on during work, I stopped off at Mountain Goat (I have work there for Monday and Tuesday...yay!), I had a couple of beers with one of the brewers Craig (giving me a chance to talk about brewing courses with him). Seeing they have a new Coffee IPA, just had to give that a go. It is an interesting combo seeing both coffee and hops can produce bitterness which may make it hard to discern in the beer. However, they have tried to bring body and roastedness from the coffee, and let the citrus hops cleans. In terms of flavour, the coffee was quite diminished, with only the slightest of coffee roast at the back. Would be interesting to see a bit more coffee come through, but as the beer is a few weeks old, the coffee may be the first flavour to leave it. Then, seeing the Bigfoot Stout is back after a couple of years, I had to try it again. I think it has actually improved since last I tried it. Really good dark malt body up front, and with 7.3%, reminded me a bit like the stout from the night before. Will have to go back for that again.

Ok, as for a new routine, I have gone the lucky dip into one of my boxes of beer. Having seen a Honey Porter bottle while at Team Harrod's place, I was happy to see Taverner's Honey Porter come out. However, not reading the label before pouring quite a bit of yeasty sediment came out. The head dissipated very quickly and it looked like coke. There is quite a bit of artificial sweet smell over the dark malt. There is a very thin body on the beer, and the smell comes through quite a lot in flavour. The honey flavour is not as artificially sweet as in the smell, and there is a bit of a malt backbone to help it taste like beer...yes, taste like beer. To be honest, it takes me back to a lot of the german dark beers I had nearly a year ago, and has me thinking of coke. The honey does got very slightly sour towards the back but apart from that, the thinness in the beer means it does not linger long in aftertaste. This may be the best thing about this beer...

Anyway, not a great start to my attempt at a new routine, but hopefully it means there will be more stories to be told here, and more regularly,



Monday, August 8, 2011

Beer Challenge 3: IPA

On Friday Stass, Brad and I met up at Josie Bones for a team meeting before the battle. After having tried the Reniassance Chocolate Oatmeal Stout at the Wheaty a couple of days before, I saw their porter was on tap, so gave it a go, and have to say I found it quite enjoyable with good dark malt backbone and a good blend of hops to go with it. After that, Stass and I tried a Orkney Island Dragon Head, which had good malt up front, but then watered out a bit on the midpalate and then a coffee aftertaste came through. While on that, Brad tried his first Rauchbier, with the Marzen from Schlect. Having become accustomed to such beers, I found it quite enjoyable (mind you, I only had one sip) but seeing Brad did not have any food to cleanse, even with the initial impact being big for him, it only got bigger with each sip. To be honest, he was probably still tasting it by the end of the night.

After our 'briefing', we made it to Team Harrod's brewhouse for the taste off. Ok, so by now we knew our beers was not going to win, seeing it tasted more like an English bitter than an IPA. Still, the beer they came to us with was really good, and just made us feel worse with the effort we had made with ours. The malt was really good on the front texturally and the Amarillo hop flavour came through well on the back of that. The rising hop was fairly intense, and definitely of the American style. With food it was fine, but have a few sips without something to break it up, the hops bitterness did get bigger with each mouthful. It was a good beer to be having the day after International IPA Day, and would be appreciated by many hop heads. We told them they need to name it, as it will be one they will have to brew again.

As for the next challenge, we are going to coffee, coming on the back of some musings our team has had, and after tasting the 'Poo Moo' beer at the Wheaty.

Good Luck Team Harrod! We are even as things stand now, but that will change...



Moo Brew Vintage Imperial Stout 2010: 3 Ways @ The Wheaty

So, as we all know now, a visit to the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Adelaide for the sake of a great beer is not an unusual premise for me as I showed at Easter. As I said in the last post, after hearing the Moo Brew Barrel Aged Vintage Imperial Stout was to be on tap at the Wheaty, I quickly booked my flights to make sure I could make it for the unveiling of their 'Font of Darkness', that this beer would be a part of.

