#354 Cavalier Beer – Cavalier Pale

Name: Cavalier Pale
Brewery: Cavalier Beer (Brunswick, Australia)
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: The Den (Fitzroy, VIC)

Though I’m not a religious woman, I believe very strongly that Sundays should be a day of rest. I personally like to observe this by keeping my dressing gown on for the entirety of the day, refusing to leave the house after 5pm, and only ever eating slow-food that requires minimal effort to chew.

Which is why it was quite bizarre that I found myself in Australia yesterday, drinking a pot of Cavalier Pale at a pub called “The Den”. I was in Melbourne for 24hrs only, thanks to a last-minute decision by some friends to put me in their short film. I’d agreed to do this crazy thing on two conditions: that I could have a dressing gown between scenes, and that I could have one hour free in which to find a beer.

In truth I had been highly suspicious of the Cavalier – I thought it might just be some crappy Lion beer that The Den had rebranded as their own (you know how some pubs do that? Why oh why?) – but it turned out to be one of the best Australian beers I’ve tried.

It really reminded me of the Emerson’s Pilsner, even though I think the hops are different. It had a similar intense fruitiness, with those sauvignon blanc-like grassy notes as well. It was lovely in the mouth – smooth and well-balanced, with plenty of hoppy fruit flavour and a lengthy, but not aggressively bitter finish. If I hadn’t been tied to an utterly grueling schedule, I certainly would have had one more.

This post’s thank you goes to the one and only Kieran Haslett-Moore, who has commented a whopping 99 times and been a far more reliable fact-checker than Google. In fact, Kieran, maybe you can tell me why some pubs rebrand crap beer with their own in-house label, and how they’re even allowed to do that? That would bring you up to a far more satisfying 100 comments!

Published in: on July 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm  Comments (3)  

#313 Little Creatures – Bright Ale

Little Creatures Bright Ale Name: Bright Ale
Brewery: Little Creatures (Freemantle, Australia)
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 4.5%
Source: The Conservatory (Akl)

I’m not very good at talking about beer politics. I probably don’t really know or (dare I say it) care enough, even though I enjoy reading about the various scandals and scoundrels from those who do.

That said, I probably can’t write a post about Little Creatures without acknowledging the news that they were recently taken over by Lion. While this was great for headline writers – just try and count the “Lion swallows Little Creatures” articles online – a lot of people were really upset about it. Quite a few people on my Facebook and Twitter announced that they wouldn’t be drinking it any more, either on principle or because they expected the beer quality to decline.

My personal stance on this is not a strong one. I like to support craft breweries over the likes of Lion wherever possible so may buy LC less, but I’m unlikely to blacklist the beers unless they actually stop being delicious. And why should they? Little Creatures beers have been so successful ($380 million succesful, apparently!) that Lion would be demented to meddle with the recipe. Then again, people say Mac’s got a lot worse under Lion, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Anyway, bleugh, enough politics. Let’s talk about the Little Creatures Bright Ale, which for now at least is tasting great.

It’s the right kind of beer for drinking on the waterfront, or on the North Wharf at Wynyard Quarter to be exact, especially if the weather’s hot (though obviously in this case it wasn’t).

As you’d expect from the name it is bright and clean beer, with aromas of citrus, bread and sweet caramel. In the mouth I got slightly spicy, lemony hops with a grassy and lightly bitter finish. It’s not quite as full or tasty as the Pale Ale, but it’s probably better as a summer quaffer.

I hate to go back to politics again but I just thought of another thing. If Lion owns Little Creatures, then that means Little Creatures beer will probably be sold all over the world – and that means more people getting exposed to the wonder that is beer with flavour, right?  So in the words of Talking Heads who (I think) gave the brewery it’s name: “Don’t get upset. It’s not a major disaster.”

Published in: on July 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm  Comments (12)  

#308 Red Duck – Queen Bee

Name: Queen Bee
Brewery: Red Duck (Camperdown, VIC, Australia)
Style: Honey Porter
ABV: 6.6%
Source: Grampians Grape Escape

It might have been down to a few bad experiences, but I used to think honey beers were a bit naff. It seemed like the kind of thing you’d add to a bad beer to make it more palatable, in the same way you need to add honey to those godawful fruit teas. (Never ever as good as they smell – amirite?)

