Granite Pils - BOTTLEGranite Pils

Company info:
Granite Belt Brewery

Stanthorpe, QLD

[www.granitebeltbrewery.com.au]

Bottle size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 5.2%
Standard drinks: 1.4

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $4.99 AU

Label info: ‘With a sharp, bitter taste, this pilsner is not for the faint hearted. In the Granite Belt we recommend you harden up with Granite Pils’

What the label really means: Oh they breed em tough in the Granite Belt don’t they?

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The label features a big beefy bloke with an uncanny resemblance to Aussie icon Mark Jacko Jackson. He takes centre stage holding two ‘1.5L’ steins of beer aloft. He’s a muscly beefcake bloke with muscles rippling across his badly airbrushed chest, his white hair sticks up in salute to the sulphur crested cockatoo, and underneath the words ‘Granite Pils’ are presented in a strong font. It’s a mixture of silver and greys, and it reflects the colour of granite quite well. Unfortunately for me I don’t think the design works too well. I think Jacko’s t-shirt gets lost in a sea of grey and it turns out to be a little plain. This would be improved hugely if the bloke was replaced by an all stone humanoid holding the beers aloft, on a sea of say crimson red. 

I give it a label rating of 5 out of 10.Granite Pils - GLASS

AROMA:  Very mild soft citrus wheat aromas. Not as strong as I had hoped.

Taste: GLASS – Rising above the ranks of many pilsners who have gone before, Granite Pils delivers all of the wheaty citrus goodness you could ask for, but with a sprinkling of bitterness. The bitterness gives a certain depth and character to the beer and it is very enjoyable. Over all mouth feel is impressive, with a good cleansing after taste.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – Unfortunately from the bottle Granite Pils becomes a lot more watery and far less enjoyable. Plus this bottle has a slight metallic taste from where the cap once sat. I suggest you stick to the glass.

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

Accompanying food: Chargrilled seafood – prawns, squid, baby octopus…you get the picture.

Best season to appreciate: A fine Summer brew.

All-nighter beer? For sure! This is very drinkable, very sessionable.

NEXT WEEK: TBC

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

Company info:
O’Hanlon’s Brewing Co Ltd
Devon, ENGLAND

[www.ohanlons.co.uk]

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”‘.
AND
‘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

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

[thelittlebrewingcompany.com.au]

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.

NEXT WEEK: TBC

Artisan Reserve - BOTTLEArtisan Reserve

Company info:
Coopers Brewery Limited

 Regency Park, S.A

[www.coopers.com.au]

Bottle size sampled: 355ml

Alcohol: 5.5%
Standard drinks: 1.5

Cap type: Twist

Cost: I picked this up for $3.75 AU

Label info: ‘Thomas Cooper brewed his first batch of beer on the 13th May of 1862. Subsequent generations of Coopers have applied themselves to the pursuit of brewing excellence or the endorsement of our great beers to an appreciative public. This ale has been crafted to celebrate this passion for beer & brewing
AND
‘In the finest Bavarian tradition, Artisan Reserve has been crafted from an all malt brew with Hallertau Tradition hops. With low temperature fermentation and an extended maturation, this unpasteurised pilsner reflects the joy of tasting beer fresh from the brewery’

What the label really means: N/A

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: Here’s what I’ve said previously:
‘This label is very similar to the previously reviewed Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale so I’ll repost a couple of previously made comments such as ‘I challenge anyone not to find a beer label displaying a man with an over-sized beard inviting’ – Thomas Cooper would surely be proud of his fine mug plastered on this brew. I also previously commented that ‘The only visual aspect I don’t like about this label is that there is too much descriptive text…it begins to detract from the beardo’ – I don’t feel this is really the case here, it actually works, as does the…’ blue in this label which is again, very surprising for me.  

Artisan Reserve - GLASS

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

AROMA:  Wheaty, straw-like aroma with citrus backing.

Taste: GLASS – A fun wheat beer that is smooth, refreshing, citrus-infused and ever so softly carbonated. There’s next to no bitterness, is super easy to drink, and stacks up well as a fine pilsner interpretation. My only issue, as it is for most pilsners, is that it’s perhaps a little too ‘soft’….a little too generic. Not Cooper’s fault, it’s the style that lends itself to mild flavours.

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

Taste: BOTTLE – A little bland, a little watery. All of the flavour dimensions have now all but dispersed, and while it’s still noticeably wheaty and citrussy, it seems a little flat.

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

Accompanying food: Pork. I’m thinking dark marinated pork spare-ribs or a pork schnitty. 

Best season to appreciate: A great Summer brew.

All-nighter beer? Definitely. This is so very easy to drink. 

NEXT WEEK: Mad Abbott Tripel

Dream Date - BOTTLEDream Date

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

[www.burleighbrewing.com]

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’
AND
‘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!’
AND
‘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.

NEXT WEEK: TBC 

Hop Thief - BOTTLEHop Thief American Pale Ale

Company info:
Malt Shovel Brewery Pty Ltd

Camperdown, N.S.W

[www.jamessquire.com.au]

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
AND
‘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.

NEXT WEEK: TBC