Category Archives: new beers

Zen and free beer

Despite the heat my levels of Zen are sitting at a higher than normal level this week.

My weekend brewing session went well (yes I remembered the yeast and hops) seeing me punch out two batches in 6 hours. Thats pretty damn good and I managed to keep my efficiency up. And thanks to a phone conversation with Hendo distracting me from where I was up to I ended up with more beer than I was shooting for but it still made the gravity targets ( I transfer wort in a bucket 5 litres at a time, I lost count). Sometimes it pays not to have things go to plan.

Brewing these two pretty simple beers, a porter and a my old pale ale also reminded me of how good some simple things. Firstly my pale ale uses Chinook hops, a hop I havent used much for a while. It might just be this particular batch but damn they smelled great, just an awesome punchy smell. Loved it. And the smell of a porter mash, all coffee and roast and blackness, fantastic!

Might have been my mood or what I had for lunch or just the high levels of zen I was experiencing but these two smells just relly made me smile. Must make more porters and use more chinook. Perhaps chinook mash hopped in a porter?

The zen continued past the brewing. I got some free beer from twitter. Thanks to the guys at Renegade Brews I got a free glass of Bayrischer Bahnhof Berliner Weisse at Slow Beer. This was a great beer, really complex, sharp and tart with a great nose (even though my first thought was a feet like smell, piedo I think?). It also gave me a chance to have a chat to one of the guys from Renegade (whose name now escapes me, that’s a tad embarrassing). Anyway good beer, good conversation. Cant go wrong with that, and I’m looking forward to some more interesting imports from these guys, based on the Berliner Weisse I expect good things.

Add to that my humble little attempt to get some beer made commercially sneaking along a bit more and I’m off fishing on the bay tonight, all in all it was a very zen week. Even if I don’t catch a massive snapper this evening I think its going to round off as a good week.

Have a Zen weekend everybody.

Cheers D



hmmm not sure what to write about this one

I have been a little slack lately, not blogging as often as I’d like to and I think that my new job may be to blame. In the past I have often noticed that when work is shit I blog more often. As I like my new job I havent been blogging that much.

I’m also pretty bloody busy and have an annoying cough/cold/flu thing that is really bloody annoying. Its most annoying first thing in the morning, and in the past couple of days my voice has almost given up the ghost in meetings. Perhaps I should say less?

Anyway the new office is near Black Hearts and Sparrows on Punt Rd. Hence good beer is only a short walk away. I had a good meeting on Tuesday so I rewarded myself with a selection of new beers, one of which I’m having right now. I was going to write about it, but no, that wont be happening as it’s not that good and I don’t see any point in slinging shit and someone having a crack. It’s a low ABV beer and I get what they are trying to do, but it’s just not quite there. I had a crack at a low ABV saison a few weeks ago and know the challenge. There’s something that goes missing in a beer when you get under about 4.5%ABV. I think it’s that less malt thinness thing that seems to go on. Its manageable in english pales/milds and stouts but its hard to get right. Anyway its a challenge that’s worth having a crack at. Good on them for trying but keep at it, I’m in the same boat.

As for the selection at Black Hearts and Swallows its great, a selection that contains some of my greatest hits, Belgian sours, some US stuff, some great Scandinavian and other assorted good beers before you even get to the strong Aussie contingent. However I have struck a few so so beers there, this one, and another so-called “wild” saison that while it wasnt bad was nowhere near “wild”.

My attempts at broadening the old beer pallet here have been struggling so far. I’m wanting to go beyond the usual suspects but when I do I’m failing more often than not. Well recently anyway.

So it seems I need to blog more and find more consistently exciting new beer. OK.

And I need to brew more. Last year I broad 19 batches. This year only 9. Thats no good, I need to remedy this. Perhaps its just a scheduling issue? with no event this year I would have struggled to clear all the beer, but I also would have had more entries in VicBrew (only 6 this year and a few of them are 2011 brewed). My brewing space and time are now severely limited but this is something I need to sort out. No idea how but I’m on it. Oh and I need to figure out how I can remotely dry hop my IPA’s, they are just not the same with out the dry hopping, and dry hopping at the start of the ferment really isn’t doing the job.

