Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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

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.

Mason Hell-Cat.

158. Bleddyn 1075

Posted: September 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Bleddyn 1075

Company info:
The Celt Experience Brewery

 Caerphilly, WALES


Bottle size sampled: 500ml

Alcohol: 5.6%
Standard drinks: TBC

Cap type: Non-Twist

Cost: I picked this up for $5.99 AU

Label info: ‘Bleddyn ap Cynfyn was ruler of Gwynedd and Powys and probably of Cerdigion and Brycheiniog as well, and undoubtedly the most powerful Welsh king. He died in 1075.

This delicious pale strong ale has a high original gravity and mash temperature, leaving a fine full bodied texture. Generous hopping with Atlantic and New Zealand varieties provides a lovely bitter tongue, which is complemented by a crisp sweetness and a delicious citrus and grapefruit aroma’

What the label really means: Oh you little teasers, Celt Experience. You can’t just tell us one sentence about this supposedly great king and then leave it at that. We need more! Particularly about Bleddyn’s blood-thirsty rampages across the UK (ok so that may not have happened, but one can only hope). I do appreciate the fact this beer is dedicated to this powerful Welsh king.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: 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. What I am not convinced entirely about is the purple-pink lettering. It makes it seem a bit too feminine and I can’t help but think of the striking appeal this beer would have if the pink was replaced with a blood red. 

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

AROMA:  Hoppy and citrussy….it’s good.

Taste: GLASS – Wow this is an incredibly drinkable beer. It’s crisp and clean with a slight dry and bitter aftertaste. Swirl the brew in your mouth and savour the subtle earthy tones. Take note of the over-riding citrus flavour flowing through the glass and give thanks. For this is the day that Bleddyn arises.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – I really hoped this drop would be as good from the bottle as it is from the glass. It’s nearly there, but not quite. Bleddyn 1075 becomes tame, loses the earthy tones and even the bitter after taste is softened. Still an excellent beer but not quite as good as from the glass.

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

Accompanying food: A baked chicken would really get this party started.

Best season to appreciate: Definitely more of a Summer brew. 

All-nighter beer? Definitely! Bring it on!

NEXT WEEK: It’s a special farewell to Winter brew. Stay tuned.

My apologies for the delay on this week’s review, folks.
I finished writing my review on Tuesday evening in time for a Wednesday release. It wasn’t a particularly inspiring brew and in fact I was very critical. It was only before posting the review on this here site that I glanced at the bottle’s expiration date and noted it was a couple of months ago. Now, I don’t know if the beer was ‘off’ but I didn’t want to review a beer that was perhaps not at its physical best. It wasn’t fair on the beer, it was fair on you dear readers.

So, I am busily composing an alternative review – stay tuned, and thanks for your patience.

While the finishing touches are being added to this week’s review of a fine NZ drop, I am pleased to announce that this month I have made it in to the publishing domain. Thanks to Charter Magazine, I’ve begun a monthly beer review column starting with Endeavour Ale’s (now award-winning!) Amber Ale. Check out my review here!

With Charter Magazine’s monthly readership of 50,000, this is awesome step forward for my continued efforts to report on only the finest brews. My success is due to the continued support of you, my readers and contributors – so thankyou! Please keep dropping by every week and having your say.

Mason Hell-Cat.

Adnams Innovation

Company info:
Suffolk, ENGLAND


Bottle size sampled: 500 mL

Alcohol: 6.7%
Standard drinks: TBC – Listed as 3.4 UK Units

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: Beer supplied by the good folk at Dunnottar Wine and Spirits

Label info: ‘Adnams Innovation is a distinctive beer to savour; intriguingly hoppy & golden in colour, with an ABV of 6.7%. A delicious beer to celebrate Adnams’ innovative production techniques, based on a distinguished heritage.

