Tag Archives: doctors orders brewing

2013 The Year in Beer

The start of 2014 means that it’s time to look back on 2013 in order to vote for my favourite beers of the year for the Local Taphouse’s Hottest 100 Beers competition. Looking at the hundreds of beers available to vote for and how difficult it is to narrow down a top five it’s clear that 2013 was very simply the best year in beer ever.

Hottest 100

Vote here http://www.brewsnews.com.au/vote-for-australias-hottest-100-beers/

Sure there were a few beers and brewers that disappointed but that’s been the case every year that I can remember. For every brewer that made a whole bunch of uninspiring beers there was another pushing the envelope.  While more and more exciting imports hit our shores, I doubt that I would change my top five if imports were allowed.

Judging by my choices, it seems that envelope pushing sits well with me when I score beers. My criteria was pretty simple. Look back at the highest rated beers that I checked in last year on the Untappd app and decide which ones I would go out of my way to try again. This perhaps gave an unfair advantage to difficult to find beers and pushed “my go” to session beer, Stone and Wood Pacific out of the running. I don’t think they’ll miss my vote.

I didn’t deliberately try to only have one beer from any single brewer although I could easily have had multiple entries from any of these brewers, and a few others.

5. Dennis Beer Co. Rocket Science Mad Hatter IPA.

There are a lot of new local brewers that have kept me happy this year. Every beer from Riverside has been superb. HopDog has a whole bunch of exciting beers. Wayward, Grifter and Dennis have proven that you don’t need to own a brewery to make great beers. I’ve enjoyed all of the Dennis beers and this was my favourite, fruity and easy to drink with tea leaves adding extra lift and freshness that hides a reasonably high alcohol content. New Zealand’s Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta was the original tea-leaf IPA and is spectacular, the Mad Hatter sits happily beside it.

mad hatter

4. BrewCult Supa Fly Rye IPA

I seem to like the addition of a bit of rye in beers, it seems to help balance beers with plenty of hops and gives a little bit of a toasty aftertaste. Mountain Goat Rare Breed Rye and HopDog Horns Up were a couple of my highest rating beers of the year but this one pips them. BrewCult’s Steve “Hendo” Henderson has made four beers so far and each one could make anyone’s top 5.

3. Bridge Road Chevalier Saison.

The only beer to appear in my top five that was there last year this is simply a superb beer and still the best Australian saison. It is the pinnacle of beers to match with food. There are plenty of other 5 star Bridge Road beers that I had this year that could have been on the list including the India Saison, Bling Bling Double IPA, Dark Harvest, B2 Bomber and the spectacular Aurora Borealis.

2. Two Metre Tall Original Soured Ale

sour

There is no doubt that Two Metre Tall’s Ashley Huntington is a passionate man. The former winemaker and full time farmer makes some serious beers in the Derwent Valley, Tasmania. I tasted the Original Soured and Sour Cherry Ales on the first day of Sydney Craft Beer week and they remained the best beers I had over the 8 days (I had a lot of beers that week.) The Soured Ale is barrel aged for three years and is easily the best lambic style beer that I’ve had outside Belgium.

1. Doctor’s Orders Cephalopod.

cephalopod

This was the one beer that I went back to every time I heard that it had been tapped. The concept was a black Berliner Weisse using squid ink to colour it. Of course it was a different colour every time, ranging from grey to turquoise and every shade in between (I did try it a lot.) The taste was superb, a bit of lemon tartness and a rich texture. It surprised and delighted. Doc is currently brewing another take on the Berliner Weisse style although it’s hard to imagine that it would be better than this. I will go out of my way to drink it of course.

Brewery of the Year – Riverside Brewing Company

Special mention has to go to Parramatta’s Riverside Brewing Company which in its short history has never put a foot wrong. Every one of their beers has been superb and the 44 Amber is the best amber ale that I have tasted. Brewer Dave Padden will go down in Australian brewing history as a man who perfectly understands hops and isn’t afraid to include as many as possible in his beers.

riversideDave Padden enjoying pouring us his beers

One thing is for sure though, 2014 will be an even better year for beer. New brewers will appear, the number of craft beer outlets will continue to expand and the envelope pushers will push even harder.

