Saturday, April 30, 2011

Adelaide Easter Wrap Up


Well I made it back to Melbourne and found out last night that a bar here had a keg of Rogue's Chocolate Stout. Still, after the adventure I have had I am quite happy to have been over at (R)adelaide.

After the choc-filled easter, I went back on the Monday to try out some other beers at the Wheaty, including the new Little Creatures Marzen (good caramel malt with classic 'Creature' hopping, and to try the LC Pale through the hop infuser (can't remember the NZ hop they used, but gave it a good citrus flavour that reminded me of the Bright Ale). Had a dip with the local Southwark Old Stout which with it's higher alcohol led well into the De Molen Hemel & Aarde (very peaty Russian Imperial Stout) and the Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout (Really is very chocolately when drunk against the De Molen, and I found a favourite of Jade's!). With my taste buds basically fried after all that I decided I should try the Epic Armageddon IPA, which killed off the last of them.

On Tuesday I tried to visit Brew Boys but found they were closed, so found a bottlo (Melbourne Street Cellars) that had a pretty good selection of beers. I encouraged my sis to try and Lindemanns Faro and Holgate Temptress before getting sick after eating lunch in the city. Therefore, I did not head into the Wheaty that day, but made up for it Wednesday with a couple more beers and a take away Rogue's Choc Stout that I have brought back with me to Melbourne.

I am just getting geared up for Stass's 29th birthday party and will be taking some special beers along for the occassion of course. I will also be trying our kegging our first brews from our new keg fridge set up (went with a ginger beer and a dark ale with added chocolate malt for our first two kegged beers) which has me pretty exciting and hoping this opens up a new world of brewing (ok, consuming) beer. With a faster turn around, we can start experimenting even more and learning even faster from each brew to take into the next.

Last night I hit Purvis for free beer tasting Friday with the Kooinda range, found the Fancy Pants Amber from Mountain Goat is back on tap (and I have work at the Goat lined up for next week. Yay!) and before ending on a Temptress at the Royston, also tried the new Hop Harvest from Bridge Road, which has a pretty zesty sort of hop I don't recognise, but don't mind as it is not so acid-like, and fizzes more than burns the tongue with hops.

As Beer Week approaches I am looking forward to the Slowbeer tasting and Crafty Pint taking over the Royston, and have to thank Slowbeer for holding back their last growler of Holgate Empress for me while I was away in Adelaide.

Well, here is to beer. Cheers,


Monday, April 25, 2011

Solid and Liquid Chocolate Easter Taste Off!


So even though the Rogue's Choc stout was now no longer available for Easter day, my sis and I still decided we needed to do some tasting off off choc beers and eggs, so after purchasing a few different types of easter eggs, we hit the Wheaty and collected all the chocolate beers we could get.

So, in the pint glass we have Loberthal Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, and of course from the bottle we have Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Rogue's Chocolate Stout. In terms of finding a god combination of egg with beer, here are our results.

The Young's has for me quite a bitter/dark chocolate flavour (but not really to good sort) and so we found that we needed quite a sweet chocolate to help balance it out. Therefore we both agreed the highly sugared white choc eggs were the best companion.

As for the Loberthal, there is not a great deal of flavour coming off the handpump, so it sort of come down to what flavoured egg you like to go with the. The crunchie and caramello eggs somehow didn't work, but best I could find was the standard milk choc egg that mixed well with the texture off the beer to help coat the tongue with it. Really though, there was no real standout.

With the Rogue's I had so wanted to caramello to win, but again it just didn't work as well. Mind you, my sis did like it in combination with the crunchie egg, whereas I found a nice nutty flavour to come from the standard milk choc egg. The beer just seems that good it is capable of incorporating other flavours into it. Seeing out of the bottle it is a bit more bitter than out of the keg, having the milk choc added to it brought it closer to the keg version with the sweet choc in combo with the bitter to give it better balance and fuller flavour.

By the end of that tasting, our table was getting pretty messy, but then Jade came along and advised we try The Rogue's Double Moccha Porter with a dark chocolate egg, which actually went pretty well. It also seemed to do ok in the Rogue's Choc Stout. The other disappointment (yes, apart from not have the Rogue's Choc Stout on tap and the caramello did not go with any of the beers) is that the creme eggs did not go well with anything as well.

So with our sugar levels high after 4 hours of all this, I hit the Wii to try and burn some off and found it hard getting to sleep last night. Still, at least it meant I was not too bad this morning heading into the city for the dawn service and playing more Wii this morning. Still, another visit to the Wheaty is about to happen, so I better get off here and start seeing what other beers I can try while I am over here.

Hope you all have a lovely easter, and have made an effort today to remember the diggers. They made not have had great beer to drink back in the days their legend was born, but they have given us the opportunity to live fuller lives overall, and for me that includes beer (damn, that sounds sad right?), so I'll enjoy a good beer they probably never got to (unless maybe those that made it to Belgium. My appologies if what I just said offends anyone).



