Sunday, November 18, 2012

BEER REVIEW - Lord Nelson Brewery Three Sheets Pale Ale

The usual review I do is to say "good", bad" or "ugly", but I thought it's time I did a beer review all proper like, describing the beer according to fruit and spices which do not actually influence the taste of the beer (or even exist in the beer), but I must say that I really don't want to get all wanky in describing a beer in a way in which no one recognises.  Simply put, I don't want to be a beer tasting wanker, or any sort of wanker, come to think of it.

Like, for example, Dan Murphys review of James Squire's Four Wives Pilsner (when I hear four wives, all I hear is "four mother-in-laws"), which starts off with "In keeping with James Squires' bohemian approach to life". WTF?! They actually paid someone to write this crap?! I write crap, where's my commission? In any case, I do need to accurately describe what i'm tasting, so i'll have a crack at it based on some basic principles of beer reviewing, while doing my best not to come across as a complete knob.

Anyway, to the Lord Nelson Brewery Three Sheets Pale Ale.  Pouring the beer, i notice, unlike many pale ales, this one is actually pale!  A good pale golden colour, very much a "blonde", it is clear with a fine head and good head retention (not that there will be anything left to have a head on for much longer).

Bringing the beer to my nose, I notice a sweetish, fragrant smell, which is quite distinct, yet very much Australian.  It has a very floral hop profile, while the yeast is vaguely fruity.

Taking a deep sip of the beer (okay, a chug), the taste resembles the smell, with a pleasant lingering aftertaste that has me, wait...mmm, very nice.  Where was I?  Oh, yeah, the taste.  The hops balances out the sweet fragrance of the beer, but not to the extent that you can taste it.  Sounds to me like a perfectly balanced beer.  It really tastes like going back in time to when the Lord Nelson was a wee pub in the early 19th century, with beer served by real wenches, hopefully minus the smallpox.  I would go as far as calling this beer the quintessential Australian beer, even though I fail to visualise a single Aussie beer quite like it.  I quite love Coopers, but this is even better.

It's difficult to identify a feature of the beer, because it is not distinctly hoppy, malty, or yeasty (and thank god not watery!), but it has a balance of all three.  I find it better to concentrate on a particular feature when making my own beer, so that it can stand on that basis, but more so so it can succeed in one feature, rather than try to succeed in all three, and yet, this beer manages to do exactly that.  I in fact am trying to culture its yeast to try and replicate its distinct taste, but i'm a long way from achieving that.  Maybe if I have some more beer, it will reproduce the flavour profile out of sympathy for my worthy cause.  Wench, bring me more beer!!!  Wench?  Anybody?

More than being well-balanced, it is full-bodied, yet not too heavy, and smooth.  It's good enough to want twenty more of these to fully appreciate the taste (all in the name of research, of course), because I feel that this beer is not only a good accompaniment to a meal, but I this it would be a mighty fine session beer as well.  It is sufficiently carbonated, yet not overly so, making it perfect for having with a meal so as not to make you bloated (although the twenty after may do).  I think it would go quite well with fish.  Yes, I think fish would go very well, although I think beef, chicken, pork , duck, peanuts, stink bugs or pretty much well anything would go quite well with such a fine ale.

So, Lord Nelson, where's my free beer?  I said all the right things, and I even believed it!  Damn those bottle shops and their limited hours!  Can I survive until breakfast?

Anyway, overall, this is simply one of the great Australian beers, and anyone who criticises Australian beer based on Fosters, simply must taste this beer to make a fair judgement.  After all, we export it because we sure as hell don't want to drink it!

This beer is, quite simply, excellent.  As an unpretentious beer, this is worth every one of the four stars I give it out of five, and i'm being far too harsh.  Bugger it, four and a half!

As I polish off the last of this fine ale, I notice , surrounding the man himself, a motto that demands my attention - "Every man must do his duty".  How very true.  I must drink every last one of them.  Next!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

(Distant) Happy Memories of Amato's Beer Tasting - Part IV

Well, I have to finish what i start (especially beer), so it's time i finished reviewing the multitude of beers I studiously drank some weeks ago at Amato's.

Where was I? Ah, Franziskaner Weissbier!

At long last, I get to this beer with high hopes.  615 years can't be wrong, and it didn't fail to impress.  Having once tried in the distant past, I had fond but faint memories of a fine beer.  I took one drink, which begat another, and I wondered out loud what that familiar taste was.  "Bananas", said the wench lady behind the bar table, and because it tasted good, bananas were good.  Some might run a mile hearing bananas mentioned in the same breath as beer, but having tried it, it was like they were meant to be together.  Not at all sweet, it was finely balanced, but had those great qualities of a fine head and smooth, pleasant aftertaste.  The best beer of the day.

What could possibly be better?  Franziskaner Kristalbier, of course!  The same beer, but filtered!  And yet...

It was not as good.  A fine beer, to be sure, but somehow the filtering removed not only the solids, hence cloudiness, but the taste as well.  No more bananas.  Surprisingly, this was disappointing.  This would probably more please the average punter, but beer is not water, and beer need not be clear to be fine, healthy, and pure.

That reminds me of a story my dear departed father once told me of his European tour of 1976.  In particular, Germany.  Dad went to visit his childhood pen friend, and upon meeting her father, Carl, they proceeded to the pub, as you do.  Dad, not speaking much German, and Carl not speaking any English whatsoever, proceeded to communicate through their common language - beer.

Asked what beer to be served, Dad shrugged his shoulders as if to say "any", but more likely "i have no idea what you are talking about".  After a couple of carefully enjoyed mouthfuls, Carl turned to Dad and tried to ask what he thought of the German beer he had been served.  Not readily understanding what was said, he eventually figured out that he was asking what he thought of the beer.  Perhaps realising that he could say anything as Carl did not speak a word of English, he replied..."water".

Carl looked at him blankly, trying to figure out what the reply meant.  "Water"?  Water.  A look of horror then appeared on Carl's face.  "Wasser?!  WASSER!!!?!  Thirty years of post-war reconciliation up in smoke.  Dad, perhaps foreseeing pitchforks, laughed and assured it was only a joke.  Nothing twenty pints couldn't fix, apparently.

Anyway, back to the beer.  Following one of the great beers was always going to be difficult, so I tried another German beer, Stiegl.  Clean and crisp, it was somewhat generic, and watery.  Uh-oh, there's that word again.  Just joking, my pitchfork-wielding Deutsch friends!

My virtual beer tour of the world continued, to the first table which I passed on my first round.  This table had beers from Spain and Cuba!  First up was the Estrella Galcia from Spain.  I didn't know what to expect, only that it might be similar to Mexican beers as its most obvious inspiration.  But no, Corona this was not.  Not a lemon or lime wedge in sight!  That of course is a good thing, as it indicates that the beer is confident in its own taste, not requiring fruit to give it some taste.  It had substantially more depth, was slightly cloudy from memory (or was that my brain that was by this stage cloudy?), and was refreshing and well-balanced.  A worthy beer.

Next, Cuban beer.  What could I expect here?  Rum-laced?  Bitterness that tasted like Cuban cigars?  The Bucanero Fuerte (translated to "strong Bucaneer") sounds like a great name for a beer.  What could possibly go wrong?

I partook.  Alcohol wafted from my nostrils.  The room swirled.  Angels sang.  The only thing clear by this stage was the haze that enveloped my being.  A beer indistinguishable from rum.  How apt.  My sobriety has indeed been pillaged.  No more beer tasting for me.  "At least until tomorrow", I slurred.