At Adnams we prefer to leave our footprint in the sand, not on the environment’

What the label really means: I find it interesting that Adnams have listed the alcohol content as part of their label description. It’s like they ran out of adjectives and just decided to go “Hey if we haven’t yet sold ya, it’ll get ya drunk real quick like! Carn, take a sip!”.  Unfortunately, Adnams don’t mention any of their ‘innovative production techniques’ or anything on their ‘distinguished heritage’. This is the kind of stuff I’d love to read. I don’t need to know that it is 6.7% in the label description – I can simply look to the bottom of the bottle for that!

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The label is all black with embossed text. The only clear text is the gold word ‘Innovation’. If you look very carefully you can make out the text on the label to read ‘A very distinctive limited edition beer brewed to celebrate achievement in blending state of the art technology and craftmanship an innovation in English beer brewing past present future’. On first glance I loved this label. I loved the simplicity, yet also the underlying complexity as I discovered the hidden text. What I’m not convinced on is the use of gold…a long time pet hate of mine. But, I do have to award much kudos to the good folk at Adnams for the embossed text. Take a look at a bottle and you really can’t resist giving it a couple of strokes. It feels real nice like.

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

AROMA: Delicious! It’s wheaty and hoppy and very freakin’ enticing.

Taste: GLASS – It’s a bit darker in colour than I imagined this beer would be and that’s only the first surprise. My second comes when I take a sip and find it to be an incredibly smooth ale. Carbonation is barely noticeable which is a good thing as it lets me concentrate on the flavours of this full-bodied brew. It’s definitely got an all-mouth flavour that is very appealing. It’s hoppy in presentation and feels like it’s a second cousin to amber ales with a slight bitterness. This is very easy to drink and the higher than average alcohol is not noticeable.

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

Taste: BOTTLE –
Just as tasty, and just as loving, if not a little more so. It’s a very comforting drop and holding this beer in my hand just feels good. My fingers caress the neatly polished embossed letters and the bottle is just a good size to grip. Good stuff Adnams and Co.

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

Song of choice: Try this along side Millencolin’s old classic ‘Penguins and Polar Bears’

Accompanying food: Ok this is yet another ribs, coleslaw and fries kind of beer. I’m talking pork ribs with a bourbon-based sauce. Bring it!

Best season to appreciate: I’m a little torn over this one. Innovation is going back very well and I am drinking it on a warm Summer evening. But, roll on Winter when you’re tucked up beside a fire place and I think this would also work a treat. The perfect post-snow shovelling beer.

All-nighter beer? This sucker is so smooth I can’t see myself getting sick of this any time soon. An all-nighter all-right!


Cobra Premium - bottleCobra Premium
Great Britain - flag 

Company info:
Cobra Beer 

Bottle size sampled: 330 mL

Alcohol: 5%
Standard drinks: 1.7

Cap type: Non-twist

Label info:
‘Specially brewed to an authentic Indian recipe and double-filtered for a uniquely smooth taste’
‘The world’s most celebrated lager, a result of our quest for the perfect beer’.

What the label really means:
‘It’s a British beer but we want to make this seem like you’re drinking something exotic – Indian! Oh yeah and we’ve won a couple of awards’
(NB: The label shows that Cobra Premium has won the Monde Selection Bruxelles award from 2001 – 2008. I’m not sure what this means as the Monde website is hard to navigate but it looks impressive. Did I feel it deserved such high accolades?).

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of gold (which this label predominantly is) – it makes me think of real estate agents and sleazy, hairy chested, open shirted car salesman. 
With a name like Cobra, I expected so much more. A Cobra attacking a poor, homeless family, or  biting the head off a tiger, or ripping the shirt off a weight lifter would immediately catch my attention. But this label has some Hindi script, Indian style picture engravings in the bottle (the etched bottle gets extra points), and that’s about it. A real shame.

I give it a label rating of 4 out of 10.

AROMA: This is one great smelling beer. It’s how beer should smell – beery. It reminds me very much of a Belgian style beer and I’m thirsty just thinking about how this will taste.


Taste: GLASS – This is nice! It has a slight bitterness that rolls off the tongue with a casual elegance. I note that the beer appears quite carbonated, but upon tasting it, it is the perfect amount of carbonation and a nice head is maintained throughout the tasting.

