Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy 30th 'Beer'thday Stass!!!!!

Another landmark day comes to Beerdakari as I can share on here a two-day beer journey we used to celebrate the life and times of Stass.

Starting on Friday we had a collection of beers Stass had been keeping for a while and a few late inclusion to keep us going from 6pm to midnight. After trying to get the sequence of the journey right, this is how it progressed.

1) Rouge Mocha Porter - This was a late inclusion I made to the mix seeing I had tried the double mocha a year ago and so thought the original might be good to try. There is a decent porter lightness and sweetness and some slight chocolate notes as well. However, from the midpalate, there is a hoppy bitterness which I find not to be of the style, and may even be masking any coffee bitterness they may have been trying for in this beer. With a dry back and slight over-carbonation, it was a disappointing start to the journey (my bad...sorry).

2) Baird Morning Coffee Stout - Stepping up more into the coffee theme at the start of this journey, this beer has quite a strong espresso coffee smell which translates into flavour. It has a full body and sharp bitterness that is not to my taste, ending a bit dry/astringent. If you like a bitter coffee, this is a beer for you to try out.

3) Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique (2011 - 10%) - Was really looking forward to heading towards some sweeter flavours as the malt and alcohol character in the beers started increasing (yeah, only 3 beers in...) The sweet malt and alcohol smell definitely come through on the nose, and even at this stage felt the alcohol was a little too high. This translated to the tongue similarly as the familiar sweet malt character covers the front of the palate well and the alcohol starts to rise from the midpalate. However, it rises a bit too high and the beer becomes a bit too hot in alcohol. Not sure why they have tried to up the alcohol from 9.2% in the previous year to 10, unless they think people would like to age it, which is what I will now do for a few years with the bottle of this I have. Means I can collect a few more seasons of this brew before I do a vertical tasting.

4) Grand Ridge Supershine - Having been aged for a couple of years, this old favourite did it's classic thing of causing contentment to rise through my body through a good flow and balance of sweet caramel malt and warming alcohol. I was surprised to hear from those tasting with us that they were getting a sort of sourness from it after the initial sweetness, but maybe it is part of the transition from malt to alcohol that may do this, especially at 11%.

5) St Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout - Stepping back in alcohol, but stepping up in darker character, this 9.2% bourbon wood aged extra strong stout had a bit of a peaty smell and a mellow standard RIS flavour, with the alcohol rising appropriately for the style. It also sits pretty think on the tongue, which I do not have a problem all.

6) Harveston Ola Duhb 16 - After the previous beer, this one really steps up nicely in the smokey character. It is very smooth and the alcohol is not too overwhelming. The whiskey aspect of the beer does not lead to an overly peaty smoke, so doesn't use Islay whiskey barrels to store this beer in.

7) Moo Brew Barrel Aged Vintage Imperial Stout (09) - I brought this bottle back for Stass from the brewer's stash at Moo Brew last year for his buck's party, so has had nearly a year to age even after I gave it to him. The problem of carbonation with the '09 batch reared its head (unfortunately there has been enough time between trying this vintage to have forgotten this aspect) as Stass opened it to pour out, and found myself swilling it quite a bit to try and let the carbonation break out of the beer before tasting it, as it causes the flavours to spike a bit too much across the tongue. Once it has warmed up and settled the familiar mellow malty flavours, with a touch of dark sweet fruit from the wine barrel aging that also seems to thin out the beer a bit, come back. However, there is definitely a higher bitterness at the back palate which is a bit too much. Yep, won't beat the '08 vintage.

8) Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout - Ok, another favourite that like the Grand Ridge gave me complete contentment as I let it roll around my mouth. I can only think from these two beers that mouthfeel must be a very important aspect for me with beers I enjoy, as the texture relaxes me into the beer to enjoy the flavours that go with it. In this beer it is dark chocolate, and in the supershine it is the caramel, so behind the feel of the beer, my sweet tooth still reigns. Such a well rounded beer with a slight bitter chocolate up front before the alcohol warms and the body thickens over the tongue. Ends with a touch of bitterness and alcohol to clean up.

9) Hargraves Russian Imperial Stout (12.3%) - Nearly made a mistake in leaving this one til last, but glad I corrected myself before that occured. While there was some classic malt and alcohol character to this, there was a great deal of bitterness that really took away from the style of the beer. I would even contemplate letting it sit for up to 5 years to see if some of that bitterness drops out enough the balance it.

