Archive for the ‘Australian ales’ Category


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


Company info: Murray’s Craft Brewing Co
Bobs Farm, N.S.W

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

SteamRail Pale Ale - BOTTLESteamrail Pale Ale – Ghost of Eyre

Company info:
Steamrail Brewing Company
‘Produced for Australian Beer Connoisseurs
Hawthorn East, VIC’

[No website listed]

Bottle size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 4.5%
Standard drinks: 1.2

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $TBC AU

Label info: ‘Legend has it that twin ‘beerded’ brothers, Thomas and Charles, set out to find the great inland sea of Australia, Lake Eyre. Ensuring they stowed plenty of Pale Ale for their journey into the scorching centre, they soon had no choice but stay put and let the water find them. Who needs water when you have got great beer’

What the label really means: While I think the humour of this description is light and jovial, it does come off a little confused. I’m not sure who Thomas and Charles are, and how a steam rail comes into the equation.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: I actually quite like this label. The green works surprisingly well, linking to the hoppy goodness within. There’s a jovial little drawing of a couple of bearded blokes on a sailing boat, with cracked dirt underneath. I like the fact that the beer isn’t taking itself very seriously and it has a good sense of fun about it. I’m still a bit confused about the two supposed adventurers depicted, and the steam rail significance.

I give it a label rating of 7.5 out of 10.

AROMA:  Really delicious galaxy hops aromas. It hints at Summery goodness within.SteamRail Pale Ale - GLASS

Taste: GLASS – This is not as great as I’d hoped. It lacks any semblance of a refined finish, has a rather dirty mouth-feel, and over all presents itself as unresolved. When battling it out with the other big gun pale ales around the country, Steamrail will struggle to keep its head up for long. Sure there’s a slight bitterness reaching out through the pervasive blandness of this brew that some may enjoy…me, not so much.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 6 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – From the bottle it becomes even drier, a bit more flavourless and watery. Unfortunately it just doesn’t stack up.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 5.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: To be enjoyed alongside crackling pork

Best season to appreciate: A Summer brew

All-nighter beer? It’s definitely an inoffensive session brew that is potentially very easy to drink all night.

Note: At the conclusion of my tasting tonight, I did a bit of research into SteamRail Brewing Company and found this interesting article. So, while it’s now old news (I’m only just tasting this beer now!) – it appears this is contract brewed for LiquorLand / Coles and that there is no SteamRail Brewing Company. I feel a little cheated by this revelation.

NEXT WEEK: Thomas Hardy’s Ale

Mad Abbot Tripel - BOTTLEMad Abbot Tripel

Company info:
The Little Brewing Company
Port Macquarie, NSW


Bottle size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 9.5%
Standard drinks: 2.5

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $7.00 AU

Label info: ‘Influenced by the classic monastic brews of Belgium, Mad Abbot Tripel is a very strong, golden coloured ale, exhibiting aromas and flavours of sweet malt and tropical/white stone fruit characters.
This ale is balanced with ‘noble’ hop bitterness and warming alcohol in the finish. Bottle conditioned’

What the label really means: The guys at the Little Brewing Company are almost always on the money with their descriptions and their brews. If this is anything as good as it reads, it will be great.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Here’s what I said in my last review of a Little Brewing Company label: ‘The label is abbot inspired with a shape that is rounded, with a point at the top like a church window… There’s a little circle in the middle of the label that proclaims this is a ‘cellar release”
I do like this line of similar labels in the Abbot range, and I’ve always loved the little goblin character.  

I give it a label rating of 8 out of 10.

AROMA:  Nice melon, stone-fruit aromas softened with a particularly noticeable alcohol flavour.

Taste: GLASS – Orange zest combined with honey malt flavours mark this smooth brew that is propellered along by brooding alcoholic undercurrents. It’s a surprisingly heavy and thick beer that is a little deceptive given the golden appearance. It becomes very obvious very quickly that this is one masterfully crafted brew.   Mad Abbot Tripel - GLASS

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

Taste: BOTTLE – Even heavier from the bottle, this thing hits like a sledgehammer. A slight bitterness emerges now and the attractive zesty flavours drift into the background. Definitely stick to the glass, as it’s just not as enjoyable now.

