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January 2013: a round-up…

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February 19, 2013 by 250 Beers

Last month (January 2013) saw my tally of unique beers increase by 37.

To some, 37 unique beers in one calendar month is nothing. It’s only marginally more than one newbie per day. However, looking back at the three months beforehand it’s noticeable that something has happened. Between the start of October 2012 and the end of December 2012, I tried 47 new beers (Oct 10, Nov 10, Dec 27). Basically, I consumed almost as many new beers in January as I did during the 3 months prior!

My desire to try new beers is increasing.

I’ve put together a rather crude graph showing my consumption of new beers since August 2012. The trend in growth is fairly obvious. This isn’t a business meeting for an ASX listed company so you’ll have to appreciate the fact that the graphics aren’t top-notch, but it’s enough for you to see what I’m on about…

Hmmm...growth...

Hmmm…growth…

I wonder if the trend will continue? I wonder what this month holds in store? Stay tuned next month for a look back on February.

Anyway, enough mathematics. Let me divulge what January’s 37 were all about…

The very start of January saw me polish off the last few stragglers from my Christmas Beer Stash. They were Hop Head Red – a 7.0% red IPA from Green Flash, Old Stock Ale (the strongest beer yet to make my list at 11.0%) by North Coast Brewing Co. and Dragonhead – a nice, ‘beginner level’ stout from Scottish brewers, Orkney, weighing in at 4.0%. You can read reviews on these three beers from New Year’s Day here.

An Australian beer that had somehow never made its way onto my list is Williams Premium Lager. I’ve walked past this 4.8% lager so many times. We had visitors around for a BBQ one afternoon shortly after New Year’s and a 6pack of these seemed to fit the bill quite nicely.

A venture over to Archive Bar in Brisbane’s West End one January lunchtime was responsible for the next six new beers. These were as follows:

Chilli Beer by Queensland’s very own Sunshine Coast Brewery. This beer blew my head off. It’s the first beer that I’ve not been able to finish. Read more here.

Temple Brewing’s ESB and Pale Ale. These were both very nice beers. Really good beers to come home to after a big day at work and very sessionable.

Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale and Narwhal imperial stout were the fourth and fifth beers from my shopping trip. The Narwhal is a really big and strong stout (10.2%). I savoured every last drop. You can read more about the Celebration Ale here.

The sixth bottle from Archive was a Dark Knight porter from Murray’s. I’m a big fan of Murray’s beers and this is another beer that had been eluding my capture for some time. I’m glad that I finally snared one as it was decent porter.

Murray's Dark Knight Porter

Murray’s Dark Knight Porter

As Australia Day was fast approaching, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon with Gage Roads’ The Convict – released to coincide with the celebrations for January 26th. I paid my local Dan Murphy’s store a visit and grabbed myself a bottle. Other bottles that made it through the check-out with me that day were Halida Lager (a 4.5% beer from Vietnam), an Oak Aged Ale from Scotland’s Innis & Gunn (6.6%), a McLaren Vale Dry (a 4.5% lager), a Sierra Nevada stout and a Sierra Nevada porter – 6.0% and 5.0% respectively.

The Convict lead me to write this open letter to Gage Roads. I’m still waiting for a response…

I enjoyed all of these Dan’s purchases except for the Innis & Gunn ale. It’s an acquired taste and I’m not sure that I’d buy it again.

The next two new beers came about because of a unprecented stop-off at a local BWS store. I try to avoid BWS mainly because there is never, ever anything new in their fridges. My wife had taken the kids up to Noosa for a couple of days to see family. On the way home one evening, I realised that my beer fridge was shockingly almost bare. I was 5 minutes from my house when the disgusting thought of a lonely evening at home with no beer made me shiver. Annoyed at my lack of planning, I begrudgingly detoured to the nearest bottle shop – a BWS.

I was shocked to find a couple of beers that I’d never had before. I walked out with a 6pack of Barons Black Wattle Original Ale (5.2%) and a single bottle of Burleigh’s Black Giraffe – a 5.0% black coffee lager. Considering that I very nearly had nothing to drink that evening, they both made a decent change. In fact, I’m fairly certain that both were on special and I paid less than $20 all up. Result!

Barons Black Wattle Original Ale

Barons Black Wattle Original Ale

If you’re reading this from anywhere else in the world outside of Brisbane’s outer northern suburbs, you may not realise that my choices of liquor stores, bottle shops or off-licences are very limited. Unfortunately, I didn’t take this into consideration when I bought the house. Stupid me. I’ll know better next time. So, with the restricted access to decent beer, I found myself in a Dan Murphy’s store. Again.

As it happens, my nearest Dan Murphy’s is a bit shit. I have to drive to a bigger Dan’s (which is another 8km past the shit one) to find better beery varieties. I was there again mid-Jan marching up and down the aisles eagerly awaiting something new to catch my eye.

Hargreaves Hill caught my attention. I picked up a single of their Hefeweizen and a single of the Pale Ale (both 4.0%). They were great beers and I will definitely buy both of them again – especially when I’m at a loose end. Which will be soon no doubt.

Hargreaves Hill Pale Ale

Hargreaves Hill Pale Ale

That same day I also picked up some Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss (4.8%) and a Beerlao (a 5.0% lagery effort). Not sure I’d bother with the Beerlao again. To be honest, the only reason I bought it was to have Laos represented on my beer list.

Friday 25th January was a big day for Brisbane. It saw the grand opening of Green Beacon Brewing Co. in Teneriffe. I was extremely lucky to be invited to an industry function the night before. Four of their six standard beers managed to get onto my list in January. Penny Porter, Anchor Amber Ale and 3 Bolt Pale Ale all got a work-out at the industry bash. The Windjammer IPA came home with me in my Green Beacon squealer…

Green Beacon squealer and Windjammer IPA

Green Beacon squealer and Windjammer IPA

My next two new beers were procured south of Brisbane by fellow beer drinker and colleague, Nick.

He’d found Bajithka 7 – a Russian 5.4% lager – and Tripel Karmeliet – an 8.4% Belgian Abbey Ale – in a bottle shop near to where he lives. Note to self – I must return this favour to him soon. I’m not convinced that I’d opt to buy either of these again. It was nice to be able to try another Abbey Ale and cool to have a Russian appear on the beer list but they weren’t anything special.

From Belgium - Tripel Karmeliet

From Belgium – Tripel Karmeliet

Steamrail Brewing Company (who?) provided the next 3/37ths (back to the maths again!). That little episode was covered here and here.

Even though I am not blessed with shops selling ridiculous amounts of craft beer where I live, every now and then Dan Murphy’s and First Choice update their inventory with some fresh faces – it’s usually fresh faeces (like XXXX and VB) but sometimes they surprise me.

In one visit in late January, I walked in and out of my nearest First Choice with a large cluster of newly stocked beers. I often wonder how much pressure is put on small breweries as they keep up with the demand of furnishing big liquor stores with their wares. It gives them huge exposure and, being in Queensland, I’m certainly not complaining. It puts me and other craft beer lovers in Queensland within easy reach of some craft breweries from New South Wales and Victoria…and Western Australia too.

That clutch of First Choice beers were Matilda Bay’s Bohemian Pilsner (4.7%), Hawthorn’s Premium Pale Ale and Amber Ale (both 4.7%), Balmain’s Pilsner (4.5%) and Pale Ale (4.9%) as well as the rather over-hyped (and not very nice at all) Byron Bay Pale Lager (4.8%).

Balmain's rather nice Pilsner

Balmain’s rather nice Pilsner…

..and their equally drinkable Pale Ale.

..and their equally drinkable Pale Ale.

Bring on February!

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