Brewed with Balls – the most outlandish beers on the planetbrewed-with-balls-the-most-outlandish-beers-on-the-planet-9781925344622_hr
Stephanie Bishop-Hall
Affirm Press, 2016
Australia

Over 15 years ago I sampled ‘Chili Beer’ from US-based brewery Black Mountain Brewing Co that comes complete with a whole jalapeno inside the bottle. The brew was so over-powering with chilli heat that I couldn’t finish it and I all but dismissed it as a novelty. But the beer asked, what other beverage would even attempt this combination? What other beverage would stick their fingers up at the establishment and be bold enough to throw the rule book out the window? When it comes to beer, rules are meant to be broken.

‘Brewed with Balls’ showcases 65 of the best alternate beers from around the world. A short paragraph per beer is included that lists either an unusual brewing method or an unusual couple of ingredients, or both. It’s the perfect coffee table oddity book that doesn’t delve too deeply into any beery technicalities meaning it will appeal to everyone but leaves us nerds a little dry mouthed. Though side-stepping any technical aspects is what will hopefully encourage non-beer drinkers to give beer a chance.

There’s plenty of beers that sound incredible. See ‘Gift of the Magi’ from The Lost Abbey – a yuletide beer that includes the bark of frankincense, and a dash of myrrh. Or see Moon Dog Brewery’s ‘Ogden Nash’s Pash Rash’ brewed with those deliciously sweet Redskin lollies infused throughout.
There’s also plenty of beers that’ll make you nervous yet curious. See ‘Hvalur 2’ from Icelandic brewers Brugghus Stedja who use sheep poo-smoked whale testicles as a key ingredient. Or see ‘Walker’ from Dock Street Brewery that combine goat’s brains and cranberries.
And then there are the beers that defy comprehension. Such as Brewdog’s ‘The End of History’ – a bottle encased within a roadkill squirrel carcass.

The book is a hell of a lot of fun that will at times disgust you, and at times leave you salivating onto the pages. It’s a good reminder of how versatile and fun beer is and opens your mind to the fact that any favour combination is possible.

Cheers,
Mason Hell-Cat.

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ANZUS_IPA_BOTTLEANZUS IPA

Company info:
Fortitude Brewing Company
Mount Tamborine, QLD

[No website listed]

Bottle size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 6%
Standard drinks: 1.6

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $TBC AU

Label info: ‘Codenamed #14901 in early trials in 2010, our flagship IPA honours the ANZUS treaty between the great (hop growing) nations of Australia, New Zealand and USA. The first and only time the ANZUS treaty was invoked was on 14 September, 2001, after the 9/11 attacks on the USA.
An IPA made for the Australian climate, it eschews the cloying effects of big crystal additions in favour of a very clean, almost light malt backbone, allowing the hops to take the centre stage. Galaxy from Australia, Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand and Simcoe from USA. give the beer a huge hop aroma and flavour, running the full gamut of earthy, resiny, piney and fruity notes.’

Label thoughts: I’m always up for a strong collaborative effort and this sounds like the finest example.  

The Hell-Cat review starts hereANZUS IPA - GLASS

Label: The label is all yellow/gold with black text. Look carefully and there are waves of gold very faintly in the background. The main piece to stand out is a minor bird, casually lying back, viewed in profile – one leg holds a megaphone to its beak, the other grasps pathetically at thin air. From the megaphone shoots the text ‘ANZUS IPA’. Up at the top of the label is the same bird, only smaller and with different text reading ‘Noisy Minor Brewing Co’ – there is nothing to explain this alternate brewing company and I’m still intrigued by this. The label is simple in design and colour construct. I’ve never really been a fan of too much yellow or gold on a label but because there isn’t too much going on, it works. I like the two-tone arrangement.  

I give it a label rating of 6.5 out of 10.

AROMA:  Wow! Prominent Galaxy hops give a delicious earthy aroma, slightly herbal, grass-like.

Taste: GLASS – A deliciously clean, smooth mouthfeel makes way for an earthy, dry, bitter after-taste. This is outstandingly good. I can’t seem to comprehend the beauty of the mouthfeel’s crispness it’s simply breath-taking.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE  From the bottle ANZUS IPA becomes very bitter on the mouthfeel and one-dimensional as a result. Hints of the flavours are there, but they’re held back and can’t blossom. Stick to the glass for this.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 6 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Roast chicken is my pick. Or roast minor bird. Whatevs.

