Goodtimes Craft Beverages

Drink better. Be good.

Month: June 2014

BIGFOOT SIGHTING: Barleywine Style Ale

Sierra Nevada's 'Bigfoot"

Once a year a near mythical creature edges from the fringes of the beer world.

It is at once abrasive, warm & elusive.

Every year since 1983 the annual release of Sierra Nevada’s Barley Wine style Ale “Bigfoot” is a cause intrigue and celebration.

The Barley Wine or Barleywine style refers to a high alcohol, Strong Ale that was originally designed to imbibe 18th Century English upper classes.

English Barley Wines offer big, flavourful characters on a thick malt driven base. These beers are famous for toffee and fruity malt sweetness that are low in carbonation; real late night, fire side sippers.

During the 1970’s early American Craft beer pioneers like Anchor Brewing drew on the English style and ramped up the hops for a spicier take on the style.

Bigfoot Bottle Cap
Barley Wines have excellent cellaring potential because of the higher alcohol content and quality of ingredients.
Sierra Nevada’s “Bigfoot” represents an affordable cellaring beer. While the recipe which includes whole hop cones remains the same, the flavours evolve as this beer is aged much like Red Wine or Port.

While delicious when fresh, some believe Bigfoot is its best at five years when all of the flavours come together. That said, it could be aged for up to 10 years.

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot Pack

TASTING NOTES:
For this piece the past three years vintages have been reviewed to see the affects of cellaring.

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot 2014

SIERRA NEVADA – Bigfoot 2014
Barley Wine Style Ale
9.6% ABV

The 2014 pours a brilliant port wine colour with an assured cappuccino coloured head that quickly thins.
Viscous, sticky and resinous with burnt caramel, fennel, pine needles and tangerine pith flavours.
Bitterness is forward with a late warming alcohol which is a little out of balance. Time should settle this.
At times the 2014 feels like a Double IPA.
Really good but I’m interested in how this will age.

 

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot 2013

SIERRA NEVADA – Bigfoot 2013
Barley Wine Style Ale
9.6% ABV

This looks a deep ruby or cherry colour with a quickly receding head.
Muted pepper nose with a very faint anise.
The hops have mellowed still have a bite. In contrast the caramel malt is starting to be more prominent.
Plumy characters are present with a pepper, burnt citrus rind & pine aftertaste.
Not as viscous as the 2014 but with a welcome rummy warmth.
This is taking on a more English Barley Wine character although the hops are still present.

 

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot 2012

SIERRA NEVADA – Bigfoot 2012
Barley Wine Style Ale
9.6% ABV

The appearance is a little cloudy but still presents a deep burnished orange colour.
Fortified Muscat, rich leather box honey & hints of burnt toffee fills the air after opening.
The mouth feel seems full at first but thins through the palette.
Plenty of toffee and burnt citrus notes support a resinous marmalade undercurrent.
Hops are still very present but are now more rounded and the alcohol seems to be more prominent.
The sweetness subsides with a dry finish back palette finish.

 

Drink better. Be good.

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ALL FIRED UP: Gettin’ smokey with Rauchbier’s

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I will always remember my first Smoke Beer experience.

I stood in a bottle shop with a pint sized brown bottle & starred at a Gothic scripted label, devoid of any English.

“What’s this like?” I asked

The attendant, laughing to his mate replied

“Do you like Bacon & Eggs?”

Puzzled, I bought the beer & descended down a smokey rabbit hole.

That is where my Smoke Beer, or more correctly Rauchbier, fascination started.

 

For me these beers have aromas that drag out long forgotten memories & are also just plain tasty.

As the weather cools my thoughts always go to Rauchbier’s. Classics like Aecht Schlenkerla’s “Märzen” seem to bridge the beer gap  before Winter  moves towards darker beers.

 

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More than 250 years ago all beer was smoked. Historically forest wood was used for fires to dry green Brewers Malt that would be used in beer production. This imparted a smokey character to the beer.

During the 18th Century improvements in kilning techniques meant Malt could be produced without a smoke character. These improvements saw Smoke beers disappear nearly everywhere except in the Northern Bavaria, Germany.

It’s from this region that we get the name Rauchbier.

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The German Beer Institute provides this explanation of pronunciation:

“row-ch-beer” (pronounce “row” like “cow” and “ch” like “x” in “Mexico” when the country’s name is pronounced by a native speaker.)

I’m not sure if that clears that up entirely but you get the idea.
In Bramburg and its surrounds artisans have been making this style of beer for hundreds of years.

Traditionally, Smoked Malt can be used in a variety of beer styles. Usually a different style would be brewed for each season. For example, spring would see a “Fastenbier” Doppelbock.

Modern brewers are using Smoked Malts for an even wider range of styles. Although many use these Smoked Malts for Porters & Stouts there are examples of Smoked Pilsners that are excellent for food matching.

TASTING NOTES

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There are a number of Rauchbiers that are currently available. These are some tasting notes for some of them.

Keep in mind it’s the type of Malt that is used not the style that links all of these beers.

 

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AECHT SCHLERNKERLA – Märzen
5.1% ABV
Unmistakable campfire and bacon aromas hit first with some background green notes.
Light to Medium mouth feel with some Cola flavours. A mild dryness finishes this delicious beer.
You expect this to be a bigger than it is. The dark, ruby tinged brown colour is telling you this should be larger than the 5.1% ABV but it’s really very sessionable.
If you should find yourself in Germany you could easily enjoy a few pints of this.
Satisfying!

