Tag Archives: tasting

Carnie Pale Ale IV – Review

Carnie Pale Ale IV

Carnie Pale Ale IV ready for drinking

A couple days ago I put up a review of a Pale Ale from a fellow home brewer. The second beer I was able to take home was the Pale Ale IV.

There are a few similar traits that the IV has with the III. But, then there’s a whole lot more goodness. Over on Carnie Brews blog, brew 13 lists the ingredients that went in to this brew. There’s a slight change in hops and a wider range of steeped grains.

Aroma is similar to the Pale Ale III. Both apricot and earthy aromas are there but the vegetable-ness is barely there. The apricot is a bit tamed back as well. Overall nothing massive on the nose.

Flavours is where this all comes together. More body up front and lasting the whole way though. This gives everything else more of a base to work off. Apricot hop flavour comes out a bit and rounds out nicely. Not the same dryness of the previous version at all. Does still have a slight tart end to it.

This beer is definitely a step up on the last version. Seams to be balanced a lot more and easier to drink. While being strong in alcohol you can’t really notice, other than the bigger body. This is the sort of beer that says ‘yes, you can add more things and make it better’.

Food matching, this would go well with a lot of things. Any good pub meal or take away from your local fast food joint. Equally would work with any weeknight home cooked meal.


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Carnie Pale Ale III – Review

Carnie Pale Ale III

Carnie Pale Ale III ready for drinking

Just over a month ago I met up with a guy from work who also does home brewing. We shared some stories, had a few drinks and swapped some bottles. You should check out CarnieBrew’s blog.

The first bottle I’ve tried is the Carnie Pale Ale III. If you want to see some more info you can see the ingredients in Brew 11.

There’s a fair amount of Cascade and Amarillo hops that went into this beer. Plus a lot of liquid malt. The result is a bit of a mixture of flavours and characteristics.

The aroma plays around with the two hops. Giving both an apricot and an earthy smell. A hint of vegetable is also in there, which reminds me of some Moon Dog beers I’ve had in the past.

The initial flavour is light. Then things build up with a tart and dry body. The fruit/earth from the aromas comes on a little but the vegetable flavour is what I taste stronger. It finishes quite dry and with a bit of tang.

I think the parts that I don’t like might be due to the yeast or use of wheat liquid malt. I’m not a huge wheat fan myself. Then there’s a fair few things I do like here, the hop smells and flavours seam to be quite nice. And the beer hides the alcohol very well.

Overall this reminds me a lot of Moon Dog beers. And as such, I would recommend any food with a bit of kick to fit with this. Maybe a spicy stir fry or a gumbo dish.


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“Gauss’ Law” Hopped Cider – Review

Quick note that there’s no brewing this weekend. Chas is overseas and I’ve already got a brew in the shed.

Last weekend we tried a few different brews. Chas has already put up his review of the stout. The review of the Australian Pale Ale will go up in a couple days.

Another one we tried was “Gauss’ Law” Hopped Cider. Another experimental cider from Chas. As was pointed out to us, a malted cider is called a Graff. Not sure what a hopped cider (with no malt) would be called. Anyway, we got around to share a bottle. And at over 10% alcohol I’m glad we didn’t have one each.

First up there was plenty of earthy apple aroma. Rich and woody without a strong sweetness. Good on the nose and matches well with the flavours.

Wow, this is complex and tasty. Initially it’s light and easy with the apple coming in quite subtlety then building big. It’s not until mid-late into it before the hops kicks in. There’s a good citrus hop flavour that sticks around for a long time. The bitterness keeps the apple in check and there’s no sickly sweetness anywhere in sight. If anything there’s a bit too much hops here. Bitterness does get a bit much after half a glass. But, that may be a good thing given the alcohol level in this.

Food wise this would match really well with duck, turkey or chicken. Preferably roasted. Would also work with pork.

If Chas makes more of this I’ll definitely be getting my hands on a couple bottles for myself.



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Black Rock Miners Stout – Review

Stout, stout, stouty stout stout.