But then, I did really did quite like this honey porter from Red Duck. I liked the way the rich manuka-like honey complimented the chocolate nose, and then balanced the bitter roasty malts on the palate. It didn’t overwhelm the other flavours either – coffee, raisins, and stewed plums all came through – and together they supported the alcohol quite well. The finish was a little ho-hum – I would have liked more of a dry bite – but still I enjoyed it right through to the last drop. 

Now, since I’ve finished describing the beer and still have lots of white space to fill, I’d like to ramble on about a couple of other beer-related things:

1. End of Blog – August 7th
This is a very, very exciting day – not only because it marks the beginning of the end of the beginning of my life as a beer geek, but because I’m going to have a party and get loose, y’all! (But not that loose, ya’ll, because it’s on a Tuesday night!). Even better, you personally – yes you! – are invited to the party. Even better, it’s at Galbraiths, and even more better still, Jo Wood of Liberty Brewing is brewing a mystery beer called 365 which will presumably encompass everything that I’ve learned and loved about beer over the year so far (right Jo?), and will be on tap for us all to drink. If you just uttered the words “Best Night Ever” then congratulations, you are probably psychic.

2. Beervana – August 17th & 18th
This is coming up, and if you haven’t got your tickets yet (OK, admittedly I haven’t either), then do so now or forever be really really sad. I’m even more excited about this year than usual because a) this will be my first time at the even where I will have other beer geeks to talk to and b) I’m entering the Media Brew challenge! This is where brewers are paired up with media people (yes, I managed to convince someone I was media people) and we each brew a beer to be judged at the Saturday session. I’m not going to get cocky and say I’m going to win, but I am brewing with Epic and they did win last year with their Fig and Coffee Stout. So….

PS – I got progressively more drunk as I  was writing this post thanks to the bottle of 7% homebrew I’m swilling. Was it obvious?

Published in: on June 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm  Comments (2)  

#303 Red Duck – Burton

Name: Burton
Brewery: Red Duck (Camperdown, VIC, Australia)
Style: Premium Bitter/ESB
Source: Grampians Grape Escape
ABV: 5.4%

Always on the lookout for ways to write posts in under five minutes make the blog more interesting, I took inspiration from The Thirsty Boys and decided to compound the entire post into a traditional Japanese Haiku:

Murky amber pour,
Like fossilized tree resin
That needs a clean.

Shite. I’ve used up all the syllables and I haven’t even got to the nose yet. This is worse than Tweeting! OK so I’m going to spread the post out over three haikus instead.

What is that weird smell?
I think it might be band-aid

But also flowers

Slightly unfair decription of the nose actually. There was a hint of the band-aid (I think people usually describe this as “minerally” – something to do with the water), floral notes, and also other fruits that didn’t fit into the haiku. I can’t be specific, but they were the kind of fruits that  have juice which drips down your arm and goes sticky.

Sweet, oh wait bitter
Caramel malt and dry chalk
Crisper than Kettles

“Kettles” in this instance refers of course to Kettle Chips, which is a compliment because they are my favourite.

OK guys, sorry for making you read three of the shittiest haikus ever to grace the internet in a failed attempt to cut corners. I should have just posted this instead:

Thumbs up!

Published in: on June 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm  Comments (1)  

#288 Red Duck – Bengal

Red Duck Bengal Name: Bengal
Brewery: Red Duck 
Style: IPA
ABV: 7%
 Grampians Grape Escape

First of all, I would just like to say that there is no way I could ever dislike or say anything bad about this beer because it is named after my favorite cat of all time*, The Mighty Bengal:

OK – so Bengal could also refer to some region in India where zillions of people live or something but I am pretty sure Red Duck are into animal names (Ducks are animals right?) so the cat is more likely.

Even though I was going to like this no matter what, I thought the beer did actually live up to the name pretty well. It was the best (albeit the only) Australian IPA I’ve ever had, and it struck a really nice balance between intense juicy hops and firm caramel malt.

The hop aroma was similar to an American Pale Ale – sharp grapefruit and pine resin – with perhaps a bit more sweet juicy fruit in the mix too. In the mouth it was well balanced, a little sweet at first but with a sharp bitterness that cut through and lingered for ages.

If we were to draw parallels between this and the aforementioned cat breed, and I think it’s best we do, I would say that they both have equal amounts of sweetness and sass. The Bengal is bred from an Asian Leopard Cat (there’s the feisty hops) and a domestic moggy (sweet malt, kinda), and uhhh… you get the picture. I like Bengal cats and I like Bengal IPA!

*Please do not put a comment saying that your cat Fluffles is the best cat of all time because this was never up for contention. 