The Keg Blows...and other Radelaide Adventures


I must have jinxed it in my last post as the keg of Rogue's Choc Stout did not even make it to Saturday. It blew on Thursday night, just 24 hours after it got tapped. So needness to say I was quite disappointed when we went in of Saturday to find it had gone. Even the Rogue's Brutal IPA that replaced the Choc Stout blew while we were there on Saturday. It was sad that even a Moo Brew Dark Ale on tap could not lift my spirits. Still, 3 pints and 2 fancies wasn't too bad I guess...

Before the Wheaty opened on Saturday, my sis and I headed out to Loberthal to visit the Bierhaus for lunch, where I had a tasting paddle of their range. The pilsner was quite good by itself with a bit of texture and a decent hop flavour (ok, inoffesive for me) on a light but full body. However, after tasting the others and coming back to it, of course it did not stand up well, but a good aussie thirst quencher. The hef had good banana flavour but not overbearing to still make it easy drinking. The pale ale was fine, but the hops they used did not seem to match great with the malt. At least they are trying for a bit of flavour in a pale anyway. Surprisingly, the IPA came out best for me. a good solid malt body with a nice honeyed hop flavour that I have been getting into recently. It even held up well as it warmed, unlike the other lighter styled beers. The porter was my sis's fav with some big roasted flavours coming of a lighter-than-expected textured beer. Was just a bit too toasted for me and gave it a big dry back to it. Having had the Choc Oatmeal stout at the Wheaty it was good to compared the handpump cask vs the keg. The roasted flavour of the porter was also present in the kegged oatmeal stout, something that is very much diminished on the handpump. The texture was not quite there as well, showing that the Wheaty was serving it better than the brewery it comes from.

I went with the pork for lunch while my sis had the duck. To be honest the sides of sesame risotto and my mushroom and potato bake were the best parts of our dishes, as the meat was a little dry. I also tried their Devil's Choice Belgium Strong Ale, which at 10.2% does hit pretty hard and has a good traditional flavour with spice nicely mixed in with the malt and yeast of this style.

Apart from dealing with my disappointment back at the Wheaty, we also purchased a couple of local ciders to try out. The Lobo Royale apple cider is very pear like in flavour, even though we also got a perry (yet to have it so far though). had a good texture and nice aftertaste, especially when many ciders to me have a tart backpalate and aftertaste I do not enjoy. Supposely nobles apples have been used and it has been aged to help mellow it out, which is quite nice, but for me could not get over the pear-like flavour. I will be interested to see what the Perry tastes like. There also seems to be quite a bit of sediment in them, which I think actually helps it.

Ok, that is enough for one post. It now means we don't have the Rogue's Choc Stout on tap for easter, but am sure we will find a way around it...



Friday, April 22, 2011

Rogue Day 2: Choc Beer Brekkie and The Ultimate Taste-Off

After the first night getting my taste buds back ater 2 years of wilderness, I made sure to get to the Wheaty at 11am for it's opening to get back on the Rogue's Choc Stout for brekkie. Ok, it was still the morning, but was 11:30am Melbourne time, and from there it is close enough, and only kept it to 33oml, so it wasn't like I was having a full beer...

After lunch (lamb shank pie w/ James Squire Amber Ale) with my sis, a walk around Adelaide CBD and parks, and consuming my first chocolate egg for the season, I went back to the Wheaty as the tradies started to hit the pub and decided that seeing they had both the keg and bottled versions of the Rogue's Choc Stout, it would be wrong of me not to taste them off together. I think all the staff know me now so they didn't think it was too weird I was buying both versions together...they are an understanding lot to beer nerds.

Right from the start I could pick differences. While it was cold I could not get much difference in smell or taste, but the difference in carbonation was quite noticeable. The bottled version zinged across my tongue alot more making it harder to get any flavour from. As it warmed up there was definitely a richer smell from the kegged version, with something like vanilla coming through, and this came through in taste as well. The liqourice meld from choc to alcohol in the kegged version is not in the bottle, and while there is a choc bitter/sweet aftertaste from the keg, the bottled version tends to have just a bitter backpalate and aftertaste. Of course it is a simple case of freshness that is capable from the keg over the bottle that allows it to keep the heightened flavours over the bottle, and gives it a fuller taste. The head seemed to hold on slightly better from the keg again helping in smell and with the mouthfeel of the beer.

While getting through about 6 standard drinks in this taste off, my sis arrived from finishing work and so we got to share another moment with this beer together, and left the pub before the office workers would be coming in.

So, with it being Good Friday, the Wheaty is closed, so they have a day off from me being in there. Still, come tomorrow I will be back in there to make to most of whatever is left of the keg. I hope the keg did not blow last night as would like to have at least one more to sit an just enjoy drinking it, and not be comparing or judging. If the keg could actually last til Easter Sunday that would be great, to have chocolate beer and chocolate eggs together, but I am not expecting it.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yep, It STILL is that good...

