Tag Archives: fruity

Micro-view: Dogfish Head Imperial 90 Minute IPA

Well, it’s pretty much perfect.

Smooth, fruity, aromatic, fresh hops. Sweet, balanced, caramel malt. Impeccably hidden 9% alcohol content. Ideal mouthfeel and carbonation. The box claims that it’s “probably the best IPA in America”, and I’d extend that to the world.

9% and sessionable. Well played, Dogfish Head.

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If I haven’t sold you, check out this 100/100 it’s gotten on Ratebeer.

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Micro-view: Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout

I picked this up from a party store after remembering how good the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout was last time I had it, and for $4.80 it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The beer pours as an imperial stout should – thick, black, with a creamy-brown, foamy head and a decent spattering of lacing. Rich chocolate notes and roasted malts billow off the nose, with rich esters that suggest a high alcohol content. This clocks in at a moderate 7% ABV however, so I wasn’t too worried about ending a night of lager, hopfen weiss, and catching up on the footy with something titled ‘imperial’.

Mouthfeel is thick, low in carbonation, and feels like sucking down motor oil, albeit sweet, raisin-soaked motor oil. The beer features a well-balanced palette of rich chocolate malt, roasted malt, rich estery stone fruits, and a decent dose of bittering hops to carry the stout home.

I’m not sure I prefer it to their oatmeal stout, though there’s every possibility that I’m looking at the oatmeal through rose-coloured glasses. That said, for something so rich, high in gravity, and thick, it’s going down surprisingly well. Similar stouts have been just a little too sweet, or just a little too thick, but this verges on sessionable (a dangerous proposal, perhaps).

For $5 a pint I rate this as something everyone should try, if only to try a great example of a stout. I doubt how imperial it is, but it is good.

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Micro-view: Goose Island Summertime

This one is a light, refreshing, tasty Kölsch-style ale from Chicago’s Goose Island Brewing.

Very sessionable, while retaining plenty of flavour, and a nice depth. Malty with citrus notes. Mild late bitterness is all that lingers. Low carb for easy drinking and a decent 5% abv.

Winner.

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Quickie: Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA

Having picked this little beauty up at Slow Beer a couple of months ago I’ve been eyeing it off in my beer pantry ever since. What better occasion to crack it open than my birthday?!

Pours a thick, foamy head, showing a lot of carbonation and a deep, dark, cloudy orange hue. The nose is very malty (it is Mikkeller after all) but there isn’t much more after that. Given the style and the hop focus I thought there would be a greater presence of hoppy goodness, but if anything it is very mild.

On tasting, carbonation is nowhere as high as it appeared when pouring, which lends itself quite well to the rich, thick mouthfeel Mikkeller have down-pat. Over the toffee base is a strong hop bitterness with notes of lemon and pine, though it is that well-balanced that nothing really springs out too strongly.

Holds the 6.9% abv very well and remains oh-so-sessionable. Pity I only have the one. I’ll have to try the rest of the series now.

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A Trip To The Seaside

Everyone knows that feeling you get when you come back to something you haven’t had time for, only to realise that it’s been so long that it’s been made all the more difficult, right? Well this is me digging my heels in and making it happen. Allons-y.

I was recently propositioned by my parents to make a trip to our beachside shack and catch up, and as an added bonus, the suggestion of a brewery hop along the way seemed like an obvious choice of activity. Trouble was, breweries located an achievable distance away from our vague route to Golden Beach were few and far between. The only ones one I could think of were Grand Ridge Brewery in Mirboo North and Red Hill Brewery (in Red Hill, duh), but as they have grown into pretty big players in the craft beer scene, we set off for the seaside with eyes bright and tails bushy.

First on the list was Grand Ridge. I can safely recommend making a trip out there for the scenic journey alone. Spectacular views and greenery. The brewery itself is a large old barn-like building that apparently used to be a butter factory, which houses all the brewing equipment and the bar and restaurant. Strangely enough the bar and restaurant did have a TAB feel to it, but I guess you have to accommodate the locals. (One patron had the gall to request a Carlton Draught. At a craft beer brewery.)

