Slow Beer

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Beer News - The World is Awash with Capital

One of the biggest issues to hit the financing world over the past 2 years has been the weight of surplus capital around the world which has promoted the emergence of the highly financially engineered private equity transactions (ie the Qantas deal and its ilk). This spare cash also tends to find its way into segments that would be fighting for investment funds under normal conditions. The minor spate of equity market floats for craft brewers is, to my mind, a clear indicator of cash desperately trying to find a home.

It will be interesting to see if investors have the patience to stick with these brewers over the longer term as brands and distribution systems are built.

There's been a bunch of news articles on this subject and I'll post a few of these over the next day or two.

Empire Beer's subdued debut, 10 January 2007, Townsville Bulletin

"EMPIRE Beer Group Ltd has made a subdued debut on the bourse as the beverage company looks to quench the thirst of Australia's fledgling boutique brewing market.

Shares in the company hit the screens of the Australia Stock Exchange (ASX) at 34 cents early yesterday, a one cent discount on the issue price of 35 cents. By the market's close, they had fallen five cents to 30 cents.

Empire Beer chief executive Phil Gallagher said while he was disappointed with the stock's first day of trade, he believed the company could flex its muscle in the emerging craft beer market.
"It's always disappointing that a float would go backwards on day one, but we're still very confident in the business model," Mr Gallagher said.

The Perth-based beverage group owns boutique label Colonial Brewing Company, from the Margaret River, south of Perth.

It is looking to expand the brewery's business model of on-site brewing and distribution.
"We're not going to be out there trying to get mass distribution in Coles and Woolworths," Mr Gallagher, a former Foster's Group executive, said.

"We're about building venues where we brew on the premises for consumption on the premises, with very high margins at the point of sale," he said."

(ed - don't want to be overly negative but surely there's a bit of drug smoking going on if they seriously think they can make a buck selling beer via a handful of brew pubs?? eh? beer economics is 99% about distribution)

Boutique beer rush tests thirst of investors HOP HEADS, CAROLYN BATT, 16 December 2006, The West Australian

"Australians like their beer. Collectively, we sip and slurp our way through 1.8 billion litres of liquid amber each year, or roughly 90 litres for every man, woman and child. And we are getting pickier about what we drink, with fashion-savvy drinkers shunning VB and Carlton Draught in favour of a Mountain Goat, Dr Quick or Raging Bull.

In a $14.5 billion beer market that is flat overall, "premium" brews, and particularly "boutique" or microbrews, have enjoyed surging demand. There are now about 80 microbreweries nationally, a quarter of them in WA.

One of the best-known is Little World Beverages, owner of Little Creatures, which listed on the stockmarket last year and is now trading 40 per cent above its offer price. With revenue and profit jumping 29 per cent in its first year as a public entity, and its beers now being showcased in London, LWB is a tale of success.

But this month three more boutique players - Gage Roads, Oz Brewing and Empire Beer Group - joined the stockmarket party, and questions are already being raised as to whether investors, and consumers, have the thirst for so much choice. Independent analyst Peter Strachan warns that the three new companies are very different in size and maturity to LWB, and investors should not underestimate the challenges ahead.

"The market is very buoyant, there's a lot of money being made, and people are willing to take a punt and back someone's judgment," Mr Strachan said. "But for me, there's got to be an easier way of making a dollar than competing in the beer market. With the exception of petrol, I can't think of any more competitive market to be in, in Australia or globally."

Wholesale brewer Gage Roads was first off the blocks, l~isting on Wednesday after a $4 million capital raising. It plans to put the funds towards a major marketing push in the Eastern States, helped by an exclusive distribution arrangement with the Hardy Wine Company.

Empire Beer Group is set to follow by Christmas, and will use the $6.4 million raised to expand its Colonial Brewing brand with a Fremantle venue. And by year end, shares in Oz Brewing should also be trading on the exchange.

Oz Brewing, which is developing its Mad Monk Brasserie in Fremantle and is yet to start selling beer, closed its $1.5 million offer oversubscribed last week.

"I think the chances that (these new listed companies) will get their labels beyond their niche areas are very limited," Mr Strachan said. "Established players like Little World Beverages and Lion Nathan (owner of the James Squire brand) will fight strongly for the market they have established already, and as such, it's going to be difficult. Only time will tell, and I stand to be corrected if these companies thrive, but I don't think they will."

