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Saturday
Mar312018

MOUNTAIN GOAT LIME CRISIS DOUBLE IPA

Mountain Goat Lime Crisis Double IPA> For non-gamers like myself, the name of this beer is a pop reference to ‘Time Crisis’ a first person shoot and kill everything kind of arcade game released in 1995. Due to its popularity it was later ported to PlayStation consoles in 1997 and is somewhat of a classic.

Lime Crisis is a new world double IPA that uses US hops Citra and Centennial combined with NZ hops Wakatu and Taiheke to create a citrus forward flavour. Then in a move that would horrify any purist brewer they added crushed Persian black limes and Himalayan rock salt to create a rounded and mineral finish. It’s 8.2% ABV and 60 IBU.

Golden yellow/orange slightly opaque with a thin white head packed with hop oils. Lime, grapefruit, malt and strange earthy salt aroma. Medium body and relatively low carbonation. Starts with a clean lime flavour that is not overly punchy/zesty, a soft malt balances it nicely with a slightly spicy and salt flavour creeping in. It’s moderately dry with a minerally finish like a NZ Sav Blanc. The booze is well hidden. It’s definitely different but I’m not sure it’s worth the hype. Some people believe it’s a masterpiece while others are underwhelmed. It’s perhaps more like a salty lime cocktail rather than a beer.

 

7/10

Tuesday
Oct102017

Has Coopers cracked the Session Beer code?

In the wild, there’s a few things nature has given to animals to warn others to stay away.

There’s the Puffer Fish’s ability to pop into a floating pin cushion, the Cobra’s hood that spreads out until it’s a mini flasher… and Tony Abbott’s laugh.

Every one of them is a clear sign that something is very, dangerously, wrong.

With beer, those warnings are usually on the label. “Export” means someone doesn’t want it sold anywhere near them, “Premium” usually means it isn’t and lately, “Session” has become a catch-all tag for a beer nobody can really classify, but what the hell, there’s a big market for beers that don’t knock people on their arse and we’ve made it anyway so let’s add this word and hope people buy it.

The idea is the Session beers are supposedly stronger than a mid (which are usually undrinkable garbage) but not as potent as full strength so you can neck a few in a row and still beat the booze bus.

In reality, they’re about 4% ABV so drinking three or four and then driving is about as smart as drinking from the toilet, so you’re better off cracking open a big-boy beer and calling an Uber.

And it’s left us with a fridge full of undrinkable “session” IPAs, Pales and Ales most drinkers nod knowingly at as they reach past for a can of anything else.

Which is why the arrival of Coopers Session Ale this week left me worried.

I love Coopers beers. I grew up in Adelaide and thought all beer was supposed to be as fruity, full-flavoured and mind-bogglingly dangerous as their Sparkling Ale, as sharp and refreshing as the Pale and as beautifully burned as their stout.

Even Coopers Clear has a place in my heart. It’s great for filling slug traps.

But a Session? OK, let’s ignore that warning and give it a crack.

For a start, this is only ever supposed to be poured from a tap, but the samples arrived in a can so I’ll give it a bit of leeway.

The tin pops and there’s an immediate bitter fruit smell, but nothing overpowering. It pours cloudy gold, with a solid white head – large bubbles in the foam, not as thick as a usual Coopers ale – and there’s loads of bubbles in the glass. Loads. Like an aquarium aerator is running full bore in the glass.

First sip… it’s not bad! It’s a bit thin, and the bitterness is down on the usual offerings, but it comes in at 22 IBU here so it’s no pushover and there are some shy citrus and fruit undertones trying desperately to get out.

Second sip… the flavour profiles are starting to come to the front and it’s making an impression. The bitterness is building and the hops (Galaxy and Melba) are making themselves known. One or the other (possibly) both was used in dry-hopping this brew so there’s a peppery aftertaste I’m starting to like by now.

Halfway down the glass and the carbonation is all but gone though, the head’s (thankfully) under control and it’s now just a thin layer and some nice lacing to show where I’ve been.

Like Coopers’ best this has gone through the natural conditioning that means things get interesting in the keg as well as the tanks so I probably should have given the can a roll first to mix things up, but the bitterness is hanging in there and those hidden flavours have finally decided to come out to play.

One tin down and the second (with a roll this time) is going down a treat. Time to read the blurb that came with the cans.

Oh dear.

