February 24, 2014 by 250 Beers
Due to an unfortunately busy February on the work front as well as an equally hectic social calendar this month, my January round-up is somewhat late. Apologies.
January witnessed 43 new and unique beers venture onto my beer tally. Oddly, that number is precisely half of December’s count.
Reflecting on last month, it’s great to see that the majority of the 43 were Australian-brewed beers. No less than 29 in fact. On average, that’s almost one, new Australian beer a day.
Let’s get into it then. Dissection time…
Australia Day seems like an appropriate place to start considering the amount of Aussie beer consumption. A prominent bunch of folk from within the craft beer-loving community here in Brisbane had arranged a get-together at Newstead Brewing Co. (NBCo) for a Sunday sesh. It didn’t take much persuading for me to confirm my attendance and, as usual, the lovely Mrs 250 Beers gave it the green light – she even gave me a lift into town. Anybody that knows me will be well aware that my luck with public transport isn’t good. Sometimes that bad luck is self-inflicted but mostly it’s because of the shit, over-priced rail service. Thankfully, the ride in from home enabled the avoidance of a public holiday train timetable.
I got dropped off around the corner from NBCo – at Green Beacon. I hadn’t arranged to meet anybody there. I just wanted to have a quiet beer by myself for a change. Alone. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit alone with a beer for a bit. The guys at Green Beacon had just (minutes prior to my arrival) tapped their new India Pale Lager called Grappler (5.0%) as part of their first year anniversary celebrations. I knew it was going on so my arrival was very much planned. I’d timed it well. It’s a very clean, crisp and hoppy lager that would go well as part of the regular GB line-up. It was the perfect company for being alone with (is that a contradiction?).
A few streets away at NBCo the Australia Day festivities were in full swing. As a non-Aussie I’d chosen to show my affection for the day by sporting the green and gold in the form of my Fortitude Brewing Summer Ale shirt. Despite the presence of a large crowd, I was shocked at the lack of green and gold on show. Of course the shock didn’t stop me from getting straight into some cracking beers. Amongst a few NBCo beers that I’d had before, I got through a Bacchus’ Kakadu Wit, Toybox Brewery’s Kolsch (5.2%) and Newstead’s Aussie Gnash (5.0%) which, as a lamington-style beer, was just a little too heavy on the coconut for me.
A few of us then headed over to Milton to The Scratch where they had a large number of taps (including an outdoor set-up) pouring beers from the day’s Hottest 100 Craft Beers of 2013 countdown. ‘A few of us’ included fellow bloggers Jason from brewsandbacon.com, Liam and ammo from drunkenspeculation.com and Cassie from the now defunct whatbeertodrink.com. Despite rounding the day off in Milton with a number of beers, only one new beer vanished down my throat which was a bold IPA called Big Sur (6.7%) from Grifter Brewing Co.
Two new, gluten-free beers made the tally last month. Gluten-free beers have started to intrigue me. I’ve subconsciously set out on a mission to find a good one because they’re (mainly not all) rather shite! Lighthouse Renegade (4.5%) by Redbay Brewing Co. was the better of the two (just) and Ginjanuts Goofy Foot Bitter Ale by Yandina Brewing Co. was pure chicken piss. DrunkSpec Liam had a similar view.
A few cheeky après work beers one Wednesday evening in January enabled me to try the following three beers: Fighting Falcon American IPA (7.1%) and Choc Cherry Stout (9.9%) – both by Bacchus and both at Kerbside – and also All Inn’s newest beer, Elle (5.2%). My desire to try the Australian pale ale, Elle, gave me the perfect excuse to visit The Mill on Constance Street. It’s at the opposite end of Constance to Kerbside. That Wednesday was my own little Constance instance. Both Elle and The Mill impressed me. It was as I was leaving The Mill that I found out I’d won a carton of 4 Hearts pale ale!
Another school-night expedition was the Holgate Sniff & Sip session at Brewhouse Brisbane. Not one of the five Holgate beers was new to me but I got involved with the Brewhouse’s very own Pride of Ringwood Smash – a 7.5% double IPA. Prior to the event I was at The Embassy on official blog business getting acquainted with Murray’s Angry Man Brown Ale (6.5%) and a 4 Pines Keller Door release – 2013 Xmas Saison (5.2%).
