Oak and smoke

3 05 2011

About a month ago I churned out a post concerning the Fed Square Microbreweries Showcase in which I waffled on with praise about 3 Ravens Dark, a delicious yet easy-drinking smoky beer with a remarkable but subtle bacon-like finish. Perhaps a very distant relative of something like Ardbeg Uigeadail. Anyway, I was delighted to find some bottles of the brand-spanking-new (but limited) 3 Ravens Double Ale Noir at Slowbeer not too long ago, a barrel-aged version of the Dark. Here’s a blurb/description from The Crafty Pint:

The latest limited release (very limited release) from 3 Ravens has undergone quite a journey. It takes the concept of last year’s first Ale Noir (a Geelong Pinot Noir barrel-aged take on their Dark smoke beer) and adds another dimension. The barrel that was used last time around was refilled with Dark beer which spent ten months maturing. A second batch of Dark was placed into a fresh Pinot barrel for six weeks and then the two were blended. The result is a 6.5% beer that brewer Dave Brough says has “a big oaky, vanilla and earthy phenolic nose”. There’s a thinner body than last year’s as there was less malt to “fatten it up”, he says, which along with the slightly acidic notes and long, dry finish give it a vinous character. As for the palate, it’s “a full bodied Pinot spiced with subtle malt sweetness and peated Scotch notes”. There’s only the tiniest handful of kegs so keep your eyes peeled for where they turn up.

6 Ravens Quadruple Ale Noir Noir.

For some reason I was expecting a ramped-up version of the Dark, but the casking appears to have softened it quite a lot. I can probably agree with the aforementioned “vinous” characteristic though, you can tell there’s something a little different about this beer from the rest of the 3 Ravens offerings.

I still have one of those bottles sitting in the cupboard, I may break it out in the future for a side-by-side with the standard Dark.

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Beer porn

10 04 2011

The beer orgy continues! A diversity of the ol’ barley pop has been swilled over the past few weeks here at Nondakure HQ. In a slight change of tack, this post will be more visual than textual. In other words, I’m just being plain lazy and can’t be bothered constructing a proper piece of writing.

Tosser's Real Dry. This is the first time in 12 years I've seen beer in a plastic bottle. Says a lot about the venue in which it's served... then again, it provides inebriated bogans with an opportunity to belt each other with their drinking vessels without actually causing serious harm. And don't even get me started on the jokes about the name of the beer.

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

-Abraham Lincoln

Brew Dog Paradox. Now here's an interesting one... it's not exactly a secret that I enjoy whisky, so the thought of a beer matured in whisky casks - in this case, The Arran Malt - is a lip-smacking proposition. The only problem is that I've never actually tried Arran, so I'm not exactly sure what points of reference I'm looking for here (er, other than whisky) but it was delicious nonetheless. Chapel Street Cellars and Slow Beer here in Melbourne have a variety of other beers aged in whisky casks (including a number of peated whisky casks), although unfortunately the vast majority are beyond the sort of price I'm willing to pay for a beverage that, once opened, you have to drink in its entirety.

“A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.”

-Czech proverb

Here is a comment left by user "Eddie murphy" on thebackpacker.net website concerning Phoenix Beer from Mauritus: "I had phoenix beer when i was in mauritius it was wicked. I got really drunk and i didnt care im telling you guys once you drink phoenix you wont drink another beer. I also like cool aid ma mama makes that for me all the time. i like to smoke weed and drink phoenix beer. Smoke de sensimiila an drink de phoenix beer!! i like to sing micheal jacksons song oh tito stop teasing, im telling mom. i also like cock." I'm actually going to Mauritius in July, so expect further commentary on this beer (and in all likelihood, the local rums) a few months down the track.

“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”

-Frank Zappa

L-R: HaandBryggeriet 'Norwegian Wood', Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale, 3 Ravens Dark, 8 Wired 'The Big Smoke' Smoked Porter. All picked up from Slow Beer in Hawthorn. The Norwegian Wood was impressive (apparently it's a recreation of traditional Norse beer), quite a distinct spicy and smokey finish to it, and the first beer I've tried featuring juniper twigs and berries in the ingredients. Greatly enjoyed the Hitachino brew as well, the cedar barrels definitely impart a unique flavour. Definitely keen to try more from that brewery, might even be worth a side-trip next time I'm in Japan. 3 Ravens Dark has been the highlight of the last two Fed Square Microbrewery Showcase events I've been to (see my last post), and 'The Big Smoke' was a decent but balanced wallop of smoke, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Good stuff.

“Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

Okay, so not booze, but I put in an order for some of Blair's sauces. Deadly stuff, and an absolute must for chilli freaks. On the Scoville scale, regular Tabasco rates about 2,500 to 5,000. Mega Death Sauce is around 500,000, Ultra Death is about 800,000. And I've learned to not inhale whilst taking in a mouthful of anything coated in Death Rain habanero powder.

