Review #5 – Atlas Super Strong 12%

It’s not as bad as it looks. It’s considerably worse.

Atlas Strong Beer – Strong Pale Lager, 12% abv./ InBev Breweries, Breda, Netherlands/ $7 per 500ml can.

It can be expensive being a beer snob. So, starting today, I’ll be trying once a week to visit the forgotten and unfashionable end of the shelf, trying to find something affordable and drinkable – or at lest non-toxic – amongst the unloved inhabitants of the savage black heart of the local bottle shop. I’m hoping ‘tight-arse Tuesday’ catches on, though not to the extent where a certain pizza chain decides it has grounds to sue for breach of intellectual property rights. Continue reading

Review #4 – Fat Yak Pale Ale

From the label: “This garage engineered beer is golden in colour and has sizable floral aroma. We added hops to the kettle early and late to balance the bitterness, while dry hopping late in the fermentation delivers some big citrus and fruity hop character. Drink it any time of the year.”

Matilda Bay Brewing Company, Fat Yak Pale Ale (APA) – 4.7% abv., (Dandenong, Vic., Australia). $15/6 x 345ml bottles.

I’m trying to like this one, I really am. I can only assume I managed to acquire a less than stellar batch (the quality of this one has apparently varied fairly widely over the last few years) but it’s not easy. The aroma has a slight citrus note but there’s something fighting it that’s a bit fruity and funky, passionfruit maybe or ripe banana. It looks fine though, the colour is a dark golden amber with a slight haze and a thinnish white head that clears to a filmy ring within a minute. The mouthfeel is crisp enough but pretty thin with moderate carbonation. The aroma oversells it and it’s a fairly flavourless brew. Very slightly on the hoppy side perhaps, though a malty sweetness does come out toward the bottom of the glass. It fades to a subtle dry and bitter finish. I can’t actually say it’s a poor beer, but I find myself wondering why I’m drinking it when I can find stuff that’s better, more interesting or cheaper and on occasion, in a glorious subset of happenstance, all three. Continue reading

Review #3 – Coopers Vintage Ale (2011)

Looks awful, tastes great

Cooper’s Vintage Ale – Strong English Ale, 7.5% abv., (Regency Park, South Australia). $4/375ml bottle.

To celebrate Australia Day in a slightly more productive way than starting a fight down at the beach or wearing a puke-stained flag like a cape and bleating Oi Oi Oi at passersby, this will be the first of a six-pack of Australian beers I’m testing out over the next week or so. There’s lots of good reasons to start with Coopers – it’s a fiercely independent brewery with what I remember from my misspent youth as the best quality beer in the budget range. Plus most of my homebrew bottles and kits over the years have come from this company. We go back a long way. Continue reading

Review #2 – Tuatara XI

Tuatara XI
Quite black indeed

Tuatara XI – Belgian Black Ale, 10.5% abv., (Wellington, NZ). $11/500ml bottle.

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day, they say, but you do need something to hunker down with and get you through the times when the southerly change comes in and it all goes to crap. So, in recognition of Wellington anniversary weekend I turned to the Tuatara XI which is technically described on the back of the black-writing-on-black-background label as a licorice black Belgian barley wine. It does the trick nicely. Continue reading

Review #1 – Epic Larger

It really brings out the yellow in your walls, too.
From the label: Tigers. Balls of Twine. Pyramids. Waimea Bay waves. Ohakune Carrots. Some things are meant to be big. Flavours. Aromas. Beer. The list is large but we think it should be bigger. There is a time and place for subtlety, for a delicate touch. This is not one of them. Turning the amplifier up to eleven? Yeah, that’s it.

Epic Larger – Imperial Pilsner, 8.5% abv., (Auck., NZ). $11/500ml bottle.

So, finally, here we go. And what better place to start than with a beer recommended by a complete stranger over the internet from half a world away? As it turns out, this is by no means a bad beer. In fact it’s very good, and if you’re a fan of other beers in Epic’s range, you’ll know what to expect and probably find it even better than that. But there is something that bothers me about it, though it did take me a while to figure out what it was. Continue reading