We didn’t order food as we weren’t sure how much time we had up our sleeves, but all the dishes we saw looked and smelled amazing. Instead, we each order a tasting paddle which included the Brewer’s Pilsener, the Natural Blonde, the Gippsland Gold, the Yarra Valley Gold, the Hatlifter Stout and if memory serves, the Moonlight nut brown ale. Having tried most of these before at the Grand Ridge showcase at Chloe’s Bar, the paddle was just a refresher. Everything in the paddle had a very similar flavour (mainly the hop profile) when compared side by side, and seemed to have tasted a lot better by the pint back in Melbourne. I did get a pint of the Moonlight nut brown ale as I hadn’t had it by the pint before, and it was big on flavour but a little overbearing.

Having stepped down as driver for the remainder of the trip, my father ordered a pint of the Moonshine. He was as surprised at the $20-per-pint price tag as I was the difference in flavour from the previous beers. The Moonshine blew me away. It might have been the 8.5% alcohol content, or the added care for what appears to be a limited release, but my god it was brilliant. I had to pick up a bottle ($14 at the brewery) and its big brother the Supershine to review. Interestingly, the Supershine I bought came not from the brewery, but a small boutiquey cafe, which charged only $12.

Grand Ridge Moonshine

Pours thick, nice dark head that falls away leaving patchy lacing. Rich sweet, caramel nose. Deep roasty flavours – burnt toffee that blends perfectly with the mild, herbal hops. Also some fruit, such as cherry or plum. Very big, just how I like it. Leaves a dry, burnt flavour in your mouth that makes you want another, and another. Definitely more a scotch ale than a barleywine. Can see how they can charge $20 for a pint.

Grand Ridge Supershine

Less carbonation and head the Moonshine. Possibly a little lighter in colour. Similar sweet, rich nose, but not as strong. Very little carbonation in the mouth, but very smooth and creamy. Alcohol noticeable (11%) and very warming. Flavours aren’t quite as deep but they’re definitely strong. A little bit of candied citrus peel, well-blended bitterness, and the same burnt ending after each sip. As it warms it becomes smoother, but the alcoholic phenols become a lot more pronounced. They made a big beer bigger and did a great job of it.

Having filled up on Grand Ridge’s offerings, we continued on our destination, stopping only to pick up our drinks for the stay. My partner managed to find an incorrectly labelled six-pack of Duvel at Dan Murphy’s and scored it for $16, while I grabbed some Gage Roads IPA, Brew Dog Punk IPA and Baron’s ESB. The Duvel was much better than I found it previously, managing to hide an abv of 8.5% flawlessly. The Baron’s ESB was full of caramel malt (as expected), and the Punk IPA was a little rough. The Gage Roads IPA was a stand out as I’d not had before (and hadn’t really expected much, judging by the macro-styled label) and was pleasantly surprised. It was a solid, well-balanced IPA and I can easily recommend it.

We did the holiday thing and relaxed by the ocean, eating at local fish and chipperies and then just as we’d started to settle in it was time to head off for the return leg of the journey. I was quite excited to finally be visiting Red Hill Brewery as it had never failed to deliver an enjoyable product, but this was an extra special day. Not only was it the day of the Melbourne Cup (umm, woo!?), but the Red Hill guys had organised a special gourmet BBQ. There’s more – in addition to the good beer and good food, we were also dining with fellow beer bloggers Gem and Tristan of Eat, Drink, Stagger, and James and Jen of Beer, Bar, Band.

Red Hill had their Golden Ale, Belgian Blonde, Scotch Ale and Temptation available, all of which we tried (and loved). We also managed to sample the now released Bohemian Pilsner, which was light, fruity and very sessionable. We indulged on pork, ale-marinaded porterhouse, salmon and chicken snags until we were full to bursting, and then took a stroll around the hop field. That’s right, hop field. Excellent beer and excellent food in the middle of picturesque countryside AND they have a hop field. If there’s any way to fault them (and I’m trying really hard here) it would be that my own 3 hop plants have an extra 7 feet of height over Red Hill’s, so there.

