Epic Epicurean Coffee and Fig 2013 Imperial Oatmeal Stout

Last night I opened this wonderful bottle that I acquired on Friday (the only reason I didn’t open it then was the 10k Melbourne Marathon even I ran on early Sunday morning).

Epic Epicurean Coffee and Fig 2013

It was delicious. The fig really came through and lent a nice sweetness to contrast with the bitterness. I’m now wondering why I don’t make things with figs more often….

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 2012 Oatmeal Stout

This, my friends, was good. Supremely drinkable with great flavour, colour and body. I want more of them. We have a bit of a saying around here that the Sierra Nevada brew of any style of beer is a rather good definition of that style – and this is no exception. If you feel like a good oatmeal stout, go grab one of these and you won’t be disappointed.

Wilde Gluten Free Pale Ale

I have a number of friends who are gluten intolerant, so I’ve taken one from the team and grabbed a few gluten free beers available locally to try. The Wilde Gluten Free Pale Ale wasn’t bad, and although does have that distinctive taste of a gluten free beer, certainly wasn’t offputting. I’d put this around what’ you’d expect from a more mass produced pale ale.

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Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

Another Vegan beer from Samuel Smith with the nice Vegan symbol on the back and everything. This isn’t a heavy stout, it’s quite lite and consuming more than one pint wouldn’t be taxing at all. The oatmeal part is not overwhelming, providing a subtle flavour more than overpowering the rest of the beer. A quite nice midweek beer.


Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Tadcaster Taddy Porter

I had this one a few days ago. When I was last in Acland Cellars I saw a bunch of Samuel Smith’s beer, and I noticed the small Vegan symbol on the back. Not one to shy away from vegan beer, I bought one of each I could see.

Beer doesn’t have to be explicitly labelled to be vegan, basically what you’re wanting to avoid is isinglass (obtained from dried swim bladders from fish) that is used as a fining agent.

Pro tip: if your beer has a bit of sediment in it (like Coopers does), it’s near 100% likely to be vegan (barring honey or somebody inventing a way to put bacon in beer).

A fining agent will accelerate the settling (clarification) of beer. If you’ve ever bottled your own homebrew, you’ll have noticed that the first 90% of bottles look a lot clearer than the last 10% (here you’re starting to stir up the sediment at the bottom of the brewing vessel). This then settles in the bottle and isn’t a problem – just don’t drink the last half mouthful. This is natural beer – “bottle conditioned”. Mass produced beers (think VB/Carlton/XXXX, not Coopers) are likely to use a fining agent such as isinglass as this enables them to pump out the beer quicker and not have to produce bottles that can withstand the pressure of secondary fermentation.

Pro tip: “bottle conditioned” likely means vegan too.

Basically, being vegan is a great excuse to not drink lots of shit beer.

Anyway, this is the beer I had the other night, and it was quite a pleasant porter. yay!

Loveday’s Ginger Beer

In my search for the best alcoholic ginger beer I’ve been mostly disappointed. I’m pretty sure Bundaberg takes the cake for non-alcoholic ginger beer and is unlikely to ever be beaten in both quality and availability. I had Loveday’s Ginger beer a couple of weeks ago and it was okay, but I think the Matso‘s still takes the cake for alcoholic ginger beer.


Brasserie Dieu due Ciel! Peche Mortel

It’s from Canada, not France. Although it’s certainly from a more French part of Canada. This was a nice imperial coffee stout. The coffee flavour was not overwhelming in any way, it was this nice pervasive hint . At 9.5% it’s strong in alcohol and the flavour is also nice and strong, although not overwhelming. I’d certainly have this one again.


Hargraves Hill Extra Special Bitter

I think this has to be one of my favourites. I  don’t get to have it often, but it has such a wonderful flavour: strong, not overwhelming and a wonderful example of what an Extra Special Bitter should be. I know you can get it on tap at Mrs Parmas in Melbourne, although I swear I’ve found it at other places too – and anyone who doesn’t mind an ESB should certainly give this one a try.


Kiuchi Brewery’s Espresso Stout

My first beer from Japan! This pours nice and thick. This Espresso Stout is black like my heart and is thick like the phrase “Guinness is a meal” would lead you to believe (rather than the sad reality that is Guinness these days).

While I can’t really detect the espresso in the smell of this one (although once it warmed up a bit I could), I can in the taste. Halfway through a mouthful you’re certainly going “mmm… espresso-y”.

This was quite enjoyable. I’m not sure if I could drink more than one (I probably couldn’t), and it doesn’t match the whatever it was I had through a coffee bean filled Randy at Mountain Goat a while ago, but it’s certainly nice.

Yes folks, there can be good beer come out of Japan.