VALE DRK – McLaren Vale Beer Company

Vale DRK (no it’s not a typo) is not a valley in the Democratic Republic of Korea, rather an American Dark Larger brewed by the the innovative McLaren Vale Beer Company. The packaging is slick and modern but the taste is somewhat Old World.

VALE DRK ....... AMRCN DRK LGR, made with love and very few vowels
VALE DRK ……. AMRCN DRK LGR, made with love and very few vowels


The clue is in the name, for a lager, it’s very dark! Not impenetrable like a stout, it has reddish tinge to it as the light shines through. On the nose, there’s mainly malt. The taste is clean and crisp with hints of burnt coffee and more roasted malt. Drinking it with food, really brings out the flavour and I think it would go well with spicy food and rich meaty dishes. I had mine with a homemade burger and HP Sauce and it rocked! Persevere with one, ‘y’ll lk’ it

Talking of sauce that rocks, here’s one of the stars of  ye olde SAS Ball, The Drkness with “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”……………..


Red Trolley Ale – Karl Strauss Brewing Company (USA)

Red Trolley, yellow trolley, tread lolly yerrow rorry………. easy for you to say.

Red Trolley is an American ale with an ‘Irish’ flavour. Brewed by the Karl Strauss Brewing Company, it’s departure from their feisty Pintail pale.

Red Trolley Ale - made for Santa
Red Trolley Ale – made for Santa


Strauss calls this a ‘seasonal ale’ and it certainly has a winter feel to it. It’s a deep reddish brown and only very lightly carbonated. There’s caramel and rich, Christmas cake flavours. I’d prefer it with a bit more fizz, or maybe in a pint glass in front of roaring fire.

Here’s Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with ‘Red Right Hand’ ………….

The Stoke Bomber KPA (NZ)

Nelson’s McCashin Brewery have been brewing organic ales since 1980 and competing in a market dominated by brewing giants. It’s a family affair and you can feel the love in this unique KPA (Kiwi Pale Ale).

McCashin's Stoke Bomber KPA - not as fruity as you might think
McCashin’s Stoke Bomber KPA – it’ll bowl you over


Possibly the world’s only KPA, it blends both American and English styles of pale ale. A rich amber red in colour, it balances the bitter hopping of the Yanks with the toffee/caramel overtones of the  Poms. The result is something quite special. Bombs away indeed.

A great beer deserves a great band, here’s The Jam with ‘A Bomb In Wardour Street’ ……



Jack Tar Imperial Stout – Sail & Anchor

Thank you, thank you, thank you Darren, thank you! Me mate Daz recommended this stout a while back and I’d been saving up to buy a bottle ever since. At $10.99 for a 640 ml bottle, this is not an everyday purchase but WOW! it’s worth every cent.

Sail & Anchor - Jack Tar Imperial Stout - both stout and imperial
Sail & Anchor – Jack Tar Imperial Stout – both stout and imperial


Forgetting what I said about real craft brews, this is a truly an amazing stout. Dark and mysterious, it pours smoothly into the glass, leaving a tobacco-tinged head. It’s thick and creamy with the sort of tight  bubbles that you associate with a widget-style brew. Rich and complex, it slides down beautifully, not that you want to rush it. There’s hints of molasses and black jelly babies, even juniper, a bit like a top pint of Guinness with a Geneva Gin in it ……… a Ginness? And it’s potent too. At 9.5%, it’s not to be messed with but, treated with respect, it’s quite an experience.

Are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced?

If I was to give give stars in my reviews, I would give ‘Jack Tar’ 5 stars!

Don’t worry, you won’t be getting 5 Star. Jack Tar is black, Frank Black is white, Barry White is black, so here’s Jack White with “I’m Shakin'”

Old Hooky by Hook Norton Brewery

Another brew from the historic Cotswolds-based, Hook Norton Brewery. These people have been putting smiles on faces since 1849. Today the brewery offers tours, owns 40 pubs and still delivers ale locally by a shirehorse-drawn dray. Carbon neutral delivery, I like it!

Hook Norton's Old Hooky - ummm, got me hooked
Hook Norton’s Old Hooky – ummm, got me hooked


Cloudy copper in colour, it has an aroma of fruit and flowers, like a hospital waiting room without the disinfectant. Very English in style, it tastes like christmas: dried fruit, spices, brazil nuts and ….. well, beer. I like it. In fact, I like it a lot. It’s kind of got me hooked.

Here’s Hooked On Classics ……… only kidding. From Hooky we get Peter Hook, or “Hooky’ as he’s known (could have gone straight to ‘Hooky’ there really) from New Order with ‘Confusion’. Quite apt really!  I used to have one side of a C90 filled with this.


