Van Dieman Brewing Hedgerow Autumn Berry Ale.

A little light reading with my Hedgerow

Prologue:  So as ‘Australian Month’ comes to an end the observant amongst you might have noticed that our selection of beers has not exactly been fair and equitable. There has been plenty of beers from SA, Vic and WA but little from elsewhere. Although I still haven’t managed to find anything from the territories (Australian Capital and Northern) I can tick the Apple Isle off the list today.
There is something about Tasmania which says beer to me. It might be the two strong, long standing, highly advertised Tasmanian mainstream brewers Cascade and Boags, or it might just be that the only thing Tassie is famous for on the mainland is fresh produce, oh and David Boon, and that wood chopping guy, and John  ‘Super Apple’ McCarthy. 

My personal experience with Tassie brews has been mixed, at one end Moo Brew blew my mind a couple of years ago, but at the other end Two Metre Tall has disappointed me more than once.  This brings us to today’s beer, another long named wonder, Van Dieman Brewing Hedgerow Autumn Berry Ale.

Packaging:  Nice logo – who doesn’t love a tree? Good sized bottle (500ml) and lots of information about the beer sitting on Hawthorn berries and rosehip, which kinda makes it sound like this beer has been sitting in your Nanna’s wardrobe for a couple of months.
One problem, why can’t they spell Van Diemen’s correctly? Spelling doesn’t seem to be their strong point, check out the awesome poster below, complete with a strange use of apostrophes (the plural of genius is geniuses not genius’s), and yes I understand the saying about glasshouses. 

One of Van Dieman's posters

Appearance:  This beer is the colour of an Autumn leaf, cloudy, much like an Autumn day can be and with a foamy head, which must have some link to Autumn which I can’t think of right now, but feel free to insert your own poetic simile here.

Smell:  It smells a little fruity, in fact I would say it has beery smells mixed with berry smells. Bang – what a great play on words – I’m on fire here.

Taste:  The taste could best be described as unusual. It tasted a little like a dry, slightly under-flavoured amber ale, but then with this berry twist right on the tip of your tongue as you swallow. 

In conclusion: It’s a different brew. As I worked through the bottle I did start to enjoy it a little more, it felt like a reasonable (but not spectacular) amber ale, but with this weird slightly astringent aftertaste, one assumes from the tart hawthorn berries. Although I appreciate them going out on a limb (again, that’s puntastic) I just didn’t like it that much. They seem to be a good brewery though, so I will seek out their more ‘normal’ beers.  

Ranking:  Let’s have a schooner. 

Long Bow Youtube Clip:  It’s time for more Weddings Parties Anything, this time it’s a “Tale They Won’t Believe” the best song ever written about Tasmania.

Matilda Bay Longshot

Prologue:  The guys at Matilda bay have answered the question that no one had thought to ask. What if we tried to combine coffee and beer? Alternatively you could see this as one of the smartest marketing ideas of recent times. If there is two thing Melbourians love (Longshot comes out of Melbourne, not Perth as a lot of people will tell you) it’s coffee and beer so why not combine them into one.

I’m a Melbourian, I like Coffee, and I love beer, and I could quite easily be called a beer wanker, so not surprisingly this appeals to me.

First Impressions: As I opened the bottle I wondered where the satisfying ‘Hiss’ was.

Appearance: There is absolutely no carbonation in this. Ales are not meant to be as carbonated as lagers, but this wasn’t ‘lightly carbonated’ it was ‘decarbonated’, there was only a single file line of bubbles on the edge of glass and no head what soever. Oh and it was dark, like Coffee.

Taste: This beer is almost sweet, It genuinely tastes like coffee and beer. Almost like you asked you local barrista to make you a long, long black and then drank it with no sugar. It’s nice as a gimmick , but you would struggle to drink more than a stubby of this though.

Packaging: There is nothing fussy here. I assume the hessian look is meant to evoke thoughts of coffee beans being hand picked on the slopes of Ethopia. the O looking like a coffee bean is very clever in a way that is appreciated by the inner city hipsters who this is aimed out.I note it claims it’s a ‘Rich and Creamy’ ale, personally I don’t see it, falvourful yes, but creamy, no.

Food suggestion: There is something about this beer that makes me want to pour a little over a scoop of ice cream. I fact I’m going to try it now. That’s not bad, it needs to be a little sweeter to be a true ice cream topping. Although maybe, if you added some honey. That is good, wow I feel like the dude with the beard and the hat off masterchef.

6 degrees of Norm:

This week we have a special edition. to acknowledge the coffee we are actually going to play – 6 degrees of Gunther. the dude that made the coffee on Friends.

Where we link every beer back to Norm from Cheers (George Wendt) Gunter from Friends (James Michael Tyler) in 6 easy steps.
1. Long Shot is brewed at The Garage in Dandenong
2. Which was home town of Gabriella Climi
3. Who’s song “Sweet about me’ was in an episode of Lipstick Jungle
4.Which stars Brooke Shields
5. With was in an episode of Friends with Jennifer Aniston
6. Who was in Friends, and was loved by Gunter.

