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Entries in 5/10 (128)



Half Moon Bay Not For Sale Ale. Nope, that doesn't refer to the beer, but to the California brewery's collaboration with the charity Not For Sale that works against human trafficking.

Maybe it's not for human trafficking, but there's a whole lot of other trafficking gone on to make this Saison, which mixes everything from the Big Four to the Peruvian herb Cat's Claw to honey to ginger and hibiscus flowers.

It's not the first time the two organisations have teamed up, having done a Not For Sale ESB a year ago, all brewed from HQ (which also serves mean seafood) right across the road from a mean break, south of San Francisco.

For all that oddness, though, you'd expect the beer to have more character. Something to love or hate. It ends up a bit middle-of-the-road, which is a surprise.

We had it at the brewery, so it was as fresh as it was going to get, and the best thing about it was an aroma that boasted pepper, flowers, ginger, honey and cut grass.

Maybe we should have stopped there. It failed to retain its head, though the mouthfeel remained pretty good.

The dominant flavours are malt and there is no aftertaste to speak of. There are hints of ginger early, some flowers late and fruit and grass in the middle, but none of them are enough to overwhelm and we were hoping for a little more fruit and a lot more spice, which is almost non-existant here.

Shame. it all read so beautifully odd on the page...






Harboe Bear Premium Lager. I stumbled across this in a convenience store in the Philippines. Looking for a change from the usual local suspects, I decided to give it ago.

It looks like a commercial Danish beer and has the dreaded word “premium” on it. Apparently the Harboe Brewery started operations in Denmark in 1883. It’s now a large international beverage group which operates in over 90 markets.

Being a typical lager it’s 5% ABV and a moderate 23 IBU

I didn’t have a glass to pour this into but I imagine it would be bright yellow. Grassy aroma. Thin to medium body, moderate carbonation with a strong grassy hop flavour. Typical Euro lager stuff.

Just another beer chicken.





Carlton Draught Unpasteurised. On a trip to Melbourne I popped into Beer Deluxe at Federation Square after hearing it was a decent craft beer venue.

It wasn’t what I was expecting. The beers on tap were mostly boring Matilda Bay brews and other readily available brews like Stone and Wood Pacific Ale. The place itself is quite sterile and reminded me of bars you see in railway stations in Europe.

After trying a Mashing Brewing and Moo Brew beer I decided it was my duty to investigate ‘Carlton Draught Unpasteurised’.

Inside are three shiny copper tanks emblazoned with the Carlton Draught logo and the words “Fresh and Unpasterised”. Apparently they receive a weekly delivery of the beer, which is pumped direct from Carlton Draught trucks into the copper tanks. Craig Shearer of Beer Deluxe was quoted in Hospitality Magazine as saying “Beer drinkers can now experience flavours of the freshest, smoothest and creamiest tasting beer – a taste that is often only experienced by the brewers themselves."

It looks identical to the usual Carlton Draught - crystal clear, relatively high carbonation and commercial looking. Lo and behold it tastes exactly the same as the regular Carlton Draught. Beery. 

In 2013, Beer Deluxe, Federation Square, changed hands and is now managed by Armada Hospitality Group. They seem to have some kind of agreement with Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) hence the poor choice of beers available on tap. It has changed from an independent venue passionate about craft beer to another commercial venue which cynically attempts to tap into the growing popularity of craft beer.

If you’re near Federation Square cross the road and head to old school pub Young and Jackson’s. It’ll reinstate your faith in a venue with soul and good beer.





San Miguel Pale Pilsen. San Miguel Brewery (SMB) is a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), which has been operating in the Philippines since 1890.  It’s the Philippines’ largest brewery with a market share of over 95%. San Miguel Pale Pilsen is also known as San Miguel Beer (SMB) and San Miguel Draft.  It’s the company’s flagship brand and the Philippines’ top selling brew.

Around the Philippines it’s most commonly called SMB. It’s commonly sold in a 320 ml bottle, 330 ml can or the 1L Grande bottle. The 1L bottle goes for around 80 Philippine Peso (<$AU2) in some local restaurants whereas hotels and flashier restaurants will usually charge you the same for a 320ml bottle.

 It claims to be expertly brewed for a full flavour. Brewed with imported malt, German and American hops, it’s a respectable 5% ABV. Apparently it’s exported to over 40 countries.

Typical lager appearance -  pale yellow with relatively high carbonation.  Moderately sweet, slightly grainy malt flavour with a clean finish. A refreshing beer when served ice cold in the hot climate, it’s a good location beer.

Probably one of the more palatable beers in Asia.





