Archive for the ‘International beer’ Category

Pistonhead Kustom Lager - CANPistonhead Kustom Lager
Sweden Flag

Brewery info:
Brutal Brewing AB,


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.


Coedo Beniaka - BOTTLECoedo Beniaka
Japanese_flag - SMALL

Company info:
Coedo Brewery
Saitama, JAPAN


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’
‘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)

Thomas Hardy Ale - BOTTLEThomas Hardy’s Ale
Great Britain Flag - SMALL

Company info:
O’Hanlon’s Brewing Co Ltd


Bottle size sampled: 250ml

Alcohol: 11.7%
Standard drinks: 2.3

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: Gifted

Label info:
‘In “The Trumpet-Major” Hardy wrote: “It was one of the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset”‘.
‘Britain’s strongest ale is a piece of brewing history.
Bottles of this rare, bottle conditioned classic have kept for at least 25 years, maturing in flavour like fine wine.
‘Bottle Conditioning’ is a secondary fermentation in the bottle during which Thomas Hardy’s Ale develops its uniquely rich and complex character. The process produces a sediment which is laid down over time as part of the natural fermentation process
Store upright in a cool, dark place, at about 13c.
If disturbed before serving, stand the bottle for 48 hours to allow settling. Open carefully and pour slowly to avoid agitating the sediment.’

What the label really means: I’ve always loved a good bottle conditioned brew and to think that this brew can enhance even after 25 years has my taste buds tingling with nervous energy. I’m also keen to check out that luminous autumn sunset.
48 hours is one hell of a wait if you should accidentally disturb this beer. I think I disturbed the bottle when I walked out in fishnets and suspenders, but I consumed immediately.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: There is so much going on with this bottle. The gold foil around the neck can’t be overlooked, nor can the gold medal hanging there attached by red string. The coffee-stained yellow label brings the final level of cool to this bottle. The label displays a profile shot of presumably ol Tom himself sporting a mighty fine moutang. The text is a bit old worldy, and the stand-out is the batch/vintage info that displays ‘No. T 19530’ on this bottle. It also reads that this is a 2008 Edition – so I am very keen to try this 6 year old brew. Over all, I appreciate the old, distinguished look and feel of this label that is very fitting.ThomasHardyAle_GLASS

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

AROMA:  Rich, malt toffee aromas.

Taste: GLASS – Very rich, very toffee-like, this is big in caramelised brown sugar and molasses territory. And it’s a fun place to be – it’s like a finely matured, finely tuned port. Slightly nutty, this a brew designed for the slow sip. There’s very little carbonation here which makes this super smooth and easy to drink. It’s well crafted, complex and beautiful. A highly enjoyable drop.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – With a beer this good, it’s hard for it to drop too low below the line. Sure, drinking this classy brew  from the bottle seems a little cheap but the experience is only dulled ever so slightly. Those awesome toffee malt flavours continue to punch their way through with the sweetest of ease. This is a beer worth hunting for.

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

Accompanying food: This makes an awesome dessert beer. I’d like to suggest a butterscotch pudding or similar.

Best season to appreciate: An awesome Winter brew. This is THE definitive fire side supping beer.

All-nighter beer? Due to the lack of carbonation, imma say yes this is definitely an all nighter. It’s just so damn easy to drink, and you could deceptively go all night.

NEXT WEEK: Granite Pils

Celt Golden Ale - BOTTLEGolden

Company info:
The Celt Experience Brewery

 Caerphilly, WALES


Bottle size sampled: 500ml

Alcohol: 4.2%
Standard drinks: 1.7

Cap type: Non-Twist

Cost: I picked this up for $5.99 AU

Label info: ‘A zesty body and citrus aroma with a snappy finish. Drink to inspire you to an evening of passion! Circa 500BC, during the Celtic Golden Age, most of mainland Europe was dominated by the spiritual tribes of Celtic origin.
’46 IBUs – Golden Ale
Foodpartner: King Prawn Dhansak
Colour: 12 Colour Units
Hops: US, NZ, UK
Spirit Emotion: Loved’

What the label really means: Can’t complain with the detail and information presented here. 

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: As this label is almost identical to the previously reviewed Bleddyn 1075 I’ll simply copy my review here: ‘I really love the matte-black on this label. It’s classy, it’s non-finger print marking. Glance up to the neck and there is even a a plastic label covering the cap (which proved more difficult to remove than the standard paper neck labels) which is a fun inclusion. I like the font on the main label and especially the big lettering of Celt down the bottom’.

In the case of this brew, I am even content with the gold on the label. It seems appropriate.Celt Golden Ale - GLASS

I give it a label rating of 7 out of 10.

AROMA:  Predictably citrus smelling, grassy and touches of floral.