So yesterday I made it to Adelaide and hit the Wheatsheaf just in time for Jade to tap the keg of Rogues Chocolate Stout and give the first two pints to me and my sis. Letting the beer warm up I was able to have a chat with Jade about the beer and how they managed to geta a keg of it. I was interested to find it isn't the first time they have had a keg of it on (arrrgh, missed out last time!) and got talking about the isolation they have as a beer venue in Adelaide. I still find it unfathomable that they are able to get the range of beers they do in this little pocket of the world where every pub has Coopers Pale. I was able to recognise this flaw coming from melbourne where Carlton Draught still dominates the pub scene, even the pubs I like to frequent.

So, after 20 mins to let it warm I sat down with my sis, Jac, Pete and Phil to finally taste this beer again. What can I say...Mick, it was just like being back at Portland mate. The bittersweet choc flavour just completely takes over the tasebuds (the whole mouth really) and has got me thinking long and hard about its comparision to the Holgate Empress. The one similarity is that there is a nice liquorice flavour that comes from the meld of alcohol and chocolate towards the back of the palate, which for me is a great sign of quality in this style of beer.

The Wheaty also tapped a keg of Loberthal (a local brewer) Oatmeal Chocolate Stout, and talking to a few other local at the bar, they bought that pint for me too. They said they had read the post that the Wheatsheaf linked to their newsletter and so if they are also reading this, thanks for the beer and showing me that a place like Adelaide has people in it that can allow a pub like the Wheaty to survive.

The Oatmeal Choc Stout, as expected, had a good texture to it, and Pete was right to note that is had Guinness qualities to it. The head stuck to the sides of the glass all the way down which showed that it likes being poured from the handpump, and so this was the best this beer would ever taste. The oatmeal did seem to strip the chocolate flavour but did get some slight choc bitterness in aftertaste. If you are looking to take a step away from Guinness to more adventurous beers, this would be a good one to go for.

However, compared the the Rogue's, it unfortunately pails in comparison. It has good texture, but does not come near in terms of flavour, and the texture of the Rogue's is good enough the carry the beer and coat it over your whole mouth. The Rogue's was even tastier when drinking it in tandem with the Loberthal.

So, after 2 years and many beers inbetween, I am happy to say the Rogue's still does it for me. I ended up only having the two beers the whole time we were there, and left feeling very content, and with all the money I had walked in there with.

My next experiment will be to taste it off against the bottled version, which the Wheaty also have behind the bar. As I am yet to even find it in bottled form in Melbourne, I may even have to bring back a bottle of it to Melbourne just to share it with friends over there.

So Easter starts early, and will keep going til this keg blows. Thanks to the staff and patrons of the Wheaty, you definitely have a special place here, and am taken aback by the hospitality that has been shown to me everytime I come into this place.

Here is to more chocolate beer!!!!



Monday, April 18, 2011

Gearing up with Rogue

So with this week being filled with Rogues Choc Stout I thought I would get in the mood with a couple of their beers I have in my collection.

Having recently tried the Dead Guy Ale I am finding a new found appreciation for this brewery. I remember apart from the Chocolate Stout, I hadn't really enjoyed their others beers when I was in their brewery, but to be honest, I was comparing them to the level of the Choc, so it is no wonder I was a bit disappointed. Still, with time I am finding it easier now to look at these beers without that expectation, and allow me to enjoy them for what they are, not what I would like them to be.

The American Amber Ale has a bit of hop nose on it and was surprised on first taste to get a big hit of a honeyed hop flavour which I quite liked. The texture of the beer was just enough to allow this honey flavour to coat the tongue but not leave a syrupy aftertaste. After having tasted something similar in the Moo Brew Pilsner, this hop style is interesting me more. There was still the background of hop to help cleanse the tongue, but seemed combined with that the honey, but seems part of the hop profile. a bit strange, but interesting. Not sure if the hop actually creates the honey flavour, but would be interested to find how they come with the flavour. Could actually be a hop I would like to use in my own brewing.

The Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout had almost an imperial stout aspect to it, which what seemed like higher alcohol with the malt, and the oatmeal really helps thicken up the beer. However, it seems like it also strips the beer of a bit of flavour, and they have tried to combat this in the brewing process by trying to give it an imperial nature. I remember specifically not really liking this beer when I had it on tap in a pub in Portland, but maybe I have just gotten better at tasting beer in the last couple of years, and so I am better able to appreciate it.

Hmm, am definitely ready to get on some choc stouts when in Adelaide in a couple of days. However, I just found out Slowbeer will have the Holgate Empress on growlers this week. Arrrgh, what a conundrum! why does all the chocolate beer come around at the same time...hmm, Easter maybe!!!???? Methinks a choc beer tasting will be one soon with a collection starting to grow in my bedroom...



