Newstead Brewing Tinderbox Spring Lager

Total Score: 8.35/10 Flowers1Grapefruit1HopFlower1Weizenglass1

Disclaimer: this beer was gifted to me by the Newstead rep, and he doesn’t even know how much I trash their beers… JK! Jokes aside Newstead have on occasion brewed a decent beer (they are mostly a dark beer brewer for my money*). Lager is not their strong suit AFAIK with this being their first canned Lager, and me only having only been to the brewery twice. Regardless I’m going to give this “Spring Lager” a go through the wringer (aka my taste-buds) and see where it lands.

Poured from a 375ml can into a pilsner glass.

A: Clear golden body, boisterous titanium white head that leaves a decent lashing of lace on the way down, yep this is a looker of a Lager, especially that lace-work inside the glass – proper Pilsner stuff right there. 8/10.

S: Not bad at all! Fresh and floral with a light piney touch, hints of spicy character in the background, and a crisp clean dry cracker malt base. Pretty bang on for a decent Pale Lager, bit crisp and a bit hoppy, good stuff so far. 8/10.

T: Begins dry, finishes dry: in between? Well it reminds me of my good friend Ballistic Dirty Word Lager: floral/earthy/piney hop notes, dry cracker mid, grapefruit, with spicy noble hop character towards that looong dry finish. Newstead have picked a damn good Lager to be similar to: it’s right in that Ballistic/All Inn Consequences zone of craft Lagers that I most like [and importantly: am not yet sick of]. Plenty of hop character in this Lager too, which is most welcome to see/taste. Reckon this might make it on to my rotation now. 9/10.

M: Mid to light bodied, fairly dense carbonation, but a touch on the flatter side, could use a bit more fizz. 7/10.

D: Better than expected. I’ve always considered Newstead to be better at dark beers (their Porter/Amber), I’m not a fan at all of their IPAs and APAs, and I hadn’t even bothered reviewing the Session Ale because it wasn’t going to go well and I’m not a person who likes to outright trash beers [sometimes it’s good for a lark though, looking at you VB]. So it is good to see them do a Lager like this that is at times hop punchy, dry and subtle. Aside from being a solid Lager this another example of Newstead’s recent good form – keep it New up-stead! 8/10.

Food match: Tacos, big spicy tacos, dos capos too – coriander salsa FTW.

*see Doc’s Dark/Light Beer Theory: essentially I categorise that breweries are better at one or the other (or both)… [or neither!].

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Ballistic Dirty Word Lager

Total Score: 8.55/10 GreenMelon1RockMelon1GreenApple1Stein1

[SPOILER ALERT – REVIEW SPOILER IMMINENT, REPEAT: REVIEW SPOILER IMMINENT] Well, I’m glad we got that completely unobtrusive spoiler alert out of the way because I want to say something: I can’t freaking believe I didn’t try this beer when it was first released last year – it’s a real exceptional Lager, and all this time I was thinking it would be ‘meh’ because Lagers generally are ‘meh’, except of course when they aren’t (just like this Ballistic Dirty Word Lager). Anyhow, my face and egg are in alignment due to my missing out on a year of this stellar summer beer, so let us forget about my seemingly ongoing grudge against Lagers in general and move on to the now spoiled review… unless you actually skipped my preamble and went straight to the review part – then good for you.

Poured from a 375ml can into a Löwenbräu stein [my favouritest of all my steins!].

A: Slight hazed golden-straw coloured body with a decent 1 centimetre white head that stands proud and leaves chunky lace on the way down, this here is one finger licking good looking American Pale Lager. 8/10.

S: Dry, and intriguingly spicy, Lager yeast character upfront, honeydew melon notes (as mentioned on the label) with a touch of rockmelon (cantaloupe to US readers) and a slight crisp apple/lemon character lingering in the background. The hop bill is a tasty mix of German (Perle), Australian (Helga) and New Zealand (Motueka, Wakatu) hops and the character of these flowers are captured well in the aroma. 8/10.

T: Crisp upfront dry malt character is cut by a green apple tartness, then the palate mixes in some lemon, lime, honeydew and rockmelon, follows through to an almost Belgian yeast spicy note, finishes long dry with a lick of cut grass bitterness. Overall flavour profile goes through a gamut of characters, but then brings it all back with a moreish dryness in the finish – definitely a cracker of a lawnmower beer. 9/10.