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

Accompanying food: Pastry goods would work well here…a sausage roll or a vegetable pastie would be ideal.

Best season to appreciate: More of a cool weather beer, there’s a genuine warmth felt in every glass.

All-nighter beer? This is far too strong in alcohol for me to consider this as a session brew.


Dream Date - BOTTLEDream Date

Company info:
Burleigh Brewing Co
Burleigh Heads, Q.L.D


Bottle size sampled: 650 mL

Alcohol: 5.7%
Standard drinks: 3

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $8.99 AU

Label info: ‘Fancy a drink? We did. And oddly for us, it wasn’t a beer that had our heads in a spin and hearts in a flutter. Instead, it was a chance encounter with a seriously smooth, sticky date liqueur.
But being brewers, not distillers, our minds soon wandered to howe we might have some fruity  fun of our own with this enchanting ingredient.
So began a labour of love to perfect a process of blending hundreds of kilos of fresh dates with three specially selected, medium and dark malts – and a generous serving of aromatic hops.
The result is a deliciously dark ale with subtle notes of caramel, toffee and sundried fruit.
It’s a match made in heaven – and brewed in Burleigh’
‘What’s in it? Hundred of kilos of dates, brewed with a blend of specially selected medium-dark malts and a generous serving of aromatic hops.
What’s not in it? Anything nasty or artificial like preservatives, additives, pre-isomerised hop products, foam enhancers, animal or fish products, high gravity brewing processes…or anything else that has no place in beer!’
‘IBU – 50
EBC – 48
Food match – Best enjoyed over a shared tapas plate.
Drinking temperature – 4 to 6°C’

What the label really means: Wow – could they fit in any more information? Nuff said, go home. Nothing to see here.

The Hell-Cat review starts hereDream Date - GLASS

Label: This is the second bottle printed label I’ve come across from Burleigh Brewing – this one I love. Created in a pop art nod to Lichtenstein it depicts a mono-chromatic hetero couple in a passionate embrace, lip locked and loving it. The comic book style of dotted print circles fill in the spaces of colour and ‘Dream Date’ flashes up above them like a dirty b-grade horror film title. Green, red and blue are the colours used here, right around the bottle and it looks brilliant. My only problem is that, as much as I love the detail Burleigh goes to on their labels, it’s once again a bit too crowded. There’s a little too much going on here. The main image and brew name is sufficient to propel this label into a breathless, sweaty, sleeping in the wet-spot beauty.

I give it a label rating of 7.5 out of 10.

AROMA: Freakin’ amazing. A Summer fruits aroma wafts up that simply blows my mind. With subtle hints of toffee, this truly blows my mind like Divine Brown inside my cranium.

Taste: GLASS – If this was a water slide it’d be called the Super Smooth Slider. It slides back with the sweetest of ease. There’s the ever so slight taste of raisins or dates pushed along with an aftertaste of dark malt and a very subtle bitterness. This is an exceptionally crafted brew that continues to strengthen after numerous tastings. And it’s all courtesy of a brewery that always produces quality in every drop.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – Sucked back from the bottle you’ll get all those awesome dry fruit flavours still and much of the enjoyment. Unfortunately you no longer get engulfed in that panty dropping aroma. Stick to the glass.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Im thinking a spicy meat such as chorizo with a good slab of haloumi. Why? Well why the hell not?

Best season to appreciate: A good winter brew to curl up with beside a fire place.

All-nighter beer? It’s a bit too malt heavy for me to drink all night. But I’d be ready to have another crack with it after a very short recovery period.