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moo Brew Masterclass @ Beer Delux

On Wednesday I had a great night at Beer Delux, doing some Moo Brew beer and food combos. Was good to chat to Owen and Jon from the brewery, and seeing I went by myself, good to chat to some new people about beer.

First things first, the consumption of beer with food happened in this order.

1) Hefewiezen w/ fresh figs done two ways a) caramelized with fennel and b) chili poached with blur cheese mousse - I found the caramel-ized fig was complimented well with the Hef, to the point it diminished the flavour of the beer greatly. However it did seem to work well in texture. The poached seemed to contrast with the beer, I think especially the blue cheese, and so was able to get more flavour from the beer. The hef also seemed to refresh the mouth from the hint of chili.

2) Pale Ale w/ whole king prawn wrapped in pancetta with ashed goats cheese filling - My least favourite beer of the night with my most favourite food from the night. The beer was quite dry I found, and in combo with the food, helped bring a smokey quality from the pancetta which lingers. However, the beer helped to cleanse the mouth of the cheese, allowing me to enjoy every mouthful of the prawn.

3) Dark Ale w/ slow roasted pork belly on candied sweet potato with spiced banana jus - Probably the one I was looking forward to the most, and the meat was definitely sweet. There was a good texture in the beer with slight sweetness to go with the meat, but the beer does contrast enough to cleanse the tongue. To be honest though, I would have liked it if the two had complimented more.

4) Pilsner w/ cherry rice cake and barbecued duck breast - At this point I was getting into some good conversation with the couple sitting near me, so the notes start to diminish a bit, but finding the pilsner seemed to have a more honeyed hop flavour (they don't use Saaz in it), it went really well with the duck, and the tingling hop sensation really cuts through the subtle meat flavour.

5) Stout '09 and '10 w/ a) roasted malt ma'maoul and b) stout and pistachio ricotta cake - Ok first the beers by themselves showed the '09 had aged to bring out a nice chocolate smell with alcohol, but was very dry on the tongue. In contrast, the '10 had more alcohol smell and was a bit spirity in combo with the malt. There is more of that imperial stout flavour in this with a good balance and could see this come along nicely with some aging. I found the cake went well with the '09, but the beer was still too dry for dessert and the ma'maoul went better with the '10. I also really like there was some pieces of caramelised roasted malt on the plate, which I enjoyed putting together with each dessert.

Big thanks to Owen and Jon for coming over and going through the journey with some nice informative notes to share (and for Jon mentioning me in his talk) and willingness to take any questions/comments from the crowd. Myself and the couple were the last to leave the dining area talking beer and such and would like to wish Alistair a happy 21st for this Wednesday. I'll be in Adelaide enjoying a Rogues Chocolate Stout, but can tell you that you have chosen well in following Moo Brew.
Of course a big thanks to Beer Delux for putting on the event, and the previous nights Pilsner tasting.



PS: I can tell you that from the free tasting I had last night at Purvis, that out of the bottle, the pils, hef, pale and dark all come out of the bottle with a very soft texture. All seem to be less flavourful from the bottle, especially the pale, but still enjoyed the banana from the hef quite a bit, and was my favourite from the bottle. I really look forward to trying out the new Saison from Moo Brew, hopefully while I am down there at the end of next month.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Moo Brew Pilsner Tasting, and tasting, and tasting...

Sorry to rain on your parade Stass, and put a post on so soon after you posted one, but was at Beer Delux last night trying out the Moo Brew Pilsner on tap. I was actually on my second beer when Stass called me to let me know the keg fridge had been purchased, so had a few things to toast to, and so needed to have 7 beers to get all my toasting in...I felt a bit toasted by the end.
It has been a while since I tried this beer, but have to say I could notice that it tasted a lot crisper and brighter from the tap. I don't know if it is carbonation or if it is just that well brewed, but the hops seemed to have that nice tingle on the tongue rather than overpower in flavour. Still, the beer is robust enough that you can keep tasting it pretty well, even after having a few, and even as the cold weather has got me heading towards darker beers. Seeing it was also free helped me to keep going back to it to.
Was lucky enough to meet up with Owen and remind him of my visit last August (I'm that 'Bogan' guy), and who should he be talking to but Dave from Mountain Goat, so was able to catch up with him as well. It is becoming a good feeling knowing I am getting out there and meeting a lot of the people I want to be hanging out with more to get me further with beer, and can't help feel a bit of momentum starting to happen through all this. It also seems to be making a bit of difference on here, with there being a lot more visitors than normal visiting this blog.
So 7 beers, along with a Moo Brew hat, a slice of pizza, and a chat to some brewers all for free. And I get to go back to Beer Delux tonight for the Moo Brew Masterclass dinner, this time hopefully I'll get some pics to share the beer and food combos I will be having.

