girl + Hottest 100 wrap up

There are already a couple of good wrap ups of this years Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beer countdown but I did want to do a little rambling too. I blame my delayed response on being in the middle of moving house, sleeping on an inflatable mattress does strange things to a girl, but here we go …

For those of us who choose Triple J as their radio station and good beer as their over-indulgence, the term “hottest 100” means two things on Australia Day –

  1. Triple J count down their Hottest 100 songs for the year as voted in one great big musical democracy, and
  2. The Local Taphouse, all round wonderful beer venue in Melbourne, runs their own hottest 100 on Australian craft beers with the support of Crafty Pint and Australian Brews News.

Thankfully this year our ears weren’t subjected to Thrift Shop whilst our taste buds appeared to be unmoved from 2012 with Feral Hop Hog returning to claim number 1 position.

IMG_20131213_201258

There are a couple of good wrap ups from my favourite beer literature already out there (links below) but I wanted to do a little rambling too.

Victoria is how but WA and NSW still on top – James Davidson

Australian Brews News

Hottest 100, where to from here? – Glen Humphries

Beer is Your Friend

The top three – Feral Hop Hog, Stone & Wood Pacific Ale and Little Creatures Pale Ale – were unsurprising considering they’re very tasty beers that are widely available.

What I’m wondering … Is the inclusion of Little Creatures Pale Ale in the top 3 for the fourth consecutive year and owned by brewing giants Lion Nathan, reflect the continued quality of the beer or wider distribution or even a growing embrace of less “mainstream” beers?

2009 Results – click here

2010 Results – click here

2011 Results – click here

2012 Results – click here

So whilst the top three wasn’t a roller coaster of emotions, the other 97 are interesting.

One notable exception to the list was Little Creatures Rogers’. It’s appeared in the last four years, admittedly at varied spots – #58 in 2009, #32 in 2010, #80 in 2011 and #85 in 2012 – but was M.I.A this year. I don’t feel like the beer has dropped off in terms of quality, it’s still a great tasting reduced booze beer with decent availability so what’s changed? Perhaps just the landscape of Australian craft beer has changed – the beers keep coming but there’s only ever 100 spots.

Rogers
Photo taken at Five Bar by Sandra Megan

Still in the Lion Nathan side of the beer world, another notable exception are the beers brewed under the Malt Shovel  and James Squire brand. In previous years the James Squire Porter, Golden and Amber Ale have all appeared in the countdown and last year it was the limited release “Mad Brewers” Hoppy Hefe but this year, like it’s cousin Rogers’, both Malt Shovel and James Squire beers are M.I.A. Good thing for Lion the rest of the Little Creatures and White Rabbit brands are well represented.

What I’m wondering … Is the countdown attracting more “hardcore” craft beer nerds who have long left behind their James Squire days or are people discovering craft beer at the pointer end of craft beer? For me, I think it started with Matilda Bay Redback but maybe for others it’s beers from smaller players like Stone & Wood and 4 Pines that are sending people on the craft beer juggernaut.

On the other end of the distribution spectrum there were some limited release and hard-to-get beers in the countdown too. Beers like Feral B.F.H Barrel Fermented Hog, which I only ever really see at the brewery and has not made it into bottle production, and limited release beers such as Stone & Wood’s Stone Beer and my personal favourite Nail Clout Stout clearly made an impression across the country on what was likely to be just a few tastings.

2012 Clout Stout ... from opening the box to pouring it into a glass
2012 Clout Stout … from opening the box to pouring it into a glass

It was also nice to see a few GABS beers, those brewed specifically for the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular festival back in May, appear in the countdown. Beers like Bacchus White Chocolate & Raspberry Pilsner (#59), Feral’s Barrique O Karma (#33) and Two Birds Taco (#25) all made the cut. A surprising omission, at least surprising to me, was Brew Cult’s Acid Freaks – a Balsamic Baltic Porter that had all the hallmarks of gimmicky but worked amazingly well, so much so that I hung my head in beery shame that I ever doubted the idea. My hat, if I wore one, to it’s creator Hendo is very much being tipped.

Brew Cult Acid Freaks

Personally, one of the things I love about the countdown are the beers I haven’t gotten my beer-grabby little hands on. My beer wish list grows and grows; this years list gave me beers like Holgate Road Trip, Fortitude Golden Ale, Doctor’s Orders Cephalopod and 2 Brothers Grizz to name a few.

