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San Miguel Premium All Malt. Yes really. They included ‘all malt’ in the beer name.

Could this be the Crownie of the Philippines? A dressed up version of the staple Pale Pilsen, it brags it uses no adjuncts and contains the dreaded word ‘premium’.

It also comes in a green bottle which, according to my bottle-colour theory,  should make it thin and grassy like Heineken. I tried this in the country of origin just to make sure.

Apparently, it’s brewed with pilsner malt and hops from Europe, Australia and North America. According to their website “the result is a smooth, full-flavored, slightly sweetish, golden, premium lager with balanced bitterness that washes the drinker away in style. This brew is truly meant for those who enjoy the finer things in life.”

Medium to thin body with a slightly better mouthfeel than the standard Pale Pilsen. Sweet malt flavour with a honey and slightly grassy taste. It’s missing that crisp and bitter finish a fine lager should have.

Like the Crownie I’d drink the VB equivalent over this.





Brewcult Beer Geek Rage Quit. This beer leaps from the shelf featuring a Warholesque image of bearded man wearing makeup printed in bright colours. The man featured on the label is alt model Matt Hofmann and he certainly gets your attention.

This beer is an India Pale Lager (IPL), a relatively new and loosely defined beer style. It can be roughly described as a ‘hoppy lager’.

Fermenting with a lager yeast can help create a light and clean mouthfeel with minimal yeast character, a great platform for highlighting hop flavour.  

This brew utilises Pride of Ringwood (POR) for bittering and Simcoe, Citra and Nelson Sauvin. POR is notoriously snubbed by brewers and drinkers alike due to its association with mainstream Aussie lagers like Fosters, VB and Carton Draught. Its characteristics are sometimes perceived as undesirable and unsophisticated.

The beer name, with its ‘rage quit’ internet slang reference, is a dig at beer geeks who may be up in arms over the inclusion of POR. It’s a sessionable 5.5% ABV and 55 IBU.

Pours a light golden yellow with a creamy, hoppy head rich with hop oils. Great tropical fruit and pine aroma. Medium body with moderate to high carbonation. Clean and moderately resinous mouthfeel. Strong citrus, grapefruit, pine and tropical fruit hop flavour. There’s a slight dank/earthy aftertaste possibly from the Simcoe. Refreshing with a crisp finish.

This beer exhibits great balance between flavour and refreshment. It bends the rules when it comes to beer styles and challenges drinker’s perceptions of POR. Brewcult is ahead of the curve.

I can see the IPL becoming the next beer trend.





Kaiser Pale Lager. This is the beer equivalent of that book you read that always bores you into falling asleep. Or Channing Tatum's acting.

It is neither good nor bad. It's just unbelievably dull and it does its very best to masquerade as a commercial mass-production beer.

It's a 5% ABV European Pale Lager (which is apparently a thing now), and it's brewed by the Brau Union Osterreich, which also makes the less hobo-focused Gosser range, amongst others.

This pours with a good head that will have disappeared by the time you finish this sentence.

There are some bready and very sweet malts aromas and tastes there, but you really have to search for them, especially as the Austrians know a dull beer when they see one and serve it somewhere close to absolute zero.

It seems demonstrably undercarbonated and very watery on the mouth.

I was going to write more, but I got bored thinking about it. Move on.







Boxer Premium. Close (or, let's face it, even cursory) followers of Beeriosity know the golden rule about the word "premium". It's just always bad news on a beer bottle. Even worse on a can. Even worse than that when it's used in a television commercial.

It just is. Go on, show us where we've been wrong.

We're not wrong here, either, but it's still a drinkable thing in a pinch, and if you're sitting in a bar in Geneva and you want to drink the local, well, you're options are fairly limited.

The Boxer Premium is brewed about 72 speed cameras away in Lausanne and it's not to be confused with the Godawful thing of the same name out of the USA.

First off, it gets points from us for the flip-top head. Love a flip-top head, especially in a throwdown 330ml bottle.

As you see, the Swiss like to pour it into a chalice, which makes you wonder at its Pale Lager origins. At 5.2% ABV, it's a bit stronger than your average pale lager, too.

It tips out into a bowl of pale yellow and the head is generous, bordering on be-bloody-careful-with-that-on-the-carpet.

It doesn't stay there for long, though, and that's probably because it's not a terribly complex beer. All you'll smell are malts (and lots of malts) and hops (far fewer than malts).

It's going to taste that way, too, with the caramel malts dominating the palate and then a sharp hit of metallic what-the-hell-was-that and then the hops arrive to finish it with some bitterness.

The trouble is, the deeper you go into the glass, the less you taste the hops and the more you taste the malts. It's like the hops just give up as it gets warmer.

It's not a bad beer, especially by Premium standards, but it tastes more like a so-so version of a German pilsner than it does a ripper lager, so it's a little bit in no man's land.








Little Creatures Return of the Dread Domestic Extra Stout. I get quite irrational when it comes to stout (amongst many, many things - ed).

For a start, I grew up in Adelaide, Australia, so the first stout I tried was of course Coopers, and that – I’m not ashamed to admit – was in a 50/50 mix with Woodies lemonade and was known as a Portagaff.

This was an Adelaide institution – hell, there’s even an old ad with a song about it! “Coopers Stout and lemonade… mix ‘em up, you’ll be amazed. That’s a Portagaff you’ve made, with Coopers Stout and lemonade" (etc).

So naturally enough it’s the first stout I think of when it’s mentioned.

And people love to bag it.

“Yeah, it’s OK… I guess…” is about as close to a compliment a lot of beer drinkers have for it.

And they’re wrong. It’d bloody great, end of story.

But I’ve got to admit, very grudgingly, there are better stouts out there, particularly of late and particularly in Australia.