The debutants, however, are convinced the market can sustain everyone. Oz Brewing managing director Trevor Pugh argues the boutique sector is still in its infancy in Australia, accounting for less than one per cent of sales despite 40 per cent growth in the past five years.

"If you look at the UK and US, where the market share is 5 per cent, we've got huge growth potential," said Mr Pugh, who hopes eventually to expand Mad Monk nationally and internationally.

Empire managing director Phillip Gallagher dismisses arguments that small-scale boutique beers cannot compete with the resources of big-name imported brands, which target the same image-conscious consumers and have become cheaper as the Australian dollar has strengthened.

It all came down to taste and quality, he said, and consumers were prepared to pay for a fresher, better-tasting product. The challenge was to educate consumers.

Little World Beverages chief executive Jason Marinko is quick to d~ifferentiate his company from the rest. "We've been around for six years, we'd established a national brand and needed more capacity so we went to the market," Mr Marinko said. "We're on a significantly larger scale to the newer ones, some of whom haven't even started yet. Our motivation for going to market was different.

"I'm not surprised, given the market conditions and the growth in demand for boutique beer, that there are a lot of new entrants. But the brewing industry is pretty competitive and it's very, very hard work.

"The major brewers in the country control the majority of the market, and then there are the big distribution outlets owned by the supermarkets to deal with as well. You need to know what you are doing.

"As a listed company we publish revenue growth and margin growth and that's what shareholders look at. It would be wise for people to focus on that with the others too."

The problem for investors is that much of what the newcomers offer is unproven. Bell Potter Securities head of wealth management Heather Zampatti predicted subdued trading until the companies first reported earnings as listed entities and revealed whether they had achieved prospectus targets. "There is certainly interest from investors because labels such as Gage Roads are known to the WA community, and Empire is showcasing the Margaret River region with its Colonial operation," Ms Zampatti said. "But local appeal is not enough - people have to look at the fundamentals to see if the business stacks up."

Although the flurry of activity in the sector provided useful publicity to the brewers during their pre-listing phase, Ms Zampatti said overall the crowding could work against the companies. "There's only so many dollars that can go into a particular sector from a balanced portfolio, so there is less money to go around. It means more competition in a relatively niche area," she said.
Mr Pugh acknowledges that going to market without a tangible product has posed challenges. He was forced to extend Oz Brew~ing's offer after initially failing to attract the necessary 400 shareholders to allow a public listing. "If I had my time again I would allow myself more selling period," he admitted.

But he said the company now had "well over" the required shareholder numbers, and he predicted strong investor interest once the group's Fremantle site was operating. "In WA, it's all about property, resources and beer," Mr Pugh said. "If you're not in any of those three, you're missing out."

Beer accounts for 53 per cent of alcoholic beverage sales in Australia, with annual sales of about $14.5 billion Lion Nathan and Carlton and United dominate the market with 88 per cent of all sales.

The premium beer segment is the fastest-growing, jumping 29 per cent in WA last year.
Boutique or craft beer, a small part of premium sales, grew 15 per cent last year. "

Hop on: Boutique Brewers Tap the Bourse, Blair Speedy, 02 December 2006, The Australian

"The trend towards expensive beers has reached the stock market, with three boutique brewers set to debut on the bourse this month after raising a collective $15 million from investors via initial public offerings.

All three of them -- Gage Roads, Empire and Oz Brewing -- are based in Western Australia, where the mineral boom has left drinkers with the sort of disposable income that makes a $9 beer sound like reasonable value.

But West Australians are not alone in their liking for top-shelf suds -- premium beer sales rose by about 12 per cent in the 12 months to the end of July, compared with just 4 per cent for the beer market overall.

Craft beer -- the handmade, small-batch stuff made with unpronounceable ingredients and wearing a vaguely Belgian-sounding label -- grew even faster, at about 23 per cent.

It's only a small fraction of the 1.3 billion litres of beer Australians drink each year, but a fast-growing and lucrative one. "Premium beer is really the growing part of the market right now," said Peter Nolin, managing director and brewmaster at Gage Roads, which is seeking to raise $4 million to fund a marketing push into the eastern states.

Mr Nolin said Gage Roads had pre-sold most of the 10 million 40c shares it had for sale before the offer had opened; it is scheduled to close on December 6.

"The response has been overwhelming," he said.

Gage Roads in July signed a sales and distribution agreement with Hardy Wines, which fostered the national growth of the Coopers and James Boag brands during the 1990s.

