Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Two New Moon Dogs

So last year, Melo and I were at Moon Dog shortly before they released the 2013 Jumping the Shark, and saw it ageing away in Barrels. I was so impressed with it I bought half a case, and I still have a couple sitting in the cellar waiting to be drunk. 

In the mean time, I've picked up a few bottles of each of Moon Dog's newest beers, Jumping the Shark 2014, and their 2014 Abbotsford Collaboration beer, the Abbey Collaby. Decided they both need reviewing, so I cracked open a bottle of each... for Science.

Starting with the 2014 Jumping the Shark:

Such yellow, very Saffron, wow

Pouring a deep red colour, the first thing that strikes you is the vibrant yellow colour of the head. The aroma is a blend of alcohol heat, some yeasty banana esters, then some truly sweet honeyish notes to top it off.

On the palate, strong syrupy toffee with some herbaceous notes that move through to some dark fruit and somewhat almond-like flavours. Towards the end, the alcohol kicks in for a slightly bitter, drying sensation. It's hard to describe the sweet sensation of the body of this beer, unlike just about anything else I've tried.

Overall a delicious, complex brew that I have no doubt will improve with age. I've put half a case of this bad boy in my cellar, and will continue to sample it as it mellows over the next couple of years.

Next up, we have this year's Abbey Collaby: Barley Wine which clocks in at a very respectable 10.6%, and is a collaboration brew by the Moon Dog, Mountain Goat and Matilda Bay Breweries.

The Photoshop job on the label is Ace

The nose was pretty sparse to begin with, though some toasty notes come through alongside vanilla and slight citrusy hops. Intensified as it warmed with the addition of some alcohol heat. 

Body is classic barleywine, some stone fruit and brown sugar flavours give a sweet initial flavour, backed by some grassy hop notes,  that moves through to a subdued alcohol heat.

Overall a great barleywine, but nothing amazing, and not quite as interesting as the JTS2014.

Thanks for reading guys!

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Last Fortnight in Beer - October 6th-18th

So I've been lazy and haven't done a write-up in 2 weeks, so here we have an extra long post detailing not one, not 2, but 4 commercial craft beers, I've had over the last 2 weeks, as well as a sneaky homebrew made by Melo and Myself.

We're starting this roundup off with a trip to the USA, with a taste of a Black IPA from one of America's most prolific craft breweries, Rogue.

Plenty of standards in one neat bottle

Dad's Little Helper clocks in at 6%, not particularly high for an IPA. The aroma is of rich dark malt with a hint of piney, leafy hops. On the tongue the first thing you notice is a hop spice, mellowing out to the chocolatey, toasty body. Body wise it's fairly thin for a dark beer, and very carbonated, stopping it from becoming overly rich. Enjoyable, but nothing amazing.

Next up we have Nogne O's 3rd edition Red Horizon, which this year sits at a very respectable 12.5%, though a little lower than least year's 13.5% outing.

Not pictured: The awesome tin it came in

The first thing you notice as you pour it is that it's basically flat, with only a smidgeon of head that doesn't linger. Aroma that's got a very sweet biscuity malt component, yet some fruity notes alongside an alcohol heat. On the palate you first notice the alcohol, which is then overrun by a mix of dark fruit flavours, and some ricewine-esque savoury notes. Overall highly recommended if you can find a bottle.

Next up, something a little different, we take a trip into the realm of Homebrews, and try out Melo and my very own Cherry Dubbel. Brewed a tad over a year ago, then left to sit on a big pile of Morello sour cherries for a couple of months, it's now headed for a year in the bottle, so I figured it'd be a great time to try some.

Not pictured: A label because we were too lazy to make one
Hard to describe initially. Pours a cloudy dark amber, in the aroma you get some sweet malt and belgian yeast character, with a distinct hint of sour cherry. On the palate it's initially sweet, with flavours of raisin and plum, leading into some spicier flavours that likely stem from the yeast. A tad of sourness too, remnants of the cherries it once sat on. Melo, if you're reading this, you need to crack out a bottle and tell me what you think of it!

