Wednesday, 13 February 2013



In little over 7 months, my needs seem to have outgrown the services that Blogger offers.

The editing here (at Blogger) is somewhat limiting. With more formatting options as well as easier navigation over at WordPress, I’ve decided to re-locate there.

My re-born beer blog can be found at or by clicking here

I hope my blogging will continue to grow in stature and readership. Thank you for your continued support and I hope regular readers will be able to continue to enjoy my ramblings.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Bondi **UPDATE**

An episode concerning a previous post regarding Bondi Beer and Pete Brown's Beer Blog has taken a strange and unprecedented twist...

Those of you that saw and digested Pete's rant and subsequent readers' comments before he removed it all may have noticed that I had pointed out to him that his research was a little bit off - especially concerning Paris Hilton and Bondi Blonde.

To date, my negative words haven't rattled as many cages as Pete's did. Nor has it provoked the threat of any legal action. Admittedly, I was nowhere near as harsh with my literature and have nowhere near as big a readership as he. Plus, I live in Australia - miles from where Bondi Beer is trying to make it's name...which is miles from Bondi Beach.

I'm keen to hear from anybody that has tried this self-proclaimed 'craft' beer.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Wychwood: King Goblin Special Reserve - Review

As has been the norm for the past few years - come the end of November my beer fridge starts to fill with all sorts of magical wonders that I've been stashing away for the festive period. To consume whenever I want to whilst I'm away from work for a few weeks.
The problem is that I'm shit at leaving beers sit in the fridge chilling for weeks and weeks. I just buckle under the pressure of merely seeing them. I can easily cave in and open one up.
That is exactly what happened recently when I found myself staring a Wychwood King Goblin in the face. He was literally at my eye level and we'd been staring each other out for weeks. Enough was enough. He had to go.   
There was something mystical that attracted this beer to me more than any other in my beer fridge that evening. It probably had something to do with the bottle itself as I love the artwork throughout the Wychwood range. It also probably had a lot to do with me being extremely keen to compare this drop to his younger sibling - Hobgoblin.

I had quaffed many-a-Hobgoblin back in Blighty but only managed to re-acquaint myself with the little rascal during Christmas 2010 when I treated myself to a gift set which consisted of a bottle of the stuff along with a Hobgoblin glass (I'm a sucker for glasses) smartly packed away in a presentation/gift tube (which I've still got because I'm a hoarder of beer stuff).
The review:

A very solid drop of beer - which is exactly what I was expecting to be honest. It poured a very deep ruby/copper colour with a fairly chunky head which hung around for the duration (see photo above - click for larger version).
Upon pouring, I was immediately hit with smooth wafts of rich malt which got me drooling as the glass drew nearer.
You can very much tell that this 'Special Reserve' is based on the run-of-the-mill Hobgoblin but the extra fruitiness and those rich malts drive this version beyond the boundaries. The additional 1.4% in alcohol content (this one is a 6.6% abv) shines through and doesn't ruin it at all. More so, it enhances the flavour. Based on flavour alone - if I was a betting man, I would've sworn blind that this was stronger than 6.6%. 
Making the 'King' more complex than the 'Hob' are the hints of chocolate and toffee. These faint hints make for a real taste sensation. 
It's not widely available (certainly not in Brisbane anyway) but when you do actually find some bottles do yourself a favour and treat yourself.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


I read UK-based Pete Brown's Beer Blog as often as he writes a new post. He knows what he's on about. He makes sense.

It made me chuckle this morning when I read his latest post which happens to be about a new Aussie beer being launched over there in my chilly homeland. Something called Bondi Beer.

Until this morning, until reading Pete's blog, I had never even heard of Bondi Beer.

I fear that it is yet another brand simply trying to exploit the name of Australia. Fosters is a great example - I have never seen it in a pub here in Australia. I'm sure it exists somewhere but I've never seen it.

Pete mentions Capricorn Brands in his blog. According to their website, Capricorn Brands claim to be an Australian beer and wine group that market and sell their brands to major outlets around the world. Funny that their head office is in London!

Yes, they probably are using a recipe for their beer that was formulated in Sydney in 2009 but to go and heavily market a brand of new beer as Australian is bit naff.

I'm almost certain that us beer drinkers down under can't even get a slice of the 'action'. I'm not too disappointed if the truth be known. Below is a screen-grab of the 'Where To Buy' tab from the Bondi Beer website. See if you can spot any Australian locations...

It gets worse. When I type in my Brisbane CBD work address postcode and ask for it to search for a Bondi Beer within 250km, this is the result:

Like I said, I don't really care. I wish to avoid it like the plaque. I have far too many other beers in my sights and with Christmas coming up I'll be indulging in these proper Aussie craft beers from proper Aussie craft breweries.
If anybody has tried Bondi Beer or has an opinion, please feel free to get in touch! I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Stone & Wood: Garden Ale - Review

It was recently announced that Stone & Wood had bought back a 20% stake in the company that had been held by Little World Beverages since February 2009. This was in part due to the recent acquisition of Little World by the mighty alcohol entity that is Lion Nathan.

