Archive for the ‘Only drink if it’s free’ Category

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

OB Golden Lager - CANOB Golden Lager

South Korea flag - SMALL

Company info:
Oriental Brewery Co

[No website listed]

Can size sampled: 355 mL

Alcohol: 4.8%
Standard drinks: 1.2

Cap type: Ring-pull

Cost: I picked this up for AU$10.00 (6 pack)

Label info: ‘Authentic German style 100% malt beer’
‘Crafted from golden malt and selected aroma hop with oriental brewery’s tradition of perfection’

What the label really means: ‘Alright, who fired the proof reader?’


The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Gold. My old arch enemy gold. Do I dare look beyond, to the big blue lettering of OB, to the depiction of malt in various sizes and shades of gold? No. The gold is too horrid to see anything else. This is a cigarette packet wrapped around a can and it just cannot be redeemed.

I give it a label rating of 1.5 out of 10.OB Golden Lager - GLASS

AROMA: An enticing zesty, malty aroma.

Taste: GLASS: There’s a bold, dry, bitter finish that rounds off this zesty sparkling lager. There are some good initial flavours but over all it’s a bit too generic, a bit too watery, and it really lacks any lasting flavours. One to drink if cheap, but let’s be honest, this is not a great brew.

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

Taste: BOTTLE: From the can, what little flavour was obtained from the glass has now completely gone. It’s a carbonated watery mess. Very disappointing. Stick to the glass. If you insist on drinking it.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 4 out of 10.

Accompanying food: A spicy chilli dish could really make this brew pop.

Best season to appreciate: A Summer brew

All-nighter beer? Reaching the end of the can, the dryness is really over-emphasised now. But, I can move past this and I believe it does have the guts to stand as an easy to drink session brew.


Mango Beer - BOTTLEMango Beer

Company info:
Matso’s Broome Brewery

Broome, W.A.


Alcohol: 4.5%
Standard drinks: 1.2

Cap type: Twist

Cost: I picked this up for $3.99AU

Label info: ‘Matso’s Mango Beer is based on a classic Belgium Blonde recipe using a 100% natural mango fruit blend. An easy drinking beer with excellent fruit aroma and balancing dry sweetness‘.

What the label really means: They better not be lying to me about that classic Belgium Blonde recipe…still, by writing it, it gives the beer an instant bit of credence I suppose.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: I really like the look of this label. It has a classic art deco or nouveau inspired design of a woman holding a glass of beer up to her forehead as a fruit platter topples from atop her head. Bold use of orange reinforces the mango novelty that they are obviously stressing to push. The Matso’s logo of a bold, white, Japanese character on red sticks out like a wax seal on the bottle. It’s a good fun label.

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

AROMA:  A very distinct mango aroma that is clean and refreshing.
Everything about this brew is warning me to steer clear. 

Taste: GLASS – Firstly, here are the good points…it’s clean, refreshing, crisp, with a drifting undercurrent of dryness.
Now for the not so great points…this is like a watered down Corona combined with a front of mouth mango sweetness that is almost so sweet it’s sickening. I can see this beer appealing to lighter flavoured beer fans, or the alco-pop crowd. But for me, this is horrid.Mango Beer - GLASS

I give it a beer from glass rating of 4.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Much the same from the bottle…although perhaps a tad sweeter (which I would have thought impossible). This is a very difficult beer for me to warm to.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 4.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: I suggest a BBQ or roast chicken may actually work alongside this brew.

Best season to appreciate: Definitely Summer bound.

All-nighter beer? No, not for me…far too sweet, far too mild.

NEXT WEEK: In two weeks time, as a closer for 2013, I have timed this to bring you my 200th review. A milestone that is impressing no one, bar myself, I present to you the intriguing, limited edition, and highly alcoholic, Tripel, from Black Heart Brewery. 

Budweiser - BOTTLEBudweiser

Brewery info:

Missouri, U.S.A

[No website listed

Alcohol: 4.9%
Standard drinks: 1.4

Cap type: Twist

Cost: I picked this up for $TBC AU

Label info: ‘This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood Aging produces a taste, a smoothness and a drinkability you will find in no other beer at any price’. 