Next, a beer a little more normal, Sierra Nevada's Flipside Red IPA.

The label isn't straight =(

Immediately out of the bottle you smell hoppy notes, a mixture of citrus and grassy notes. It pours a light reddy amber with a thick off-white head. Initial flavours in the mouth are caramel and toffee, a little bit of pine but nothing too hoppy. Personally, I found the hop notes to be overpowered by the malt backbone, though it's possible this isn't a particularly fresh batch.

Finally, I'll knock off with the heaviest beer I've had in a long time: Brew Dog's Cocoa Psycho:

A Russian Imperial Stout clocking in at a smidge over 10%, it pours an inky black colour with some of the darkest brown head you'll ever see. Straight away you can smell coffee and cocoa emanating from the glass, which only intensify as it warms up. Roasty malt flavours are the order of the day, as your palate is overrun by the oily texture, not unlike a strong espresso coffee. Ends with a well balanced bitterness, herbaceous but not in any way overpowering. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good dark beer.

That's the end of this review, tune in next time when I either keep writing about GABS, or do a roundup of the latest couple of beers to come out of Moon Dog... Haven't decided which to do next. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Very Belated GABS Recap - Day 1

It's a quiet Monday afternoon, so decided I should write a recap of what is probably the coolest beer related event I've ever been to, GABS 2014. 

Back in May, Tony and I jumped on a plane on a Thursday night and flew our way down to Melbourne to attend the Great Australian Beer show. I can safely say I drank more beer over a 3 day period that weekend than any other time in my life, and I'm sure Tony can say the same. The festival started off for us on Friday morning, and ended in a very hazy plane flight back to Sydney on Sunday night. 

Free Beer Stein!
As we walked in the door, we were handed our complementary beer steins and the guidebook, which listed all 111 festival beers, beers specially brewed for GABS by brewers across Australia and the world! GABS 2014 had showings from Europe, America, Canada and nearly every part of Australia, ranging from creme brulee porters to the strangest of barrel aged sours. 

We entered with one quest: To taste all 111 of these beers. And like all great quests, it had to start somewhere;

Paddle 1: Where it all began

Straight off the bat there was a scratched beer at number 5. This would prove to be a trend, with a number of beers having been scratched due to issues, whether with supply, flavour or even just logistics. In the end there were still over 100 beers, but not quite the expected 111. That didn't stop us wanting to taste each one though!

We quickly discovered however that this wasn't going to be easy. Every beer cost one ticket, and we each recieved 10 tickets on our way on. 20 tickets vs 111 beers just wasn't going to cut it. Enter buying whole sheets of tickets at once...

Literally a $100 note

Throughout the show we managed to go through 3 full sheets of tickets in addition to the ones issued to us on the way in... Yikes. Part of the reason we used so many tickets was that in addition to the festival beers, plenty of breweries had stalls where they were showing swathes of other beers not on the main list. One of my favourite NZ breweries, Garage Project, had a particularly cool one:

Definitely the coolest looking stall
Awesome selection

They had put heaps of effort into creating a real spectacle for GABS, which included the giant stall, a full fledged comic about their 2 beers and the monsters inspired by them, and a pair of awesome masks. They also had special editions of some of their beers, such as the Triple Day of the Dead which was simply amazing. 

Pictured: Actual monster fight

Throughout Day 1, we tried about 60 beers, ~45 of them being from the main range of festival beers. This put us well on the way to hitting our goal across 3 days. But we knew pace was key.

Standouts from Day 1 were:

Beer 1 - 2 Brothers Creme Caramel
A desert 'Ice Ale' that really had the cloying sweetness of a creme caramel, while still being recognisable as a beer. A great way to start off the show with something completely different from the norm, although it set the tone for some of the best beers in show

Beer 10 - Bacchus Brewing Rocky Road
Another sweet beer, this one with definite flavours of peanut and somehow, marshmallow. No clue how they did this, but I do know I'd love to try it again some time.