Within a short space of time after the buy-back, Stone & Wood released a new limited edition brew called Garden Ale. 

Before somebody stumbled upon the idea of using hops in the brewing process, brewers used to ransack their gardens looking for something different to flavour their beer. The first garden that I ever owned consisted of nothing more than a couple of dead worms, a few spiders webs and the odd appearance of a dead bird - the ingredients more widely associated with being tossed into a witches cauldron to make a potion!

Garden Ale has been designed as a tribute to these old fashioned brewers. Intrigued, and in need of a pint of something, I headed off to my (very) local - The Platform Bar at Grand Central Hotel (Brisbane) where Garden Ale was making a guest appearance on tap - today, exactly four years ago to the day since the very first Stone & Wood was poured at Byron Bay.

The review:

It's a different beer altogether to the Endeavour Growers Ale that I tasted and reviewed only days ago but was worthy of the extra half of a star.

It was a bit more robust - a little bit more to it. Somewhat more satisfying which I'm sure was aided by the fact that I was drinking it off tap out of a chilled pint glass.

There is a very distinct, yet subtle bitter fruitiness to this beer. Not to the nose though - only as an aftertaste. This could be attributed to the inclusion of juniper berries that have made their way into the recipe. I found the aftertaste to be very slightly sour but nowhere near enough to be off-putting.

At 3.8% abv this is very much a beer to sit and drink all afternoon, all evening or even all Summer long if you can find somewhere that has it tapped or if you can lay your hands on some of the 500ml bottles which are limited.

Definitely worth a try.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Endeavour: Growers Ale - Review

Having sampled Endeavour's 2010 Reserve Pale Ale almost 2 years ago to the day, it seemed rather fitting to mark the occasion with a trial run of their latest release - the 2012 Growers Ale.

This brew has been formulated as a mark of respect to this fine nation's hop and barley growers. A tip of the hat to those unsung heroes that enable you and I to sip on the finest Australian beers to our hearts content.

The review:

Hmmm, a bit tricky to rate out of five this one. I wanted to give it more than three stars but then it's just not worthy of the heady heights of a four or even a five. Perhaps it deserved a 3.5? No, but it only just missed out.

It really is quite sessionable. I realise that most of my loose reviews mention how sessionable a beer is. Well, that's because I enjoy a session! A beer that has an alcohol content of 4.2% abv is bound to attract attention as being sessionable. Some 4.2's taste like old socks of course but Growers Ale is a nice, sensible tasting drop that would happily see itself through a session of mine. Very drinkable.

I sank my first Growers on a very humid, Queensland evening and it....just....slid down. It was very thirst quenching indeed. It took my mind off the fact that I was only 30 hours past my maiden wisdom tooth removal.

There are certainly some hoppy notes emanating from Growers however, as a hoppy beer lover, this didn't live up to my expectations. I thought it might have been a bit more hoppier.

Hoppier = Happier.

There is also a gentle hint of citrus in there too. Of course, this assists the ability to quench ones thirst.

Although I'd happily sit drinking this beer all evening, there is a little something inside of me wanting more from it. I can't think of an appropriate word to describe these feelings. Uninspiring perhaps? This might sound a little harsh but it's certainly along those lines.

If you're out with your mates in a pub this Summer and looking for something new to try for a change. Something that isn't going to leave you with a grotty hangover then drink this. It certainly won't ignite anything that will sort out the Earth's problems but, hey, Endeavour haven't set out to fix up the planet.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Do I need glasses?


That's the answer. Plain and simple. No, I do not need glasses.

Firstly, because I have above average vision. Any optician will tell you that despite my grey hairs and ever-increasing years the eyes are still fighting fit.

Secondly, because I have too many glasses (according to my wife anyway).

Of course, I am referring to every beer drinker's compulsive habit - the beer glass.

Yesterday, Lauren, the Functions & Marketing Manager of a certain Ann Street (Brisbane) establishment (Platform Bar), amazed me beyond all amazement.

It goes without saying that I am a beer sicko. I can' t make excuses and I know that I'm not alone. Anything to do with beer comes home with me if possible and if legal. I will not condone theft. Ok, ok I have been guilty of it in the past - in my younger light-fingered days but I'm not proud of it. These days I tend to ask a member of staff if something is available for keeps.

Beery paraphernalia 'wins' include beer mats, labels etc and, of course, glasses (never, ever bar maids sadly).

Yesterday, towards the end of a Melbourne Cup works function, John ordered a pint of Stella Artois. Fair enough. The only thing was, the glass that he got served his beer in was suuuuperior. It was a corker. He wanted to take it home. So did I and so did Pete and Adrian!

Beer sickos!

Lauren quite rightly said "No, you cannot take it."

My colleague respected that. To be honest, why should he be allowed to take home part of a pubs glassware. Silly right?

Lauren then disappeared. She went to retrieve something.