We made an exit and headed back to Melbourne, feeling fully satisfied and very sleepy.

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BeertripNZ: Final Days

When last we left our friends they had conquered the mighty Belgian Beer Café beast and escaped the horde of Dunedin. Now, our trusty subjects started afresh in Christchurch, fully aware of the challenges that would await…

Given our big bottle buy-up, we had plenty of fine beer waiting for us when we got back to CHCH. Wanting to start right away, we opted for something nice, light, and possibly suited to breakfast. Invercargill Brewery’s Boysenbeery fitted the bill perfectly, despite being a fruit beer (I kid!). With a wheat base, this one brought the usual banana character you’d expect, with a touch of zesty, citrusy hops (that NZ rules at) to compliment a massive addition of boysenberry concentrate (added during fermentation). I have said again and again that fruit beers aren’t my thing, but after this brilliant drop, and Jamieson’s latest batch of Raspberry Ale, I may have to start adjusting my prejudices. The Boysenbeery is not only a great pun but a very nice way to start a beery day, or possibly finish one, if dessert is on the cards. We gave a sample to a PMD fan and got the thumbs-up, so it seems this might be a great entry beer for all you beer-lovers trying to get your non-beery friends on to the yeastie stuff.

With all the NZ beers around, I was surprised to find this specimen in a local supermarket of all places. It seems the local supermarkets DO have their finger on the beer-lover’s pulse in CHCH, namely the New World chain. This little beauty was NZ$7, which works out to about AU$2.50 or something similarly cheap in real dollars. I was shocked! Dogfish Head Brewing Co is such a highly lauded brewery that I had to grab a bottle, and I was happy that I did.

The beer itself is an Imperial IPA, clocking in at 9% abv, 9o IBU and continually hopped for 90 minutes of the boil, hence the name, 90 Minute IPA.  More than enough hops to satisfy my hop-loving palette, but backed up with enough caramel malt and warming alcohol, this really went down well. The hopping process left a far greater array of hop flavours and aromas than just the usual bittering agent it is so-often mistaken for – citrus, pine, grass, and hints of tropical fruits. Worth the hype.

Beer and meats - what more does a guy need?

A nice selection of locals.

From our own beer tasting to a guided, illustrated and very informative tasting at Pomeroy’s with Craig, the man behind BeerNZ distribution. He is tasked with getting the beer from over 20 of NZ’s craft breweries to the assorted bars, pubs, bottle shops and folks such as myself. We discussed and quaffed a couple of the big names like Epic and 8Wired, and a few from the smaller breweries I’d seen or heard about but didn’t have access to on my travels. In short they were all very nice, as was to be expected, but the 8 Wired Big Smoke did stand out for me. Worth checking out.

Kaimai Brewing Co. is another of the contract brewing companies that are quite popular in NZ (I’ll leave the contract brewing controversy for another time) but what makes these guys different is that a) Brewer Andrew Larson actually brews the beer himself at either Harrington’s or Croucher Breweries and b) All their beers are made with 30-40% rye, a very unique twist. I can’t say I was a fan of the Porter’s Rye Ale, but it was definitely interesting. As far as porters go I found it kind of weak, with only vague hints of vanilla and cocoa above the basic roasted malt flavour.

iStout. You cannot expect to get away with a name like that without SOME sort of mockery.

I could not resist buying the 8Wired iStout as soon as I saw it, for SO many reasons. Firstly, the name is just so clichéd and wonderful, and deserved a silly photo. But having fallen in love with the 8Wired range, and having heard so many good things about it, I couldn’t not give it a burl! As touted, this did become one of the stand-out beers of the trip. At a modest 10.5% abv and boasting one of my favourite varieties of hops – Willamette – I can safely say this was always going to please me, but it was the depth and quality that backed it all up and made it one of my favourite stouts. The perfect combination of coffee, raisins, and molasses flavours, a noticeable level of alcohol with a mouthfeel both syrupy and milky rendered this a dream to drink.

Another shopping trip yielded more beers for the tasting and the Spruce Beer was a nice find. Similar to the Captain Cooker Manuka Beer, this includes the noticeable addition of tea tree and a warming ginger/spicy character. The folks down at RateBeer don’t seem to like this one, but I thought it was great.