What the label really means: I’ve read this label text a couple of times now and I’m still not sure I understand it. Maybe I’m a bit slow. Can anyone help? Seriously.
I hope the brew inside is less confusing.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: As arguably the most well known beer label of our time, this is a bold, in your face brand. The red makes the label jump out while the white and gold soften it and create an air of bogan-pride. The label portrays itself as a throwback to an era when smoking was advertised as a tool for picking up ladies, and conjures images of crack dens and whore houses. It’s sad, it’s depressing…it’s like a 68 year old man at a rave sporting a faux-hawk and fluro pants. Budweiser claims to be the ‘King of Beers’, I claim it to be the ‘King of Oversized Under-durps’.  

I give it a label rating of 3 out of 10.

AROMA:  A very mild aroma…sniff carefully and you may catch a citrus hint.

Taste: GLASS – This is a very mild pale lager with no discernible flavour profile emerging. There is a soft citrus swirl through what is unsurprisingly a very bland brew. It’s very easy to drink because of its inoffensive style but that’s hardly endearing.
Putting your pre-conceptions aside when tasting this beer is difficult. But try your best to sample the brew within and judge it based on its performance and not its reputation. Budweiser - GLASS

I give it a beer from glass rating of 3.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Much the same from the bottle as it is from the glass…perhaps a tad soapier now. It’s not great, it’s not fun, it’s not impressing anyone. Very disappointing no matter which way you look at it.

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

Accompanying food: A strong Szechuan beef with extra chilli. Team it with this dish and Bud could at least act as a softener to the heat. 

Best season to appreciate: I suppose a Summer brew. Though by saying that I fear I’m insulting Summer.

All-nighter beer? Because this beer is so easy to throw back in large quantities, this really is a sessionable beer. Unfortunately it would make for a very dull evening.


El Loco

Company info:
Imported by: PLL Pty Ltd
Pyrmont, N.S.W.
Product of Guatemala

[No website listed]

Bottle size sampled: 355 mL

Alcohol: 4.6%
Standard drinks: 1.3

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $2.50 AU

Label info: N/A

What the label really means: N/A

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: We have yet another bottle-printed label this week and this one sticks to one that is very basic, with a simple three colours being used. It depicts ‘El Loco’ in large bold letters in front of a blue sea, topped with a setting sun and palm trees. If you’re looking for an original label, go elsewhere. This label has stereotype plastered all over its horrid clear glass. It reeks of desperation, mass marketing and cheap, cheap insides.

I give it a label rating of 2 out of 10.

AROMA: Zesty citrus aromas. I think I’ve had this one before..

Taste: GLASS – No, I haven’t tasted this one before after all. If I had, I would have sliced my own tongue out of my skull and mashed it into an insinkerator before dousing it in petrol and laughing maniacally as I throw a lit match in. From first glance of El Loco I had hoped for something remotely in the vicinity of Corona (and not that I’m a fan of Corona by any means). Instead, I am saddened to report, this is like Corona’s demented, psychopathic cousin with bad hair and adult acne. Imagine taking a 1/4 glass of Corona, and then topping it up with water – this is a little like El Loco. It’s a watered down, less flavoursome poor man’s Corona. It is severely lacking in any distinguishable flavours. Horrible.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 1.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Even more watery, tasteless and boring. The only reason I could possibly see for me to suggest you even look in the general direction of El Loco is if this is supplied free at your upcoming work Christmas party. Even then, demand it is ice cold and served with the juice of at least three dozen lemons. A complete waste of my time and efforts. I feel cheap, I feel used, I feel sick. But honestly. Take a look at this bottle. I knew what I was getting myself into when I bought this didn’t I?

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 1 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Spicy, chilli dishes be they Mexican, Guatemalan, or Asian. Something, anything, that can compensate for the lack of flavour in this drop.

Best season to appreciate: I guess a Summer beer at best.

All-nighter beer? Not for me. One of these and I felt my taste buds pack up and call it a night.



Company info:
Under licence from Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group Limited trading as the Sail & Anchor Brewing Co. [Ed: huh?]
Fremantle, W.A.

[No website listed on bottle]

Bottle size sampled: 330 mL

Standard drinks: 1.2

Cap type: Twist

Cost: I picked this up for $2.79 AU

Label info: N/A

What the label really means: N/A

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Ok I get the fact that the label, with all its fancy angles is meant to be a bolt. Fine. So we’re appealing to the home handy-person, the trades-person, and the hardware owner. All well and good. What I don’t get is the ‘Sail & Anchor’ connection. How is any other part of this label remotely nautical themed? I’m confused and I haven’t even opened this sucker up. For me, the word ‘Bolt’ doesn’t stand out enough across a sea of metal grey/silver and the label blends into nothingness. It screams of a mass-production line and I was quite surprised this wasn’t a Toohey’s production. Or is it? Who knows who makes up the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group Limited.

