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Kozel Premium

Date: 25th September 2011

Alcohol: 4.8%

Volume: 500mL

Price: $3.99 / bottle (Dan Murphys)

Manufactured: Velké Popovice, Czech Republic

I was doing a little ‘research’ for this review this afternoon which involved (amongst other things) watching beer commercials on youtube.  I highly recommend it as a way to kill an hour or so.  The outcome from this exhaustive journey was; that no matter where in the world you are beer is still sold the same way.  It either involves sexy girls on the beach, some funny incident in a bar or, as in the case of the Kozel commercials ‘honest men doing a hard day’s work’.  In this ad’ I don’t understand a word they are saying but clearly a couple of guys are mowing their lawn and at the end of the job deserve an ice cold Kozel.  This could have been set to the Australian VB commercial jingle and end with the tag line “ ……. matter of fact I got it now”.  I love it, and that’s what makes beer a globally approachable drink.

Velkopopovický Kozel is a major brewery in the Czech Republic that has (similar to where Fosters is heading) been taken over by SABMiller.  They commonly produce four beers all of which are exported (to Australia) and today I am tasting the Premium. Oh, I nearly forgot, Kozel means ‘goat’ hence the kid with a huge beer on the label.

Appearance (3.5/5)

Before I start on the beer I need to comment on the packaging.  I love the caricature goat on the label drinking a huge beer.  The bottle is clearly a bit of fun but they manage to hold the premium/ export appeal.

This is a classic golden amber beer that screams pilsner.  A perfectly clear (no sediment) beer with a nice white foamy head.

Nose (3/5)

You will probably not be surprised to hear that this pilsner does not have a lot to offer on the nose.  There is a rather soft hop nose and some graininess but you have to go looking. Ho hum.

Flavour (3.5/5)

This beer is definitely at the dry bitter end of the spectrum but it does still have room for some (I hesitate to say) fruit.  There is a very brief showing of soft fruit in the centre of the tongue but most of the time it is about grains, hops and those classic dry pilsner flavours.

Finish (3.5+/5)

I quite like the finish on this beer as it has two very distinct stages.  At first you get some classic bitterness from the hops on the tongue and after about 10 seconds you receive a surprise at the back of the throat consisting of some warm maltiness leaving a straw finish in the mouth.

Rating: (13.5+/20)

The world needs beers like this.  I have recently reviewed quite a few Belgian beers which are really lovely.  The problem with this type of beer is that after one (or two) you are either on your ear or your palate is clagged.  That’s where the humble pilsner comes in; you can have quite a few in a session while still keeping it together and don’t feel like you’ve just had a four course meal.  This beer is not a superstar but it has no obvious faults and most importantly has a cool goat on the label. Grab some and let me know what you think.

 

Posted by on 25th September 2011 in Beer

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Leffe Radieuse

Date: 10th September 2011

Alcohol: 8.2%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $4.95 (bottleshop), $12.50 (pub)

Manufactured: Belgium

Leffe Blonde must have been one of the first Belgian beers that I ever experienced.  To me it’s a bit of a ‘standard’ that you know if there is nothing else interesting behind the bar, that the Leffe Blonde will keep you interested.  I am pretty sure that I have also tried the Brune from time to time but I have never really noticed the Radieuse (Radiant).

Appearance (4.5/5)

At a passing glance you would describe this beer as cherry red in colour.  Well not quite, but it does have some bright redness to it.  It is pretty clear to see where the radiant title came from.  The clarity os clear as a bell.  The head is thick and creamy giving great ‘whipped egg white’ foam with a colour reminiscent of one of Richie Benaud’s famous sports coats (off white). An all-round great looking beer.

Nose (3.5/5)

The nose is very light.  Nothing offensive just not much notable till you really get your nose in the glass.  There is light yeastiness and some sweet fruit that I can’t really place.

Flavour (5/5)

I immediately like the flavour of this beer.  It is fruity, in a Belgian kind of way; dark fruits and sweet caramel with classic Belgian spiciness.  There is hoppy bitterness up front but this is lightened by some great effervescence.

Finish (5/5)

There is a very big finish on this beer similar (in length) to a substantial red wine.  You get a lovely warmth from the alcohol (8.2%) but most notably is the sugary bitterness that lingers on.  On the pallet I am left with sour cherries and bananas and I am not talking about ‘hints of’, I mean I’ve just finished mashing bananas and cherries into my face.  It is slightly unusual and I understand that it might not agree with all but I love it.

