Slow Beer

Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Releases & Fresh Stocks - January

Red Duck Red Admiral $3.50 / $20.00
Red Duck Queen Bee Honey Porter $4.50 / $17.00 (4 pack)
Thorogoods Sweet / Medium / Dry / Sparkling $14.00
Thorogoods Billy B's Golden / Dark $14.00
Three Ravens White $3.20 / $19.00

Wells Bombardier Ale 500ml Can $4.50

Weihenstephan Festival $4.70

New Zealand
Monteiths Summer Ale $3.00 / $17.00


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beer News - Murrays Anniversary Ale Update

There's been no shortage off interest in the 2007 'AA' but unfortunately it looks like Murrays won't be sending any to Victorian retailers this year. I've got no idea why and frankly a good reason wasn't offered by the brewery.

Expect local distribution to change shortly.

If I can wangle a few cases I'll post availability on the blog first before putting the beer on the store shelves....................


Monday, January 28, 2008

Beer Travel - New Zealand Report

We were lucky to spend a few weeks in NZ's South Island last October off the back of my brother's wedding near Queenstown. I made the effort to burn through as many local beers as possible and once again I walked away convinced that, pound-for-pound, per capita, whatever relative measure you like, New Zealand has a strong micro / quality beer scene that is probably superior to that in Australia.


Don't have any definitive answers but Kiwi micro scene can take strong encouragement from:
  • A healthy community support for all cottage-style industries (not just beer), not the blind corporate allegiance we often see in Australia;

  • A sensible recognition that NZ will never be a large scale player in most industries (dairy, forestry, sheep and rugby excepted!) and thus focus of making things 'best', not 'biggest'; and

  • A strong sense of pride (well-placed) with respect to the ability of the country to compete with the world's best for all things epicurean.
I'll follow up this post with a bunch of tasting notes on the individual beers tasted. Below I have listed an enthusiast's view / opinion on some Kiwi beer haunts worth visiting........

Fresh Choice (Springlands, Blenheim) (Map)
So I've just flown into Christchurch from Melbourne and jumped straight into a hire car for a 4hr drive to Blenheim. Duly arrive at the motel, throw bags into room and stroll over to the supermarket over the road for supplies.

I stick my nose in the beer section, expecting few mainstream offerings at best. What I didn't expect was to walk out with 18 beers, and $150 lighter.

This place has nearly 300 beers including the entire 'who's who' of the NZ micro scene - Emerson's, Wanaka, Harrington's, Moa, Pink Elephant, Renaissance, Limburg, 3 Boys. It also had 10 serious lambics from the likes of Cantillon, Oud Beersel, Boon and Liefman. Every serious abbey and strong ale from Belgium, bar Westy.

How can this be? Why can't I source and sell such a great range in Australia? What a great result for the NZ beer geek. (and to be honest there would be be no gig for Cloudwine in flogging micro brews if Aussie supermarkets were like this).

BTW didn't find a better store in the whole of the South Island for the remainder of my trip.

Brew Moon (Amberley) (map)
There’s a lot to like about this simple road-side cafe just 30 minutes north of Christchurch. Serves a nice range of burgers, gourmet pizza and salads. All 4 house beers on tap. Nothing flash in terms of ambiance and fit-out but it sure works for me. Tasting tray $8.80 otherwise ~$4 for a 350ml serve.

The Twisted Hop (Christchurch) (map)
Pretty impressive drinking hole. Located in the newish alleyway precinct in central Christchurch the brew ’bar’ is right at home with micro fashion boutiques and ultra mod bars. The obvious drinking choice is the sample tray of 5 TH brews. $15 gets you very generous servings (perhaps 200ml each).

A handful of other top flight kiwi’s are on tap (inc. Emerson’s and 3 Boys) as well as 50 - 70 bottle choices from around the globe. Interesting, the pub makes a point of highlighting that fact that the bottled gear is NOT kept at near freezing point, rather they are kept in the fridge at sensible beer geek temps. Very good service, albeit stretched, and a must-visit when in town.

Dux de Lux (Queenstown) (map)
Mod cafe / bar / restaurant combo done well with an unlikely meshing of pool tables, big screen TVs and casual dining (burgers and the like $15 - $18). There is also a more formal dining area attached where pricing steps up to $25 - $33. The menus for both read well. 7 house beers on tap (pints $5 - $7) and for the most part are well worth trying, particularly the stout and Norwester Pale Ale.

Sprig & Fern (Nelson) (map)
One of 3 Sprig & Fern pubs attached to Harringtons / Tasman Brewing. This pub, housed in a beautifully converted Edwardian cottage just outside of the Nelson CBD, is one of the best pub / bar combos I have been to in Australasia (indeed perhaps the best). Full of locals from all walks of life as well as a never ending stream of folks coming in to fill up ’riggers’ (ie 2lt plastic bottles) of any one of the 20-odd Tasman / Harringtons brews on tap. The take-ways are sold at bargain prices (say $9 each). It warms the hart to see the locals showing such support for a small brewer (try finding this in Australia!).

