Thomas Coopers Selection – Celebration Ale (AUS)

Celebrate good times c’mon! This is my second time of trying TC’s Celebration Ale. The first time was a bottom-of -the barrel job, looking like so much like Ganges water I half expected a blind dolphin to jump out of it. Not so this time round. Visits from second cousins deserve a trip to the Eltham Pub, for award winning grub and great Aussie beers, served in great British pint glasses.

Tommy Cooper's Selection, Celebration Ale .... goes down 'just like that!"
Tommy Cooper’s Selection, Celebration Ale …. goes down ‘just like that!”

This is a very easy drinking beer, yeasty, with plenty of fizz, slight caramel undertones and mild bitter finish, it seems to disappear very quickly. I kid you not, but upon swallowing, the ale seems to lose all mass ….. it goes down, “just like that”.

In a departure from my normal musical association football pitch-fork in the road, here’s the real Thomas Cooper (RIP). Pint schooner, schooner pint ………

 

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‘Big Eye’ India Pale Ale – Ballast Point Brewery (USA)

Be careful what you wish for. Two days of wishy washy lager had lulled me into a false sense of security and so I wasn’t ready for the ‘slap-in-the-face-with-a-wet-fish taste of the ‘Big Eye’. This IPA certainly put the ‘balls’ in Ballast Point. None of your stone fruit here, just pure citrus rind and pith. Bitter with hint of burnt toffee and sea salt, it has real bite and was perfectly matched with the Moroccan chicken tagine I knocked up, with preserved lemons.

Big Eye IPA - big on taste, and plenty of bite
‘Big Eye’ IPA – big on taste, and plenty of bite

After a bit of research I find, “Ballast Point is the result of Jack White and Yuseff Churney following their dream of high quality, craft beers. Handcrafted and bottled in San Diego, California , the Big Eye India Pale Ale is a beer for those who love their beers with high hop content. High in natural bitterness courtesy of the American Columbus and Centennial hops, the Big Eye is a perfect accompaniment to a whole range of spicy foods.” (http://danmurphys.com.au/product/DM_721628/ballast-point-big-eye-india-pale-ale) “Big Eye has an IBU (International Bitterness Units) value of 85, which is high for American-Style India Pale Ale beers, meaning it is bitter for its style” (http://beer.findthebest.com). 

At a whopping 7%, it’s not for the faint-hearted or dyed-in-the-wool lager drinkers Big Eye is quite a catch, hook one today.

Jack White would be too obvious, so here’s Big Country with ‘Chance’

Bathams Delph Ales Best Bitter (ENG)

‘Brewers of genuine beer since 1877’, so reads the label of Bathams Delph Ales Best Bitter. Imagine my surprise then when I knocked the top off and poured out what can only be described as ‘lager’.  ‘Lager is as lager does’ as Forest Gump once said, and this so-called ‘best bitter’ is pale straw in colour and has the malty smell of the aforementioned amber nectar.

Bathams Delph Ales Best Bitter - A sheep in wolf's clothing
Bathams Delph Ales Best Bitter – A sheep in wolf’s clothing

Now maybe this doesn’t travel too well, but I brought this all the way from the UK, a gift from my baby brother. May be it’s his idea of a joke, but damn me if this doesn’t taste like a lager too! A real Trojan Horse of a Best Bitter, with a prize bull on the bottle top. No prizes for the bull,  I’m gonna play it safe and go for a stout tomorrow!

Here’s Delphic live at the Reading Festival 2010

Rogers’ Beer – Little Creatures Brewery (AUS)

I was really looking forward to trying Little Creatures’ Rogers’ Beer, not least because of their wonderful Pale Ale. Being available in a pint bottle certainly had its attractions too, ‘cos I’m only allowed one beer a day ……..

Rogers' Beer by Little Creatures. Roger, over and out.
Rogers’ Beer by Little Creatures. Easy drinking made easy.

By now I should have learnt to manage my expectations as this was a little disappointing. Dark amber in colour, there’s hints of toffee on the nose but I wanted more ‘umph!’ on the palate. It’s quite sweet, with a citrus undertone, so much so that it tastes a bit like a shandy. Easy drinking certainly, but a little too easy for my liking.

Roger and out.

Here’s Faith No More rogering the Commadores’ ‘Easy’ ….. ‘eeeew!’

‘Minimum Chips’ Golden Lager – Matilda Bay (AUS)

Now I’m a big fan of Matilda Bay, ‘Fat Yak‘ and ‘Redback‘ being two of my favourite Aussie beers, but I found the ‘Minimum Chips’ left me a bit cold. It’s quite fruity on the nose and it’s certainly a lovely golden colour but, like many lagers, it lacks the depth of a real beer.

Minimum Chips , Golden Lager ...... minimum taste
Minimum Chips , Golden Lager …… minimum interest

 

Perhaps I should stay away from lagers for a while. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad lager, there’s a malty sweetness to it, balanced with a bitter finish and I imagine, when it’s really cold, it would be a good accompaniment to hot, salty chips. But for now, I leave this one to the seagulls.