Ah, 'tis good.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Welcome to an old friend, and soon to a brand new 'friend'

Well, it's been a while since I (Stass) have posted anything on Beerdakari. Things have been a little too hectic, and lets face it, Beefy has things pretty under control.
I just thought that I would make a special note to say that Beef and I are happy to have Brad back in Melbourne. Hopefully Brad will be involved in our future brews. Brad is worthy of a mention not only cos he's a great guy, but he is the one who introduced Beef and I to the world of home brew!! Hopefully you will start to see him in some pics/videos.

In other news, I have recently bought a house out in the burbs! Good thing it has 2 sheds cos it looks like we will have a new place to have the brew set up without the need to pack it away. To celebrate, we decided to purchase a keg fridge too! So now we really are living the life!

I look forward to posting pictures of our new setup once things arrive (fingers crossed it'll be this weekend.

Anyway, gotta run.

Until next time,


Monday, April 11, 2011

Beer Tasting Friday...

Sorry it has taken me a few days to get this up, but after my excitement with the previous post, I was happy to let this slide til I had time.

It is starting to become a bit of a routine that I have been hitting both Slowbeer and Purvis for free beer tastings, and have to say I did pretty well last Friday. Getting to Slowbeer right on 5pm, I had to wait for the Jagiello beer rep to turn up. Having already tried 2 of the range, I wanted to see what the others were like. There was a Pilsner, a Honey and Cherry beer along with these, so I knew there was going to be a lot of sweetness. The Pilsner was easily the easiest drinker of the bunch with good texture and less hops than I would expect. The rep said this beer was the most popular in Australia, and after tasting it was easy to see why.
The next was the Honey, which had a decent floral honey smell and the standard super sweet taste from these beers. The texture was fairly watery but funnily enough, there was no massive sweet aftertaste. However, the Cherry outdid all of the other beers for sweetness. It tasted like I had like a cherry sherbet in my mouth. It was almost too sweet for even me, and this is supposedly the most popular in Poland. I would still say the chocolate is my favourite from this Polish brewer, and happy that I still have a bottle of this at home.

After that I went to Purvis and met up with my Cus as had found they also had ciders to try. The three ciders came from the single company (can't remember which) and all were different apple types. Of the Cox, Katy and Gold, I found the Cox to have the most flavour and more enjoyable to drink, then the Katy and then Gold. Having found out that Kristy had to drink Gluten-free, the guys recommended she try an overseas beer that has been selling best in their gluten free range. However, reports are that it is no good, but will not repeat what she told me. So it seems that the O'Brien's Brown Ale is still the best we have found.
Of the beers on offer, they all came from Brew Boys, which I have to say is not a brewer I have had much of. The Maiden Ale was pretty flavourful with a good malt body. The Seeing Double Scotch Ale was pretty good too, with some good caramel taste and small hop aspect. The Stout was super roasted and the burnt carbon from the malt really hung around in aftertaste. The boys also tried a black and tan by adding the Maiden with the stout and have to say they balanced out each other quite well to give a long taste profile. Then as a little treat they boys cracked a Amager and Mikkeller collaboration beer. The alcohol was pretty high and definitely had some spirit qualities, but to be honest I have tasted better beers of this style, but there was a decent mouthfeel and a good dark malt backbone. Still, not enjoying the Weasel Brunch series, I hope that the Amager part of the combo is good.

Still, it didn't finish here. Celebrating the last night of Brad and Seda staying at my place, I took them out to the Royston for good food and beer. I started on the Brew Dog Punk IPA whcih even for me I find to be well balanced with the hops lingering for a good amount for this style. The malt is good enough the carry, and meld into the hops. Jimmy arrived (with good news that his Trivia nights will be back next week) and joined us as we got onto the Bridge Road Red Rocket, which went down a treat with after after dinner. Feeling ok after all this, we hit Mountain Goat and was amazed to find they had Holgate Temptress on tap. Along with the cucumber sandwich, skipping girl and steam through a cascade-hopped randy, I ended up getting another pint of the Temptress. The Rocket and the Tempress were easily the best beers of the night, and Brad even said it was one of the best beer tasting night he ever had. I hope we have many more to enjoy, and we even had one on Sunday when at a little housewarming for Brad and Seda I took across my growler of Brew Dog 5am Saint. It really is a well rounded beer with some great flavouring. The hops is a little too much for me, but still balanced enough with classic Brew Dog malt background to make it an enjoyable beer.

It is good to have this level of tasty beer available to me within walking/cycling distance to me, and that I am able to enjoy it just about anytime I like. Not to mention the stash of beer I am still getting through at home, it really is an important time for me with beer, and really rising the wave that I hope will keep taking me to where I want to be...not just drunk.



Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two Favourites Team Up This Easter!