Tasman Brewing Company (Richmond, Nelson) (map)
No longer part of the Harringtons brewery, at least in a legal sense, however they still brew a number of beers for this label, as well as plenty of beers under the Tasman Brewing tag. The brewery is just a simple shed in an industrial estate in Richmond but the tasting area is quite nice. All beers are available for sampling and for takeways either via rigger at around $9 (2lt bottle) or standard 330ml or 500ml bottlings. All up about 25 beers available. Service is very good and the beers can range from competent to very very good (ie Big John Reserve & Belgian Tempest).


New Zealand Beer Report

As promised....................

Brew Moon Hop Head IPA (14/20)
Caramel brown, slightly murky, and a good head early. Aromatic hop-drive nose with a very nice fruity / estery kick. Flavours are a touch on the lighter side; dry hops, almost metallic-like, some fruitiness. Good bitterness on the finish. Perhaps lacks a touch of intensity but otherwise very complete.

Dux de Lux Nor Wester (14/20)
Former winner of the top gong at the AIBA. Thin head, darkish amber / tan; very clear. Bitter herbal and hop notes on the nose, not over the top, and well defined for the style. All about hops and bitterness in the palate with a hard hop finish (a touch resiny) and a simple bitter finish. Well made.

Dux de Lux Black Shag Stout (14/20)
Good effort. Close to black in colour and thus quite true to form. Opens up in a dry roasty style, no surprises, but finishes with a super strong mocha coffee note. Memorable finish, and one that is very appealing.

Dux de Lux Wakatipu Wheat (11/20)
Confusing. Wouldn’t have picked this as a wheat. Looks the part (nice clear gold) but the flavours are perhaps British ale-like given the almost bitter, hop driven finish. Texture is reasonably thick but the flavours don’t spell wheat. Notwithstanding, a nice enough beer.

Green Man Best Bitter (9/20)
Very bitter-like in appearance; dark amber in colour and thin head. The immediate impression on both bouquet and palate is that of a well made pale lager, particularly so given the late hit of mild bitterness. Some underlying fruity notes do however hint to the ale / bitter character, but the lager notes prove distracting. Fizz is also way too high.

Harrington's Best Bitter (14/20)
I liked this. Good example of the classic UK style but carries a touch more alcohol and caramel / toffee malts to create a slightly bolder flavour profile. Nice mild bitter finish.

Harrington's First of the Summer Ale (11/20)
Perhaps a bit harsh in my comments but this is a fairly pedestrian golden ale style. Well constructed nevertheless. Light malts, faint honey, and a nice elegant spice finish. Not miles away from Coopers Pale and Sparkling, at least to my tastes.

Harrington's Premium Stout (12/20)
Looks great. Near black in colour with a thin but dense mocca coloured head. Mild roast nose with coffee, malts and a faint metallic note. Fairly similar again to taste although the roast component was fractionally sweeter. Pretty good weight for a 5%er.

Harrington's Classy Red (11/20)
Medium sized head; offwhite and quite fizzy with low density. Nose is somewhat rustic with stewed fruits and a rusty metallic hint. Flavours follow the aromas closely with the addition of some firming hops in the back palate. Quite an ok beer but I can’t get my head around the stewed character coming from the malts.

Harrington's Pilsner (15/20)
Light golden amber and a thin, well built head. Great hop treatment; cuts ferns, resiny, piney, very expressive. Nice aniseed touches as well. Long broad finish.

Harrington's Belgian Tempest (16/20)
Interesting beer. Label states that the beer is styled as a saison but I think more of a Belgian Ale, and a strong one at that given the 8%. Some spice on the nose and palate early, and thus a nod to the saison genre, but plenty of typical Belgian malt sweetness builds right through the palate. Nose is full of passionfruits, which in itself is quite unusual. Pronounced dryness kicks in late.

Harrington's Triple M (15/20)
I’ve classified this as a Scotch Ale but happy to take suggestions as it does have some stout characters. On tap at the most excellent Spring & Fern in Nelson (a bar owned by the brewery). Dark brown with a very thin head. Soft, sweet chocolate aromas but probably served a touch too cold to pick up much else. Plenty of chocolate, chocolate biscuit and fruitcake to taste. No flavour fruit bomb, rather this beer is built with elegance and class. Not unlike the Special John Reserve but of course without the out-and-out intensity.

Harrington's Wee Heavy (14/20)
Also on tap at the Sprig and Fern in Nelson. Identical in appearance to the MMM. Sweet chocolate biscuit nose; very morish. Darker malts, dark chocolate, some bitterness, and a bourbon / spirity note appears on the finish. Fruitcake flavours as well. Very good depth and balance.