So more blogging, more good beer, more brewing. That’ll do.

Cheers D

Southern Bay Porter Three Ways

Just a quick post as I have to go have beers at a work related industry dinner. No doubt they will be serving Crown Lager because as we all know that is one classy mother of a beer.

Last night I went across to the Royston Hotel in Richmond to have a crack at some beers made by Hendo, at his “Southern Bay Porter Three Ways” event. This gave me not only a good excuse to drink some good beer with some like-minded people (always a good idea) and try some one-off beers (also a good idea) but also I also finally got to drink at the Royston.Southern Bay Porter Three Ways!

Now I’ve only ever heard good things about the Royston, as a great pub and craft beer venue however I’ve never made it there. I have planned to but I’ve either had to many over the road at Mountain Goat or ventured there on days when it was closed. Fixed all that last night.

The unremarkable pub from the outside is warm and beery on the inside. Last night it also had three versions of one beer on the go, Southern Bay Metal Head Porter. This was designed, overseen, engineered, given birth to by Hendo, a man who does not have hair but is very intense about his beer and started his brewing career using only bottled Evian water.

Enough on Hendo, on to the beer. I’ve had the porter before (at De Ja Vu I think?) and it was ok, not the best beer in the world but certainly a good porter for having a few off on a lazy winter afternoon. Nice beer, not overly complicated but a good beer to go for if you want something dark.

Stage 2 to this beer was the addition of cold steeped coffee to one batch and bourbon vanilla to another. Enter the challenging beers!

So the coffee beer was on tap in the regular fashion and initially was I thought less impressive of the two adulterated “metal heads”, but then it warmed and it grew. The coffee added a real roasty backbone to the beer, almost a dustyness. There was a fair dose of fruity acidity added by the coffee, but I got more of my morning coffee hit than fruit out of this beer. There was also an interesting conversation about how much caffeine actually makes it into the beer? the answer – we don’t know. Worth considering over a beer though.

Now to the Bourbon Vanilla beer – this one was on hand tap, so is a less carbonated drop. This gave it a real soft pallet, with the removal of a bunch of the CO2 taking away part of the carbonic bite that comes from kegged beer. Add this to the vanilla sweetness and you have a velvet smooth beer that screams desert. One the first taste this beer made me go wow. What a beer, just so different, think vanilla or bourbon whiskey.

So I tasted all 3 beers at the same time, switching back and forwards. Initially I was in love with the vanilla, then I ended up in love with the coffee. Then I did a 50/50 mix. That didn’t really add anything special, but the beer was still good.

So get on down to the Royston right now if you want to try these beers, they might be still there? no idea how long for but get there anyway as they have a bunch of great beers on tap.

Oh and go hassle Hendo on twitter if you want to know about more of his beer events, I think his twitter is SirHendo but I don’t know the twitter so that’s just an informed guess.

Cheers D


The 10 minute commute and a Seedy Goat Coffee IPA

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but I’ve got a new job. Its a good gig, more cash, great opportunity, all that stuff. Oh and did I mention that my commute to work is now only a 10 minute walk? Yep its great. It’s through a nice park too. Excellent way to start the day, that and coffee, that makes for a good start to the day. However today I am choosing to also end my day with coffee. It’s in beer though, a Seedy Goat Coffee IPA.

I will get to that in a minute. Firstly I brewed last week and it all went more or less to plan. Let there be ZEN! After my resignation IPA that was a prick of a brew day (mice, blocked equipment and electrical fires) and then the beer didn’t even work out (all sour and off tasting, I tipped it out) I was really hanging out for a good brew day. New equipment, fresh ingredients, no sheep in my brew house. What could go wrong? well a lot actually but the only two things that were anything other than spot on was some hops that I’d had for a while didn’t smell right so I used some other hops instead (it was some whole cone galaxy that was oxidised, didn’t smell good at all) and I forgot to put a charge of hops in the low ABV saison so I added it as dry hop instead.

