Thursday, February 23, 2012

Temple Tasting and Lytle Line Up

I haven't been doing myself any favours not documenting the beers I have tasted over the past couple of weeks, but over the weekend I met up with Stroudy at Temple Brewing, and then did some beers at the Toff last night with Stass and the gang for Jason Lytle (ex-Grandaddy), so thought it was worth trying to remember the beers I had. My apologies up front for the mistakes and gaps that will probably follow.

So, my first visit to Temple, and have to say that the brewery is smaller than I thought they may have set up, but that it looks quite good, and the bar areas look pretty snazzy. There was a steady flow of people through the bottom bar, which we chose to move from once a bucks party turned up. Luckily, upstairs was quiet, so was good to end the session overlooking the bar where we could catch up more in the quiet.

There is something to be said about good conversations over good beer. I think the act of being open-minded and questioning what you taste when having a beer (ok, more so when having a good beer) that allows you to have similar conversations (plus the alcohol doesn't hurt either). Seeing I hadn't seen Stroudy since before his trip overseas, it was interesting to see the changes travel brings to each of us, how we respond to those place we go, people we meet, and the experiences we have. It was funny to see that his experiences mirrored the ones I have had in my limited experience of travel: simplicity, patience and quality over quantity were themes that came to mind quite a bit as similarities we had gained. Sorry, I'll get to the beers.

The overall selection of beers I think is to be applauded at this time in the Aussie brewing industry, with them having the capacity to produce a few mainstream beers any punter can come in and relate to, but still doing a few on the side to push palates a little. In the former, the Pale Ale is a standout, with just enough malt and hop character to push it beyond the norm, and had me relating it more to an IPA than just a straight Pale. The Saison is also a good brew, very good example for anyone that hasn't delved into this style before. I recall the first time this came out a few years ago, there was a distinct lack of this style in Australia, so it probably made a big impact in the lager country. However, with a few more examples making their way into the market, the fruitiness and yeasty back do not have the bite that is making its way into Aussie saisons. Still, it does have a great refreshing taste and definitely one I went back to for a second glass. The other impressive beer that is approachable to the general public is the Midnight IPA, with good roasted malt sweetness and bitterness leading to a robust hop but when surprisingly cleans up very nicely at the back so a dry bitterness is not left in aftertaste, which I find happens with many beers of this style. Flavourful, but leaving you ready for the next sip is a good step to getting the aussie palate into craft beers.
On the other hand, the Brunswick Draught had very little going on apart from maybe some malt character for a little depth. Something very easily approachable, so will keep many punters happy coming into the bar. Also, why I appreciate a bit of tartness in beer, maybe I am just conditioned to tasting it in relation to fruity flavours, so the Bicycle Beer didn't really agree with me either. It did intrigue me how they managed to get that tartness into the beer, and while the thin body makes it easy to drink, I can see even the slight tartness may put people off, and think I saw a few faces in the bar turn up a bit upon tasting this beer. Finally, the Soba Ale, which while is a good take on the lager-style, for me it had a water cracker quality to it that I found I did not enjoy as a flavour or feel in my mouth. For me it was like the beer had been dosed with a bit of flour, but hope there are others out there with a broader and more open palate to appreciate some of these beers they are trying their hand at. I wish Temple Brewing good luck in there venture, and hope they get the support of the locals as it seemed they are tapping into the day I was there.

As for last night, I met up early with Ben at the Toff bar, and seeing it had been a while since we caught up, wanted to use my fairly newly found appreciation of beer to see if we could find a beer for his taste. It is my thinking that everyone has a beer, a beer style, or just a general appreciation of beer in them somewhere, and it is just a matter of finding it...and the Toff bar has a selection good enough to start looking for it. When I rocked up, he had gone for a Peroni, so knew they only way was up from there. After I had an oxidated Kooinda Valhalla (but still showed some good potential in the malt character of this Golden Ale), and getting a vibe from him that he may have a fruity slant to his taste, I pushed him in the deep end flavour wise with the Bridge Road Biere De Garde, which has some good dark fruit flavours and a bit of yeasty bite at the back. However, being able to contain this flavour in a thinner, easier drinking beer meant it wouldn't have the 'heaviness' that they flavours can sometimes be tied to. Finding it a little to big, we stepped down a bit to the Bridge Road Saison, which has more of a crisp, lighter fruit flavours, but still has a bit of yeast, and from the same brewery, something Ben could compare the two together. Of course he found the Saison much more to his taste, but thinking maybe it was the slight yeastiness that could have turned him off. During the gig there was only Boags Draught, but as I have said before, and De Montaigne said before me, 'no man should have too tender a palate' and so was able to enjoy it while listening to Jason Lytle on stage (again, worse case scenario, the alcohol helped open my soul to the music). After the gig, we felt the need for a 'come down' beer, so while Stass went a Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout (so happy this beer is now available in Australia!!!!), we got Ben a St Ambroise Framboise and I went the Scotch Ale from the same brewer. Of course, the Black Chocolate Stout went down well (the barstaff were good enough to offer the glass to be warmed before pouring the beer in), reminding us again of our first taste of this beer a year ago while camping, but have to say I was pretty impressed with the Framboise. A good 'real' taste of raspberry with just enough tartness (yes, fruit tartness) to bring some width to the flavour, so it doesn't have a one-dimensional sweetness that can sometimes happen in these beers. To be honest, it reminded me a bit of the Mulberry Molasses Ale Stass, Brad and I have brewed a couple of times. However, my Scotch Ale was slightly underwhelming, with the one-dimensional malt sweetness which while is part of the style, doesn't have to be that way in my opinion, and something I hope to show with out latest Scotch Ale attempt that we will be challenging Team Harrod with.

Well, hopefully I have made up a bit for my lack of posts on here recently. While not all the beers I have tried are up here, I hope at least the beers I don't describe up here still help me gain in experience to help describe the ones I do.



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