The next thing that happened kicked me in the man-bits. I wasn't expecting it.

When she re-appeared a few minutes later, she had in her grasp 4 very special looking glasses. Goddammit - 1 each for the 4 of us! 

The first one was a Pilsner Urquell glass from the Czech Republic that Adrian took home. It's a fine looking beast (the glass, not Adrian) that holds half a pint.

The next one was a Hoegaarden Grand Cru glass. A very special thing.....according to the Hoegaarden website, the Grand Cru is only available in Belgium. This means that owning such a vessel is somewhat of a privilege. Pete is now the proud owner.
The next two were identical pint glasses from a brewery that I'm very fond of, Meantime Brewing Co. from Greenwich, London. I was born in Lewisham which is just a few miles  from Greenwich and my adolescent years involved growing up just down river from Greenwich in a beautiful part of the world called Erith. For those who wish to know, my Dad was a fireman fire-fighter and he extinguished his first real flames whilst based at Greenwich fire station (E22) possibly whilst riding one of these babies.  

I also have many fond memories of nights out partying in Greenwich.

Anyway, I digress. John and I both managed to each walk away with a splendid pint glass. The design on the glass incorporates tiny bits of clock mechanism which is an obvious reference to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Quite how a bar in the middle of Brisbane, Australia acquired glasses from a little-known (although very good) brewery in London is anyone's guess. Ours is not to reason why. I hate proverbs really but what I mean is "Who cares where the glasses came from!" because they have now found very good homes and, in my case, will sit as part of a larger collection of glasses. More of which I'll spoil you with in the future. Bet you can't wait!

This glassy episode has lead me to re-ignite my desire to track down some Meantime beers again.

Lauren, we are all extremely grateful. Your customer service skills needn't have stretched that far but we're very glad that they did.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Little Creatures: Puffing Billy - Review

At the time of writing (the evening of 1st November 2012), I have just tucked away 2 of my 3 little creatures. One is 3 years old and the other is only 7 months. I am, of course, referring to my offspring and not beer. This is a beer blog after all so let me begin...

Earlier on today with the financial assistance of 3 other members of the BPA, a carton (12 bottles) of Puffing Billy - the latest Single Batch release from Little Creatures - was acquired. 3 x 568ml bottles each for a mere AU$20. A great deal. I'm blessed to have such beer-loving colleagues.

"Hang on a minute..." I hear you exclaim "'re in Brisbane. How come you haven't had to wait ages for it to reach Queensland this time?"

Good question. I'm fairly certain that I know what the answer is. Perhaps this is a sure sign that Little Creatures have tapped into Lion Nathan's distribution network for the first time? That network is a very good thing if it means that craft beer lovers in the Sunshine State don't have to wait until the beer is nearly out date before it hits our shelves. This is a slight exaggeration but you know where I'm coming from!

Anyway, I really have just tucked away a Little Creatures. One of my Puffing Billy's.

This is Little Creatures' tenth Single Batch release but only my fourth (behind Big Dipper, The Quiet American and Day Of The Long Shadow). Even though I may be in my infancy when it comes to consuming Single Batches, this new release has been very eagerly anticipated.

I've been like a man possessed since the news of the impending release broke a few weeks back. I likened the anticipation last time (Day Of The Long Shadow) to that of the build-up to a Birthday as a kid. This time was no different. I was absolutely itching to get to the bottle shop. Itching to get home. Itching to open a bottle. I was itching so much that I considered wearing a flea collar.

A few weeks ago during some tame birthday celebrations, I found myself caressing a glass of 4 Hearts Brewing Oktoberfest Bock at Tippler's Tap. It was a superb beer. It was one of those beers that really sticks in your mind. You know what I mean. The day after my birthday I read the media release regarding Puffing Billy. I couldn't believe my luck that another Bock was on the horizon.

As expected, my self-created 'Puffing Billy hype' was justified... 

The review:

Puffing Billy was very close to being rated as my first 5 star beer. I couldn't quite bring myself to do it as I'd rated Day Of The Long Shadow 4 stars and, in my opinion, Billy didn't quite have enough Puff to be deemed better. Different but not better. Although, it is a fine, fine Bock...a true dark lager which deep, rich undertones. 

As usual with these Single Batches, there is a big hop flavour. This is perfectly balanced with the subtlety of the smoked malt. There is a slight hint of caramel too which only adds to the flavour.

The alcohol content of 6.5% abv is lower than usual for a Single Batch. The previous 3 were 7.8%, 7.2% and 8.9% respectively. The reduction is a good thing. Often with strong beers the taste of alcohol can impair other wonderment's that should be tantalising the palate. In this instance the real flavours came through unobstructed. 

It pours really well with a decent creamy, frothy head. The large bubbles sat upon my unshaven top lip last night for ages. I didn't care. I was enjoying a wonderful brew. Well done Little Creatures. I'm ready for the next release already.


