Tag Archives: Craft Beer

The Gatherer – Stone & Wood Limited Release (AUS)

It’s been a long time between drinks but it’s not as if I haven’t been doing my research. In fact, for this beer, I went straight to the source and toured the Stone & Wood Brewery in nearby Byron Bay. Why it took me so long to make this pilgrimage to the birthplace of Pacific Ale (surely one of Australia’s top beers), I’ll never know.

A good place to gather is at Stone & Wood Brewery in Byron Bay

Both of my regular readers will know that I’m not a huge fan of wheat beers but The Gatherer may just be an exception. Light and fruity, it has elements honey-dew melon and floral flavours. It would make a nice cooling summer drink or a great accompaniment to a hot curry. Not Stone & Wood’s finest but worth a try. In fact, worth a try every year, as the recipe changes with each seasonal brew.

In truth, having ‘done’ the Stone & Wood Brewery tour,  I would say that my judgement has been so clouded that future reviews may be unreliable. What I can say is, if you’re in or near Byron Bay and your remotely interested in the art of brewing, how to run a community business and/or have a good time, then book your place at S&W. Our tour guide was a legend, we learnt plenty about beer and we were having such a good time that the tour over-ran by 45 mins.

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From the Kings of Australia craft brewing we go the Queens of The Stoneage and the aptly named “Feelgood Hit Of The Summer  (even though it’s Autumn)………..

 

 

Back Home Gingerbread Stout – Golden Road (USA)

You can’t get much more Christmasy than a gingerbread stout, at least not in my books. The surprising thing is that this seasonal brew is made in LA. Golden Road (no, they’re not a South American revolutionary group or a type of staph infection) have been brewing since 2011, which a long time in America. Beginners or not, they’ve certainly nailed this one!

Back Home ...... that's where I wanna be
Back Home …… that’s where I wanna be

The can design is pure California Christmas, with jingle bells and palm trees and contains an impressive 3.2 standard drinks. At 8.5%, too many of these and you’d be chasing bright stars all over place like the three (un)wise men! The aroma is of Latvian Christmas gingerbread house, sweet and warm. The taste is of a spiced Cornish fairing , there’s ginger, sugar, cinnamon and a tangy alcoholic finish. It really is quite delicious and ideal for keeping carol-singers happy on a cold LA night (if such a thing exists?).

From Golden Road we get the road, from the LA road we get the highway. Here’s stout fellows, Audioslave with “I Am The Highway”

 

Fixation IPA – Fixation Brewing (AUS)

Fixation IPA - Jim'll fix it for you!
Fixation IPA – Jim’ll fix it for you!

OK, let’s get this straight. When I do a tasting, I taste first, write my notes (or direct to the blog) and then check out the website of the brewery. That way I’m not swayed by what the brewery writes and no one is putting words in my mouth. If I want anything out in my mouth it’s beer.

With Fixation IPA, my notes could have been copied straight off the website:

“FOUR DIFFERENT NEW WORLD HOP VARIETIES HAVE GONE INTO OUR IPA AT ALL STAGES OF THE BREWING PROCESS TO LEND A BIG JUICY, FRUITY AROMA, ROBUST FLAVOUR AND FIRM BITTERNESS. THERE IS A CLEAN PALE MALT BACKBONE WITH A FEW SPECIALTY MALTS FOR GOOD MEASURE, JUST ENOUGH TO CARRY THE RIDICULOUSLY LARGE HOPPING REGIME! THIS BEER IS FOR PEOPLE WITH GREAT TASTE, WHO LOVE A MODERN DAY CLASSIC IPA!”

Actually, that was copied straight off the website.

To be honest, I could only taste 3 different hop varieties but who’s counting?

So what’s to add? Well, only that this little brew has probably got less carbon miles (for me at any rate) than most I taste. It’s brewed just down the road in Byron Bay. At 6.5% it’s has that American IPA punch that we all love and I’m beginning to regret I bought just the one. Believe the hype!

After a few of these I’d be a right Dizzee Rascal. Here’s “Fix Up Look Sharp” (warning: contains bad f$*kin’ language)…….

Robohop Golden IPA – Kaiju! Beer (AUS)

Kaiju!'s Robohop - Serve the public beer!
Kaiju!’s Robohop – Serve the public beer!

This my first venture into Kaiju! territory and possibly my first ‘golden IPA’. I’ll have to take their word for the colour as I drank it straight from the bottle, next time I’ll pour it into a glass as I think this beer needs to breath to bring out the best in it.

I detected stone fruit and tobacco as I sniffed the bottle’s mouth (that sounds a bit wrong doesn’t it?) and I was expecting fruit when I took the first swig. Unfortunately, it was the tobacco flavours that shone through immediately, not something you’d associate with an IPA. A JPS, yes, but not an IPA.

This is where the breathing comes in, once the air has got to the ale, it’s more subtle flavours come through, lychee and rockmelon balanced with a grassy bitterness. This all adds up to a very different but satisfying brew and before you know it, the bottle’s empty.

Would I like another one? Affirmative

Would I recommend Robohop to other carbon-based organisms? Affirmative.

Should Kaiju! develop a merch shop with their label designs on t-shirts? Hell yeah!

….. breaking news!


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Robohop – Serve the public.

Here’s the Stranglers with their ode to dystopian bread-making, ‘Hey! (The Rise of the Robots)………

 

 

Saison en Chêne – Stone & Wood Pilot Batch (AUS)

Pilot Batch - experimental brew fro Stone & Wood
Pilot Batch – experimental brews from Stone & Wood

“Untried, Experimental, Limited” is the motto of Stone & Wood‘s Pilot Batch series. At first taste, that motto about summed up this particular brew for me. Saison en Chene, made in collaboration with Jilly Wines from nearby Clunes was not immediately a great match for my palette.

