Archive for May, 2009

Sunday Beer Session

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Sunday’s are  designated as a day of rest and relaxation, and nothing is much more relaxing than trying out a few beers As beers are best enjoyed in the presence of good company i enlisted the help of Alex Went son of Peter Went, winemaker at Pierre’s Wines a boutique winery located at Branxton in the Hunter Valley.

As two people were involved in this tasting session some of the beers tried have been given two ratings whilst a few just have the one such as the Beechworth Australian Ale & Mallee Bull which i had previously tasted.

Miller Chill 4.2% Alcohol (USA)

Lightly carbonated with an over powering lime aroma smelling very artificial on the nose. Very sweet to taste, closer to a premix vodka i would say in taste than a beer.

Verdict: This is easily one of the worst excuses for beer i have ever had the misfortune to taste! Do not bother to waste your time and money with this foul liquid!

Alex: 1/10

Anthony: 1.5/10

Link: Miller Chill

Beechworth Australian Ale 4.4% Victoria

Poured almost flat with a flavour overly dominated by citrus flavors.

Alex’s Verdict: Starting to loose faith two beers two misses.

Alex: 3.5 / 10

Link: Original review & Bridge Road Brewers

Pepper Jack Ale 4.7% Alcohol – South Australia

This is a very unique brew, it is made by Saltram Wines located in the Barrosa Valley, South Australia. This beer pushes the boundaries by incorporating Shiraz wine into the recipe, something i have never heard of being done before.

The brew is a deep cooper in colour, lightly carbonated with an almost non existent head. The aroma comes across mostly fruity on the nose with faint floral hints. On the palate the beer takes drinker by surprise with initial toffee caramel notes accompanied by a sharp bitterness.

Verdict: This could be a great starter beer or great companion to a meal of a tasty meal such as pizza, beef & guiness pie, beef bourguignon or similar.

Alex: 7.5 / 10

Anthony: 6.7 / 10

Tip: I have had this beer twice now and it doesn’t stand up well to being over chilled for best results you will want to serve this at around the 7 degree mark.

Link: Saltram Wines

Mallee Bull 5.6 % Alcohol – Victoria

Poured with a golden straw colour and mild malt aroma. The taste is dominated by toffee notes leaving a rich cooked toffee aftertaste on the back of the palate.

Alex’s Verdict: Not a bad drop but definitely room for improvement.

Alex: 7 / 10

Link: Original tasting & Mildura Brewing

Pike’s Oatbank Beer  4.5% Alcohol – South Australia

Here we have another beer being made by people that are better known for the wines they make, but are proving you can do both with great results.

This beer is a bright clear gold colour with a nice tightly packed head. The aroma is heavily dominated by hop floral notes. Like most good pilsners the drinker is hit with a pleasant sharp bitterness, accompanied by faint citrus notes which subsides to a mildly sweet aftertaste.

Verdict: Very refreshing and highly drinkable after the one bottle i was a bit upset i didn’t have more.

Rating: 7.6 / 10

Link: Pikes Wines

Red Angus Pilsner, NSW 4.5% Alcohol

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Seems to me alot of microbreweries in Australia are making beer with a bovine theme lately. Mallie Bull and Holgate brewhouse with a bull as their mascot, then i came across this Red Angus Pilsner the other day whilst browsing an isle of my local Dan Murphys. I brought a bottle and put it in the fridge for later. Coming home from work today i was thirsty i wanted beer any beer, this one was cold and ready to go and it didn’t disappoint.

On the appearance side this drop is bright yellow in colour, with a loose sudsy head which quickly dropped down to a thin lace covering although the beer itself has a good level of carbonation. The aroma is dominated by floral notes (very similar in smell to a rose i thought).

On the drinking side i found the bitterness of the hops nicely balanced with the assertive malt flavours. Notes of pepper, lemon and honey where the primary flavors i could pick out. The beer then finishes with a mild dry bitter / tang as an aftertaste.

Verdict: I enjoyed this beer quite a lot,very refreshing! Not a beer i could see myself drinking all the time but it has a fairly complex taste and makes a very pleasant change from the mainstream.

