Tag Archives: review

Australian Pale Ale 4 – review

Mikey continued his experiment with different hops with the Australian Pale Ale #4, and this one was pretty tasty.

The beer was a single hop using the Victoria’s Secret hop variety, a really good, relatively new variety.  The hop was used for aroma, taste, and bittering.

In the smell, there were some great subtle aromas: mild citrus and a bit of cut grass.  There was a bit of stone fruit in there too.  On the malt side, there was a bit of sweetness to the smell which tends to be a theme in the Mikey’s Australian Pale Ale series.  The whole point of the series is to keep the same malt and simply show off the hop after all.

In the taste, while it’s called the Australia Pale Ale, it’s closer to the American style, albeit with a very Aussie hop.  Vic Secret is a pretty bitter hop.  There’s a quick build and the bitterness kind of goes “whoosh” into your mouth and sits in the back.  Behind this, at the end, is a little bit of lemon zest as well which is a nice twist.

Other than that, it’s all pretty standard.  It’s a great beer made with a great, versatile hop.

Due to the bitterness, this may be a difficult beer to enjoy with a lots of foods.  It would go well with saltier snacks rather than a meal.  Pop corn or cheddar cheese (not too sharp) would work.


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Mikey’s Sneaky Cider

Way back in February, Mikey made a really quick cider called the Sneaky Cider, and I finally got around to tasting it!

Firstly, it had a great colour.  Nice and clear, with the colour of a basic sparkling apple juice – not surprising considering it was just sparkling apple juice (with some alcohol!).

Sneaky ciderThe first impression was that this was a very dry cider, but not overly so.  Strangely, the whole drink resembled a Chardonnay.  This isn’t a bad thing, as I’m quite fond of the grape.  I usually like a drier cider, and, to my taste, this could have been even drier, but I acknowledge this isn’t for everyone.  All in all it was quite well balanced and, at 7.9%, the alcohol was well hidden.

On the flavour, initially there wasn’t a lot of apple flavours, but the drink was certainly refreshing!  As the drink warmed up, however, the apple flavours start to come through.  The flavours start off quite laid back, then a bit of aroma comes through, and, before you know it, the apple becomes the dominant flavour.  While the name of this cider came from the fact that Mikey made it quite quickly, the flavour is just as sneaky.

I like that this cider was on the dry side.  Popular ciders today are often to sweet and they take away from the natural tang of the apples.  This cider still had tang without feeling like you were biting into an apple: it tasted like apple, but not too much so!  Basically, it was different from what the commercial ciders are doing.

I really liked this cider.  I’d do this with some pork chops!


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Malted Cider 2 – review

On Saturday Chas had another brew day at his place. Was another good day with what should be a good beer. He’ll cover the details later. We did some tastings on the day. My Sneaky Cider and Chas’s Malted Cider 2. Two different takes on cider.

Malted Cider 2

Malted Cider 2 ready for drinking

The Malted Cider, a graft, was the second attempt by Chas. The first one was an okay drink. But each time I tried some it was eggy in aroma. Chas said that there was less egg smell in the other bottles. Anyway, onto the new version. And it had a slight eggy smell. Granted it was very slight, and Chas assures me that there isn’t any of that in other bottles. The main character for the aroma was the rich sweetness. Not a sickly sweetness like raw sugar, more like rich fruit.

After the smell the first thing you notice is the feeling. It has a big creamy mouth feel. This fills out and gives the cider a lot of substance. I really like that a lot. The sweetness slowly builds. it doesn’t become too much, and that keeps this grounded. The malt helps with body and keeping the whole thing under control and smooth. There’s a nice apple flavour along the whole way. And that’s good, ‘cos a lot of apples went into this.

This isn’t a drink I would choose for a session. More of something for an easy match with dinner after work, or before dinner. And this comes in at 6.4% alcohol. So another good reason not to knock back a few of these in a row.