Little Creatures Bright Ale (AUS)

Readers of yesterday’s post will now know that WA “craft brewer”, Little Creatures is in fact owned by Lion. The Australian Real Craft Brewers Association states, ‘a craft beer must be independent, traditional, and 100% Australian owned, with no ownership or control by a major brewer, such as Lion.’ Lion is owned by Kirin. Kirin is probably owned by the UN World Police and uses its products to pacify the globe as it takes over. Any way, I wasn’t going to let this go to waste ……. 

Little Creatures Bright Ale - burning like fire .......
Little Creatures Bright Ale – burning like fire …….


This is indeed a bright ale, so bright you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a lager. It’s clean and fresh with a nice floral aroma and once tasted, you know it’s an ale.  There’s hints of yeast and a hoppy bitterness with fresh apricot undertones. One for the summer but, (World Police or not), this one’s a winner.

Here’s Melbournian songster, Whitley from his quite brilliant 2009 “Go Forth, Find Mammoth” album, with ‘Bright White Lights’……………..

Murray’s Angry Man Pale Ale (AUS)

OK, forget the beer for a moment, think about what makes you angry. Now have a look at Murray’s Craft Brewing Co‘s website, more specifically the article on ‘Who owns craft beer?’

First world problem no doubt, but big business trying to pass itself off as small business is worth getting angry about. Just as real craft brewers are worth supporting. Murray’s is a real craft brewer, based in Port Stephens, NSW. There are enough beers in their collection to keep me busy for a month.

Murray's Angry Man Pale Ale - won't lose it head in a hurry
Murray’s Angry Man Pale Ale – won’t lose it head in a hurry


This is a delicious pale ale but almost impossible to drink out of the bottle. Like Murray’s ‘Punch & Judy Ale’ , there is just too much carbonation. Decanting into glass produces a head bigger than Frank Sidebottom.

Frank Sidebottom - Heads above the rest
Frank Sidebottom – Heads above the rest

Once left to settle, and the head has dissipated enough to drink with leaving a moustache, there is a real pleasant surprise. A crisp and refreshing ale with real stone fruit flavours, I taste nectarine and peach with a hint of toffee. Like ‘Punch & Judy Ale’, this may be better from a cask.

Here’s Super Furry Animals with an awesome ode to angry men …………


Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Original (SCO)

‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ so the saying goes. Being quite a fan of the cliche (e acute), I’d say ‘it’s the exception that proves the rule’.  And so to Edinburgh’s Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Original. The book’s cover, in this case the label, boasts “Smooth Scottish beer with hints toffee, vanilla and oak”.

Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer .... beer from Scotland!
Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer …. like Connery, smooth and interesting


So let’s judge it. ‘Smooth’, tick; ‘Scottish’, tick; ‘beer’, tick; with hints of ‘toffee’, tick; ‘vanilla’, tick and ‘oak’, tick. The only note I might add is the slightest hint of whiskey in the oak finish but then, it is Scottish. If only every label had such comprehensive tasting notes, my job would be done.

Here’s the Last Band in Town with ‘Guns of Brixton’ …… pure dope ….. for gunns.


Gippsland Gold – by Grand Ridge Brewery (AUS)

Perhaps I’ve left this one a little too long on the shelf, after all, I did buy it at a bargain bucket price, as part of Christmas-special box of 6 ….. back in March. Being a hand crafted ale, free of preservatives does have its disadvantages and some things don’t improve with age.

Gippsland Gold - 'All that glitters is not gold'.
Grand Ridges’ Gippsland Gold – ‘All that glitters ……………’.


In spite of being past it’s best and a little flat, this dark, honey-coloured pale ale showed good potential. Sweeter than your average pale and reminiscent of the “Yarra Valley Gold“, it has nice toffee apple undertones and, with the fizz that accompanies all of us when in top condition, this could be a real winner. I’m willing to re-visit this one at a later date.

From their gold-selling album, ‘Gold Against The Soul’ here’s the Manic Street Preachers with ‘La Tristessa Durera’


Temptress Chocolate Porter – Holgate Brewhouse (AUS)

Following my own advice for once, this evening I’ve opted for more of a winter-style ale, a chocolate porter. My recent experiences with chocolate ales have been favourable so I was quite looking to this one.

Temptress Chocolate Porter - authentic craft beer
Temptress Chocolate Porter – authentic craft beer


The Holgate Brewhouse is based in Woodend, Victoria and has been brewing since 1999. Their dark ‘Temptress’ is brewed with Dutch cocoa and vanilla beans and the taste is nicely balance between the two with a hint of coffee . Neither bitter nor sweet, it’s rich and smooth and better drunk at something like winter room temperature to allow the flavour to come through. At 6% its stronger than your average bar of Bournville. Try with slabs of wagyu beef or at bedtime.

To complete a treble word association, here’s Japan, with ‘Night Porter’ …………