Thursday, December 16, 2010

Slowbeer Tasting #4: Chrissy Beers

So, another Slowbeer tasting rolls around, and this time Stass and Shanti tag along for the ride. A little up and down, and while there was some discussion between us on the best one on the night, my mind was pretty set on my personal favourite.

As usual, in order of tasting.

1) Red Hill Christmas Ale (8.3%): light fruit and spice with some alcohol smell. clear citrus front palate, big spice in the middle and alcohol back, which became more hoppy as it warmed up.

2) Hunter Christmas Beer (8.4%): Chocolate with cinnamon smell and much darker. The chocolate comes out more with warmth and there is a slight dusty coffee taste at the back. My favourite of the early beers.

3) Baladin Noel (9%): So after a few aussie attempts, we had a go at this Italian sample. Had a dark yeast smell at the start but warmed to become a bit fruitier. Lost of carbonation with a surypy malt, and tasting the alcohol from the midpalate.

Finally, to Belgium...

4) St Feuillien Cuvee de Noel (9%): Caramel look and smell as it warms with slight spice. Again, bit of carbonation and alcohol comes through more as it warms along with a bit of a spirit taste (for everyone reading this, Shanti noted this one as tasting like arse. Hope that is more informative than my own notes).

5) Huygue Delerium Christmas (10%): Get a banana smell initially (possibly caramel and alcohol in combo?), but becomes the well know bubblegum once it warms. There is a fair bit of alcohol, but do get some nice creaminess from it.

6) Achouffe N'ice (10%). One I had been looking forward to trying after not finding it in Belgium. Has a dark malt smell with a brown ale look. dark fruit and malt up front with some slight bubblegum. got some spirit flavour as well. I wrote 'I like caramel' in my tasting notes, so must be some caramel in it (just a guess).

7) St Bernardus Christmas Ale/Kert (10%): Actually did try this beer in Brugge at a beer festival in September. Has a nice caramel look and good tight frothy head with bubblegum smell and taste. Seems like candied sugar has been used the lighten and sweetend the bubblegum flavour, and overall seems well balanced.

8) Mikkeller's Santa's Little Helper (11%): CHOCOLATE! Smell reminds me of Holgate Choc Porter, so instantly love this beer. There is some hazy darkness (maybe the alcohol was hitting hard by this stage. What sort of comment is that?) to the smell, but absolutely no head on it at all. Little too much alcohol but overall very well rounded.

9) Eggenberg Samichlaus (14%): Yes, the alcohol is 14%, and this is a lager...damn those crazy Austrians! Aged for 8-9 months, I had an expectation of the alcohol being too much for it, but the aging really mellows out the flavours. Having had a few aged beers, I did not enjoy it as much as others I have had, but have to say this was the most impressive beer in the line up. With very little head on a light brown body, had a brown ale and alcohol smell, but a sweet honey flavour that also came with a bit of body. The alcohol did not seem overly pronounced, but after 10 minutes, my body sure felt the affects...

Still, I made sure to go back to the Mikkeller as my last beer, as there was some left over, so smelt and sipped that til we got kicked out. Of course, this was the only one not to be available to buy on the night (curses!), but will definitely be doing a taste of between this and the Holgate, so see if my hunch is close, and to have the Mikkeller on a fresher palate.

Congrats to the team at Slowbeer for another intense and interesting showcase of beer. Overall, Mikkeller was the personal favourite, a tie for second with St Bernard and Eggenberg, and third was the Hunter Chrissy beer. Good luck to the Sunday tasters getting through these. As with all the Slowbeer tastings I have been to, there is a definite feeling of tipsiness which is quite enjoyable, but as I have found, does not take away too much from the beers towards the end. Having re-tried many of the beers I think I enjoyed during the tastings on a fresh palate, I still find I enjoy them (Cantillon Kriek Lou Pepe, Mikkeller Black [Islay Barrel Edition]). Maybe all the different beers keep your taste buds on edge, even while your brain and body tries to cope with the alcohol in your system.

Cheers Slowbeer,


Sunday, December 12, 2010

30th Birthday Beer Bonanza

Ok, So I am officially 30 tomorrow, but already had two nights of celebrating.

Friday night turned into quite a big one, and while I don't generally like to drink too excessively, it was just one of those nights. It was a great night, to have friends and family around me (and beer), and while I actually don't remember that much of it, I still feel good vibes over it. So thank you to everyone for coming out with me, I feel very loved from the night, but maybe not from the bar staff at Mountain Goat Brewery or the Royston.

So, with the big night out of the way, last night was able to be more of a quieter...sophisticated...hmmm, at the very least more of a 'remembered' night,but with the calibre of beers on offer, I hope I would be able to remember it.

It was basically an opportunity for me to enjoy and share the versatility of beer as I see it, and to enjoy some of my favourite beers from around the world. So here is the beer journey from it.