I’m really impressed with the substance of this cider. We talked about it on Saturday and agreed that there’s something missing. It’s like the cider is halfway between two points and doesn’t know where/what it wants to be. Maybe a different yeast and/or temperature might help. Or maybe just a different malt?


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Imperial Red Ale – review

Back in January Chas decided to to do a big batch of the Iron Curtin Imperial Red Ale. It was in the middle of a bit of a heat wave in Melbourne and the brew could have ended up quite a mess. The beer had a bit of steeping grain for flavour, liquid malt kit, extra liquid malt, some dry malt and a bit of hops for extra kick. Although it was a kit a lot that went into it. Fast forward four weeks in the bottle, it was time to do a taste test.

Iron Curtain Imperial Red Ale

Three glasses of Iron Curtain Imperial Red Ale ready for drinking

The smell is about exactly what you would expect for a red ale. There’s that rusty malt and sweetness aroma. Quite a solid aroma, too.

Flavour comes on with a build up which works well. Amber malt flavours building with the slight spiced hops. It’s balanced really well and works a treat. The beer is big and there’s a feeling like your mouth is full of flavour. A hint of sweetness sits behind the main parts. At the end it gets a little less balanced with the bitterness finally overpowering the malt. Just at the very end there’s a bit of funky tart flavour, probably due to the yeast.

For food matching is pretty easy. If you come home after a long day, work or whatever, and you’re really hungry you have something that fills you up. Whatever that food is, this beer will match it. This is that beer for your wholesome meal. And it’s also a beer to slowly drink on a lazy night.

I’m pretty impressed with this beer. It was a kit, and I’m always a bit uncertain if they turn out they way you want. This one worked well. Quite well. I suspect these will dissapear pretty quickly.


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Red Dog Pale Ale 2 – review

It seams like only yesterday in put up the review for the Red Dog Pale Ale 1. And now here a we are with the second version.

Red Dog Pale Ale 2

Red Dog Pale Ale 2 ready for drinking

As Chas mentioned in the write up of the brew day, not everything went to plan. The main issue being that there wasn’t as much conversion of the grain to sugar as expected. The result was an original gravity lower than planned. I expected this to result in a beer that was thinner than first version, and also dryer. I was right about about one.

There’s a nice passionfruit aroma. Has hints of grapefruit and light malt as well. But that Doesn’t stay with you long. Taste wise it’s light and fruity at the front. Both grapefruit and passionfruit comes out across the length of the beer and lingers for a bit. Both drop away a bit too early. Next there the light body sitting  behind this all which helps give a slight creaminess at the back. The problem I have is that the body doesn’t hold up. As it drops out so does the flavour.

The bite and bitterness of the grapefruit is the main character here. Overall this is a really nice beer. It’s just the light body that drops off which lets the beer down. This is probably due to the issues with the grain.

For matching with food there’s a lot of options. As there isn’t a big profile here so the beer can work with a lot of foods that don’t have a really strong flavour. Chicken, fish & chips, Mexican food, most pub meals, salads and veggies, you get the idea. The beer would get overpowered quiet easily by any rich or dark food.

Despite the issues with the brew, this turned out well. Not a complex beer. This is one you can enjoy any day of the week, or have a few in a row.

– Mikey

Update: Corrected some spelling and gramma. Whoops.

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Fook Mi/Fook You Belgian – Review

My friend from Carnie Brew gave me a bottle of his Fook Mi/Fook You Belgian a few months back. It’s been in my fridge a long time. The beer was brewed and bottled in August last year. So, it’s been in my fridge about four months. That’s a long while.

Fook Mi-Fook You Belgian

Fook Mi-Fook You Belgian ready for drinking

Well, finally I’ve cracked it open. Before I get into the review let me just say this; thank goodness I left it sit for so long ‘cos it’s great.

Big sweet aroma. Almost like a toffee or caramel in richness, but a lot darker. Sort of a biscuit/toast smell.

Strong hit of flavour up front. First sweet then dark fruit quickly moving to biscuit-oat flavours. Slowly mellowing out with a dark and slightly dry toast taste crossed with stewed fruit flavour. This is a complex beer. So much flavour in here.

