Posts Tagged ‘winter’

Coedo Beniaka - BOTTLECoedo Beniaka
Japanese_flag - SMALL

Company info:
Coedo Brewery
Saitama, JAPAN

[www.coedobrewery.com]

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’
AND
‘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)

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

New England Dark Farmhouse - BOTTLENew Englander Dark Farmhouse

Company info:
New England Brewing Co
Uralla, NSW

[newenglandbrewing.com.au]

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

Bridgeport IPA - BOTTLEBridgePort India Pale Ale
USA flag - SMALL

Company info:
BridgePort Brewery
Oregon, USA

[bridgeportbrew.com]

Bottle size sampled: 355ml

Alcohol: 5.5%
Standard drinks: 1.6

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $3.99 AU

Label info: ‘Floral and hoppy, delightfully complex, smooth and satisfying’

What the label really means: Nuff said

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: I’m not too convinced of the effectiveness of this label. It looks as though it may have been designed in the 1980s and hasn’t moved from there. And I’m not talking cool Goonies-style 1980s, I’m talking Bobby McFerrin ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ 1980s. It’s like the back cover of a computer programming text book. There’s way too much green, and a horrible navy blue banner with gold print above it. The whole thing is like a horrible coffee shop menu. Time for a revamp Bridgeport.

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

AROMA:  A gentle wave of floral and straw tones.Bridge Port IPA - GLASS

Taste: GLASS – This is a very mild take on an IPA. Sure, it’s incredibly smooth and refreshing with great after tastes. But it’s missing a real front of mouth smack to the kisser of bitterness and spiced hops that we’ve all come to expect from an IPA. It’s very drinkable and shouldn’t be dismissed too readily – allow it to serve as an introduction to the IPA kingdom. 

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

Taste: BOTTLE – The small upfront flavours detected in the glass tasting have now all but disappeared and the beer becomes a little more flavourless and watery. Stick to the glass. 

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

Accompanying food: Beef. A good hearty beefy dish. Or a cake. A beef cake. Like Emilio Estevez in ‘Young Guns’.

Best season to appreciate: A good winter session brew.

All-nighter beer? While many IPAs may feel too heavy to drink all night, this is so light on its feet that I think it would be an awesome all-nighter.

Other: Happy Oregon Craft Beer Month 2014

NEXT WEEK: TBC

New Englander Brown Ale - BOTTLENew Englander Brown Ale

Company info:
New England Brewing Co
Uralla, NSW

[newenglandbrewing.com.au]

Bottle size sampled: 640ml

Alcohol: 4.5%
Standard drinks: 2.3

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $6.50 AU

Label info: ‘Traditional style brown ale. Five Australian grown malts. Australian hops’.

What the label really means: Sounds great. I’m keen to sample these five malts.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The label is a very plain beige glossed label with 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:  Amazing! This is quite possibly the most amazing smelling beer I have come across all year. There is a port wine aroma with a tinge of caramel. Simply breathtaking. 

Taste: GLASS – Good, strong upfront flavours of malty caramel goodness. It’s smooth and very easy to drink. However, and it pains for me to have a clause with this brew, the finish is a little unresolved. It dissipates all too quickly and I’m left with a soft watery flavour in my mouth. It feels like it needs a good smack of bitterness to round off the beer and finish on a high. 

I give it a beer from glass rating of 6 out of 10.New Englander Brown Ale - GLASS

Taste: BOTTLE  Stick to the glass. From the bottle this brown ale is very very watery, and all those great upfront malty flavours have now diminished greatly. You get but a mere glimpse of how good this beer is supposed to be. 

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

Accompanying food: Slow roasted lamb would be great with this.

Best season to appreciate: It’s destined to be a Winter warmer.

All-nighter beer? This is a very easy to drink brew. Deceptively easy. I could see myself drinking this all night quite easily.

Other: Why not check out my self-indulgent instagram page @masonhellcat or Hell-Cat’s Beer Blog on Facebook?
Or don’t. It’s up to you. Really.

NEXT WEEK: I celebrate Christmas in July with Mad Abbot Christmas 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’
and
‘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.

NEXT WEEK: Sly Fox

Haymaker - BOTTLE Haymaker
Great Britain - flag

Company info:
Hook Norton Brewery
Oxfordshire, UNITED KINGDOM

[www.hooky.co.uk]

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’
AND
‘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