Arriving in Adelaide and having lunch with my sister, I made a bee-line for the Wheaty to get myself prepared to the big event. The only other keg of this beer to be tapped on mainland Australia was at Beer Delux, which I sampled after having a few beers beforehand at the Microbrewery Showcase in March '10. To replicate that tasting, I decided to have a few beers to get my taste buds in the mood. Seeing the Font of Darkness was under wraps (literally covered by brown paper bags) I had a Mikkeller Cream Ale (which only proved to me that I don't like cream ales...reminded me a little of our recent Milo brew experiment) and a bottle of Weihenstephaner Dunkel (hmm banana and caramel). While in the beer garden I had been reliving my trip to Europe and watching the movie of the Berlin boys tasting the beers I left behind for them, so really enjoyed having the German dunkel. As I finished it my sis and some of her friends arrived and we geared up for the unveiling...

Right on 6pm, the paper bags were withdrawn, and dark beers flowed forth from the Font of Darkness. Grabbing a Renaissance Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, a 'Moo Poo', and one taster from each of the Moo Brew Vintage Imperial Stout kegs (while one of the Wheaty Staff took photos of at the 'Font' to put on Twitter), we began...

I remember having had the Renaissance Chocolate Stout previously, and enjoying it much more on tap than out of the bottle, and once again, it proved itself with dark chocolate flavours and a lovely velvety texture. Seeing the last time I was at the Wheaty for a chocolate stout, it was great to have another good chocolate beer to try out here. Interestingly, I normally sense vanilla to help sweeten the cocoa in chocolate beers I enjoy, whereas this time I was getting sweet chocolate but without the use of vanilla. It was impressive to see, and only hoped that they were able to do as well with the bottle version. I guess it is a usual chocolate stout thing that it just has to be tasted on tap to get the most from it. Actually, I think my sister has since gone back to try this beer again, as she has been texting me to ask where she might be able to find it.

The well titled 'Moo Poo' did not actually include cow dung (something I am quite familiar with having grown up on a farm), but instead was a combination of the Moo Brew Stout (standard, not the Imperial or the Vintage Imperial) and Kopi Luwak coffee (well known [and priced] as coffee extracted from beans, which themselves are extracted from the manure of a South American animal). With 250g in the Wheaty's hop infuser, the coffee flavour is quite dominate, but with much of the bitterness seemingly reduced (maybe it was stripped by going through the animals digestive tract or possibly the malt in the stout sweetens the coffee flavour), it was actually a flavour I could enjoy, even though I am not a coffee drinker. This combined with the texture of the beer helping coat the tongue and carry the coffee flavour across the tongue made it a very enjoyable beer and a great experiment for Jade to attempt.

Ok, now for the main event. Jade had somehow gotten her hands on 2 kegs of the Moo Brew Barrel Aged Vintage Imperial Stout 2010. One was to be tapped regularly, while the other was to be put through the handpump. Having just received my our allocation of the bottled version of this beer, I took one of them with me to Adelaide, meaning we could then taste the beer 3 different ways, probably the first time this had ever happened. The beer has definitely decreased in the amount of alcohol with each year (which probably says more about the tax issues breweries have in Australia than the beer itself), and has lost some of its warming alcohol effects to be reduced some since first tasting in '08, and definitely did not bring the amount of mellowness that completely overtook us when we tried the '08 on tap. The other difference I noticed overall was a slight spiciness that seems to come from the use of french oak barrels Moo Brew have started using for this beer. However, what hasn't changed is the quality of this beer. It may not be the '08 I fell in love with, but the depth of malt character with that slight red wine touch brings it back from the '09 that disappointed me slightly with the carbonation issue it had. Interestingly, the bottle version seem to contain a good level of flavour, and where I could pick up most of the spicyness, which brought a sense of refreshment from the beer, which is a little strange for a beer of this sort, but enjoyable all the same. I found I was torn between the flavourful bottle version and the texturally amazing handpump version that just coated the tongue with that classic malt body.
The regular tap version seemed to be inbetween the two others, which meant I could enjoy each version equally for different reason. In terms of alcohol, with carbonation from the keg and bottle, these seemed to hit my head a bit more, whereas the handpump made an almost cleansing aspect of it, with the 'watering' alcohol cutting through the rich mouthfeel of the malt body. I look forward to seeing how this beer ages even further, and for finding anymore kegs of this beer going around. Anyone know where it may be on in Melbourne?

Overall, I am very happy with the latest edition of the amazing beer from Moo Brew, and am extremely thankful to Jade and the Wheaty once again for the effort put in to source these sorts of beers. Unfortunately this time my brother could not join me for the first taste of this year's edition, but now he is back in Melbourne, we will be trying it together soon.



