Beer of the Moment: Pirate Life IIPA

IMG_1982When I first ‘discovered’ craft beer, like many people I naturally gravitated towards IPA’s. The insane amount of hops and flavour was such a stark contrast from the lifeless lagers I was used to consuming. After a year or two of consuming a lot of IPAs I was starting to get to a point where I was getting a bit over them. Partly because I had drunken a few but mainly because a lot of local examples don’t seem to be very good or very fresh.

Lately I’ve had a bit of a craving for a good, fresh IPA. I’ve been finding some great local examples and they are very fresh. I think the breweries and the bars are starting to understand a bit better how vulnerable these beers are and how to treat them right.

One beer I kept seeing around the traps and wanted to try was Pirate Life’s IIPA. Pirate Life is a brewery out of South Australia that is making waves quickly. The brewery has only been in existence since 2014 but is already securing good distribution throughout the country. Pirate Life’s IIPA would have to be one (it not the main) flagship beer. Coming in at a hefty 8.8%abv this is not a beer for the weak.

The first thing that struck me about this beer was the can design. It’s really pretty impressive and around the ring of the neck, it contains the process of how the beer was made including all the ingredients. Being a beer geek, I love things like this because I can then consider whether I am getting these flavours and whether I want to make one myself!

So how was the beer? I wrote down my tasting notes knowing that by the end of this can I was definitely going to lose focus. The aroma off this beer is what you will expect. I got a resiney, piney smell which I love about IPAs. The hops listed are Centennial, Columbus, Mosaic and Simcoe which seems consistent. The beer has a strong bitterness about it which balances the hefty malt bill. The colour is darker than a lot of IPAs giving a dark orange. I definitely picked up some alcohol notes which were not at all unpleasant and completely expected in a 8.8% beer best consumed fresh. Best Before was listed as April 2016 which makes me wonder when the beer was made. I would be very interested to try this at the brewery to really get that hop punch in the face.

This is a solidly put together IIPA which was very enjoyable. I gave it a 4.25 on Untappd but tend to rate beers really well when I’m a bit drunk (I’m a friendly drinker). I think my only criticism would be the freshness of this can as I expected a stronger hop aroma. In hindsight I would probably reduce the rating of this can to 3.75.

If we aren’t friends on Untappd yet, please feel free to add me: @benbrett1. Its always fun to have people as nerdy as me to talk beer with.

 

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Beer of the Moment: 4 Pines West Coast Red Rye IPA

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There is very little 4 pines can do wrong at the moment. Apparently being one of the best craft beer producers in the country isn’t good enough for this Manly, NSW based brewery, instead they continue to produce banger after banger and the Australian beer scene is definitely taking notice.

You may know 4 pines from their Pale Ale, a beer that year after year rates in the top 10 of Australian craft beers (last year ranking 3rd). Whilst 4 Pines has great distribution of its core range, it continue to produce its ‘Kellar Door’ series which has produced some excellent beers over the years.

My Beer of the Moment is the West Coast Red Rye IPA. Coming in at 7.3%ABV, this beer seems to be consistent with my current attitude of drinking super alcoholic IPAs.

If you’re going to look for this beer after my review, likely don’t bother. I got on the bandwagon as the last of the bottles were selling out and the age in this IPA was starting to show. Whilst I got a decent hop character out of the Citra/Amarillo combo, it was clear that this beer was not as sharp as it once was. Instead the malt bill with a hefty douse of Rye really made this beer stand out. It was quite enjoyable despite the subdued hop character. Not coming across as unbalanced at all.

The pour left a long lasting creamy head which made the beer quite enjoyable. The colour was a dark red. What little hop character there was blew off pretty quickly leaving a very drinkable beer. In fact, I could easily drink many of these despite their hefty abv which is always a sign of a great beer.

I gave this beer a 3.5 on Untappd. This is a pretty tough rating but based on the beer I had in my hand. If I had tried this fresh at the brewery, I dare say we would see a number in the mid 4’s.

If we aren’t friends on Untappd, why not? My username is benbrett1. I promise I’m a super cool internet friend!