Published in: on June 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

#279 Red Duck – White Garden

I can’t find the photo I took! But I pinky swear I drank one.

Name: White Garden
Brewery: Red Duck
Style: Fruit Beer/Wheat Beer
ABV: 4.1%
Source: Grampians Grape Escape Festival

Just a very quick post as I’ve been writing all day and my fingers are going to fall off. No anecdotes or bad jokes, straight into it!

This is one of the beers that I bought from the Red Duck stand at the Grampians a couple of weeks ago. It’s a white beer made with raspberry and rhubarb jam which (like the watermelon wheat) I wasn’t super enthusiastic about drinking.

Actually though, I thought it was quite a charming, interesting little beer. The aroma was the best part – raspberries, with a little rhubarb, vanilla and turkish delight. In the mouth those flavours didn’t translate quite so strongly, but there was a pleasing dry tartness which sort of made up for it. Yes, I decided, this beer is my jam.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I think the Red Duck brewery is one to watch. Unfortunately they are one of the smallest microbreweries in Australia so I don’t expect to see their beer here any time soon, but if you ever find yourself in a place called Camberdown, VIC – hell, if you’re ever in Melbourne and you fancy a drive – I’d go to the brewery and check them out.

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm  Comments (1)  

#276 Carlton & United Breweries – Victoria Bitter

Name: Victoria BitterA dire photo for a dire situation
Brewery: Carlton & United Breweries (Melbourne, VIC)
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 4.6%
Source: Flight NZ123

This was the worst, the absolute fucking worst beer-drinking experience of all time.

I was on the plane, squished in by the window with two people between me and the aisle, and I needed to pee.

Now, I know peeing on a plane is not a huge deal – most people would have just  gone at the first sign of nature’s call – but I have this weird phobia of bothering strangers. I didn’t want to make the people next to me stand up and get out of their seats, so I just sat there like a chump waiting for it to get worse.

And then eventually, when it was really time to go, I saw the dinner cart approaching. This forced me into a new dilemma: get up, make a nuisance of myself and risk missing my food (or at least the beef option), or stay imprisoned in my seat until dinner was over.

Like an idiot I chose the latter option. And to make things worse, I had to order a beer  because this was my only chance to get one in before midnight.

Every sip, which I took with a kind of angry determination, was pure torture. The beer tasted like watery piss (the piss I wasn’t having), and turned me into a tense, squirming wreck. Eventually when the alarm bells grew too loud to ignore, I realized I was going to have to take action.

“Excuse me” I said to the two people next to me, who were busy tucking into their stroganoff and wine.

“I know this is awfully bad timing, but I think I’d better use the loo.”

Published in: on May 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm  Comments (3)  

#275 Feral – Watermelon Warhead

Name: Watermelon Warhead
Brewery: Feral Brewing Co. (Swan Valley, WA)
Style: Berliner Weisse
ABV: 2.9%
Source:  GABS

If you haven’t read the post before this one, please kindly go and do so that you’re not all lost and confused.


OK, now that you’re up to speed I can continue on the GABS commentary. As I was saying, One of my  favorite beers of the weekend (second only to Gunnamatta) was the last thing I would have expected to like: a 2.9% watermelon wheat.

Doesn’t that sound like something I would hate? I pictured a watery, fruity wheat beer – the kind of thing a more careless brewery might label “one for the girls”. But in fact, it had serious ‘tude. It was dry and crisp and wonderfully sour, with this beautiful fresh watermelon flavour that didn’t dominate the whole thing. I threw a lot of strong stuff at my tastebuds that day – chilli, sarsaparilla, all manner of hops – but even after all that this one held it’s own, like a palate-cleansing lemon sorbet.

Other beers I really liked from that session were the True South Coconut Porter, Mountain Goat Spiced Red Saison, and the Resistance IRA. No doubt there were dozens of other beers that I would have loved on their own, but in a marathon tasting session like this it’s generally the biggger/more unusual ones that stand out.

Thank you to GABS and all the volunteers for such a great weekend, to Ollee and Dan for being excellent dates, and to my lovely mum for buying the flights as a birthday present. Same again next year?


Published in: on May 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm  Comments (7)  

#265-269 – Assorted Victorian Beers!

So things have been a little messy of late, you know, blog-wise, and you may have noticed that I have been running an average of a week behind on posts for quite some time.