“He was a wise man who invented beer.”

-Plato

Tusker. Significant mainly for the fact that it’s the first beer from mainland Africa (Kenya, to be precise) that I’ve tried. Not sure if the cheeky rogues who designed the logo intended to draw a comical elephant in blackface… well, at least that’s what I see, probably says more about me than the people from Tusker. Anyway, apparently the logo is a reference to the founder of Kenya Breweries Ltd who was killed by an elephant whilst on a hunt. Here’s to that elephant.

“Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.”

-Henry Lawson

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout. And you'd better believe it's stouter and as bitter as a North Korean despot. Okay, perhaps not reaching Arrogant Bastard Ale standards (I mean the beer, not the tyrant), but it's got some heft to it. The financial controller at my current place of employment also happens to be in a similar position at Mountain Goat... I really ought to ask if they need an extra pair of hands, so I can stand around looking lost and confused in a completely new place of employment.





“Just hook it to my veeeiiins!”

2 04 2011

As contemptuous as I am of Australia’s big-name beer brands, sometimes I resort to pouring their filthy suds down my gullet. Case in point: last week I was out at a live music venue here in Melbourne, already mildly blitzed, and determined to chart a course for further inebriation. When this is your main goal for the evening (and don’t ever accuse me of being an individual who can’t set and reach personal goals) attributes of taste may often have to take a backseat, particularly if frugality is of some concern. Unwilling to pay $8 or so for some entry-level bottled muck, I opted for some entry-level on-tap muck in the form of a $3.50 pot of Carlton Draught. As long as it’s chilled, and as long as your taste buds are already numbed from prior potation, it’s sufficiently inoffensive and does the job. And it’s not Tooheys New, which is always a bonus. Long gone are the days of dollar pots, and for a club-style venue, $3.50 for a pot of beer is surprisingly reasonable.

(For the readers beyond these Antipodean borders – all two of you – a “pot” is a beer glass size of 285mL, or 10 fl oz, used in Victoria, and apparently in Queensland as well. See this link for more beer glass sizes in Australia and the peculiar names bestowed upon them.)

I’m acutely aware of having opened myself to the charge of snobbery or elitism of some sort. But really, given the choice, why wouldn’t you drink something a little tastier, a little quirkier, a little different? Even if it means having to endure some dickhead at the bar muttering, “Hmmph, poof” under his breath as you walk away with the fancy Belgian raspberry lambic ale you just ordered. On the other hand, I also acknowledge the fact that I frequently find myself in establishments of questionable merit, thus I must also always be prepared to begrudgingly take whatever’s on offer.

Anyway, this rambling is somewhat tied to an event I attended quite recently – the Fed Square Microbreweries Showcase (and I notice that they’ve already put up the information for the next event in October). A solidly enjoyable event, and excellent value for $25. Here’s a list of the beers and ciders I tried:

2 Brothers Growler, 3 Ravens Dark, 3 Ravens Black, Arctic Fox Chocolate Stout, Bellarine Port Pilsner, Bright Brewery Raspberry Lambic, Coldstream Spring Lager, Kooinda Belgian Witbier, Hawthorn Premium Pale Ale, Mildura Storm Cloudy Ale, Mildura Choc Hops, Mountain Goat Skipping Girl Summer Ale, Napoleone Pear Cider, Napoleone Apple Cider, Otway Brewing Organic Blueberry Hefeweizen, Rebello Apple Cider, Sweetwater Weissbier, Pipsqueak Cider.

This is the Atrium in Federation Square. A most unfitting name, given that not a single right angle seems to exist in the entire bloody complex.

My highlight of last October’s event was the 3 Ravens Dark, and it didn’t disappoint this year. Utterly delicious, smokey, almost bacon-like finish. Definitely one for fans of Islay malts. Another big surprise was Mildura Choc Hops. I’ve tried a handful of chocolate stouts, but this was staggeringly delicious. Apparently it’s being released in a small handful of bottleshops soon, certainly keen to get my hands on some. In the cider category, Napoleone absolutely nailed it with their apple and pear ciders. Clean, tart, and not sweet. Rebello’s Cheeky Rascal ciders are similarly praiseworthy, especially their apple and strawberry cider – far better than the nauseatingly sweet and fruity Swedish ciders that are currently all the rage (but hey, I’ll still drink one if I’m offered…)

You’d think 20 x 60mL samples is a bit tight-fisted, barely enough to wet your whistle, although I was admittedly struggling to get rid of the last couple of drink tickets.

Let's see whether your handwriting is any better after a shitload of beer whilst using your non-preferred hand to write whilst the other hand holds both the booklet and a glass of beer.

I’m already looking forward to the next time one… all I have to do is wait seven months. Bah. Let me know if you hear of any similar events in Melbourne in the near future! And watch out for more beer-related posts coming to Nondakure soon!