 

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NAIL – Rauchbier
6% ABV
Inviting smoke aromas. Maybe some Cola-like notes in the background.
The first sip yields more smoke, initially sweet malt that moves quickly to a mild dark chocolate bitterness.
Medium mouthfeel with a light carbonation is welcomed with this beer.
Over carbonation wouldn’t allow this or any other “Session” Smoke beer room for subtleties.
This is a welcome addition to Perth / Australian Craft beers & an ideal entry point to Rauchbiers for newcomers.

 

BEAVERTOWN - Smog Rocket

BEAVERTOWN – Smog Rocket
Smoked Porter
5.4% ABV
I love the detailed nostalgic label on this new world English Smoked Porter.
What’s inside the bottle starts with a sweet smokiness & chocolate aromas.
A persistent carbonation buoy’s more dark chocolate & a dry finish.
A very accessible Smoked Porter.

 

 

YEASTIE BOYS - xeRRex

YEASTIE BOYS – xeRRex
Imperial Peat Smoked Beer
10% ABV
BOOM! Blindfolded you would think this is a wee dram of Laphroaig Scotch!
This is a powerful aroma & the most challenging beer tasted here.
Tasting yields plenty of charred wood, an apple cider note & fruity honey.
Carbonation is low & there is little evidence of the 10% ABV.
The Malt base is sweeter than you first expect. It’s almost like a Smoked Strong Belgian Golden Ale at some points.
This is a one-off Imperial version of the 2011 one-off Rex Attitude.
Not something for everyday; this is an unusual, delicious beer that’s probably best shared so you can compare notes.

 

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EVIL TWIN BREWING – Ashtray Heart
Smoked Porter
8.9% ABV
Subtle smoke on the nose.
Full mouthfeel with dry dark chocolate flavours.
This is a rich, warming beer that could benefit from more Smoke character.

 

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EVIL TWIN – The Cowboy
Smoked Pilsner
5.5% ABV
The light smokiness in this beer makes it excellent for food matching.
In this case a Smoked Salmon Bagel.
Light, delicate smoke aromas preempt a dry, Pilsner.
A lovely, balanced hop bitterness shines making this almost like a dry-hopped Pale Ale.
The smokiness returns as a subtle flourish at the end of the palette.

 

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FERAL – Smoked Porter
4.9% ABV
Sweet smoke scents with subtle caramel & chocolate notes.
Toffee & molasses with a mild bitterness. Coffee flavours come through as it warms.
Thin for a Porter but approachable.

 

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BEATEN TRACK – Smokehouse
Smoked Ale
9% ABV
“Smokehouse” delivers a strong but not heavy Smoke aroma.
The mouthfeel is thin with a dry finish. I wish this had a larger body.
Smoke characters are dominant which masks some of the caramel background notes.
The 9% ABV is well hidden.

 

In summary, when I buy one of these again it will be the classic, AECHT SCHLERNKERLA – Märzen. It just ticks all the boxes.

 

That said I would love to try “xeRRex” again. Truly one of a kind, even in this usual Smoked beer space!

 

Drink Better. Be Good.

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WA Day 2014: Beaten Track Brewing

Welcome!
It seems only fitting to launch Goodtimes Craft Beverages during the WA Day Long Weekend with a Western Australian Brewery: Beaten Track Brewing.

 

Beaten Track Brewing Range
Beaten Track Brewing was conceived in 2007 in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia by Nick Galton-Fenzi .
Like many craft breweries, Beaten Track has had a challenging road to its present production. The GFC, License struggles, an earthquake that destroyed Beaten Track’s first batch of beer & the grain store and a David & Goliath struggle to get beers on tap are just some of the hurdles this regional brewery brewery has faced.
These challenges aside, the brewery produces a massive range of beers. From classics to experimental brews like last year’s “Snap, Crackle & Hops” a beer brewed with the Coco Pop breakfast cereal.
This really shows Beaten Track’s determination & creativity to brew beers in WA for Western Australians.

Photo courtesy of photographer & Beer Mule Karl Threadgate

Photo courtesy of photographer & Beer Mule Karl Threadgate

From today’s sample lot the 3.2% ABV “Brewed Awakening” Early Morning IPA has great colour & a dry hop bitterness that stands above its low ABV.
The Imperial Lager bursts with carbonation & flavour. I noted honey characters in the 7% ABV monster.
The Double IPA pours deep amber with a chewy texture. There’s a Stone Fruit hop presence, some earthy notes & a consistent light carbonation. The DIPA manages it keep the 9% ABV well hidden.

Beaten Track Brewing's 2014 Estate Stout

Beaten Track Brewing’s 2014 Estate Stout

Finally, the 2014 Estate Stout. Brewed with the harvest of Cascade & Chinook hops this is the standout of the range. Mocha, roasted malts & earthy aroma’s only hint at the delicious, contemplative beer that awaits the first sip. The hops are present but don’t overwhelm more mocha flavours, a full body & dry, dark chocolate finish. The 9.9% ABV is just hidden under this dark cloak, only sneaking through as a warm glow. It’s delicious beer to share on a cool winter evening.

Photo courtesy of photographer & Beer Mule Karl Threadgate

Photo courtesy of photographer & Beer Mule Karl Threadgate

I can also recommend the Gunbarrel IPA & BIPA from previous tastings.
NB: The “Duke of York” & “Smokehouse” will be used for coming posts.
Look out for Beaten Track beers at Mane Liquor, The International Beer Shop, Como Liquor, Cellarbrations at Carlisle & the Re Store.
For more information about Beaten Track Brewing follow this link:
http://www.beatentrackbrewery.com.au/index.htm

Happy WA Day!