Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cooperian Dark Ale

One of the many hybrid styles going round these days is Cascadian Dark Ale. Invented by the late Greg Noonan in the 90s', it's a variant of the IPA, adding some darker malts to the grain bill, but maintaining the hop profile of (American) IPAs.
Cascadia is in fact a region of the Pacific Northwest, taking in parts of Canada and the US, and home to the ubiquitous Cascade hop.

This got me thinking.... is there a quick and easy way of brewing a hoppy, dark beer from kit ?  I had a yeast cake left over from a (failed) all-grain batch, which was then reused for a Coopers pale ale kit (successful). So on it's third outing, the yeast should be raring to go, and up to the challenge of something a little unusual.

A quick trip to the supermarket, and I landed a tin of Coopers Pale Ale malt, a tin of Coopers Dark Ale malt, and a kilogram of brewbooster (a blend of dextrose, malt, and maltodextrin). Normally you only need one tin plus sugars to get to a 4.5-5% ale, but two tins plus the brewbooster should see me in at 7-8%. (Incidentally, I smashed my hydrometer doing a recent brew, so the original & final gravities, and ensuing ABV%, are anyone's guess.....)

Since I was pitching two tins of malt extract, I was also doubling the hop bitterness. Tins are not renowned for their late-hop aroma, so any additional hops will come in handy to give some of the aromatics associated with IPAs.

Back at home, I scrounged some leftover Amarillo hop pellets, tipped it all together, and had a good fermentation underway within the hour. It's still been quite cool in the cellar, so hopefully a lot of the warmer-ferment, yeasty characteristics will take a back seat to the malt & hops.

After three weeks in the fermenter, I kegged the result today. First tastings are not too bad, with some interesting spicy notes, and a hint of alcohol warmth. And it's dark. It'll spend the next fortnight cold conditioning, and then get the carbonation treatment.

As for the name, well I thought "Cooperian" was appropriate, although the play on words relies on the coincidental naming of the Cascade hop variety and another Australian brewery.

My hopes are high; I'll get back to you in a fortnight.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beer Review: Murray's Spartacus

Guide to review scoring is on the post Beeradvocate Ratings Systems
Unless otherwise specified, these reviews are my own.
Murray's Spartacus Imperial India Pale Ale 10% abv
A- / 4.2
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is an absolute mind****.  Strong, rich, flavoursome, very, very moreish. I'm not sure if it's a one-off, but I have enjoyed it on-tap at Murray's in Manly, as well as in the bottle from their Port Stephens outlet.

a) 1 inch off-white, spongy head. Hazy marmalade amber in colour.

s) Pine resin aromas, passionfruit, caramel and licorice, almost barley-wine richness in the malt. Warms to melon and pineapple.

t) Rich flavour, honeycomb, caramel, brambly wild green vegetation and tropical fruits. Spicy, with alcohol warmth, and a prickly bitterness.

m) Silky smooth, if not slightly oily. Not at all heavy, nor cloying.

d) "Dangerously drinkable" says the label. I agree. Classy beer.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Wheatsheaf Hotel

It's a big claim when you read statements like "the best pub in Australia", as I did when doing some research on Adelaide pubs. You'd think there are too many diverse styles and locations, let alone individual tastes and preferences, to be able to confidently make such a comment.

But, you know, I reckon this pub comes pretty close.

Came straight to the Wheatsheaf Hotel from the airport. Taxi driver didn't have a clue, so thankfully the iphones were handy.  It's in a rather drab commercial area in Thebarton, just west of the city. But once inside, you get a cozy, warm and homey feeling. There's an open fire, and plenty of well-loved soft furnishings. Reminds me very much of the Royston in Richmond, Victoria, which has many parallels.

The beer, of course, is outstanding. There must have been at least half a dozen stouts on tap, including a chocolate stout from Lobethal, two varieties from Mountain Goat, and also a couple from Moo Brew. One of the Moo Brew stouts was pumped through a Randall, not filled with hops, but with Kopi Luwak beans, and appropriately named "Poo Moo". An amazing beer, like an affogato, and at $15, worth savouring slowly.  Took a while to get to sleep that night.....

Also tried a Rye IPA from the Feral brewery, which was an amazing hit of tropical fruit and bitterness.  Rye IPAs (or RyePAs as I've seen written) seem to be in vogue at the moment, having recently been a specialty beer at 4 Pines in Manly.

And managed a foreigner as well. A Mikkeller 10 IPA, all pineapple, pine resin, and caramel.

The bottled beer list is extensive, broad, and fascinating. In this regard, comparisons with the Local Taphouse were easy to make.

The staff are very friendly and very eager to advise. A great place to visit, and hopefully I'll be there again next week.  Best pub in Australia ? I don't think there is one, but there are several that make serious claims.  The Wheatsheaf is one of them.

Aussie Beer Blog

Aussie Beer Blog