What I’m wondering … Does this list influence your perception of these beers? If you genuinely didn’t like Feral Hop Hog, would you admit it or think you’re taste buds were wrong? I’d love to know you’re thoughts on the countdown, whether it’s interesting, just a little bit of fun or what it says about our countries love for good beer …

For me the countdown is fun, what’s most interesting to me is what happens after the top three. I like seeing what breweries keep making appearances year after year, I like seeing if American IPAs and Pale Ales are growing or shrinking in representation and clearly, I like talking about it too.

Cheers!

#temptingtuesday – January

What was your first beer of 2014?

What the heck is #temptingtuesday I hear you say? (well, in my head you do). It’s combining my love affair with Twitter, the fun of chatting with great people and my eternal affection for beer. The mechanics are simple, just like its author, where on the first Tuesday of each month I ask the big wide Twitterverse a beer related question. I get inspired and blog the results.

Like an enthusiastic date with wandering hands, the new year is now upon us. Many of us have made new years resolutions centred around health – vowing to increase exercise and decreasing booze consumption (my armband smart phone case should arrive in my letter box any minute now).

But the thing about this new years resolution stuff is that you gotta make it reasonable and achievable, I reckon it’s about starting the year as you intend to finish it – with a damn good beer.

So it seemed fitting to ask the social media world …

What was your first beer of 2014?

Burleigh Brewing FIGJAM
My first beer of 2014 – Burleigh Brewing FIGJAM
Aromas of caramel, orange and marmalade
Very sessionable IPA with a nice spicy character, tropical fruits and dry finish.

And I wasn’t the only one bringing in the new year in beer-style …

Cavalier Berliner Weisse

Bridge Road Summer Single Hop IPA

Hargreaves Hill 2010 The Phoenix

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Mapel Ale

Brewdog Black Tokyo Horizon

Mornington Peninsula IPA

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Jack D’or

Edge Brewing Project Ashes to Mashes

Epic Hop Zombie

Some went local …

Little Creatures IPA

Rogers’

Feral Hop Hog

Cheeky Monkey Hagenbeck

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery
Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery

Others went ‘formerly local’ …

Matilda Bay Fat Yak

Whilst others admitted to questionable taste bud decisions …

VB can

Crown Lager

So, here’s the big question – what did you toast in the new year with?

5 Minutes with Danielle from Two Birds Brewing

5 minutes and 5 quick questions with one half/one bird of the Two Birds Brewing team, Danielle Allen

“Two Birds are Brewing” – that was the article headline recently on Crafty Pint and those four little words set the Australian craft beer world into simultaneous smiles. Jayne Lewis and Danielle Allen, the aforementioned birds, are set to open their brewery sometime in 2014.

Jayne & Danielle Two Birds Brewing Image from Two Birds Brewing website
Jayne & Danielle
Two Birds Brewing
Image from Two Birds Brewing website

[writers advance apology – brace yourself for my awful bird related puns, sorry, don’t get yourself in a flap (BOOM!)]

After hatching back in 2011 and contract brewing their beloved Sunset Ale and Golden Ale in both VIC and WA, the birds are finally making themselves a nest to call their own.

This can only mean good things for those of us who get child-like excitement when they see Two Birds in shops and bars – more Two Birds goodness flying into our grateful hands. Yippee!

Two Birds was the word on Twitter as their new brewery news broke! Follow the ladies on Twitter - @TwoBirdsBrewing
Two Birds was the word on Twitter as their new brewery news broke! Follow the ladies on Twitter – @TwoBirdsBrewing

With this great news it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get to know the birds a little better, so first up on ‘5 minutes with …’ we have Danielle [insert round of applause here please]

What beer did you drink last night?

hahah..so typical of me…..Sunset Ale in bottle – I dropped into a local bar on my way out to dinner and spotted it in their fridge. I thought I better do some quality checking. My husband had a Murray’s Whale Ale on tap, so I had some of that too!

Finish this sentence – Craft beer is like …

… the start of a new exciting world for me.

Name one Aussie beer, past or present, that you wish you had brewed

Stone & Wood Pacific

What is the best thing you have learnt from the other bird? / Brewer Jayne?

The art of beer, the science of beer, beer ‘talk’, patience and how to party with beer people!

What is the very first thing you’ll do when the new Two Birds Brewing is ready?

Sit at our spots we’ve chosen by the window in the sunlight with our ‘Nest’ brewed beer, cheers each other, probably cry & embrace what’s ahead.

Celebrating my 30th birthday in style on the beach
Celebrating my 30th birthday in style on the beach

Big thanks to Danielle, hope to see you soon (Good Beer Week, perhaps?!) – next up, it’s Jayne’s turn!

Once, Twice, Three Cans a Lady

The beginning of a journey into beer cans …

Craft beer nerds are getting excited about cans.

