Russian Imperial Stout Weather

Winter is coming. It’s not as bright at 6am as it was a month ago (which means I’m stay in bed longer!) and there’s a chill in the air. The colder weather has reminded me that there’s some deep, dark and downright dangerous beers that are waiting to find a home in my fridge/belly.

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Winter is coming. It’s not as bright at 6am as it was a month ago (which means I’m stay in bed longer!) and there’s a chill in the air. The colder weather has reminded me that there’s some deep, dark and downright dangerous beers that are waiting to find a home in my fridge/belly.

This impulse struck me just the other day after having a gorgeous afternoon at Cowaramup Brewing. My partner and I got home and sunk into a very lazy evening, still full from lunch and incapable of doing much at all.

As I lazily typed away on my computer I had the urge to sip on a rich, dark beer. Luckily I had such a beer in the fridge – North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I had found it at Zinn’s Liquor in Dunsborough where they’ve got a few shelves of great craft beer.

The night was cold and a little rainy, I jumped up from my chair and put on my hoodie and cracked open this beautiful beer …

I sipped on this for a long time, could have been over an hour, and it was perfect for my relaxed mood. I loved the rich and dusty mouth feel with a lengthy palate. The flavours of dark chocolate, you know that proper, real chocolate taste, as well as red berries, licorice and white pepper.

After what seems like a beautifully eternal summer here in WA filled with lots of pale ales and IPAs, drinking more stouts just went pretty high on my to-do-list.

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Girl + O’Brien

I recently received an email from Katey at the Dig Marketing Group. The email was pretty brief; she wanted to send me a free sample of a new limited release from O’Brien Beer

I’ve never thought of this blog as being a vehicle for beer reviews. After finishing up as assistant manager at Five Bar where we had worked hard to create a beer focused venue, I found myself missing my beery conversations with customers and ta-DA! girl+beer was born. Here I can once again talk with people about beer and share experiences around beer, especially local beers in the south west.

Me with captive audience during an event at Five Bar, and by captive I mean "waiting for the beer" Photo by Sandra Megan for Five Bar
Me with captive audience during an event at Five Bar,and by captive I mean “patiently waiting for their beer”

I am not a beer expert; I’m constantly learning and every post, every beer teaches me a little more (and also reminds me I really need to start running again!). I don’t know the ins and outs of brewing, I don’t know style guidelines but I love beer, its stories, its complexity and the beer community.

I guess what I am trying to say, in a very long winded way, is that I don’t think of my writing as “beer reviews” and I didn’t start my blog with the intention of trying to “score free stuff”.

You may wonder why I have rambled on this tangent, well I’ll tell you – I recently received an email from Katey at the Dig Marketing Group. The email was pretty brief; she wanted to send me a free sample of a new limited release from O’Brien Beer, could she have my postal address? I replied with my details because it was a nice offer and I’m always keen to try a new beer.

The bottle arrived a week or two ago but I waited for when I had a quiet moment so I could give the beer my full attention as I’m easily distracted and this can …

Oh, shiny thing!

… wait, where was I? Oh yeah, beer …

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Katey didn’t request that I review the beer on my blog. I’m not sure what the blogging etiquette is but writing up a post on this seemed like the right thing to do if someone went to the effort to send me a free beer in the post from across the country.

I wasn’t familiar with O’Brien Beer so, if you’re like me here’s a little background. It comes out of Ballarat, Victoria where they produce gluten free beer. Its founders John and Andrew were both diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and set out with the seemingly simple agenda to brew great tasting beer without gluten. I say “seemingly” because they tackled this goal with no professional brewing experience and that, to me, is great. The O’Brien Beer core range is now up to four; their story is a good read around beer and the unexpected, shared hobbies and a close call with a fire. Check it here on their website.

And now, let’s get to the beer shall we?

The Belgian Ale represents the first O’Brien limited edition gluten free beer. Production was limited to just 240 cases of 330ml bottles and a few kegs for their own brewery bar. “Brewed to cater for Australian autumn beer tastes”, the media release states, “it is still light and refreshing for the sunny warm days, but has a gentle alcohol warmth for the cool nights”.

I poured it into a wine glass, cause I’m a bit posh like that sometimes, and first noticed the inch thick of fine white head with tight bubbles. Yippee! It dissipated quickly to quite a thin cover. Less yippee.

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It might seem obvious to say but I’m going to anyway, you should definitely let this beer warm up. My first sip, fresh out of the fridge, had been underwhelming. As it warmed up those Belgian yeast characteristics of banana and clove came screaming through. I thought, oh this is just going getting better! I put the glass down and went off to check Facebook and stuff, leaving it to warn up a bit more.

Soft flavours of banana and clove bounced off a nice cereal base, backed up with a little honey, melon and light spices. Delicious! But don’t let all these delicate little flavours fool you, there’s a 6% abv hidden in there that leaves a nice warming feel. The O’Brien Belgian Ale is kinda like a wheat beer that went out, got a little tipsy and is now having a good ol’ groove on the dance floor. 

Yup, I’d buy a pint of this for myself and a friend.

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Thank you Katey at Dig Marketing for thinking of me and sending me a beer in the post. I’ve never received a beer in the post before! Thank you O’Brien Beer for allowing me to try your brand new beer.