The body is really long. Well after the liquid is gone the flavour lingers. There’s no peaks or drop-offs in this beer, just solid ‘go’ from start to end. If I didn’t know that this beer was only 5.6% alcohol I’m sure I’d say it was closer to 8%, it’s that full.

The different flavours are hard to describe, I’ve tried my best above. I’m thinking the Amber Belgian Candi Sugar that was added might be the thing I just can’t nail with words. Needless to say it seams to have worked.

The beer is a slow drinking beer. Due to the big body and complex flavours I would be recommending this as a great beer to have with cheese. Pretty much any cheese from the basic cheddar all the way down to blue cheese, not that I’d have that stuff. Would go well with antipasto as well, pastes and figs comes to mind.

Well, I’ve finished writing this up and I still have half a glass. Guess that really sums up my review on this beer. You need to sit on it to really enjoy everything that’s going on.


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Matt’s Pumpkin Ale – review

So it’s a new year and it’s time to get brewing again, and reviewing some new brews.  My mate Matt made a pumpkin ale awhile ago and gave me one to try.

Matt gave me the beer well before Christmas and told me I wasn’t to drink it until after the New Year, this was tough at first but then I forgot that it was in the cupboard conditioning.  I remembered it a couple days ago and put it in the fridge and forgot about it again!  Then I remembered it today while at work and dreamed about tasting this beer for the rest of the day.  I was not let down.

I was a bit worried at first because there was very little carbonation and no head when I poured it.  I had trouble at first getting any real aroma…

After giving the beer a minute to breath, the scent really came through though.  The beer was sweet and fruity with quite a bit of apple; it almost smelled like a cider.  I had to look hard but I found a little bit of pumpkin in there too.  The smell of the beer was very crisp.

This crispness continued in the first sip.  For an ale this was a very crisp beer, it was almost like a lager in its crispness.  That being said there was still a lot of body in the beer and it was surprisingly thick and full.

In the flavour, I still had trouble finding finding pumpkin but the fruit flavours continued, especially the apple.  The beer was quite sweet and this interacted well with the hops.  The bitterness had a long feel to it and sat nicely at the back of the mouth while I was sipping the beer.  The sweetness would come through while the bitterness just sat there to counteract it.  Because of this the beer was really pushing towards feeling like a pilsner rather than an ale, but the body gave it away.

The overall hoppyness was great and quite big, which is only to be expected from someone like Matt: he loves his hops.  It was very well balanced between outright bitter and fruitier flavours.  Hints of floral were in there as well.  Matt really selected his hops well and I think he’s got a talent for it.  The hops seemed very intentional and well thought out.

I think this beer would be very sessionable, even though it is fairly heavy and surprisingly bitter after knocking back a bottle.  I was also amazed at how refreshing it was; I think this was due to the beer being just bitter enough to have a bit of a zing but not being overpowering.  Given the style, I was quite surprised.

The only criticism I have is that the sweetness could be dialed back a little bit.  Perhaps the pumpkin contributed to the sweetness, but unfortunately I couldn’t find much pumpkin.  Maybe if the pumpkin was prepared a different way it would make all the difference.

I’d like to try this beer with pork belly and apple sauce.  It would go well with any heavier white meat really, or a gamey white meat as well.  But pork would be optimal!


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Red Dog Pale Ale – review

Moving from kit & kilo brewing to extract brewing was pretty easy. Moving from extract brewing to partial mash was a little bit of a jump. Moving from partial mash to full mash (all grain) was another jump. The Red Dog pale ale was the first full mash beer, and done by Chas.

Red Dog Pale Ale

Red Dog Pale Ale in glasses and ready for drinking.

I’ve had a few bottles of this lying around the house. But it wasn’t until Chas came over to help with the last brew at my place that we finally sat down for a proper taste test.

Was really impressed with the aroma. There was plenty of stone fruit aroma from the Chinook hops. Very good smelling beer.