Rating: 7.4 / 10

Link: Angus Beers

Firefly – Fusion Brewing (NSW) 4.5% Alcohol

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

firefly_lagerFusion Brewing takes a unique approach to creating a brew, first they decide on a style of food to match. Then Matthew Evans (Chef / Food critic), dissects what key flavours are normally present in the chosen style of dish and what qualities a beer should have to further bring out these flavours. From here some guidelines are created and passed along to head brewer Brian Watson to transform  into amber liquid, which should then be the perfect partner for your dinner.

Seeing as so much care had gone into seeing that Firefly brew would be the perfect partner for spicy food, i decided it was only fair to try this number with a meal. In the name of science i cooked a nice hot chilli / ginger stir fry for dinner specially to enjoy this beer with. Upon decanting the bottle into a glass i was greeted by a lightly carbonated brew, bright gold in colour with an aroma full of floral notes.

Tasting the brew, the drinker is hit initially with a sharp pilsner style bitterness which i found to be a great blend with the heat from the stir fry. Upon swallowing pretty much all taste quickly subsides leaving nothing except a subtle sweetness on the palate, not much else to it, this is an exceptionally clean tasting beer.

Verdict: This beer is super clean in taste designed to compliment the flavours of your meal not fight them. That said i could also see myself enjoying a six pack of these beside the pool on a hot summers day. Can’t wait give their other beer “Bluebottle” another try with some seafood as it was intended, the first time i tasted it  i was in a pub and without any food to give the proper taste test.

Rating: 7.3 / 10

Link: Fusion Brewing & Firefly Beer

P.S It has also come to my attention this brew recently took out Silver in the 2009 Australian International Beer Awards. Full results sheet can be found here.

Related Reading: Pairing Beer With Food

McLaren Vale Ale, 4.5% Alcohol – South Australia

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Ever since i got this beer, i have been busting to taste it, unfortunately though it had to wait a couple of weeks. Still as they say good things come to those who wait and this beer didn’t disappoint.
Once in a glass this brew presented itself as lightly carbonated, bright gold in colour, with a loosely packed head which quickly died down to a scant covering over the liquid.
The aroma exhibits citrus notes and really gives away the presence of cascade hops. The taste of this beer is extra clean, slightly sweet with citrus, floral notes and an almost non-existent aftertaste.

Verdict: This beer was made for a hot summers day, ultra smooth you could drink these all day with out growing tired of the taste.

Rating: 7.2 / 10

Link: Vale Ale

Beechworth Australian Ale – Vic 4.4% Alcohol

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I have brewed many a wheat beer and a couple of meads in the past using Beechworth Honey, but up until now was ignorant of the town having a microbrewery. I was privileged enough to get my hands on a bottle of their Australian Ale to try the other day. Brewed in the spirit of ales consumed commonly in Australian bars  pre 1940, it is quite a novel beer, which is something we don’t seem to see nearly enough off.

Pale, cloudy and straw in colour with a medium tightly packed head which quickly subsides after pouring. The aroma is discreet with soft floral / citrus notes, the taste of this beer is pretty good with a nice balance of bitterness and malt with notes of honey and pepper.

Verdict: If you like coopers try this you’ll no doubt love it! Personally its enjoyable but nothing i would go too far out of my way to get, it’s the sort of beer that a six pack would go nicely with watching Friday night footy at home on the telly.

Score: 6.6 / 10

Link: Bridge Road Brewery

Londons Best – Gage Roads W.A 4.4% Alcohol

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Gage Roads London's BestI have been keen to try something from Gage Roads for quite awhile. I  seem to see signs advertising the brewery itself around quite a bit, but never run across the beer itself. So i was very happy two bottles of the London’s Best English styled bitter arrive in this months micro brew club delivery.

Upon pouring, this brew displayed a brief off white head which quickly disappeared, the beer itself is a deep cooper colour with very little carbonation. The aroma consists mainly of toffee aroma’s with a faint hint of citrus.