1) Little Creatures Bright Ale: My favourite summer beer with some good citrus notes but still a bit of malt body. I actually had some orange cake while drinking this beer yesterday, and have to say it matched pretty well. An Aussie 'slammer', but with character.
2) Lindemans Faro: Very light style Belgium Lambic beer with amazing sherberty sugar with very slight sourness to balance it out. So delicate in flavour.
3) Cantillon Lou Pepe Kreik 2008: My favourite from a recent Slowbeer tasting that while has quite a sourness is still fairly well rounded for a Lambic. the older blends and hops really deliver a milder tartness than most.
4) Aecht Schlenterla Rauchbier Weizen: This German wheat smoke beer is another one with intriguing flavours, but at least a little bit diluted in this wheat version. Both this beer and the Cantillon were had while eating to help us get through them. Liquified smoked ham in this one.
5) Achel Extra Brune: A bit of a cleanser in this beer journey and the first hit of higher alcohol Trappist beer with some nice caramel notes that I remember enjoying in Belgium.
6) Holgate Temptress: Choc porter with a great chocolate smell and some slight bitterness on the back palate. Best Aussie attempt at this style of beer.
7) Rouge's Chocolate Stout: Amazing to actually get this American beer as I could not find it here in Melbourne. My sister actually brought it over from Adelaide (The Wheatsheaf no doubt), so was a last minute addition to the journey. One of my favourite beer memories is with this particular one. Just has a great overall roundness with good chocolate flavour.
8) Guinness Foreign Extra Stout: A great take on a classic beer. I think the best Guinness you can get outside of Ireland with higher alcohol and and hops but with that great Guinness taste. This one had many of the other tasters stumped, especially when I said it is one of the most well know beers in the world.
9)Moo Brew Vintage Imperial Stout (2010): The latest batch of this favourite beer or mine, however was a major disappointment on the night, with what seemed to be over-carbonation making the beer froth up upon opening, and it overshadowing the taste.
10) Moo Brew Vintage Imperial Stout (2009): Lucky I kept this beer aside from the previous year's batch. This is more like it! The taste buds are starting to die at this point, but I still get that 'experience' with this beer. Instant mellowness.
11) Brew Dog Tokyo: Another oak age stout, but from this Scottish brewer. Very intense flavours with very high alcohol, with big malt hit.
12) Mikkeller Black (Islay Edition): Again an aged stout but with a better roundness of flavour. The base beer with the whiskey barrel aging and alcohol make for a very impressive beer.
13) Rochefort 10: My favourite Belgium beer. Amazing caramel smell which translates to taste. Has a bit of a scotch flavour with the caramel and high alcohol. The start of the come down on this beer journey.
14) Grand Ridge Supershine: A scotch ale which I believe has the highest alcohol content for commercially made beer in Australia. Again has a great mellowness to it with the caramel flavours.

So that was it. A big beer journey for my 30th. Thanks to everyone that came along with me on it. Was a great wrap up of the beers I have had over the last 10 years. I wonder what the line up will look like for my 40th (If I make it that far)?



PS: On a personal note, can I just say how fortunate I feel right now to have great friends and family to share the last 30 years with, and for those that have come and celebrated with me over the past couple of nights.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Baird Dark Sky Imperial Stout (9%)

Well, I thought yesterday was a good day with getting off work early and getting tickets to an Eddie Vedder show in Melbourne for March. Okay, today I still did a full day, but was able to work by myself today which was kinda nice without Joel getting in my way. Too bad it meant Tim wasn't in a good enough state to work with me...Anyway, when I got home found out my favourite band are only doing one headline show while in Australia, so have just bought tickets to it. Just means I need to be in Adelaide in Feb to see it. Guess that means will have to visit the Wheatsheaf while I am over there...Damn, this just keeps getting worse.

Anyway, to drown my sorrows (ha), as a final thanks to Tim, and as a congratulations to Jaimi Faulker for a great year he has had, have the final beer to have before my birthday celebrations start tomorrow.

There is a definite dark fruit and alcohol smell from this beer which seems to be fairly standard with this style of beer. The taste starts out pretty promising and there is a decent texture to go with it. The alcohol is there, but there is something else, like a hop, that is too intense a flavour to blend with everything else. This comes in from the midpalate and stays long into the aftertaste. I think the style of hop is fine, but it has just been overused to take up too much of the taste profile. Unfortunately this ruins the beer for me personally, and even the alcohol doesn't help that much (well, it may after a little while. It is a 750ml bottle!). The hops even 'water' the beer, removing the nice body I get at the beginning.

So, I am guessing there is about 6 standard drinks in this bottle, so that is enough to get me to finish off this beer. Not even this beer can get me down at the moment. I also have 4 days til i am next working...



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Black Snout Milk Stout (5.5%)

So, have most of the day off work today, and lucky...this beer comes in a 750ml bottle. The rain is coming down outside, so is good weather to enjoy a beer like this.

There is a creamy bitter chocolate smell coming from this beer that translates well into the taste. The bitterness is a bit harsh for my taste, and comes in a bit too early in the palate to get much else. There is definitely a milkiness which while a little 'bloaty', is a flavour I would like more from this beer. Luckily seeing the bitterness is from the malt, it does not hang around too much on the back palate, but leave the tongue a little dry.