Wait, let me rephrase that so it doesn’t sound so sleazy.

Craft beer nerds are getting excited about good tasting cans.

I give up.

It sounds wrong but it’s true. Craft beer in the form of cans rather than bottles seems to be the “next big thing”, for lack of a better and less abused term. Us beer nerds are excited at the prospect of cans, there’s no light or oxygen getting through to ruin our beloved beverage and let’s face it, crushing a can is a pretty satisfying, if a little childish, way to spend three seconds.

All three are from Oskar Blues Brewery (USA) and were purchased recently from Cellarbrations Carlisle.

Of course, with anything beer related, the most important thing is “does it taste good?” and so I opened three cans to start my canned-education …

Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red IPA
8.7% ABV

Beautiful copper colour with a good thick head. The first whiff reminded me of fresh Anzac biscuits and it was followed by mango, pineapple and something delicately spicy. Flavour-wise it’s super well balanced between the toffee, toasty malts and floral, tropical fruit hops. I got a little caramel too and a spicy floral finish.

The 8.7% ABV creeps up on you with a cheeky grin on it’s face

A link to follow – check out what Oskar Blues says about their beer and find out who it’s named after

Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s IPA
8% ABV

Oskar Blues call the colour of this beer a “copper ball of fire” but to me it’s almost the definition of sunshine in a can – orange, bright and vibrant. The bready, biscuity malt and orange, grapefruit hop aromas are lovely. Like it’s G’Knight cousin, it’s another gulp-worthy and very well balanced beer. The hops give off pineapple, grapefruit and stone fruit flavours and the malts provide biscuits and caramel.

A link to follow – read Oskar Blue’s devilish tale behind their beer

Oskar Bluse Ten Fidy Imperial Stout
10.5% ABV

It’s thick and viscous so it doesn’t so much as pour from the can as it oozes into the glass. The aromas weren’t as big as I expected but I got a touch of melon/berry fruitiness at the front with some roast and cacao in there too. I loved the smooth vanilla, chocolate flavours and dry, grapefruit-like finish.

Holy shitballs Batman, this is a freaking great beer!

 

 

A link to follow – when these guys say it’s a “smooth blanket of malt” they’re not kidding!

How sexy is this photo!?

And in something a little closer to home one of my favourite Australian breweries Mountain Goat have had their cans out for a while now. It’s a welcome addition to summer 2014 – it’s uber refreshing, lemon zesty with peach, pear and lime and a light spiciness and oh, did I mention it’s really refreshing?! 

Mountain Goat Summer Ale
4.7% ABV
Some canned-reading  if you’re keen …

Craft Beers Say Hello Cans – Forbes

A podcast from The Craft Beer Academy

Canned versus Bottled Beer – Esquire

It’s in the Can – Crafty Pint

Yeastie Boys PKB Remix + Gorgonzola

Beer and cheese are two of my favourite things – stupidly delicious with a huge arrays of flavours and they’re just so damn good together. Just like my beer journey, exploring cheese and beer pairings never ends and is first and foremost a lot of fun.

Beer and cheese are two of my favourite things – stupidly delicious with a huge arrays of flavours and they’re just so damn good together. Just like my beer journey, exploring cheese and beer pairings never ends and is first and foremost a lot of fun.

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black Remix 2013 Black IPA 6.5%
Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black Remix 2013
Black IPA
6.5%

The Beer …

Yeastie Boys PKB (Pot Kettle Black) Remix 2013 – a black india pale ale from New Zealand. It’s got de-husked chocolate malt and three different hop varieties – Sauvin, Motueka and Wakatu … and yeah, you may have guessed it, they’re Kiwi hops.

The aroma of this beer reminded me of chocolate buttons, it took me right back to being a ten year old and walking away from the deli with a paper bag full of chocolate buttons. The beer was silky smooth with a dry and tropical fruit finish, the chocolate mellowed out as it warmed up and the chocolate dustiness jumped up.

The Cheese  …

Piccante is a style of Gorgonzola, more traditional and mature than it’s Dolce counterpart

You know you’ve abused your palate when you’re getting stuck into some gorgonzola and you think, “oh that’s lovely and mild”.

The Gorgonzola was Castel Regio Gorgonzola DOP Piccante from the Blue Cow Cheese tent at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape back in November and we’ve been slowly chipping away at it since.

Together  …

I wasn’t confident when I paired these two together but it really worked. The malty chocolate backbone of the beer seemed to go with the warm richness of the cheese. Perhaps it was also the contrast of tropical fruits in beer and saltiness from the cheese.

