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.

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