Best season to appreciate: A Summer brew if ever I knew.

All-nighter beer? Probably not an all-nighter for me. The dryness is really starting to take hold by the end of one bottle and I’m seeking more refreshment.

NEXT WEEK: Stone and Wood Jasper Ale

Love Tap - BOTTLELove Tap Double Lager

Company info:
Moon Dog Brewing
Abbotsford, VIC

[www.moondogbrewing.com.au]

Bottle size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 5.9%
Standard drinks: 1.6

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $4.95 AU

Label info: “Love Tap, Baby, Love Tap Babeeee! ….something and a something…as big as a whale…huggin’ and a dancin’ and a lovin’ and wearin’ next to nothing…and it’s about to set sail to the love tap”.
‘Pretty sure (almost certain) they weren’t the exact words but we reckon if they were they’d be a bang on way to describe this new world craft lager. It’s got a big schmack of citrusy, tropical hops and a clean, crisp finish. Enjoy!
AND
‘Really ridiculously fun beer’
AND
‘Vitals:
Malt: Pilsner, carared, carapils, Munich; Hops: Galaxy, Motueka, Tettenang; Yeast: Lager’

What the label really means: What I love about this label is the sense of humour. These guys clearly aren’t stuck up snooty craft brewers, they’re regular folks having a bit of fun with a very fun label description. They make fun of the classically horrid B52 track ‘Love Shack’ with their own spin. But then this is all juxtaposed with some very serious ‘Vitals’ for all the interested beery nerds. Love it. Love Tap - GLASS

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Just like the label text, here is a label that is clearly not taking itself too seriously, is having a bit of a laugh and succeeds in being very cool. The label is a funny greeny yellow colour with a black and white photo of a pig to the side. The pig wears a top hat and a bow tie – again showing that these guys don’t take themselves so seriously that they can’t have a bit of fun. ‘Love Tap’ is scrawled in thick texta-type while ‘Double Lager’ comes in its own little speech bubble straight from the pig’s mouth. All of the above mentioned text appears hand written on the bottle. The whole thing reminds me a bit of what Brew Dogs do – sticking it to the establishment, rebellious, tough, and fun. 

I give it a label rating of 6.5 out of 10.

AROMA:  Sadly the aroma is a bit lacking….there’s nothing outstanding and it smells like a regular run of the mill citrus lager.

Taste: GLASS – What I love most about this full-bodied, smack in the chops lager is the pervasive bitterness. They have taken a typical inoffensive citrus lager and turned it on its head. They have redefined the power of the lager and presented a very inspiring beauty. Very dry, very enjoyable.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE  The bitterness here, that I found such a highlight from the glass, surprises me once more by now becoming a little more refined. It’s a lot smoother now and I think I enjoy it a tad more from the bottle.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 8 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Some kind of tomato-based food would sit well beside this. I feel the acidity would cut through the dryness and soften it even more.

Best season to appreciate: A warmer weather brew.

All-nighter beer? For my money this is more of a pre-dinner beer to open the salivary glands. For me it’s a little too dry to drink all night.

NEXT WEEK: Stone and Wood Jasper Ale

Fred IPA - BOTTLEFred IPA

Company info: Murray’s Craft Brewing Co
Bobs Farm, N.S.W
[www.murraysbrewingco.com.au]

Bottle size sampled: 330ml
Alcohol: 5.6%
Standard drinks: 1.5
Cap type: Non-twist
Cost: I picked this up for $TBC AU

Label info: ‘At first glance you might think only his mum could him, but once you taste our new Fred IPA, we reckon you’ll fall under his spell. Sweet but bitter, Fred is aggressively late hopped with a house blend from the US Pacific Northwest. A beautiful hopped up brew to be enjoyed with smoky and spicy southern US style Mexican food’

