A Beer Fit For A King (Who Died On A Toilet)

Well, at least you tried

Well, at least you tried

I’m rarely disappointed with craft beer, or brewers willing to experiment. I don’t believe beers has to be made a certain way and I’m completely fine with throwing in things like spices, chocolate, ham flavour or fruit, if only to explore the boundaries and possibilities or beer making. Breweries such as Rogue in the US cast their net far and wide when it comes to producing variety in their range (how great does this Chipotle Ale look?) like little alcoholic Willy Wonka factories. Last year they brought out the Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale, a combination of most of my favourite things, which was followed up this year with the Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale.  The beer is a nod to a certain deep fried snack with these ingredients was favoured by Elvis, which I can totally get behind. The theory is great, but in practice the Voodoo left a lot to be desired.

Imagine all the people

Imagine drinking these.

Remember those chalky banana lollies you’d buy as a kid? Remember that synthetic “banana” taste that wasn’t really anything you’d actually experience in nature, but left a profound impact on your taste-buds and psyche for years to come? One sip of the Voodoo brought it all rushing back. High expectations and crushing disappointment. I wasn’t expecting the artificial, chemical taste at all, nor for it to come across so strongly. There’s plenty of beers out there that achieve the banana taste seemingly by accident, so it’s strange to see how the artificial flavour was pushed so strongly in this beer. There was a hint of the chocolate there, but the lack of bitterness (25IBU, sitting around the range of a pilsner or English ale) and body in the ale left it without any punch. Peanut butter? While a fellow taster had hints of it I couldn’t pick it. The asking price for this one is a tad on the ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME scale of things, which adds another blow to what was an unsatisfying brew.

To cheer everyone up, here’s a video recipe of The King’s delicacy

The Malted Handshake

Batman and Superman. Batman and Robin. Batman vs Judge Dredd. Batman and Future Batman. I’m assuming the last one exists. All great examples of “wouldn’t it be great if…?” thinking with one thing in common: collaboration. And tights. Either as a team or bitter rivals, the results are usually pure fanboy/girl joy – the Alien vs Predator movies notwithstanding. When commercial craft brewers get together for a chat over some beers it seems one thing inevitably leads to another and nine months later a new hybrid brew-baby is born. No need to get into specifics, we all did sex-ed in school right? I was inspired by this post by Girl + Beer to try out a few collaboration beers involving Australian breweries.

Collaborators collaboratin'

Collaborators collaboratin’

Given the selections I made it made sense for the Mountain Goat (Vic)/Brooklyn Brewery (US) Cross Breed Hopfweizenbock to take first drinking honours as the lightest. of the trio. “Lightest” is a relative term in this case being a bock and sitting at a gullet warming 6.5% ABV, not forgetting it’s also a wheat beer. Made in Australia, the Mountain Goat brewers used the grains and yeast used Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyner Weiss, then piling in Tasmanian Galaxy hops to ratchet up the bitterness. As a result the initial aroma has that typical hopped pale ale fruity aroma and cloudy amber appearance in the glass. Anyone whose palate has been torched by overconsumption of German wheat beers (looking at you Weihenstephan) will notice the Hopfweizenbock has a touch more character than your typical hefe, but is still smooth as butter to drink.

Not pictured: Folk-rock band The Mountain Goats - sorry to disappoint.

Not pictured: Folk-rock band The Mountain Goats – sorry to disappoint.

Speaking of Weihenstephan, the second taster is the Temple Brewery (Vic)/Weihenstephan Unifikator Weizenbock again brewed here in Australia. From what I can gather the beer uses Weihenstephan’s own yeast strain (as does the previous Hopfweizenbock) and had input from their Braumeister Frank Peifer plus a bunch of dark German malts, which were then brewed in Australia by Temple Brewing. The result is surprising, and a little disappointing. I’ll admit I’m a fairly shit beer pourer, but sure I can’t have stuffed it up so bad that there was no head! This thing should have been foamy to match the absolute decadence of the beer itself, instead it’s as dead as Batman’s parents. Past the weak carbonation the Unifikator has a golden syrup colour and a fairly subtle fruity aroma, but it’s the flavour that really smacks you in the face. There’s a big cherry influence with a bit of nutty bitterness, definitely sitting on the sweet side of the scale. It would be nice with a big meaty meal, but on its own the whole thing becomes cloying.

Sounds like a Kraftwerk song, isn't.

Sounds like a Kraftwerk song, isn’t.

As recommended by Girl + Beer the final beer is a cracker and not for the faint of heart. Sitting at 14.6% ABV the Moon Dog (Vic)/Kissmeyer Brewing (Denmark) Nordic Saddle Buffer Barrlelly Wine is best not thought of as a beer, or drunk like one for that matter. Apparently the Dutch master brewer Anders Kissmeyer is a bloke who smokes pipes and while making completely out-there beer, so he’s alright in my book. Apart from dumping a whole pile of different malts into this one, the kicker is the “rather long time” the beer spent aging in ex-shiraz and pinot barrels before bottling. I’m really not quite sure what difference this made to the Saddle Buffer, but if I was to hazard a guess I’d say it contributed to the liqueur-esque quality of the beer. It’s murky as hell with little head and smells a lot like caramel. The hop bitterness is subdued and according to the bottle sits at 46 IBU (International Bitterness Units), which was confusing the hell out of me; drinking it is like one of those cartoon fights where all you see in a cloud with punching sounds coming out such is its complexity. It’s very cool to see ridiculously adventurous beers coming out of Australia like this coming out of Australia – even if we needed a little help from the Danes.

Barrelly Wine ... oh I get it.

Barrelly Wine … oh I get it.

With all this collaboration talk, we might as well finish this with the worst collaboration of all time. Enjoy.