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Red Duck Beer: Amber - Review

A recent visit to Archive in Brisbane's West End saw myself, Nick and Pete (the piss artists formerly known as NM and PF respectively) each grab a 6pack of different beers. The cunning, cash-saving plan was that we'd leave the fine establishment and all swap beers evenly thus enabling all 3 of us to trudge home that evening with 2 of this, 2 of that and 2 of something else.

Nick opted for Kooinda English Red Ale (4.7% abv), I chose Kooinda Milk Porter (4.7% abv) and Pete went for Red Duck Amber (4.9% abv). I'll try and write up one of my loose reviews for each of the Kooinda's soon but this review will be dedicated to Red Duck's Amber...

The review:

I'm all for trying new beers - especially from the lesser-known Australian craft breweries. However, sorry guys, I didn't like this brew.

According to the Red Duck website, it's billed (get it? No? Forget it.) as a full-bodied, British style ale.

Firstly, there was no 'body' to it!

Secondly, there was no Britishness to it either! I'm in pretty good stead - regular visitors to this blog will be well aware that I herald from Blighty and I can confirm that this beer is nothing like I have ever tasted in my homeland.

As you can see in the photo above (click for larger view) it resembles that nasty drop from Gage Roads called London Best. I described London Best as nothing better than "fizzy brown water". Unfortunately, my opinion is the same for Red Duck's Amber. It is overly carbonated (also visible in the photo) and very tasteless.

When poured, the head confirmed the lack of body. It fizzled out in a matter of seconds. Not even long enough for me to focus the camera and take a snap.

Having been readily available from the chaps at Archive who hold all of their bottled stock in high regard (in a very chilled chiller room I might add) I have to say that I'm very disappointed.

The only plus point is that Pete ended up with 2 of these beers and not 6 thanks to our devilish plan to share.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Burleigh Brewing: FIGJAM IPA - Review

Regular readers of this blog will have no doubt noted that my recent purchases of beer centre around 3 letters: I, P and A. This current journey happened to coincide with a new release from Burleigh Brewing Co. - a local(ish)-to-me brewery that has a 'Bit On The Side' department which release limited edition brews every once in a while. 

Following on from Fanny Gertrude's Bickie Beer and Black Giraffe, their latest bit on the side is called FIGJAM IPA...

It was only released a few weeks ago and I was lucky enough to lay my hands on some last week for consumption over the course of my birthday weekend (weekend just gone) and what a lovely gift to myself it was...a real treat indeed...

The review:

I have absolutely no hesitation in slapping 4 stars on this one. FIGJAM is a wonderful IPA!

Presented in the familiar but special 'Bit On The Side Dept' 650ml screen-printed bottle, it pours a light golden colour with a solid white head followed by a good 20 seconds worth of subsequent fine effervescence.

Huge whiffs of fruit hit me. Nothing to put me off - more inviting than anything.

Upon taking the first mouthful of a new beer, I always try and have a clean palate. Often achieved by glugging a few mouthfuls of water. This usually prepares me for whatever the pending liquid gold has to offer. 

The first mouthful of FIGJAM surprised me. It was nowhere near as heavy as I was expecting. It was surprisingly light which makes this IPA very drinkable and thirst quenching unlike many IPA's that have previously made their way past my hop-loving tongue.

I've enjoyed a few big, in-your-face hop explosion types of beers lately. This isn't one of them making this 7.0% abv drop a very sessionable brew ahead of what's promised to be a very warm Queensland summer.

My advice? Stock up on this quickly before limited edition cartons deplete!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Bar Stuff Episode 3 – Tippler's Tap, Newstead, Brisbane

My previous 'Bar Stuff' post on this blog was all about the future opening of a new bar in Newstead, Brisbane called Tippler's Tap. I promised myself that I would pay Tippler's a visit. After weeks of not being able to get there for one reason or another eventually the day came. Yesterday, Friday 19th October, on my thirty-something birthday.

Nick and I took to public transport to take us from our CBD workplace to Newstead. The day was perfect for a few birthday brews. A sizzling 30 degrees in the City ensured the necessity for a few cold ones.

A quick jaunt through Fortitude Valley on one of Translink's Natural Gas buses followed by a 10 minute walk though suburbia and there we were stood in front of Tippler's Tap. Finally, I'd made it.

We were greeted with the sight of 8 or so people sat outside smiling contently over their beers. Happy clientele is always a good sign. We wandered in past the kitchen and the chef who greeted us with a welcoming smile and a "G'day". We then found ourselves at the bar pondering over which of the 11 beers to choose from (10 taps plus 1 handpump).

I opted for a Matt Armstrong/Bacchus combined effort called Trouble & Strife - a 6.1% Black IPA and Nick chose a Feral Smoked Porter (4.7%). Matt is from The Grizzly Paw Brewery, Alberta, Canada.

We grabbed a table as quick as we could because people started flowing in heavily behind us. This influx of custom was nothing to do with us!

The table that we sat at was bang in the corner and gave us not only a great perspective of the place but also a decent view of the blackboard behind the bar which listed the current tap offerings. This view was essential because our next beer was going to take some planning.