Trevor Pugh, managing director of Oz Brewing, said his company was surprised to find that its $1.5 million IPO would be competing for investor funds with two other West Australian boutique brewers.

"When we first started thinking about it earlier this year, we were the only ones," he said.
"But it shows the market is moving towards the connoisseur, something different from the mass-produced beers."

Oz, which plans to brew and sell European-style beers under the Mad Monk label, has had to extend its offer, which had originally scheduled to close on November 10.

"We don't have a sponsored broker, and the original takeup was a little slower than expected -- we had trouble getting the necessary 400 shareholders (for ASX listing), but that's now been sorted out and we'll close the offer about Wednesday," Mr Pugh said, adding that he expected a listing before Christmas.

Oz will operate a brewpub -- a hotel with onsite brewery -- in Fremantle, home to the Little Creatures and Matilda Bay breweries, two of Australia's most successful boutique beer makers.

The company also plans to open another brewery to make packaged beer in the second year after listing.

The brewmaster at Oz is Richard Moroney, formerly of the Sail and Anchor, the brewpub owned by Australian Leisure & Hospitality Group, which was credited with sparking the West Australian love affair with boutique brews back in 1984 and is still a major draw for tourists on brewery tours.

Phillip Gallagher, managing director of Empire Beer Group, had his first encounter with boutique beer when working as a barman in the mid-1980s, when Matilda Bay's Redback wheat beer became popular.

"People are looking for quality and new styles of beer, just like what happened in the Margaret River 20 years ago, when people were discovering new wineries and styles of wine," he said.
Empire will use the proceeds of its $10 million IPO to buy the Colonial Brewing Company brewpub in Margaret River from its private shareholders, and then to open another outlet in Fremantle.

"Our business model is venue-driven, so we're looking to open more Colonials around Australia, and each venue will be a brewpub," he said.

Mr Gallagher said having the beer made onsite makes it easier to charge higher prices than people would be willing to pay for a garden-variety lager. "It's not price-driven, it doesn't have to be $15 a six-pack in order to sell. People can see the brewhouse, the hops that went into it, that it's handcrafted, all the things the big breweries aren't," he said.

Jason Marinko, chief executive officer of Little Creatures brewer Little World Beverages, said he's not surprised at the rush of new entrants to the sector. "It appears to be the `in' thing to do. But it's bloody hard work," he said.


Beer News - News Catch-up Pt.2

This article had the potential to be just plain stupid but the focus on small (ish) brewers was a nice touch........

The Best Sluggers, Rory Gibson, 28 November 2006, The Courier-Mail

"Is there a beer to match our best cricketers? Of course, at least 11

THE first Ashes Test is done and dusted and, as you do in the lunchbreaks, I was musing about beer. What would be the beer equivalent of our First XI?

I enlisted the expertise of beer guru Ian Watson from Toowoomba's Spotted Cow Hotel to match a beer to the characteristics of the individuals in the Aussie Test side.

Here's what he came up with.

Matthew Hayden, opening batsman -- A very strong, robust man. Spiritual, confident in his own ability. Has a pink bat handle. Can hit the ball very, very hard. Loves fishing and surfing.

Beer - Coopers Stout: A strong and robust beer that shows absolute confidence in itself. Be careful, it can hit quite hard.

Justin Langer, opening batsman -- A deep thinker, dependable in a crisis, doesn't take a backward step. Can get pummelled by bowlers but doesn't flinch. What you might call a player's player.

Beer - Coopers Sparkling Ale: A beer that is dependable in a crisis. Why? Well because it is a classy beer that you know you can always find and is respected by many.

Ricky Ponting, captain and batsman -- Leads by example. A reformed bad boy of cricket but still an aggressive player. He is a gregarious captain, unlike some of his predecessors who preferred to stay aloof from the rest of the team.

Beer - Little Creatures Pale Ale: An aggressively flavoured beer with lots of character. Just like Ponting, LCPA fits in well with the rest of the beer community and certainly leads by example.

Damien Martyn, batsman -- Very stylish stroke maker, a wristy player. What you would call a top-shelf batsman. Almost has an exotic, Indian character to his batting. Ponting's best mate in the team.

Beer - Gage Roads India Pale Ale: A well-executed beer, bags of hops with a good dose of malt. If Martyn's batting can be described as having an Indian character, then a style designed for export to India seems appropriate.

