June 10, 2014 by 250 Beers
I tend not to write many beer reviews these days. I seem to be busy tied up with other things in both my real job and my home life as well as other blog-related matters. However, if somebody goes out of their way to send me a free sample of a beer then I feel that it’s only fair for me to be openly honest about how I feel about it and spend some time airing my opinions about said beer. I’d actually written this piece a few weeks ago and forgot to publish it. I told you – I’ve been distracted…
What a strange name for a beer. In a male dominated beer industry I’m sure that it riled a very small minority of females. Whatever. I’m sure that wasn’t the intention. One would assume that a behemoth like Woolworths – the engine that drives Sail & Anchor – would have done some due diligence on marketing The Bloke before its release.
What the name did provide was a list of witty comments on my Untappd check-in after I’d knocked back a bottle that arrived courtesy of Sail & Anchor’s PR people. Remarks such as “Did you enjoy a Bloke?” and “What does a Bloke taste like?”
The serious response to the latter – and I mean in reference to the beverage – is…not bad. Not bad at all.
I recall not being bowled over by Sail & Anchor’s first limited release; Jack Tar – a 9.5% Russian Imperial Stout. Their 5.9% Devil Dodger IPA was tasty, definitely sat way above the line of mediocre and made a few craft beer fans sit up and take notice. Changing Tides – 11.0% barley wine released in time for Christmas last year was solid and made enough of an impression for me to scoop up multiple bottles to stash away in my cellar. The bottles came perfectly packaged in a lidded tin preventing any light from striking the beer.
Maybe it isn’t ideal for Sail & Anchor to brew limited releases at a large facility (Gage Roads) because there always seems to be shit loads of stock remaining at Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores (also Woolworths of course). This might cause them some grief in trying to shift it all but it will often provide beer lovers with a ‘beer geek boner’ moment. I know that I was a little excited when I saw Changing Tides retailing at a bargain $8 per bottle during January and February.
Anyway, I digress. The Bloke is actually a collaboration beer between the crew in Western Australia and Paul Segura – head brewer at San Diego based Karl Strauss Brewing. The PR notes suggest that Mr Karl Strauss himself found the concept of the original Sail & Anchor brew pub of the eighties such a cool idea that it inspired him to return to the States with a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve with his brewery. A recent visit to Australia apparently inspired and prompted The Bloke brew. Hmmmmm, I can’t help thinking that there’s more to it than that. Woolworths own the exclusive rights to sell Karl Strauss beers in Australia and have done for a couple of years now. I’m sure The Bloke was more the result of a business deal than a romantic story. As an aside the Karl Strauss beers are a major coup because they are fantastic examples of American entry-level craft beers and are very much approachable.
Now, The Bloke itself pours a dark amber colour with a decent enough creamy head – in the most blokey piece glassware I could find from my collection which is a traditional English bitter pint glass. I ‘borrowed’ the glass from a pub in West Malling in the middle of Kent circa 2002. I must remember to return it…
It gave off an enticing biscuit malt aroma with just a hint of citrus. In terms of taste it reminds me of some fine Irish Red Ales of days gone by but with something a bit extra – raisins perhaps. It ends with a strong bitterness that I really enjoy in my beer at the moment. The Bloke is a fine attempt at a red ale that’s for sure and at 6.0% it’s easy drinking. I’d go so far as saying that I marginally prefer The Bloke to the Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale which is an Irish Red.
I’ve tried pretty much every beer from the shelves at my local Dan Murphy’s yet I still haven’t tried any of the four standard Sail & Anchor ‘craft beers’ out of principle which is a yarn for another day. Just the names Monkey’s Arse and Cat’s Nipple or whatever they’re called makes me cringe a little.
Risking sounding somewhat contradictory, I have more time for the limited releases. I feel that the brewers have more freedom to express their talents when designing them and because of that I’ll look forward to the next one.