 

 

Bar Review: Fitz + Potts Nundah

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I love living in Brisbane at the moment. A few years ago it felt a little bit like a cultural wasteland and I was pretty envious of our brothers and sisters in Sydney and Melbourne. This has been changing rapidly over the last couple of years and not only are we getting great bars in central areas, we are now getting great bars in the suburbs!

Living in Nundah I was pretty excited to hear about the opening of Fits + Potts. The first thing is that this bar looks a lot cooler than my pictures give it credit! I am a terrible photographer so encourage you to go and check it out and don’t judge it based on my photos!

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The interior is op-shop chic which makes for a pretty cosy area. At first we struggled to get any decent seating (it is already pretty popular) and ended up sitting somewhere pretty awkward seats but then something opened up and the area got pretty relaxing.

The beer choices are epic and I was pretty excited. I had a Pirate Life Throwback IPA which wasn’t what I was hoping for, considering how epic the IIPA was! I didn’t hang around too long but I will be back pretty regularly.

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This is a great bar which just happens to be a local for me making it even better. I highly recommend you check it out, particularly if you are on the northside.

 

Clone Corner: Samuel Adams Boston Lager Clone

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You may not realise this but I have not always been into ‘craft beer’. In fact, when I first started drinking I didn’t like beer at all. It wasn’t until I turned 18 and realised beer was cheaper than spirits that I ‘forced’ myself to like beer. Back then my drink of choice was VB and one carton of Coronas on christmas as a special treat. From there I tried Hahn Super Dry, Toohey’s Extra Dry and anything else that was reasonably priced.

It was about this time Dan Murphys was becoming a thing and my roommates and I set out to try different beers from all over the world. I recall the Samuel Adams Boston Lager was tried and was really enjoyed. I subsequently had this beer many times and in particular, when I lived in Canada. For this reason, this beer holds a special place in my heart as the beer that introduced flavour into the beer equation.

With Christmas approaching I was looking for a lager that would appease my family members but that would be interesting enough for me to really enjoy finishing it off later. With this in mind I thought, why not brew a Boston Lager?

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Fortunately for me, the ‘Can You Brew It’ series on the Brewing Network did a clone recipe of Samuel Adams Boston Lager. My recipe was based off that and was as follows:

OG: 1.051
FG: 1.008
ABV: 5.5%
30IBU, 15.9EBC
Efficiency: 59%

Barrett Burston Pale Ale Malt 5.52kg 94.7%
Bairds 60L Crystal Malt 310g 5.3%
Tettnang 4% 60g @ 60mins (40mins adjusted for no-chill) 25.4IBU
Hallertauer Mittelfrüh 18g @ 20mins (cube adjusted for n0-chill) 4.7IBU
Dry Hop: 14g Tettnang, 7g Hallertauer Mittelfruh
Yeast Bohemian Lager 2124 2.5L starter

It was this brew that I started to get my efficiency situation a bit sorted and went back to 63%. This meant that the OG was 1.057. I watered it down with 2.9L to meet my gravity which in turn likely reduced my bitterness. The good news was that I had a keg AND a couple of tallies.

I intended to pitch onto 10 degree wort but became impatient as it hit 16 degrees so ended up pitching at that and just letting the temp go down in my fermentation fridge. Not optimal but it seemed to work. At 8 days the gravity was at 1.011 so I dry hopped and increased the temperature to 19 degrees. I cold crashed at 12 days, added gelatine and then kegged.

Like all good lagers this took about 12 weeks to really find its form which placed it right in Xmas. A lot was had over christmas and everyone seemed pretty happy with it. I also at this time figured out how to fill growlers so this beer was a hit at a lot of parties.

I thought it might be interesting to compare it to the original Samuel Adams Boston Lager and bought a bottle from Dan Murphys. This bottle had been likely mistreated in the way only Dan Murphys knows how so I was interested to see what different flavours there would be compared to one that remained cold and in the keg the entirety of its life.

Unfortunately, with the christmas period, by the time I tried this I was nearing the end of the keg and getting some cloudy pours. I can say that when the beer was at its prime they had a pretty similar colour although I suspect my clone was a touch darker. This was likely due to the different malts available in Australia as they are all different.

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My first pour was a little cloudy making it a touch darker. It was likely darker already though.