M: Nicely medium bodied with an excitable but not OTT carbonation… there were some burps it must be said, still that body density just works so well. 9/10.

D: The reason this beer works so well, for me at least, is due to the combination of flavours clicking: hops, malt, yeast – everything adds to the flavour in a way that makes it all gel together. TBH I thought I had found my new favourite (and easily obtainable) Lager with All Inn’s Consequences recently, however this Ballistic hedges it in flavour, and price ($16 a 4-pack, hells yeah!). 8/10.

Food match: Bring this to your next hot summers day BBQ, I dare you.

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All Inn Brewing Co Consequences Pale Lager

Total Score: 7.55/10 Lemon1GreenApple1Biscuit1Stein1

After an unfortunate review of Iron Jack Full Strength Lager we move on to a Lager I’m expecting to enjoy from All Inn Brewing Co out of Banyo: Consequences Pale Lager. First off – All Inn’s label art is totally on point! If I owned a brewery I would definitely have artwork like this on my cans: bright, colourful, line-drawn, comic-book art. Wow, love it. These cans stand out and say “drink me Doc!”. “Yes, yes, I will, one at a time please”. Already I’m super keen to crack this can open… and the difference between this and the last beer, night and day, All Inn: canned, looks great, Iron Jack: CLEAR bottle (because UV light isn’t a problem at all folks), shit marketing. Look, I’m going to call it now: All Inn Consequences is the winner tonight.

Poured from a 375ml can into a nonic pint, scrubbed the shaker pint with detergent.

A: Even looks different from the last two – no copy/paste here – with a slight hazed pale straw body and a billowy white sea foam head that leaves a decent amount of lace inside the glass, looking sexy mama. 8/10.

S: Aroma is intriguing, starts out with a lemony/cider apple Kölsch kombo before moving on to bread hints, a dry cracker malt base (and I mean Dry with a capital ‘D’), then it takes a turn towards a slight grainy sweetness and a hint of honey in the finish. Can’t smell anything chemical – this is a Lager made with care (take note Lion-Nathan!). 8/10.

T: Flavour profile is the above flavours: lemon, cider apple, bread hints, long dry cracker centre, with grainy/light honey hints towards the finish. Finishes quite dry, if Hawkeye had quit martinis and wanted a dry Lager he probably would have considered this beer because man it is DRY. Obviously this is one of All Inn’s least exciting beers but it still runs rings around Iron Jack for flavour (and everything else). I only dropped a point back because it needs a touch more character (I get that it’s a dry beer and all, ergo less character, but still that’s where I’m at). 7/10.

M: Mouthfeel is pretty decent, mid to light bodied, with a bit of chewiness and a light but dense enough carbonation. 8/10.

D: This is an easy Lager to like – it’s dry but it’s got a bit of flavour, it’s light but dense, aroma is interesting and not just “the same old thing”. In fact I could see myself buying this again, possibly a case of (in summer). Overall in the pursuit of Senso (Japanese for ‘dry’) All Inn have missed an opportunity for greatness and produced a brew with plenty of decentness. 8/10.

Food match: This is a Lager that is just at home with steak and chips as pulled pork.

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Fonzie Abbott House Beer

Total Score: 6.05/10 Earth1RockMelon1CutGrass1PokalStange1

Welcome to the “Great 2018 Lager Saga”! I’m your host Doctor Doctorson and tonight I’ll be looking at 3 new Lagers. Look I do have a habit of neglecting Lagers a bit with my reviews, it’s just that I’m much more an Ale kind of guy, and when I do fancy a Lager it’s a Doppelbock or a Baltic Porter (which is in fact brewed with Lager yeast) and they’re more like Ales anyhow. Nonetheless, one night a year, usually in the middle of winter when I’ve reached saturation point with Stouts, I take a look at whats new in the Lager-sphere. So first up is from a new brewery: Fonzie Abbott, but wait they roast coffee right? Yep, now they’re doing beer and this “House Beer” is a 3.5% ABV dry-hopped Rye Lager (Ooo! An interesting choice).

Poured from a 375ml can into a US shaker pint (where are my Pilsner glasses at?).

A: A description I am likely to copy/paste for the next two reviews: “Clear golden body with a white cappuccino foam head that settles to a thin blanket, minimal lacing”. Sure looks like a Lager, was expecting maybe a hint of copper from the Rye but nope. 7/10.

