I’ll have a beer with that.

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Well it’s been a while since I sat down and wrote and I thought it was about time again and this time about an ongoing passion of mine. Beer. It seems like I’ve been passionate about beer for about as long as I can remember.

I can remember back to 16 years old, I seemed to be particularly passionate about Guinness, thankfully (no offence to Guinness) that phase has now passed. In my last few years in the UK before I left to come out here, I was a member of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) and loved nothing better than going round assorted Norfolk pubs trying whatever was on their hand pumps or doing CAMRA train pub crawls out into small Norfolk villages, enjoying both the beer itself and the old pubs I got to explore.

I don’t know what I expected when I got to Australia back in 2005 but there certainly weren’t and continue to be very few hand pumped beers here. I’m sure we all paint the past in strange ways and overplay either the fondness of it or the awfulness of it. It seems we have to have an extreme reaction one way or the other and in reality it was probably never that bad or never that good. It’s all about a simple comparison that we make with the present.

In my mind when I came to Melbourne in 2005 the beer landscape was barren and bare. It seemed to be dominated by the big major beers and there wasn’t really too much in the way of craft beer options. Oh how this has changed. As some of you might know a few years ago a series of yearly challenges took place with a very good friend of mine and one of these extreme challenges was to drink a different Australian beer every day of the year. Being a leap year that year, it equated to 366 different beers and from there the passion for Australian craft beer developed.

What may have appeared as a struggle at the start soon turned into a joy. After a while we both realised the challenge was really more logistical than it was about drinking beer and we’d set off to various breweries and bottle shops to find seemingly exotic beers that we’d never tried before. In the end and with hindsight, it was relatively easy. And having gone from drinking 366 in that year, 4 years later, my total is now up in the 1700s. This was majorly aided by  a bar I now refer to as home (and considering I’ve moved home 7 times in 11 years its probably a good description). That bar in question being Mrs Parmas. I don’t know exactly when it opened but I remember it from its beginning. Only because I remember drinking there when it was called something different, Cheers.

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent there over the years. It’s been host to most of my birthday dinners, a place where myself and my best friend have spent many an hour discussing beer, trying some ridiculous parmas and some equally crazy beers. Another mainstay of the last few years has been the Ballarat Beer Festival, I’m proud to say (maybe I shouldn’t) that I’ve now attended every single one, a record that I don’t want to lose. From its humble begins with a small crowd on half an oval, it would now be one of the biggest beer festivals in Vic with train loads of people arriving from Melbourne to enjoy a day in the sun listening to some pretty good live acts enjoying a craft beer or twenty. Unbelievably they have managed to have amazing weather every year and not once in its 5 years has it been rained out.

Of course the Melbourne bar scene has expanded and from seemingly just having Mrs Parmas as a beer oasis in the Melbourne CBD desert, we now have a host of bars. However I retain an affection for Mrs Parmas and its somewhere I plan to continue going back to for years to come.

As I ever edge closer to the 2000 mark, I promise myself when I get there I will stop this quest of seeking out new beers and actually settle on beers I like and enjoy instead of constantly trying the weird and wonderful. I’m not sure how realistic this is, as humans I think we like to set and achieve goals and it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m still trying new beers most weeks until the day I final leave this mortal coil.

The craft beer scene in Melbourne is an amazing place. The people are amazing and lovely, at times it feels like one big family with a shared knowledge. It’s a welcoming scene, people are readily accepted into the family without any entry criteria. We now have a couple of newsletters and websites to help us navigate around with the Crafty Pint and Australian Brew News. And currently a craft beer magazine in Froth which is something I feel has been sadly lacking. We now have restaurants that beer match a menu instead of just wine match.

Good Beer Week in Melbourne has grown over the years and we now see an incredible amount of events ending in the amazing GABS festival when over 100 brewers produce a one off beer to try and win the ‘People’s award’. It seems to encourage the weird and wonderful and over the years we’ve seen Christmas Pudding Ale, Milk and Two Sugars, Trifle beers, Coffee beers, Lamington beers and a host of other things you would never have traditionally associated with the medium.