Rating: (18/20)

I can’t figure my scoring system.  Drinks that I think are good rate poorly (overall) and others do surprisingly well.  What do I mean in this case?  Well the flavour and finish are really fantastic but do I really think this is one of the best beers I have tasted (18/20)? No, but it is particularly enjoyable.  I would definitely recommend picking one up and taking it for a ride.  The bold flavours would work well with a powerful meal.  I am thinking a starter plate with Stilton cheese and walnuts.  For the cigar guys out there, this would go well with a big Cuban no problems at all.  Either way, give it a go.

 

Posted by on 10th September 2011 in Beer

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Chimay Blue

Date: 16th August 2011

Alcohol: 9.0%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $4.95 (bottleshop), $12.50 (pub)

Manufactured: Baileux, Belgium

This is a beer that I have been trying to review for some time.  As you may have noticed I have reviewed the other two beers in the series (red and white) which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  I have enjoyed this beer in a social situation sometime back and had some great recollections of its flavour and power.

Appearance (3.5/5)

I must say that this is not the prettiest beer around in the glass.  Similar to the other two beers in the series it has a very high level of sedimentation. The colour is dark (muddy) brown with a slight amber hue.  The head pours large from the bottle but fairly quickly settles to a thin but persistent creamy yellow layer on the glass.  The bubbles are fine forming a nice foam for the length of the drink.

Nose (4/5)

The beer does not have a strong nose but still contains some detail.  I notice sweet Belgium yeast, vanilla and candied sugar scents. Very nice but not overwhelming.

Flavour (5/5)

If the nose is slightly restrained this is made up in full by the flavour which is powerful and complex.  It starts out with sweet dark brown sugar and candy flavour that is mellow and warming.  The word rich keeps coming to mind.  There are deep dark black fruits in there like blackberries and plums that build to a Christmas cake and booze hit.  The mouth feel is amazing; verging on liqueur but still has delicateness achieved by the light carbonation.

Finish (5/5)

Dark cherries that remind me of Christmas at the back of the pallet remain long after the beer has been consumed.  I have finished the beer and yet still now tasting cherries and plums.  There is warmth that is undoubtedly due to the large alcohol hit and a nice light hoppy bitter finish.

Rating: (17.5/20)

This is an awesome beer that I would strongly recommend to all.  Due to the rich flavours and big alcohol hit it is more of a drink to be had in small measure.  If you would like a change with your Christmas pudding this year, try a Chimay Blue.  I reckon the beer and pud’ would be a sensational match.  The only drawback with this beer is the appearance and I have a sneaking suspicion that the ‘Grande Reserve’ 750mL bottle would sort out some of those sediment issues nicely.

Go out, buy some, drink and if you are so inclined enjoy with a good cigar.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Posted by on 16th August 2011 in Beer

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La Chouffe

Date: 12th July 2011

Alcohol: 8.0%

Volume: 750mL

Price: $14.95 (bottleshop)

Manufactured: Achouffe, Belgium

It’s a Belgian beer and it has a little dwarf on the front; of course I was going to pick it up.  The first time I came across this beer was when I stopped by the local Belgian beer café and noticed the dwarf on the menu.  I didn’t try it at the time but made a mental note that we would meet again.

The story of the Brasserie d’Achouffe is not unlike a lot of micro breweries these days.  Two blokes like beer and think,’ we should make our own beer and sell it… we’d make a fortune’.  The two blokes were in fact brothers in law and started brewing in 1982.  Think it as a Belgian version of Mountain Goat.  As happens they were bought out by Duvel in 2006 and probably now sitting on a pile of money drinking their profits.  Good luck to them.

Appearance (3.5/5)

The beer pours a golden amber colour and is clear without sediment.  I have heard a few people say that it is a cloudy beer.  I can only assume that the clarity is due to the 750mL bottle keeping the sediment well away from the bulk of the beer.  The bubbles are larger than expected but still provide a classic Belgian head for the life of the beer.

Nose (4/5)

The nose is unmistakable Belgian yeast from about 3 feet.  Someone could open one of these in the room and you would have a good idea of what was going on.  On closer inspection you get toasty grains and a general smell.  The best I can do is something like candy floss.  Overall appealing.

Flavour (4.0/5)

Once again this is a caramel bananas beer.  It hits you right at the back of the throat and is very moreish.  The other fruit further forward in the palate is yeasty apples; sounds funky but is quite pleasant.

Finish (3.5/5)

The finish is all yeasty, honey goodness. Not particularly complex but it hangs around for some time.

