Tag Archives: stout

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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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: Dunedin


With a population of 25,000 students (about one-fifth of the entire city population), I knew we’d have to take a trip down to check the place out. We were travelling with a few of Tully’s cousins who were going back to uni for re-orientation week so we folded ourselves in the shuttle bus and made the five-hour trip. The ride wasn’t too bad; the scenery was lovely (coast on the left, snow-capped mountains on the right) and I had my iPhone full of podcasts to catch up on.

Nice place, Albar.

We reached Dunedin around midday, checked into our room and headed in to The Octagon for a drink. @jedsoane had recommended Albar so we went there and grabbed a Greene King IPA which was on hand-pump. Quite nice, it had hints of candy. Due to there not being an abundance of hand-pumps around Melbourne, it took a bit to get used to the low carbonation and higher temperature but the super-creamy mouthfeel was amazing. They also had Emerson’s London Porter on hand-pump so I grabbed one of those as well, which wasn’t bad. The atmosphere in altar was quite lovely – I knew every song on the playlist and the bar was set up with a rustic maritime feel.

Bad Emerson's 😦

Before continuing our travels I grabbed an Emerson’s Old 95 which is a 7% juggernaut of an English ale. I’d heard it’s normally very good but the bottle I got was screaming with alcohol and I couldn’t finish it. The ethanol overpowered everything and even Tully-the-vodka-man didn’t enjoy it. I’m not sure if it was a bad batch or the bottle had gone bad but it wasn’t up to scratch.

So blurry, but so tasty!

On we pushed and came across Castle MacAdam Wine, a boutique beer and wine store. Had a chat there and picked up a small bag of fun things for later. That night we cruised around town with the uni folk enjoying $8 jugs of Monteiths and tried the TERRIBLE Green Man Tequila Beer which was almost as bad as their Whiskey Bock.

The next morning we were walking to a supermarket for supplies and hit the most amazingly malty wort smell. We soon discovered that we were standing next to Speight’s Brewery, so stopped in for the tour. The tour wasn’t bad per se, but was a tour-of-the-history-of-how-awesome-our-brand-is as opposed to getting into the nitty-gritty of what makes their beer worth drinking. I found it hard to judge Speight’s because they balance industrial brewing with a fairly large range of beers that in all honesty, don’t actually suck. I got the feeling that Coopers is heading in a similar direction.

At the end of the tour they took us to a tasting room with about six or so taps and let us go for it, which was very possibly a foolish thing to do, as I quickly drank back the tour admission cost. Their pilsner and their chocolately Empire Ale stood out as the better beers of their range.

Spectacular Hef.

Love a branded glass, especially when filled with beer from a hand-pump.

Stout time!

On we moved, buying jeans, eating lunch and touring Cadbury’s chocolate world, which was pretty fun, but it was the Eureka Bar and Cafe that took the prize for me. They had the Moa 5-hop Winter Ale reserve on hand-pump which was very hoppy and very satisfying. Also tried Croucher Brewing Co’s Hefeweiss and the Golden Bear Brewing Co’s Stout, both of which I’ll be trying to find again in Melbourne.

More dinner, more drinks, more sleep and some shopping and we decided it was time to take off back to Christchurch. Bus ride was better this time as we were able to get more accommodating seats (our legs are always an issue) and we made it through two seasons of Peep Show on Tully’s MBP.

Once in Christchurch we quickly routed our way to The Belgian Beer Cafe for a kilo of mussels (yep, a whole kilo) and some of the best Leffe beers I’ve had. The Leffe Radieuse was a pick of the ones I tried, with enough flavour to easily match the 8.2% abv. The Belgian Beer Cafe in CHCH was warm, welcoming and full of good food and lots of Belgian beer. Prices were very steep, especially when compared to how cheap beer is everywhere else in CHCH and NZ. I’d say it’s worth going to once but unless they were to halve the prices, I’d be making Pomeroy’s or The Twisted Hop my local.

Dunedin nightscape.

Tomorrow we have a tasting organised with Pomeroys, a tasting of our own collection of beers, and possibly a trip to Dux De Lux, so it should be a full day.

I’ll keep you posted,

J

Note: Due to DIFFICULT mobile internet plans in New Zealand, I wasn’t able to post this while in NZ, and due to WordPress’ uploads form CONSISTANTLY CRASHING, some photos will have to be added at a later date.

Click through to BeertripNZ: Final Days

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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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The AMPA01/CHST01 Fiasco

I love Amarillo hops, and in great quantities.

Last night I found myself in a difficult predicament; I had my chocolate stout and my Amarillo pale ready to bottle, but only enough bottles for one batch (and to be honest, I’d had to drink a fair way through my Ginger beer to free up enough bottles).

I had planned on bottling the Stout as it’s been on the ferment for almost 14 days now and was due. I was then going to fly sparge the Amarillo pale (AMPA) for a secondary ferment, as this brew was so full of hops that the bottom 5L was going to be unusable if I didn’t work something out.

I prepared all my bottling gear, and turned the tap on the stout, first into a glass, as I always taste before I bottle.
The stout had a good amount of everything in it: a healthy dose of Goldings for bitterness, a touch a Pacific Gem for the hint of fruit, a solid base of chocolate malt and an extra whack of lactose.
Upon tasting, I was pleasantly surprised. It was quite balanced, though next time I daresay I either reduce the amount of Goldings or its steep time. I could taste the chocolate, the bitter was nice and strong, and it was much fuller than my earlier brews have been.

Trouble was, the brew was absolutely full of sediment. There’s Coopers-style cloudy, but this was something else. I couldn’t bottle this until I’d sorted the sediment. So I changed my plan to allow time to sort the stout out. I’m going to have to pick up some finings and clear this up, then sparge and repeat if it isn’t clear enough. I have high hopes, as it tastes epic and wonderful (and should be a fine entry into the upcoming family homebrew comp).

Without anything further to be done with the stout, I turned to the AMPA. It was so damn hoppy it clogged up the valve of my bottler, so I had to pull out my trusty handheld tea-leaf sieve and manually strain to first couple of bottles. This pulled out a fair bit of hop content, and after that I was able to continue as normal. I also marked the manually sieved bottles for later comparison. Bottling went smoothly after that.

As I had anticipated the thick layer of difficult sediment at the bottom when I was first putting it all together, I had added a bit of extra liquor to extend the mix. Coming into bottling I had started to regret this, fearing that the beer would taste weak, and that the ABV wouldn’t be as high as I’d like. As soon as I tasted it however, my fears were forgotten, and I immediately pulled for another taste. The brew was magnificent! I could already taste the apricots, and strangely enough, a peppery spiciness. The alcohol content may not be super high, but I can see myself drinking a lot of these very quickly.

It was a pretty simple recipe: 75 grams of Amarillo hops that my girlfriend paid through the teeth for, some regular pale crystal malt, and coopers standard yeast. The ratios were taken from a recipe I pulled from a homebrew website somewhere, which I’ll post the link to if I can find it.

It should be ready to drink by mid-June, and I’ll get Tully (my accomplice on the New Zealand brewery pilgrimage I’ll be making in July) to post a scathing review of it.

Now I just have to sort this stout out.

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