Matilda Bay — the beer lover’s side of Fosters

In last week’s column we looked at the emergence of bland beers made for people who don’t like beer – a peculiar situation indeed for brewers to be in.

Paradoxically, at the same time as it manufactures these beverages, market leader Foster’s brews classic global beer styles under its Matilda Bay brand.

Disheartened by the trend to blandness, I put a mixed box of Matilda Bay brews on the tasting bench. They scrubbed up pretty well.

I’ve reviewed the style bookends, Redback Original Wheat Beer and Alpha Pale Ale, below, but the other four beers rate well, too.

Beez Neez offers the light refreshment of wheat beer, with subtle honey seasoning and subtle, bitter hops kiss in the finish.

Bohemian Pilsner, a Schloss Shanahan favourite, offers traditional, lingering Pilsener bitterness, with the distinctive bite and flavour of Saaz hops.

Big Helga, a comparative newcomer to the line up, and made in the full-bodied, malty Bavarian style (think of Lowenbrau) has sufficient hops bitterness to freshen the finish and balance the malt sweetness.

Fat Yak Pale Ale, billed as an Australian pale ale style, could be viewed as a mild version of the turbo-hopped Alpha Pale Ale. But if it’s mild by comparison, it remains more malty and bitter than most beers.

Matilda Bay Redback Original Wheat Beer 345ml 6-pack $18.99
This tastes to me more in the banana-aromatic southern German style than the spicy Belgian style. The palate, too, is fruity and smooth textured, with crisp acidity and just a trace of bitterness from the Saaz and Pride of Ringwood hops. It’s on the lighter side, but true to style.

Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale 345ml 6-pack $19.99
This is full-bore American-style pale ale, featuring opulent malt and eyebrow singeing hops. It’s the sort of beer brewers love making and enthusiasts adore. It’s quite a trick packing in so much flavour and bitterness and maintaining drinkability. Appropriately, brewer Scott Vincent uses Cascade hops from Washington State.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010