The majority of the information is clearly aimed at publicans rather than drinkers with the emphasis on dollar share, triple digit growth in the style within the craft segment and high impact innovation.

And then there’s this line: “Our brewers have used pale and wheat malt and a combination of Galaxy and Melba hops along with a “secret ingredient” to brew Session Ale”.

A secret ingredient. Is it love? I hope it’s love. That’d be a lot nicer than finding out it’s crushed ants or old teabags.

OK, so back in the real world with hyperbole and secret ingredients aside, the second can is still making an impression and that thin feeling from the first sip is all but forgotten.

So, what’s the verdict? Would I drink this again? For sure, it’s a solid drinkable beer without a knockout ABV.

There’s bags of bitterness and enough flavour gets through to satisfy (most of) the craft crowd without scaring off the lager brigade.

In short, it works. Hope it sticks around as part of the range, even if it’s only every summer.

The biggest problem I have with this is it’d be a great beer to throw in the esky for a park or beach, but it’s only going to be on tap.

This is definitely lighter than a regular Coopers Pale or Sparkling, but it’s certainly a step up on most of the Summer or Session beers on offer and would be easy to pour down fast on a hot day, something I’ve never been able to say about Coopers Sparkling no matter how much I love it.

 

 

 

Friday
Sep152017

Garage Project Golden Spiral Fibonacci Hopped IPA

The Garage Project get sciencey. This beer pays homage to the mathematical marvel that is the Fibonacci sequence – a series of numbers where every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones e.g. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34.

Named after Italian mathematician Fibonacci AKA Leonardo Bonacci, Leonardo of Pisa, Leonardo Pisano Bigollo, or Leonardo Fibonacci who published this phenomenon in his little book Liber Abaci (Book of Calculation) in 1202. Fibonacci numbers frequently arrear in nature such the number of branches on a tree and leaves on a stem to the structure of hurricanes and galaxies. Fibonacci numbers also appear in the arts such as Leonardo da Vinci’s works and Mozart’s music.

Fans of the band Tool may also recall Maynard James Keenan’s vocals during the first few minutes of the song ‘Lateralus’ form a Fibonacci sequence.

 So what the hell what does the Fibonacci sequence have to do with this beer? Golden Spiral was brewed using Fibonacci numbers to determine the volume and timing of hop additions. Garage Project describe it as “undoubtedly the most complex and audaciously hopped recipe we’ve ever attempted”. Thirteen hop varieties were used for twenty one different hop additions to create this 8% ABV IPA hop monster.

Golden yellow, quite hazy possibly because some yeast sediment splashed into the glass with a thin white head rich with hop oils. Low carbonation and medium body. Citrus, loads of dank pine, mango and sweet caramel malt aroma. Starts with a juicy citrus, leading into a wave of dank resins pine goodness followed by mango, some orange peel and a slightly earthy aftertaste. The booze is well hidden with the hop flavours lingering with a long smooth bitter finish. Beautifully balanced and dangerously drinkable.

I rate this beer higher than rating of the last two beers combined.

 

10/10

Saturday
Mar182017

CAVALIER BREWING & CATFISH TAVERN DOUBLE LIFE IIPA

In somewhat of a tradition Melbourne brewery Cavalier have teamed up again with Fitzroy venue The Catfish to brew a beer. For The Catfish's third birthday Cavalier decided to release a double IPA as part of their Limited Release Series.

It’s hopped with Mosaic, Chinook, Ella and Amarillo and is 8% ABV.

Light amber colour, thin off-white head with a medium body and moderate to low carbonation. Toffee malt, sweet booze, moderately dank and tropical fruit aroma. Starts with a chewy toffee and bready malt.  A citrus and stonefruit cuts through the malt with a mild tropical fruit flavour, finishes with a sweet booze and astringent finish like a Cab Sav.

I find the malt and booze smother the hop flavours too much and it could do with a few more IBU’s to balance the booze sweetness.

Probably still prefer to drink this than eat a Catfish.

 

7/10

Tuesday
Mar072017

4 PINES GRAPEFRUIT IPL

4 Pines have somewhat missed the bandwagon on the India Pale Lager (IPL) style. Several other Australian breweries released an IPL when it was a relatively new idea, notably Brewcult’s Beer Geek Rage Quit which was released in 2014. It’s a style which brings together the strong hop flavours of an IPA with the crisp and refreshing characteristics of a lager.

