Stoke Dark Ale by The McCashin Family (NZ)

When does a dark ale become a stout? I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you you. Answers on a postcard please.

The McCashins brew in Nelson, on the South Island of New Zealand using “finest organic hops and premium malt, developed our own bespoke yeast, and sourced 14,000 year-old Paleo water”. The resulting Dark Ale is clean, and fresh tasting . This an easy drinking black beer, not creamy like a stout, but rich and malty with roasted coffee undertones and a clean finish.

Stoke Dark Ale ...... a tall dark stranger will enter your life
Stoke Dark Ale …… this beer could save your life

 

Dark beers can have surprising health benefits. Scientists have recently discovered that marinating meat in beer before barbecuing can reduce harmful, carcinogenic agents caused by cooking over hot coals. Dark beers have an even greater benefit. Read the full article here: Beer Can Save Your Life

Here’s the awesome Bauhaus with ‘Dark Entries’

 

 

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Sleeping Giant IPA – Gage Roads Brewing Co. (AUS)

How come I couldn’t find this when I was in Perth? Perhaps the Sleeping Giant was sleeping.

This beer is a a bit of well kept secret, like it’s sister Gage Roads beer, ‘Atomic Pale Ale’, I rate it very highly. I bought this as my weekend 6-pack (yes, some days I have more than one beer), and this 6-pack packs a punch.

Sleeping Giant IPA ..... enough to put a giant to sleep
Sleeping Giant IPA ….. enough to put a giant to sleep

 

When you wake the giant, you find a crisp dark amber ale full of zing and bite. Grapefruit and Saville Orange rind undertones provide a lip-smacking finish to a full-bodied IPA. An ideal Friday night beer (once you’ve opened a 6-pack, you have to drink the lot, otherwise it goes flat). Weighing in at a hefty 5.4%, this IPA is not for alcopops fans or non Yorkie eaters. I like it a lot.

Here’s Tame Impala playing ‘Elephant’ to 100,000 cider-drinkers at Glastonbury ……..

 

Monteith’s Pale Ale (NZ)

A bit of a disappointment this one. I remember the Monteith’s Summer Ale being a refreshing, shandy-like ale, that packed a bit of a punch. This ‘Pale Ale’ turned out to be pale in colour only.

Monteiyh's Pale Ale - A pale immitation
Monteiyh’s Pale Ale – A pale imitation

 

I was surprised to see a very light straw-coloured ale pour from the bottle. This brew lacks the hops and character to be called a pale ale. I detected a slight hint of kumquat, but that’s about it. It would be fair to say that this wouldn’t even make a good lager. Must do better.

Here’s Pale Riders with ‘Down To The River’

 

Courage Directors Bitter – Wells & Young (ENG)

Courage Directors was originally brewed exclusively for the Directors of the Alton brewery, but following public demand, the beer was made available to the public.” I’m glad it was as this was one one my favourite cask beers when visiting England (from Cornwall). Of course, now it’s available around the world.

Courage Directors Bitter - rich in history and taste
Courage Directors Bitter – rich in history and taste

 

This classic English pint certainly travels well and the bottled version compares well with the cask brew. A rich copper brown in colour, it’s smooth on the palate, with a slightly sweet, malty taste, balanced with the bitterness of hops. The Directors knew what they were doing when they kept this one to themselves. If you’re ever in the UK, try this one on the hand-pump, you won’t regret it.

From the album ‘Director’s Cut’, Here’s the very lovely Kate Bush (my first girlfriend …. just ask my kids) with ‘The Red Shoes’

Yarra Valley Gold – Grand Ridge Brewery (AUS)

Whilst beer hunting in Maroochydore a couple of weeks ago I came across a Christmas gift pack of 6 ales by the Gippsland-based, Grand Ridge Brewery. At $8.00 for a 6-pack it was too good to be missed, and after tasting their ‘Yarra Valley Gold’, I wish I had stocked up.

Yarra Valley Gold ...... there gold in them there hills
Yarra Valley Gold …… there gold in them there hills

 

(In the interest of fairness, I did try their wheat beer last week, but I’ve decided that wheat beers stick in the craw and my opinions on them are best kept to myself).

But if you want my opinion on this deep amber ale, I’ll happily give it to you. Bottle conditioned, it’s slightly cloudy with tight bubbles. There’s an aroma of toffee-apples and this scent is backed-up in the flavour, deep, rich undertones of toffee, caramel and ANZAC biscuits, enough hops to take the sweet edge off, and a nice smooth finish. Forget wheat beer, go for Gold ……… the perfect winter ale.