We got quite comfortable on our tall stalls and watched as customer after customer came in through the door. We'd certainly timed our visit right because Carl (Rhodes) served beer constantly for about an hour after we'd arrived. He was serving alone though and it would've frustrated me to have been waiting for a long time at the bar to be served. Nevertheless, I'm certain that all patrons would've had their frowns turned upside down after sipping any one of the beers.

We also noted a fairly large group all order food from the Chicago-style menu and see it arrive at their table within 20 minutes. Pretty good for a busy bar during a Friday lunchtime rush. If we had more time on our hands, we would've eaten too.

Nick's second purchase was off the handpump - Bacchus Bushfire Smoked Rye Schwarzbier (6.2%) and mine was 4 Hearts Oktoberfest Bock at 7.5%.

I want it on record that the Oktoberfest Bock was one of the best beers that I've ever had.

Sadly, due to work commitments, our stay was limited. After all, we had to get a bus back to work. We will definitely be returning and next time hope to take a few more fellas from work along with us.

Tippler's obvious selling point (to me anyway) is the amount of taps and the constant turnover of beers on these taps - similar to The Scratch in Milton. In fact, even while we were there Tap No. 9 finished up and was replaced with a newbie right in front of our eyes. The fact that none of these taps are contracted to a specific brewery is extra appealing.

I highly recommend a visit. I'll be back with no hesitation.

Tippler's Tap, 22 Masters Street, Newstead QLD (07) 3122 9886. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Ballast Point: Black Marlin Porter - Review

A couple of months ago (June I think), I stumbled across another US import and luckily it was an IPA. I've mentioned recently that I'm right into IPA's at the moment so I had no hesitation in grabbing some. It was Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA 6.8% abv.

It was great! Extremely flavoursome with hops and, at 75 IBU, very bitter.

And so, upon seeing it's cousin - the Black Marlin Porter - sitting on a shelf a few weeks ago. I found myself pushing an old lady out of the way to get to it. My desperation to take home one of the giant 650ml bottles was far more important than her selection of sherry or whatever it was she was looking at.

The review:

Wow. What an amazing porter!

If you are a porter fan then this will be right up your street. It pours delightfully with a chunky brown head. The American hops and very light chocolate hints balance themselves out perfectly. Each sip was followed by an understated brown malt aftertaste leaving me wanting more of this 6.0% offering. 

The only gripe that I have is that I got stung AU$11.00 for it to find out that Nick only had to shell out AU$7.00 for a bottle a couple of weeks later. Not amused. Stop grinning, Nick.  

Interestingly, the label on the bottle encourages drinkers to combine some Black Marlin with some Big Eye to form a 'Black Eye'. Nice idea. I might just do that.

If you haven't yet tried this, go do it. This must be tried.

Incidentally, if you're wondering what the glass is, it's my 500ml Weihenstephaner glass. Hey, just look at this head.......hmmmmmmm...


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Karl Strauss Brewing Company: Tower 10 IPA - Review

San Diego based Karl Strauss Brewing Company came to fruition after one of their co-founders, Chris Cramer, was inspired by a pub that he'd visited whilst travelling through this beautiful Antipodean country that I now call home. You can read all about the birth of the brewery and its early years here - well worth a read. A true success story if ever there was one.
I'd stumbled upon a Karl Strauss beer called Red Trolley Ale back in May of this year. It was labelled as a 'red ale'. Previous purchases of beers calling themselves red ales hadn't really set my heart quivering although Ranga Premium Red Ale by Ranga Brewing Co wasn't too bad. Tempted by the impressiveness of other US imports this year, I couldn't help myself and picked up a 6pack. It was good although it didn't make me dash back to the shop to buy more but it did enough to plant the Karl Strauss seed in my mind...
I'm riding an IPA wave at the moment and at the first sight of a Karl Strauss IPA, I immediately grabbed some and they went straight into my shopping basket. Just in case you are picturing the scene, I should confess that I was not wandering around the shops with a little wicker basket ala Little Red Riding Hood
The review:

A classy, hoppy offering this one. Not overpowering like some IPA's can be and nowhere near off-putting either. At 7% abv, this is very easy to drink - there is no full-on alcohol kick.

I particularly enjoyed the light citrussy air to it. The Chinook hops are the reason behind the noticeable grapefruit tones. However, this drop is by no means a fruity number that many beer drinkers like to avoid. It contains minimal fruity characters.

The other noticeable element is the use of caramel malts. The malty after-taste lingers long.

It pours a delightful golden/amber colour with a solid head (see photo above - click for larger view). Carbonation is medium.

I had absolutely no hesitation in opening a second soon after the first. Go get some. No rush. Just make sure you try it some time.