S: Light dirty/earthy grains with a crisp cracker middle, and a phantom of grassy hop character lingering in the background haunting all the other guests. It’s a mid-strength so wasn’t expecting an aroma explosion, didn’t get an aroma explosion either – balance is restored. 6/10.

T: Slight dirty/earthy grains, rice cracker middle, hints of melon too (rockmelon) with a thin grassy hop finish leaving a mild aftertaste. It’s not the greatest mid-strength flavour profile, yet it isn’t one of those dreadful “Session IPAs” you may or may not have heard of. Flavour-wise it’s a nice middle ground for those who may need to drive and keep count of their drinks (1 can = 1 standard drink in Australia). The Rye of course makes itself present in the dirty/earthy grain note. I’m always pleased when Rye comes across in the flavour but I’m not sure if it was needed here. 6/10.

M: Thin and slightly watery, can’t be helped in a mid-strength I’m afraid. 6/10.

D: Far from the worst mid-strength but lacking a bit in the flavour/body department compared to other mid-strengths (Rogers, Colonial Small Ale). Still does what it says on the label: a light refreshing 3.5% ABV brew that is smashable on a hot summers day at your mates. One that’ll let you drive home after partaking if you so wish. The Rye felt misplaced, I mean there are better things you could add to be innovative (Saison yeast perhaps?), otherwise this is alright. 6/10.

Food match: Light summery salads with chicken.

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Blackman’s Brewery Zinger Slinger New Zealand Lager

Total Score: 8.2/10 Nut1Passionfruit1WhiteWine1Stein1

The third beer in Blackman’s “Lager Collective” series is exciting for me: Zinger Slinger New Zealand Lager – brewed with a decent roster of NZ hops including: Southern Cross, Riwaka, and one of my old favourites; Motueka hops. Should be an interesting mix with this almost India Pale Lager collection of hops with a solid ABV of 5.8% ABV. Their last Lager Collective brew that I tried (Juicy Banger) was an IPL, and although I wasn’t a fan of that due to the crispness being ill-suited to a sharply bitter hop back note, I’m reckoning that this NZ-style Lager will be a bit more even-handed with the balance. The fact that they haven’t called it an IPL is a good start indeed. Let’s crack this baby!

Poured from a 330ml can into a stein.

A: Niiiice pale golden cloudy body with a crazy white sea foam head on top that leaves some weird lace patterns on the side of the glass, nice and dirty – the way I like my martinis and beers in general. 8/10.

S: Herbaceous passionfruit character mingles with Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand style) grape and an earthy note, with background kumquat lingering on (Motueka you tasty hop you). This is a great and funky smelling NZ Lager – I wish most breweries made beers with character like this Blackman’s brew, it’s a curiosity piquing drop right here. 9/10.

T: Flavour takes it sideways with an odd-but-nonetheless-likable dry nutty character. Was not expecting that. Hints of the aforementioned: herbaceous passionfruit, Sauvignon Blanc grape, earthy tones, and kumquat round out this “unique as brah” NZ Lager. Finish is dry as a Bedouin’s underpants, with a loooong crisp character and mild bitterness. Borderline too flavoursome, if that’s actually a thing that happens… ever. 8/10.

M: Medium(ish) bodied with a light but frizzante carbonation, cloys a touch due to the amount of body it has, but it’s no biggie. 8/10.

D: This is a much better brew than Juicy Banger IPL – balance is spot on, flavours are plentiful and tasty, and more importantly it manages to find an interesting niche as a Lager – which isn’t an easy thing to do given Lagers as a whole can be quite boring and watery (macro Lagers do still make up a huge chunk of the beers sold world-wide). Is this a brew I would revisit again? Yes, yes it certainly is. This is the Matthew Young’s “Hey” of beers. 8/10.

Food match: Earthy nutty flavours always go well with truffle mushroom pizza.

