Pouring a hazy dark amber with a reddish tint, this surprised me by being a good deal lighter than I was expecting. It’s nicely fruity and smooth, but stays a bit too ‘small’ in the taste department for me. “Scotch Ale” just makes me expect massive great big fullness, and this doesn’t have it. Labelling aside, though, it’s perfectly tasty after-dinner type stuff.
And by after-dinner on this occasion, we mean after steak tartar, and with barbequed pavlova. Given that insane food-matching challenge, it performed ridiculously admirably.
Verbatim: Red Hill Brewery Scotch Ale. 5/10/08 $3.5 @ Markets. A hazy dark amber with reddish tint; so a lot lighter than many others. Much lighter taste, too. Pleasant, but not quite what I expected from the name. Nicely fruity and smooth, but not huge + dark.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: I realised a little while later that my expectations were somewhat confounded by the scotch ale I was most familiar with, Renaissance ‘Stonecutter’, being both abnormally dark and abnormally massive in the flavour department. So this has no labelling problem — and neither does Stonecutter, really; they’re just extreme ends of the style, each.
Another winemaker’s beer. And this one seems much more of a go, marketing-wise (in that somewhat-tragic but totally-understandable way that more ‘normal’ / less ‘interesting’ beers are often more marketable).
It’s a very clean lager, like a lighter version of the ‘Weka’ by Moa Breweries (itself another winemaker-offshoot). A little too thin for my liking, but perfectly well-made. These things do make for a good way to begin an evangelism effort — the flavour won’t freak anyone out, and you’re miles better off having one of these than something daft like Heineken — and at least it gets some people over that first hurdle of actually trying things from places they’ve never heard of before.
Verbatim: Knappstein Reserve Lager. 5/10/08 $3.5 @ Markets. Another winemakers beer. Very pale lager, with vanishy bubbles. Very clean lager, a la Weka by Moa. Better for evangelism, but a bit too thin for my liking
There’s the beginnings of a trend towards a wee fusion between beermakers and winemakers, and here’s a good example. Pepperjack is, ordinarily, a Shiraz. Of which I’m quite fond, despite being a Malt Nerd. I haven’t yet found out just how it’s incorporated into their Ale, but it allegedly is. The result is basically a decent straight up-and-down bitter ale. When I’m in that mood, I’d rather a Little Creature’s Rogers, but this can’t really be faulted. Except maybe in marketing terms; it’d probably be a difficult style for “evangelism” to wine drinkers. But maybe that was never really their concern; they’ve made something pretty tasty and pretty interesting and, well, pretty. That’s enough to warrant a tip of our glasses.
Verbatim: Pepperjack Ale. 5/10/08 $3.5 @ Markets. Made with Pepperjack Shiraz, somehow. It doesn’t say. Basically a decent straight up and down bitter ale. Maybe not different enough, for the odd pitching. Not one for evangelising to wine drinkers despite appearance.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: So here I was, sitting at the bar on my night off and tinkering with these things, uploading some more of the backlog. And I’m thinking to myself ‘what to drink?’, when it occurs to me that I have a bottle of this in my personal stash in the fridge. How appropriate. (Many thanks to Glenn, who I used to work with in Melbourne, who grabbed me some Interesting Looking Beers when he came over not long ago.)
On another go, I’m a bigger fan. It’s tasty, more ‘different’ than I remember, and definitely has a shirazzy zing.
‘JP’ is a regular in Emerson’s healthily-populated series of seasonal releases. It’s named in honour of JP Dufour, a Belgian who is reputedly largely responsible for introducing the fledgling local brewing scene to the joys of beers from his homeland. He was a professor at Otago University, I believe with Richard Emerson’s father — and sales from these beers apparently go towards a scholarship.
Each year’s ‘JP’ is a different take on a Belgian style, and the 2008 was a big hearty brown ale, matured on cherries. Generally speaking, I don’t go for cherries. But I go for this, in a big way. So that was clever of them. It’s freaking delicious, and has real cross-category appeal.
Verbatim: Emerson’s JP 2008. 5/10/08 $10 @ Markets. I’ve had this before, but it turns out that [REDACTED]. Awesome Belgian brown ale, matured on cherries. I hate cherries, and I love this.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: My first piece of censorship, here. The Diary was never intended for public consumption, after all. I was elated to find such a worthy Little Country beer at the markets in the Big Country, but also moved to pick this particular one because of a certain piece of rumour / gossip I’d heard. So I’ve bleeped that bit out.
‘Rogers’ is another fantastic session beer, down at 3.8% booze. (Even if it does, like the Cooper’s beers, have apparent apostrophe issues.) It’s a charming ruby brown, with light hoppy- and malty-ness. Sits comfortably beside an Emerson’s Bookbinder, but isn’t so ‘English’ (somehow), as fits the climate of the place it’s made.
Incidentally, Toby is in the background there preparing Steak Tartar, which was a smashing success. And to re-balance the universe after making a meal out of raw steak, he busied his barbeque by making Pavlova on it. Which was, if not a smashing success, at least vastly better than anyone thought it’d be. He’s like some sort of Domestic Mad Scientist.
Verbatim: Little Creatures Roger’s. 5/10/08 $3.5 @ South Melb Markets. Gorgeous sunny day. And a nice basic session beer. At 3.8%, you’d happily drink it all night. Nice ruby brown, light hoppy + maltiness. Akin to a Booky, but not so English.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Matt Kirkegaard (of BrewsNews.com.au) wrote to inform me that there was more than one Roger, so their seemingly-odd use of the apostrophe is just fine. It’s Rogers plural, not possessive. Since I’m as much Typography Nerd as I am Mad Keen Creatures Fan, that news cheers me greatly.
Sunday mornings at the markets are an awesome thing in Melbourne. They’re actually sufficiently awesome to get my nocturnal self out of bed for the occasion, occasionally. When I lived in the Melb, I was nearer the Victoria Markets, so I’m not sure if this stall existed while I lived in town, but I was glad I visited them when I was over for my friends’ wedding.
Named ‘Swords’ for no immediately-apparent reason, they specialised in Australian microbreweries and some moderately-obscure European stuff. Toby was off shopping for food — about which I know basically nothing — so I busied myself here. I picked out a few promising-looking beers, plonked them on the counter and then (assuming that they established my bona fides as a Beer Nerd) asked the very-helpful guy behind the counter to pick me out two more to add to my stash; things I hadn’t picked, but should’ve.
As you can see from the lack of a link, the Sweetwater doesn’t later show up in the Diary. I have literally no idea why not. Maybe I never drank it; maybe I just never noted it down; maybe Toby had it.