Part of the Keller Door Series, this IPL was brewed with Ale, Pale Wheat, Carapils, and Munich malt. On the hop front are Azacca, Waimea and Centennial. It’s 6.3% ABV and 69 IBU.

Golden yellow, crystal clear with a creamy white head. Mild grapefruit aroma. Clean mouthfeel medium body and relatively low carbonation. Citrus, grapefruit and moderately strong citrus peel with a soft malt backbone and a moderately bitter finish. It’s missing the crisp and refreshing lager characteristics you’d expect in an IPL. More of a middle of the road IPA. Not bad, not great.

 

6/10

Thursday
Mar022017

LA SIRÈNE URBAN PALE

Costa Nikias from Melbourne's La Sirène brewery is on a crusade to expand the horizons of the average beer drinker. In particular, he is passionate about introducing people to ‘farmhouse-style’ brews.

This is a style of beer which originated in rural areas of France and Belgium in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were typically brewed on farms using untreated water and grain and hops grown on site.

What makes this style special is the way in which they were fermented. The wort was deliberately left exposed to the air allowing wild yeast and bacteria to be introduced into the wort resulting in spontaneous fermentation.

The resulting beer would take on characteristics of the yeast and bacteria found in the local area. Interestingly, this can result in great variation in flavour from breweries in different regions or even breweries within the same region.

Whilst ‘farmhouse’ brews are poorly defined they can be generally described as a slightly funky and yeast-forward beer. Examples of well-known farmhouse style brews include Saison, Grisette and Bière de Garde.

Costa decided to ease drinkers introduce to ‘farmhouse-style’ by making a kind of pale ale/farmhouse hybrid which he describes a ‘hop-driven juicy Farmhouse Pale Ale’. I couldn’t find much about this brew other than it uses their in-house yeast strain and is 5.2% ABV.

Pale, cloudy yellow with a fine white head. Light to medium body, clean mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Banana, clove and spicy aroma. Starts with a mild bready malt and a sharp citrus flavour cutting through it. A clove, peppery and moderately funky flavour creeps in with an acidic and moderately dry and bitter finish. It’s kind of tastes like a cross between a Hefeweizen and a Saison that would go down very nicely on a hot day.

An interesting hybrid of styles and another solid brew from La Sirène.

 

7/10

Sunday
Jan292017

BENTSPOKE BREWING CO CRANKSHAFT IPA

Bentspoke Brewing Co was established in Braddon, ACT in 2014 when Richard Watkins and his partner Tracy Margrain combined their love of bikes and brewing beer.

Richard has been one of the pioneers of the Australian brewing scene. He is best known for his 17 year stint as head brewer of Canberra’s renowned Wig & Pen brewpub which opened way back in 1994 before craft beer was cool.

Bentspoke’s Braddon brewpub is a must visit if you find yourself anywhere remotely near Canberra. In late 2015 Bentspoke set up a second site in Mitchell to establish a secondary brewery and canning line.

In November 2016 Bentspoke released their first canned beers using what are known as 360 lid cans. First used by US brewery Sly Fox Brewing Company in 2013, the entire lid pops out so you can drink directly from the can apparently eliminating the need for separate glassware.

Crankshaft is one of a Bentspoke’s flagship beers. In the GABS Hottest Aussie Craft Beers of 2016 Crankshaft leaped 80 places on the previous year to an impressive eight position.

I picked up a six pack of tinnies straight from the source at their Braddon brewpub. They describe it as similar to a West Coast IPA.  It’s hopped with Equinox, Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Centennial and its 5.8% ABV and a relatively mild 35 IBU.

Orangy/yellow with an off white head with plenty of hop oil bubbles. Bursting with citrus, pine, stonefruit and caramel malt aroma. Medium body and relatively low carbonation. Citrus, pine and stonefruit nicely balanced with a caramel malt backbone with a moderately biscuity aftertaste. There’s a bit of resin with a moderately bitter finish.

If you like a fruity hop driven ale check it out. It probably more similar to a hoppy pale ale or XPA than an IPA. Being 35 IBU is below the usual 40-70 IBU range for an American IPA. I’d probably like it better if there were a tad more carbonation, greater bitterness and a drier finish.

A beer you could easily quaff on a hot day. Get on ya bike and head down to Bentspoke.