Yesterday we tasted the Black Rock Miners Stout in addition to doing a brew that I’m sure Mikey will write up.  We also tasted the Gauss’ Law Hopped Cider as well as Mikey’s Australian Pale Ale.  Reviews of these will be coming as well.

Anyway, the stout!

First of all, it looked very much like a stout.  Very dark, decent head while pouring, although the head retention was lacking a little bit.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot of aroma; the aroma was there, but quite very subtle.  I wasn’t able to get much out of it, but there were hints of brown sugar, chocolate, general sweetness and some malt and sticky smells as well.  There wasn’t much in terms of overt hops smells, but that is where some of the sticky sweet may have been coming from: floralStout mixing with the malt perhaps.

On the first taste, it was apparent that this is a weaker stout of 4% ABV with very little body, especially for a stout.

The subtle chocolate flavours continue as well as the subtle malt flavours, but other than that, the flavour is just “there.”  There wasn’t much to put my finger on, nothing obvious coming out to set it apart.  All the fairly standard stout flavours were there, but nothing to talk about.

As it was a stout, I wasn’t expecting any wild hops tastes, but, that being said, I couldn’t find much hops in there except for a mild amount of bitterness.  I would have liked maybe some floral or spicy flavours in there, just to add a bit of a twist.  Then again, I’ve been drinking a lot of imperial stouts lately, so maybe my pallet for stouts is a bit off…

Overall, it’s a good beer, but not great.  It’s very accessible but very middle of the road.  Because of this, it would make a fairly sessionable stout.  It would also make a good introduction to stout for those who don’t usually drink it.

In relation to food, these heavier beers generally go with heavier, meatier dishes, and this is no exception.  I think stouts are always good with barbecue, but I’d reserve this for a barbecued white meat like chick.  I also think that this stout is light enough to enjoy with a relatively hardy pasta with a good thick red sauce.


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Newcastle Brown Ale – Review

Mikey and I made the Newcastle Brown Ale a few weeks ago and it’s finally ready for tasting.

This was a 23 litre kit that we bought.  It was a little bit more than a standard can of wort and a kilo of malt, but pretty similar.  Nice easy kit to make and it made a pretty decent beer as well.

Pouring it, the beer looked good.  Head retention was good, as was carbonation.brown ale

The nose was very crisp.  Floral and fruit smells were there, most likely from the Fuggles hops.  These were mostly melon and citrus smells.  This was mixed in with more earthy smell.  Generally though, the smell was mostly just bitter and crisp smells with a hint of sourness.

Drinking the beer, it’s notable how “standard” this beer is.  This isn’t a bad thing: it’s a good tasting British style brown ale.  It’s not trying to be anything it’s not, just an enjoyable beer.  Of course this makes for very easy drinking.  It would be easy to knock back a few of these.

Everything is very balanced.  There’s nothing terribly interesting about the hops; bitter and sour flavours throughout.  The earthy feel continues at the end.  In the middle, there is a hint of sweetness and malt which is where the body comes out.  Other flavours included burnt chocolate and citrus peel.

i would have liked a little more body, it just seems a little thin for me.  Checking back over the recipe, it seemed like there was a good amount of malt added: a can of liquid malt, some dry malt, and whatever was in the wort can.  Oh well…

I’d like this beer with some pizza I think.  Any food that is about medium in density – not heavy, not light.  Avoid a seafood pizza though.


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Trappist Afterland Russian Imperial Stout – review

Last weekend I saw a band called Trappist Afterland. Great band, good night; I’m not going to go into the music (because this is a beer blog!), but the band have done something novel with their new EP.

Trappist Afterland’s new EP is available for digital download, so they figured at the launch event, rather than selling a piece of paper with the download code on it, they attached said code to a bottle of home made beer – so every album came with the gift of beer, the greatest gift of all (other than the lovely music).

Singer/songwriter for the band, Adam Cole, explained the idea behind releasing the album with the beer:

“Being a massive beer enthusiast I liked the idea of releasing

the album with a beer to reinforce the sip and listen idea.

Great beer and good music are the ideal partners I reckon.  

And considering our band name was inspired by Abbey Ales

it seemed to fit well.”