I found the aromas to be quite similar and mine had a stronger, fuller flavour. This was likely added to by the yeasty cloudy pour, so I repoured and found beers that were far more similar (although mine was still a bit cloudy). It was clear mine was better having been treated better and this became very apparent as they warmed up. The Samuel Adams had some pretty serious case of light strike which my wife described as “tasting like a Heineken.” By the way, the taste of Heineken is light strike which is a pretty serious off flavour.

I found the head dissipated quite quickly on the Boston Lager whereas the clone held a full foamy head. That being said, whilst the beers were both cold, I would not have noticed if I had finished drinking one and was handed the other. I would have assumed they were the same beer and the differences were subtle.

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The second pour was less cloudy. The head difference was quite noticeable though.

I find with my lagers in particular that by the end of the keg, there is a lot of cloudiness. Next time I might give them more time in the fermenter so I can rack off the yeast as much as possible.

So was it cloned? I would say it was pretty close. I could bottle it in green bottles and then leave it in a 40 degree shed for 2 months and maybe I would get an exact clone but its probably not worth it. What I can say is that I was just a bit excited that I am able to brew a beer equal to or better than a beer I once held up as the pinnacle of beer (including its flaws). It got me really enthused about the hobby and all the possibilities as I further explore it.

I look forward to making a few more clones and comparing them to their originals to get a really good gauge of where my brewing is at. As always, if you have any tips or comments, leave them below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beer of the Moment: Nomad Supersonic DIPA

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I must say I am a bit of a sucker for a double IPA. Whilst I love a good balanced beer sometimes we all need an over the top, alcoholic hop bomb which blows us away. It’s always important to make sure that you don’t plan on sampling any more beers after this because usually they are wasted (as are you).

I recently had the opportunity to try the Nomad Supersonic DIPA. This was a beer fresh in the fridges of Cellarbrations Stafford so I thought I would snap one up in the hope it was super fresh and super hoppy.

Nomad Brewing Co is relatively new to the scene having brewed their first beer in August 2014. Nomad Brewing is a joint venture between one of Italy’s leading craft brewers Birra Del Borgo and a beer importer, Experience It and is based in the northern suburbs of Sydney.

So how did I feel about the beer? Sadly, very disappointed. The first thing I noticed was that there was very little hop nose on this beer, in fact, literally none. I really can’t say if the bottle is old but I suspect it is not. They really need to consider dialling up the hops on this one.

The appearance was a dark orange with a little haze. I read after I poured the beer that it was bottle conditioned so this may explain the haze as I poured without concern for this assuming it wasn’t. The first sip I had knocked me back a little in how alcoholic the beer tasted. Whilst I acknowledge the 8.5% is quite a bill the alcohol taste should not have been as sharp. I suspect it was young which is good, but still no hop character.

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I tasted a strong, sticky full body and would have preferred to see a dryer beer to achieve the high alcohol. The description on the bottle described it as ‘double dry hopped’ which makes me wonder what the single dry hop tastes like. All in all I wasn’t blown away by this beer and gave it a 2.5 stars on Untappd. I’m hopeful that this is perhaps a bad batch but won’t be rushing out to buy anymore Nomad anytime soon.

If you’re looking for a justification to drink a lot of beers, why not get Untappd and add me as a friend? The badges give you the sense of accomplishment the beers take away from you. Check me out on username: benbrett14

Brewery Review: Blackwater Trading Co (Moffat Beach Brewing)

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Having lived in Brisbane most of my life, I know that there are two types of Brisbaneintes, Northsiders and Southsiders. Which side you choose can be a complex choice involving a lot of variables but one factor that plays strongly is which beaches you prefer, the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast.

Whilst the Sunshine Coast is known for its beautiful beaches, its laid back vibe and its abundant, clean white sand, the Gold Coast is known for bikies, crime and needles. (Just kidding) Read More

The House Pale Ale: Version 1

House Pale Ale

Whilst my obsession with home brewing is quite strong, I really haven’t been doing it for a whole lot of time. Because of this I haven’t really brewed any one style more than once. Whilst this can be fun, I haven’t been able to dial in any of my own recipes. I thought it was perhaps time that should change. Read More