2016 Tasting Notes

Round 1 – Pilsner accompanied by original German pretzel

Lobethal Bierhaus Bohemian Philsner

Beer A. Lobethal Bierhaus Bohemian Philsner 4.8% (AUS)

Built on the site of the original brewery in Lobethal, which only survived between 1851 & 1874, Al and Rosie opened the doors to this state of the art craft brewing Bierhaus in late 2007, but like most things from SA, it’s taken a while for the rest of Oz to discover it…but discover it we have. Although there’s now numerous award winning beers in the range, it all started with a tribute to all the blokes called Phil, with the Bohemian ‘Philsner’. I’m told this throwback to the original Czech pilsner comes with a bohemian twist courteously of Al’s time working as a banker in the big apple…assumedly drinking beer after a hard day of short selling given he now owns a brewery outright! On the pour its light straw colour is brilliant and the clean aroma of spicy hops and fruity appley esters on the nose is somewhat fancy. However it was the perfect balance of lightness, crispness and freshness on the palate that had me hooked. So in the words of that famous VB ad, if your names Phil…this ones made for you!

Zatec Blue Label Pivovar


Beer B. Zatec Blue Label Pivovar 4.6% 330mL (CZECH)

The town of Zatec (pronounced Jhatets), arguably the birthplace of Pilsner, has a 700-year-long tradition of growing Saaz noble hops, made famous by the likes of Urquell. However like many home grown prophets, such was the case for the young Messiah himself, it wasn’t until centuries later the town realized what they were sitting on, and in 1801 built the Zatecty Pivovar, (simply translated Zatec Brewer) and castle. Unfortunately they did pretty much nothing with it for the next few centuries until a millionaire shoe maker (think Jimmy Choo) took over at the turn of the millennium and final made something of it….and the blue label certainly is something. Granted there’s little head retention, but aside from that it’s all class. Bright straw golden body, the wonderful aroma of fresh cut grass, the taste of carmel malts and of course the perfect amount of bitterness derived from those century old Saaz hops. Your wife might not be as excited when you rock home with a box full of these beauties for her birthday rather than the JC’s, but at least you’ll have something to drink whilst in the dog house.

Round 2 – American style IPA accompanied by New York jumbo slice

Founders All Day IPA

Beer A. Founders All Day IPA 4.7% 355mL (USA)

Boy are we glad we found Founders! Describing themselves as ‘beer enthusiasts’ rather than ‘brewers’ these boys from Grand Rapids, Michigan are rated in the top100 worldwide, having won more medals than the city has water crossings! They produce beers that push the limits of taste, and this All Day IPA sessional ale suits that mould perfectly. Although she’s easy to drink, hence ‘Sessional Ale’ there’s still plenty of flavor. In the glass it pours like an orange sun setting over the great lakes, perhaps that’s what the canoe on the label is for? The smell is all citrus and pine notes, perhaps with a mango or guava in there too.  As far as taste; sweet, dry and crisp in well balanced proportions. I could literally drink this All Day, all day…and what’s not to love about a bottle that delivers 25mL more goodness than most. Get a case on ice, grab a take-away jumbo slice from upper Manhattan and hit the lake for the weekend.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

 Beer B. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA 7.2% 473mL (USA)

Torpedo sized can? Torpedo sized alcohol %? Torpedo sized flavor? However the name is in fact derived from the revolutionary ‘Hop Torpedo’ process. Dry hopping, the addition of hops to cold beer that allows the aromatic oils and resins to infuse the beer with flavor and aroma without adding any additional bitterness, still wasn’t delivering the hop hit that the lads at Sierra Nevada were after, thus one crazy night the ‘Torpedo’ was born- a stainless steel device packed with hops that the fermenting beer is circulated though and then back into the tank. The result is an incredible balanced beer. The flavor of the hops on the front end transitions perfectly to the sweet caramel malt in the middle and the bitterness of the Magnum, Crystal and Citr hops to finish is distinct but not overpowering. With 2.7 standard drinks in every can, I’d suggest keeping a handle on the launch codes.

