Tag Archives: from Australia

Pepperjack Ale

Pepperjack Ale
Pepperjack Ale

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.

Pepperjack Ale
Diary entry #56, Pepperjack Ale
Pepperjack Ale
Pepperjack Ale, two years and two weeks later

Little Creatures ‘Rogers Beer’

Little Creatures 'Rogers Beer'
Little Creatures 'Rogers Beer'

‘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.

Little Creatures Rogers
Diary entry #54, Little Creatures Rogers

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.

James Squires IPA & Grand Ridge ‘Hatlifter’ Stout

James Squires IPA & Grand Ridge 'Hatlifter' Stout
James Squires IPA & Grand Ridge 'Hatlifter' Stout

In this, the first double-whammy entry, mine is the IPA. It’s a tasty, mild brew which is still very-definitely an IPA. It’s gently hoppy (Fuggly, to be specific) and nicely malty, and is a perfect Gateway Beer to introduce people to pale ales.

I do like the Squires beers. On my way over to the Big Country for this trip, I asked the flight attendant what they had by way of beer, and her answers were Something Horrid; Something Awful; Something Forgettable; and James Squires Golden Ale. No contest, obviously.

The beers from the the Malt Shovel Brewery, as they’re officially called, are really useful. They’re like Mac’s or Monteith’s were here before being bought out by the Bigger Boys. Some beer nerds look down their noses at Mac’s and Monteith’s, but we’re a zillion times better off for having them as the nearly-ubiquitous beers-on-tap than we were when it was DB versus Lion brands, with smatterings of the provincial “Draughts”. They are Gateway Beers; milder versions of the various different styles that give people a low-risk way to Try Something New. My suspicion is that the (inevitably, but lamentably) stronger regionalism in Australia will get in the way of something similar happening over there. But if anyone manages it, it should damn well be Squires.

Toby’s beer — that’s him not doing very well at Guitar Hero in the background — is Grand Ridge ‘Hatlifter’ Stout. Another from Mirboo North, this one was definitely my favourite when we visited a few years prior, and was still freaking gorgeous. Unfeasibly smooth and easy to drink, and so a perfect Introductory Stout to anyone silly enough to resist such an idea.

James Squires IPA
Diary entry #53, James Squires IPA

Verbatim: James Squires IPA. 3/10/08 $3 @ IGA. Had the Golden Ale on the plane yesterday, too. Big fan of these Malt Shovel boys. Lovely mild IPA, but still an IPA. Gently hoppy and malty, very good gateway beer(s) for evangelism. (Fuggled.)

Afterthoughts, October 2010: A fairly ruthless Editorial Policy is in effect, it seems. ‘Hatlifter’ is denied an entry, despite not already having gotten one at the brewery itself, just because it’s Toby’s beer, rather than mine. And it’s possibly not very fair to say he wasn’t doing very well at Guitar Hero; really, he just wasn’t doing well compared to me — few people do. I’m a severally-faceted Nerd.

Little Creatures ‘Bright Ale’

Little Creatures 'Bright Ale'
Little Creatures 'Bright Ale'

The golden ale little brother to the very-much-loved Creatures Pale, ‘Bright’ isn’t as socks-off-knocking as the classic Critter, but is bloody lovely. Reminiscent of fellow Australian legend Cooper’s ‘Sparkling’, it’s lively, fruity, and (like I said; there’s no better word for it) lovely.

Really, I’m only surprised that it (apparently) took me this long before I had one. My love affair with Cooper’s Sparkling began way back in 2001 or so, on a stupidly hot Australia Day. I apparently had slack beer advisors; nobody told me I’d love this, too. It occurs to me that I’ve used the word “love” a lot, here. Basically, it’s just that tasty.

Verbatim: Little Creatures Bright Ale. 2/10/08 $3.5 @ IGA. Reminiscent of Sparkling, unless the name is confusing me. Very lovely + fruity. Apply, I think. Not as socks-knocking as Pale Ale, but yummy. Named just too compare against it?

Little Creatures 'Bright Ale'
Diary entry #52, Little Creatures Bright Ale

Afterthoughts, October 2010: As I know now (and as you, clever reader, may or may not already know), ‘bright’ here really refers to the filteredness of this beer as against the slightly-sedimenty (slightly ‘with-Creatures’, after all) Pale Ale. Golden ales really do develop into an obsession, with me; I bloody loves them, I do.

Gage Roads Pils

Gage Road Pils
Gage Road Pils

I’d previously been given their IPA by Karen & Lee when they visited New Zealand last year, and am always keen to try something from the Dear Old West. It’s a great example of the Australian Midstrength; slightly less boozy, so you can just keep drinking and sitting around passing time with friends for hours on end without getting too blurry — they’re the hot-climate cousin to British “Session Ales”.

This Pils maybe isn’t quite “pilsy” enough for me, but that’s just a matter of labelling. It’s a seriously refreshing bottle of lagery goodness. Toby compared something about the feel of it to having a piece of rosewater Turkish delight. And odd as that sounds, he’s on to something.

Gage Road Pils
Diary entry #51, Gage Road Pils

Verbatim: Gage Roads Pils. 2/10/08 $3 @ IGA. With sticky rice. Matches brilliantly. Not Pilsy enough for me, but a lovely crisp midstrength lager. Refreshing as all get-out. Toby compares the feel to a bit of rosewater Turkish delight.

