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Category Archives: Beer review
Byron Bay Pale Lager 330ml The brewery is “Located in Skinners Shoot Road in Byron Bay”, declares the less-than-honest back label – omitting a crucial fact: CUB brews Pale Lager elsewhere and under licence. Don’t expect too much from the beer either. It’s a clean, fresh, fault-free quaffer with little to distinguish it from the pack.
Emerson’s London Porter 500ml $8.85 Emerson’s sits on the dark side of porter – black and brooding, its strong roasted-malt aroma reflected on a lively, malt-sweet palate that descends into an ash-dry finish and short-black coffee-like bitterness. It’s a beer for cold nights and hot food – perfect then for Canberra and Dunedin, New Zealand, where it’s made.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013 First published 27 February in The Canberra Times
Coopers Thomas Cooper’s Selection Celebration Ale 355ml 6-pack $20 The party kicks on. The commemorative ale Tim and Glenn Cooper released last year marking Cooper’s 150th anniversary is to join the company’s regular offerings. The ale’s reddish coloured, fruity, with citrusy hops high notes, generously flavoured and finishing hoppy and lingeringly bitter.
Wigram Brewing Co Bristol Best Bitter 500ml $4.60 Wigram Brewing, from Christchurch, New Zealand, nailed the English best bitter style with this delicious ale. The alcohol’s modest at 4.5 per cent, but the flavour’s big and beautiful – round, sweet and rich, with caramel-like maltiness. Beautifully judged hops add flavour and a persistent bitterness to offset the malt sweetness.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013 First published 20 February 2013 in The Canberra Times
Balmain Brewing Company Original Pale Ale 330ml $4.00 Working class Balmain completes its gentrification with the addition of a very good craft brewery. The golden-amber ale strokes the palate with silk-smooth texture , sweet, opulent malt and teasing, finely balanced hops flavour and bitterness. What a beautifully balanced ale it is.
Cairngorm Brewery Company Blessed Thistle 500ml $8.00 Scotland’s Cairngorm Brewery takes us back to the pre-hops days when brewers used various plants to offset malt sweetness. In this throwback, the brewers boiled thistles in the wort. However, they had a bob each way, adding hops, too. It’s a full, chocolaty, dark ale with a winey texture and mildly bitter aftertaste.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013 First published 13 February 2013 in The Canberra Times
Townshend Brewery Dinner Ale 500ml $6.58 Townshend comes from Upper Moutere, Nelson – the beautiful heart of New Zealand’s hop industry. The ale’s wussy four per cent alcohol is well and truly made up for by its attractive fruitiness and spicy, lightly pungent hops character. Natural carbonation adds to the overall gentleness and freshness of a distinctive brew.
Duke Premium Lager 330ml $4.98 Duke’s, from Burleigh Heads, Queensland, joins the increasingly crowded premium lager market with a decent but hardly distinctive brew. The lively, abundant white head, bright medium-golden colour; pleasant herbal, hoppy aroma and mildly bitter palate offer good refreshment, if not a new interpretation of the much-abused term, “premium lager”.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013 First published 6 February 2013 in The Canberra Times
Batlow Premium Cider 330ml 4-pack $16 What a contrast between the sweet, bland, mass-produced ciders and the crisp, crunchy apple-in-a-bottle taste of Batlow Premium – an off-dry, tart, cider made from apples grown within a 30 kilometre radius of Batlow. The company says it uses only freshly crushed apples, not concentrate, and adds no sugar. And it tastes like it.
Holgate Brewhouse Temptress Chocolate Porter 330ml $6.50 It’s not a heatwave brew, but at a tad over six per cent alcohol, Chocolate Porter suits those cool Canberra nights. It’s a porter, made from seven different malts, boosted by the addition of cocoa and vanilla beans. The vanilla sits well in the background. But the cocoa adds luxurious chocolate flavours and texture.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013 First publisehd 30 January 2013 in The Canberra Times
Grand Ridge Brewery Brewer’s Pilsner 330m 6-pack $18 Grand Ridge’s original beer, first tasted years ago at the brewery in Mirboo North, Gippsland Victoria, retains its original style. It’s an assertive Czech-inspired brew, big on malt, with a caramel-like richness, and cut through with the bracing, pungent aroma, flavour and lingering bitterness of Saaz hops – a robust and distinctive style.