Mike Hussey, batsman -- A very determined, driven player, but cheery with it. Will never give up. Has been the glue that has held the team together during some recent match crises. Waited a long time to get his chance to play Test cricket and has paid the selectors back with his fine efforts.

Beer - Red Duck Porter: An extremely determined beer that really lets you know it is in your glass.

Michael Clarke, All rounder -- Young, full of promise with a great future ahead if he can sustain the enthusiasm and run-scoring ability we all know he possesses.

Beer - Barking Duck: A beer that even the brewer describes as "out there". Raw, aggressive and very good. One to watch out for.

Adam Gilchrist, wicket-keeper batsman and vice-captain -- One of the greatest players ever. Dependable behind the stumps, taking many athletic catches. Brutal at times when he is batting, scoring big totals quickly. Can single-handedly turn the outcome of a game. Drives the team by encouraging them in the field. A big family man and does a lot of work for charities. What a guy!

Beer - Wig and Pen's Russian Imperial Stout: One of the greatest beers in the country and just like Gilchrist can single-handedly turn the outcome of a night. At 11 per cent alcohol this beer can be described as both brutal and classy at the same time.

Shane Warne, leg-spin bowler -- The best bowler of all time, he has taken more wickets than anyone else. Lives a very public, large life, frequently embroiled in scandal but shrugs it all aside when there is a cricket ball in his hand. A larrikin, and great fun to be with. He is free with his affection, a supreme talent on one hand but a hell-raiser as well. Whatever beer he matches, you'll need a few cartons.

Beer - Redoak Honey Ale: A seriously good beer (gold at the World Beer Cup) that can be a lot of fun to have around.

Brett Lee, fast bowler -- Super quick, super flash. All blonde hair and good looks, lethal in short bursts. One of the fastest ever bowlers, even the world's best batsmen find him hard to handle when he's in a killer mood. Is maturing as a man and has scaled back his drinking.

Beer - Bridge Rd (Beechworth) Wheat Ale. A blonde-coloured beer with a flashy aroma, but that's not all. This is a very well made hefeweizen that can really surprise.

Glenn McGrath, medium-fast bowler -- Reaching his use-by date, but still potent. At 36 years of age he can still surprise top-order batsmen with his consistently accurate bowling. A simple, uncomplicated man with a big heart who likes nothing better than to get out in the country and shoot a few feral pigs.

Beer - Burragarang Bock. A craft beer that has been around for a long time but is still capable of standing up to the best of them. Try a glass with a rib fillet and McGrath's own sauce.

Stuart Clark, fast bowler -- Unpretentious, quiet. Former real estate agent who is a bit of a late bloomer. Will get the job done.

Beer - Mountain Goat Hightail Ale: A quiet hard working beer that is more than capable of getting the job done.

All these beers are available at Watson's pub up on the range, and in and around Brisbane, except the Wig and Pen pub's Russian Imperial Stout. You'll have to go to Canberra for that one.
If there are any English beer gurus out there who want to offer up an English XI of brews based on the characteristics of their team, send them in to the email address below. We'll see how they stack up. "


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Beer News - News Catch-up

These articles have a bit of age on them but I still thought worth posting.........

Wattle it be, Willie Simpson, 21 November 2006, The Sydney Morning Herald
"There's no shortage of aspiring beer barons around the country - but only one group has come up with a label as blatant as Sydney's Barons Brewing Company.

Good mates Richard Adamson and Scott Garnett decided to start their own craft beer brand several years ago, but coming up with an original name proved a sticking point. One evening Garnett blurted out to Adamson: "We'd love to be beer barons." The pregnant pause that followed convinced them they had found their name at last. "It's a bit cheeky," Garnett says, "and [a baron] is the lowest form of nobility."

They have embraced the baronial theme with a Red Baron silhouette trademark, a "hall of barons" salute to the likes of Alan Bond and Paul Hogan and an online Baron Squadron comprising more than 250 fans of beers such as the company's wattle seed ale, Black Wattle Superior.

"I really wanted to do something with Aussie ingredients," Adamson says. Twenty-kilo batches of roasted wattle seed come to them via a commercial coffee roaster but only a fraction is used in a single brew. Adamson is fairly secretive about the recipe but says the beer "tastes a bit like mud" if too much is used.