Mac's Hop Rocker (16/20)
Really impressive due to the awesome hop treatment that leaves such a strong impression right through the palate. Big herbal / nettle hit early followed up with a grainy, wheat-like character. The obvious peer is the Wanaka Brewski but I think this is a better beer.

Pink Elephant Mammoth (15/20)
Brown ale on steroids perhaps? Clearly shows some semblance of the style with mild chocolate roast and rich malts but both characters are swamped, or at least overshadowed, through a sweet Belgian-like malt hit. Shows the 7%, and I think the ABV brings a toffee character out nicely, albeit not true to style. Good fun, and it’s hard not to like this beer.

Pink Elephant Imperious Rushin Stowt (16/20)
Amazing pour; very dark brown with a yellow, almost orange coloured head - looks very tasty. Soft chocolate nose, great depth. Palate does a complete about face; dry, herbal, dusty, dry licorice. Very old school - kinda like a classic Bordeaux cabernet - not some young upstart from Margaret River or Napa. Maybe some oak notes in there as well. Early days but full of interest.

Pink Elephant Trumpet (14/20)
Fruity nose with passionfruit. Very light and dances across the nose. Palate is also well fruited, much more than the nose suggests. Big dry finish and tough to pick the alcohol. I’ve got no idea how to frame this beer but it has a certain appeal.

Renaissance Discovery American Pale Ale (13/20)
Clear amber; commercial looking with a medium sized white head. Mild nose of herbal hops, nettles, some fruit. Good depth despite the elegant persistence. Very light to taste but well structured. More hops, grape fruits, some bitterness, a rusty feel and taste. Wide, broad palate, Classy but mild, and at 4.5% so it should be. Beautifully packaged BTW.

Speights Gold Medal Ale (14/20)
A bit of a surprise packet. Styled as a golden ale or perhaps a very lightly hopped bitter (again - strictly my interpretation). Flavours are driven by a sweetish honeyed malt note. Very simple, and perhaps a touch dumb, but I thought it worked very well as a relatively low ABV (4%) alternative.

Moa Harvest Ale (14/20)
The label states ’a very rare beer from Aotearoa’! Good form in the glass; big active head, very white, whilst the beer is a nice dull orange / lemon. Murky. Clear cherry aromas that finish with a slightly harder, bitter, liqueured note. Clean and sharp to taste, not unexpectedly the cherry note is toned down in the palate. Has a champagne-like feel and structure with consistent bubbles and a yeasty / biscuity note. Note unlike the other beers in the range. I really liked this.

Moa Five Hop Winter Ale (13/20)
I might be going against the grain here but I thought this was a pretty good beer. Massive rocky head and big chunky lunching. Nice caramel colour in the glass. Expressive nose of complex hops showing both sweet piney notes and a clear herbal edge - nice. Sweet character early before the hops role in. Similar to the aromas - piney and herbally - but doesn’t overpower. Slight astringent, bitter and liqueured finish.

Three Boys IPA (16/20)
Pure white fizzy head and bog standard dark amber gold in colour. Perhaps a touch light, in appearance, in the context of typical IPA. Fruity nose very early before a firm edge kicks in. Broad, balanced palate. Fruit lurks all the way through but its mostly a story of what I call old fashioned hop flavour. Really daggy, kinda like what you might see in a traditional pilsner from Eastern Europe. Very text book in style but done very well.

Twisted Hop Honey Dew (10/20)
Light delicate honey beer. Obvious lager character with almost CUB-like bitterness on the back palate. A bit bland for my liking as the honey character to just to mild.

Twisted Hop Oatmeal Stout (12/20)
A good example of the style in every facet. Hand pumped so very creamy and soft structure. Milk chocolate and mild coco drives the flavours but the intensity did fall away in the back palate to leave a mild burnt note.

Twisted Hop Twisted Ankle (14/20)
On cask at the pub. Very dark brown with a faint red tinge. Nice thin coffee coloured head. Unique aromas of spice, cooked fruits and malts, and a touch of cinnamon. Fruity palate with plenty of malt impact. Aniseed, a faint hint of treacle, light chocolate. Slightly dilutive finish but otherwise pretty good.

Twisted Hop Challenger (14/20)
Another very solid handpumped effort from Twisted Hop. Soft, creamy, excellent drive from the fruity hops right through the palate. Nose shows a good combination of fruit and green nettles; plenty of character here. Bitter finish with a mild licorice note; thickens progressively. The weight from the 5% ABV, relative to most English examples, is obvious.