Both beers are now fermenting away beautifully, well at least I think they are. My Dad checked them last night and reported that the temp controller was on 19 deg C (its set for 20 deg C) and that they looked all foamy and a bit brown. I’ll take that as a healthy krausen, and call them fermenting well. They need to be, I need to have the low ABV saison set for the ANHC “How low can you go” comp next weekend (the 15th Sept I think) and the IPA ready for Vicbrew (the 22nd Sept). So far so good, will have to see how they go.

Anyway back to the beer, its one of their seasonal releases, I usually like them but seldom go crazy for them. This beer is no real difference. Its good, and clean with some coffee character that’s a bit like you get out of those pour over or siphon coffees. Dont buy this beer expecting to taste espresso. It fits in the realm of an English IPA, the fruity coffee from Nicaragua sits well with fruity beer. They apparently also used galaxy and cascade hops, I’m not really getting them though. Could be the coffee cutting over the top or just me not getting them. Not sure, I may be having a bad tasting night? I’m not really sure on this one either way. Let me know if you’ve tried it?

Anyway that’ll do for now, day number 2 of the new job tomorrow.

Cheers D




Zen tomorrow times 2, now a colab beer

I’m excited.

While I happen to be having quite a nice local/international collaboration beer that’s a bit of a hangover from Good Beer Week that’s not why I’m excited.

Right now my car is all loaded up with brand spanking brewing gear and ingredients. The shearing of my folks sheep is finally done and my brewhouse is no longer needed as the smoko room for the shearers. So that’s right, I’m brewing tomorrow, two batches. Two batches so hopefully that’ll be double the zen. This is my last-ditch effort to have a crack at a fresh entry for VicBrew, and perhaps a low ABV beer for the ANHC “How low can you go” comp. This will hopefully result in a nice US IPA and a 3 and a bit % ABV Saison of sorts.

Some Zen would be really nice to round out my week of unemployment. So would another week or two off but that will have to wait, the new job awaits. Still I can fit in some Zen.

I also need to bottle the bret infused farmhouse ale (that’s what I’m calling it, in VicBrew it’ll probably be listed under “beer – other”). I have no idea what this beer will be like, but fingers crossed it’ll be OK as its been ageing for around seven months. No idea what it’ll taste like, but again fingers crossed.

So to the beer that is easing me into my day of Zen tomorrow? A joint effort by Red Duck and Kissmyers Beers, a double IPA called Hop Bach.  Apparently it has 25 hops in it. No idea what hops were used, just a lot. I think that’s part of the flavor of this beer, no particular hop flavor, just all of them. Its kind of resiny and a bit piney with a lingering bitterness. All this balanced with a fairly full and sweet malt backbone. As its 9.8 % ABV a bunch of that sweetness is probably the booze. Again nice beer, not an everyday beer, but a really nice sipper. It’s a little low on the carbonation, but the bottle lid popped open with a really nice pop, and some bits of wax hit me in the face. The booze hits you in the face to, nice and warming.

Finding info on this beer is a little difficult, Anders Kissmeyer, the man behind Kissmeyer beer is everywhere on the web related to beer, but I can’t find a website for him (Click here for the best I could find). Red Duck has this beer listed as a to be released beer on their website, and as there were only 650 of the distinctive wax dipped swing top bottles good luck finding one. I can confirm that at most there are 649 left. Oh and for a better description of the beer without my bullshit go to the Craft Pint.

OK so brewing tomorrow, all good, lots of Zen, fingers Crossed. And hopefully back in time to go for beers in the city.

Cheers D

PS – I’ll post the recipes when (or if) I get around to it and no I don’t know if this beer being symphony #1 means that there will be a symphony #2

PPS – oh and I like this youtube clip – remember its potatoes not pasta! follow the link you fool!


Red Hill Queen’s Diamond Jubilee British IPA – A beer for the Queen

“God Save the Queen” I think we sang that in Primary School, or is it just a memory from watching too much ABC as a kid, a station heavily laced with BBC programing like the Goodies and Danger Mouse. I can’t remember.

