Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Little Creatures: Day Of The Long Shadow - Review

Today is the day.

The new Single Batch release from Little Creatures - Day of the Long Shadow - hit the hand-pump at Archive in West End, Brisbane.........just 2 days after it's nationwide release. It's like what a birthday felt when I was 6 years old. Waking up and thinking "Today is the day!".

As our religion states, NM and I made the pilgrimage over to West End this rainy lunchtime (courtesy of a combination of our trusty umbrellas and a bus ride) to sample this hotly-anticipated brew.

It was worth suffering a little bit of precipitation on our faces. It was worth the glares from the boss as we came back from lunch late. It was worth damp business attire. Believe me - nothing was going to get in the way of us trying it out.

We set off on the 10 minute journey discussing nothing but beer (as usual). We discussed our hopes for DOTLS and whether we'd want to go back to work afterwards. That final conversation always ends up with a 'no'. Always.

It poured beautifully, with the barman in Archive topping us up dutifully once the creamy head had subsided a little.

It was obvious that the above was quickly going to become....

...and in turn...

The Review:

I liked it. A lot. I have to say that I was hoping to compare it to Brew Dog's 'There Is No Santa'. I was expecting more 'spice'. Those that have tasted 'TINS' will know what I'm on about. Nevertheless, this didn't put me off buying more. The second actually poured slightly cooler in my opinion which aided the enjoyment. I have to say that for an 8.9% it didn't taste like an 8.9%! The alcohol only hit me an hour or so later - by which time I should've had my face buried in work. That wasn't going to happen today. Today is a celebration. A celebration of yet another very classy Single Batch.

If you can, go buy some today.

I'm keen to compare the bottled results to today's tap offering. I'll let you know how I go...

Friday, 22 June 2012

Queensland Beer Week July 16th - July 22nd 2012

July 16th - July 22nd sees Queensland celebrate everything beer in the Sunshine State's first EVER Beer Week!

Us Queenslanders (although I cannot claim to be a proper Queenslander as I'm as English as they come) have sat back and watched the likes of New South Wales and Victoria immerse themselves in all sorts of beery festivities for quite some time. Now, finally, it's our turn.

Organised by the publishers of the Beer Lovers Guide to Australia and Critics Choice – Australia’s Best Beers, the whole affair seeks to tie in all of Queensland’s best breweries and good-beer-focused pubs, bottle shops and restaurants to coordinate 7 days of tastings and events designed to showcase the best of Australian beer and beer culture.

Click on the image above or here for full details including participating venues and a comprehensive A3 calendar/poster. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

10 green bottles hanging on the wall...

...that's how the song goes. I wish it was as simple as 10. The fact of the matter is it's a lot, lot worse...

From day one of my journey on the craft beer bandwagon, I thought it might be nice to start a collection of beer bottles. I have absolutely no idea why. Like most hare-brained schemes - it seemed a good idea at the time.

It all started around August 2010 when a friend of the BPA (Beer Club), KR, gave me a mixed 6pack. Incidentally, it was this 6pack that started my love affair with Australian craft beer. For the record those 6 beers were: Endeavour 2010 Reserve Pale Ale, Knappstein Reserve, Mildura Murray Honey Wheat, Mountain Goat Steam Ale, Pepperjack Ale and lastly, Vale Ale Pale Ale. You'll find these, of course, in the list to the right hand side of this blog page.

Simply, once these 6 beers had been consumed, the bottle was rinsed a couple of times with water, the bottle top replaced and hey presto a clean, empty beer bottle to put on the shelf in the cupboard. Sadly, I've done this every time I've tried a new beer for the first time. At the time of writing, I have accumulated 215 different beer bottles - much to the dissatisfaction of my wife. Don't get me wrong, I can see it from her point of view especially as the collection has outgrown the original shelf and now takes up a heck of a lot more space. After approximately 50 bottles, I set myself a golden rule and that was 'Only bottles of beer consumed by me in my house can be included in the collection'. Obvious right? Wrong. I'd started contemplating keeping bottles from beer that I'd drink in pubs/bars! I even saw a mate drinking a beer in his yard once that was in a great looking bottle. I needed it for my collection (or so I thought). I had to curb my kleptomania somehow. Hence the introduction of the golden rule.

I've never been somebody that has collected things. Well, not in my adult form anyway. Sure, like most kids, I collected stamps for a while. Badges and key rings too. Even phone cards once upon a time! I grew out of the collecting phase by the age of 15. Like most adolescent males, the attraction of hanging around with mates took precedence. Even cars and girls became more important than key rings believe it or not.

Perhaps I'm a marketers dream? I used to work in the packaging industry and totally understand how products on shelves need to stand out to shoppers. Retail sales mean revenue etc etc blah blah blah. I have to admit that seeing a great looking bottle or a great piece of artwork sucks me in straight away. Imagine placing a magnet near some iron filings....well, in the bottle shop I'm an iron filing and the awesome piece of artwork on a beer bottle is the magnet. You'll struggle pulling me away. Separate us at your peril.

I've written before about my affection to Little Creatures Single Batch brews. This love stretches beyond the liquid inside the bottles. The designers over there in Freemantle keep the same conceptual design of a little shack on their labels but change the scenery each time there's a Single Batch release. A few examples:

Mad Brewers also stay with the same design but simply change the colour scheme:

Another thing that makes me easy pickings for a marketing department is a gimmick. Who on earth at Grolsch dreamt up the thought of selling the stuff in 1.5 litres bottles? Give that person a pat on the back. I saw it. I bought it...