Ok, here is the first story. January, 2009 my brother and I are traveling the N/W of the United States and arrive at Portland, Oregon, having taken the train from Seattle. We get to our hostel, and seeing it is getting dark, visit a few brewpubs near there for our first night. The next day we walk through the city and out to the S/E burbs. My brother being big on coffee has found a patisserie in his travel guide that he wants to try. We arrive, sit down, I open the menu at a random page, and as if by magic, I open it to this page.
Up until this point in life I had only ever tried a Young's Double Chocolate Stout and not been impressed, but upon opening this page, the decision of what to have is made up. The partisserie actually has a keg of this stuff seeing the brewery is in Portland, and so the Rogue's Chocolate Stout is poured and served to me with the warm Queen Sheba Chocolate Truffle cake.
This photo is the last photo of me before I became enthralled in the world of chocolate beers, and I seem pretty excited for it to happen. It may seem a bit sad to say a beer has changed your life, but along with a very select few, this was one of those moments.

Story two. About 6 months after the first story, I am visiting my sister in Adelaide, playing Mario Kart on the Wii and finding 250th Anniversary cans of Guinness (my first life changing beer). Knowing my enthusiasm for beer, both my mate Jaimi and my sister recommend I visit a pub they know about that they say does good beer over there. With a little skepticism (hey, Victoria is the craft beer state of Australia), my sis and I make our way into the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Thebarton. My eyes light up when I see the taps they have (including my favourite aussie brewer Moo Brew), and even more when I see the list of bottled beers they have available. This is a photo of me on my first visit to the Wheaty.
Here is where the two stories begin to merge. Look at the final beer on the list. That's right, Rogue's Chocolate Stout. The first time I ever see this beer outside of the US. I am amazed. I drink one there (whilst talking the ears off the barstaff), and bring one back with me to Melbourne to share with my friends. It is now a tradition each time I go to Adelaide to visit the Wheaty, which is helped by my sis living near it.
Now, let's take this story even further and to the present. I recently got onto the Wheaty's newsletter, and through that found out they had new stock of the bottled Rogue's Chocolate Stout. I was starting to contemplate getting my sister to send me across a bottle, as I can't even seem to find a bottlo in Melbourne that has it. Then, in an even more recent newsletter, I hear they are actually getting a keg of the Rogue's Choc Stout in their bar. A Keg! After 2 years, I finally have a chance to try this beer on tap again. I contact my sis immediately to get her to keep an eye out for it, and contact the Wheaty to ask if they can let me know when it will be on, as I am willing to come over to Adelaide for it (Hey, I went to Ireland for Guinness, and Belgium for the Belgium Beer Weekend, this is nothing compared to that. Hmm, does that make me sound even sadder?).
In response, 2 days ago Jade from the Wheaty sends me this email

"Howdy John,

Now that’s the kind of commitment to good beer we love!

So much so, if you let me know when you can make it over here (within the next 3 weeks) I’ll make sure we don’t tap the Keg of Rogue Chocolate until you arrive – and we’ll shout you a pint or two for your troubles. There’ll also be plenty of other brews to play with – and to help justify the ‘cab fare’…"

Of course, I am amazed they are willing to hold off tapping it til I get over there, so contacted my sis to see when a good time is to visit her and booked my flights to be over in Adelaide for Easter. Come the 20th April, the two beer stories at the start of this post will fully merge, and I can have a pint of one of my favourite beers in the world, from the tap in one of my favourite pubs in the world.

Forget your chocolate eggs, I have chocolate beer for this Easter!



Thursday, April 7, 2011

First Visit to Josie Bones (Sorry Bro)

I found out yesterday arvo that Josie Bones was about to finish off a keg of Holgate Empress, so an hour later I was walking into the restaurant to sit down and have a couple. I had actually been waiting til my brother was available to come with me for my first visit to this beer and food mecca of Melbourne, but with the limited availability of this brew, and it being my second favourite beer made in Australia, I just had to go.
I think my excitement walking in and seeing the Empress on the beer board made me come across quite strange to the waitress that approached me, but once she realised I liked beer and was there for the Empress, she soon got me seated and with a glass of the good stuff. I am not sure if the pour was so good on the first one, or if after a week at the bar the beer was just not as fresh, but there was a bit of a chalky flavour in the beer, much like when we added too much cocoa powder to one of the choc porters Stass and I made. The texture was also a little off with it a bit watery and the flavours were separated a bit, but still had enough velvety chocolate heading into liquorice before the alcohol hits towards the back.
Looking over the food menu I saw they had a black pudding with apple slices and ginger sauce, and seeing I had a pretty dark beer, this was probably as close as I could get a meal that would suit the beer. However, I then realised they also had the Rogue's Dead Guy Ale, which while is probably the most accessible of the Rogue's beers, is one I had not tried before, so decided to break up my Empress journey with the glass of this over dinner.
Expecting a pretty hoppy beer from Rogue's, I was happily surprised to find it flavourful and pretty easy drinking. A nice, maybe mainly krystal sweet malt front, melded great into citrus hops with no lingering aftertaste. Flavourful but not overpowering, was surprised with the lovely balance of the beer. Maybe I am starting only to remember the big hoppy beers from my trip to the N/W of the US.
The black pudding itself was really good too. Was surprised to see so much apple slices next to the pud, but after seeing how flavourful and creamy it was, found it took a lot of apple to give a really good balanced taste overall. I did make this comment to the waitress, and she did explain how they got it so creamy, but once I got back onto the Empress for my final beer I had forgotten what she had said.
As you can see from the photo, the second pouring of the Empress went pretty well (though I think the keg was nearly out as it took a while for the barman to get it to me after a few pour-and-settles), and could get really lost in the beer. Now I just have to wait til Slowbeer get it on the growlers and Holgate finally put it into bottles.
Great beer, great food and great service make this a well worthy place to visit, and I look forward to getting back to Josie Bones when Mick can make it, to see what other beers come across their bar.