I’m not a monarchist, but then again I don’t really see any issue with having royals as long as they are amusing and don’t declare war on neighbouring countries too often. Actually I probably should be more supportive of the British Royal family as they did, in a roundabout way lead to the development of something very near and dear to my heart, the IPA.

My bastardised version of the story is that the British invaded India way back when and made it a colony where funny hat and mo’s were all the go, and playing polo was the game. There was a problem though, the Indians didn’t brew beer. OK I don’t know that for sure but at least it they did brew beer there the British didnt enjoy it so they had some shipped over.

This beer was called IPA, India Pale Ale. To make sure it travelled well they added plenty of booze and hopps. Thats an IPA, and it turns out it is enjoyed by many more people than British solders (who I think got turfed out of India in the end). Now I don’t know if anyone in India drinks it, but many others do. Right across whole chunks of the world, mainly the bits that were the Brittish Empire people drink IPA in localised and pumped up versions that are a bit of a shift from what they started out as. Hell even the IPA’s you get from the UK these days dont really reflect what an original IPA would have been.

So these days if you ask for an IPA in the US, Canada, Australia or NZ you get a massively hopped bitter aromatic more alcohol than usual beer. These are big flavor filled beers that kick sand in the face of the drinkers of bland industrial lager.

So what is this beer? Red Hill Queen’s Diamond Jubilee British IPA. Well its a shout out to the IPA’s of old (kinda what I attempted to brew a few weeks ago but fucked up). Its nice and hoppy, brewed by a guy who’s last name is Golding, and I think he grows Golding hops, so I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that it has some English hops in it, like Goldings, and perhaps some Fuggles. There is a hit of a spicy hops and the character of English malts (usually a little more flavorsome that the European or Australian malts).

This is a proper English IPA, perhaps it’s not quite as bitter as I’d like, and its a little lower on the booze than the stories of the beers that first went to India but its nice and bitter, a little spicy even with a sweet balance from the crystal malts.

I think I’ll have to have a round two with my English IPA, drinking this beer reminds me just how good they can be, even in a world overrun with US IPA’s. This may be the original and slightly less overpowering beer of the IPA family, but its a corker. If you cant get any of this limited beer (I got mine from Grain and Grape in Yarraville) give Meantime London IPA a go, a bigger and perhaps more historically correct version of the style.

Get some if you can, and drink it, don’t store it! as it’ll fade.

Cheers D

Hoptimum, a late IPAday post

So it was international IPA day this week, a made up day that along the lines of so many other made up days is all good and fun but really not that important. I did however go out for an IPA on IPAday. I’ve given notice from my current job and am in that interim winding down but still working phase. I also have colleagues who are easily corrupted so we went for a beer on IPAday. We headed to Mrs Parma’s where much to my dislike they did not have an IPA on tap, we had a Bridge Rd Bling IPA, the only IPA in the bar but it didn’t really alow us to fully explore the full idea of IPAday. Shame on you Mrs Parma’s for not having and IPA on tap when there are plenty of Vic IPA’s around, you really should have had the Mornington one on.

We did however have a few beers and blow off some office steam. I also bumped into Rick B who had decided to anounce a free IPA offer to the world of Twitter. This resulted in him lugging a suitcase of home-brew IPA into town from Frankston or where ever it is he lives. No mean feat. I’ll get to his Bison IPA in the coming week I think but go to Ricks website for more stuff he’s written about beer. He puts much more effort in than me. I believe he even uses spell check and may research his facts. I guess he’s the IPAday beer delivery fairy?

Anyway after not really doing IPAday all that well I’m playing catch ups. Yesterday I went to Slow Beer and did a little shopping. I grabbed a growler full of a Bairds Teikoku IPA from Japan, it was meant to be split with the brother-in-law until my niece and nephew got crook. As I didn’t want the hops to oxidise and go stale I ended up drinking it myself last night watching the olympics (yes Chanel 9 sucks) and a DVD (Any Questions for Ben, good movie). Anyway the beer was really nice, kind of english style in my mind, not to big, but a firm bitterness and a spicy backbone. A beer I’d happily have again. Oh and I really like the new Slow Beer shop, looks like a great place for a beer and a cheese board. I think I’ll be back to have a couple of beers in house in the not to distant future.