In my spare time when I find any, I continue to homebrew. It’s something I’ve disappointingly found little time for lately but I’ve resolved to make more time for a passion I enjoy in spite of the hard work that goes into producing a relatively small amount. It always nice to create something whether it be something as simple as a meal or as complex as a beer. It’s something I definitely wish to indulge and something that is aided by a very supportive partner who encourages me to indulge my many passions.

Where to from here? Onward and Upward on my quest towards 2000 beers. Of course the reason I can keep count is because of a pretty awesome app called Untappd. My current count is 1746 a number I make light of but it’s incredible to think I’ve had that many unique beers in the last few years. For anyone who is interested my Untappd name is Simmo and I readily accept friends. You can’t have enough of them I say.

I’m hoping to write more as well. I’m not exactly what you’d call prolific but when I get passionate about something I do tend to feel the need to write and I hope to use this website for that purpose, to write about what excites me in this craft beer scene, the people I meet, the things I see and the experiences I have.

Well that’s enough for now and it’s goodbye for now, but not for long.

IJS 27/10/2016

Founders – Breakfast Stout

Date Drunk: 2/5/2015
Style: Oatmeal Stout
Alcohol: 8.3%

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Aroma: Is very enticing with so much going on in the smell. I pick up that lovely dry stout smell, lots of roasted burnt smells and a definite coffee bean roasting hint to it as well.

Appearance: Pours a delicious black colour.

Taste: Just like the aroma really, so much going on. You get that quite nice dry stout finish as this one is drunk. With most stouts it improves for warming up a bit, and this tends to make what you think is quite a harsh stout into a much smoother version. Hides the 8.3% incredibly well. You can tell why this is very highly regarded stout and its one I would highly recommend too. Highly drinkable but whether it is really sessionable is a good question. Purely from an alcohol content point of view its probably not. One is enough for me to treasure.

Taste:                    9/10
Drinkability:       3/5
Price:                     1/3
Availability:        2/4

Rating:                                   64%
Taste and Drinkability:   80%

IJS 2/5/2015

Sail & Anchor Amber Ale

Date Drunk: 1/5/2015
Style: Amber Ale
Alcohol content: 5.0%

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Aroma: A very welcoming dryness emanates from this amber ale. A little bit musty, a little bit malty.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber to an amber brown colour into the glass.

Taste: Plenty of malt in this amber ale. Quite a homely taste to it and how I’d expect an amber ale to taste if I  just picked up the bottle. The body is just about right for the style, not too watery, not too thick. Pick up a few toffee overtones and a delicious malty flavour. Small hints of hoppiness but nothing too identifiable.  Sail and Anchor have just re-branded their range previously every beer had a name attached I think in the case of the Amber Ale it was originally called Boa’s Bind. Tastes better for the re brand.

Taste:              6/10
Drinkability: 3/5
Price:               3/3
Availiability   3/4

Overall:           68%

Liberty – Darkest Day

Date Drunk: 19 April 2015:
Style: Oatmeal Stout
Alcohol: 8%

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Aroma: Not overly powerful on the nose at all. Leaves you with little clue of what you will experience when this hits the taste buds.

Appearance: A welcome black colour encourages you to enter the darkness on a cold rainy miserable Melbourne day.

Taste: Very complex and worth leaving to warm up a little bit. In all truth I served this one too cold so I deliberately left it out to warm out and bring out more of the flavour. Very creamy stout that goes down like velvet. Has a nice dryness to it that seems to remind you this poses quite a big punch. The sweetness gets drawn out the more this warms up.

The hops impart a little hint of grapefruit that adds that extra dimension on top of the roasted flavours. Great body and an absolute treat to drink. Not a session stout but not everyone has to be or should be.

Taste:              9/10
Drinkability: 2/5
Price:               1/3
Availability:  1/4

Rating:                                   59%
Taste and Drinkability:   74%

Cascade Stout

Date Drunk: 17 April 2015
Style: Stout
Alcohol: 5.8%

CasCade Stout

Aroma: All the right aromas going on in this stout. Smells the part, lots of roasted, sweet smells that you’d expect.

Appearance: Very black, two out of two, so far it looks and smells the part.

Taste: The first thing I notice is that it doesn’t taste exactly how i’d expect it to and that in general is no bad thing. However may main concern is the body to this Stout. To me its more of a porter style body in that its hasn’t quite got enough body for my liking. However in spite of that the flavour is very good, delicious tasting stout, great price for a four pack (just over $13) and very sessionable.