Rating: (15/20)

I really wanted to like this beer and all things considered it’s an enjoyable drop.  La Chouffe is not however, a sensational beer.  I would definitely buy it again but it just doesn’t have some of the complexities of some of its local competitors.

 

Posted by on 14th July 2011 in Beer

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Gage Roads – Sleeping Giant IPA

Date: 3rd July 2011

Alcohol: 5.4%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $18 per 6 pack (bottle shop)

Manufactured: Palmyra, Western Australia

For the uninitiated an IPA is an Indian Pale Ale.  This is a style of beer that is particularly popular in the Britain, not the least being with some of the bigger brewers like IPA and Fullers.  The story that I had heard previously about IPA’s was that they were a style of beer that was brewed with a ‘slightly’ higher alcohol percentage to help them survive the journey from Britain to India in the 1800’s.  If Wikipedia can be believed that is myth and it notes that rather they are brewed leaving little residual sugar and heavily hopped.

I love the look of this bottle and label.  I think Gage Roads have done a great job in creating a product that catches your eye in the bottle shop.  It caught mine and now I’m ready to give it a rip.

Appearance (4.5/5)

The beer has a great burnt amber colour verging on coppery red.  The head is fine and creamy in colour, only very thin but hangs around for the life of the drink.  Well done.  All in all, a good looking beer.

Nose (3/5)

When I first ripped off the crown I got a great whiff of hops that got the brain ready for an exciting beer.  The disappointment set in once poured as all but a trace of the hoppy smell was replaced by a fairly simple caramel nose.

Flavour (4/5)

Stone fruit is the dominant flavour, peaches and apricots that are softened by some dark caramel that matches the nose mentioned above.

Finish (3.5/5)

It takes some time to get past the peach and apricot flavour before you start to get some of that hoppy bitterness.  Not a lot there but still quite enjoyable.  Overall I would class this a medium to sweet beer.

Rating: (15/20)

I am not sure whether this score does this beer a disservice.  I like the beer and think that it would go well with some spicy food but probably not great as a session beer as the fruit can become somewhat cloying.

 

Posted by on 3rd July 2011 in Beer

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Chimay Tripel (White)

Date: 25st April 2011

Alcohol: 8.0%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $4.95 (bottleshop), $12.50 (pub)

Manufactured: Baileux, Belgium

This is my second adventure in the Chimay trio following on from the Chimay Red last week.

Appearance (4/5)

Golden amber in colour again with a high level of sedimentation similar to a wheat beer.  The head came out thick and creamy/ fluffy with a yellow tinge in colour.  The head is made up of superfine bubbles similar to some of the stouts but loads more volume.  It throws a crust in the bottom of the bottle that a 10 year old Barossa Shiraz would be proud of.

Nose (4/5)

The first aroma I noticed was the yeasty breadiness that I was able to pick up as soon as the crown was removed.  There is higher end sweet note (peaches/ apricots ?) but overall dominated by wheat bread and malt.

Flavour (4.5/5)

The mouth feel is just like the head looks; a full creamy silk mouth coating with tiny bubbles attacking the tongue.  The fruit is the first flavour I notice with banana and peach followed by yeast and wheat at the back of the palate.

Finish (5/5)

I absolutely love the finish on this beer.  You get bags of honey and fruit around the front of the pallet while the back of the mouth and throat gets dry hop bitterness with ever so slight alcohol warmth that hangs around. Great balance. Whoooaaa.

Rating: (17.5/20)

Pour this beer into a glass and ‘blind Freddy’ could tell you it’s a Belgian beer and not a baddy at that.  It’s a classic that is surprisingly drinkable and available which can’t always be said for the Trappiste beers.  I could easily have a Friday afternoon session on these but alternative transport would be required :-).  A great beer and leaving me looking forward to the final chapter with Chimay Blue.

 

Posted by on 25th April 2011 in Beer

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Chimay Rouge (Red)

Date: 21st April 2011

Alcohol: 7.0%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $4.95 (bottleshop), $12.50 (pub)

Manufactured: Baileux, Belgium

A while back I had a business meeting in Brussels which nicely coincided with some (not unusual) industrial action by the local airport baggage handlers.  Long and short of it; I was stuck in a Brussels airport lounge with a little spare time to taste some of the local beers.  I can’t say I remember everything I tried (Leffe among them) but I do remember leaving with the message, ‘Belgium makes a great beer, but sh*t it’s strong’.

That leads me onto Chimay which is one of the easier to find Trappiste beers that I have been dying to try in order of Red, White and Blue for some time.  I have picked up all three and over the next few reviews you will get my opinions on all.