I also grabbed some Hoptimum,  apparently Sierra Nevada’s biggest IPA. this is what they say about it;

A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put —Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas.

Resinous “new-school” and exclusive hop varieties carry the bold and aromatic nose. The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar, and tropical fruit—all culminating in a dry and lasting finish.

Its big but not a killer, a fairly full beer with a really nice hoppy flavor. It’s also over 10%abv. This probably covers some of the hoppiness up, the alcohol sweetness cutting back or balancing the bitterness. It’s a nice beer, drinking it you know that its bitter and there are a shitload of hops in it but they don’t really smash you. There is that lingering hop resin flavor in you mouth after a sip, but that’s a good thing. It’s that resiny hit they talk about in the tasting notes above, not all that certain I get all the other things but it’s still good. Anyway I recommend getting a few of these if you see them. Hang on, oh yes it has malt too but that’s in the back seat to the hops, it’s a hop delivery device but not one that blasts the others out-of-the-way.

And I think it’ll go well with the fish tacos I’m just about to cook.

Cheers D

PS – I over did the chilli in the salsa that went with the flat head tails. Fuck me, that was a bit hot.

Sheepshaggers gold, a beer from Fizzy

I had a birthday a few weeks ago, this saw me generally spoilt over a weekend where we ate and drank stuff all weekend.  Not all of this was due to my birthday, but it was a good weekend anyway. As you do on birthdays I received a number of gifts, some of them in beer form at the Taphouse in StKilda. I also got a couple in takeaway form from a mate called Fizzy, one of which I’m drinking right now.

Sheepshaggers Gold from the Cairngorm Brewery, apparently in the Highlands of Scotland. They say the beer is a “light golden almost lager style” and that its “the best beer baa none”.  I’m not sure what an almost lager is, as best I know a beer either is a lager or it is an ale. As they are not calling this a lager I will assume that this is an ale, a light one albeit that has a nice bit of a malt character. As for it being best baa none, unfortunately I think this beer may have sat on the shelf (or in the shipping container) for to long, its got a bit of a stale-ish taste to it. Shame I think it might have been a nice beer (OK it’s still drinkable).

I do like the label, its cheesy and has everything going for it that says this wont be a great beer, a bit like the way people talk about wine with pictures of animals on the bottles. And I guess I do work in the sheep industry so it’s an apparent no brainer to buy this beer for me.

Thanks Fizzy, cheers for the beer. But I didn’t really need the phone call at 1.45am on Saturday night, neither did Jugga at 1.40pm. Where the hell did you go after we left Flinders St Station?

Cheers for the beers Fizzy.

Cheers D

STOP – What the fuck! Fizzy you bastard I’ve just looked at their website and apparently this is a Vegetarian Beer! I feel somehow cheated and dirty. No beer should need to say its Vegetarian, its beer for fucks sake, there is no meat in it, just some little things like fish proteins for finings but thats not meat. A little angry with this beer now. Screw you Vego’s!

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Nogne Saison

Well that wasnt a difficult choice, a brewery that I like, Nogne, makes a style of beer that I like, Saison. Sometimes things just work. How could I not buy and like this beer?

I’m going to start with the wrong end of this beer, the one thing I don’t like about it, it’s a little high on the booze at 6.5% abv. Thats higher than I think a saison should be, yes it’s my personal thing, how can a farm worker do a hard day at it when drinking booze like this all day? OK but this one is a good beer so I’ll let it off.

Whats good about it? its got a good spicy flavor and that definite funky yeast hit. The malt gets is there but with that grainy dryness that makes for a good saison. The carbonation is there, nice and fresh. All round this beer is dry, drinkable, nice little bit of hops, nice big bit of yeast funk. I declare this a good saison. They also have both barley and wheat in the malt bill, something else that I highly agree with.

All round well done Nogne, however you pronounce your brewery name.