Adam also mentioned prior to the set that he had made so much beer, he may as well do something with it!

This particular beer was made at a brew on premises (“BOP” according to the tax man) joint called Barleycorn Brewers in Oakleigh South in Melbourne. I’ve never done brew on premises, but Mikey has. Basically, rather than making it at home, a BOP has all the equipment and recipes there for you. It can be a great way to get started or if you don’t have the room at home. They generally allow you to make a very good quality beer.


Tasty beer sitting in front of some tasty cider in the carboy

This beer was no exception.

Firstly, the beer was highly excitable. It was one of those stouts that had to be poured a little, wait for the foam to die down, pour, wait some more, and so on. Once the waiting game was over, what was left was a dark, thick stout with lots of body, but not too heavy.

On the nose, there were some great malt smells. There was a nice crisp clean smell, most likely brought on by the hops, and a smell of sweeter fruits.

This slight sweetness/fruit continued on in the taste, which was fairly unexpected for a stout. It went well, although sometimes felt a little inappropriate given the style of the beer. There was also a little bit of chocolate which went well with these flavours.

Of course this was complimented by the general stout bitterness. There was also a bit of spice in the hops, which I generally like in a stout. Basically, there were a few great flavours in there all interacting.

This seemed like a well designed stout, especially for those new to stouts. It was good, but very “safe”, easy, and inoffensive. All of this enhanced drinkability and made it a surprisingly sessionable heavy beer. Although I love a good stout, I’m usually done after one or two; I could have done a few of these.

Because of all of this, this beer would make a good dessert beer. The sweeter fruit flavours would go well with a drier dessert like a cake or just generally with sweet fruits. Going with a more sour/tart fruit probably wouldn’t go as well, but it might work well with some berries.

Anyway, thanks again to Trappist Afterland for sharing their great music and great brew. I highly recommend both.


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Hoppy Heart IPA – review

So we finally got to taste the Hoppy Heart IPA from Brewsmith that we brewed a few weeks ago. You can check out the post on the brew here.

The only problem with brewing is that it requires patience, which is something I don’t have.  You make your brew, wait while it sits in the fermenter, bottle it, then wait again!

Why not just go to the bottle shop and get something that’s already been made for you?  Well, that’s a whole lot less fun and you wouldn’t have the satisfaction of knowing it was something you’ve made yourself.  Also, home brew is tasty, and this IPA was no exception.

Hoppy Heart IPA #1

Hoppy Heart IPA #1

Firstly, I want to make a very loud shout out to the guys at Brewsmith.  It seems they stumbled upon this humble blog and posted an earlier review on their Facebook page.  I suppose it’s good for them to be showing potential customers that they make good beer, but it’s nice to be getting extra readers too, so everybody wins!  I know we refer to Brewsmith quite a bit around here, but just in case we forgot to give a link, here it is: http://brewsmith.com.au/ – that’s for all y’all who don’t know how to use search engines…

So the first exciting part of the weekend was getting some extra readers.  The second exciting part was trying the IPA while making some beer.

Well first of all, the colour was great: fairly dark with lots of body and head.  Mikey was doing a bit of a “yay we get to taste the IPA dance” prior to opening the first bottle, which made it get shaken up, so after dealing with that mess, we got to try the beer.

Getting ahead a little, but talking about the body of the beer, it seemed to have a bit of a creamy or oiliness about it.  It was a pleasant feeling, and I can only imagine that it may have come from the oils that come from the hops, but that is only a guess.  All in all, it added to the body of the beer.

In regards to smell, it was exactly like an IPA should smell like, fruity, hoppy, just generally nice. When drinking, I really got all the different levels of hops: aroma hops, taste hops, and bitterness hops.  The flavours were distinct, but together at the same time.  It was quite nice.

IPAs are most famous for their hoppy/bitter flavour, and this was no exception.  That being said, I’ve had some very bitter IPAs.  While I love lots of hops, this can be a little overpowering at times, and I can often only have one or two of these before I move on.  This was not one of those, rather, it was a bit more balanced and much easier to drink.