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


Taste: BOTTLE – Excellent! I’m a bit surprised that nothing is lost by drinking it from the bottle. Every mouthful of this beer is a great experience. It has a real full-bodied taste and a great after taste. I just keep being impressed with every gulp.

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

Cobra Premium - glass

A word from the wife: ‘Not bad…the bubbles are tiny…like champagne. I could drink this beer from a champagne flute’.

She gave it a taste rating of 8 out of 10.

Accompanying food: I think this beer would sit nicely with Asian dishes particularly Thai or Vietnamese. These dishes would help push the full body of this beer and help appreciate it even further.

Best season to appreciate: This is another beer for the warmer seasons.

Time taken to finish bottle: 5 minutes – super easy  to drink.

All-nighter beer? Yes, I reckon it could be. I just might have to investigate further!

NEXT WEEK: Murray’s Sassy Blonde

O'Brien Pale Ale - bottleO’Brien Pale Ale
Australian flag - small 

Company info:
O’Brien Brewing Pty Ltd
Ascot Vale, VIC

Bottle size sampled: 330 mL

Alcohol: 4.5%

Standard drinks: 1.3

Cap type: Non-twist

Label info:

There’s no descriptive information written on the label – which is fine by me. I think they are hoping that the words ‘naturally brewed’ and ‘gluten free beer’ is all we need to know – and particularly for the gluten intolerant, this is what they need to know.

What the label really means:


The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: One word – LAME! It looks like a no-frills, home-brand type label. They’ve gone to no effort aside from using the same fonted ‘B’ as appears in the ‘Victoria Bitter’ brand (perhaps this is explained below in my tasting notes). It is definitely not attractive to the eye and I wouldn’t have been drawn to it if it weren’t for the ‘gluten free’ factor. You see, I realise there are gluten intolerant people in the world that probably love beer, so this tasting is for you guys. Sorry you get such a horrible label.

I give it a label rating of 1 out of 10.

AROMA: Wow! I certainly was not prepared for the amazing aroma that comes from this beer. There is a distinct honey smell that immediately makes me think of Crackenback’s Pale Ale. My expectations were set very high.

Taste: GLASS – For me this was very disappointing. There is an overpowering bitterness (perhaps this is O’Brien’s nod to Victoria Bitter) that is completely unexpected from a pale ale. My nostrils were being tantalised by smells of honey and sweetness while my tastebuds were bombarded with bitterness.
The other thing that really hit me was that this tasted extremely over-carbonated. One sip and I needed to burp. Not pretty.
I think the over-carbonation is evident in the photo of the beer in the glass. 

O'Brien Pale Ale - glass

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

Taste: BOTTLE – Drinking this from the bottle meant there was no aroma to difuse the bitterness and I found it just a little too sharp to drink. 

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

A word from the wife: ‘Soft, melodic, fruity flavours… the merlot of beers…..not too heavy’.

She gave it a taste rating of 7 out of 10.

Accompanying food: I could imagine this beer accompanying a good pizza or pasta dish. Definitely tomato or cheese based dishes.

Best season to appreciate: Definitely a warmer season beer.

Time taken to finish bottle: 7 minutes. I really struggled over this beer to determine what was so wrong. Was I missing something? Why did the wife think melodic sweetness while I was being knocked in the teeth by bitterness. I agonised over every mouthful desperately wanting to showcase something good for the gluten intolerant. Sadly, I don’t feel this is it.

All-nighter beer? Not for me I’m afraid. I’d maybe be able to stomach 4 or so before wanting something a bit less harsh.

Other notes: I’d really like to hear responses from you guys, the readers. Have I missed something here? Is this beer worthwhile? Please let me know your thoughts.

After every beer tasting I do for this site, I visit the beer’s website to see how they market it and to get some background information. For the O’Brien Pale Ale they say  “It is a traditional 19th century Australian pale ale, brewed with the finest malted gluten-free grains”. Perhaps I haven’t tried enough 19th century recipes to know a good one when I taste one. Please, enlightened reader, convince me this is a beer worthy of another tasting.

NEXT WEEK: Cobra Premium Beer (our first international beer)