Beers 17+18 - Bootleg + Thirsty Crow PB + J
These were 2 separate beers designed to be had side by side or blended. The PB was very peanutty and almost salty, and the J just tasted like a slightly sour glass of strawberry jam, but together... Together these were almost the beer of the show for me. Absolutely divine, like taking a bite of a real PB+J sandwich.

This board basically defined Day 1

Stay Tuned for day 2 and more beer related shenanigans as Tony and I pursue the ultimate goal; to drink every single festival beer!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Last Week and a half in Beer - September 22nd - October 1st

So after an extended hiatus, I'm back once again on my beer blog, decided that I should actually do some better commentary than my 50 words or less Untappd reviews. Also, my beer fridge is overflowing right now, and hopefully if I start blogging again I'll have an excuse to drink more of it

Literally overflowing with craft beer
So without further ado, let's start with a great beer from my Favorite Kiwi brewery, Garage Project. Their Pan Pacific Amber Ale sat in my fridge for a few weeks after I bought it. I was in the mood for hoppier IPAs, a few of which I'll review further down, and kept bypassing it because I assumed it'd just be a mostly malty affair with no real interesting hops. But a couple of nights ago I gave it a chance, and boy was I wrong.

Even the label is amber

Straight out of the bottle it smells super malty, real toffee aromas coming through, along with some solid coconut, but some tropical fruit is hiding in there as well. Pours a rich amber colour with a slightly browned head, as you can see above.

The initial flavour is of biscuit malt and oats, but then the hop bitterness cuts through to stop the malt becoming overwhelming. The blend of Galaxy and Motoueka creates a great tropical fruit flavour, and blends nicely with the hint of coconut that comes through at the end.

Overall a fantastic, interesting beer that I'm kicking myself for letting sit in my fridge for so long.

Next up, we stick with the tropical fruit theme, but double it, with the Liberty Brewing C!tra Double IPA

May have overfilled the glass a tad

Out of the bottle looks like your standard American IPA, a golden orange colour with frothy white head, but the hop aroma is overwhelming! Passionfruit, Citrus, and Grapefruit all come through leaving no room for any discernible malt character

The flavour follows suit, almost like drinking a tropical fruit juice rather than a beer at first, while the bitterness slowly catches up. Very slick on the palate, you do get a bit of malt character to help sweeten up the flavour, but the hops really do dominate.

A great showcase of what you can do with Citra hops!

Next, we take a sojourn away from the hoppy, and into the land of yeast driven beers with the Ommegang Hennepin - Farmhouse Saison

It had a cork!

In the glass it's a hazy straw colour with plenty of thick, off white head that smells somewhat of apricot, a little earthy and has a distinct hint of farmhouse funk.

The first thing I noticed on tasting was the mouthfeel, more like a champagne than a beer with plenty of tiny bubbles throughout. The flavour is citrusy and a tad grassy, with a definite note of funk, but it's not overpowering like in a lot of other saisons. Also definitely doesn't taste like it's nearly 8% ABV, it's hidden by the freshness of the flavours.

Overall an extremely refreshing Saison.

Finally, we head back into the world of hops with the Emelisse TIPA

Not pictured: 10% ABV warning

The phrase "Triple IPA" is always mildly intimidating, as you expect a beast in both ABV and bitterness, and the Emelisse doesn't disappoint. Clocking in at 10% ABV and a smidgeon over 100 IBU, she's an IPA to wrestle with.

Pours a deep reddy amber with sparse head, the aroma is a mix of grapefruit from the hops, a little caramel malt and a good measure of alcohol heat. On the palate it's similar, with the caramel of the malt dominating over the alcohol, allowing the hops to shine through with a bit of fruit to start, and a solid whack of bitterness on the followthrough.

Overall, a great TIPA that's not overpowered by alcohol heat, but rather a balanced mixture of malty body and strong hop bitterness.

That's all I've got time to write this week, but I'll try to make sure I write a new post at least once a fortnight, and hopefully I can write about some of our upcoming beers from work!