"When I was looking at using wattle seed, it sat really well with big, malty flavours," he says. "I used a Scotch ale home-brew recipe." The extra alcohol (5.8 per cent) and darker malts help balance the wattle flavours and the unusual ingredient is relatively subtle overall. It made an impression on the judges at this year's Australian International Beer Awards, where it was named best herb and spice beer at its first attempt.

Adamson, a former rock musician, "dabbled" in IT before undertaking a two-year diploma course in brewing at Ballarat University. Before going commercial, he fine-tuned the brewery's recipes at home, knocking out 23-litre pilot batches and conducting blind-tasting sessions. "The Black Wattle went through six different versions before it was released," Garnett says.

Adamson says the stablemate Extra Special Bitter uses "four different hop varieties and four separate additions". It was inspired by British classics such as Old Hookey, Fuller's and Old Speckled Hen.

Adamson and Garnett have their beers produced under contract at Australian Independent Brewers in western Sydney. Since launching in 2005, the beers are now available in about 500 outlets nationally. Black Wattle Superior is on tap at the Paddington Arms, Rose Hotel (Chippendale) and East Village (Darlinghurst). Barons ESB is on tap at the Four in Hand (Paddington), Welcome Hotel (Balmain) and the World Bar in Kings Cross. See for stockists. "


Monday, January 29, 2007

Beer News - Red Duck Newsletter

Latest newsletter attached from Colac up-and-comer Red Duck.........


Saturday, January 27, 2007

More New (& fresh) Beers for January 2007

Bintara Pale Ale $3.00
Bootleg Brewery Raging Bull $3.90
Bootleg BrewerySettler's Pale Ale $3.60
Bootleg Brewery Sou'West Wheat $3.60
Bootleg Brewery Tom's Brown Ale $3.60
Bootleg Brewery Wils Pils $3.60
Bress Cider Brute $19.00
Gage Road IPA $3.00
Gage Road Pure Malt Lager $3.00
Knappstein Reserve Lager $3.40
Snowy Mountains Bullocks Pilsner $2.90
Snowy Mountains Crackenback Pale Ale $2.90
Temple Brewing Pale Ale $3.10

Rest of World
333 Premium Export $2.40 (Vietnam)
Chimay Grand Reserve 2006 750ml $16.00 (Belgium)
Florisgaarden Chocolate $4.30 (Belgium)
La Chouffe Blond $11.50 (Belgium)
Michelob Ultra $2.50 (USA)
Rochefort Trappist 10 $8.50 (Belgium)
Rodenback Grand Cru $7.00 (Belgium)
Sexy Lager $3.60 (Belgium)
St Bernadus '8' and '12' $5.50 / $7.00 (Belgium)
Velkopopov Dark $3.30 (Czech)
Velkopopov Premium $3.30 (Czech)
Zatec $3.10 (Poland)
Zipfer Original $2.80 (Austria)
Zywiec $3.90 (Poland)

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Beer Travel - Emerald Hill Brewery

As we observed a good 18 months ago the Melbourne micro seen is starting to bubble. New Wave flag bearer Mountain Goat kicked off the Friday night drinks-at-the-brewery gig good while back and now South Melbourne's Emerald Hill is having a go. Situated in a small warehouse on Ross St (see map) the set up is very simple - uncluttered bar serving the wheat and pale on tap, fermentation tanks running down the western interior wall and some comfty couches and pews up the front. Cricket projected onto the wall was a nice touch on a pleasant barmy night.

Beers run at about $7.00 for a pint. As we have noted elsewhere they aren't world beaters but they are getting better and are certainty at least middle quartile for Oz boutiques.

More details at this web site....

Update 30/01.....just found a decent article on the brewery from Willie Simpson (The Age) from November 2006......

Small Beer, Willie Simpson, 21 November 2006The Age
"IT MIGHT well be the city's narrowest and most exclusive bar. The Emerald Hill Brewery in South Melbourne is wedged into a space the length of a cricket pitch and a mere five metres wide, and the bar is only open on Friday nights.

Melbourne's latest craft beer operation fired up in April and is run by Carl Jacobson (pictured), a chemical engineer by training. Jacobson is the brewer, but he gets plenty of back-up from his fellow investors, who are scattered around the globe.

One shareholder is our marketing person and they're based in Hong Kong," Jacobson says. "Our design engineer is in London." Several Emerald Hill partners who live a little closer to home helped construct the brewery/ bar, which Jacobson says was "an empty shell between two buildings" when they took over the lease late last year.