Toffee / caramel flavours dominate the taste of this brew with a medium bitterness and buttery character. Aftertaste consists of a slightly sweet flavor accompanied  by a mild caramel flavour.

Verdict: This beer has a nicely balanced malt profile, and definitely seems to grow on you. I tried one bottle was hesitant starting out, but by the end could kill for another. It’s not too heavy so i think this beer wouldn’t wear its welcome out too quick.

Rating: 7.3 / 10

Link: Gage Roads Brewing Company

Old Admiral Ale 6.1% Alcohol

Monday, May 11th, 2009

I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed this beer many times on tap at the Lord Nelson hotel in The Rocks area of the CBD. But until yesterday had never seen it for sale in the bottle, all of this changed when i wandered into the Australian Wine Center at Circular Quay for a look and saw it nestled up the top of the beer fridge. Seeing it in bottle form was too much to handle! I decided i had to drop what i was doing and give it a proper tasting as all the times i have tried it previously my judgement has been a little bit skewed by previous beers enjoyed.

Pouring the dark brown coloured beer into a tasting glass showed a lively head which quickly subsided, leaving the liquid with a thin covering of light brown foam. The aroma was rather gentle, consisting of toasted grain containing nutty hints.

Upon tasting the drinker his hit in the front of the tongue with a sharp blast of bitterness that then seems to smooth out mid palate with flavors of coffee and caramel. Which then fades to leave a slight bitter aftertaste accompanied by a gentle sweetness.

Verdict: A very easy drinking beer with plenty of flavour. Maybe not for everyone, but one or two of these adds a welcome interlude to an afternoon session.

Rating: 7.1/10

Link: The Lord Nelson Brewery

Brew Boys – Seeing Double 8% Alcohol

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Brew Boys

I must admit i was a bit of a skeptic when i came across this Scottish inspired ale from South Australia. The recommended temperature for enjoying this drop is a warm 15 degrees Celsius. Which is enough to make most native Australians cringe and act with suspicion. We were brought up in the heat with lagers, which tend to be chilled on the theory “the colder the better”.

So this beer already had me on the defensive, opening the bottle and seeing the contents in a glass did nothing to boost my lack of confidence either. I was looking at a tawny slightly cloudy coloured beer with a sparse loosely packed head.

Another oddity with this beer is that it was brewed using a touch of Scottish peat, which gave the beer a very distinctive aroma on pouring very similar to scotch whiskey, something which i have never experienced in a beer before.

All these factors had me dubious about the situation, but the saying never judge a book by its cover rang very true upon my first sip. The front of the tongue is hit by a mild pleasant bitterness, which as the liquid passes further over the palate rolls into a very sweet smooth caramel / toffee flavor, not at all unlike butterscotch.
Upon swallowing the majority of the sweetness fades, leaving the palate with a pleasant residual sweetness which is in no way overpowering, making the drinker crave an encore.

Verdict: This is not a beer to drink on a hot summers day. But on a taste level is excellent! A ballsy brew packed full of flavor that leaves the drinker feeling very satisfied. If you find a bottle buy it you won’t be disappointed in the end

Rating: 7.8 / 10

Link: Brew Boys

Micro Beer Club

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Am very excited today about a fortnight back, i thought i would give joining a beer club a try. The concept is simple you pay $49.95 a month + postage ($15 for Sydney) and they will send you a different mix of 12 Australian beers a month. Sure it would be cheaper just to head to you nearest Dan Murphy’s or similar and pick up a handful of beers, but i decided it was worth the extra cash as even the larger bottle shops don’t tend to stock nearly enough good brews from the smaller Australian breweries for my liking.
Yesterday my first package arrived and i must say i am pretty impressed though a bit upset i haven’t had a chance to try any yet.

Included in the May tasting pack was the following brews:

All appear to be top notch beers, the odd one in the bunch would have to be the Seeing Double. At 8% it not only packs a monster punch, but is made with peated malted and is intended to be drunk at cellar temperature (above 15 degrees) so no fridge action!