We couldn’t visit any city with a restaurant named ‘Meat Unlimited’ without trying it out, so stopped in to see what they had to offer. The slim beer list was made-up-for by the best 450 gram steak I’ve ever had, so I can see myself making a point of coming here when next I get the chance.

Having been told about The Twisted Hops’ Nokabollokov being ready just in time to try before our departure, Tully and I bookmarked it in our minds and made damn sure we went back for a tasting. Such a brilliant name was matched with quite a good Imperial Russian Stout, but I was told it had not lived up to their expectations. The cold Christchurch weather had halted the yeast and meant that the stout was neither as strong or mature as it was meant to be. That said, it was still lovely. I get a little teary when I think that I’ll never see the Nokabollokov or The Twisted Hop’s IPA in Australia, for they were both probably in my top 10 NZ beers list.

The Dux de Lux was one of the bars that everybody had raved about when I mentioned I was going to tour the south island. I had been told all my troubles would be solved and all my dreams would come true, right in the very bar. We arrived on a Friday night, at about 10:30, tried a beer, ordered some dessert, and were then told they were closing. I wasn’t sure what was wrong. The beer wasn’t bad, the bar looked pretty swish (technical term), but the place was empty, save for us. We left, having only tried a couple of Dux beers during the trip, and having found nothing to back up the raving claims about the place.

The cake was good though...

Having been evicted from our last port of call, we headed home. Having to get up at 5 the next morning to catch our flight home, one might think it was straight to bed. Apparently not. Beers and cocktails were consumed, justified by the idea that having to wake up hungover in the next few hours would make us feel worse than navigating customs while heavily intoxicated. I still debate that.

Now back in AUS with my friends, family, local pubs and beer, I do really miss NZ and hope to do a north island trip over summer. I suppose this is the travel bug you hear about.

Standout Breweries: 8Wired, Wigram, Epic, The Twisted Hop, Harrington’s

Standout Bars: The Twisted Hop, Albar, Bar Beleza (the music was rad)

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BeertripNZ: Days Three & Four

Day three was a big one that left me feeling a little tender, so I’ve put off writing until now so I can do it justice.

The day opened with a trip to Harrington’s Brewery. This was something I’d been looking forward to since I started planning my trip, partly because when I contacted Mark regarding a tour his reply was as positive and backed by enthusiasm as my email. This was my first thought when I met him at the brewery; Tully and I were ushered in, given a couple if beers to drink on the way, and given the most detailed tour from someone who was as excited to talk about it as I was to listen. It’s the passion I’ve found draws so many of the craft brew community together that I love, and while Harrington’s is quite a large scale operation, it was evident that it is being run by brewers that take a craft brew approach.

I have heard that Harrington’s once had a reputation for making a cheap, highly-alcoholic drunking lager that gave the brewery a bit of a bad name, but that they’ve been re-emerging as a quality craft brewer over the past little while. The beers I tasted were quite nice (I only had a few of their very large range), with their ESB being a standout. Mark was quick to load us up with a few bottles from the cellar to take with us and even a couple of their latest batch of Weiss which is still maturing.

The tour went for about 45 minutes and we went through every detail of the process to the point of sticking our heads in the tuns to get a good whiff. Mark told us they also do bottling for several local craft breweries that don’t have the facilities themselves (Three Boys Weiss was being bottled at the time) and they also will crush grain for homebrewers that swing by.

With bags full of beer we ventured out into the pouring rain bound for the highly-recommended Pomeroy’s. It is one of those great little pubs you get into a don’t ever want to leave, with amazing food (I had the Pomeroy’s Big Deluxe Burger and Tully had the Venison Hotpot, which were both staggeringly satisfying) and most importantly a selection of great beer. I had a Yeastie Boys Yakima Monster, a Tuatara Hefe and stout whose name I forget, all of which were really, really good. Ava, the bar manager, was up for a chat and she knew her stuff and was a good help identifying the quality locals. She even gave us a free bottle of the Yeastie Boys brew we hadn’t tried and kept us topped up with assorted samples. Pomeroy’s was hard to leave and I can see myself going back at least once before I fly home.