Friday, 12 October 2012

McLaren Vale Beer Company: Vale IPA - Review

Back in 2008, a couple of South Australian beer lovers formed a brewery called McLaren Vale Beer Company and created themselves a brew called Vale Ale - an Australian Pale Ale. Subsequently, over the course of the 4 following years, the brewery has steadily grown from strength to strength and now boasts 4 core beers: Vale Ale 4.5%, Vale Dark 4.5%, Vale IPA 5.5% and Vale Dry 4.5%.
On my current voyage of enjoying various IPA's from around the world, McLaren's newest bottled beer - Vale IPA - made it's way into my beer fridge...
The review:

Quite frankly this is one of the nicest IPA's that I've had the pleasure of drinking. It is very well balanced and I could have easily sipped this all night long. I get the impression that the guys at McLaren Vale REALLY take their time in creating perfection. This drop certainly portrayed the fact that it's creation had been handled with extreme precision.

As you can see above, it pours a very inviting, cloudy, deep amber colour with a solid head that retains itself throughout.

IPA's obviously vary from brewery to brewery and every country seems to have it's own opinion on how an IPA should taste. In this particular instance, McLaren Vale have kept the IBU (bitterness) down to 41 which I believe helps this beer immensely (although if quizzed without knowing, I would've guessed the IBU was higher). Not being forced into a journey of bitterness really does enable the palate to embrace the other notable elements including the fruity/citrussy characters.

It's one for those of you that enjoy a blast of hops too with a combo of 3 hops varieties all from different countries - Galaxy (Australia), Nelson Sauvin (NZ) and Citra (USA).

Go get some ASAP!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Molson Coors: Cobra - Review

Just under a month ago, I wrote about how Cobra had landed in Australia in May of this year. This was great news in my opinion. Even better news was that it took less than a week to find some! In true bloodhound fashion, Nick (aka NM) sniffed some out at a Chapel Hill bottle shop - Vintage Cellars.

Despite being advertised on VOK's website as having an RRP of AUS11.99 for 4 x 330ml bottles, Vintage Cellars are selling them at AU$14 for a 4pack. I can't complain as I reckon this is just about right. That's only AU$3.50 per bottle. In fact, that's a pretty good price considering it's fully imported.

The review:

I do enjoy a nice lager. Not the junk that gets churned out by the millions of gallons per minute - the tasteless, flat kind that seedy nightclubs sell to you in plastic 'glasses' for extortionate amounts of cash. I'm talking about a really nice lager. Cobra is one of those nice lagers.

It's conception came about in 1989 when 27 year old Karan Bilimoria decided that the UK needed a less gassy lager. I think it was a big gamble considering the beer market in the UK was already top-heavy with lagers. Karan's aim was to have a beer available that would compliment all cuisines without leaving the consumer feeling bloated. The idea took off and years later it is widely associated with being the Indian curry eater's choice of beer - mainly because of Karan's Indian roots but also because Cobra was first brewed in Bangalore, India. The importation only lasted for a year or so as brewing started to commence in England at Charles Wells Ltd.

The beer pours an appealing golden colour and, despite the lack of fizz, a sensible head settles. This is a very enjoyable beer with no harsh tastes at all. Everything about it is subtle. At 5.0% abv this is an extremely sessionable beer.

Go grab yourself a curry and indulge in a few of these as soon as possible and as cold as possible.


Friday, 5 October 2012

250 up!

Some of the more astute readers/viewers/occasional passers-by have noticed that over the course of the weekend past, the total number of different types of beer to have passed my lips in UNDER 2 years hit the magical 250 mark!

If you haven't checked out the ever-increasing list on the right hand side of this page, go and have a look...

Any feedback on your experiences with any of these beers is very welcome.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Happy 40th Fran at The Lark, Paddington

Saturday 29th September 2012 was a special day. Not only was it the day to help celebrate my wife's cousin's 40th birthday but the fact that we were to be kid-free for the night was also worth raising a glass to.....and so we did!

I managed to consume 10 very different beers throughout the course of the night. In fact, on this particular evening, I managed to add no less than 7 new beers to my ever-growing list of different beers.

The festivities were to kick-off at Fran & Dave's house at 7.30pm so, inbetween a light evening snack, sorting the kids out for their sleep-overs with relatives and getting ourselves ready in our glad-rags, I opened a bottle of Kooinda English Red Ale (4.7%). What a nice beer indeed. It went down a treat as did its cousin, Kooinda Milk Porter (4.7%) - one of the finest porters to have carressed my taste buds I might add.

We finally hit the road en route to Everton Hills albeit running 20 minutes late. No sooner had we pulled up at the birthday girls' house, hubby Dave offered me a beer. Dave is always an extremely good host. Being an extremely good guest, I accepted his offer and he handed me a Warsteiner, a 4.8% German lager that had somehow avoided my beer list until now.

Right on cue, ever-the-host Dave plopped a DAB in front of me just as the Warsteiner was coming to an end. A DAB is a German pilsner measuring in at 5.0%. In comparison to other Pilsners that I've had, this was very pleasant and accompanied the hot nibbles that decorated Fran & Dave's outdoor setting very, very well.