Taste:                  6/10
Drinkability:     3/5
Price:                   3/3
Availability:       3/4

Overall:               68%

Epic – Coffee and Fig Stout

Date Drunk: 12 April 2015
Style: Stout
Alcohol: 8%

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Aroma: Pretty much what I’d expect from a good quality Stout, a dry almost chalky smell.

Appearance: Pours a nice deep black colour in the glass

Taste: It tastes exactly what you’d expect to taste like. Definite hints of fig and you get the bitterness you’d expect from the coffee as well. The body is lovely and rounded, thickish but perfectly suits the style. I supped this one as the sunset on a quiet lazy sunday afternoon in front of the footy. This should be savoured and enjoyed. It brings back memories from the UK of late Sunday dinners and the beginning of winter with the heater on. That comforting feeling knowing that you are inside in the warm.

This is really my first dark beer of the autumn and I thoroughly enjoyed it. At $30 a bottle its not cheap but life is for enjoying, not drinking cheap ordinary beer.

This bottle is luxurious and so it should be. The bottleshop guy actually suggested if I liked it I should come back and buy another bottle and cellar it for a couple of year and I may well do.

Taste:                9/10
Drinkability:   4/5
Price:                 0/3
Availability     1/4

Overall                                   64%
Taste and Drinkability:   93%

Steamrail Golden Ale

Date Drunk:  10/4/2015
Style: Golden Ale
Alcohol: 4.5%

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Aroma: Slightly Fruity and particularly dry. Nothing off putting at all but not too much there either.

Appearance: Pours a nice welcoming deep gold colour as in hits the bottom of the glass.

Taste: Quite refreshingly really and a bit unexpected. My understanding is this beer is a house beer for Coles so I wasn’t expecting too much. Very easy drinking, a nice body and not much wrong with this one at all. A very morish flavour that leaves you wanting more.

Taste:               7/10
Drinkability:  4/5
Price:                2/3
Availability:   3/4

Overall:          72%

Cascade Pale

Date Drunk: 7 April 2015
Style: Pale Ale
Alcohol: 4.7%

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Aroma: Not very much going on in the aroma but I do get a hint of stale pub carpet/

Appearance: Pale gold in colour, very much a colour that I associate with a mainstream beer.

Taste:   A little sweet, a little watery in body and nothing flavour wise that really appeals to me in the flavour. Quite a fresh sweet bitterness that makes it hard for me to drink more than one or two of these. Quite a sweet after-taste.

Taste:                2/10
Drinkability:   1/5
Availability:    2/4
Price:                3/3

Overall:           37%

 

Oranjeboom

Date Drunk: 6 April 2015
Style: Lager
Alcohol: 5%

Oranjeboom

Appearance: Interestingly I didn’t really know the colour of this beer because I mainly drink it straight from the bottle however for the purposes of this review, I drunk one from a glass. Poured a pale gold colour, a little head but didn’t hang around for the party at the end.

Aroma: Really not much aroma at all and I couldn’t actually pick any distinct smell at all.

Taste: A little watery in body, no overwhelming taste. Quite a morish beer though and definitely a session beer. Nothing really wrong with this beer, apart from that there isn’t really too much taste. This one certainly leaves you wanting more though.

Taste:                 5/10
Drinkability:    4/5
Availability:     2/4
Price:                 3/3

Overall:            63%

Mornington Pale Ale

Date Drunk: 6 April 2015
Style: American Pale Ale
Alcohol: 4.7%

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Appearance: Pours a nice pale amber colour into the beer glass a very welcoming sight.

Aroma: From the instant you get anywhere near this you get an instant hit of citrus, makes you wonder whether the fruitiness will hang around when you take your first sip.

Taste: The taste is really quite tart with the citrusness dominating the flavour more and more as you drink this pale ale. The fruitiness follows from aroma to taste which is quite comforting. The body is nice and rounded and suits the style. The tastes aren’t too complex really. All in all this is a little too tart to be sessionable.

Taste:                     6/10
Drinkability:        2/5
Availability:         2/4
Price:                     1/3

Overall:                 50%