Adding to this was the fruitiness, which counteracted the bittering hops very well.  Sometimes one wins out, the fruit or the bitter, but this IPA had both at neither extreme.

As I finished the beer, I really began to notice the bitterness staying in my mouth, which is a lovely side effect of an IPA.  So the taste really stayed, which is great.

All in all, we were quite pleased with how this came out.  As with the Brewsmith porter we made a while ago, this beer was very easy drinking.

And finally, since the last review requested that I recommend food…  My first instinct would be to just enjoy this beer on its own.  It was very refreshing and good just for its own sake.  The bitterness in an IPA can push out other flavours, so it may not go well with something that’s less than bold.  So if you must drink it with food, drink it with something that will hit you just as hard.  Keep in mind that the beer also has fruit flavours as well.  A dry curry would go well, or perhaps something Mexican is what I’d go for.

– Chas

P.S.  and since this was an article about an IPA, here is a short list of hops related puns I wanted to include, but felt would be inappropriate in the main review:

  • We were very hoppy with how the beer came out.
  • When drinking the beer, I said “hip-hop-hooray, that’s good”
  • Something about rabbits?
  • Hop on the bandwagon, drink some IPA.
  • I got hopped up on some tasty home brew.
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Chocolate Paradise Porter – review

Chocolate Porter #2 tasting

Chocolate Paradise Porter #2 for tasting.


Well, as Mikey mentioned in his last post, we tasted a porter that he brewed a few weeks ago.  We had the drink while bottling an IPA from Brewsmith that we made about two weeks ago, and then followed by making yet ANOTHER Chocolate Paradise Porter.  So, following the first and second rules of home brew, we had to be drinking home brew.  Why not kill two birds and do a tasting at the same time?

I’ll start at the beginning: the taste before bottling.

It’s important to taste your beer before bottling to make sure that there is nothing funky going on.  It lets you know that it’s turned out OK and gives you a general idea of how things will turn out.

However, prior to bottling, the beer has generally been sitting at a fairly warm temperature (optimal for yeast) and is most definitively flat.  So yes, the first taste is a taste of a warm, flat beer.  The beer also hasn’t been given a chance to fully mature, so it’s far from done.

Prior to bottling, the smell was near perfect.  The chocolate really came out and there was a little bit of smokiness to it.  Exactly what a porter should smell like.

The first sip, however, was interesting… it had a sourness to it that although wasn’t bad, wasn’t good.  It didn’t taste like it was off or infected, but the sourness gave us a bit of a worry.  We figured the beer would lose this strange aspect after some time in the bottle.

The first (second and third!) bottle:

The nose didn’t change at all.  There wasn’t anywhere for it to go really.  It was still smokey with a bit of chocolate.

In the first few sips, there was still a hint of sourness to the brew, but it seemed to come from the carbonation.  The carbonation was a bit strange, and it seemed to sit on my tongue a bit.  Obviously carbonation is a good thing, but I don’t want it to be something I’m acutely aware of – especially in a porter.

Fortunately, this weird carbonation thing went away after the beer was allowed to breath for a few minutes.

The chocolate flavours were there, but overall very subtle.  The chocolate came through in the nose much more than in the taste.

What really came out in the taste was the smokiness.  It was great, although dominant. Unfortunately this meant that the any complexities in the beer were taken away somewhat.  This left us with what was still a great porter, but with nothing that stood out except for the smokiness. Please don’t get me wrong, this is far from a bad thing.

I had a few bottles of this, one served at what was probably the optimal porter temperature, one served a little cooler, and one served at temperature too cold for a porter.

Overall I think I liked the coldest one best.  I think that this was because I found the beer surprisingly light and refreshing for a porter.  Beer is always great and refreshing, but there are different styles for different times.  This porter was surprisingly light and quite easy drinking.

So overall, the beer turned out great.  Usually I can spend a little bit more time on a porter, but this one went down far too easily.  It wasn’t complex, but a complex beer can often be harder to drink.

All in all, a great beer, and I’m happy at how it came out.

Now let’s see if Mikey leaves a comment telling me I’m wrong…


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