One the way home we stopped in to the Mac’s Brewpub to see what they had to offer. For the first time in months they asked for ID, which I found odd for two beardy Swedes turning up at 3 in the afternoon for a beer, at a pub that didn’t actually have any other customers inside apart from us. That said, they had all the Mac’s range on tap, including the Brewjolais seasonal I couldn’t resist trying. It was basically a maltier, more-balanced version of their Hoprocker ale. I like the Hoprocker and I’ve had it a fair few times but neither the Brewjolais nor the Hoprocker went down amazingly, both seeming a bit dull. Odd also because they were all on draught in their own pub. Oh well, I’ll still continue to drink Mac’s when I go home. They did manage to make me the best macchiato I think I’ve ever had, so props to them for that.

Our journey continued, stopping in at a local supermarket recommended as having a good craft beer range. I like with a good $120 worth. Hopefully they’ll last us a little while.

Once home we readied ourselves for a night out on the town, and started with Indian at The Two Fat Indians. Very good nosh, and passable beers, it was a very pleasant meal.

On we went to The Twisted Hop (again, I know, but they had plenty I was yet to try) to get our beer on. The standout was the Fullers Golden Pride, which was amazing. Very rich and full yet not too heavy, which might sound a bit contradictory, but it was a beer you’d sip on and not want to stop. I didn’t take a great amount of tasting notes for the Golden Pride, which was a mistake, but their website seems to sum it up pretty well.

We also picked up a bottle of Green Man Whisky Bock, on a challenge set by bar manager David. It was shit. I drank almost half a glass and moved on. (Tully finished his and the rest of mine… he claims he thought it was woeful)

On we moved to Sole Square, the hub of Chrustchurch nightlife. We went to Yellow Cross, a large bar with many taps of varying qualities of beer and very cool decor. There were even a couple of fermenters with some amazingly disturbing artwork painted onto them. Live music, good drinks, and Tully also scored a pair of Speight’s overalls.

Home. Spent most of the remaining night drinking water and headed to bed at 5. Was unreasonably hungover today.

We spent today cruising around the hills of Akaroa, a small French settlement which I confirmed did have the best fish and chips I can remember. Quality greasy food and lush sprawling scenery, I can’t think of a better hangover cure!

Having a great BeertripNZ thus far, can’t wait to see what Dunedin yields,
J 🙂

Click through to BeertripNZ: Dunedin

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Friday Night Drinks With Steve

This post came from an impromptu get-together last night, organised after all the major bottle shops had already closed. Some minor supermarket ones were open, so I used the opportunity to try a couple of the beers I had always seen but never wanted to try.

Barons Lager

I’m a fan of Barons; they bring good beer to the masses, and for a VERY reasonable price. Lord knows I don’t like lager, but if I was in a pub that only (god forbid) served light lagers, this is what I’d pick. Very little flavour, but gets the job done better than most.
4.5%abv

Hoegaarden Witbier-Biere Blanche My mate Steve and I were at The Local Taphouse last weekend and could have sworn we ordered this (despite prior reputation). What we received was an amazing wheat beer, deep and satisfying. It introduced Steve to the wonderful world of wheat beer, and we’d found ourselves an excellent beer we wanted to try again. When we found this Hoegaarden Witbier in the shop, it seemed worth a try. Unfortunately, it was traumatically light; tasting like off water. Sweet, slightly spicy, and with only a generic wheat flavour, this one disappointed. I suppose we will just have to go back to The Tap House to find out what the beer was we originally ordered.

4.9%abv

“I’m actually looking forward to finishing it so I can move on to the next one.”
-Steve

Redoak Organic Hefeweizen

This beer review was lost due to a fault of my iPhone, so I’ll make do.
The main points I would make is that the nose is very stark, and upon tasting, the flavour resembles a champagne much more than a wheat beer. My tasting buddies and I have become very wheat beer focused, and this really didn’t live up to anyone’s expectations. Apparently “Australia’s most awarded brewery 2005-2008”, I’d like to see those credentials.
Tart, very low carbonation, and generally very unpleasant.

