Monday, February 21, 2011

Termi Tasting and Russian Imperial Stout


In this week's update, Kristy and I hit the Terminus Hotel in Clifton Hill last Thursday to meet up with our mate Jimmy who works behind the bar, and sample some of the brews they have available on tap and in the fridge. Of course Kristy kept to the ciders (I quite liked the Kelly Brother's one they had), and I stuck to the beers.

I was lucky enough to see they had Mountain Goat Craig, and so, this time was able to make a couple of notes after my feeble attempt last time. I didn't remember to bring paper or pen again, but luckily Kristy and Jimmy could sort me out, so managed to note down that is had a good caramel taste with only a slight hop backpalate to cleanse.

Jimmy recommended I try the Brew Dog 5am Saint (as Damien did from Purvis), and have to say I was quite surprised by it. It has a dark caramel smell with a big toffee kick on the front of the tongue. There is a good meld from the malt to hop flavour, which lingers for a long time after swallowing. The aftertaste actually reminded me a bit like the Holgate Chocolate Porter, which must use a similar hop that works well with the sweet, dark, malt flavour. It also had a good medium body to it that worked well with the flavours.

Ok, one beer I have seen around for a long time but had never tried was the Tim Taylor Landlord Strong Pale Ale. It strong must denote flavour as the beer is only just over 4% alcohol. So, it starts with a nice caramel malt and this flavour hold on well through the beer when the beer is warm (10-12 degrees), but there is a dry and stringent hop finish that doesn't compliment the main flavour of the beer. This is worse the colder the beer is. So english ales are meant to be tasted warmer.

I also tried the 3 Ravens Uber Special Bitter (USB), which seemed to have a fairly uniform taste profile from start to finish, mainly coming from the dark malt. There is an easing of hops towards the end of the beer, but it didn't quite sit well with me. I am not sure if it is the type of hop used or the clash of hop and malt.

So, in big news, Stass and I have just put on a Russian Imperial Stout on the home brew. We made it with a lager can, dark ale can and a stout can, and added all 21g of yeast that came with the three cans...and we only made a 15 ltr batch, so could be quite intense. We do have video, but I can't seem to get them onto my imovie to put it together and up here. We have to wait 3 months before drinking once in the bottle, which will exactly get us to the start of winter...perfect timing!

Anyway that is it for now. I do have to say that one of my choc raspberry stouts exploded at 6am Sunday morning. In better news, both Stass and I will be heading out of town this weekend for some camping. Am sure a few home brews will be had while cooking on the bbq, and just hanging out at the campsite...very much looking forward to it.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Post 'Love-in' post

G'day again everyone.

Just made it back from Adelaide and wanted to let you know how the Valentine's Day plan worked out.

Well, I have a slight sunburn from the visit to the beach, but apart from that the drinks went down well, and we all got up for Phoenix.

So the line up last night before the gig went as such
1) J.J. Prum 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese - Okay, so not normally do you start with a wine and then go to beer, but this German Riesling is so delicate with the fruit and lovely serberty sweetness that I had to have it first. Was great to find this in Adelaide (good on ya East End Cellars!), and share with my sis, Jac and Pete. Not the best Prum I have ever had, but had all the lovely flavours and textures that I dig in this wine. Okay, okay, enough on the wine.
2) Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale- So I have tried the stout from these guys and was a little put off by it, but must say this was the perfect beer to come off the Prum and onto the later beers. There is a lovely caramel malt that drew through from the sugar of the Prum and held very well through the beer til the 'cleansing' hops (yes, quite mild on the hops thank you very much) came on the back palate. Big thanks to the staff at the Wheatsheaf Hotel for putting up with my questioning for and hour and for picking this beer after all that. It worked a treat!
3) Rochefort 10: Okay, have spoken many time about this beer, and only had it recently with Brad and Seda, but is a damn good beer and can enjoy it anytime. The caramel flavour from the Boont was darkened further through this beer, with all of us tasting the chocolate hint that the malt goes into with this beer. You definitely feel the alcohol jump up as well at 11.3%, but at least there were 4 or us sharing it.
4) Moo Brew Vintage Stout (09 edition, # 674) - my second tasting of the '09, and was prepared for the over-carbonation this time, so didn't waste as much as previously. The overcarbonation really takes away from the smoothness of the '08 edition that allowed the fuller flavour to come through and transport you out of your body. The differing technique used on this edition may not have worked, but am still amazing that this beer only got to 50 in the top 100 craft beers in Australia. I understand that it's limited status really does skew the result, so guess am happy to even see it there at all, even if in my mind it the best beer produced in Australia. A great 'blockbuster' beer to end on before hitting the gig, and amazed to find such a limited beer in a pub to purchase.

