Monday, May 23, 2011

Good Beer Week - Doin’ it Moon Dog Style

It’s no secret that I’m a little bit obsessed with the beer from the Moon Dog boys. It’s also no secret why, if you’ve had any of their beers then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I don’t want to discuss it. On with the beers!

In no particular order;
The George Freeth Memorial Tropical Brown Ale
Even though as a brewery Moon Dog is relatively young, they have already established a reputation and an understanding that what they produce will be bold, unique and extreme.
So the idea of a coconut-pineapple brown ale was not out of the realms of expectation for Moon Dog, or even of onlookers. 
The aroma had the nutty coconut nose to it but only floating just above a lovely, sweet malt aroma. Now, the taste was something quite extraordinary.
The pineapple is always there, the coconut is always there. Most importantly it’s a really excellent big bodied brown ale that would stand up on it’s own with no difficulty at all. The genius to this beer is that it ties all these strong elements together and presents a superbly balanced coconut-pineapple-brown ale. 
Mrs Parmas came up with a Hawaiian Parma that complimented The George Freeth like a dream. 
A very special beer. 

Cock Sockin’ Ball Knockin’ Chipotle Stout
This just.....well I don’t see there’s....
Let me start again by going straight into the beer. 
Straight out of the tap this beer has a big, warming aroma that establishes anticipation that makes your mouth water. 
Then your eyes water, and you realize it’s the chipotle kicking in. 
This is a really classy stout with a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel. A stout with a big malty body, and hints of coffee and chocolate. Let it warm up a little and you see a little more chocolate wander along, closely followed by a hint of cherry but never leaving behind the chipotle finish that rounds out the experience. 
A classy, solid, highly drinkable stout.
The Local Taphouse also ran this beer through it’s own Funky Brewster crammed with chipotle peppers and cascade hops. And believe me, this is the game changer. 
Clearly this brings a huge chili heat to the beer, but it never overpowers the stout flavour. All of a sudden the chipotle flavour brutishly pulls up cherry and coconut flavours and you have an extremely bold, extremely Moon Dog version of a big stout. 
Whilst warm this beer is phenomenal.

The Artisan Poser
Doctored image? You decide.
It seems funny to think that Moon Dog would have a “classic” beer, but this certainly fits that mould. 
A honey roasted spiced imperial pumpkin ale is the correct description of this arrangement of flavours, and it doesn’t fail on any of those promised components. 
This smooth, spiced ale is highly sessionable. In fact, I wish I had one right now. A perfect winter-warming beer that is distinct, but has a lot of subtlety swirling around it. A visual treat, this beer doesn’t hold back on anything. The pumpkin flavour is fresh and wonderful, and this is balanced some sweet spices and a beautiful malt character. 
Let it warm to get the Moon Doggedness truly show itself with all the character becoming more apparent. More malty sweetness, more fresh pumpkin flavour and more sweet spices lift to the surface and highlights just what these lads can do. 
I’m gutted that I only managed to snag one pint this time around. I’ll try harder next time. 

Raindrops On Roses, and Hairs On Chests
A beast of an IPA. Not just any IPA though. Rose petals and rose water are used to calm it down a little bit, but at around 11% ABV this still has some attitude.  
As an IPA loving hop-head, reading the description of this beer conjured a great deal of anticipation for me. Then I found out it was going to be on at Penny Blue going through the handpump. I nearly cried (of joy, I assure you).
I wandered off down Elizabeth St. at 4pm after work on the Tuesday before I met Rian for some Crafty Crawl work at about six. 
Two hours I would have to enjoy the Raindrops on Roses! The joy!
But alas, when I did arrive there was nobody who could change the keg. I nearly cried again (not of joy this time).
I returned on the Wednesday I was certainly not disappointed. 
A lovely hoppy aroma greeted me out of the glass with a hint of rose sneaking through. 
The taste had me at hello. It’s a big, hop driven IPA with a smooth, sweet malt body. It really hides the ABV (which might be dangerous) tasting more like an 8% at most. The subtle rose character is a really interesting way to soften the big, mean IPA attack and really does compliment it well. 
I described it to a couple of people as a less harsh version of BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA, but with the rose infusion. Does that help anyone? Probably not. I don’t know why I mentioned it. 
This IPA was enhanced by the fact that Penny Blue were running it out of the handpump. So smooth. The way this kind of beer should be!
I may have gone back each day until it was out...