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Kona Brewing Longboard Island Lager

Total Score: 6.95/10 Malt1Honeycomb1Flowers1Stein1

Last in the Kona beers kindly gifted to me by a rep for the purpose of reviewing is: Kona Brewing Longboard Island Lager. Look, I left the Lager till last because let’s face it – I’m not the biggest fan of Lagers in general… unless they have the word “Bock” in them, and they’re really more like Ales anyway. That said – I do know a good Lager when I taste one, and I can appreciate Lagers from long dry Munich Helles to sharply crisp Japanese Lagers, so I’m going to give Kona as fair a chance as I do any brewer and the things I may praise/slam it for are no different to the things I praise/slam in any brew (and my slamming tends to fall into the category of: flavourless or muted). Anyway, cheers to that Kiwi Kona rep – she’s a lovely lass.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a stein.

A: Crazy carbonation and yeast particles floating around suggesting this may have undergone a few fermentations in the bottle. Apart from that it presents with a pleasing pale straw/golden body and a fluffy white 1 centimetre head that slowly decays to a thin blanket. 6/10.

S: Crisp malts mingle with a honeyed scent and light floral hops, rather dry aroma overall and a touch muted… though as far as American Pale Lagers go this isn’t out of the realm of the ordinary. 6/10.

T: Flavour is light right from the beginning, and it never really leaps out at you, however this isn’t the sort of beer you would expect to leap out at you – it’s a “cold-brew-by-the-beach” type of Lager and when I review these I tend to ask “does it have any offensive or off flavours?”. In the case of this Kona the answer is: No. Profile is: Malty, honey and floral. Finish: Long and dry. Aftertaste: Malty. 7/10.

M: Decent body for a 4.6% ABV brew: Almost medium, with a reasonably creamy carbonation, works well with this style – though it can be a touch cloying for those who like crisper bodies. 7/10.

D: Didn’t mind this one at all from Kona Brewing. They’re no Stone Brewing (so get that notion out of your head), they don’t do big beers, but they do easy brews that go down without being close to mind-blowing, and there’s a niche for that (a pretty damn big niche actually!). I like the fact that they’ve positioned themselves in the Hawaii (i.e. tropical island) beer market as there isn’t a huge deal of brews out there that are both a) great on a hot day, and b) not absolutely bland, so kudos Kona for making something A-OK, mahalo! 8/10.

Food match: I’ve said luau before, so… fish, chips and salad peeps.

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Sample Lager

Total Score: 6.25/10 Peach1Barley1CutGrass1Stein1

Another free sample of a Sample Brew, this one a Sample Lager, sample, sample, sample… now that is a lot of samples in one sentence. So I’m not really looking forward to this as their Sample ¾ IPA was watery, ergo: Shit. However it is a free sample, and I do review beers, so what the hell, let’s do this! The label says it has Enigma hops – which apparently give this beer “flavours and aromas from raspberries to Pinot Gris, delivering a truly palatable finish… I’ll believe it when I taste it, if it’s anything like the ¾ IPA I’m going to need a tastescope (a device not yet invented which amplifies taste much like a microscope amplifies a view) to taste this brew.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a stein.

A: Slightly hazed golden body with a generous three centimetre white head that slowly dials itself back. Looks rather much like a Lager in all regards, I like that they don’t use preservatives in their beers – that’s one good thing about Sample Brew at least. 7/10.

S: I’m getting a prominent peach aroma from this, notes of grain and light malt syrup as well as an overall sense of Lager dryness… not bad, a touch on the muted side and lacking complexity, but nowhere near as bad as the ¾ IPA so far. 7/10.

T: Paradoxically heavier and less watery than the ¾, but we’ll get to that next… the peach is there with hints of grain, cut grass, and dry crackers. Finishes reasonably dry with next to no bitterness – yep, classic Lager territory here. Flavourwise it definitely needs a bit more ‘oomph’, however apart from that it’s not terrible and drinkable in the least. These Enigma hops have piqued my interest now. 6/10.

M: Mid to light, a touch watery, with a thin carbonation underlying this brew. It’s nothing to write home about but it gets the job done. 6/10.

D: Well at least Sample redeemed themselves somewhat in my eyes with this rather OK Lager. There’s a few foibles, as noted above, overall if you like peaches (the flavour, not The Stranglers song), which I don’t (the flavour that is, I quite like The Stranglers song), then give this a go. Otherwise there are much better Lagers out there to vie for your attention – here’s some off the top of my head: Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner, Balter Pilsner, Weihenstephaner Original, Kozel Premium, or Moa Methode (although the Moa isn’t a typical Lager – it’s a bit special). 6/10.

Food match: Baked kingfish with steamed vegetables and a light cream sauce.

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