Matilda Bay Minimum Chips Golden Lager 330ml 6-pack $19.99 Foster’s-owned Matilda Bay launched Minimum Chips in November through the various Woolworths-owned Dan Murphy, BWS and Woolworths Liquor; and on tap at its Port Melbourne Brewery and Bar. It’s a pleasing, full-bodied lager, mid-golden in colour with rich malt and a firm, assertive hops bitterness.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013 First published 23 January 2013 in The Canberra Times
William Bull William’s Pale Ale 330ml $18 De Bortoli makes this complex, quaffable brew at their William Bull brewery in Griffith, New South Wales. It’s pale lemon coloured and highly aromatic with a light but tasty and very brisk palate. Lively carbonation and terrifically clean, lingering hops bitterness give it a delicious tangy freshness.
William Bull Brewing Co William’s Pilsener 330ml $18 De Bortoli’s new beer stretches the endlessly elastic word “Pilsener” even further. What was originally a richly malty brew, featuring the exciting flavour and lingering bitterness of Saaz hops, now includes the fresh acidity of wheat malt and the teasing tartness of lactic acid, against a quite rich, malty background.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013 First published 16 January 2013 in The Canberra Times
Moon Dog Freaks and Geeks Farmhouse Ale 330ml $6.90 This Farmhouse ale results from collaboration between Danish brewer, Beerhere, and Moon Dog Brewery, Abbotsford, Victoria. The colour’s a dense, dark tan, the alcohol hits 7.6 per cent and the range of malts (including barley, rye, wheat and oats) gives exotic, tart, sweet and sour, savoury flavours. A Christmas pudding beer.
Moon Dog Wet Nurse Tonic Milk Stout 330ml $7.50 Moon Dog’s voluptuous milk stout trowels strong chocolate and roasted coffee bean flavours onto the palate. The slippery, creamy, fluffy texture adds to the overall opulence of a sweet but also bitter and seductive brew. Could be a great companion to Christmas chocolates and nuts.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 5 December in The Canberra Times
Temple Brewing Company Extra Special Bitter 330ml $4.90 The brilliant mid-amber, red-tinged colour and abundant head create great expectations for this brew from Brunswick East, Victoria. And the palate delivers – warm, malty and smooth with a lingering, delicious hops bitterness. Full marks to the marketers, too. The QR code scans to brief but detailed information about the beer.
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Whole-cone Imperial IPA 355ml $7.70 Hoptimum pole-vaults to the hoppiest of hoppy heights, measuring 100 on the international bitterness scale – roughly five times as much as the typical Australian lager. Opulent, sweet malt and a heady 10.4 per cent alcohol distract momentarily from the hops. But nothing can stop the resiny, bitter, citrusy hops deluge. It’s love or hate.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 28 November 2012 in The Canberra Times
A press release launching four Sail and Anchor beers, says, “the heritage listed Sail and Anchor Hotel in Fremantle was one of Australia’s first pub breweries”. But the smoke-and-mirrors press release tells us little about Sail and Anchor beers.
For starters the beers aren’t brewed there and the brand’s connection with the famous pub seems tenuous at best. It’s just a brand to be distributed exclusively through Woolworths’ liquor outlets – Woolworths Liquor, Safeway Liquor, BWS and Dan Murphy – and available on tap at hotels in the Woolworths’ controlled ALH Group. The Sail and Anchor Hotel is one of these.
The beers are made by Bill Hoedemaker at Gage Road Brewing Co Ltd. Woolworths is its biggest shareholder (23 per cent) and largest customer.
All of this is perfectly legitimate and good for competition in the beer market. But why not treat us as adults and tell the whole story?
Sail and Anchor Cat’s Shank Kolsch 330ml 4-pack $14 Kolsch originates in Cologne – a mild, bright refreshing beer straddling the boundary between ale and lager. Cat’s Shank’s pale lemon colour, zesty, medium-bodied palate and refreshing, mildly bitter palate do the job nicely – a decent beer at a reasonable price. May be subject to discounting among the Woolies’ retail brands, so watch out.
Sail and Anchor Boa’s Bind Amber Ale 330ml 4-pack $14 At five per cent alcohol, Boa’s Bind is the strongest of the new Sail and Anchor range. The medium amber colour seems to fit the rich but dry palate with its slightly bitter, roasted malt flavour. The latter dovetails pleasantly with the assertive hops bitterness that further dries out the finish.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 21 November 2012 in The Canberra Times