Compared to the two previous beers, I can now see the impact the oatmeal has on beer, as while the lactose (I guess) adds to the flavour, it does not seem to add as much creamy texture to the beer. There is still a decent body to the beer, but for me the sense of bitterness seems to 'water' the beer a bit, almost like separating it a little like alcohol can do.

So, I now have the arvo to continue enjoying this beer, so then have one more of Tim's beers to have tomorrow as my last day's work before my birthday. Hope you are feeling better mate. It worked out well so that now we don't have to work in this rain.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Renaissance Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (4.9%)

Having now tried this brew from the tap, I have a better appreciation of this beer. From the bottle the sweet choc smell does come through, but there is not quite the oatmeal body that I had from the tap, also not as much as yesterday's oatmeal stout.

I think there is more bitterness that I am getting from the bottle which i do not think is as present in the 'on tap' version I had a few weeks ago. So guess I can see a pattern with on tap beers like this, as I can remember that when I had real Guinness for the first time in Ireland a few years back, the main differences I could see between it and the bottled/canned version(s) was that it more creamy and less bitter on tap in Ireland.

However, I do quite enjoy the smell, and it is too bad this does not equate to taste too much, as the bitterness does come in quite early on the tongue.

Well, I am happy to have a better appreciation of this beer, and that I can find better qualities from it than I have found previously. Still, make sure to have it on tap (I know Bar Biero had it on recently, but that is the only place I have found it).

two down, two to go...


Monday, December 6, 2010

Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout (5.7%)

With the lead up to my birthday, I am using the next few days to get through some of the beers my boss Tim gave me for Chrissy. The first is this Anderson Valley Brewing Company beer from California.

It has been a pretty muggy day here so decided to chill the beer a bit, but think it is a little cold. It poured with some thickness and can definitely sense some body through the oatmeal. The slightly brown head brings with it the dark malt smell and a sort of smokiness, which upon tasting is just the roasted malt leading to a coffee flavour. This coffee prolongs into aftertaste.

I have found recently that an oatmeal stout was exceedingly better on tap than out of the bottle ('duh' I hear you say), so would be interested if this was also true with this beer. I don't personally like this beer much. There is not much in the flavour to intrigue me, and there is not enough body to give it a creamy texture to enjoy (Still, this could be improved through having on tap). As it warms am getting a slight 'imperialness' from the beer in smell and taste, almost like it would have a higher alcohol content than it does, and wonder if this flavour would stand out more on tap to give it a bit more robustness.

Am not sure if my body has just been stripped of water with all the sweating I have done today, or if there is a dryness in the beer coming from the coffee roasted flavour, but there is a furriness on the tongue after drinking this beer.

So overall, intrigued by the potential of this beer, and the body does give it some character, but in bottle form it does little for me.



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let Summer Begin

Welcome to the Summer months!

While the weather here in Melbourne has been a bit all over the place with showers and storms with patches of humid heat (great to be doing outdoors work in!), after a long week at work felt the need to go out on Friday. So hit Mountain Goat Brewery to try their new Summer Ale (some malt character, but a really zingy hop) and their Steam Ale through Randy that has mint and pineapple in it (hmmm, way too much mint, and only able to get a slight pineapple taste from it), then across the road to the Royston for a Moo Brew Hef (don't know if the wheat has been uped in the recipe, but was the cloudiest beer I have ever had and had lots of bubblegum in it) and dinner. Having relaxed and got a bit of a buzz from having those three beers in an hour, didn't feel like just going home.

Remembering my friend Xani had a gig at the Empress I went there and was happy to find they had my favourite summer beer (Little Creatures Bright Ale) on tap, so while hanging with Paul and Mark and Xan was enjoying a few of these. After crashing at Paul and Mark's and getting up the next morning to see a great day on the way, did the classic aussie summer thing of sitting on the couch watching the cricket (damn, those poms are beating us!), caught up with Shanti at the Town Hall Hotel to watch more of the cricket over her lunch break, accompanied by a Fat Yak, which is another decent summer beer (but I just find it a bit too hoppy compared to the Bright Ale).

On my way home from that had a quick stop at Purvis to see they had some of my fav beers in stock, so am now contemplating next weekend having a bit of a beer fest to enjoy and share some of my favourite beers I have found in my life. I already have quite a few (some that I have been saving for 18 months), but knowing I can get some more was exciting, as normally the beers I like are not that available in summer. Then when I made it home received a message from Jarrod showing he and Harriet about to put on the choc raspberry beer that will compete with Stass and mine. They seem to have found a good homebrew shop so am pretty nervous they will beat us, and it is Harriet's first time brewing!! Go for it peeps!

So things are looking good for the week to come with some better weather, still having plenty of beers to drink at my place, our choc raspberry brew nearly ready to drink, and going to be getting into some of my fav beers I have been collating for a while. I will apologies in advance if my notes on all these are not so good, as drunkeness will probable ensue with all this drinking to occur.

Still, summer is here people, so get into it!