Holgate Millennium Falcon. A beer with a few puns for Star Wars nerds and was originally released in January 2013 to celebrate Holgates’ 1000th brew. It’s an Imperial IPA hopped with Millennium, Falconers Flight and Galaxy and it packs a punch being 10% ABV and 100 IBU.

It looks harmless enough - transparent yellow colour almost lager-like. The only give away is the creamy head with large bubbles of hop oils. There isn’t much in way of aroma.

Oily and resinous mouthfeel with no readily discernable hop flavour, just warm alcohol.  Sweet booze and bittersweet finish.

Unfortunately, it suffers the same fate as some other imperial IPAs. It’s just a resiny beer with a generic bittersweet flavour which exhibits little balance. Given this was on tap as part of a Holgate tap takeover it’s unlikely it was an old / poorly handled keg.





Coldstream Crisp Pale Ale. I always thought Coldstream only brewed cider until I saw a range of Coldstream beers appearing on the shelf. Their cider isn’t too shabby so I decided to give it a go.

The logo on the bottle shows a man in budgie smugglers shivering in a pool with some barley in the background. “Brewed in the Yarra Valley for a crisp, hop finish” it claims. Definitely written by some dropkick in the marketing department.

The name “crisp pale ale” tells me it’s most likely going to be lager-like and quite bland despite the use of New Zealand and U.S hops. It’s a sessionable 4.8% ABV.

Medium body and moderate carbonation. Generic beery aroma. It tastes like a middle of the road pils. Pale malt flavour with a Saaz-like hop flavour. Despite the name is no more crisp than your average beer.

It’s slightly above your average commercial beer but still a faux craft beer.





Young Henrys / You Am I Brew Am I. Aussie rock band You Am I teamed up with Young Henrys and created this brew to celebrate twenty years of albums and touring.

Frontman Tim Rodgers is certainly no stranger to booze, but he is probably more a case of VB man than a craft beer drinker.

However, it was the bassist, Andy Kent, who developed the beer with head brewer Richard Adamson. The idea was to make pale ale that was an introduction to craft beer without being too confronting for You Am I fans.

Brew Am I is a new world pale ale comes in at 5% ABV and is brewed with ingredients sourced from a part of the world each member calls home. It utilises rolled wheat from Western Australia, malt from Victoria and hops from New Zealand. The kiwi hop variety used was Kohatu which is supposed to give floral, spicy and piney characteristics.

It looks like your standard commercial beer, bright yellow, crystal clear, high carbonation with an artificial looking head. It tastes like a VB with slightly better mouthfeel. This beer is a bit pointless. Purposely brewing craft beer to taste like a commercial beer to please the punters. They could have just brought along a few kegs of VB, saved a lot of time and effort and the fans would be just as happy.





Burleigh Brewing My Wife's Bitter. It’s hard not to chuckle when you see this beer on the shelf.

It was first created as a limited release by the experimental department of Burleigh brewing, ‘A Bit on the Side’. Due to its popularity it is now part of their permanent range.

No prizes for guessing this is an Engish Bitter style brew. It utilises genuine English malt, hops and yeast. The malt bill includes crystal and chocolate malt while on the hop front are Fuggles and East Kent Goldings.

I’ve tried this in the past but not recently enough to remember much about it. So I decided to give it another go when a barman recommended it.

 Medium body, relatively low carbonation with a soft mouthfeel. Predominately a caramel malt flavour with a moderately crisp finish. It’s relatively sweet and not bitter enough for my palate.

Perhaps his wife has mellowed with age?





Kooinda Boutique Brewery (Happy Place Brewing Co) Black IPA. The Spiegelau IPA glass does promote a big head, but this did appear over carbonated. The aroma was hoppy and the head did settle down.

The aroma seemed to disappear with the head and after the first slightly bland sip I hunted for a use by date. I could not find any. The claimed 70IBU must be countered by a big malt profile, yet I could not find it. This has the roast malt flavour of a reasonable dark beer, but no resinous hops or bitterness.

I can only assume that I got a dud bottle.





Blue Sky Brewery Blue Sky Pilsner. I saw this on the drinks menu in a restaurant in Far North Queensland. I order this over the rubbish imports like Corona, Stella etc on offer. It’s brewed in Cairns and being in XXXX Gold territory I had pretty low expectations.

Pale yellow colour, light to medium body and moderate carbonation. Typical pils flavour, perhaps a little lacking in crispness and bitterness. However, it was much better than expected.

This beer is streets ahead of the commercial rubbish they have on tap in Queensland such as XXXX Gold and Great Northern Brewing Company Super Crisp Lager.