Thursday, January 27, 2011

Harts Pub Brewer's Feast

Harts Pub have another Brewer's Feast scheduled, for next Saturday 5th February.  I'm keen to drop by for an hour or two, but unknown unknowns may conspire against me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beers brewed in Australia under licence

An interesting follow-on from one of my earlier posts on Lion Nathan. Reader "Angry" makes a very valid comment about Lion Nathan's efforts brewing Beck's under licence.

This aligns nicely with Gage and Robert's first beer tasting in their excellent The Beer Frontier series. Episode One sees the guys compare imported and local versions of Stella Artois. The local version is brewed by Fosters. The link to their clip is here: The Beer Frontier Episode 1 - Part 1 of 2.

I think we should pursue this topic for a while. There does seem to be a vein of concern in the discerning beer public. Maybe it's time to catalogue all brewed-under-licence beers, and conduct our own research...

And this isn't specifically a shot at Lion Nathan..... just a happy coincidence !

Angry kindly provided a link to the following, which I have managed to somehow embed in this post (much to my surprise):

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A disappointing dark beer tasting

Darren came over on Saturday, to escape the ravages of his wife's Nutrimetics party.

As he's died-in-the-wool dark beer lover, I decided the time was right to crack open a couple of exotic beers.

On the menu:

   Bridge Roads B2 Bomber
   Crown Ambassador Reserve Lager 2010
   Malt Shovel Ten20 Commemorative Ale

Firstly, the B2 Bomber, described as "Belgian Black IPA" was hot, astringent, and hard to drink. This flew in the face of its popularity on BeerAdvocate, so maybe we got a dud bottle. Tasted more like a harsher foreign export stout or porter. Darren pointed out that hops were not as evident as one would expect in an IPA.

Then came the Ambassador.  Holy moley..... it was infected.  The sweaty, funky, bandaid aromas of Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that is welcome in some European ales (Orval, for example, or lambics), but usually considered a brewing fault. A quick Google confirmed our position:  Willie Simpson had identified the fault in a tasting session and written it up in a Good Living review some months back.  Fosters conducted an analysis, and indeed, "brett" was detected, probably as a result of the oak maturation of one of the blended components.

I tried to convince myself that in the glass it was improving, and we (well, I) managed to slowly get through. Dennis dropped in and took a sniff and went straight for an Oettinger (by volume one-thirtysixth the price of the Ambassador).

Some relief in the last beer. The Ten20 has been in the cellar for nearly two years, and was in fairly good shape. Nice chestnut pour, nice caramel & fruity hop aromas, flavours of figs and molasses.... not bad at all, and the beer of the day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Beer Frontier

Yeah I guess I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but I recently learnt of a 13-part show that appeared on Channel 31 in Melbourne, late 2010. It's on the ubiquitous yoochoob, of course.

"The Beer Frontier" is hosted by a couple of knockabout blokes, Gage Rossiter and Robert Jackson. Each episode deals with a particular style of beer, evaluating local and imported offerings. Gage will visit a local (read Victorian) brewery, while additional segments on homebrewing and cooking with beer are provided by Ben Lee & Enzo Frisini respectively.

I've now seen the first five episodes, and am overall quite impressed. It's the sort of thing I long dreamt of doing myself.

It's a bit hit-and-miss in some areas. There's the occasional factual error, and sometimes Gage tends to come across as a little bit too self-serious (as opposed to Robert who can barely hide his eagerness to open the next bottle - my kinda bloke), but these are only occasional hiccups in an otherwise worthy production.

To paraphrase the guys (and Miles Barlow)........  4 stars.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

England Cricketers' XI

Some of you may be aware of the impending series defeat of Australia at the hands of the old enemy.  In Test Cricket, that is.

Although an Australian by birth and general nature, your correspondent applauds the English cricketers on their performance, and for giving the Australian team the kick up the arse it's needed for a couple of years now.

To commemorate this, I've decided to nominate a Cricketer's XI; a mixed near-dozen of my favourite English beers.
  • Marston's Double Drop English Bitter
  • Black Sheep Brewing Black Sheep Ale
  • Meatime Brewing India Pale Ale
  • Fuller's 1845 English Strong Ale
  • O'Hanlon's Thomas Hardy Ale
  • St Peter's India Pale Ale
  • Greene King Abbot Ale
  • Durham Brewery Bede's Chalice Strong Ale
  • Timothy Taylor Landlord Pale Ale
  • Banks Barley Gold Strong Ale
  • Young's Special London Ale
If pressed to nominate a twelfth man (to complete the carton), I would throw in Shepherd Neame's Spitfire, which pretty well summarises the English spirit over the series.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cricket Day at Harts Pub

I know I've blogged about Harts Pub before.... but I keep returning to the place, and keep having a good time with new beers and new experiences. So I'll keep on blogging about Harts, if that's OK.

