Tag Archives: Tasting

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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Drink the Yellow Snow

Having put together a brew of my own containing a large amount of Amarillo hops, opening this yielded an instantly recognizable aroma. Pungent, a little sweet, but all hops, Amarillo doesn’t mess around. When I made my own Amarillo Pale Ale, I had added what I thought to be a moderate amount of hops and achieved something that I loved, but seemed far too strong in the eyes of the typical beer-lover. This batch from Oregon’s Rogue Brewing Co. is exactly what I have been planning on for my next brew.

The aroma hits you with the distinct resinous Amarillo force (which I love) with pine and sweet citrus, and the flavour follows suit with just enough malt to round it out. I can see it still being a bit too hoppy to be a sessionable for some, but I love it.

Very dry, very crisp, very hoppy and very flavoursome, I could still probably envisage this IPA being a bit stronger as the alcohol content is almost unnoticeable at 6.2%. Maybe a little more malt would be good, but either way it works for me.

A nice, interesting beer that is worth a try. If this was on tap, I would drain the keg. Very highly recommended!

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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: Day Two

Today started as most days in Christchurch apparently start: freezing. We rugged up and jumped into the car bound for dumplings. They were good dumplings. A quick bit of shopping yielded extra warm shoes and a jumper and we stopped in at The Craic for a traveller.

The big beery treat today was The Twisted Hop, which is a great brewpub with a good range of both house beers and assorted craft beers. @tulbot and I thought we’d try all the house beers between us, and I think we managed the lot, plus a couple of others we couldn’t turn down.

First was the Honey Dew. Very light on the nose, very dry. Little flavor, hints of breakfast cereal. Barely any noticeable hop character. 4% ABV – perfect for summer. Really nice. Lightly carbonated, no lacing/head. SRM: 2 IBU: 15

Three Boys Wheat. Like Lemon Squash. Big taste! Citrusy, hoppy. Very zingy! Well-balanced and full. Hints if coriander and ginger. Lightly carbonated. Fruit salad: wheat banana and citrus. Had to come back for more. ABV: 5 SRM: 2-3

Sauvin Pilsner. Devilishly hoppy nose and taste followed suit. Flavoursome lager but still a lager. ABV: 5% IBU: 30

Brew Moon Pale Ale. A sweet, vaguely hoppy nose. Dry, tastes of light peppery hops, almost melony and fruity. More an American style than English. Im a fan. SRM: 6

Twisted Hop IPA. Got this one by the bottle and I’m glad I did. A BRILLIANT ale in a similar style to the Epic IPA, but I reckon the Twisted boys managed a far nicer balance without compromising any hop flavour. I could drink this one indefinitely.

Oatmeal Stout. Retained head while waiting for me to drink four beers. Jet black. Sweet, malty nose, low carb and then a flavour explosion. Coffee, toffee, earthy flavours. Very nice. A seasonal brew, so glad I was able to try it.

Challenger. Sweet caramel nose. First impression in was the strong malty-caramel returning. Nicely hopped. Good lacing despite the small glass and delay in drinking. SRM: 8 ABV: 5% IBU: 36

I also loved the house barley wine. It was probably the best thing I tried all night – deep and rich. It was ~10% but felt more like the Brewdog Tokyo than a 10% beer.

Blurry and floral

And finally, the Captain Cooker Manuka Beer was recommended as it seems to be pretty popular at the moment. Made with Manuka (NZ tea tree) leaves, the beer has a very unique nose and flavour that isn’t like anything else. It was really quite beautiful and floral. It’s good to see brewers doing something different to the ‘fill it with hops!’ attitude that has yielded flavoursome but samey, slightly boring beers. Also, the manuka plant is purported to have healing qualities, so perhaps my liver will be thanking me as well!

I wanna thank David the bar manager for his great recommendations and taking the time to fill me in on the local brew scene. If ever in CHCH I’d highly recommend you check The Twisted Hop out.

Click through to BeertripNZ: Days Three & Four

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BeerTripNZ: Day One

Though we really got into Christchurch last night, it was so late and the beer-drinking scenarios so few that today was officially my first day of #beertripNZ.

The plane trip wasn’t bad, and apparently a good 25 minutes shorter than normal, and they served complimentary cans of Speight’s Premium Ale. Coming from a country that serves ‘Premium’ Lager instead of beer, I found it quite refreshing to find that Speight’s offering was very drinkable. I may have to stop in at the Speight’s Alehouse while here.

The first half of the day today was spent roaming the streets of Christchurch trying to vend an XT Telecom store to set up our iPhones with data, only to be told that they had all closed down and moved to surrounding malls. Dick Smiths helped us out and we were on our way.

Falling down the hill

After lunch we went for a drive around the hills and went for a bit of a climb, to get our daily bit of exercise out of the way. I danced, and we found a folly to watch from.

After dinner it was time to head into the city for a well-earned touch of beer. Our host had a favourite Irish pub called The Bog which served the best Guinness he’d come across in Christchurch. Having always been a Guinness fan, and needing a good, dark, thick beer to overcome the cold, I Bogged in. The Guinness WAS good; probably the best I’ve had so far, though I can’t say I’ve ever managed to locate the real stuff. It was actually the first time I was able to drink the black stuff to actually appreciate it for the qualities of beer, and in comparison I’m mighty proud of my own Chocolate Stout.

Next I tried a Speights Old Dark Ale. Having found Speight’s Premium ale quite nice, I couldn’t resist trying their dark. While technically not bad, it wasn’t to my tastes, having little to no hops in the aroma or the flavour. Very malty with hints of fruit, it will appeal to some. While the hops’ absence wasn’t preferred, it was still a good drop.

Last I had a Mac’s Black Mac. While my mission this trip was to drink beers I’d not be able to get my hands on in Aus, this was the best option I could see behind the bar, and I hadn’t had the Black Mac in a while. I also feel a certain fondness for Mac’s after the Beer & Brewer expo, when their tent was one of only a couple giving out free samples and after a few even giving me a free Mac’s-branded messenger bag. Their Hoprocker and Sassy Red are awesome too. The Black Mac was hoppy on the nose and full of flavour with caramel, coffee and chocolate notes, with a lovely late bitterness. I found it very malty in a similar way to James Squire’s Malt Runner, but Mac’s have kept this beer very light in the mouth and very easy to drink. I found it strangely carbonated for a beer so dark, but it worked.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading to a couple of bottle shops to grab a selection of different things to taste, so I’ll keep you guys posted.

P.S. Promite is pretty awesome. Not as good as Vegemite, but still yum.

P.P.S. iPhone tethering is AWESOME!

Click through to BeerTripNZ: Day Two

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