Bring it on.

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Crown Lager Drinkers, Your Dark Overlords are Trying to Tell You Something

There was a fair amount of discussion last week regarding the re-launch of Crown Lager. It mainly centred on the way that the Carlton and United marketing team were now telling us that the beer which has always been made using the finest ingredients was now being made with… better ingredients. The best was now, umm, bester.

I’ve long been immune to marketing from large brewing companies. Marketing executives receive a lot of money to convince us that one identical tasting beer is better than the next. The product in the glass is what’s most important to me, certainly not the image.

Crown Lager is all about the image. For decades “city types” have been quenching their thirsts on Friday afternoons with Crown Lager. The beer was one of the first in Australia that was drunk straight from the bottle instead of from a glass. It was a “premium” product, sold only in bottles, never from a tap like those inferior beers from the same brewery. That tasted the same.  The brown bottle with gold label around the neck was instantly recognisable and identified the drinker as someone who was happy to pay more for his beer. 

Whenever that image is changed it’s big news and the new finer than finest ingredients also come with updated packaging. The word Crown is now written up the neck of the bottle rather than on the horizontal. The thing is I’m not sure that it says the word Crown. I’m pretty sure that it says CLOWN.

New Crown Lager Bottle

Is someone at CUB trying to take the mickey out of drinkers that still think that it’s cool to pose with a bottle of overpriced beer? Perhaps a craft beer swilling graphic designer has pulled a swift one on his big brewery employers. If the beer you drink says a lot about you then this one seems to want to call you a clown.  

It reminds me of a story that I was told when I first worked in pubs in Scotland in the late 1980’s. This was in the days that beer bottles were returned back to the brewery and kept in plastic crates. Newcastle Brown Ale was popular with young drinkers who would drink it straight from the clear glass pint sized bottle, much to the disgust of “proper” beer drinkers. Allegedly the delivery men from Scottish and Newcastle Breweries would climb on top of the pallets of beer crates and unrinate over them. We made sure that every bottle we sold was wiped clean.

beer-crates_670293n

Just exactly what is this guy up to?

If you do want to drink Clown themed beer I would recommend trying Clown Shoes from the United States.  They’re pretty gimmiky as well, though perhaps they don’t take themselves quite as seriously as CUB. I had some of their Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA last week and it was superb.

clown-shoes-beer-logo-new

Clown Shoes – the preferred footware of CUB marketers

where to drink (part 1)

My decisions on where to drink are based on my constant search for new stuff. I have an understanding wife who enjoys a glass of good red who is happy to assist me on my adventures. These places in Sydney are well worth visiting

Bloodwood
http://www.bloodwoodnewtown.com/
416 King Street, Newtown, NSW 2042 – (02) 9557 7699

Bloodwood has the first spot on my list because it offers the best of both worlds – extreme beers and exciting wines. Sommelier Gabrielle Webster has great taste and has something new every time you visit, Australian and International biodynamic / organic wines or bottled beers from the likes of Epic and Mikkeller. Service is great, the staff are all well informed and clearly enjoy learning about the great booze on offer. I know some beery people think that it’s expensive, I say the products and service represent great value. As a Scotsman I’m an expert on this kind of thing. The food is well worth staying for if you want dinner or a good long lunch

The Local Taphouse
http://www.thelocal.com.au/SYD/
122 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010 – (02) 9360 0088

Local TaphouseThe best list of draft beer in Sydney with 20 constantly rotating taps makes the Taphouse unmissable for good beer lovers. I’ve been introduced to countless new breweries at the Taphouse and met many of the brewers. The rooftop garden is perfect in summer. The wine list is brief but more interesting than most pubs and they’ve just introduced a wide range of whisky. The rooftop garden is perfect in summer. The monthly Ale Stars session is a must attend event, hosted by Darren ‘Doc’ Robinson from Doctors Orders Brewing