The Black Lung
A mighty impressive, mighty barrel aged porter. 
A hot contender for my favourite Moon Dog beer from Good Beer Week. Hmm? You don’t care which was my favourite? I figured as much. 
The Black Lung is bold from go to woe. A barrel aged smokey porter. It just sounds good doesn’t it?
It’s a real trophy to look at. It was almost a shame to take the first sip as it slightly ruined the perfect picture.
It’s a sessionably (beside a fireplace with a pipe and a robe kind of sessionability) solid porter but has the beautifully smoky character in the aroma. 
The bourbon aged characteristic is immediate before it settles down into a glorious, rich, malty porter that consumes every thought until the glass is empty.
The Black Lung is the kind of beer that can make you forget that you didn’t actually pay for anything at Josie Bones before you left and have to call up the next day and sheepishly give over credit card details...
No, forget that. This beer isn’t anything like that. 

The Abbotsford Collaboration Ale
This article wouldn’t be complete without mention of the collaboration ale that Moon Dog were a part of, known as the “Abbey Collabbey” to it’s friends. 
Moon Dog, Mountain Goat and Matilda Bay put their wonderful heads together to concoct something would have a little piece of each of them inside a pint glass, and the result was remarkably successful.
A dark Belgian Dubbel was agreed upon as the style they would produce, but the Moon Dog paw print was set down in the form of belgian waffles and raisins added to the brew. 
At the launch at the Mountain Goat Brewery the Abbey Collabbey was being poured very cold which revealed a really interesting dubbel, but it wasn’t until it warmed up until the real  delights of this beer were revealed.
A lot is happening in this beer, with the waffle flavour coming on and the mixed spiced flavours from the raisins and dark sugars becoming more apparent. 
This beer has got the drinkability that you would associate with Matilda Bay, the outlandish flavours of Moon Dog, and when this is combined it just feels like a Mountain Goat beer. 
Quite a remarkable beer, and one that I will be seeking out again before it runs out. 
In summary we’ve seen some flexing of the muscles of Moon Dog and we’ve been shown just what these guys can really do. If you’re not excited by them then I don’t know what it takes to excite you. 
Once these guys hit full production there will be good times had by all.
I will be buying a hell of a lot of Moon Dog beer.
End transmission.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Beer Week: The Adventures of Captain Blackbeer & Long John Pilsner #1

DAY ONE: Moondog's & Craftymen.

'Twas late one evening in a small port-side tavern in Barbados, I was sipping mead from my tankard and casting my eyes upon some fine local wenches, when a old, sea-weathered pirate pulled up a stool at my table, his body crooked from battle, his face telling a thousand stories through each scar and wrinkle. From under his beaten hat, he pulled a tattered map, coughed into his sleeve then looked me straight in me good eye and said "Over the seas, there be a port called Melbourne-on-Yarra... If you be brave enough to find it, you'll be finding Ol' Crafty's treasure... " He handed me the map, which I accepted hesitantly. I studied it carefully, twas like no map I'd seen before, but it bared the unmistakable mark of Good Beer Week... I'd heard tales of riches untold from Good Beer Week, and the legendary Ol' Crafty. But Ol' Crafty was a cunning operator, he'd spread his hidden treasure across the great port of Melbourne-On-Yarra. I looked up from the map to find the old, weatherbeaten pirate gone... as had the local wenches, come to think of it... cheeky bastard...

That night, upon my ship, the Imperial Black Pale, I lay awake in my quarters, unable to avert my eye from the map. Could it be done? Could all the treasure be found by one man? I couldn't do it alone, I'd need a crew. I needed to go for a walk, to clear my head. Twas not long before I found my crew. One man. Long John Pilsner. As I walked along the waterfront of the port, my eye fell upon him looting a local mead house, loading barrel after barrel of mead and ale onto his ship singlehandedly. After a sharing of stories and mead, he agreed to join me, so long as the booty was split 50/50 and I kept my hands off his stash of mead.

A month later, we caught first glimpse of Melbourne-on-Yarra, as we sailed the Imperial Black Pale into Port Cookie. This be a port that was not readied for the likes of two of the ocean's fiercest pirates, but with a long quest ahead, we made certain not to draw further attention, so we chose a dim lit corner and ordered two Bridge Rd Brewery Dog's Breakfast, and settled in to study the map further.

Long John Pilsner was the first to taste this hearty brew.
"Oi, Captain, this be the finest breakfast beer I've had in all me times, this'd be lovely with a plate of fried mutton and eggs. Get that smoky lager down yer" he bellowed across the table. I took my own sip. He'd be right. What balance of flavours and depth in texture. It reminded me of the kind of breakfasts my old Mam used to make, before I sold her for 12 gold pieces and a flagon of ale.
"Aye, cracking beer be this Dog's Breakfast, fantastic for a dark lager", I offered in return.