I give it a label rating of 3 out of 10.

AROMA:  An attractive earthy, hoppy aroma.

Taste: GLASS – Probably the nicest thing I can say about this lack-luster brew is that it’s kind of smooth and inoffensive. I’m sorry, but there is little else to praise. Bolt lacks any strong flavours and is literally just a very small step up from mineral water. Sure it’s easy to throw back and I can see this would appeal to teens and Extra Dry fans, but for my money it’s not one worth rushing out for.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – Look, this is a drinkable beer. After many of these you’ll be singing its praises as the best beer you’ve tasted. It would become so tediously inoffensive you’d question what you ever had a problem with. If you like weaker tasting beers like Corona, this is ideal. In fact it has a real Corona, Mexican-style taste to it. For me, it’s not ringing my bell bottoms.

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

Song of choice: Try this alongside Deer Tick’s ‘Art Isn’t Real (City of Sin)

Accompanying food: Something strong in flavour….tasty….spicy. I think this could be a well-suited Asian dish beer.

Best season to appreciate: A good Summer thirst quencher.

All-nighter beer? Yes, I could drink it most of the night because I wouldn’t notice I was drinking anything stronger than ginger ale. Maybe the lack of flavour would wear me down after three or four. I don’t know, and I don’t intend to find out.

NEXT WEEK: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Kosciuszko Pale Ale

Company info:
Kosciuszko Brewing Company
Jindabyne, N.S.W

[No website listed on bottle]

Bottle size sampled: 330 mL

Alcohol: 4.5%
Standard drinks: 1.2

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for AU$3.99

Label info: ‘Kosciuszko Brewery encompasses the spirit and the inspiration of the Snowy Mountains. Like the pioneering explorer, Edmund Strzelecki who first ascended our highest mountain and named it in honour of the Polish freedom fighter Kosciuszko, we are exploring the natural brewing limits by producing awesome ales that reflect the purity and spirit of the Australian Alps. Kosciuszko Pale Ale refreshes your palate with pleasant rich maltiness and a fruity hoppy finish. It is brewed for enjoyment after a hard day of skiing, hiking, fishing or just enjoying yourself in the mountains. Always in season.’

What the label really means:
Come on, it’s a pretty boring history lesson isn’t it? Australia’s highest mountain was named after some Polish dude by his biggest fan, Ed. Ah well, at least the beer gets suggested for a whole range of exhausting activities in case we’ve forgotten what exercise is.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: A romanticised shot of Kosciuszko sits under a small banner telling us it is ‘The Spirit of Kosciuszko’. I don’t understand the use of the image. What, am I drinking an air freshener here? Surely a stylised sketch on a plain background could have elevated this label to classy. And if the image isn’t bad enough they go and throw in a whole chunk of blue on a white background. Maybe it’s to emulate colour on snow, which I’m all for, or maybe it just continues the air freshener theme. Not cool, kids.

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

AROMA: I’m struggling to get anything worth commenting on. There is a very subtle to non-existent aroma that smells a bit like flavoured water.

Taste: GLASS – Kosciuszko Pale Ale (KPA) tastes ok. Given the lack of aroma, there is more taste than I was lead to believe. There is a subtle wheaty, malty taste with a slight twist of citrus. There is really nothing great about this which is a shame as I had visions of the great ‘Crackenback Pale Ale‘ when I bought it. There is a faint tinge of bitterness but it’s hardly enough to give this ale any considerable depth. With each sip of KPA it’s either growing on me or becoming more and more bland. It’s a fine line.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – Much the same…KPA remains inoffensive, lacking anything quantifiable, and frankly very dull. I’m now convinced it’s not getting better with each sip I just want it to. The one thing KPA does have going for it is that it is very easy to drink – but is easy to drink worth the AU$3.99 price tag?

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

Accompanying food / Best season to appreciate: With a few tweaks to this brew’s recipe it could be your new Summer-long best friend. It would work well at an outdoor afternoon picnic or BBQ and be thrown back very easily. As it stands, it’s more a drink in the attic while making a suit out of human flesh sort of accompaniment.

All-nighter beer? Sure. If you are after a non-cheap beer that you can throw back easily, this is one for the long haul. Take it or leave it.

NEXT WEEK: Blue Girl