The beer geek in me took control of a situation last month. I wanted to try the Fortitude Brewing/The Scratch Bar pale ale collaboration called Smashed Otter (4.2%) for no other reason than both operations are integral to Brisbane’s good beer movement. It seemed like a good combo to collaborate. The sensible part of me said “Look, The Scratch is on the other side of town, you’re at work, it’s a school night, blah, blah…” The beer geek part of me said “Get your arse over there. That keg might not last long!” The beer geek won. It was worth it because Smashed Otter was pretty, bloody good. I backed it up with Cavalier Brewing’s Berliner Weisse (3.0%) which was also a decent drop – plenty going on for a low alcohol beer. I got served by Graham who was on work experience.
You know those shit days at work where the phone doesn’t stop ringing? The days where you feel like you’re achieving nothing? The days where only a lunchtime pint will make it all better? Well, I had one of those days last month. I went to the Pig ‘n’ Whistle (Riverside) for a solitary lunchtime beer and opted for their ‘home brand’ five percent IPA – Spitfire (which is actually brewed by Burleigh Brewing). Up until that point I couldn’t believe that I’d not tried it before seeing as though I’ve visited the pub rather frequently over the past year or so. It’s a very English-styled IPA with nowhere near the amount of hop forwardness that I love and that we’re accustomed to these days in our IPAs. Still, it made for a pleasant change and got me out of the office for a short break.
The final 13 Australian beers were all bottles and all consumed in the privacy of 250 Beers HQ. Here goes: Black Heart Brewery’s American Pale Ale (5.2%), Endeavour’s 2013 Vintage Summer Ale (4.5%), Lionco’s The First Brew (5.2%), Mad Abbot Tripel (9.5%) – another beer that I couldn’t believe I’d not had before – by The Little Brewing Company, Red Hill’s Temptation (8.0%), The Governor golden ale (4.5%) by Rocks Brewing, Monster Mash DIPA (9.1%) by South East Brewing Co., four beers from Red Duck; Gruitest (6.3%), Rufus Icenium Imperial Celtic Red Ale (9.0%), Sabre Tooth IIPA (9.0%) and Tiger Tiger (8.4%). Lastly, two from Ekim Brewing; Hel black IPA (9.2%) and Berserker amber IPA (7.2%). There were two that stood out from the rest. They were Gruitest for no other reason than I’d never had a gruit ale before and it really made me want to explore the style further. The other was Ekim’s Berserker. Holy shit. If there is a beer that the beer geek in me will drive a hundred miles to drink a beer off tap (and then not drive afterwards because that’s irresponsible) then it’s the Berserker. Truly, it made me stop in my tracks after just one swig. The world fell silent and paused for a split second while my palate questioned what the heck was going on. Ekim brew ‘Hel‘. They really should have named the amber ‘Heaven‘.
Onto the 14 beers from overseas now. I’ll work up from the beers I thought were ok to the ones I classed as exceptional…
There were three that were ‘ok’ and, coincidentally, they were all from Belgium and all leftovers from Christmas or prior. Triple Moine (7.3%) by Brasserie Du Bocq, Brune (8.5%) by St Feuillien and Blonde (7.0%) by St Stefanus – pure coincidence that the name of the brewery contains the word ‘anus’.
Halfway to awesomeness were five imports from the USA. India Pale Ale (5.5%) by Bridgeport, Inversion IPA (6.8%) by Deschutes and three from Sixpoint Brewery; Bengali Tiger (6.4%), Righteous Ale (6.3%) and Sweet Action (5.2%). All four were very good beers but nothing exceptional. My pick of these American beers would be the Bengali Tiger as it represents the sessionable, American IPA category very well indeed.
The final six new beers from January were very, very, very good and in my opinion should be grabbed if you see them.
Two from New Zealand in the form of 8 Wired’s Brown Ale (5.7%) and a treat for the hop-heads – Tuatara’s Double Trouble Extra Dimensional American Pale Ale (9.0%). A double IPA from Danish brewer Mikkeller – Hop Burn High (10.0%). Two from the US; The Immortal IPA (6.3%) from Elysian Brewing and Hopsickle IIPA (9.2%) by Moylan’s.
My pick from the international list of 14 is Hop On Or Die DOA IPA (5.9%) from Mexican brewery Cerveceria Mexicana. Mexico isn’t known for its output of craft beer but more so shitty, mass-produced lagers best served with a slice of fruit in them to cover up just how turd the beer is. However, having seen a large range from this brewery arrive at Archive a few weeks prior to me opening this bottle, I trusted Archive’s purchasing judgement. To my surprise, the bottle only set me back around $5.00. For such an amazingly simple IPA with clean, citrus aromas and a decent hoppy bite it really was a bargain. I’m keen to try more from Mexico!
Until next month…!