10) Mikkeller Black (17.5%) - Phew, lucky we did leave this to last. What a great 'finisher' beer for this journey. Some interesting port character and some medicinal alcohol in the aftertaste with it being that high, but is just so mellow that even with the big alcohol content, it rises so warmly the beer could almost contain it. I must include some of the other drinker's were commenting on a 'mhehh, sort of coffee taste' at the back of the palate, which like the supershine 'sourness' I did not perceive. Maybe it was just the big roasted malt character coming through to much so as to try and keep some balance in the beer.

After sleeping off that journey and have to make ourselves stay sober for a go kart session the following afternoon (I came in 6th after spinning out badly a couple of laps from the end, but beat the birthday boy!), we got together at a bar in Carlton to exchange gifts (we decided to indulge Stass' coffee streak and get him a cold drip coffee maker), was happy to see a bit of a selection of beers to try out at Markov. Starting on a sweet and full Hawthorn Pale, I moved onto a classic American Pale Ale in the Sierra Nervada (that is for you Joshie!), a Schofferhoffer Weizen (would have preferred a dark wheat at that time) before an Alambra (?...yep, starts getting a bit dicey from here) that seemed easy drinking for a dark beer with just enough character to keep you interested, then retrying a 3 Ravens Stout, where I definitely got a lot more chocolate notes than I recall having tasted previously from this beer. Then some people tried to get me on port and muskat(?) which ruined the whole journey, and brought an end to the night for drinking (luckily we were getting kicked out of the bar at this time while trying to have a conversation about death and the whole body/spirit aspect of it all...ah drunken musings) and a couple of slices of pizza on Brunswick Street as I made my way home.

Some great news Stass and his missus Jess were able to tell everyone of the night is that they are now 10 weeks pregnant and so now all the dad jokes Stass come out with will become legitimate...poor kid.

So another phase of life as told through Beerdakari comes to pass...


PS: Must also mention it is also Iain's birthday today, so even though I didn't have a gift for him, was good to finally be able to share some news with the gang that made it to his brunch.

PPS: I should just start a new post for this, but could not be bothered (I'm really appreciative of anyone reading this stuff aren't I. Just proves I ain't doing it for you, even if you are welcome to view it). Stass and I have finally tasted our Sunday Roast beer now Michelle and Brendon have come back from overseas. The garlic beer they requested has been rounded off some with the addition of roasting it,  also roasting sweet potato, and adding corn syrup for body, some rosemary for a slight saltiness and some hickory smoke for a dash of meatiness. We agree that if we did it again we would not use 21 pieces of garlic (though in this case had to be seeing it was the main emphasis behind the beer) and could back off on the sweet potato a bit too (even if it is needed much at all). We are happy to call this one a bit of a success for a first try. We also have out Scotch Ale ready for tasting against Team Harrod in the near future, and I have just put on my first ever gluten free beer for my cousin's, who have chose to go with the flavour of agave pancake syrup, and which I hope may mask a slightly strange flavour I get on the back of my palate from the sorghum malt. Hoping some residual sweetness will hold (and not get fermented out) out for this purpose...we shall see.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Josie's Journey


I have just come home from doing some brewing with Stass (this Sunday Roast beer will be interesting...) and we hit Josie Bones this evening for a few well earned beverages to celebrate life in general. Well, didn't I just fall off my chair (even before I sat in it), when what should I see but the Lindermans Faro on the taps menu. A beer I have only been able to enjoy via the bottle for so long, was now in my grasp, and I grasped tight. In terms of trying to contrast it to the bottle, the carbonation from the keg really freshens it up a bit and brings up all the complexities of flavour there is in this beer. The sherberty sweetness is brought up maybe a bit more through this, bring just a slight better balance to the beer overall. Still, the two words that always come to me with this beer in delicate complexity. Apple cider, white wine, melon, slight caramelised sherbert sugars offset by the fruit sourness, all characteristics I get from this beer over the 20 seconds I like to let it roll over my tongue for. It probably loses a little delicateness from the keg seeing the flavours seem a bit stronger, but the breadth and balance amazed me with each sip, and even went for another one at the end of the journey, even though my palate was not able to fully comprehend it as well second time round. Over 18 months after having this beer in Belgium, I have finally been able to try it again on tap, and have it in Australia. Mind blowing!