So again, big thanks to the Wheatie for helping me put together this journey, thanks to Cat, Jac and Pete for coming on the journey with me, and thanks to Phoenix for putting on another great show after we had had a taste of all this. Sweet pub, sweet drinks, and sweet tunes, all on a syrupy Valentine's Day.



Monday, February 14, 2011

Beer is in the air....

It is quite unfortunate that I finally get a chance to put up this weeks notes on Valentine's Day, but at least it means I have nothing better to be doing, and what is better than discussing beer anyway...

I am actually writting this from my sister's place in Adelaide, so am spending my Valentine's Day with family, friends and my favourite band Phoenix who are to be playing just down the road from here at the Entertainment Centre.
As per usual I have made a visit to the Wheatie Hotel and sampled Moo Brew Hef and Dark Ale on tap, and I Hardcore You (Mikkeller/Brew Dog) and Brew Dog's Hardcore IPA through an Infuser filled with Cascade Hops (hoppy much!!!!), and will be heading back today to keep sampling more beers and a special beer that I will speak of later.

While talking Brew Dog, I should start with the Brew Dog Beer tasting I had on Thursday at Purvis Beer. I'll just go through the order and put my notes on each.

1) Abstrakt AB:03 (10.5%) - comes out with a light brown/reddish colour and definitely get the smell of strawberries and raspeberries. The main flavour I get is sourness on the sides and back of the tongue and reminds me a bit like a lambic beer with a dry finish.
2) Bashah Reserve - Imperial (8.7%) - has almost a red wine look to it, and while it has some of that fruit sourness of the previous beer (through the raspberries and tayberries) it is not so harsh, with a darker fruit flavour with the oak taste. There is a decent body on this beer to help as well and overall find it a complex beer but well balanced.
3) Abstrak AB:04 (15%) - pours like motor oil with no head but with a surprising chocolate and vanilla smell. This beer has Naga chillies in it, but lucikly I only get a little on the tip of my tongue, and the sweet, rich stout flavours (licorice, dark fruit) take over the taste buds. I also like the full body on this beer so the stout texture is there as well. There is definitely alcohol in it but it doesn't burn, and the flavours in the beer balance out this well.
4) Bashah Reserve - Highland - This beer reminds me of the Mikkeller Black in Islay Whiskey barrels with that smokey, peaty smell. There is a nice malty sweetness upfront and alcohol coming through the back. But has a great taste profile and a good body to it.
Alright, now for the big guns...
5) Tactical Nuclear Penguin (32%) - Not a beer I would buy, but definitely interested to try for a while, so happy it came with this tasting. I would not class this and the next tasting as beer, as it is basically distilled with freezing, but just goes to show what you can do. Anyway...Big malt, big alcohol, big smoke/wood flavours are about all I can get. The taste to the midpalate reminds me of the Brew Dog Tokyo, and definitely has that smell as well, but once the beer hits the midpalate the alcohol just errupts from it, and the burn begins.
6) Sink the Bismarck (41%) - Stepping it up ever further, but this time with a quadrupple IPA instead of an imperial stout with the Penguin, this beer is as hoppy as it comes, and could see the American market all over this beer. Hops and alcohol, that is all, and don't both burn! The hops burn my nostrils and the alcohol explodes in the mouth. The sheer heat of the alcohol expands in the mouth and the burn goes from the tip of the tongue all the way through to the stomach. It even looks like Whiskey! This had me coughing slightly from the intensity of the alcohol, and with the only other flavour hops, is definitely not a 'beer' I will be going back to. Still, as a drinkable mouthwash, it would sure kill off any bacteria you have.
Luckily we were not given big tastings of these beers, or I could have ended up like after a big beer tasting at slowbeer, but would have liked more time between beers to get more notes and appreciate each beer a bit more. Thanks to Tim and Stass (eventually) making it down with me for this beer tasting, and everyone involved, especially the Purvis boys for organising such a big beer tasting.
Ok, now at the opposite end of the scale, I was in at the Garden of Unearthly Delights in Adelaide yesterday, went up to the bar and as always, was instantly disappointed by the 'array' of beers they have available at public events. Yes, I understand why, but when I 'choose' to drink a XXXX Summer Bright Ale only because it was the only one I hadn't tried, and would rather try that over anything else they had available, that sort of said it all. Okay, on the plus side the 'XXXX flavour' is a bit diminished to make it a bit easy drinking, but apart from that, was happy to get across the road to The Stag for a Little Creatures Pale just to cleanse the palate, along with a decent chicken parma.

