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Tuesday
Jun252019

Daddy issues...

 

Why it's important to check out the bargain bins at your bottlo - you never know what's lurking inside!

One of my local bottle shops has a “cheap as chips” section where they roll out all the weird beers, wines and RTDs their supplier has laying about because none of the usual outlets can move them. This place buys them, puts them out for bugger all and the braver drinkers get to try peanut wine, carbonated vodka, Korean tequila etc.

It’s well worth checking out because occasionally they have some gems (like the time there was this “really weird” grapefruit beer there for $25 a case… and it was Brewdog’s Elvis Juice) but mostly it’s just odd offerings I regret drinking the second I take a sip.

And this week, smack in the middle was something called Big Daddy.

God knows what marketing genius came up with this name – for a start there’s already a pretty well-known beer called Big Daddy from San Francisco, then there’s Big Daddy the wrestler (this guy)

and the fact it sounds like the liquid version of those “Man-Sized Meals” supermarkets offer for lonely guys to eat in front of the TV.

The can’s black, big, has “DOUBLE STRENGTH” running up the side and honestly looked like one of those novelty megaswill offerings from somewhere in Europe where they add rubbing alcohol to a lager "for ze giggles"... so naturally I was going to grab at least one, fully expecting I’d laugh and spit most of it out.

But from the moment I picked this up, I noticed a few interesting things.

For a very big start, this is from Hawkesbury Brewing Co, one of Australia’s better-known small brewers (and allegedly the people behind the alcoholic's favourite "hard apple drink that's not cider" that Little Fat Lamb stuff, although that's hard to certofy, the LFL website is so dodgy my browser won't even open it and the HBC site doesn't mention it at all), it’s an IIPA which is always good this time of year and from the can notes, it looks like someone's at least tried to come up with something new.

They’re boasting Pilsener malts, a long brew process and dry hopping with Citra, Pacifica and Galaxy so I’m at the “Weird name, looks odd, but sounds OK” stage.

So into the shopping basket it goes.

Back home, the can opens and I’m confused again.

The pour is dark, murky and I swear it smells almost exactly like a butter menthol. No really, it actually does.

First sip and that’s reinforced, there’s a buttery honey flavour that tastes wholly artificial, almost as if someone tried a few of the Moon Dog Frankenbeers and thought “We can beat that! Quick, get the appprentice to go buy a box of cough lollies!”

Press on though and the honey notes stand aside for some strong citrus undertones and a nice hit of bitterness – and the very obvious belt of 9.5% ABV.

Middling mouthfeel, it’s noticeably heavy, which is a good thing, you wouldn’t want to be chugging these down, but it’s not thick.

The carbonation is a bit “blink and you’ll miss it”, with a solid white head and quite obvious bubbles cascading up for about a minute (check the pic), but even when they disappear what you’re left with is a pretty good IIPA.

Be warned, this won’t be for everyone – what IIPA is? – and I really can’t shake that Butter Menthol smell, but this is a good reminder that I really shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.

This looked like it'd be utterly terrible but I managed to finish the can... and it cleared up my sore throat a treat!

6/10

Sunday
Jun162019

Stacked's on!



 A new IPA... OK, so what's special about that?


Not too long ago, finding a new IPA was like finding a gold nugget - rare, exciting and always worth telling your mates about.

Then the craft beer boom hit and every man and his dog started pumping them out, usually just by throwing a bucketload more hops into the process until the end result tasted like you were chewing on a pinecone with a mouthful of lager.

Which is why a new IPA these days is greeted with a touch of skepticism.

Endeavour's new Stacked IPA, however, has got me doing my old gold prospector dance again!

Named (so we're told) because there's stacks of the four Australian hops involved - Ella, Vic Secret, Galaxy and Aus Crusade - and because the brewer apparently stacks their beer tanks in some unusual way (don't ask, I have no idea) this is one flavour-filled complex beer.

Right out of the can it's clear this is something different as it pours a rosy gold with a solid white head and smells bloody marvelous. 

First sip confirms all that and it just gets better as things warm up a bit while the beer goes down.

All four of these hops are well known for both smell and flavours and throw their usual spicy voice into this mix and are blended well so nothing is a huge standout, but everything works together.

If I had to go out on a limb and pick one that shines through, I'd point to the Ella, but that's probably just my imagination.  I loved the Seven Shed's St Ella when it first hit and now when anything reminds me of that it's all I can think of.

Reminding me of something I love however, doesn't mean this isn't unique.

Stacked is, mainly because it ticks all the boxes in a way very few other IPAs manage.

The bitterness is most definitely there, but not insanely so and it's balanced with a pineapple, kiwifruit sweetness underneath and malt running through the lot.

Like I said there's bags of flavour - almost leaning towards the NEIPA end of the scale - but without that cloying mouthfeel some get and at 6.3 ABV it's got a hit without being ridiculous.

Winter's usually a time I head toward porters and stouts, but I'll be getting some more of this for the fridge too.

In a season when big stews, curries and roasts will be on the table, Endeavour's Stacked will certainly hold its own.

To mangle their own name, Stacked's On!

Thumbs up!

 

Sunday
Jun162019

Marks and Spencer is doing beer now? Oh well, let's try it. 

Ok, in keeping with my “bugger it, I’ll try any beer once” credo, I decided to have a crack at Marks and Spencer’s home brand Bock.

Why well I was in Hong Kong, far from home and beers I knew and the choices were limited.

(Not that limited, there are actually some great beers in Hong Kong, I just didn't know that at the time... there will be some reviews of good local brews later).

Anyway, it was either this or Tsing Tao so into the shopping bag it went.