Some of the old heritage stouts are fantastic surprises if you can track them down (Sheaf and Abbotsford Inavlid for example) and some of the new releases from smaller brewers are complex little beauties (Nail's Oatmeal Stout for example, is a cracker).

And the latest to join that list would have to be Little Creatures new winter offering, The Return Of The Dread.

A Domestic Extra Stout by name, this is quite simply one of the most drinkable stouts this country has ever produced.

Based on one of the old Little Creatures Small Batch brews (remember them? Weren't they good!!) this has been tweaked to become Little Creatures first seasonal offering, using six specialty malts plus the Little Creatures regular pale malt plus the often underutilised Fuggles hops to produce a bucket load of flavour.

It pours beautifully with a great, aged-ivory head and beautiful smell of molasses/ANZAC biscuit and sits in the glass as black and impenetrable as the taxman’s heart.

First sip? There’s that familiar burned toast background, but it’s still sweet with an almost chocolatey licorice undertone.

The bitterness is there in the usual stout measures, but it’s far from overpowering, There’s a great mouthfeel – solid without being overly so – and it’s so smooth it’s hard not to pour it down.

You could easily sit down to a few of these.

I had planned on trying it as a Portagaff, but I gave the second stubbie I had to a mate who reported back: “Bloody hell! I could drink this all winter long!” and to be honest it was just too good to mix with anything.

Maybe I’ll keep the Coopers for that.

How good is The Dread? This weekend I’m off to the brewery in Geelong, a five hour round trip, just to grab a case.





Mornington Peninsula Brewery White IPA. A White IPA mixes the hop flavours and bitterness of an IPA with the spicy and tart characters of a Belgian witbier.

US breweries Deschutes and Boulevard are often credited for creating the style when they developed a collaborative white IPA in 2010. The only other white IPA I can recall having is the Doctor’s Orders Brewing Plasma.

Hazy golden yellow with a fine white head. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Funky Belgian witbier aroma. Flavourwise it seems similar to a witbeer with a corriander and spice flavour dominating. A citrus hop flavour creeps in to remind you it’s an IPA. It has a slightly resinous mouthfeel, crisp and dry finish with a decent kick of bitterness.

An interesting hybrid style brew.





Southwark Old Stout. Originally created by the South Australia Brewing Co, this beer appears to be brewed by Lion (the Evil Empire formally known as Lion Nathan).

It’s brewed in the style of the ‘London Imperial Russian Stout’ and with its rich dark malt flavours and relatively high 7.4% ABV, it’s clearly a winter beer. Just as well winter is approaching, then.

Very dark brown colour with a fine tan head. Nice dark chocolate and coffee aroma. Medium body and moderate carbonation.

The first thing I notice is the body and mouthfeel is quite thin for a stout. However, it packs a decent dark chocolate and roasted coffee malt flavour. It reminds me of Coopers Extra Stout except for the thinner body.

The alcohol is well hidden, with no boozy or sweet flavours with a decent dose of bitterness to balance the malt. It’s like a mix between Coopers Extra Stout and Tooheys Old.

At around $AU53 per case of 24x375ml stubbies, it’s pretty good value.





Oskar Blues Brewery Dale's Pale Ale. I was drawn to this as I am a fan of the can.

Incidentally, Oskar Blues Brewery has can cred, because it was one of the first breweries to release craft beer in cans. They released Dale’s Pale Ale in cans way back in 2002. To date, they are one of the few craft breweries that solely use cans.

Despite being called a pale ale, it’s 6.5% ABV and 65 IBU, which is really starting to creep into IPA territory. It uses European malts, Northern Brewer for bittering, Cascade and Columbus for flavour and a post-boil addition of Centennial for aroma.

Slightly opaque golden yellow colour, frothy head with large hop oil bubbles. Sweet malt and citrus hop aroma. Medium body with moderate to low carbonation. Smooth moderately resinous mouthfeel.

Starts with a sweet light caramel malt flavour leading into citrus and floral hop flavour. The hop flavours and resin linger with a moderately bitter finish. The relatively high ABV for the style makes it a little sweeter than other pale ales but the resiny hop goodness in the finish keeps it in check.

Good work dale.





Prickly Moses Black Lace. This beer was especially brewed for the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) 2014.

It’s a black elderberry bock (which is a black lager with some elderberries thrown in) and it’s 5.8% ABV.

Whenever I hear "elderberries" all I can think of is a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where a French soldier yells “I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”.

I’m not usually a fan of beer with fruit in it but I’d thought I’d give it a go.

Very dark brown with a creamy, light brown head. Sweet chocolate malt and berry jam aroma. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Chocolate and little bit of roasted malt nicely balanced with a slightly tart blackberry, cherry and plum flavour. The flavour reminds me of the plum, cherry and chocolate flavours you find in some Shiraz.

A black forest cake in a beer. Something completely different.





Grand Ridge Gippsland Gold. Grand Ridge brews a broad range of beers but none of them have really grabbed me.

I’ve tried their beers at bottleshop tastings and beer festivals and I’ve always found them to be pretty average.

They take great pride in announcing they have won over 160 Australian and International beer awards and claim to be the world’s most awarded brewery. I received their gift pack as a present, though, which gave me the opportunity to revisit six of their beers.

Gippsland Gold is a 5.4% ABV Australian style bitter hopped with Aussie and Kiwi hops.  Like other Grand Ridge beers the label is suitability confusing calling it a pale ale despite describing it as an Australian style bitter on their website.

Weird orangy/yellow colour with poor head retention. Malt extract aroma. Watery mouthfeel with relatively low carbonation. Generic malt extract flavour followed by a bit of dirt which leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Probably something the English would enjoy.