Hargreaves Hill ESB

Total Score: 6.4/10 Earth1Caramel1Nut1Nonicpint1

Hargreaves Hill is one of those breweries who I’ve glanced at and thought “their marketing’s too posh for my tastes, and I’ve got far too many beers to review as it is, so: pass”. However at the very beginning of 2017 I was staying in Yarra Glen (Victoria) and I stopped by for a pint. It was called HOA (which stood for “Hop Oat Ale”) and it was so delicious and creamy textured that I drank a pint in about 5 mins. Then I had to drive 500 meters down the road, so I wasn’t allowed to try any more beers, poo. Fast forward to today and I’ve decided to give them a chance starting with their ESB – which I deemed the hardest style in their core range.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy caramel/amber body with a boisterous 3 centimetre beige head that ever so slowly dissolves leaving lace on the side of the glass. A bit on the cloudy side for an ESB, and that’s one heady, err, head… but otherwise OK. 6/10.

S: Dulcet caramel/toffee malts and a hint of earthy/nutty tones rounds out an ESB that certainly fits the ESB bill fine, however I wonder when the “new world” hops on the bottle label will show up… Christmas? Probably. 7/10.

T: Earthy and dirty upfront (too earthy/dirty IMO), mid-palate comes in with some OK nutty/caramel/toffee characters… then it sort of drops off there with a light herbal bitterness in the finish. Certainly no hops of note – perhaps a bit of hop fade here? But let’s forget about the hops and rate it as a straight up-and-out ESB: It doesn’t compare favourably to most UK ESB’s, but then it does beat out a few Aussie ones… TBH us Aussies seem to be shit at brewing ESB’s… which is a shame because I do love a good ESB, my ESP goes wild for ESB. 6/10.

M: At least the body has a decent heft to it – medium bodied with a thin but active carbonation. 8/10.

D: First tinge of disappointment from Hargreaves Hill after HOA with this lacklustre ESB, and I can tell you exactly where they went wrong with this brew: Relying on the hops to carry a style that is malt-driven – there’s a reason all the tastiest ESB’s work: The malt bill. In an ESB hops are secondary to a decent malt bill and this ESB doesn’t have that. It’s got a slight bit of playful caramel/toffee/nuttiness, but then it’s also got a bit too much earthy/dirtiness… then that light herbal blip in the finish – give me a decent fruity/floral hopping any day in an ESB – that’s where it’s at! 6/10.

Food match: Poultry dishes for this averagESB, think: Duck, goose or pheasant.

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Mornington Peninsula #tinnage004 Nitro Dog’s Bollocks

Total Score: 7.85/10 Caramel1Coriander1Nut1Nonicpint1

Australia’s first nitro charged can! AUSTRALIA’S! FIRST! NITRO! CHA! RGED! C! A! N! Well not [specifically] the one I’m drinking right now, but you get the idea. Hopefully Mornington will have started a wave that spreads across this country like Herpes, because I for one love it [nitro beers, not Herpes]. I’ve often glanced with jealousy across the globe to the UK and wondered “why can’t we nitro beers here in Australia” I mean sure we’ve got bigger problems, but: Nitro! How awesome are nitro beers?! Well most of them are crap, but that’s because of the beer inside – don’t blame the nitro! So here we are – I’m about to put some tasty Dog’s Bollocks in my mouth [bet you never thought that you would ever read that in a sentence – welcome to my gutter, pull up some puke].

Poured from a 330ml nitro-charged can into a nonic pint.

A: “The Nitro Pour: Vertically with Enthusiasm” produces a perfect 1 centimetre cream-coloured nitro head, however it just feels wrong agitating a beer on pouring this much… oh well if it works: do it. Body is a cloudy caramel amber, mmm. 9/10.

S: Sweet, nutty and malty notes come through on the nose – though it is difficult, as with most nitro beers, to pick up the aroma. Hints of macerated figs come through as well. Overall it’s a decent ESB aroma here and I’m looking forward to tucking in on this #tinnage. 7/10.

T: Oooo, this is tasty! Dog’s Bollocks hits the palate with sweet caramel malt, some nuttiness, a touch of dark fruits, and follows through to a slight herbal and floral hop bitterness in the finish. There is a touch of dryness as well. The flavours are well balanced and delightful. I was certainly expecting something salty given the name, but this is one tasty brew. 8/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a tight, but as the drink warmed – decidedly flat carbonation. It’s not quite as good as a widget nitro can, but it does the job nonetheless. 8/10

D: Never before have I wanted to tuck into Dog’s Bollocks so badly, but there you go – hats off to Mornington for delivering well on Australia’s First Nitro Can™. Hey it’s not perfect, it has flaws, however it is a drink I would get again (at least while I can), and no doubt the nitro formula will be perfected here in Oz as more brewers get into it. For bringing this technology to the table we have Mornington to thank – thanks Mornington! 8/10.

Food match: Something pleasant… with pheasant – roast pheasant!

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HopDog Massive Otter ESB

Total Score: 7.45/10 Nut1 Earth1 Orange1 Nonicpint1

I assume this beer contains ‘Maris Otter barley’, otherwise I’m not sure I get the pun. Anyway HopDog (one of Doc’s favourite Australian breweries as you well know by now) has the occasional brew on tap at The Durham Arms, and I never pass up the opportunity to buy a pint of the good stuff – today’s pint is Massive Otter ESB (Extra Special Bitter) and I am looking forward to it if I do say so myself [I just did].

Poured from tap into a nonic pint.

A: Hazy copper body with a half centimetre white head that holds well. So this is what a massive otter looks like, huh. 8/10.

S: Prominent earthy/nutty notes with a strong toffee/caramel base. Some light citric hops linger on in the background but overall the aroma is big and malty, as a decent ESB should be. Top marks HopDog! 8/10.

T: Intriguing, the earthy, nutty, toffee and caramel characters set the scene for a damn tasty brew. But there’s a twist in the tail – with a tangy sour/bitter orange note towards the finish and a touch of pepper as well. My eyebrows are suitably raised… well at least one of them is… by this tasty/tangy/sour/bitter/peppery sensation. One small caveat – it could be a bit more amped up. Right now with this beer the volume is set to 6, which makes for a good session brew, but 11 is where this beer would really kill it for me [kill in a good way of course]. 7/10.

M: Mid to light bodied with a creamy carbonation, très très bien the third, the king of beer carbonation. 9/10.

D: The reason I love HopDog so much is they don’t play by the rules, in fact they threw the rule-book out the window. Then they went outside, picked up the dust covered rule-book, then dusted it off only to pour accelerant all over it and set it on fire. You would think that would be the end of it, but oh no HopDog had to put out the rule-book that was on fire (you see there was a fire ban in place and ironically they follow rules on fire bans, as we all should) so HopDog pissed all over the rule-book promptly putting out the fire – that is why I love HopDog. This brew, whilst not their best is still up there with its interesting earthy/nutty/sour/peppery flavours, not sure if I’ve tried that combination in a brew before, thanks HopDog! “That’s OK Davey” *HopDog winks back at me* 7/10.

Food match: Hmmm, let me thi… lamb stew! Yep, still got it.

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