There are only 7 breweries that are able to call themselves Trappiste that are brewed by monks in monasteries around Belgium and one in Holland. Red is the entry beer at 7% alcohol followed by White at 8% and Blue at 9%.  I would be keep to do all three in the one sitting but I feel the quality of the Blue could be a little random.

Appearance (3.5/5)

Dark red/ tan in colour with a think amount of particulates (muddy) that cloud the beer.  I am assuming this is residual yeast.  The sediment stays around for the life of the drink.  The beer pours with a nice foamy cream head that dies away over time.

Nose (4/5)

The nose is much lighter than I was expecting.  I can definitely pick up the maltiness and fruit at the front.  Other reviews refer to it as bananas but I think that it is more like caramelised bananas with a prominent yeastiness.

Flavour (4.5/5)

This is quite a sweet but controlled beer.  It is caramel in flavour (mid palate) with a slight bitterness.  The beer has a thick body about it like a wheat beer that coats the mouth.

Finish (4.5/5)

The finish has an ever so light splash of bitterness but continues with the caramel sweetness.  The slightly warm alcohol finish in the throat that reminds you this is not a sub 5% beer.

Rating: (16.5/20)

This is a lovely beer no doubt about it, but I cannot say that it is a truly great Belgium beer.  It is let down by the muddy appearance that comes from having a tan beer with heavy sedimentation.  If I was handed one of these at the start of the night I would be a happy man but I just know that better things are to come from the Chimay trio.

 

Posted by on 21st April 2011 in Beer

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White Rabbit Dark Ale

Date: 12th April 2011

Alcohol: 4.9%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $69 /24 btls (Vintage Cellars)

Manufactured: Healesville, Australia

This bottle caught my eye from the start.  I love the cutesy ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type image on the front of the bottle.  This is something different that I think does a good job of giving it that boutique feel.  The brewery located in the Yarra Valley and has both bases covered with its extensive range of two beers; dark and light ale.  I haven’t sampled the light ale but after this tasting I’ll be sure to track it down.

Appearance (4/5)

Medium-dark ruby ale with very little head to speak of. Love a dark ale.

Nose (4/5)

The nose is sweet and malty and is a great entre to the palate.  There is a light dose of hops without going crazy.  Balanced. It is one of those beers that makes a smooth transition from nose to mouth. Oooooh that smells good lets drink.

Flavour (4.5/5)

Up front you are hit with lush caramel maltiness with sweet date flavours throughout.

Finish (4.5/5)

The finish is everything I want from a dark ale; long, nicely bitter hopiness with sweetness that will hang around till your ready for the next mouthful.  Oh yeah I’m ready.

Rating: (17/20)

Bottom line, go out and get some.  It is starting to get up there in price but this would make a great Sunday lunch beer with the Roast Beef with all the trimmings. Yum.

 

Posted by on 12th April 2011 in Beer

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Birra Moretti Premium Larger

Date: 3rd April 2011

Alcohol: 4.6%

Volume: 330mL

Price: $55 /24 btls (Dan Murphys)

Manufactured: Milan, Italy

This is not the first time I have tried Birra Moretti but I must say that there have been a few packaging changes since the last time. The outer case (24 pack) was damn thin, in fact I don’t know how the hell it made it to oz without a few broken bottles. More important than that, the happy little dude in a green suit on the front has been shrunk and the brand enlarged. A travesty I say; surely the green dude can sell more beer than a simple logo. That’s just an engineer’s opinion I guess.

I have always been a bit smitten for the Italian beers as accompaniment with food. I am sure that it is 80% emotion as when you sit down and think about them, they are usually pretty non-descript. I don’t care; if I’m in the local Italian cafe having a prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella tasting plate on a Sunday morning I’d be all over a Moretti.

Worth noting, like a lot of beers this one started to come good as it warmed up a little from the fridge.

Appearance (4/5)

Light amber in colour with a light head (ok I’m being nice, it doesn’t hold for long).

Nose (2.5/5)

The nose is similar to several of the Italians (that doesn’t include Coca Cola Australia’s Peroni). At the front is pear and citrus with a hint of yeast. Overall, a light nose.

Flavour (2.5/5)

Quite a creamy mouth feel with smooth bubbles. Dry in flavour very with little residual sugar. It’s a non-offensive larger with not a lot on flavour.

Finish (3.5/5)

The finish is long and develops into a nice hoppy bitterness. It certainly makes up for a basic flavour.

Overall Rating: (13/20)

 

Posted by on 3rd April 2011 in Beer

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