At 9pm our maxi-taxi driver arrived to shuttle the 9-strong group into Brisbane. Paddington to be precise. Our destination was The Lark. In true man-fashion, there were mutterings amongst the male contingent of a 'traveller' or a 'roadie' - essentially, a beer to take with us for the ride. The 4 of us blokes convinced Dave that it was a good idea to take yet more beer from his beer fridge. He agreed. Dave gave me a James Squire Golden Ale (4.5%) which I thought would do me very nicely indeed for the short hop to Paddington. We got as far as the end of his driiveway before the cab driver yelled out 'No bottles in the taxi please!'. We stood there in the darkness 'necking' the beer whilst the wives club - already on board - looked at us with disdain. Naughty boys.  

Being the inquisitive beer aficianado that I am, I'd checked out The Lark's beer menu earlier in the evening whilst quaffing the Kooinda's. I'd never visited The Lark before but I wasn't let down by the beers on offer at all.

My first selection off the menu was a Lord Nelson Three Sheets Ale (4.9%). A very nice drop for a warm evening sitting outside in the venue's courtyard. A couple of the fellas followed suit. One liked it, one didn't. 

Next for me was a Peroni Rossa (4.7%). Nothing particularly special about this beer but it was easilly drinkable at a table where chat was flowing faster than the cocktail that Fran knocked over.

It was at this stage that I simply had to break the seal. 7 beers in and I had to do it. Enough was enough. Using the toilets gave me a chance to see the rest of the establishment (which is an old converted colonial styled cottage circa 1888). The first floor was an open-planned, comfy, sofa and cushioned filled place to sit and relax. The area was inhabited at the time by a bunch of mates having a grand old time whilst drinking a few beers. Extremely relaxing.

After losing what would've been approximately 2.5 litres of grog down the pan to a Brisbane City Council water treatment facility (and jeez, I felt good) I started to ponder what beer would be next for me. I decided to go for a James Squire Amber Ale (5.0%) off the menu. I'd had it before on a number of occasions but I had a new feeling of emptiness and was ready for the rich malt taste.

I can't lie to you. I was starting to feel like I'd had a few beers by now. The time was 11.30pm and one of the staff kindly prompted us to order a drink if we wanted one more because last orders had been called. There was one beer on the menu that I'd been eyeing up all night - The Alhambra Reserva 1925. Even for it's strength of 6.4%, this beautiful Spanish beer from Andalucia is very gentle on the palate. It was my 9th beer of the evening - I wish it wasn't "Adios!" but our time at The Lark came to an end around midnight.

Apparently, Fran has always been somewhat of a party girl. Loves to dance. Next stop - The Paddington Tavern. I'd never been to 'The Paddo' before. Oh my goodness I don't think I'll ever go there again. I've seen some sights in my time - mainly in London - but this place was baaad. I couldn't decide on whether to have a XXXX or a XXXX or even a XXXX so I went for a Jim Beam & Coke instead. After we'd witnessed a hunched-over elderly gentleman constantly walking around looking for money and heard a band play out 3 tunes through blown speakers, it was time to leave - after a solitary drink. Thank goodness!!

Through the drizzly rain, we headed for The Caxton Hotel. I do not know why. I think the party girl just wanted to continue her celebrations and who were the rest of us to argue?

I thought The Paddo was bad but The Caxton is so very awful. It is here that I committed a cardinal sin. I confess...I drank a XXXX. Please don't hate me. One of our party insisted he get a round of drinks in and insisted that I joined him in 'savouring' a XXXX Bitter. I must've been more intoxicated than I thought. I am very embarrassed and sorry for what I did. All in the name of tasting different beers right? Is that a good enough excuse? Probably not.

It was shortly after the XXXX Bitter saga that a girl of no more than 26 years old was spotted wandering aimlessly around the place. As she passed me sitting on a stool (a bar stool that is - not excrement - I hadn't soiled myself or anything) I gently grabbed her by the shoulders so that we were face to face. I mouthed at her "Are you ok?". Her eyes were rolling around in her head and she was not 'with it' at all. It suddenly dawned on me that I was nearly a generation older than most of the people in The Caxton. She left shortly afterwards with friends in a cab. What a mess.

I was too bloated to drink any more beers. I'd had 10 so I sipped Jim Beam & Coke well into the wee small hours. Those of us that chose to party hard eventually got home and into bed at 4.30am Sunday. Hangover? Yes. Quite bad.

Poor Fran was up at 5.45am with her and Dave's kids.