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Saison Tasting

So, the tasting went pretty well on Saturday. Jami, Nadene, Stew and myself got together to taste 4 Saisons; Bridge Road Saison, Bridge Road Printemps Saison, Saison Dupont Biologique, and the St Feuillien Saison.

Testing out my new camera, I put together this vid from the tasting. Not so much about the beers, but about the good times had around beer, so thanks to all of you for coming along for it.

Having just recently tasted the Bridge Road Saison (seeing it came 9 in the critics choice of aussie beers) I knew the nice light fruity flavours from this beer, so was interested more in its comparison with the Printemps version. There was definitely more roundness in the flavours and more depth of fruit. almost like a blueberry addition to the blend that worked well and added more body to the beer. I think a definite improvement on the base, and so thought it might stack up well against the true Belgian Saisons. Well, was I ever proven wrong. Not to say this Aussie attempt is not good, but the originals are still the best. The Saison Dupont had more texture and sweetness upfront that really rose itself above the Printemps, but it was really when we hit the St Feuillien that even more texture and a lovely caramel came into the beer to give it an even fuller flavour. I sensed that this may have come from having used a dark candied sugar like what Stass and I have used in out honey wheat beer, so if something like this result can come through into our, I will be greatly pleased.

Turning the tasting further from the easy drinking start to a more robust finish was a great journey into these beers, and have to say, finished on my favourite from the tasting. I think everyone else noticed this as well, and the taste (and silliness) progressed well through the beers. unfortunately I did not take any detailed notes, but did notice some of us found more dryness in the Belgian beers and a bit more of the bubblegum that is classic Belgium yeast. Still, the Bridge Road attempts are great for most aussies that will have not tried this style of beer before, and as I said in previous posts is a good step for the aussie palate getting away from mainstream beers.



Monday, April 4, 2011

To Boozy and Busy Weekends

So happily the weekend is over. Nice to have a Monday to recover with.

It was a great Thursday night at the Rainbow Hotel seeing Tim Cannon and Twoks play on the same bill. My friends Brad and Seda came along who are staying with me at the moment, in an effort to make up for the great help they were on my Istanbul leg of my Beer Journey of Europe. Then who should turn up by Jaimi Faulkner who was my other drinking partner during most of my trip and who I had not seen since I was in Berlin. Having started on a Mountain Goat Hightail and then a 3 Ravens Golden with Brad and Seda, I used the $10 Nadene gave me for picking up some cups and saucers from Ikea to get a Montieth's Black, then finished off the night with an Erdinger Dunkel and Holgate Temptress with JF.

Was also a good event to test out my new camera, and have to say it came through pretty well. I very pleasing experience where the beers helped heighten the pleasure.

So to Friday where I was waiting at the front of the Local Taphouse at midday, and was the first to get in to start drinking through the top ten aussie beers they had on tap. The only one they didn't have on tap at the time was the Knappstein, so had the terrible decision of choosing one of the other beers on tap for the two beer flights I had that afternoon, washing it all down with a much needed 3 beer burger.

1) Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (4.4%) - very thirst quenching beer that is perfect for the aussie summer, and which was giving me pineapple when it was cold and passionfruit when it warmed up. Easy drinking and easily accessible to the general beer drinker. A good start for those wanting to take their first steps off mainstream beers, and for the hope that brings me, it is worth giving it the number one spot.

2) Little Creatures Pale Ale (5.2%) - another easily accessible beer. I wasn't getting much from this beer on first taste apart from the nice texture that is the style of LC. But as it warmed the fruitiness did come through. Not quite to the point of my fav LC Bright Ale, but still good none the less.

3) Feral Brewing Hop Hog (4.7%) - Hmm, not being a hop head I found the hops to be too overpowering for the background malt of the beer. The dryness on the back did not satisfy me either, but at least the hop did not linger much on the back palate. My first time trying this beer, and not sure if I will go back...much.

4) Murrays Icon 2IPA (7.5%) - Much better bodied beer to keep up with the hop flavour. Good texture and malt taste to meld nicely into the hop before the hops really spike at the end and linger for a long time after swallowing. Probably a step up from the Red Duck Bengal IPA that I have enjoyed previously.