PS: I also took over our own home brew of Imperial Stout to taste against. As I have said before, I think ours carries itself quite well in comparison with other Imperial Stouts. However, I did take a bottle that had quite a lot of sediment in it so there was a definite yeasty character. Cheers to the Wheaty and a couple of the patrons for giving it a try from some feedback.

PPS: Now for a drink at some place called the RAB...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Success, Failure and Sunday Sess with Stone & Wood

I woke up this morning with thoughts of the success of the beer we kegged yesterday, and the failure of the first experiment of trying to brew a beer with Milo.

10am yesterday I made it out to Stass's place, and 10 minutes later was re-acquainting myself with our successful experiment of a mulberry molasses beer we have now labelled Bira Dut Pekmezi to relate to it's Turkish influence. After a photo op with the Guinness and Milo beer filled fermenters we took a final specific gravity read of both, and tasting them realised the Milo beer was not fit for human consumption...well, anyone with tastebuds anyway.

There was only the very slightest of milo malt flavour on the front of the tongue before the sourness came through, which as I feared, would come from the milk powder in the Milo. It also looked like cloudy urine, and had heaps of sediment on the bottom (I wish now I had stirred up to see how it would taste in the beer). Anyway, as in most things you have to take the good with the bad when experimenting, and at a loss of $20, it is not that bad. I am hoping though we can come up with another way of adding Milo to beer.

Once we kegged the Guinness, we gave it time to carbonate for a couple of hours before having our first taste. After having to wait 3 weeks for it to carbonate in bottles last time we brewed it, was happy to be drinking it so soon, and being very impressed with it from the tap. We are still having a few problems with the pour on most beers, but the Guinness poured very well, which we were extremely happy to see. The malt body definitely needs to mature a bit more, but the beer is there, and as good as it was in our first attempt, so looking forward to a few more sessions on it over at Stass's as this cold weather starts to dissipate. Still, was a lovely day for drinking in the sun yesterday, so to have the Bira Dut Pekmezi's dark fruity goodness to drink in with it was great.

In the afternoon I made my way to Fitzroy, and the Worker's Club, where within Stone & Wood were having the launch of this years Stone beer, which I recalled having enjoyed a couple of years back. While it still has that toffee element to it through the use of heated rocks reacting with the malt during the brewing process, I am not sure if the hops related well to this flavour and feel, and as James pointed out to me while I was there, perhaps minerals from the rocks themselves may have affected the flavour of the brew. It could also just be a case that my palate has developed over the past couple of years (possibly for the worse) and so found myself not enjoying it as much as I had before. Hmm, am I becoming a beer snob? Still, I did enjoy the toffee element that has been retained in this beer. Other factors I saw effecting my experience initially was that I was standing near a newly spray painted art piece that was being made at the event, and after having been drinking for 6 hours, noticed quite a bit of chlorine in the water I was using to cleanse my tastebuds for the beer.

While I was in the area, I took a walk to a new bottlo on Elgin Street called 'Booze'. Unfortunately it was closed, which while was disappointing for me, seemed to affect more a girl that came at the same time as me, who let it known quite vocally how much of a bastard she though those in charge of the business were for not being open when she wanted alcohol. While on this stroll, the need to eat was felt before I went back to the Stone & Wood Festival. Seeing I will be in Adelaide on Wednesday to sample the latest Moo Brew Vintage Imperial Stout at the Wheaty, I thought 'this Bogan should prepare for this 'un-bogan' beer, by having bogan food'. Remembering the Rochester Hotel does a bogan parma, I thought that appropriate. With a Fat Yak, I got into this egg topped parma, which while the meat was good and the use of bacon went well with the egg, the cheese was a bit plastic, the crumbing burnt a bit and the tomato not very rich (hmm, am I going to start criticising everything now?). Still, I may visit the Napier Hotel to have their bogan burger before I head to Adelaide to make sure I am fully prepared.

Getting back to the Workers for one more pot of the Stone beer, chatting to a couple of people, listening to more bands and checking out the art on display and being created on-premise, I started to feel the effects of having started drinking around 10am, so made my way home.

I look forward to writing up a report from my trip to Adelaide, the Wheaty, and continuing my work as the unofficial ambassador of Moo Brew...