Wanaka Beer Works Brewski (16/20)
Very clean and well made pilsner. Appearance and nose doesn’t give much cause for excitement (some ok sweet malts and herbally, corny hops) but this beer really excels in the flavour and structure department. Well balanced Saaz hops action right through the palate together with a mild malt note. Some smokey, farmyard flavours as well, and perhaps a touch of raw wheat. So well balanced and clean it almost borders on being clinical. Quite classic. I thought it was over-rated as NZ’s number 3 beer ( but upon reflect is sits comfortably.

Wigram Dakota Dark (12/20)
Very dark brown with a thin coffee coloured head. Milk chocolate and sweet malts on the nose. Dry roast early to taste, very dry and almost minerally. Finishes with mild milk chocolate.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cellar Notes - 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Vintage

2003 Vintage / Tasting Jan 2008 (16/20)
Ultra serious style but perhaps I should not be surprised. Very active fizzy head early but this soon settles to leave a snow white, creamy residue. Chunky lacing too. Hazy glowing apricot in colour. Nose is a touch subdued; salt, vinegar, sour and ctirus fruits, but I’m probably not doing the right thing by assessing this beer straight out of the fridge. Palate structure is very classy and I’m sure this beer will look ok as a 7yr old. Lots of balance early with sour grapey notes, perhaps on the ’elegant’ side of things, but the intensity slowly ramps up through the palate and the beer becomes progressively more tangy, sour and almost spicy and bitter. Plenty of fizz as well. Yup - the duck’s nuts.

1997 Vintage / Tasting Oct 2006 (17/20)
Thin head, well built, cloudy orange body. 9 years of bottle age becomes very evident on the nose with old, grapey, wine-like notes and a hint of sour fruit. Palate is something special as the bracing acidity and sourness evident in so many young gueze has all but disappeared. More vinous and mild sour notes drive the palate and plenty of fizz keeps the beer dancing across the mouth. Just a hint of volatile acidity.

(e8.00 @ the brewery in Beersal, consumed October 2006)


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I was meant to post this a while back. Travis Johnston from Fusion Brewing shot through the following press release info for Firefly Beer and Bluebottle Beer..............

"After successfully launching Bluebottle this year (designed to go with seafood), we've just finished taste-testing and perfecting our second beer, Firefly.

It's designed to go with spicy food and the site with more info is here It will be available from January.

Our other brand, Bluebottle is now stocked in 100+ places nationally and received tons of great reviews so we're confident Firefly will also be well received. Bluebottle info is available at"


Sunday, January 13, 2008

New Releases - Glassware


We have a handfull of new glasses that may be of interest...........all $5.00 each.

Greene King IPA Pint Glass

Unibroue Maudite

Unibroue 'Long Bulb' (I made the name up!)


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Beer News - CUB Price Increases

Hopefully this little piece serves as negative marketing for boys down in Abbotsford (unlikely given 3 people read this sorry excuse for a blog!).

Anyway, CUB never fail to use the timing of the Fed Govt CPI-linked excise and customs increase to push through price increases. It also never fails to amuse me that micro brewers rarely use the same excuse. I'll list the new prices below (not too many) but before I do I thought it might be interesting to list some of the factors (excuses?) CUB use to justify price increases across it's core range and 'premium' brands:

1) "Brand and category support to deliver the best products......" (Warney ad?)

2) Current and future economic conditions (more bogans in work apparently)

3) "A new communication campaign to grow consumer loyalty in Crown Lager (only in Australia can you find large chunks of the public blindly pledging loyalty to crap factory produced products. "Maaaaatttte...this is the best beer in the world").

4) "A new communication campaign and sponsorship program to support Australia's favourite beer VB."

Smart stuff...get the punter to pay for marketing to push the product into high price brackets! It's also scary how close the wholesale price is of Crown, Cascade Premium etc is to more than a handful of Vic micros!!

Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit $4.50
Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale $4.50 / $25.00
Matilda Bay Beez Neez $3.10 / $18.50
Matilda Bay Dog Bolter $4.50 / $25.00
Pepperjack $3.10 / $18.50


Saturday, January 05, 2008

New Releases & Fresh Stocks - December

Red Hill Christmas Ale $5.00
Red Duck Queen Bee $4.00
Temple Brewing Saison $3.50

Bornem Dubbel $7.50
Chimay Red 750ml $15.00
Delirium Remens $6.50
Grimbergen Blonde $7.00
Rochefort 10 $9.00
Sexy Lager $3.80
Stella Artois $19.00 (6 pack)
Westmalle $7.50

Unibroue "16" $19.00

Budvar $2.90 / $17.20

Adnams Explorer $6.50
Bass Premium Ale $6.50
Fullers Organic Honey Dew $6.50
St Austell Tribute Ale $6.50
Scrumpy Jack Cider $4.00

Schneider Weiss Original $5.50

Red Stripe $3.50

Corona $18.00 (6 pack)


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