It's an annual event to get together with the lads, watch cricket and drink beer.  Once upon a time we did this at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but an ever-increasing monoculture of VB midstrength has seen us decamp to a brewpub with a big screen.

The previous couple of years had seen the crew set up in the James Squires Brewhouse on King St wharf. However, a combination of diminishing beer quality, and the opening of other establishments, has seen this year's gathering at Harts Pub in the Rocks.

(Of course, Squires is owned by Lion Nathan, so there's another reason to move on)

At Harts Pub, Scott Morgan runs a very welcoming establishment, with 12 "craft" brews on tap (including his own Rocks Brewing output). Being an old converted house, there are rooms and lounges everywhere. And 7 television screens.

We commandeered a room at the front corner, and made ourselves at home for seven hours.

The first beer of the day was Brothers Ink Gold Digger Golden Ale. At 4.7%, this is a well balanced American Pale Ale whith citrusy/tropical fruit characters. A very good beer.

Pale Ale, Revised: History, Brewing, Techniques, Recipes (Classic Beer Style Series, 1)But, most impressively, the "house" ales shone through with their freshness, vibrance, and balance. We all tried the Byrnes Red, the 1809 Pale Ale, and Governor's Ale. I've never been a red ale fan, but the Byrnes has nice bread & biscuit maltiness, plus a hop character that is lacking in many reds.

I think, however, the paler ales are the strength. The 1809 is a great ale, vying with the Gold Digger for the APA niche. And the Governor's has excellent balance and body for a good session.

The lowlight was incidentally the most expensive beer. The Lord Nelson Hotel's Three Sheets. I think this tastes great on tap at the Lord Nelson, straight from the tanks. But the ale they have on tap elsewhere is not brewed at the Lord Nelson; it's contract brewed. So, in my mind, a different beer, and a lesser beer.

Scotty was saying that Rocks might try a hefe soon. I'm always open to a good hefe, as you know.

A great day (except for Australia's cricketing ineptitude), and I will be encouraging the guys to repeat next year.

Barney was missed; hope things are going well mate.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Beer Review: Trappistes Rochefort 10

Guide to review scoring is on the post Beeradvocate Ratings Systems
Unless otherwise specified, these reviews are my own.
Trappistes Rochefort 10
Quadrupel 11.30%
A+ / 4.7 look: 4 smell: 5 taste: 5 feel: 4.5 drink: 4.5

Pours a thick, dense dark brown cloud.... some hints at the edge of burgundy. Thick tan head.

Beer and Breweries in Belgium: Stella Artois, Leffe, Kriek, Beer in Belgium, Lambic, Wheat Beer, Trappist Beer, Westvleteren BreweryNose of a candy store. Fruit lollies, sherbet, caramels.... Some washed-rind notes, and maybe a touch of clove...

This is literally a converation-stopper...the flavour is a complexity of malts & spices.... really hard to dissemble into its components. Perhaps some dried fruits.... dates, peel, raisins, nuts.... hint of chocolate, and the ubiquitous Belgian yeasty wildness. Quite a hot note, due to the alcohol, but not terribly cloying... a relatively dry finish... like an amontillado sherry..

And after a period, the hops come through as a late reminder, along with some lingering fruitcake.

Serving type: bottle

Fire at Abbaye de Rochefort

Thanks first to Beeradvocate for bringing this to our attention, and to the Belgian newsite

Beer and Breweries in Belgium: Stella Artois, Leffe, Kriek, Beer in Belgium, Lambic, Wheat Beer, Trappist Beer, Westvleteren Brewery(also thanks to the Google translate service)

The fire seems to have destroyed part of a shed. The main workings of the brewery, plus its ancient library, were left untouched. No injuries to report either.

This is all good news. Brasserie de Rochefort is one the finest breweries in the world. The Trappistes Rochefort 10 one of my all-time-favourites.  As a thankful homage, I will offer my BA review of this beer on the next post.

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