Round 3 – Asahi w/ soy, wasabi and ginger weisswurst

Asahi Super Dry 5.0%

Beer A. Asahi Super Dry 5.0% 500mL (JPN)

I can already hear the jeers…Super Dry at an ale night! It’s like pulling out the KB, the Resch’s Silver Bullets, or worse the XXXX Gold. BUT, if you don’t like this beer, you’re missing the point. This beer is supposed to taste like half-water half-beer. That’s the way the billionaires from Japan designed it. I agree it lacks the characteristics looked for by any beer enthusiasts, with just a slight floral or fruity taste. And to put it bluntly it should probably be considered the sports drink of the beer world, which makes it perfect for slamming down after a hard game of…ping pong! It’s refreshing and it’s wet, yet at the same time it’s ‘Karakuchi’…which simply means ‘dry’ in Japanese. It simply is a marvel of modern beer engineering. And the positives? It comes in a big can? Though given it lacks ay real flavor, it goes perfectly with almost any food, and the zippyer the better, just like this German weisswurst with a mind blowing twist!

Asahi Super Dry Black 5.5%

 Beer B. Asahi Super Dry Black 5.5% 334mL (JPN)

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’…the apostle John said it over 2000 years ago, but does it still ring true today? Mike, and no doubt the mate that brought you along, would stake their life on it, but when it comes to Asahi, does the darkness overcome the light? Some would say it’s a line ball, after all the Black tastes pretty much the same as the light, with just some black food colouring added for effect! But look really really really hard and you’ll find that the nose does pick up some roasted malt and a hint of molasses, whilst the body has a slight flavour of brown bread, toasted caramel and malt. On the back of the palate, as stated in bold on the label, it finishes DRY with just a touch of bitterness. I’m grasping at straws, but on the positive side you get an extra 4mL more in the bottle than most other EU beers.

Round 4 – English Pale Ale w/ Pie & mash

Arctic Fox English Pale Ale

Beer A. Arctic Fox English Pale Ale 4.7% 330mL (Aus)

I think Hendrix might have had a few stubbies of this English Pale Ale when he penned the words ‘You know you’re a sweet little lovemaker…Foxy lady’. And sweet it is, in a good ‘love making’ sort of way. I’m told it’s the blend of 6 English and local Australian malts used by the lads from south of the NSW border that produces that unique and complex malt character that make this EPA so distinct. On the pour it’s picture perfect with a big white creamy head and a deep caramel coloured, slightly cloudy body, as you’d expect from a brew that’s been bottle conditioned. On the palate, apart from the aforementioned malt, there’s also a touch of what I’ve penned, the ‘Cuban’; smoky roasted notes. The sweetness up front finishes with just a little floral bitterness. The Artic Fox might not have been around as long those from the mother land that are brewing up centuries old pale ales, but their certainly giving them a run for their money. With beers this good, I’d say they’ll likely see out a few more years than Hendrix did….FOXY!

Samuel Smith Organic Pale Ale

 Beer B. Samuel Smith Organic Pale Ale 5.0% 550mL (UK)

When it comes to pie’s there’s nothing more English than one topped with mash, and when talking beers, especially those up Yorkshire way, it’s hands down Samuel Smith. I guess when you’ve been brewing a fine drop for over 250 years you’ve learnt a thing or two about how to do it, and the organic pale ale is a fine example of that. Don’t be fooled that just because it’s labelled ‘organic’ there is anything new school about it, it seems that Sammy Smith was a few decades ahead of himself when he decided that GM wasn’t the way forward. In fact everything about the OPA is old school, right down to the stone Yorkshire squares (as pictured on the back label) that are used as fermentation tanks, which were made in dark ages out of local quarried slate. And it these original methods of brewing that are so striking on the plate; up front a full bodied taste of roasted maltiness and caramels, a little butterscotch to follow and a crisp clean finish of some punchy hops. If you could bottle history, it’d taste something like this.

Where it all started tonight

Riverside Brewing Co Sixty Nine Summer Ale

Riverside Brewing Co Sixty Nine Summer Ale 4.6% 330mL (AUS)

‘Oh, when I look back now, That summer seemed to last forever, And if I had the choice, Yeah, I’d always wanna be there, Those were the best days of my life’…. Put this brew from the crew at Riverside to your lips and you’ll be singing along with Brian Adams in no time, which can only be a good thing…unless of course you’re a Sharkies fan, who in ’69 comprehensively took home the wooden spoon with 5:0:17 record from 22! However unlike the Sharks (on the odd good day) this Summer Ale doesn’t have a bite to it, rather it’s perfectly balanced and easy drinking. The passionfruit aromas on the nose are followed by a pine, lemon and tropical fruit flavours in the mouth. The strong hoppy bitter finish seems to linger on the palete, ensuring that on a hot summers evening this drop is simple and quaffable. I’ll take a carton with me please.