Here’s  golden boy, David Bowie with ‘Golden Years’

Matso’s Mango Beer (AUS)

Matso’s Mango Beer. This one does what it says on the tin, beer (in this case a Belgian Blonde-style brew), flavoured with 100% natural mango = Mango Beer.

Mandurah waterfront ..... not a bad spot for a beer.
Mandurah waterfront ….. not a bad spot for a beer.

I tasted mine at the waterfront in Mandurah, WA. The first taste was surprisingly good, a real fresh mango taste, clean and crisp. The beer was served with a glass of ice, like you might drink a Magners Cider, so I though I’d give it a go.

Matso's Mango Beer .... beer, with mangos
Matso’s Mango Beer …. beer, with mangos

Pouring over ice in fact made it taste more like  a mango cider and I regretted doing it. Mind you, it did somewhat ‘pad’ the the drink out a bit, and at $9.00 a bottle I wanted it to last as long as possible. $9.00 a bottle seems to be the going rate for a beer round here …….. no wonder the mine workers fly in and fly again out as soon as possible!

Here’s Angus & Julia Stone with ‘Mango Tree’ …….

Thirst for flavour driving hops revival – ABC Rural (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Thirst for flavour driving hops revival – ABC Rural (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Coopers Original Pale (AUS)

Ned Kelly? Ageing Melbourne barista? No, Thomas Cooper, Australian God of Beer
Ned Kelly? Ageing Melbourne barista? No, Thomas Cooper, Australian God of Beer

The face that launched a thousand schooners, Thomas Cooper quite rightly has the look of greatness about him. I have a  lot to thank him for, for without him and his wonderful Original Pale Ale, this blog would not exist. For it was the search to find a beer consistently better and adaptable than the Original Pale that inspired the blog. In fact it was a Coopers brew that I first reviewed, their Dark Ale going down a treat in Bill’s Bar at the Woodford Festival.

Coopers Original Pale Ale - putting smiles on faces since 1862
Coopers Original Pale Ale – putting smiles on faces since 1862

 

After all this time, this beer really hits the spot, even at the airport. Nothing is overdone, there’s a hoppy floral aroma, there fruity apples, yeast and a hint of banana on the tongue and a truly satisfying finish. Enough fizz to cleanse your palate but not too much to bloat, this is the beer for all seasons and still sets the standard.

Here’s The Clash with ‘Tommy Gun’

Celt – Organic Golden Ale (WAL)

My first Welsh ale of the blog. The Celtic cousins of us Cornish have made a very classy beer indeed. From the packaging to the website there is great attention to detail and a fair bit of style. Certified organic by the UK’s Soil Association, this Golden Ale has the taste of the good earth about it.

Celt Organic Golden Ale - a work of art and soul
Celt Organic Golden Ale – a work of art and soul

 

Complex and fulfilling, it’s bursting with citrus flavours and a beautiful lemon and lime zest finish. It’s full-bodied too, not dissimilar to the big-hitting, American ‘Big Eye’ Pale Ale, only more subtle, belying it’s 4.2% ABV. This would go well with a Goan fish curry and went down a treat with re-roast pork and apple sauce.

It’s well worth checking out the brewery’s website: http://celtexperience.com I’ll certainly be looking out for more of their wares.

Here’s the awesome Super Furry Animals with ‘Golden Retriever’ …… which, like a lift operator in a skyscraper, works on so many levels,

 

Pacific Ale – Stone & Wood (AUS)

Welcome back. Stone & Wood‘s ‘Pacific Ale’ has made a welcome return to Feddy in Alstonville. Strictly speaking, whilst taking ale on board at the Federal Hotel, I’m usually a Cooper’s Pale Ale man. Given the chance though, it’s great to jump into the cool Pacific.

Stone & Wood's Pacific Ale -  like a schooner full of fruit salad .... in a good way
Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale – like a schooner full of fruit salad …. in a good way

 

Like Kool and the Gang once said, ‘It’s fresh ….. exciting’, a cloudy pale straw in colour it has the aroma of a bowl of fruit salad. There plenty of fruit on the tongue too, passionfruit, peaches and tinned pears …… this could be 3 of your 5-a-day.

Another winner from Stone & Wood, a truly refreshing brew …. it’s about time I visited the brewery.

With a cover from South Pacific, the closest you’ll get to a show tune on this blog, here’s Captain Sensible with ‘Happy Talk’