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Comment: A Tale of Beer Reviews Part 1 – Brewery Is Best

Should you decide if you like a beer on one tasting?

This past weekend’s lazy Sunday afternoon outing to have a few beers by the sea, ended with the reinforcement of a couple of long held views:

  • The best reviews are not from a single tasting of a beer
  • The best place to first try a beer first, is at the brewery

And all this came from drinking two beers that I’d had before – La Sirene Belgian Praline (6.0%) and Brewcult’s Reset Robot Golden Ale (3.5%).

Beer Review – La Sirene Belgian Praline

Beer - La Sirene Belgian PralineI first tried this beer from La Sirene a few months ago from a bottle at one of my local craft beer bars. I was stunned. And from my first Instagram post I wrote

“Oh my. First entry in the Top Ten of 2015 – and this should be in everyone’s Top 10 forever. This beer is sublime….”

It then went on to appear at number 5 in the Hottest 100 Aussie Beers of 2014, and all was good.

Then I noticed it appearing on draft in a few regional venues, and as draft beer is by far my preferred way to drink beer, I headed off to drink some more of this sublime beer.

But all was not good. In the first bar, the draft version was a shadow of the bottled version. The first time I’d ever encountered that in my beer drinking travels. It was thin and watery, and had very little of the thick chocolatey aroma or taste. So I headed off to another venue a few days later and the draft version was again the same. Dull, lifeless and basically tasteless.

And I wasn’t the only one with the same experience. A few of my fellow beer afficionado’s/drinkers/bloggers said exactly the same. I put the difference down to the fact that the bottled version was conditioned and that secondary fermentation turned an average beer into a stunning beer.

Then this weekend I re-encountered Praline on draft. So I had to try it again, and hoped it would be third time lucky?

“Oh yeh. It was like the bottle version – silky, smooth, creamy, chocolatey, coffeey and downright gorgeous”

Beer Review – Brewcult Reset Robot

Beer - Brewcult Reset Robot Golden AleThis beer I first tried earlier in the week when it was first tapped at one of my local craft beer bars. And as everyone is a fan of Brewcult I was really interested in Hendo’s version of a mid-strength beer.

And it was odd. I wasn’t at all sure about it. It had an initial strange sweet smell and hop taste with a very dry finish, with the odd grassy aroma after a while. The aromas and tastes were all over the place.

Again, I wasn’t the only one that was confused and underwhelmed on tasting it.

Then, in the same bar, I thought I’d try it again and it was also a completely different tasting beer. Even though it was the same beer, from the same keg, through the same tap in the same venue. I loved it. Complex, great subtle hop aromas, light drinking but flavoursome and very moreish.

Two very different beers, with one being great on the first tasting, average on the second and third tastings, then great again. And one that was average on the first tasting, then great.

All of which reinforced some of my views on beer tasting.

Best at the Brewery

If you really want to know how a beer should taste, then I stand by my long held view that you should try it first at the brewery, metres from where it was brewed and where the brewer ensures that it’s the best beer it can be.

4 Pines Brewery, ManlyAt the brewery it will be in the best condition possible, and you usually get a chance to talk to the brewer who will talk you through the ingredients, the brewing process and the aromas and tastes they are trying to achieve.

And this is why we have our Brewery Tours so you can visit the breweries and taste the beers at their source.

You may not like a beer, but that’s a personal preference, rather than an issue with the quality of the beer. And we can’t like every beer we try.

Then you know that when you try a beer in a bar how it should taste. And if it’s different, then that’s an issue with the distribution and/or the ability of the bar to serve the beer as it should be.

These two instances also brought forward the realisation of some thoughts I’ve been having around:
– The big impact of social media beer reviews on breweries and bars
– The variance in the journey of a beer from the brewery to your glass.

which I’ll cover in Part 2 in the next few days.