The bar's main feature is a solid hunk of recycled timber. A few comfy couches and armchairs provide seating for bar patrons, augmented by a pair of wooden pews that "came from a church in Essendon that was being turned into a child-care centre", Jacobson says.

The brewery equipment was built in Brisbane and sits on a concrete plinth opposite the bar (further narrowing the limited space). It includes three 2000-litre fermentation tanks, which bubble away in the background during my visit. "We're harking back to how beer used to be made," Jacobson says.

The brews we sampled included a cloudy wheat beer with nice banana notes and a chewy mid-palate. "We're going for a southern Bavarian hefeweizen style," he says. "My home-brewing mates' wives really love it." The pale ale uses English and Australian hops and is robustly bitter and yeasty.

Jacobson says he caught the home-brewing bug years some ago after tasting a colleague's brew. More recently he took his home brew around to prospective investors, telling them: "This is what we can make on a stove.

Apparently it wasn't too difficult to find backers, while Jacobson did most of the business planning, dealing with councils and tradesmen, and the paperwork. The bar officially opened for business in mid-June and, apart from the Friday night sessions, has also been hired for several private functions.

Emerald Hill is the original name of the South Melbourne town hall site, which apparently was once a green island surrounded by swamp. Jacobson says they plan to expand into other outside tap outlets and supply hand-bottled product into bottleshops and bars, but at last report they were still waiting on packaging to be printed. "

(both Emerald Hill beers available @ Cloudwine for $3.00)


Recent Tasting Notes

Bridge Road Brewers Chevalier Saison (14/20)

I would have to agree with the sentiments of some respected Melbourne palates - this is a very solid effort and probably the best of the Bridge Road beers. Very lively head early but settles quickly to leave chunky lacing. Glowing apricot orange with plenty of haze. Nose has character; a mild salty note underpin with fresh ( & pongy) cut lawn herbal notes, the latter certaintly not overpowering. Palate a touch bigger than expected with more herbal / salty notes and hints of sweet Belgian ale malts as a secondary note. A touch of spice and pepper to finish, albeit faint. Does tail off a fraction. Low fizz levels help the flavours come through easily but the structure could do with a little more lift.

De Dolle Extra Export Stout (14/20)

Big fizzy coffee coloured head takes along time to quit. Very dark brown hue. Mild coffee and roast nose with a slight metallic ping. Nothing to write home about. Quite true to the genre to taste. Roasted malts drive the palate, feels a touch rough and tastes quite dry. Medium strengh despite the 9% and to be honest needs a bit more hapening with the flavours to ge me really excited.

(e3.25 @ ’t Brugs Beertje Brugge)


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New Beers for January 2007


We have a bunch of new gear on the shelf at all 3 stores. We'll post some PDF price lists shortly but in the meantime.......

Buffalo Brewery Dark Ale $3.80
Buffalo Brewery Ginger Ale $3.80
Buffalo Brewery Lager $3.80
Buffalo Brewery Wheat $3.80
Knappstein Reserve Lager $3.40
Pomona Apple Ale $3.10
Red Oak Honey Ale $3.70
Red Oak Irish Red $3.50
Red Oak Organic Pale Ale $3.70
Red Oak Special Reserve $50.00
Thorogoods Billy B's Golden $13.00
Thorogoods Dry Scrumpy $13.00
Thorogoods Medium Sweet Scrumpy $13.00
Thorogoods Sparkling Scrumpy $13.00
Thorogoods Sweet Scrumpy $13.00

Unibroue Cerezo $6.40
Unibroue Eau Benite 750ml $13.20
Unibroue Maudite 750ml $13.50

Bass Premium Ale $6.50
Bateman's XXX B Ale $6.50

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Cellar Notes - Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait 2004

2004 Vintage / Tasted Oct 2006 (14/20)
Thin head, very clear ruby red on colour. A touch of bottle stink early but this soon blows off the leave cherry fruits dominating. Lots of tart and sour notes early to taste but settles to let some cherry and fruit peak through. Tart fruits underpin the palate in a rather unique fashion totally coating the underside of the tongue. Finishes a touch short but not deal breaker. As per other decent gueze and lambics its tough to see the bottle age such is the robust structure. Only blemish was a dirty sulphuric character that wouldn’t subside.

