Tasting all the beers below was not helped by the fact I gave blood just a couple of hours before the event, but I was helped by having a spare food voucher from last year, which meant I was able to soak up some alcohol with a couple of pies during the journey. All in all it balanced itself alright in the end, even though I was a little concerned to start with when I was given tasting ticket #13.
As always I took 5 mins to sit down with the booklet to pick out the beers I wanted to try, and a general order in which to try them by. I doesn't always end up that way, but gives a good structure to get through as many as possible early on when the crowd is a bit thinner. This also means sticking to lighter beers (flavour and alcohol) early on so your tastebuds are able to make it through the 20 beers...well around about 20.
I had some time before the event started so went into Beer Deluxe, only to find they had Doctors Orders Black Lung on tap. So even though I was trying to recover from intentional blood loss, I had to give it a go. It has a very similar roasted malt muddiness that I get a lot from Moon Dog beers that I have had previously, but with pilsner aspects to this beer, a lighter body and hop profile does allow it not to sit heavy on the tongue and does clean up at the back of the tongue and in aftertaste. I am not sure what the alcohol is in it but it does seem a bit high as it may help cut through the malt character as well. It could also have been a bad omen that my body was not ready to deal with alcohol yet, but seeing I held up ok for the rest of the day, I'll go with higher alcohol.
I felt like I should go for a walk to help burn it off, so after seeing Lenny Kravitz do soundcheck in Fed Square (yeah, bit random) I got in line to get the beer tasting going.
1) Bridge Road - Summer Single Hop - A good one to start on with it being pretty smashable and subtle. The light malt came off well with the hop layering well over the top, again very sutble to keep it balanced.
2) Forrest - Silvertop - Described to me as a kolsch style, and only has 4.1%. Is a bit pooey/sulphur on the nose with some light hop character to clean it up. Light in flavour on the tongue with crisp malt and hop, but still with a bit of body to it. Overall quite refreshing but the smell turned me off.
3) Cavalier Weizen - Not very cloudy, but does have a wheat smell that is quite strong in an artificial way with the banana and clove being very sweet. This corresponds into flavour but is too sweet for the style.
4) Red Duck K2 - Has a honey malt nose, but at 3.2%, is pretty light in taste and colour. Light malt base is good and keeps in line with the style I beers I get from this brewery.
5) Southern Bay - Sunrise Breakfast Beer - Outside the usual breakfast beers I have tried, as it is just a lighter beer...one easy to drink at breakfast time (mind you, I only just heard beer is not just for breakfast anymore). Sense a bit of malt on the nose behind the sulphur smell. Overall a pretty easy drinking light but malty beer. Even has residual sweet malt at the back of the tongue.
6) Hawthorn Witbier - slightly cloudy but with a very sweet smell that is something between fruit and sherbert. This come through in the flavour and there is a slight bubblegum at the back to remind you it is meant to be a wheat beer.
7) Matilda Bay - Itchy Green Pants (IGP) - Very sulphur in smell and taste. Not actually even sure what beer this is mean to be.
8) White Rabbit - Handpump beer - a combo of the dark and white ales in a belgium style pale ale. Is very warm out of the handpump, which doesn't work well with the wheat beer elements. Pretty easy drinking and a good introduction to belgium beers if you have never tried one before.
9) Bright - Hellfire Amber Ale - Good malt nose with hop overlay, which corresponds well into taste with some good bitterness at the back. Probably the best beer I have tasted from Bright.
10) Bridge Road - Celtic Red Ale - Having tried this on tap at the brewery 6 months ago, was interested to see how it tastes in the bottle. I have to say I do not enjoy it as much. Has a smokey malt nose, which made me think it was a little old. Some better malt character on the tongue but still has the smoke to it that tastes a bit off.
11) Red Duck - Bengal - After the disappointment of the last one I decided to go for a classic, one of my favourite IPAs. For me it just had the right balance of malt and hops, but know for the general punter or IPA lover, they would find the malt to be too much in it.
12) King Valley - Yowie Lager - Didn't see this one til it was too late in the night, but thought I would give it a go anyway. Has a sort of lemon smell which is crisp on the tongue, refreshing and with no sign of chemicals that we are so use to with lagers in Australia. This beer actually cleans up quite well at the back. Standard, but better than most aussie lagers.
13) Harcourt - Sightings American Pale Ale - Spotted this one when I was at King Valley so thought I'd give it a go. Hmm, my only comments are 'standard - I think' which I guess means my tastebuds were on their way out. There was only one way to fix that...get fresh.
14) Moon Dog - MacGuava - In their continuing run of wheat beers with fruit and mullet overtones (mullet as hair style, not the fish), this one has good fruity smell with some high noted sweetness in the nose and on the tongue, with just some slight yeast at the back. Very refreshing and perfect for where my tastebuds were at. Has a bit more in fruit and sweetness above the Melon Gibson, but the wheat base gives it a decent body base for the fruit in both beers to come through. Can't wait to try the Billy Ray Citrus.
15) Mornington Peninsula - Saison - Keeping with refreshing fruitiness, this one has an artificial sweet fruit nose, but with some good full fruit flavour and with only slight yeasty back. Quite sessionable.
16) Temple - Saison - I did actually go to try the ESB, but seems they ran out of, so just had another crack of the Saison, especially when Dave gave it to me without giving him a ticket. I would say it is a bit more real than the Mornington in smell, similar fruit profile and just a bit more yeast at the back.
17) Mildura - Choc Hops - Yep, it was time...As it was last year, the sweet chocolate/chicos smell and taste completely overwhelmed my tongue and I enjoyed it as much as I have previously. Good to find a favourite that is holding its flavour well.
18) Grand Ridge - Supershine - having ignited my sweet tooth I then had to continue with the caramel/toffee beer at a decent 11%. I ended up sharing this with the boys at Moon Dog, Mountain Goat, and the boys spruiking Good Beer Week.
19) Moon Dog - Henry Ford's Girthsome Fjord - What can I say. A Belgio-American Brown Ale. A good blend and balance of all the styles, with yeast, dark malt and IPA. Worth a try for anyone looking to step up in beer style blending.
20) Moon Dog - Cognac Barrel aged IPA - Having found my finishing beers at Moon Dog, there was no way I was moving as the crowd continued to crush around their stall. As I was talking to Josh's old boss with drinking this and my final beer (wait for it), I don't have any notes written down, but do enjoy the melding this beer has, as while the bitterness is still big, the barrel aging really integrates it well.
21) Moon Dog - Russian Imperial Stout. I actually got two of these, and shared one with the Goaters as well. 17.5% means champagne yeast has had to be used, yet it has still retained a good smoothness and body, even though the alcohol level could really water it out a lot. So, this was a sneaky beer that wasn't in the booklet and had to be in the know. I am happy I was in the know, and a great beer to end the night on.
After everything I actually felt pretty good as I left and managed to get home fine (even helping out a couple from my home region of the Hunter Valley in NSW to get to their hotel) and felt pretty good this morning.
I just had a visit to brewcraft to look at our next homebrew, and was happy to find they now stock sorghum syrup, which means I can now start making beer for my gluten intolerant cousins. This could become the first collaboration brew we do with Team Harrod.
Anyway, thanks again to the brewers and all those that helped, and continue to make the Mircobrewery Showcase work twice ever year. Was great to see Moon Dog finally make their first Showcase, and make a big impact with the crowd. Not only that, but I saw myself on the big screen while at the Showcase as things gear up for Good Beer Week. I guess working at Mountain Goat is an easy way to get known in the beer industry, even though I still enjoy being just one of the punters at events like these.