Seeing a few other beers on the taps menu looking interesting, we had tasting glasses off the rest of them brought to us and we settled on an order to drink them in
1) Mornington Saison: Having only been receptive with a couple of the beers from this brewery, I was not surprised when I found I did not enjoy this one. For a beer that is meant to have a bit of a yeasty kick, there was hardly any of this to speak of, and that is just my style based criticism. The aroma and front palate had almost like a creamed corn character that was quite off-putting. There was a very slight fruity hit in the midpalate before the corn comes back at that end with some floury character coating the throat on the way down, just so you can keep tasting it for a while after you swallow.
2) Brewer's Malt: One I have tried a few times in the bottle, and it did not disappoint from the tap either. The pure malt character has a sort of scotch ale flavour, but without the alcohol hit of a wee heavy. Perhaps with more sugars not fermented, the body holds up quite well with this caramel malt taste, with only enough hops at the back just to tale off the malt and stop residual sugars overwhelming in aftertaste. Very simple but well made, and with the big malt base, one Stass and I both liked personally.
3) Red Hill Wiezenbock: Had been interested in trying this for a while, so happy to have it on tap for best appreciation. The wheat reminded Stass of the corn aspect in the Saison, while as for me, the alcohol on the nose gave substance to the 8% alcohol written about this beer. However, the alcohol takes over the wheat just that bit too much to unbalance the beer and make it a little too harsh to drink much of. It just rose to soon on the palate, and too quickly in heat, removing a touch too much of the wheat characters I would have liked to have tasted more in this.
4) Nogne O Nighthawk Breakfast: As an American Brown Ale, it certainly did not have the amount of bitterness I was expecting from the style. Malt character was fairly standard in a brown and wasn't enough the make up from the hole the hops seemed to have left. Even if it had tried to fill the flavour gap, it would have outbalanced the beer.
5) Mikkeller Green Gold: I wouldn't have thought there was a beer that rivals the Moylan's Hopsickle in terms of balance and depth in an IPA, but this one does. The caramel malt, and body to go with it, the slow but steady rise in hop the blends well with the malt, but continues to rise through the 7% alcohol that could potentially push the palate too far, and a final warm bitterness at the back that just hangs on to the back of your throat, this is one well made beer that even a non hop-head like myself can appreciate. This was probably the most tecnically proficient beer we had on the whole journey, and one I would recommend alongside the Hopsickle.
6) Doctors Orders Black Lung: Was a bit of a comedown after the Mikkeller, and Stass really picked up on the black wheat character we think was used to give this pilsner its dark characteristic. Having had this recently, I did not focus on it too much.
7)Aecht Schenkerla Rauchbier Marzen: As the Faro had taken me back to Brussels, this beer took me directly back to Bamberg, a great smoothness in the body to stop the flavours spiking to much across the tongue, and gives some residual sweetness to stop the smoked ham flavour from drying out the back palate. The smoke flavour is also contained well at the front through the fresh maltiness, reminding me of the more approachable smoke beers I had while in Bamberg. This was also then another beer I appreciated more personally for the nostalgia aspect.

As I said, I ended up going back to the Faro to finish the night on. I hope to even head back during the week to try and drink more of this while it is available on tap. This beer is a must try for anyone that drinks white wine, to start getting an appreciation of beer through flavours they are more use to, and knowing someone like this, would like to get them in there to try it out, even if it means engaging my beer nerd a bit too much.

A great journey for Stass and I to enjoy at this time, so thanks to Jess for helping us through it from behind the bar at Josie Bones, and approving of the drinking order we made for it. Good to see Mira working in here too (as he said, he is a beer hussy), and to James for having a chat about the beer scene, and giving us some comments on our Russian Imperial Stout that Stass brought in for him last time he came (yep, 11.2% will give it a fair bit of alcohol heat)

Oh, I just remembered I missed out on seeing this years collaboration brew between Mountain Goat, Moon Dog and Matilda Bay from being brewed, so looking forward to seeing how it comes along from here as we close in on the colder months and it's Good Beer Week launch...Still, with 27 degrees today, was perfect for the Faro (yeah, just had to finish on that aspect)



Monday, April 9, 2012

Another Easter De(g)gustation

Happy Easter beer and chocolate lovers, and welcome to my third year of having chocolate beers for the weekend.

Unfortunately I did not get much interest from my mates to eat easter eggs and drink chocolate beers with me this year (yeah, what is wrong with them), so it was just Stew and I that went through the journey together, which meant I held back on a few beers just to make sure we could get through them all.