And you know what? I don’t mind this!

Bitter, dark and with an aftertaste like burned treacle toffee. Made by someone called Butcombe Brewery in Bristol (which sounds a bit old school but is probably a giant factory) it’s a bit thin but I’ve got to admit it reminds me of a lot of dark beers I’ve been served in English pubs.

Would I buy it again? Most probably. Quite a nice surprise!

Friday
Dec072012

recent beer reviews

Thursday
Sep062012

CAN YOU ORGANISE A PISS UP IN A BREWERY

Our roguish man-about-town and co-founder Scott Ellis isn't known for his organisational abilities, but, really, how hard could it be?

It's a joke. One of those things people say to show how hopeless someone is. But when it comes down to brass tacks, it really isn't that easy to organise a piss up in a brewery.

My birthday's coming up and I thought it would be funny to prove everyone wrong, show that I can get my act together and organise (you guessed it) a piss up in a brewery.

 

And so the problems begin.
For a start, I've moved cities, so my first choice (Young Henry's in Newtown, Sydney) was out, I had to find something in Melbourne.
With time running out, we drew up a short list of likely suspects, eliminating those too far away for the majority of people I'd invite and then we started sampling.
In three days of "research" we hit three very different breweries and I found that what I like from a brewer doesn't necessarily mean it'd make for a good party venue.
Take 2Brothers in Moorabin for example. Their beers are awesome.
I started out with a Taxi, their pilsner, and it's a sharp, bitter and malty homage to the genre, utterly drinkable.
Next I moved to the Growler, an American-style brown ale with a lot of flavour (check it out) before settling on my personal favourite, the Voodoo porter. This is a complex, licoricy, malty sweet bitter brew that I could happily drink all through winter, quite simply one of the best Aussie porters I've ever had.
But the venue is in Moorabin, and that's at least an hour away for more than half those coming and roughly an hour and a half from the airport. I can't really expect them to fork out more than $100 on a cab and still have enough money for a present, can I?
And to be honest, the staff looked a little overwhelmed by the small numbers there. They knew their stuff and were professional, but were getting swamped.
Next.
Mountain Goat brewery in Richmond. Much closer to the city, plenty of access via trains and the beers as we all know, are great.
This time I started out with the ever reliable Hightail, a lovely amber ale in the English style. It's a bit sweet, but a great beer nonetheless... until I found their IPA. It's not a belt-in-the-face hop extravaganza like others, but a very good example of the beer. They used to do this as part of the "rare breeds" small batch brews and everyone loved it enough to take it to the regular range.
I'm one of those who love it, so was very happy to have a couple. And on the night we were there it was being poured through a Randall infuser with extra hops too so was particularly awesome.
I finished up, however (after a brief enjoyable moment where some hipster bumped into me on the way back from the bar and I spilled an entire glass of red wine all over his light-brown suede loafers... his look? priceless!
He was still glaring and dabbing at them with a napkin about an hour later) on the stout. It's great stuff, roasted malt galore, sweet and bitter, perfect for this time of year in the southern hemisphere.
Even the food was an unexpected find - they're got a Vietnamese food truck parked inside serving (to me at least) Vietnamese tacos that were brilliant.
But the place was FREEZING. I kid you not: the crowd was huddled around those little outdoor heater things wearing every item of clothing they could find and still shuddering away.
Next.
Matilda Bay Brewery. I know, they're verging on macro, but this is one of the first craft brewers Australia had, the beers are consistently good and for the "double IPA infused with cherries brewed in a bucket under a full moon" brigade there's always specials to try.
The Fat Yak got me out the starter's gate, then in was on to another favourite, the IGP (if you haven't had this, get some. It's an Australian ale, a bit cloudy, but with great malt flavours and a load of hoppy goodness).
Then, as usual, I went for a dark beer to finish things off, a small batch twist on their regular Dog Bolter and it went down a treat. Six different malts (apparently) have resulted in a classic Munich dark lager style beer. It's good in stubbies, fantastic on tap.
There were a few interesting small batch offering available, but no time to try them so they'll have to wait.
The brewery's right in Port Melbourne, there's parking galore, the venue is large enough to handle a group (a couple of different areas nestled among the vats and piping), with staff who weren't freaked out by crowds... you can see where this is heading.
So. what to do. The micro-brewery with the beers I liked the most? The one with the cool food and funky atmosphere. Or the one that has some great beers, a restaurant with loads of variety, enough (warm) space to handle the night with the least fuss for everyone concerned.
I'll definitely be going back to 2Brothers (the porter really was that good) and Mountain Goat (maybe in summer), butto celebrate my 50th birthday, I'll be propping up a table at Matilda Bay, pouring the small batch releases down with gusto.

 

Thursday
Apr192012

WHAT IS BEERIOSITY?

BEERIOSITY began as the Yeer in Beer page on Facebook. It was an endurance test to try a different beer every day in 2012, but it quickly evolved into something much more. 

Ordinary drinkers never leave their comfort zones but our project forced us to try beers of all types, from all countries. Some of them have been brilliant and some have been truly awful, and BEERIOSITY can now help you to safely drink away from the mainstream.

See, our drinkers are fearless about unknown beer taps or bottles. They just search for them on BEERIOSITY, try the good ones, avoid the bad ones and then even sign up as a BEERIO to share their own thoughts and ratings.

A BEERIO will be the go-to beer guy in his or her crowd, constantly surprising friends with brilliant, previously unknown beers and steering them safely away from the horrid and the mundane.

And you will almost certainly find a new favourite beer. You will almost certainly find quite a lot of new favourite beers. 

And that's what BEERIOSITY is all about.