Hop Thief - BOTTLEHop Thief American Pale Ale

Company info:
Malt Shovel Brewery Pty Ltd

Camperdown, N.S.W


Bottle size sampled: 345 mL

Alcohol: 5%
Standard drinks: 1.4

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: $3.50AU

Label info: ‘At the Malt Shovel Brewery, we craft beers in honour of the First Fleet convict who went on to become Australia’s first brewer. A series of American style Pale Ales using hops from around the world. These hops added late in the brewing process combined with Pale, Munich and Crystal malts create a smooth, deep amber brew with a pronounced aroma
‘By hook or by crook James Squire always found a way to source the finest hops available for his flavoursome ales. Sometimes this resulted in a good lashing and other times in a handsome reward, but always in a good story to tell with a great tasting beer.
Not for the faint hearted an American style Pale Ale with a firm malt backbone. Simcoe hops deliver a passionfruit and slightly pine-needle like aroma whilst the addition of Columbus adds further complexity and an earthy, spicy character’

What the label really means: The amount of info squeezed on to Squire labels is always quite astonishing, but I think this one takes the cake. This one is so long that I wonder if many drinkers make it all the way through. Still, honouring James Squire as the legend that he allegedly was is always a good thing – no complaints from me.

The Hell-Cat review starts hereHop Thief - GLASS

Label: I’ve said before that I like these MSB labels for their simplicity and their down to earth rustic nature. I guess it’s the same here but it does suddenly feel a little crowded. Almost every square inch is taken up with text and this isn’t doing the brew any real favours. Surprisingly though, I have no complaints with the blue or green used on this label – they seem to work.

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

AROMA: A slightly fruity aroma heralds a smack of caramel and familiar American Pale Ale aromas.

Taste: GLASS – A good, smooth mouthfeel with deliciously strong, dry, bitter after-taste. It’s a good take on the APA (which I am clearly a huge fan of) and I believe it to be the best brew in the Squire range. However, there are far superior APA’s on the market that overshadow this brew in depth and punch, and finesse – I’m thinking mostly of Gage Road’s Atomic Pale Ale.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – Hop Thief from the bottle is still great with some of those good strong flavours clearly evident. It becomes a tad drier and a tad more bitter, but it’s still a very drinkable beast.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7 out of 10.

Accompanying food: A fatty cheesy kransky would go amazingly well with this.

Best season to appreciate: Those good dark, malty flavours suggest this brew would make a good Winter-warmer.

All-nighter beer? Yes I think so.


New England Dark Farmhouse - BOTTLENew Englander Dark Farmhouse

Company info:
New England Brewing Co
Uralla, NSW


Bottle size sampled: 640ml

Alcohol: 5.5%
Standard drinks: 2.8

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $6.50 AU

Label info: ‘Openly fermented winter saison. Australian grown Malts. Australian Hops’.

What the label really means: I am always keen to sample open fermented brews as there’s something mystical about the process, less controlled. I’d use the term ‘random’ if I didn’t want to sound like a thirteen year old.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The label is similar to the previously reviewed brew from these guys, but with a more brown tinge. Here’s what I said earlier: ‘…the brewery’s mascot, a winged merino sheep taking centre stage. The text is all very serious and proper, but the brown inked sheep is really quite fun. What could have been a horribly boring sheep is transformed into a thing of beauty with those magnificent wings. It is for the sheep that any points are awarded. The rest of the label is a bit of a let down’.

I give it a label rating of 6 out of 10.

AROMA:  Breathe in the strong malty, coffee, merlot notes. Not as amazing as the Brown Ale but still great.

Taste: GLASS – A smoky dark chocolate ale that is smooth, light on its feet and very easy to drink. It’s really quite enjoyable and one to sit back and sup the night away with.New England Dark Farmhouse - GLASS

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

Taste: BOTTLE  From the bottle, Dark Farmhouse becomes a bit too carbonated and detracts from some of those awesome flavours that are now softened. As expected, stick to the glass.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 5.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: A hearty beef dish would suit this sucker. Bourginon anyone?

Best season to appreciate: The definition of Winter warmer.

All-nighter beer? It’s one to sit back and sample slowly over the course of an evening.

NEXT WEEK: Celt Golden Ale