Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The last few weeks in Beer - 21st January - 12th February

Hey all, I'm back again after a few weeks not writing, had a few hectic weekends in a row and kept putting it off. At least I have plenty to write about today!

First of all, I've managed to put together a solid group to go down to Melbourne for GABS, which is pretty exciting! We have ~8 people locked in and ready to take the challenge of trying every festival beer, and I'm looking forward to seeing how many people actually make it this year!

I've made it out to a few bars in the last couple of weeks, including an old favourite "The SG", where there's always a few interesting beers on tap:

Great taps + always a few curveballs in bottles

I sampled the 2 summer ales on tap, Angstrom's Hadron summer saison, and Batch's Watermelon summer. While the watermelon was nice, I couldn't help but be a bit overwhelmed by the watermelon flavour, while the summer saison was a little more balanced.

I also ended up in Wollongong for a weekend to go to a family birthday, so I had to stop in at the Illawarra brewery bar and have a couple of paddles!

Cheap flights of great beer, what a bar
Managed to make it through 90% of their beers, standouts were the Nitro milk stout and the Cherry Lambic, both of which are definitely worth a try if you can track them down!

I've also had a few notable beers in the last few weeks, so I've decided to review 5 of them. All five of our beers this week are from Aussie brewers, so a bit of a departure from my normal US imports.

To start off, we have Lord Nelson Brewery's latest seasonal, a summer ale called Quayle ale:

Actually drank this on a hot summer's day!
Pours a cloudy golden colour with minimal head (surprising given the style), aroma is a mix of herbal and floral notes. On the palate there's some fruity notes to accompany the herbal saaz hops, but the body is a little lacking, even for a summer ale. Just missing a bit of guts in my opinion.

Overall: 2.5/5

Next up, we have the latest In-Breed from Mountain Goat, "The Delmont" West Coast IPA. Brewed in homage to the Crafty Pint's founder Tom Delmont, it's been brewed to emulate a 'San Diego' IPA style.

No angle was particularly flattering for the label
Immediately when I opened the bottle, a familiar aroma was present, that of a Mountain Goat summer ale. Seems this IPA has a similar hop profile. The resiny/citrusy hop mix is definitely more prevalent here than the summer ale.

On the palate, a biscuity body underlies a clean, resinous bitterness, with some grapefruit and orange notes. Probably not quite as complex as expected, but still a great West Coast IPA.

Overall: 4/5

Next up, the first bottled beer from Doctor's Orders that I've tried, Prescription 12:

Wish my doctor actually prescribed beer
Pours a deep brown colour with light tan head. Aroma is roasty malt, slight coffee, mixed with a slightly tropical hop aroma, an odd combination.

On the tongue it's a slightly syrupy feel - quite rich - and the flavour is a battle between roasty malt and belgian yeast character, with hints of fruity hops but no defining hop character.

Overall, not quite what I expected, having had this on tap before. I have to assume this is either an older bottle, or the draught variant is hoppier.

Overall: 3.5/5

To finish up, we have a pair of barleywines from Moon Dog; one new and one that's been living in my cellar for quite a while that I decided I should pop out and try alongside their latest offering. 

So to start, we have their latest barleywine, The Beard Downunder, a smoked barley wine, aged in whisky and rum barrels. A collaboration with Rogue, I had high expectations going into this beer, and it definitely didn't disappoint.

Possibly the world's sussest beard name
In the glass it's a deep amber colour, with sparing off-white head. Aroma is some alcohol heat wrapped around notes of currant and vanilla. 

Quite rich on the tongue, caramel from the malt blends with brown fruit flavours to create a very rich body, punctuated by some hints of oak and vanilla. Definite rum character that's a great match to a more traditional barleywine body.

Probably helped by it's low alcohol for a barleywine (9%), but one of the most balanced barleywines I've had from an Australian brewer.

Overall: 5/5

Finally, we have what I think may have been Moon Dog's first ever Barelywine, the Nordic Saddle Buffer. Also a collaboration, this time with Kissmeyer, it's a Shiraz barrel aged English-style barleywine, and with the amount of ageing it's had I expected something quite subdued.

Still not sure how old this bad boy was

Poured a cloudy dark orange/brown colour, with large amounts of yeast throughout, tried to minimise with the pour to no avail. Closest aroma I can pick is a traditional barleywine (caramel, dark fruit) with hints of benedictine, a slight fortified wine smell.

On the palate it's surprisingly dry, with a little more of the fortified wine character coming through alongside a slightly spicy malt body, flavours of raisin and biscuit throughout, and a mild to moderate alcohol burn underneath.

Clocking in at just shy of 15% ABV (14.6), it's no wonder this was more punchy than the Rogue collaboration. Has definitely aged well, maintaining some of the earthy hop notes to help keep it balanced.

Overall: 4/5

Thanks again for reading, I'll be making a big trip to Beer Cartel to pick up piles of beer in the coming weeks so should have plenty of new bottles to drink and review in the near future. 

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