Ohh, speaking of parma and Little Creatures, before I got on my flight to Adelaide on Friday, I quickly hit the Royston for a parma and to try out the lastest Little Creatures Single Batch Golding Hop Ale, which while I found better than some of the hoppy beers I had the night before, the hops were a bit too overpowering for the malt flavours I got from the beer. Still, the beer did really well to cleanse the palate from each bite of the parma, and so allowed me to enjoy every mouthful of parma like it was my first bite. It also gave my Holgate Chocolate Porter (yes, on tap!!!!!) time to warm up and enjoy for dessert after the parma, so was quite content after that.

So, as for this retail day of love, there is a plan formulating in my head of what to do (and drink) with family and friends before we enjoy Phoenix. I found out the Wheatie has my favourite aussie beer (Moo Brew Vintage Stout) and the East End Cellars has my favourite wine (J.J. Prum), so splurging on good tastes, sounds and times on this Valentine's Day. Hope you are all doing something you love for this day, even if it is ruined with commercialism.

Just call me a beer romantic...


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I drank beer, just didn't make any notes

Hey all,

So I am trying to get back into things, beer included.

Relying on some favourites, while friends Brad and Seda were in town, we purchased my two best Belgium beers (Rochefort 10 and Linderman's Faro...ok, very different, but show off the sheer diversity of beers coming out of a country half the size of Tasmania), and found I was able to enjoy them almost as much as I have previously. Unfortunately, the Rochefort 10 just made me sleepy. So taste buds diminished, but still working to some degree.

I also hit the Local Taphouse (recent winner of best beer venue in Australia...I am not convinced...hmm, so not only am I tired, but getting arrogant through it) to meet up with Rick to try out the latest batch of beers on tap. Tried to get a bit of a mix, and think I did ok. I went the Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, Bridge Road Chevalier Saison, 2 Brothers 'The Chief', Dogbolter Munich Dunkel and Hargraves Hill Stout. To be very unlike me, I forgot to bring a pen so did not make any notes, and my memory is not working well enough to give you any notes, but none were offensive. The Hef was perfect for the summer, Saison a bit sourer than I remember. Chief had good malt I think, as did the Dunkel. Don't think the stout did much for me. Sorry for these lackluster scribblings.

On Friday I hit Mountain Goat and tried the Skipping Girl Summer Ale (bit too hoppy for me, typical of my relationship with Mountain Goat beers), the Hefeweizen (lovely sweetness with orange rind in Randy, and not over the top with the coriander. Again, good for the summer), Craig Pale Ale (Hmm, don't really remember), and Double Hightail (not bad actually...argh, should I stop trying now?). When it started pissing down with rain and not only was the water coming through the roof, but also backing up through the storm water drain, like everyone else we hit the Royston, and managed to get a pot of Vale Ale (ok, bit not worth number 1 of craft beers in OZ) and thanks to Helana behind the bar, a taste of the True South Mint something (yep, pretty bad when I can't even remember the name of the beer, but tasted creamy and nice level of mint flavour too), and some other beer I can't remember at all but didn't think much of. Still, had a Baileys cheesecake at the end of the night which I remember quite liking.

The only other drinking I have done in the past week or so is for Stass and Jess's engagement party. It started well with standard Boag's Premium, but then turned south with Crownies. Still, managed to drink enough of the Boag's (and quickly towards the end) to keep down the flavour of the Crownies. However, this also had the effect of bringing more alcohol to my rest deprived body and mind, getting me quite intoxicated (as some photos from the night would show). I did still managed to slightly taste the ginger in the Monteith's Summer Ale we had at the Croft Institute in town, so I wasn't too far gone.

Well, I am going to stop now before I forget anything else, unless I have already forgotten anything else I could have written up here.

Now to save my taste buds til Thursday's big Purvis beer tasting.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rogue's John John Ale (5.6%)


Getting back on the horse and finally on a beer my sis brought over for me for our birthday a month and a half ago (hmmm).
So, the John John is a collaboration between the spirit and brew masters at Rogue's (both called John), and is touted as an 'Ale with natural hazelnut flavor aged in hazelnut spice rum barrels'. Having enjoyed a Samuel Smith Nut Brown recently I can taste the similarity with this beer, but can taste the spice on the midpalate, and the slight rum at the aftertaste. Two things I really liked about this beer was the great smooth body this beer had, and the malty backpalate, showing the lack of hops I personally like. The head was tight and could be well coaxed with a swill, but it didn't hang around long, but could really get the nutty and slight spice smell when it was charged up.
However, overall, I was not taken by the beer. The spice doesn't do anything for me, and the combination of flavours didn't create a profile I could enjoy. I don't know if it was a Rogue yeast or my familiarity with nut brown ales, but did get a recognition from the beer.

So, a good attempt by Rogue's to get more into some aged beers with some difference, but just wasn't rounded enough for my taste. But that is a bit of the hit and miss that comes with beer.