Saturday, August 18, 2018

Going retro

First can of several at the local rugby.  

A serious flashback to my childhood, when collecting empties at the footy was a lucrative enterprise (1c per can!). Reschs Pilsener, Tooheys Old, DA, KB......

It's just Tooheys New of course. And in reference to my previous post, no I don't think I'll see if it improves with age.....

Friday, August 17, 2018

Cans or Bottles for Ageing Beer

There's an interesting opinion piece in the Good Food site, discussing the best way to age beer.  As I mentioned in a recent post (tasting Goose Island Sofie), cellaring beer at my place can be a challenge.

Unlike wine, I'm generally of the belief that beers are always good when fresh. And although one may be able to improve a beer by cellaring it, it will depend very much on the style.  For instance, if you're a hop-head, cellaring a DIPA will result in disappointment, as the pronounced hop aromatic and bitter attributes vanish relatively quickly.

On the other hand, if the beer's profile is malt-driven, higher than average alcohol, and configured for secondary fermentation, there's a reasonable chance of it developing into something smooth and creamy. If there is a bona fide exception to my belief, it could be those extreme sour beers that need some time for the microflora to balance things out (e.g. Cantillon).

The article mentions two examples of beers that age well:  Westvleteren 12 and Coopers Red.  I've been lucky enough to have tried the former a few years back, and still drink the occasional Sparkler.

Certainly the legendary Trappist is a complex beast, a lot of which is due to the Belgian ale yeast and its big malt roster.  As for Coopers Sparkling Ale, any packaged beer with a 'Best After' date is obviously thinking ahead.

The author of the post makes a strident claim about bottles being better for ageing than cans. But he offers no supporting evidence, only an opinion that "it just isn't always the best way to store beer".  In my experience, bottles come with some issues, and not just their mass and vulnerability to breakage and light-strike. For example, you wouldn't lie one down for cellaring, as you risk the cap rusting (I know this from experience).   

And for those beers with corks ?  On the face of it, these may be better equipped for the long haul, but there have been concerns about of cork taint.  Again, probably best stored upright. 

So, if we compared the ageing of big ales in cans vs. upright bottles, I reckon there would be little difference.  But, I too have no supporting evidence for this claim.

Time for some research.  So, I am on the lookout for strong, malty ales that have some sediment. An ideal candidate would be available in both formats, but unless Coopers also start canning their Sparkler (Pale in cans), this might be a tough ask. At the very least, it's a good opportunity to see what canned beers are available that are not hop-heavy, but built for the distance over 12-18 months.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

All Hands Brewing House

Got together with my old mate Jon last night, meeting at the All Hands Brewing House at King St Wharf. The venue is conveniently located at the bottom end of Erskine Street in the city (of Sydney), close to King St Wharf.  It's even more conveniently located near to Beer Deluxe, which gives us more choice than we really need on a weeknight.  Best stick to the one place.

This place started its existence as a James Squire mini-brewhouse, back in the early 00s from memory. I remember going to the launch of the Golden Ale (now called The Chancer) at this venue, with legendary brewer Chuck Hahn holding centre stage. I recall the amazing flavour of a newly imported hop variety called Amarillo.

Compared with the hop range today, Amarillo is kinda old hat. One particular AHBH beer manages to fit in six different varieties, old and new, including Cascade, Chinook, Topaz, Centennial, Simcoe, and Fortnight.

As with all good brewhouses, AHBH offers a tasting paddle of four choices, for $18, which is great value.  I selected the following (listed from right to left in the photo):

Longneck Best Bitter 4.1%
An immediate flashback to a London pub was quickly subdued by the modern influx of US hop notes. A fairly light body and easy drinking. However, when returning to it after sipping the others, it couldn't hold its own.  Drink this before trying the others.

Dunkel in the Rye Dark Lager 4.6%
Toasty, chocolate, medium body, and very drinkable. Good length and a good alternative to the ubiquitous IPAs. Speaking of which....

Hump Day I.P.A. 6.2%
Well, it was Wednesday, so an appropriate inclusion. Six different hops according to the blurb, with the tropical fruit and pine notes generally associated with US ales.  Strong guava/green seed notes that always reminds me of lantana. Not bad.

Skinny D.I.P.A. 8.9%
The pick of the bunch so far, with the aforementioned combination of hops, with a great malty spine to counterbalance.  Candy notes, apricot, pine. Comes in at 45 IBU, which I think could easily be ramped up.

I hooked into this while waiting for Jon to arrive, and when he did, we moved on to happy hour pints of Wood Duck Cream Ale, at 4.7%., and at $8 a pint. Nice.

This was certainly a revelation, being delivered via nitro tap (the black board said hand-pumped, but this was not the case), displaying the beguiling upside-down head as it formed out of bright, creamy, apricot hues.  A very malt-driven style, and a wonderful alternative to the fruit bombs of US & Pacific pale ale styles.  A great session ale, as Jon described it, and certainly worth the visit to AHBH for this alone.

I was pleased to see the Certified Independent logo on the AHBH web site.  I became aware of this a few weeks back when visiting Newcastle, and is an initiative of the Independent Brewers Association. Look for this logo.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Waiter, there's a hair in my beer......

You know, I'll drink any beer offered to me.  A dud beer is better than no beer....  

But I think I'll draw the line at this.....

Definitely one out of the box....

Aussie Beer Blog

Aussie Beer Blog