Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beer Shopping, Tasting and Mr & Mrs Saaksjarvi


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Situational Drinking 3: Bushwalking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Microbrewery Showcase 19/10/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Just in, not 'case' as in 'case of beer'

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

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

Cheers to beers,


Monday, October 10, 2011

Rugby World Cup and Beer: Quarter Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Saturday, October 1, 2011

Red Duck for Dead Duck?

I would have never thought the Wallabies would be in a position where they could not make the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup, especially when we are in one of the weakest pools of the tournament. Still, here we are needing to win our last pool game against Russia to try and get into the finals, and even then we will have to wait for the very last pool game of the tournament to see if we make it. We have lost control of our own destiny it could be said, and I can tell you this is probably the most nervous for their easiest game.

What does this have to do with beer. Absolutely nothing! Still, doesn't mean I can't make it connect. So, in the potential of us becoming the dead duck of this World Cup (one of the major teams not making it to the final rounds), I am going to be drinking Red Duck beers, and probably adding my own 2 cents on the game as it progresses.

As Ealsey gives his pre-match talk on Channel 9 (finally, they are showing games live), and as I have been reading a bit about the history of beer, I crack the Canute the Gruit Dark Medieval Ale. This dark beer has no head and smells quite unusual. There is a smokey sweet dark fruit sort of aroma...Wow, that is weird, my tastebuds just imploded a bit with my first sip, the smokiness and fruit do come across in flavour, but there is this high noted zingy taste (yeah, I'm really good at this beer tasting caper aren't I!?) that has quite an edge of sourness to it. The back end of the palate has a weird combo of the sourness punching through the smoke, before the smoke is left to linger in aftertaste. There may be no hops in this beer, but there is definitely some interesting flavours going on. I can't say I enjoy it (it could simply be my palate is just use to malt and hops), but the dominating combo of smoke and sourness really throws the tastebuds too wide for my limited palate. This beer is really strong at the back, and again is different from the sweet creamy beers I generally enjoy. To be honest, If I didn't know what beer I was drinking, I would have said it had gone off with such a stringent sourness and dusty smokiness. I just gave Stew a taste, and he said he really liked it. So it is possibly a polarising beer. Russia is putting some pressure on in the game, but making some simple mistakes. Mind you, could have missed some of the first 5 mins as channel 9 were showing an empty corner of the field for a minute...woah, a simple step and Barnes is over for the first try of the game for the Wallabies. O'Connor misses the kick...hold on, upon restart Drew has just gone through for another try, O'Connor gets the kick...he may get some practice today....ah, now McCalman has a try...Samo is just to big out on the wing...Ok, Pocock just got our bonus point try within 15 minutes of the game.
26-0 at the 20th minute and the game is still stuck in Russia's half and have a taste of the Queen Bee Honey Porter. This is a much simpler brew, with strong dark honey aroma and taste dominating as much as the aussies are dominating the game. There is a pretty light brown body to the beer in looks and texture, whereas Pocock is not light at all in body - he has just gone over for his second try. There is quite a bit of carbonation in the beer, which I have also noticed in beers we have brewed with honey. It must just get a lot of second stage fermentation going on in the beer. If the dark malt was balanced with the honey I would quite enjoy this beer. I do enjoy the taste of the honey though, but think it is just a bit too much. Possibly with more body in the malt the beer could have become too syrupy though. Russia showing some intent here and are in our 22. They just got held up over the line! Ahhhh, Russia get a try!!!!!!! Good one Vlad, and nice support by their fat loosehead prop bumping our guy out of the way to stop tackling him. Wallabies reply with a quick try to Moore after a great pass back inside by Drew. whoops, not Adam Ashley-Cooper (the redeemer) is in. Half time 47-5, and a bit like the beers, some sweet and sour moments in the game. We are throwing the ball around seeing there is space out wide, and our forwards are dominated in the set plays, but Russia are not putting much pressure on the breakdown, but are coming up ok when they do. Therefore I feel we have not learnt from our loss to Ireland where they did that so well...Hmm, don't tell me I am becoming an opinionated drunk after 2 beers.
While Ealsy gives some half time comments, I get onto the vanilla porter. Can definitely smell a bit of Belgium yeast or spice that I would get from a classic Triple, but with a dark malt background. The vanilla does come through up front on the tongue before this lovely creamy sensation comes over the goes so well with the vanilla flavour, before a yeasty back that cleans up really well. Probably the one I have enjoyed the most so far, as another fat man goes over for a try for Ma'afu to start the second half. back to the beer, there is enough body (like Ma'afu) and dark malt flavour to sense the porter, but like the previous beer, does not dominate but just does enough the carry the flavour through.
Now Russia make another attempt at our line, but get a drop goal instead????!!!!!! Weird. Wallabies counter with a try to Drew again, but is all looking a bit messy out there. not what I want to see from this game.
With Cooper giving away a dangerous tackle penalty and Drew having a hamstring injury, I move onto the Red Duck Belgian Blonde, which has a bit of citrus and amber malt aroma with the classic yeast. The sweet malt does come through much in taste along with the yeast. Does remind me quit a bit of a Leffe Triple actually, especially the alcohol, so enjoying it quite a bit.
Cooper stuffs a pass to give away a try to Russia!!!!!!!! Rubbish. We really aren't focusing on the game now we have it in the bag and some injuries are starting to come on, and Russia are starting to make some ground on us. This weather isn't helping either with some drop ball starting to come into the game.
As I crack the Ox Russian Imperial Stout, Russia go over for their third try. They have fought hard and won over the crowd which is a good sign for them. We have just lost the ball on their 5 mtr line in a scrum, which does not look good for our ability to control the ball. As for the beer, there is the classic dark malt and alcohol aroma that is expected from this beer. This comes through quite well in taste, and there is a good smoothness (a bit of a trend in most of the beers) the help meld the malt to the alcohol. The alcohol is quite well contained (unlike what the wallabies have done to the Russians in the second half)...There you go, it takes a good opportunity by Barnes to get us one more try towards the end to make this half look a bit more respectable for us. Still, the damage has been done, and we end the game on that. I think having a Russian Imperial Stout at the end does show where the game swung in the second half, where they were able to annoy us into mistakes and unsettle our gameplay. Unfortunately I don't feel any more confident at our chances after that game, but not because the opposition was not enough to test us, it is because they were, and they did.
So, it was a bit of an opposites in beer and rugby, I probably enjoyed the second half of beers, whereas I liked the first half more from the Wallabies.
I am now half cut after 5 beers in 2 hours, so gonna leave it at that. Well, it comes down to tomorrow to see where we end up in the pool.