A Silly Analogy to sum things up …

Like a sketchy blind date your mum set up for you, going into this pairing felt like it could have gone either way – pretty good or very, very average. Luckily these two are great together!

Should you try this at home?

Definitely. I’d normally pair Gorgonzola with rich IPAs or barleywines but this was a delightful surprise!

Yeastie Boys PKB Remix 2013 and Gorgonzola

Once Upon a Beer …

Like any good bartender I’ve got a few stories; some are printable and some are not (sorry mum) and from time to time I’ll be sharing the fun, beer related, printable stories. Here’s the first …

Not all that long ago I used to be a bartender. But I wasn’t one of those fancy ones who shook cocktails and preferred to be called a “mixologist”, nah I was a pub bartender. Beer was my thing and I got really excited when people wanted to talk about beer. Like any good bartender I’ve got a few stories; some are printable and some are not (sorry mum) and from time to time I’ll be sharing the fun, beer related, printable stories. Here’s the first …
Five Bar 2011
Five Bar
2011

Once upon a beer I was working at Five Bar in Mt Lawley, it was a Saturday afternoon and a group came in for lunch. There were five guys and three girls, all in their mid twenties if I had to make a guess. They were poring over the drinks list, pardon the pun, and I was delighted to find the guys engrossed in the beer list, a beer list I wrote no less. They all asked questions and each of them picked a different beer. Two of the girls ordered from the wine list, I think it was a sauvignon blanc but the third girl surprised me.

Despite knowing better I admit that I still fully expected her to order a white wine so when she flicked through the beer list I was a little surprised.

When she asked me about the Schlenkerla Rauchbier I almost fell over.

“It’s fantastic,” I replied before asking, “you know that smell of lots of different meat when you walk into The Re-Store*?”

“Yeah,” she said.

“Well it tastes like that” I said and smiled. She ordered it and love it.

So what’s the morale of the story?

Beer drinkers are fantastically unpredictable!

Puy Lentils and Schlenkerla Marzen at Five Bar January 2011
Puy Lentils and Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen at Five Bar
January 2011

*The Re-Store is amazing. Cheese, meat, booze, bread and the best lunch rolls you’ve ever had! Check out their Facebook page here.

New Beer Week

5 nights + 5 incredible beers

My partner and I are in the process of moving back to Perth so we are slowly transitioning between the south west and P-town. This means that we are spending a few nights apart and so to sooth my aching heart I’ve been using beer – one new beer every night I’ve had the house to myself.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar 6.2% abv
Night 1: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
6.2% abv

This bottle was given to me some time ago accompanied by a boasting verbal review that this beer was sensational, that it was incredible, that it was amazing. With that sort of pressure, would it be possible for this beer to live up to such high expectations?

The answer is yes. Nice initial toffee apple sweetness with hints of green apple and a long dry finish. Each mouth full is warming but it’s hard to detect the six-something % ABV. It’s got a lot going on but is relatively light bodied that caught me by surprise.

Night 2: Boneyard Red Ale 2.9% abv
Night 2: Boneyard Red Ale
2.9% abv

I had no idea this was so low in ABV until I looked at the label. There was so much to smell in this beer – toffee apple, burnt caramel, biscuits, it was hard to keep my face out of the glass. The malts are well balanced with some mid palate fruity hops. The finish had a hint of tart/sour that was nice though I’m not sure whether it was supposed to be there.

Night 3: Brew Cult Acid Freaks 7.5% abv
Night 3: Brew Cult Acid Freaks
7.5% abv

Technically this isn’t a new beer for me. I fell in love with it at last years Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular and then bought some from Cellarbrations Carlisle.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this beer is genuinely interesting and well balanced, a great beer to sip on with food. The alcohol and balsamic are perfect together, there’s red berry flavours and a long soft finish that reminda me of red grape skin.

Night 4: Red Duck Gruitest 6.3% abv
Night 4: Red Duck Gruitest
6.3% abv

This is a damn sexy beer.

A beer without hops that instead uses a variety of herbs for putting in flavour. Stone fruit, berry, floral and apple cider aromas. There’s pretty much zip the way of carbonation and a nice dry finish with some under ripe apricots. It’s crisp, funky, more-ish and devilish hiding it’s 6.3% abv.

Night 5: Yeastie Boys PKB Remix 2013 6.5% abv
Night 5: Yeastie Boys PKB Remix 2013
6.5% abv

Another brilliant drop to finish a week of excellent beers. It smelt like chocolate buttons, I wanted to keep smelling it over and over again. The chocolate fades to a dry malty finish with some tropical fruits. As a black IPA this is certainly one of my favourite examples of the style.

Thanks beer for being such good company in lieu of my favourite company.