 

8/10

Sunday
Jan222017

MERCHANT BREWING CO HASSELSLOTH

Merchant Brewing Co is a gypsy brewing company based in Sydney's Inner West. Three mates, Josh, Dan and Glenn met in high school in Junee, NSW.

Ten years later they all ended up living in Sydney’s Inner West. In March 2015 they launched Merchant Brewing Co, an idea that began in the kitchen of 4 Merchant St.

They continue to hold down day jobs in three very different fields. Josh is a cancer biologist for the Children’s Medical Research Institute, while Dan is a manager at a training company and Glenn is disability case manager. They seem to have a fetish for sloths but I’m not sure why.

I received Hasselsloth as part of a Christmas advert calendar. The label has a disturbing image of what looks like a hybrid between David Hasselhoff, Michael Jackson and a sloth. It’s a West Coast style IPA hopped with NZ and US hops, I couldn’t seem to find which ones. It’s 7.2% ABV.

Opaque honey colour with a creamy white head rich with hop oils. Sweet caramel, grainy malt, fruity hops and booze aroma. Medium body and low carbonation.

The first thing I notice is the low carbonation and slick resinous mouthfeel. Starts with a fruity and citrus hop character, a smooth chewy malt creeps in as a slick resinous and bitter hop character cuts through the malt with a lasting bitterness. As it warms up a grainy malt aftertaste becomes more apparent.

It’s very malty for a West Coast IPA. I reckon it tastes more like a malty double IPA than a West Coast IPA.

If you enjoy a brew with a decent hop kick and a big malt chewiness check it out.

 

8/10

Thursday
May192016

FIXATION BREWING CO FIXATION IPA

It sounds too good to be true. An Australian brewing company has dedicated itself to exclusively brewing IPAs - tasty, tasty American style IPAs.

Fixation Brewing Co is a joint venture between Stone & Wood and Tom Delmont of Mountain Goat fame. Their mutual love of West Coast IPAs resulted in the company being formed in 2015.  

Their debut release Fixation IPA is West Coast Style IPA and is a respectable 6.4% ABV and 65 IBU. On the malt bill are Briess Pale, Briess Caramel Munich, Weyermann Vienna and Weyermann Carared, which they describe as creating ‘clean pale malt backbone’. On the hop front are Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo added at multiple stages. Fixation IPA is available in bottles from April 2016. 

Golden yellow/orange colour and slightly opaque. Creamy off-white head. Great citrus and pine aroma. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Citrus and a resinous and dank pine hop flavour dominate with a caramel backbone providing great balance. The resin slides off the tongue with a satisfying bitterness. Hop fiends who like a good dose of citrus and resiny pine will enjoy this.

This is a mighty fine West Coast style IPA which gives US brewers a run for their money. It reaffirms that when Australian breweries are provided with fresh US hops they can deliver big, ballsy US style brews that could easily pass for a US brew in a blind taste test.

IPA fans should keep their eye on this up and coming hop obsessed brewery.

 

9/10

Sunday
May152016

YELLINGBO & KOOINDA CALL OF THE HOPS

Yellingbo Brewing Company, located on the outskirts of Melbourne, have bragging rights of owning their very own hop farm.

The brewery is owned by Brad and Gypsy Merritt, who are behind craft beer venue Oscar's Alehouse in Belgrave, Victoria. For their debut brew they teamed up with highly regarded Victorian brewery, Kooinda, to brew a harvest ale showcasing their home grown hops.

To show off they decided to use 33kg of wet hops, ie fresh off the bine (yep not a typo) without being dried or processed. To show off even more they used a stack of Victoria hops, not to be confused with Vic Secret, a scarcely used variety which has a similar origin and character to Galaxy. They also threw in some Cascade and Chinook for good measure. It’s 5.3% ABV and 51 IBU.

Hazy orange with a thin head that dissipates quickly. Medium body with moderation to low carbonation. Fresh cut grass and rockmelon aroma. Sweet, overripe rockmelon and a fresh cut grass hop flavour. It has a sweet caramel boozy flavour despite the moderate ABV. In terms of flavour and style it reminds me of previous Bridge Road The Harvest series. I find the malt characters a bit too sweet for me and would prefer some more IBU’s.

If you’re after an enamel stripping, resinous hop bomb you will be disappointed. This is harvest ale designed to highlight more delicate hop flavours. It’s a beer fruit salad with a dash of fresh cut grass.

 

6/10