(e5.20 @ Afspanning ’t Waagstuk in Antwerp, consumed October 2006)


Recent Tasting Notes

Hofbräu München Oktoberfestbier (8/20)

Macro like in colour and appearance. Did I mention that expectations are very low following a very poor showing of the Muchen lager? Anyhows......mild nose of stale malts, quite uninspiring. A bit better to taste with the malts stepping up a notch. Some nice sweetness early but unfortunately gets ovetaken a little with a stale, cardboard-like note. I don’t think it’s light struck given the bottle colour and decent storage but sure tastes like it. Broadens on the finish with lager like malts.

Achel 8 Bruin (14/20)

This baby rounds out my trappist tasting. Chocolate brown in colour with a medium strength off-white head of good body and massive thick lacing. Chocolate and malt nose shows good balance. Ok if not great. More chocolate on the palate. Fairly simple flavour profile yet quite effective. Fizzy palate.

(e.350 @ Bier Circus Brussells)

3 Fonteinen Faro (8/20)

Weird stuff. Light tan in colour, not unlike the gueze from the same house. Nose gives off a spirity, grappa like note - suprisingly matches well with sweeter fruit notes. Flavours are dominated with spirity, petrol-like note, not really pleasant at all. If this was wine I’d say it was suffering from volatile acidity in a huge way. Together with a low fizz flabby structure I’m not really inclined to give this sample the benefit of the doubt.

(e1.60 on tap @ Brewery in Beersel)


Monday, January 22, 2007

Cellar Notes - St. Louis Premium Framboise

2001 Bottling / Tasted Oct 2006 (15/20)
Go the tarted up framboise! The is 5yr old example is full of vigour and has encouraged me to lay down a handful of the Timmerman’s to see how they look 2 - 3 years after BB. Outstanding lift on the nose; bright, powerful cherry fruit that is mostly likely bolstered through syrup. No matter, smells very good. Palate a touch less impressive, a simple, souped up style BUT don’t forget this beer is 5yrs of age and thus most likely well beyond any drinking window thought possible. Lacks nothing in terms of quality and simple flavour intensity. Well worth trying.

(e2.2 @ Kulminator in Antwerp October 2006)


Recent Tasting Notes

Struise Pannepøt (16/20)

Medium brown and thin flat white coffee style head. Cooked aniseed and fruit cake on the nose. Expressive and powerful. Heavy palate with alcohol evident, together with a very nice coffee flavour. Palate is thick and powerful, although lacking some finesse.

(e3.25 @ t’ Brugs Beertje)

Buffalo Ginger Ale (5/20)

Bit like Twenty 20 cricket really - hard to take seriously. Very weird head action - heaps of fizz upon pouring that disolves at record pace. Light orange / apricot in colour. Sweet soft drink nose, heaps of sugary notes. Palate is mega sweet and its very hard to pick the alcohol. Masses of sugar sweetness although to be fair there is some well defined ginger flavours. Too sweet to be of much use to anyone.

Saint-Monon Bière au Miel (Honing) (11/20)

Thin creamy head with good viscosity. Orange to brown in colour and quite murky. Tough to get much out of the nose - faint sweet notes of malt and wheat at best. Palate is a little muted; some sweet candy malt notes are the most obvious flavour trait but mild strength at best. Finish is driven by tangy sweet notes. Serviceable beer that doesn’t really do enough to capture the imagination.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Recent Tasting Notes

Emerald Hill Wheat (12/20)

Big fizzy head early but short-lived. Murky dull orange with a core of stronger orange. Fresh nose, confectionary notes, a hint of spice. Pretty good to taste; more truity fruity, confectionary notes, perhaps a hint of spice. Plenty of fizz keeps the palate buzzing and there’s a surprisingly sharp bitter taste right in the back palate. Decent start for this brewery.

Unibroue Cerezo (13/20)

Pretty handy fruit based beer. Light cherry in colour with a slight brown tinge. Thin head with very thick lacing. Expressive cherry filled bouquet, a touch sweet, some chalky / musk like notes, quite appealing but perhaps a fraction simple. Soft sweet palate, more cherry to the fore, but the flavours tighten and get a little bitter to finish. If this is purely fruit driven and not aided with syrup then the flavour concentration is impressive.

Kulmbacher Eisbock (17/20)

Cola-like appearance although definately more brown than black. Thick cooked, caramalised nose, traces of vegemite, elegant. Palate shows excellent balance, notwithstanding the 9.2%. More raisened, caramel malts, hints of chocolate sweetness in the mid palate. Low fizz is very appropriate. Really quite impressive.


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