Ranking: Maybe Just a Pot

Baron’s Lemon Myrtle Witbier

Prologue: It had been a long week of being shafted by ‘The Man’. The man in question bears a striking resemblance to Scooby Doo villain, which makes me  deeply suspicious that he hates us meddling kids.

Anyway the point is it had been a long week so myself, Frewy, MB and Jords decided to hit the crappiest, yet best little pub in South Melbourne, and drown our troubles with a little of the amber fluid.

Because this pub is crappy (yet wonderful) it had a poor selection of Tipple worthy beers. However as it is also a backpackers pub it did have the beer equivalent of the tacky Australian Souvenir – Baron Brewing Australian Native beer range.

Appearance: This thing is very very yellow, almost Lemsip unnatural yellow.

Flavour: The first thing that strikes you in this beer is the Lemon. Is it subtle? Well it strikes you in the sort of way that a smacked out junky strikes you in a back alley and steals you wallet.

Jords described this as ‘The closest thing you could get to Seafood in a beer (this lead to a tangent about a Geelong brewing company who puts mussels in their beer, which sounding disgusting.) Frewy was a little less complimentary telling us that underneath the lemon, this was actually a reasonably ordinary homebrew.

Packaging: Packaging was awesome. It looked classy and clever, so it was out of place in the crappy, yet brilliant pub. The labels on this had a nice rough feel to it.

Food Suggestions: Seafood is the obvious choice, preferably on a decking overlooking the ocean, scallops would be nice, or lobster or possibly lobster stuffed with scallops.

Possible Slogan:
‘Get a Tingle on your Tongue.’

Scores: Let’s have a Schooner

We also tried their Black Wattle beer, check back Monday for that review.

Crackenback (Snowy River Brewery) Pale Ale

Prologue: This beer is like that plain girl next door, you hope she is going to let down her hair and take off the glasses and be stunning, but she just doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong you’d still go there, but lets face it you won’t be bragging to your mates about it

Appearance: Looks like a stock standard Carlton Draught, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Smell: Smells remarkably like poor man’s Coopers Sparkling.

Flavour: Really quite bland, very slight bitter aftertaste, I drank this with MB and we forgot we had drunk it four seconds after finishing it. On the plus side you could drink 18 of them without noticing.

Packaging: A label more a home on a water bottle – which given the lack of taste might be apt

Food Suggestions: Sandwiches, possibly of the Cucumber variety and anything else you eat whilst playing Croquet.

Possible Slogan – Crackenback, tastes like Sack.

In a Word – Meh

Ranking: Maybe just a Pot

Beast IPA

Prologue: This beer is largely ridiculous. It seems to be brewed more as a challenge than as a quest to produce a well rounded and tasty beer.

It’s high alcohol – 7% which is actually about right for a true Indian Pale Ale (it was higher alcohol so it could survive the sailing to India, hence the name), rather than the whimpy Pale Ales you normally get, but that seems to be a reason for living, which is not good enough in my book.

Appearance: Like Blood & Wine, Dark, and more like Golden Syrup than actual beer.

Flavour: Heavy, Bitter, dark and Malty

Packaging: Sensational, Like someone has ripped the tattoo off the arm of a truckie and whacked it on a beer bottle.  Fucking Awesome.

Food Suggestions: There’s a steak in every bottle.

Ranking: Maybe just a Pot

Revisit 25-10-2011: I got this absolutely wrong when I first tried this. This is not a bad beer, I just wasn’t ready for it. 

I was right in saying this wasn’t the most attractive beer, surprisingly dark and muddy for an IPA. It smells of citrus and pine, combined with biscuit maltiness. The taste is not as bitter as you would expect, in the fight between malt and hops, malt just wins out.

Verdict: A very good beer that was clearly before it’s time – I’ll have a Pint.

Knappstein Lager

Prologue: This beer seems to fit into the new trend of upmarket craft brew which are being produced by wine makers. If you think about it it makes sense. In a world where there is a wine glut and bottles are selling for $10, there has to be more money in Beer.

Appearance: Very Clear, golden smooth, and looks easy to drink, It looks sweet to me.

Flavour: A fruity aroma, which is kinda understandable given it comes from the Clare Valley which is where they make that alcoholic grape juice stuff.

Packaging: Friggin Classy isn’t it? More wine like than beer, Poofters. Got a certain olde world style to it.

Food Suggestions: Quail, Shortbeard and hard cheese, which sounds like an awesome, but massively pretentious meal.

Scores: A Jug Please

Jamieson Mountain Ale – Dark Wheat Beer

Appearance: Dark Brown with a good head

Strength: 4.9%

Flavour: Winter Beer with strong Cocoa and Coffee Overtones.

Packaging: Dorky, and where are the amusing brewing stories?

Food Suggestions: Waffles and Damper, but probably not together.

Ranking : Let’s have a Schooner