James Squire Malt Runner

Not a beer I’d ever avoided, but one I’d simply not come across.

A nose giving waves of resin, smoke, fruit and an unusual saltiness. Flavours including the obvious malt, raisins/cherries, and a good back-palette of hops, and still the bizarre salty flavour sensed in the nose.

Perfect carbonation for such a rich beer.
A very full lager, very satisfying, and probably the most satisfying of the Squires I’ve had to date. If the alcohol content was any higher I’d suggest it was a disguised bock!
Very nice, very indulgent, and the perfect end to a night of disappointing beers.

Steve and I flog our favourite.

So after picking the last few things we could find from a bottle shop with very limited selection, we’ve found that Squire and Barons come out on top. Can’t say this is very surprising as these are breweries with other beers I know quite intimately (probably due to their availability and price), but if you only have access to a very mediocre bottle shop, these two are worth a try.

Cheers,

Jourdan

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Unibroue Terrible, St Bernardus Abt 12, BrewDog Tokyo.

Having heard good things about this one, my friend Tully and I decided to invest in a AU$35 bottle of ‘Terrible’, a Canadian uber-dark ale. (I have found it for ~$22, but as we were at a bar at the time, we suffered the markup.)

Pouring devilishly thick and dark, it was looking good from the beginning. Despite a fruity nose (fruity beer has thus-far led me to be very cautious), Terrible brings a vast array of flavours to the palette: primary fruity and sour, but also full, with caramel, chocolate, molasses and well-roasted malt. Not the hoppiest beer you’ll find but this is no issue. While I don’t want to rule fruity beers out, I have to admit I’ve not been a fan. This does fruity perfectly in my mind, matching the tartness with exactly the right amount of malt.

Om nom nom.

Clocking in at 10.5%abv, it packs an obvious punch, but not overpoweringly so. I’m glad I shared the bottle, as consuming the full 750mL of this beauty would not have been the best idea. It has a quality which I adore in dark ales, which is the ability to bring serious potency while maintaining refreshingly light mouthfeel. I have heard others disapprovingly mark this as being ‘watery’ but I wholeheartedly disagree. Easy-drinking but strong.

St Bernardus let me down with this one.

Comparatively, I was also recommended the St Bernardus Abt 12. I picked it up for $19 and was told it rivalled the Terrible. With that in mind, I was left disappointed. Too tart, not in the least bit hearty nor spicy, and felt like a far more generic dark ale. Pegged by St Bernardus’ website as “The absolute top quality in the hierarchy of the St. Bernardus beers” and “The show piece of the brewery”, I’m hoping that my bottle was just a little old.

Indulgence.

While I’m on the topic of strong, dark beers I have to quickly mention BrewDog’s Tokyo. This beer comes from the brewery that holds that title of Worlds Most Alcoholic Beer (the Tactical Nuclear Penguin, at 42%abv). There is a fair bit of hype about the affair, and as soon as I saw the unmistakable font of their logo designs, I knew I had to try this. (Not the TNP, as it sells for $150 a bottle. Yes, you read correctly.)

The Tokyo is simply sensational. You have to try it. It manages to fit an 18%abv content into a dark ale, and it doesn’t actually taste that alcoholic. It does taste incredibly rich, guiltily indulgent, and perfectly balanced, but the main achievement is that you cannot pick the super-high alcohol content.

I’ve had it twice now, the first involving my consumption being applauded by the bar-staff, and the second being a more private indulgence tucked away in the country with hearty food and family. This is something you want to share. One very small glass lasts half an hour, and you feel so, so satisfied with just that. I’d ordered the Tokyo and been delivered a 330mL bottle, and by the end of it was wishing it had been half that. The Terrible however, allows you to taste the alcohol (you definitely know it’s there), but the malts, flavours, and (briefly) hops are so well-balanced that you could fool yourself into drinking it all night. One day I might.

Terrible: yes. St Bernardus: no. BrewDog Tokyo: hell yes.

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