Then onto the flavour, smooth creamy body and flavour. This is a really easy drinking pale ale. The fruit and malt flavours blend quite well without being wishy-washy. There’s a slight bitterness at the back. And, a hint of spice. Both of those don’t take anything away form the smooth creamy feel of the beer. Rather, they add some sharpness in places. Alcohol content came in at 6.9%. That’s a lot more than the beer gives away. It works to help keep the body big without punching you with that harsh alcohol taste.

Overall this is a very well built beer. There’s a mixture of clean and complex going on without being all over the shop.

Really nice beer to have with most foods. It would work great with seafood or fried food. Fish and chips would go great. Also good with fruit or salad, really anything that’s clean.

This beer was the first all grain brew we’ve done. And it turned out great. Expect a lot more all grain brews, especially from Chas.


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Baltic Porter II – review

Last weekend Mikey had another brew day with a few tastes, one of which was a take two of the Baltic Porter, and it turned out quite well.

The beer was intentionally lower in carbonation, as per the style, which was quite nice, felt good to drink and was nice to look at.

Baltic Porter IIThe initial impressions of the smell were quite interesting.  There was a bit of banana and yeast up front, which may be a sign of the fermentation being a bit warm, but it wasn’t an off putting smell at least.  With the banana were hints of honey and a bit of apple too.  This all interacted very well.  The banana was a bit too up front, so if we try this again, I’d like to make sure the temperature is better controlled.

Body was interesting and creamy, but a little bit confused.  As a porter the beer should be a bit heavier, but there are a lot of lighter porters out there that are great.  This beer couldn’t seem to make up its mind exactly how and where it wanted to sit in your mouth: it was heavy and light at the same time.  This added an interesting, albeit a little confusing, element to the beer that I quite enjoyed.

In regards to taste, there was a little bit of sourness in there that I usually associate with a stout, but it seemed to work well here.  Fruit flavours continued throughout with a bit of sweetness as well.  There was some hop bitterness as well, but it was well hidden; it could have been the Warrior hops pushing through as it really sat in my mouth after awhile.  The hops were nice, but a little unexpected for the style.

All in all, this was a great beer.  A little confusing, but still nice to drink!




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The Friedlieb, Coffee Porter II – Review

What an amazing beer. Best beer we’ve ever made? Pay attention and you’ll find out.

The Friedlieb II is the second coffee porter from Chas. The first one was done back in June and turned out pretty good. I had some issues with the sweetness and Chas wanted more smoky-ness. This version didn’t address the smoke but sorted out a few things.

The Friedlieb coffee porter II

The Friedlieb coffee porter II ready for drinking

Now, I’m giving away a bit here, normally I will have a glass of this beer with me when I type up the review. But for this one no such luck. I wasn’t around when Chas bottled the beer and he only brought around one beer when we tasted it back on Sunday 15th. So, I’ll go by my notes and memory.

First up there’s a huge coffee aroma. There’s some hints of chocolate and sweetness as well. This beer smells like exactly what you would expect from a coffee porter. That’s a big plus. Flavour. A dark creamy hit on the palate is the first thing you notice. Plenty of coffee the whole way through this beer from start to end. Lots of full body and big dark malt flavours. So smooth across all the flavour. There’s a chocolate builds up from about the mid point which works well with the coffee and dark malt. And there’s just enough bitterness to hold it together without any noticeable hop flavours.

The beer came in at 7.3% alcohol. Quite a respectable amount. With the coffee in there and so much grain flavours it could of gone any way. Lucky for Chas it worked out a treat.

Matching this beer to food is really hard. Not because it’s a dark beer with lots of coffee and hints of sweetness. It’s because it’s so amazingly good. You really want to drink it by itself. It could work with any rich or roasted food. Dark meats or big robust vegetables. Something with a dark sauce like red wine or gravy. Other option is to have this as a dessert beer. Possibly the perfect dessert beer.

So, is this the best beer we’ve ever made? I think the answer is a resounding YES! (Chas, bring me some more!)


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