The overwhelming aroma is of yeasty sourdough and at first I thought this was a wheat beer (of which I’m not a great fan). Had I read the label properly, I would have realised it was a ‘Saison’, traditionally a strong, fruity, pale ale with plenty of spice and fizz. The fruit that comes through most strongly with this one is bananas, reminding me somewhat of Hoegaarden ……. strangely a wheat beer I’m quite partial too. However, this beer grew on me as I worked my way down the glass and, like most beers, by the time I’d finished it, I was ready for another! Warning: at 6.7% this one could creep up on you.

From the Saison we get season. Here’s a very thirsty Paul Weller with the wonderful ‘5th Season’…….

 

Former Tenant Red IPA – Modus Operandi Brewing (AUS)

First up, apologies for the photo. This looks like I used a Saint Vitus Dance chromatic aberration filter. If only I had a camera.

Worst photo ever!
Worst photo ever!

Here’s what it should look like:

Pic of a can
Former Tenant Red IPA – why the hell did they move out?

 

You’ve got the love this beer’s MO. Marmalade orange in colour, it has an inviting aroma of tropical fruit. Coming in at 7.8%, you’d expect this IPA to slap you round the face a bit but it’s surprisingly soft and complex, with undertones of candied orange and Christmas crystallised fruits. It’s a sure-fire winner and the crew at Modus Operandi on Sydney’s Northern Beaches should hold their head high. I’ll be looking out for more of their MO!

Best drunk by a river.

Here’s the a suitable lo-fi Siouxsie and the Banshees with, ‘Tenant’….

And no, that’s not what you think it is ……..

 

Moo Brew – Single Hop (AUS)

The fantastically stylish Moo Brew Single Hop can with stylised Kangaroo and moon
Moo Brew, with a moon and a roo

I love everything about this beer. I mean, just look at the can! You could frame it and hang it on the wall. And why not, Moo Brew commissioned artist, John Kelly to design all their labels. The Tassie brewers know their stuff and their Single Hop is as classy as the can.

The aroma is warm and floral and the beer pours pale and slightly cloudy with a good head. The taste brings back memories of barley sugar and there’s enough bitterness to keep you mouth-watering until the next sip. On tap, this would be dangerous. More please.

Here’s Van Morrison with ‘Moooooondance’

 

 

 

Freshie Salt & Pepper – N.O.M.A.D (AUS)

You can tell when you work/life balance is out of whack when you haven’t time to post to your beer blog. Something had to give and the full moon came to the rescue, the beers were calling me.  I remember buying this brew  a few weeks ago, it was a bit like buying a record or book because you like look of the cover. So I really didn’t know what to expect when I prised the top of the beautifully packaged bottle.

Salt & Pepper - let's talk about sex baby!
Salt & Pepper – let’s talk about sex baby!

Call me a fool, but I thought it would taste of salt & pepper (not the 80’s female rap duo). Instead, I’m treated to my first taste of a style of beer called, ‘Gose’.  According to NOMAD’s website,  a Gose is “typically … slightly tart, savoury and spicy (coriander) and light in body and ABV”.  Nomad have gone off piste somewhat and added sea water and pepper from Tassie!

This beer certainly smells like summer by the  sea,  hints of brine and citrus flavours from the coriander combine to evoke memories of fresh oysters out the shell ….. and that can’t be a bad thing.  It’s a refreshingly different brew and I love the slightly saline aftertaste…. maybe could do a little more pepper or even tabasco?  It leaves your mouth-watering and wanting more. Perfect for a BBQ at the beach.

Continuing the seafood theme, here’s Squeeze with, ‘Pulling Mussels From The Shell’ ……. worth watching for the TOTP countdown alone:

 

 

Double Cascadian Dark Ale – Four Pines Brewing Co (AUS)

And here was I thinking a Double Cascadian was a complex manoeuvre in the synchronised diving! Turns out it’s a dark ale, a bloody fine one at that.

Image of a bottle of Cascadian Dark Ale in a flower pot
Cascadian Dark Ale – it’s from Cascadia!

 

Now, I’ve never had a single cascadian before but even if it were only half as good as this Double Cascadian, I’d be queueing up for a sample. Manly-based Four Pines Brewing have come up with another winner in this limited keller door release. There’s rich, dark chocolatey aromas and I was blown away by the flavours. Smokey cocoa, Turkish Delight and black cherries all combine to make a complex, rewarding and surprisingly delicious dark craft ale.

Here, with some vintage Mancunian cascade magic is the Stone Roses with, “Waterfall” ……….

 

 

Stash IPA – Independence Brewing Co (People’s Republic of Texas)

When you find yourself at Bergstrom International Airport, Austin, Texas and your flight’s been delayed; and you’ve managed to wangle your way into American Airlines’ Admiral’s Club, you’ve got to use your drink vouchers wisely. I can think of no fairer exchange than a piece of printed paper for a bottle of Stash IPA.

Image of a bottle of Stash IPA
Stash IPA – somehow got past the sniffer dogs at the airport

 

Brewed by Austin’s own Independence Brewing Co, Stash is billed as ‘dank and resinous’. From that description, you might expect it to taste like bong water! Instead, what you get is a punchy American-style IPA packed with taste and aroma. At 7% ABV it’s a heady experience, rolling with citrus, pine sap and exotic resin flavours. Stash IPA comes highly recommended, see your local dealer today and smash one with a buddy!

Here’s Cypress Hill, with ‘I Want To Get High’ …………