Whilst I've made the latter stages of the night sound rather bleak and appalling, it goes without saying that we all had a wonderful night. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. It was great to be part of Fran's celebrations - I hope you had a good one Fran! Thanks to you both for putting us up also. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Matilda Bay: Itchy Green Pants

Itchy Green Pants was released in February of this year to commemorate Matilda Bay Brewing Company's move to their new home in Port Melbourne. Naming of the brew was tongue-in-cheek - mindful of the suffering that brewers encountered as they worked through the hot and heavy manual labouring process of brewing in their green work shorts.
My first and second encounters with Matilda Bay's Itchy Green Pants (IGP) were on the very same day. What are the chances of that?
Part 1 - The Criterion Tavern, Brisbane CBD.
I'd just successfully completed a very demanding project at work and my clients were insisting on celebrating the fact with a beer or two. Being the nice guy that I am, I agreed. I also let them choose the location. Their choice of The Criterion on George Street, Brisbane didn't really surprise me as its quite close to their offices. I wasn't too enamoured at first because I'd been there some years prior. Perhaps as much as 4 years ago. Back then, the place let itself down on all counts - poor beers, poor food, poor sticky floors. Apparently, according to my clients, The Criterion had increased the quality of their food somewhat and they had a nice selection of beers on offer which "might appeal to me". What were they suggesting?!
The place was heaving for a lunchtime and the food was very good, well priced and didn't take long to arrive. The thing that surprised me the most was that a Matilda Bay brew was sitting there on tap! Lucky me!
Always looking for a new beer to try, I had absolutely no hesitation in ordering myself an Itchy Green Pants. They only served beer in pots or pints which meant that I was forced to have a pint as I didn't much fancy battling the crowds at the bar frequently topping up a pot. Besides, my hands are quite big and pots don't really sit well in my grip. Note how I've made 2 extremely poor excuses to condone drinking a pint? Ha ha ha!
Trying to keep in mind that this rendezvous with clients was more important than my impromptu rendezvous with IGP, I paced myself sensibly. 
It has a real fresh, zesty (yet not too fruity) taste to it and accompanied my meal very well. Like many of IGP's stablemates at Matilda Bay, it weighs in at a very sessionable 4.7% abv.
I don't usually drink beer at lunchtime but I'd made an exception for a couple of very important clients after a tough project and with an afternoon of work ahead, I played it sensible and didn't overdo it. I had one more pint and then headed back to work with a wry smile on my face content that I'd stumbled upon IGP wondering if we'd ever meet again.
Part 2 - The Regatta Hotel, Toowong.
I spent the afternoon tapping away on my keyboard often with my head in the clouds dreaming of IGP like a love-struck teenager - smitten, the morning after an excellent first date with a dream girl. 
The day drew to a close and myself, KT and JC headed to The Regatta Hotel in Toowong courtesy of Queensland Rail who, I must say, were running their trains on time that day. A noteworthy fact.
The trip was pre-planned and diarised. It was the annual get-together with ex-colleague, SH.
Upon arrival, it was clearly evident that SH had arrived before us as he'd already found us a table and was half way through a beer. It was outside overlooking the Brisbane River. Now, SH isn't a particularly big fellow and the table itself was a little round thing no bigger than 50cm in diameter. Great that he'd gotten us a table but I wasn't convinced that 4 grown men could comfortably crouch around this thing that was only marginally bigger than the plate that I'd been served my lunch on 4 hours previously.
I did the gentlemanly thing and offered to get the first round in. I strolled in towards the main bar aware that we were very likely to buy a round of drinks each. I had one thing on my mind "I wonder what beer I can choose here that will satisfy me after 4 rounds?"
The bar was steadily filling up with a 'Friday night crowd'. Well, why not. It was a Friday evening after all. I was aiming for a gap at the far end of the bar. The first set of taps that I passed while zig-zagging through the throng of happy faces contained none other than a Matilda Bay beer called Alpha Pale Ale. Not unusual you might think? Well, here in Brisbane it isn’t the norm. Neither is the fact that on the second set of taps was Dogbolter - another Matilda Bay brew. I kept walking. Dodging blokes here and there. Blokes that were carrying 2 drinks. Some blokes performing heroics carrying 3 wet glasses of beer - wishing I'd get out of their way more than I wanted them out of my way! I'd waltzed passed 2 Matilda's.
Feeling like I was pushing my luck having strolled past 2 Matilda Bay beers, I squeezed into the gap at the bar and there, sitting in front me was the third set of taps with a third Matilda Bay've guessed it...Itchy Green Pants. What a stroke of luck!! I ordered pints (seemed impolite not to) and the stroke of luck continued as the bar maid only charged me for schooners.
The conversation rolled on into the night as we reminisced with SH about the 'good old days'. As the daylight disappeared we were treated to a rainbow in the Brisbane sky.
Due to the heat and humidity of Brisbane plus the absence of beer mats on our saucer-like table, puddles of condensation from our glasses had slowly merged into a small pond. My attention was soon turned from conversation to concentration. I was concentrating on stopping continuous drips of water from falling onto my jeans. I didn’t want my day of Itchy Green Pants to evolve into an evening of Silly Wet Pants.
After the embarrassment of a wet crotch was avoided, I headed home. To my delight, I walked through the front door to find that the wife had bought me a take-away Indian curry. I had a 4pack of Cobra's in the beer fridge but that's a story for another time...
Thanks for a nice day Matilda Bay.