In the end we tried the Robinson's Old Tom Chocolate Strong Ale, Meantime Chocolate, Mildura Choc Hops and an old fav in the Holgate Temptress, paired with M&M, dark, milk, and Caramello solid Easter eggs.

The Old Tom Chocolate has a bit of high noted sugaryness to it that reminded me a bit like the Polish chocolate beer, but that may just be from the vanilla in it as well. There is a bit more depth in the malt though in comparision, but I did get a bit of acid through this aspect though, so the slight alkaline from the milk chocolate egg did balance if out well. The Caramello was next best, then the dark, ending with the M&M egg. The candied shell aspect of the M&M combines badly with the suspect quality of chocolate use (ok, it is a novelty easter egg) so it did not fair well overall. Anyway, onto the next beer.

I have tried the Meantime Chocolate the first time we did an easter choc beer tasting, but came off quite subtle with the bigger beers we had tasted back then. Compared to the Old Tom there was a fuller malt character and darkness to go with it to bring a bit of bitterness along with it. Of course this meant it matched well with the dark chocolate the best, even though personally, we did not enjoy this combination the most. The milk chocolate seemed to balance out the bitterness a bit better and give me the sweet choc flavour I personally enjoy more, and this sweetness followed onto the Caramello, with the M&M again coming last. But if you do like a subtle dark chocolate flavour, this beer is pretty good to go with.

I have tried the Choc Hops a few times now, and having stored this beer for a while, wondered if the 'chico' aroma and flavour would mellow out with age in the bottle. This has definitely happened, and allowed for more of a darker chocolate aspect to come through, but still retaining a slight high noted sugary choc factor. Surprisingly, I think with these two things combined meant it reacted well to the Caramello egg the best, as it seemed to bridge both these aspects in the beer with the chocolate, and the caramel sweetness. The dark came in second, as it contrasted well with the high notes and balance it out towards the darker side across the palate. the darker chocolate aspect at the back of the beer bring out the bitter roasted chocolate egg and you are left with this flavour in aftertaste. The milk of course also found some traction in this beer to match in the front palate, and the M&M continued to fail us.

Finishing on the Temptress, it also seemed overall to be capable of tying itself well with most of the eggs, even though the beer tasted a bit old/dusty and the slight chalkiness also coming through seeing I had left it in the fridge for a long time to try and preserve it as best I could for this tasting. It was actually a bit harder to pick which egg went best with it, but in the end the dark won out over the milk, the Caramello coming in third, and of course the M&M last. Still, on the M&M, I was interested to find a sort of jaffa flavour could be found in the combo, as the candied shell went with the darker choc aspects in the beer, which is why it matched better with the dark egg. Still, this slight jaffa quality was not enough to get the M&M egg out of last spot.

So, this brings us to the end of the 250th post on this blog, and happy to see it put towards this easter tradition of enjoying chocolate beers along with the chocolate that comes out around this time of year. I was also interested to notice that I have now reached 7,500 views and now getting around 500 views each month. Of course, not something I was looking for when starting this blog, which is probably why I notice it more. So I guess some people do have nothing better to do than read my notes on beers...who would have thought. Not me. Still, I hope it is doing its little bit in educating some on what the potential of beer is, even if I may be a bit limited in my personal appreciation of beers many styles. I hope people can look beyond this to find their own flavours, and I am being descriptive enough to allow people to start looking for those beers they enjoy through my experience. I know for me, it has helped me come a long way in understand my own taste and given me notes to work off when thinking of what makes up the beers I like and so the beers I like to brew (well, attempt to brew anyway).

Thanks to Stew for his company and input into this specific post, and to anyone that actually enjoys reading any of this stuff I continue to put up here. I at least know my friends have finally had enough of me annoying them with free beer...though it does not make any sense to me (I guess that is the point).

Cheers to beers,


PS: I also just remembered I tried a couple of other beers this week, with the German made, iconic Duff Lager, and the Maui Coconut Porter, both packaged in cans. The Duff had the traditional German sweet malt aspect that came off a bit honey and found it quite enjoyable for what I heard Stew bought at $20 a case (good value for money there). The Coconut Porter had some dark chocolate aspects to it and came out quite a bit dry-roasted at the back of the palate. This made it a bit hard to get the coconut aspects (though the potential for it to be a bit like an aussie lamington was interesting to think about), but this seemed to help balance out the dark roasted character of the malt to give it some better balance and broadness overall.