Here’s ‘A Flock of Seagulls’ with ‘I Ran’

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Hawthorn Premium Pale Ale – Hawthorn Brewing (AUS)

Having to wait for a table at the Moroccan Soup Bar, in North Fitzroy can have its advantages, like having a cheeky beer at the Monkey, next door. The very funky ‘Monkey’ serves a fine selection of craft beers and I was drawn to the vintage label of the Hawthorn Premium Pale Ale. Served to a soundtrack of  late 60’s reggae and Marvin Gaye, this is a very unique style of pale ale. Shiny bronze in colour with a complex floral aroma, we couldn’t decide (I had a tasting panel of 3 on this one) wether it was a Summer or Winter ale or something in between (i.e. a Spring or Autumn ale as suggested by my wise-cracking niece …… fair point).

Hawthorn Premium Pale Ale - Imported from Hawthorn
Hawthorn Premium Pale Ale – Imported from Hawthorn

Whatever season you chose to drink this ale, I’m sure you’d find it very satisfying. Not as fruity as you average pale, its taste develops as it slides over your tongue, hints of citrus rind, limes with an acetone undertone ™ (I’m trademarking that one). Ultimately refreshing and intriguing ….. and it’s been imported all the way from Hawthorn!

Also highly recommended is the special banquet at the Moroccan Soup Bar. An array of gorgeous vegetarian dips, salads, tagines, and sweets, washed down with mint tea … all for $25. No wonder there’s a waiting list to sit down.

In honour of the vinyl spinning at the ‘Monkey’, here’s Marvin Gaye withy ‘Let’s Get It On’ ….. listen to crackles in the background.

 

Menabrea 1846 – Italian Lager

When in Rome …….. Well, when in Melbourne do as the Melbournians do. Last night I tasted an Menabrea 1846 in the wonderful ‘East Elevation‘ restaurant on Lygon St. This Italian lager is pale gold in colour with a hint of honey on the nose. This sweet aroma is reflected in the taste, southern European in style, it is smoother than its northern European cousins.

Menabrea 1846 - An elevated experience
Menabrea 1846 – An elevated experience

I found it to be the perfect accompaniment to the shaved squid and chorizo that my wife and shared for a starter. Danielle even liked the beer too, most rare. I particularly loved the vibe in this restaurant, friendly and informative staff, great ambiance and a soundtrack straight from my iTunes collection, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, The Smiths and this particular beauty from Television, aptly titled, ‘Elevation’

Monkey’s Fist Pale Ale – Sail & Anchor (AUS)

I’m a little behind in my blogging but not in my tastings, so I’m going to double up on a few occasions. Here’s another nautical knot-themed beer from Fremantle’s Sail & Anchor brewery. A ‘monkeys fist’ is a complex knot that is tied in the end of rope to make a ball, adding weight and making the rope suitable for throwing, usually from one ship to another. My mate, Nathan actually tied one once!

Monkey's Fist Pale Ale - I know, I know, "gorilla's are not monkeys, they're apes'
Monkey’s Fist Pale Ale – I know, I know, “gorilla’s aren’t monkeys, they’re apes’

I have to say, I was a little disappointed with this beer. As a fan of pale ales, I was expecting more from Sail & Anchor. Yes, it’s fruity, yes there’s a bitter finish but something’s missing? It didn’t really pack the punch that it promised …. or has my palate been spoilt by hearty British ale?

Toots and the Maytals …… Monkey Man

 

Carlsberg -Premium Lager (DEN)

Probably ……..

even at 33,000 ft

Carlsberg - 'Probably the best lager in the world'
Carlsberg – ‘Probably the best lager in the world’

 

Here’s Spiritualized with ‘I Think I’m In Love’ ……. you’ll ‘probably’ get it when you hear the lyrics. The video is quite apt!

Greene King IPA – Handcrafted India Pale Ale (ENG)

Rumour has it that Bury St Edmunds-brewed, Greene King IPA used to the most popular keg beer in the UK. I say ‘used to‘ because the same unconfirmed source told me it has recently been overtaken by that ubiquitous Cornish/Canadian brew, Sharp,s Doom Bar.

It’s easy to see why this is such a popular ale as it choses a middle path and is unlikely to put anyone off. More malty and less fruity than your average IPA, Greene King’s flagship brew slides down very easily.

Greene King IPA ...... no longer king of the hill?
Greene King IPA …… no longer king of the hill?

 

A testament to its popularity is the fact you can get it hand-pumped at Heathrow Airport ….. who’d have thought? At 3.6% it makes for a good session beer and also made a good companion for a steak pie, with mash and peas. I found the taste became more complex as the beer warmed. I could have quite easily had another one ….. but I’m only supposed to have one beer a day.

From the album ‘Green’, here’s REM with ‘Orange Crush’ …….