Slow Beer

Friday, August 31, 2007

Recent Tasting Notes

Brugge Blond (10/20)
Thought this one was going to be ok off the back of the aromas; sweet spices and cloves in a Leffe kinda way, with more than a hint of banaa confectionary. Palate got unfriendly very quickly with the sweet flavours haddening and getting suprisingly bitter. A touch thick and sickly.

Palm Speciale (10/20)
'Kinda like Stella' said a customer and he’s not far wrong (in a ’this ain’t no craft beer from Belgium’ way of course). Dark amber in colour with a thin but persistent head. Ok, fair start. Low excitement note with some ok amber ale style malt character; pleasant enough. Sweet gets dumb in the mouth and take a very simple, slightly gluggy form. Just very simple malt sweetness and not much else. Fizzy palate reminds one that this is maco beer.

Forst Kronen Speciale (8/20)
Fairly ho-hum but not a total disaster. Standard gold amber in colour, big head upon pouring, leaves some ok lacing. Nose and palate are essentially malt driven but flavours come across as corn-like and stale. Some bitterness on the finish.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Releases & Fresh Stocks - Mid August

333 Premium Export $2.40 (Vietnam)
Barons Black Wattle Ale $3.00
Barons Pale Ale $2.70
Barons Lager $2.70
Barons Extra Special Bitter $2.70
Bright Brewery Hellfire Amber Ale $3.90
Bright Brewery Razor Witbier $4.20
Bright Brewery Dubbel $5.50
Mildura Mallee Bull $3.70
Mildura Storm Cloudy $3.70
Red Hill Brewery Scotch Ale $4.00
Red Hill Brewery Weizenbock $5.00
Snowy Mountain Razorback Red $3.00


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Update from Far North Queensland

It's a great thing that FNQ has some amazing attractions (islands, rain forests, reef, scuba diving etc) as unfortunately the region is far from a beer and wine lover's delight. We are / have spent a week at Airlie Beach and have been profoundly disappointed at the range (and quality) of beer available at both retail and on-premise.

Taps have been limited (strictly) to XXXX, Lion Nathan options, the odd VB and at least one James Squire Amber ale. Not much better in the bottle 'o, although I have seen some Coopers. Does Stella count as 'interesting'?

Anyway, when in Rome......

XXXX Bitter (7/20)
This beer embodies all the qualities that makes mainstream Australian beer such a crap performer on the world stage. Stale malt aromas dominate the nose. Same again to taste and I’ll give a small nod to the bitterness onthe back palate....otherwise a big ’pass’ rating.

XXXX Gold Lager (8/20)
I’d drink this over the XXXX Bitter any day of the week, and for a mainstream low ABV beer it’s not a total disaster. Darkish golden hue; very safe looking. Non-descript stale malts and adjunct nose. Er...not much else. Similar to taste although as expected not much malt or flavour weight. Quite crip and dry, probably a good approach given it’s mid-strength intentions, and an ok mild sliver of bitterness to finish.

Red Stripe Lager (8/20)
I have pretty much re-stated my notes from 2 years. And guess what, the beer doesn't any different (or better) now. Pale gold, very clear, almost Corona like. Mild nose, some adjunct like sweetness, doesn’t provide much interest. More adjunct character in the mouth, a little stale. Er...malt?...hops? Dry finish, somewhat redeeming, and not unlike the Asahi I had to follow.

Magners Original Irish Cider (10/20)
Very commercial style, at least to an Australian palate. Pours a bright burnt orange, not unlike a pale lager. No head. Sweetish apple cider fruits on the nose with a mineral-like zing in the aromas. Flavours and palate structure don’t add much; plenty of fizz and syrupy sweet apple, a touch of musk, finishes dry. Very hard to see the ABV impact here, and need much more punch in this regard. Good enough after an afternoon jog in the tropics.

Bright Brewery Razor Witbier (15/20)
Aromas hit the nose as soon as the beer hits the glass. A quite instense sour lemon and perhaps orange, wafted over 3 feet! And maybe a hint of lambic sourness as well. Impressive. Great to look at; yellow body with a faint orange core. Heavy weight in the mouth. Powerful, almost thick in texture. Citrus fruits not really evident, rather the corriander and spice comes into play. Big thick aniseed finish pushes a bitter edge.

Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale (14/20)
Dull copper (or maybe light tan?) with a very thin creamy head. Highly aromatic nose of fruity, herbal resiny hops. Slightly more pedestrian to taste; resiny hops remain and infact they are a touch aggressive, but regardless they define the palate structure well. A touch too fizzy perhaps? This beer is in the next ball park when compared to the ’just going’ stablemates Beez Neez and Redback. (BB 3/08)

Gavroche (15/20)
I really liked this beer. Rocky white head early and thne thins sown to a modest foamy residue. Tan / dull copper in colour. Powerful aromas of dark fruits, sweet cakey malts and hints of scotch whiskey. The flavours are Belgian-like with respect to big heavy malts and traces of alcohol heat. It drinks every bit its 8.5% although it lightens a fraction on the finish with an excellent sweet oak finish. Some alcohol derived bitterness comes in very late, as do some pongy / stinky notes.

tIJ Struis (11/20)
Should have been another cracking beer from what is now one of favourite producers. Visually stunning, as is common for the house. Perfectly formed medium sized head, offwhite in colour. Glowing orange with a dull red core. Served in a chablis / chardonnay wine, which by the way worked a treat. Sweet candied malts on the nose together with minerals and cinnamon. Flavours unfortunately let the beer down I suspect this one has a bad case of the ’skunks’. Some cinnamon and spice of the palate, but quite mild and disapates as the skunky notes kick in. The palate is surprisingly light for a 9% with the alcohol barely registering any presence. I’ll rate this purely for record keeping purposes but clearly a sound sample would rate near or above 4.0.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Cellar Notes - Thomas Hardy

2004 Vintage / Tasted August 2007 (15/20)
Unremarkable to look at; tan chocolate brown, slightly murky with no head to speak of. Massively sweet and powerful nose of cooked sugary malts, toffee and sweet spices. Palate is absolutely as anticipated. Huge sweet malts, huge sugar kick, some bitterness from the substantial alcohol. The malt impact outweights the abv but I wonder if this will change as the beer develops. Very young and primary as I’m not seeing any secondary development or aged notes. Dark malts and bitter aniseed to finish. All a bit overwhelming for me and I found the beer harder to drink as it warmed up (and subsequently got thicker). If you ever needed to convince a sceptic that beer needs to be aged throw ’em a bottle of this beer - it’s crying out for extended cellaring.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Recent Tasting Notes

t IJ Columbus (16/20)
After 2 years of trying to assess beers with a level of seriousness I have never, never ever seen a more attractive beer in the glass. Massive creamy frothy head, a dead-ringer for whipped cream. Lovely glowing dark orange; the Orval chalice is working a treat. Sweet malts on the nose with signature spice and nutmeg, hugely appealing although a little more subdued in this beer that some of the other ’tIj offerings. Flavours slightly under-deliver; licorice and spice early. The malts pick up pace, driving a bitter note, but the alcohol does swamp a touch on the finish, leaving some heat. This does lessen over time however. Nice herbal, nettle underlay right through the palate.

Poperings Hommelbier (16/20)
Massive massive head, pure white with a foamy, creamy top layer. Dull orange in colour; a little cloudy. Medium strength nose of equal parts malt and hops. A touch of sweetness but aromas tend more to the hops. Great to taste with a wall of thick flavours early, again herbally and spicy, before flattening out to reveal a very well balanced beer. The spicy hops is a real standout and is quite powerful as well. Reminds me of the excellent TiJ beers from Amsterdam.

Snowy Mountains Razorback Red Ale (11/20)
Not convinced this is an amber but I figured this was the closest style denoter. Nice red-brown colour in the glass but the head retention is very weak. Aromas nearly get there; very mild roast and a touch of chocolate, has presence, but a touch of dumb sweetness lurks as well. Flavours are completely about face off the bose; no sweet malt action but instead a lean palate (in terms of obvious malts) with quite good hop treatment. Nettles, cut grass, albeit faint but nevertheless has presence and a cut of class. Finish is a bit fizzy and non-descript.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Cellar Notes - Chimay Red

(Bottling date convention: BB less 4yrs)

Bottled 2003 / Drank August 2007 / (15/20)
Certainly not inferior to younger samples I have tasted over the years. Really attractive to look at with a perfectly formed creamy head and murky brown body, not unlike the Rochefort 6 consumed just hours prior. Nose shows aromas of settled malts and hints of sweet milk chocolate, as well as a definate pongy edge that might be more commonly found in a Flemish sour ale. Palate is also settled, very balanced and very friendly. Nice milky chocolate notes pop up again, together with a midly spicy but quite long finish. Easily the best Rouge I've had from Chimay.


Web Bytes - Murray's Brewing

Check out Murray's excellent website some time. We have a particular affection for all anti big company rantings so check out his blog as well.



Cellar Notes - Rochefort 6

(Bottling Date rule: 5 years from best before)

Bottled March 2006 / Drank August 2007 (15/20)
It’s taken me a while to get this beer into ratebeer. Big coffee colour head on the pour but settles quickly to leave a thickly textured medium sized head. Murky, muddy caramel in colour. Powerful nose with rich, pongy, dirty, spirity malts. Fizz made an impact early but soon settled. More sugary, cakey malts, not much in the way of hops and bitterness, but a fair lick of alcohol heat provides a bittering and firming impact. Perhaps lacks the creamy, thicker structure of the 8 and 10 but still a very good beer.


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