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.