Taste: GLASS – Upfront poppy, citrussy, lager flavours present this brew as clean, crisp and refreshing. Then the brew slides back to reveal a strong, husky, back of mouth bitterness that elevates this beer into a plain of complex beauty and depth. Very enjoyable.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – From the bottle, Golden is surprisingly very good. In fact the bitterness is now softened and the brew is presented with an even smooth upfront experience. This is one of those rare occasions where the bottle just slightly pips the glass at the post.

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

Accompanying food: It’s quite a dry brew so I’d like to suggest something quite succulent. I believe game bird poultry would work well alongside this…quail, pheasant, or dove.

Best season to appreciate: A Summer brew through and through.

All-nighter beer? The more I drink of this, the dryer it becomes. So no, I couldn’t drink this all night.

Other: This week’s review is dedicated to the life of one of this world’s greatest comedians, Robin Williams. His unexpected passing this week has really hit me hard. He was a comedian, an actor, and a humanitarian that I long admired. With Robin’s passing, the world got a little colder, a little darker, a little sadder, and a little more hopeless. Vale Robin Williams. 


Duff - CANDuff
USA flag - SMALL

Company info:
Imported by Pinnacle Liquor
Surry Hills, NSW
Product of U.S.A

[No website listed on can]

Can size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 4.7%
Standard drinks: 1.3

Cap type: Ring pull

Cost: I picked this up for $2.99 AU

Label info: N/A

What the label really means: N/A

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The beer made famous by animated series The Simpsons has materialised as a real brew. Here is the label that we have seen in countless episodes. The same font, the same colour, the same everything. It is instantly recognised as easily as we would recognise one of the characters and instantly the connection from the beer to the series is made.
I vaguely remember many years ago an Australian company released Duff and was subsequently taken to court by Fox for copyright infringement. Now, this brew has been released as an ‘Australian Edition’ purporting to be a product of the USA and endorsed by Matt Groening (his signature is on the can!) and Fox. To me it reeks of a marketing ploy with the brewers knowing they have an instant customer base of nostalgic fools. Let’s hope the beer brings more to the table than a cheap gimmick. For attention to detail and authenticity to the celluloid design I have rated this label accordingly.

I give it a label rating of 5 out of 10.

AROMA:  It’s how I imagine the carpet in Moe’s Tavern smells – a washed out stale-citrus aroma.Duff - GLASS

Taste: GLASS – Duff is a generic citrus infused lager with a smattering of bitterness and little else. It’s exactly as you’d expect. But perhaps that is the joke…it tastes just like all the other big US brews (think Bud, Millers, Coors, etc). It’s the stereotypical US beer that fits the mass produced formula of blandness, designed to be consumed in high quantity. Is Duff being ironic? Is this a post-modern brew where bland becomes unique? No. This is as boring as a night watching slides at Patti and Selmas. 

I give it a beer from glass rating of 4 out of 10.

Taste: CAN Surprisingly, Duff becomes even more dull when tasted from the can. It’s like the night at Patti and Selmas just got turned down a notch with the arrival of Principal Skinner’s mum. What little taste I could sense from the glass has now all but packed up and headed back to Grandpa’s retirement village.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 3.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: I often suggest spicy dishes for bland brews, especially lagers, and this is no exception. Grab yourself a chilli pork dish and tuck in like Homer at an all you can eat buffet.

Best season to appreciate: Summer I suppose.

All-nighter beer? Designed to be consumed in quantity. To be thrown back as quick as you can. It’s so inoffensive that it could be an all-nighter in the right hands. Not for me.

NEXT WEEK: New Englander Brown Ale

Queen of the Night Pale Ale - BOTTLEQueen of the Night Pale Ale
Mexican flag

Company info:
Cerverceria Mexican
Tecate, MEXICO

[No website listed]

Bottle size sampled: 330 mL

Alcohol: 4.8%
Standard drinks: 1.3

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for AU$4.50

Label info: ‘Day of the Dead Beer’
‘Cerveza De Los Muertos’

What the label really means: As a big fan of the film ‘Day of the Dead’ I am looking for a beer equivalent. Could this be the beer I am seeking from beyond the grave?

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The visual imagery on this bottle alone nearly bring this to label perfection. I don’t claim to be knowledgeable in the least of the intricately painted skull motifs prevalent for Mexico’s day of the dead celebrations, but I know I am always impressed by the intricate designs. On this label we are presented with the image of a woman standing tall and defiant, her black blue hair flowing behind her. She holds aloft what appears to be a recorder, the first beer label I have come across to display this instrument. Her face is intricately painted in a calavera/sugar skull design while loose pin-striping flies from her head. The label is mostly orange, and this is a little confusing as even the woman’s dress is orange and it all gets a bit lost. Then the font of ‘Queen of the Night’ is a bit small and not quite right… The neck label nearly redeems the entire bottle with a beautiful calavera design, replicated on the lid. A bit too much orange but over all one hell of a good label.