It’s not cool, and rest assured I am punishing myself with the appropriate dose of self-flaggelation, but things like work deadlines and going to the Grampians and this really addictive iPhone game I got called Fly Guy have been getting in the way.

Good Bastards Dark Ale

Blah blah blah, the point is I made the executive decision to lump these beers that I drank in The Grampians together, so that I might have some semblance of a chance of catching up before I head off to Melbourne in the morning.

Am I wasting my time explaining all this? Does anyone even give two marble-sized shits? I thought not. And on we go.

#265 Good Bastards Dark Ale , 4% 
This is not an Australian beer – it hails from our own dear Westport. This was the emergency beer I bought with me in case I ever got stuck in a drought or needed to put out a bush fire, but I ended up cracking it open as soon as I got into my hotel room. (Flying is thirsty business, especially when they only have VB.)

It was nice enough but fairly forgettable –  a sweetish, chocolatey dark ale that tasted predominantly of roasted malt. The mouthfeel was dissapointing – light and watery – lacking the velvety smooth body that I like in dark beers.

#266 Mountain Goat Hightail Ale, Pale Ale, 4.5%
This one is an Australian beer! I wish I’d been able to pay more attention to it, but I was already the stranger in town and didn’t want to stand out at the restaurant by taking notes. It was crisp and clean, with delicate floral and citrus hop flavours and tofeeish malt that provided a good balance. Nice but didn’t knock by socks off.

#267 Three Troupers Pale Ale, 4.5%
Three Troupers are a husband and wife team local to the Grampians, although I think they contract the brewing somewhere else. Like the Mountain Goat, this was a clean, easy-drinking and not terribly exciting beer. The Pale Ale had nice APA aromas of grapefruit and pine, but they were quite faint and the bitterness from the hops was a bit weak.

#268 White Rabbit Dark Ale, 5.2%
I’ve been hearing good things about this brewery for a while, but this was the first chance I’d had to taste their beer. The Dark Ale tasted of bitter chocolate, coffee, and caramel, with a slightly hoppy bitter finish and a light mouthfeel. To be honest I don’t think Dark Ales really do it for me (they’re often too light and bubbly), but this seemed about as good as they get.

#269 Red Duck – Golden Dragon, Celtic Ale,  7.8%
Of all the beers that I tried in the Grampians, local brewery Red Duck’s were the ones that really stood out. I met the brewer and he is clearly mad – he had 9 beers in bottles at the time and had plans for many more – but he also had great taste in beer. Something about the range of styles really reminded me of the Yeastie Boys.

I thought this Celtic Dragon was heavenly. I only had three sips of it at the food festival, but I remember brown sugar, Mackintosh toffee malt, complex fruitiness, and a rounded creamy mouthfeel. You can’t buy them here (or even outside of VIC) so if you’re going to GABS this weekend, I seriously suggest you check them out. If you’re not – I have a mixed six-pack of Red Duck beers that I bought back, and I would be willing to share them with you for a handsome fee.

PS – If you’ve been reading through this post and thinking “This is all well and good but what the fuck is the Grampians?”, it’s a lovely National Park a few hours west of Melbourne. Their beer is good – their shiraz is better.

Published in: on May 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

#209 Coopers – Mild Ale

Coopers Mild AleName: Mild Ale
Brewery: Coopers (Regency Park, South Australia)
Style: Mild Ale
ABV: 3.5%
Source: My flatmate


If only I had decided to tweet my progress instead of actually blogging about each beer, I could have happily left this at that one word. But, seeing as I’m obliged to elaborate…

As you may have read on the blog previously, I generally really like Coopers. I enjoy the Sparkling and the Pale Ale, I freakin love their Stout, and best of all I love that their beer is cheap. 

Which is why I was a bit let down by this Mild Ale. It was mid-strength, which I like, but it just didn’t have much character. It tasted mostly like fizzy, mineral-y water and yeast, with only the lightest coat of malt and a hint of grain at the finish.

This wasn’t bad, really, it’s just that I felt like I was on some kind of austere beer diet when I was drinking it. I kept thinking longingly about the Digital IPA in the fridge and wondering if I could sneak into the garden for a few swigs when no one was looking.

On the other hand – I get this feeling like the more ‘sophisticated’ you get as a beer geek, the more you’re able to appreciate beers that don’t taste like much, so maybe in 10 years time I’ll be able to wax lyrical for 10 paragraphs about the aromas and flavours of the Coopers Mild.

For now, I’ll just leave it at ‘meh’. 

Published in: on March 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm  Comments (1)