On Wednesday I caught up with Stass and drank a few Black IPA's to prepare us for our own we are brewing in competition with Team Harrod. I had a bottle from another mate that attempted his first black IPA as well, and seemed the malt character overpowered the hops in terms of flavour, but there is still some bitterness that can be kept to start working on Tim's next attempt. Good luck mate!
I also had a bottle tucked away of Mountain Goat's Thorny Black IPA, which I find has a great balance of hop aroma flavour and bitterness, with the malt carrying it well in all facets. One of my favourite Black IPA's I have found thus far. I think much of it comes down to the use of Marlborough hops from NZ.
I was also quite impressed with the Otway Black Panther IPA, which has a strong malt body to create quite a bit of texture to it, and the dark malt works well in flavour with the citrus hops, something I hope to bring out in our own attempt. However, I did find the bitterness at the end was a bit overpowering, but then I have limited enjoyment from this aspect of beer, so I can see why many people would love this beer.
After sitting in the sun with Stass to try out these beers, I met up with my brother in the afternoon for a visit to Josie Bones. Having gotten into the Korbinian recently, seeing another German bock on their taplist was something I just had to have a try of. The Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock has very similar caramel malt character that I appreciate so much, but doesn't have have the residual sugar that I enjoy in the Korbinian. So as Mick enjoyed this I went for the Beard and Brau Milk Stout. I have tried this before, but out of a bottle and have to say I wasn't that impressed. However, out of the tap (with sparkler attachment) the creaminess of this beer really came through in flavour and texture, and combined with some choc malt and alcohol taste, I have to say I was tasting the beer equivalent to a Baileys, which had me very excited. Finally, my two favourite worlds of alcoholic beverage came together. Okay, I would probably prefer a Baileys over it, but was interesting to see that the flavours and texture of it could even be approached in a beer. I guess for me there was quite a bit of liquorice which took away from the Baileys flavour I could get.
After that I could only go downhill from there, but had a De Ranke Bitter, where the bitterness ended up just finally making my tastebuds give up, and after all the other bitters beers I had through the day, it was understandable for someone of my limited capacity for bitterness. I can't even remember what Mick had now, but must not have been that impressive.
After that I needed to get back on my sugar to allow my taste buds to come back to life, so after a sweetly syrupy reisling we went to Ladro and I had the Nord pizza which has honey as a topping.
On Friday, after a failed attempt to get the Hitachino Nest Espresso stout in a Slowbeer growler, I went to the Royston for a parma and a taste of the Wee Jimmy Scotch Ale from True South before heading to Purvis for the free Friday tasting. I found the Rogues Santa's Private Reserve and Anderson Valley's Brother David Triple to be quite nice. The Rogue did not quite have the dark fruit flavour I would expect from a Chrissy beer, but found the malt character to be to my liking, as with the Triple. I also had another taste of the Korbinian and a Renaissance Porter which I found a bit too dry for my liking. The Anderson Valley Brother David Double I found had a decent Dubbel profile, but the alcohol was a bit too high in it.
Saturday then I headed out with Stass to Grain and Grape, to get a second fermenter and get some supplies for our next brew. With Brad now back in the brewing team, he came in with the idea to using a molasses spread that he enjoyed while in his time living in Turkey, so we thought we would try making a beer with it. Not having tasted it, we still thought we should get some hops to balance out the expected sweetness of a fruit molasses, and seeing Stass has a Hallertau hop plant growing in his backyard, we should try it out and see what we can expect from that hop. I have to say that the combination of mulberry molasses and the Hallertau was quite well balanced after the boil, so we have some interesting thoughts on how it may come out.
I then made my way back to Slowbeer to finally get a growler of the Espresso Stout, and while there, gave Chris a taste of our hombrew Russian Imperial Stout. Was happy to find he seemed fairly impressed with it, so then went down the road to Purvis to give Damien a taste, who also seemed equally interested in it. I then met up with my mate Rick and shared some of it with him and a few of the gang at his farewell to Europe for 5 months with his girlfriend. They picked up on the port aspects in it which was good to see, before I then kept the bottle going at my brother's for dinner, giving him, his girlfriend and her brother a sister a taste of it too. Then on my way home I saw Tim was at Joel's place so gave him the last of the bottle to try out. He seemed to be the least interested in it, but then he had been drinking for a while before getting to it, and probably isn't his style anyway. So was able to share one bottle of our Russian Imperial Stout with about 10 people, and all in about 7-8 hours.
Yesterday then was my friend Mel's birthday celebrations, so hit Prudence in North Melbourne. The coffee and chocolate cake Stass made went well with the Coopers Extra Stout, and only a little worse with the growler of Hitachino Espresso Stout that I had brought along as my contribution to the event.
So I am looking forward to seeing how our homebrews start coming along, Stass and I have also been discussing taking this blog and getting into a proper website with it. I have finally just received the latest Beer and Brewer mag after yet another stuff around with my subscription, and thinking of going to the upcoming Josie Bones dinner focusing on British fare. If anyone has any advice or thoughts after reading this blog of how we could improve things taking it to a website, please leave a comment to let us know your thoughts. We would be very interested to get some feedback on what people like and don't like about this initial manifestation of beer media.
PS: Happy Birthday to my cousin Anna, who is only able to drink gluten free beer (poor didums). Hopefully one day I have brew a decent gluten free beer for you.