I give it a label rating of 7 out of 10.

AROMA: A beautiful caramel, chocolatey aroma drifts up.Queen of the Night Pale Ale - GLASS

Taste: GLASS: Smooth malt, caramel flavours. It’s more towards the amber ale side of the fence with some pervasive dark flavours flowing through. It’s good. It’s real good. Probably the best Mexican brew I’ve sampled in my limited experience of exported beers. The only real downer to this beer, that is letting it down a tad, is the after-taste that fizzles to water quite rapidly. I want it to linger like the smell of death in your curtains – it just doesn’t happen.

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

Taste: BOTTLE: Damn fine! Suddenly Queen of the Night springs back to life, clawing its way out of 6-odd feet of dirt towards the skylight above. It gets way better, especially now that the after taste reveals itself like the stench of roadkill in your fender. Bitter caramels are here, and its what this brew was seeking all along. Very enjoyable.

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

Accompanying food: I need something salty to match this brew. I’m thinking a haloumi salad or a pulled pork and slaw wrap.

Best season to appreciate: I suggest this is a good cool weather brew.

All-nighter beer? Yes please – I’ll dance with the Queen all night long.


99 Not Out - BOTTLE99 Not Out

Brewery info:
The Moa Brewing Company
Marlborough, NEW ZEALAND


Bottle size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 5%
Standard drinks: 1.3

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $4.99 AU

Label info: ‘”99 Not Out SKW Pale Ale is a sessionable, new world style Pale Ale. Hopped with New Zealand Kohatu and Cascade hops, it displays spicy/earthy hop notes, a strong malt backbone and a nicely balanced bitterness (35 IBUs). The perfect beer for summer” – Josh Scott & Shane Warne‘.

What the label really means: I had hoped for a bit of an explanation on why Moa decided to use  the name ’99 Not Out’ and how Warnie became connected. But, it’s not to be.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: It’s a simple, classy design, predominantly green and white. ’99 Not Out’ is emblazoned across the label. And while it works as a corporate logo, I’m not sure it can hold its head up among other brews on the market that walk all over this. I would have liked to see a stronger link to its cricket origins with the inclusion of a simple cricket ball / bat / stumps image included. Instead it’s all a bit vague, and while Warnie’s autograph may be on one side of the bottle, it’s hard to know why he’s even involved with this.

I give it a label rating of 4.5 out of 10.

AROMA:  Strong citrus, lager-like aromas.99 Not Out - GLASS

Taste: GLASS – 99 Not Out sits on the palate with  robustly dry and bitter flavours that linger long after the brew has left your mouth. It’s surprisingly sharp to the taste, and not the smooth ale I had expected. It’s all a little too generic. All a little too beefed-up Crown Lager. All a little too tiresome.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 5.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – From the bottle it’s actually a tad better with some deeper, darker notes flowing through. The edgy of the bitterness is cut back, and it’s not quite as dry. Still, this is not a beer to rave about. Drink this from the bottle.

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

Accompanying food: I feel like a good, saucy meatloaf would work well alongside this.

Best season to appreciate: The citrus notes do tend to lend this brew to it being more of a summer beer. However, the darker bitter notes make it more of a winter brew. Let’s split the difference and call this an Autumn brew.

All-nighter beer? Not for me sorry Warnie.


Haymaker - BOTTLE Haymaker
Great Britain - flag

Company info:
Hook Norton Brewery


Bottle size sampled: 500 mL

Alcohol: 5.0%
Standard drinks: 2

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for AU$4.99

Label info: ‘Haymaker is a strong pale ale of distinctive taste, best served lightly chilled. Plenty of Goldings hops during brewing give it a certain something extra – like sunshine on the tongue. Why not try Haymaker with spicy food. Cheers’
‘Back to Nature – At Hook Norton we do our very best to make sure that our brewing processes are as environmentally friendly as possible. First of all we go right back to nature, using our own spring-fed well to provide all the water we need to brew our beer. The grains that are a by-product of the brewing process are sent to local farmers to use as cattle feed. These ideas aren’t new to us – it’s the way we’ve always liked to do things’.

What the label really means: ‘Like sunshine on the tongue, I am itching to sink my teeth into this one’

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Here is a very unique water-colour inspired design of a horse attached to saddle and pulley system standing in front of a wagon loaded high with hay. In fact the hay is so high it’s a bloke’s height plus another half. One man stands with a rake, scratching the sides of the pile, while one man stands on top of the pile, rake in hand, wondering what in hell’s name he’s doing up there, and how he’ll get down. Off in the distance a large building stands as what I presume is the brewery – surrounded by luscious farming hills.
It’s a fun, calm label that sings of history, fresh clean country air, hard work and thirst. I really like this.Haymaker - GLASS

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

AROMA: An enticingly floral, hoppy aroma. 