5) Hargreaves Hill ESB (5.4%) - With no Knappstein on tap at the time, had to jump to this one. Baically the only thing I can say is that I prefer the Holgate ESB over this. I little caramel at the front, but no body or flavour to carry it through. Just sort of goes watery and slides down your throat, which was disappointing for an 'on tap' experience.

6) White Rabbit Dark Ale (4.9%) - Another beer that fails to interest me that much. Yes, I can taste the malt, and yes, there are hops after that, but with a meld from malt to hop that I don't particularly enjoy and a watery texture, it is always going to score badly for my personal taste.

7) Holgate Temptress (6%) - Of course, my pick of the top 10, and am greatly satisfied to see it here. I will just quote the Taphouse notes and say "Luscious chocolate and coffee flavours with a smooth, creamy mouthfeel." Basically, my type of beer!

8) Bridge Road Chevialier Saison (6%) - a bit like the Stone and Wood with the light body but fruity flavour that is easy drinking but with enough flavour to make it interesting to also contemplate over. My second favourite from the line up.

9) Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale (5.2%) - with the use of a bittering hop, is sort of tasted similar to an IPA, so didn't ring any good taste alarms in my mouth.

10) Weihenstephaner Korbinian (7.4%) - What a great find to see a German Doppelbock on tap, so easily a perfect substitute for not being able to try the Knappstein. This beer made me think of all the overtly sweet dark beer I had in Germany and made me think this was the benchmark they were trying to reach but never made. There was much more depth to this beer so the sweetness did not overpower it. In the end I was tossing up between this and the Temptress for my favourite beer of the tasting, but the Holgate won with chocolate flavour, whereas this had caramel (yeah, it was a tight battle).

So after all this I made my way home and got prepared for Stass and I to bottle our latest brew of a Honey Dark Wheat beer. Stass was running late, and seeing I had more tastings to get to I got started without him. Still, he managed to get here in time for capping and to let me know there was still 4 bottles left in a box he had brought over previously, when I thought I had run out of bottles. We did manage a taste and Have to say I am pretty pleased and looking forward to giving them a try in a few weeks. I found the honey was well presented and with the added chocolate malt helps it keep the flavour going across the tongue. Anyway, no judgements yet. While we were bottling I decided I should have a Knappstein, just to make sure I had some on this day. It actually tasted better than I remember, with some good fruitiness.

Stass then joined me for a trip to Purvis for the free beer tasting, and lo-and-behold, there should be tasting of 5 of the beers that made the top 10 in the critics choice, that I had on tap jut before. So went through the Pacific, LC, Saison, Hargreaves and Hop Hog again with Stass and the boys from Purvis. After a quick Mojo Pizza with Stass I made my way across to Slowbeer to catch the tailend of their Haand tasting. I didn't make any notes on these, bu do remember the smoke beer did remind me of the Bamberg Wheat smoke beer. Overall there was not a great amount of depth to them, but had a good European style to them. While I was there I booked in the for the 'Round the World' tasting to happen next month and had a growler filled with the Bre Dog 5am Saint...I am still waiting in anticipation for the Holgate Empress to come on.

Ended up having a quiet Friday night as had about 10 hours of yardwork to do on Saturday. Half with a volunteer group I do some work with, and the other half at Jess and Stass' new place. Stass and I got stuck into setting up out brewing shed and envisaging how it will look all set up with our brewing equipment in it. It was an exciting moment and was great to be there to help prepare it for what it will become.

After a couple Coopers Pales and a quick change at home, I went out to the Edinburgh Castle in Brunswick to see Tim Cannon play another gig. I saw they had Montieth's Black, so after a couple of those, got on the Ranga's with the boys after the gig, played some table tennis out the back, then got a lift with Tim to watch the final of the Cricket World Cup with dodgy Italian beer in cans, a Red Hill Golden and a Samuel Smith Organic Ale at Ben's place.

With 5 hours sleep under the belt (thank good for the extra hour coming out of daylight saving) I did a tip run with Joel, had lunch then watched the Rebels Vs Force game he had recorded from the night before. I grabbed him a Knappstein and I tried a Mussel Inn Dark Horse Stout, which actually reminded me a bit of the Holgate Temptress with the chocolate and texture, however, it did not have the depth of flavour in it. Still, an interesting beer that was worth a try. After a quick kip and some dinner, Kristy drove us out to the Northcote Social Club to see Jaimi do his only pub gig. After the weekend I had had, I kept myself to trying the Carlton Black on tap, which was pretty inoffensive and actually found I could enjoy it, even though I wasn't really focusing on it.

Anyway, after a good night sleep I am feeling a lot better, and just downloaded all the footage I took from his gig last night on my camera. So hope to show him it this evening when he comes round to do a Saison tasting with me. So keep tuned for that...

Ah, now to rest a little...