What the label really means: Oh hell yes. This sounds like my kind of brew. Just be wary of using the term ‘new’ though label writers of the world – it’s only ‘new’ for so long. There’s a local business near me called ‘The New Cafe’ – it’s been around for fours years, surely people will tweak that it’s no longer new. I’ve already heard rumours that it’s referred to as ‘The Slightly Old and Not Really New Anymore Cafe’ by the social snobs.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: How much longer can I bang on about the sheer perfection of Murray’s labels? What can I say, they are sheer bloody geniuses at this. This once again is an example of their brilliance splashed across a bottle. It’s a red label with a caricature of a dude with tightly cropped hair and a three day growth. He has soulless eyes that stare out to beyond, his teeth gritted in concentration or frustration. A stripe of orange splashed paint is sprayed across his eyes, face, and out on to the label, dripping down the sides. On the left of his head is FRED while on the right is IPA. Just like last week’s review, it’s a fine mix of stencil art and graffiti and it’s brilliant. This is far and away Murray’s best label to date.Fred IPA - GLASS

I give it a label rating of 10 out of 10.

AROMA:  This truly is hopperific. Delicious passionfruit and melon aromas pounce like a mermaid beckoning weary travellers to their untimely ruin. 

Taste: GLASS – This is one hell of a fine IPA. It’s very, very dry, full flavoured and meaty with an intensely citric bitterness on the finish. Swirl it round in the mouth and you’ll detect those fine passionfruit offerings that are just hanging back in the chorus line, refusing to take the solo. This is so much gutsier that I expected and is prompting me to use the expression ‘hat lifter’. 

I give it a beer from glass rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE  This is damned fine from the bottle. The dryness is now reduced, which was totally unexpected and a pleasant touch as it helps present those other flavours more wholesomely. A little of the fruitiness takes a touch of centre stage and it is certainly welcomed. What a drop.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: My local pub serves a fine burger called ‘The Austen Midnight’ – smoked brisket, onion rings, bacon, cheese, and a jalapeno infused mayo. I’ll take one of them and a Fred thanks bar tender.

Best season to appreciate: A good Summer brew.

All-nighter beer? I’ve never been much of an all night drinker of IPAs or dryer brews so for me, no, this is not a session brew.

NEXT WEEK: Love Tap Double Lager

Pistonhead Kustom Lager - CANPistonhead Kustom Lager
Sweden Flag

Brewery info:
Brutal Brewing AB,
Varby, SWEDEN

[www.brutalbrewing.com]

Can size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 4.6%
Standard drinks: 1.2

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $4.75 AU

Label info: ‘Custom brewed with a double-clutch of Munchener-malt and pilsner malt injected with spalter select, magnum and perle hops’ 

What the label really means: The description is definitely revving my taste buds into action.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: This is the label I have been looking for all these years. Sheer design perfection. The can is a matte black finish with a white sugar-skull inspired design. There are splashes of blood red across the skull’s forehead with a spade motif smack bang between the eyes. The skulls itself is surrounded by a simple silver flame that shoots off behind it. There’s a banner beneath the skull that proudly announces ‘Pistonhead’ in big bold lettering while ‘Kustom Lager’ is in a cursive script beneath. It has a style of tattoo meshed firmly with street art graffiti and works brilliantly. This truly is label perfection. I cannot find a single fault with this and I am proud to hold this in my blood-stained hands.

I give it a label rating of 10 out of 10.Pistonhead - GLASS

AROMA:  Citrussy, musky, good. 

Taste: GLASS – It’s most certainly a very familiar lager encased within this canned beauty. But what is it that distinguishes this from the myriad of lagers in its class? Well…nothing really. It’s a very, very enjoyable drop that is incredibly smooth and has a slight hint of malty goodness, but it’s a bit run of the mill. I guess I expected, and hoped, for more. Still…it’s a great beer that deserves a tasting.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 7 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – From the can Pistonhead loses a good dose of that malty undercurrent and as such becomes a little one-dimensial. It’s still good, it’s just not as strong.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Chilli prawns or chilli beef would suit this well.

Best season to appreciate: A real summer thirst quencher. 

All-nighter beer? Absolutely! Pistonhead slides back very easily. I am most certainly up for the all night challenge.