Afterthoughts, October 2010: The session-strength segment of the market remains shamefully overlooked here in New Zealand. There is one deservedly-legendary exception in Emerson’s ‘Bookbinder’, and occasional feats of genius like Hallertau’s ‘Minimus’, but still. Too much emphasis on the loopily-boozy in the scene these days.

Grand Ridge ‘Natural Blonde’

Grand Ridge 'Natural Blonde'
Grand Ridge 'Natural Blonde'

I visited the Grand Ridge brewery (in a poky little Victorian town called Mirboo North) when I was in Australia for my birthday a few years ago (2006?) and had a fantastic time there, so I was pleased to see their stuff in the local corner shop upon my return to Melbourne for Karen & Lee’s wedding.

The Blonde itself (herself?) is a lovely accessible wheat beer. Hugely drinkable, with a good dose of fruity- and spicy-ness, even a bit of a fresh herby sort of a thing going on. Good for evangelism to people who usually stick to their lagers, or to anyone who’s already been pursuaded into a Summer Ale type of thing.

And it has to be said that the range of craft beer on offer at the local IGA (a superette, essentially, in New Zealand English terms; just a little convenience store) was seriously heartening. A lot of the next few entries are from one little shopping spree in the early evening of the Friday when I arrived in town.

Grand Ridge Natural Blonde
Diary entry #50, Grand Ridge Natural Blonde

Verbatim: Grand Ridge Natural Blonde. 2/10/08 $3.50 @ IGA, Armadale 3143. In Melbourne, Fatty and I raided the local shop. Hadn’t had this at the brewery two years back. It’s lovely + drinkable. Very accessible wheat. Fruity and spicy, freshly herby even.

Afterthoughts, October 2010: I have no earthly idea why that beer — that wheat beer, even — seems to have no head, and no trace of having had one. I’m similarly confused as to why my historical self didn’t find that notable.

Gage Roads IPA

Gage Roads IPA
Diary entry #42, Gage Roads IPA

Verbatim: Gage Roads IPA. 19/11/07, present from KP+LB, 5.1%, 330ml. After trivia, watching Top Gear. Miss Parker & Mr Baker arrived last week, with beer in tow. This is Western, proper bottle stuff. Slight metallic note, but not nasty like Beck’s. Good IPA. Hoppy + beery. Yum. Drinkable, very.

Afterthoughts, October 2010: Not sure why I got those last two words backwards. But anyway. It was loads of fun when Karen & Lee visited — not just because they brought me beer, but hint, future travelers, hint. I got to take them on a little roadtrip around the mountains and lakes and bubbling mud of the middle of the North Island. And that’s back when they still had different last names. Their joining-of-names the next year was another great excuse for a trip to the Big Country, and for many more good Australian beers.

Jamieson ‘Mountain Ale’

Jamieson 'Mountain Ale'
Diary entry #12, Jamieson 'Mountain Ale'

Verbatim: Jamieson Mountain Ale. 330ml, 4.9%, $3ish, 11/4/04, at home. “Dark wheat beer”. Brown-black. Weird. Seems stuck halfway. Not bad, per se, but not wheat and not dark. Can’t see it winning friends. Stick with La Rossa.

Afterthoughts, October 2010: Oh, so very far to go until proper Beer Nerdery, still. Here’s me totally confused and confounded by the thought that “dark wheat beer” might be a thing unto itself and obviously under the impression that “dark” was basically a style, rather than just a colour, into which territory many beers may wander. There are some particularly-lovely dark wheats much later in the Diary, so I did eventually get the point.

Holgate Brewhouse ‘White Ale’

Holgate Brewhouse 'White Ale'
Diary entry #6, Holgate Brewhouse 'White Ale'

Verbatim: Holgate Brewhouse White Ale. 5.0%, 330ml, $16/6pk, at home. Bottle conditioned, but the tiniest amount of sediment. Wheat beer, very mild taste. Refreshing on a 40° day. Not gold, light, cloudy. Like flat L&P or some random chemistry set piece. Matches our couch. Bubbles don’t stay.

Afterthoughts, October 2010: I do remember finding this almost ridiculously mild, especially as I was a bit of a wheat beer drinker at the time. Then again, in weather like that, it still did the trick. How on earth did I survive those kinds of temperatures, you may ask, if you’ve seen me in even a relatively-mild Wellington summer — just goddamn barely, I can assure you. (And yes, we really did have a couch that was roughly the same colour as L&P.)

Coopers ‘Special Old Stout’

Four entries in, and we already find our first beer that no longer exists, as at the time of the Great Uploading in October 2010. I had to check online to make sure this actually did exist, and I wasn’t just drunkenly misrecording the regular Best Extra Stout.

Apostropher's nightmare, Coopers Special Old Stout
Diary entry #4, Coopers Special Old Stout

Verbatim: Cooper’s Special Old Stout. 375ml, 6.8%, $3 or so, at home with bangers and mash. ”Expressly cellar aged”, whatever that means. Dark, not-lasting bubbles. No sharp bitterness. Light coffee flavour. Smooth for a stout. Bottle cond..

Afterthoughts, October 2010: The commercial description (online at RateBeer.com) calls this the “worlds first aged stout”. Which seems implausible. And again calls out the brewery’s strange relationship with the apostrophe. The family name is simply Cooper. I’ve met the latest heir-in-charge, Tim Cooper. But they seem determined to neither be Cooper’s Brewery nor even Coopers’ Brewery. It’s a bit strange.