After much heated discussion and cutlass wielding, we both decided to set sail for our first treasure ground, Mrs Parma's Cove. The seas were treacherous, but we were able to parallel park our ship relatively close to the mouth of the cove. We were getting close to fortune and glory. If the old pirate's tattered Good Beer Week map was true, we would find the precious George Freeth Memorial Tropical Brown Ale from Moondog. We entered the Cove's only tavern with swords drawn, but were met with other seafarers who'd come to seek refreshment and were not interested in trouble. Out of respect, we returned our swords to their sheaths, and found a table.

One of the tavern maids called us over for a quiet word. "You come seeking the Tropical Brown Ale?"
"ye knows too much to be talkin' bout the Moondog in these parts" I scowled, hoping the other seafarers in the room had not heard her question. Pilsner pulled me away, offering his apologies, "Aye, tis the brown ale we seek, wench." he followed with. She smiled at him in a way that displayed her full set of white teeth, something we seafarers need not the luxury of. She opened up a small cabinet and removed two tankards. Then filled them with ale, ordering the young boy from the kitchen to fix us some parma fare. The George Freeth Memorial Tropical Brown Ale from Moondog was ours! Our first treasure on this long voyage! We marveled at how well balanced it was, like a calm ocean of pineapple, coconut and malt flavours, and it was delicious plain sailing right to the bottom of the tankard. This was truly an ale to live up to the legend. As we gathered up as much as we could fill a glass with, we spotted Karl Moondog himself... another fierce pirate, a pirate who's treasure we had been consuming, right under his nose. We made a mad dash for the Imperial Black Pale, loaded up our treasure and set sail again for Local Taphouse Island.

Local Taphouse Island has been home to many ale swillin' pirates over the years. It's tavern was reknown across many lands as one of the finest taverns a pirate could drink in. Our success so far with the map had meant expectation of another fine haul had risen amongst myself and Pilsner. It would be an easy pillage, and I could almost taste the Cocksockin' Ball Knockin' Imperial Stout, again from Moondog, the map had promised. We approached the bar, cap in hand and gold pieces a-ready and there it was, the second treasure we had come in search of. Ol' Crafty's Golden Ale Chalice.

Long John Pilsner and I danced a merry jig and ordered a flagon of the prized Moondog Imperial Stout. Local Alchemists had infused the stout with chipolte, which left a mighty after-burn, redder than any beard i'd come across. Such complexity of flavour, with the heat bringing out cherry and subtle chocolate undertones. Twas an ale i'd turn my back on any number of tavern wenches for. And so it was, with chalice and our second Moondog in hand, we boarded the Pale and set of into the darkness of the night... with many more treasure to uncover in the course of the week, two pirates shall take some much needed downtime..... be continued....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hip Hops and Malt Rocks (8 Songs About Beer for GBW)

With Good Beer Week almost upon us, the lads from Melbourne musical comedy duo, Elbow Skin has released the anthem for GBW, an epic and often beautiful ode to the nectar of the gods. I've caught myself far too often in the last week singing the song to myself and getting this catchy tune stuck in my head like a bad pop song. So, with GBW very quickly approaching, I've decided to throw together a completely unofficial, unsanctioned From Beer To Eternity Good Beer Week soundtrack.

But to kick off proceedings, here's the brilliant effort from local lads Elbow Skin.

Track 1. - Elbow Skin - Beer Song

Filmed on location in some of Melbourne's finest beer houses and breweries, see how many you can recognize.

Track 2. - Reel Big Fish - Beer

9/10 American drinkers recommend listening to Reel Big Fish whilst playing beer pong, so here they are.

Track 3. - Alestorm - Nancy The Tavern Wench

So its a song from a Scottish pirate metal band, with a beery name, singing like a pirate about beer... it ticks every box.

Track 4. - Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies

Irish folk and punk rock are by far the easiest genres of music to drink to, here's Flogging Molly killing two drunk birds with one blarney stone.

Track 5. - Hilltop Hoods - What a Great Night.

Slight change in direction now (about 180 degrees of change) with Australian Hip Hop royalty...

Track 6. - Korpiklaani - Happy Little Boozer

Finnish Folk Metal stalwarts, Korpiklaani seem to be a band who enjoy their beer, given that a majority of their songs are about beer, and thus, deserve their place on the soundtrack.

Track 7. - Gogol Bordello - Alcohol

Gypsy punks can beer too.... This song reminds me of every hangover I've ever had.... perfect for Good Beer Week.

Track 8. - Pub With No Beer - Slim Dusty

Love it or hate it... ol' Slim has a point, and no compilation of Beer songs for an Australian Beer week would be complete without him.