Now to my photo. I have been following the Whole Larder Love blog for a bit, hunting, cooking, foraging and some pretty cool photos. Rohan often takes photos of things on a board with a knife and some veg. Thought I’d give it a crack, seems to work for his blog.

Enjoy people

Seven Sheds Leggett IPA

Friday evening, footy on the telly, pizza dough rising, and a beer in my hand. What is that beer, well the last one was a Pacific Ale, but the next one is infinitely more interesting.

I’ve had the week off, wasnt in massive need of a break but it seemed like a good idea. After a bit of deliberating on a location we ended up back where we started, Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. The diversion of thoughts occurred when I decided I needed to learn to fly fish. Seems it’s not really the season for fly fishing right now (and I hadn’t done the slightest bit of preparation) and Cradle Mountain sounded like a must see place to go. Havent heard anyone talk it down, and I wont be starting (with the exception of the beer list at the Cradle Mountain Lodge, yes I know its Tasmania but do we really need 4 versions of Boags?).

So after dealing with the huge line at Jetstar, and the much shorter flight to Launceston we were in the bright green rental car, a Kermit green Nisan Micra. Needing breakfast we stopped at a cafe that had sentimental value to Jacqui. There I read a bit of a local paper, something I never do. And that’s when I figured out I could fit in a brewery stop. It seems Willie Simpsons Seven Sheds Brewery, Meadery and hop garden at Railton, about half way between Launceston and Cradle Mountain. What a well thought out location, good thinking Willie.

Time wasnt of the essence so a stop wasnt a problem, and being a quiet little town we had the tasting room all to our selves. Just me, Jacqui and Willie (I think his wife was in the back room). So to the beers, all ales, done in open top fermenters that were dairy vats in a previous life, actually I think all the brewing vessels are. The brewery is a shed, however there appears to be only one of them. I was somewhat disappointed by this, for some reason I expected there to be seven of them. unfortunately I can’t add any other logic to the name than perhaps this is the 7th shed he has brewed in?

OK back to the beers, we tried them all (except the barrel aged ones) and liked them all, perhaps with the exception of the raspberry beer. It could have done with some time in a barrel and some souring bugs. I particularly liked his Kentish Ale, seems to be the flagship, kind of an english ale fairly easy drinking but with enough going on to let you know its a well made beer (I have one in the fridge) and the Paradise Ale, more of a hoppy golden ale, nice hop flavor on this one. But the one that really caught my eye was the Leggett IPA, a beer from the Brewers Reserve Range and possibly the only beer in Australia made with the Leggett hop. Apparently Leggett was named after a hop breeder, bred for Tasmanian Conditions, and only grown in any quantity (read small) in Willies hop garden. Dont know much about this hop, other than it being supposedly a high alpha acid variety, and the internet isn’t giving me much joy either. Lets just say its a hop. Oh and it seems that all of the harvest went into this batch of beer.

Enough said what about the beer? I think I can paraphrase Willie and say it’s not a US hop bomb. The roots of this beer are definitely in the traditional UK IPA spectrum. It has a nice bitterness, not too much and a little bit piney or fruity going on in it. All round its a great beer that goes down well after a day of foot slogging it around the face track and hansons track on Cradle Mountain. If you are expecting some kind of hop freak beer this may not be what you are expecting in an IPA, but still try it, a ballanced IPA is a great thing.

So does rarity make a beer a great beer? hell no, but its a nice little side line. What I really like is seeing someone growing something that was bred for the region and using it right there on the spot. Cant get any more local than that. Take that food miles people! Willies hop garden also gave me a little hope that I may get a decent hop harvest this year coming from my lone hop bine. Oh and the hand written labels are a nice touch.

So get some Leggett IPA if you can, although that may be tough unless you are on the road from Launceston to Cradle Mountain. However even if you can’t get this beer, drop in and say g’day, Willie was a most welcoming host, the beers are good, and who doesnt want to see a home brewer going pro and try their beers? Oh and grab some of his beer if you are staying at the Cradle Mountain Lodge and want to drink something other than Boags.

Cheers D

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