Taste: GLASS: Good strong caramelised malt flavours flow through this very easy to drink, smooth beer. There’s a nice bitter finish that tops this off and makes for a very enjoyable beer.

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

Taste: BOTTLE: From the bottle, Haymaker becomes a little sharper, a little dryer, a loses a bit of that malt complexity. Stick to the glass for maximum flavour.

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

Accompanying food: Turkey or chicken would suit this brew to a tee.

Best season to appreciate: The darker tones of this brew make this a genuine Winter warmer.

All-nighter beer? I feel this could become a little too heavy after a few.

NEXT WEEK: Moon Boy Golden Ale

Liberty Ale - BOTTLELiberty Ale

Brewery info:
Anchor Brewing Co.

California, U.S.A


Alcohol: 5.9%
Standard drinks: 1.7

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $4.99 AU

Label info: ‘San Francisco’s famous Liberty Ale was first brewed on the 18th of April, 1975, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s historic ride. It is virtually handmade by the brewers of Anchor Steam Beer in one of the smalles and most traditional breweries in the world. Liberty Ale is made with the finest barley malt; fresh, whole hops; top-fermenting yeast; pure water; and the simple, natural methods that reflect our exceptional respect for the ancient art of brewing. It is ‘dry hopped’, a classic ale tradition, and slowly completes its fermentation in sealed vats in our cellars. This unique process creates Liberty Ale’s distinctive bouquet and uncommonly delicate, entirely natural carbonation’. 

What the label really means: I repeat what I said previously RE Anchor Steam’s label: Looking at this beer you’d be forgiven for not believing all this text fits on the bottle. Look carefully at the neck label and there it all is. Great detail, great history.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: This is a label that reeks of national pride, strength, and integrity. It’s traditional in appearing to be a label that hasn’t changed for 200 years. A massive eagle has its wings spread out behind the Anchor Brewing anchor. The anchor sits atop a US-flag shield while hops and barley flay out around the sides. Yes it’s over the top in its symbolism, yes it’s in your face, but I love it. I love it for the over all design and for the staunch literal portrayal of liberty. Don’t go changin’, Anchor.

I give it a label rating of 8 out of 10.Liberty Ale - GLASS

AROMA:  Hoppy, florally fun.

Taste: GLASS – A heavy meaty brew that delivers a fine smack of hoppy bitterness and a lasting dry finish. While this is not as great as Anchor Steam (and comparisons will always be drawn against their flag-ship brew), this is still one hell of a finely crafted brew whose excellence in creation is evident in every sip. 

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

Taste: BOTTLE – Some other mellow banana-esque flavours are now popping up that only serve to enhance the tasting experience. Even from the bottle this remains one very fine brew.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Something salty…olives, haloumi…

Best season to appreciate: More of a cooler weather brew due to the darker tones.

All-nighter beer? For me, it’s just not a session beer.

NEXT WEEK: Haymaker (as promised in my last review)

Rising Sun PaleAle - BOTTLE Rising Sun Pale Ale
Japanese flag - SMALL

Company info:
Baird Beer


Bottle size sampled: 360 mL

Alcohol: 5%
Standard drinks: 1.4

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $8.99AU

Label info: Japanese text that I unfortunately can’t read.

What the label really means: N/A

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: I quite like this label. It has been designed in such a way that it looks as though it is a wood-cut. Mount Fuji stands to the right of the label with the typical red rising sun emblazoned within, highlighting its depth and magnificence. Over to the left some hops hang in a big bunch. It’s stylish, it’s well thought out. The colours make the label a little too jovial however and I think it could work infinitely better in monochrome.

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

AROMA:  A little musty in aroma. It’s not overly pleasing.

Taste: GLASS – This is a full-flavoured, easy to drink brew that has an increasingly dry mouth feel to it. In fact the dryness is very similar in taste to many fine Japanese beers such as Sapporo. It’s good, it’s drinkable, but it’s hardly original – and it feels a little one-dimensional. I am a bit disappointed with this.Rising Sun Pale Ale - GLASS

I give it a beer from glass rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Loses a bit more of its flavour when consumed from the bottle. Plus it’s a tad fizzier

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: A well seasoned steak with salad could suit this beer well. 

Best season to appreciate: Due solely to the dry finish, I would like to suggest this beer is more of a cooler weather brew.

All-nighter beer? Not for me. The dryness is very draining.