NEXT WEEK: Fred IPA

Coedo Beniaka - BOTTLECoedo Beniaka
Japanese_flag - SMALL

Company info:
Coedo Brewery
Saitama, JAPAN

[www.coedobrewery.com]

Bottle size sampled: 333 mL

Alcohol: 7%
Standard drinks: TBC

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for approx. $3.10 AU

Label info: ‘Imperial Sweet Potato Amber’
AND
‘Super Premium Japanese Craft Beer’

What the label really means: It was the very mention of sweet potato that compelled me to purchase this beer. Keen to see how it tastes.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The label is predominantly red with silver text all over it. ‘COEDO’ stands out in huge letters, with ‘Beniaka’ in a cursive script beneath it. At the top of the label is the company logo that is flower-inspired, flanked by the words ‘Beer Beautiful’. A more subtle design element are the letters C-O-E-D-O in a darker red, patterned across the label – it adds a nice touch of depth to the label which would otherwise be rather dull. However it’s the textured bottle (with the same letters scattered about) that this label scores big points with.

I give it a label rating of 7 out of 10.Coedo Beniaka - GLASS

AROMA: Caramel malty tones shoot out at all directions. There’s a slight alcoholic aroma in there too, hinting at the 7% contents.

 

Taste: GLASS – A surprisingly smooth mouth feel with strong, hearty, upfront malt flavours. Very easy to drink, and surprisingly not overbearing in alcohol. A very interesting and complex brew, despite no real detection of sweet potato flavours. It is certainly tantalising my taste buds and I am very pleased to be drinking this from its home country.

I give it a beer from glass rating of out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – From the bottle Beniaka is just as good. It’s just as malty, remains very smooth and ultimately very enjoyable. The caramelisation is perhaps a little more pronounced now and it makes for one very delicious drop.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of out of 10.

Accompanying food: Smoked duck with wasabi. I had this dish the night before (minus the wasabi) and I feel it’s the perfect accompaniment. 

Best season to appreciate: Most definitely a winter brew.

All-nighter beer? The perfect apres-ski beer that I feel is easily sessionable. An all-nighter.

Note: According to Coedo’s website, ‘Beniaka refers both to the unique potato with which it is made and to its vibrant, yellow-tinged red colour.
Because of its use of sweet potato as a secondary ingredient, Japanese laws classify Beniaka as a happoshu (malt beverage) rather than a beer’.

NEXT WEEK: Pistonhead (the beer I promised weeks ago)

Inedit - BOTTLEInedit Damm
Spanish flag - SMALL

Company info:
Brassee Par: C.C Damm
Barcelona, SPAIN

[No website listed]

Bottle size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 4.8%
Standard drinks: 1.5

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $TBC AU

Label info: ‘Wheat and barley beer with spices’

What the label really means: Straight to the point.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Just like the previously reviewed Estrella Damm I love this label. A single gold star shines out from a matte black label. It’s simple and sophisticated, classy and elegant. As you would know, dear readers, I am generally against gold on beer labels but in this case, it’s just the right amount. It’s beautiful. Once again it ‘reeks of revolution. It reeks of liberation. It reeks of freedom. It also reeks of tradition, quality, and a beer not to be messed with. The label is tough, staunch, unblinking in the face of a pudgy, angry dictator with a penchant for tight trousers. It stares down authority and gives the finger to establishment.’ Who wouldn’t want to be seen holding this?

I give it a label rating of 8.5 out of 10.

AROMA:  Deliciously hoppy, floral aromas.

Taste: GLASS – Oh wow. This is one superbly crafted brew. All the elements are there for a smooth wheat beer with an undercurrent of citrus, but somehow it rises above this to pure brilliance in every drop. It’s clean, crisp and delicious. I am very impressed with this beer and finding it hard to stop drinking.Inedit - GLASS

I give it a beer from glass rating of 8 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – From the bottle, Inedit loses a good deal of that clean, refreshing mouth feel and becomes a little watery. Flavours are definitely diminished here, and while it still gives a fine glimpse into this heavenly brew it most certainly is better from the glass.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 6 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Drunken garlic prawns.

Best season to appreciate: Definitely a summer brew.

All-nighter beer? For sure! This is very easy to drink and it’s refreshing nature keeps you wanting more.

Other: This is my first review in a while and the reason for that is revealed over at my official Facebook page – come join me why don’t you? In the mean time I’ll get back to bringing weekly reviews your way.

NEXT WEEK: Pistonhead