It stands proud at a whopping 34cm tall and, now empty, is a perfect home for $2 dollar coins (not many other denominations fit through the opening) as I attempt to put some cash away for a rainy day. Probably to buy more beer thus more bottles thus what a vicious circle.

Another gimmicky bottle is the sculpted 330ml Lucky Beer ‘Buddha’ bottle.

The beer inside is pretty average but the bottle is supposed to bring me luck. I saw it. I bought it. I told you, I’m a marketers dream!

Perhaps the weirdest beer bottle in my collection is a Belgian offering; Delerium Tremens.

Delerium Tremens is actually Latin for ‘trembling madness’. This is where the phrase “having the DT’s” comes from. DT’s is a sickness associated with the withdrawal of alcohol after abusing it. If you suffer from the DT’s, it is thought that you’ll most likely hallucinate pink elephants or snakes hence the inclusion of these on the label. Very clever. Other than the strange artwork, I guess the main reason why it’s the most bizarre bottle in the collection is simply because the bottle isn’t see-through. Of course, at first glance, I thought “What the hell is in there that they don’t want me to see?”

I’ll tell you – loads of floaty bits! This is a small price to pay for a classic 8.5% Belgian beer that won ‘Best Beer in the World’ in 1998 at the World Beer Championships in Chicago, USA.

I’ll leave it there. I feel better having got my obsession out in the open. A problem shared is a problem halved. Yeah, whatever.

I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of the prized collection. They're not stored in any particular order.

I'm not that weird.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Big buys Little

Today it was announced that one of the 'big boy breweries', Lion, is on the verge of buying up all remaining shares of Little World Beverages known mainly for their exquisite range of beers under the Little Creatures banner.

Lion are a large company that own big brands such as XXXX, Tooheys, Hahn and Boag's.

Apart from Little Creatures, Little World Beverages are responsible for the White Rabbit and Pipsqueak Cider brands.

Part of my initial attraction to craft beer here in Australia was that there are so many individual, small breweries like Little World doing their own thing - very successfully I might add. These 'boutique' breweries dared to go where nobody has before. Dared to be different to the 'big boys'. Dared to stand up and be heard. So, with this in mind, it's a shame to see one of the more unique breweries swallowed up by a large conglomerate.

However, what does this buy-out mean for me, the beer lover? Who knows. Perhaps it's too early to say. One thing is for sure. If the WA based Little World can tap into Lion's distribution network then us Queensland dwellers may well see the products on shelves sooner rather than later. I can sometimes wait patiently for up to 3 weeks for a new Little Creatures to be readilly avaiable.

Time will tell if the Lion ownership steers Little Creatures beers into more of a mainstream presence. I, for one, am hoping that they invest in Little Creatures properly and encourage the diversity that Aussie beer lovers have all been accustomed to in recent years. I want to continue to enjoy the same outstanding releases that have made me a huge Little Creatures fan. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Coming soon: Mad Brewers - Ginger Chops Ale

Coming soon (June 25th release date) is the latest limited release from the Mad Brewers at The Malt Shovel Brewery....Ginger Chops Ale - an alcoholic ginger beer.

To date, I've resisted the temptation to peer into the world of alcoholic ginger beer. I don't mind it. I'm just happy riding the wave of 'proper' beer. However, due to the intellect that has historically gone into producing Mad Brewers brews, I guess I'll have to give this one a go.

More details here.

Coming soon: Little Creatures - Day Of The Long Shadow

Coming very soon (25th June)...a new Little Creatures Single Batch called Day Of The Long Shadow. A spiced Winter Ale.

More details here. I simply must indulge. I must.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Beverage Perfection Alliance (BPA) or 'Beer Club' explained...

Beer club started mid-2011 when 6 blokes in the office agreed that something needed to happen on a monthly basis to blossom their love and appreciation of a good brew.

The beery 6 consisted of myself, NM, KT, PF, DM2 and AC. We collaboratively became known as the Beverage Perfection Alliance (BPA). AC found himself as the elected chairman of the newly formed band of brothers boozers although I don't actually recall anybody voting!

We each agreed to buy a 6pack of beer on the last Friday of every month. We also had a spend limit of circa $20. The plan was to keep 1 bottle and swap 5. Therefore, the 6 of us would end up with a mixed 6pack. Voila!

In the early days, our 'leader' AC instigated a ratings system and there was even a process put in place for us to get together and discuss 'hoppy notes', effervescence, bitterness and the like. This all lasted 1 month. Far too intricate for 6 blokes! I'm not sure if we voted, but the general consensus was to scrap the ratings/review system. The brief changed simply to 'enjoy the beers and chat freely if desired'.

Some months we incorporated a theme. For example, Pale Ales. We'd all have to purchase a 6pack of Pale Ales. This was a nice concept but soon ran its course and quickly slipped back into a free for all.

A year on and the BPA is minus 2 members - AC and DM2. We're now a foursome. We seemed to have exhausted many avenues especially as we kept the limit to around $20. In an attempt to broaden our horizons and tap into the faster paced Victorian beer movement (vs the slower Queensland market), the 4 remaining members have started to purchase a carton of 24 between us online. How 21st century of us!

So, again, we each pick a 6pack. This time, keeping 3 and swapping the other 3. All very confusing but all in the name of good beer! To date, we've only purchased from Slowbeer and been very happy with the service, price and more importantly - the beer.

Future online purchases will appear on this blog.