Friday, 9 September 2011

Beer of the Week - Cavalier Weizen

Hefeweizen - 5%

I was first acquainted with this beer at Victorian Microbrewery Awards at Fed Square in Melbourne earlier this year and I enjoyed it so much I used three of my twenty sample tokens just on refills of this pleasing Hefeweizen.  It looks like I wasn’t the only one to enjoy it as the beer was voted both the People’s Choice and Best Wheat Beer at the event.  I left Fed Square with this fair Fraulein at top of my hit list.

Sadly this beer turned out to be harder to find than Osama, the search culminating in an ill advised invasion (Blackhearts & Sparrows in St Kilda) under false pretexts (“I’ll only be a second baby, just buying bottle of wine for my uncle’s birthday...”).  Having just polished the bottle off I can happily say it lives up to the memory, the guys at Cavalier have crafted a Hefeweizen of which Georg Schneider himself would approve.

The ample head is such a pure white, it would give the irritating twat from the Napisan ads an inferiority complex, this glorious, nay angelic, head crowns a almost startlingly clear golden body and leaves iceberg-like chunks of lace which never truly dissipate.  A nice dusting of yeast rests like silt upon the bottom of the glass.
The nose is really sweet with candied banana to the fore with a little vanilla and a freshly cut grass character.

The flavour is a decent balance between sweetness and tartness with nice bubblegum notes backed by bready characteristics and finishing with a bit of a zesty, lemony zing.  The tartness comes off a little abrasive but I don’t mind, it gives this hefe some balls, which is a good thing as many attempts at this style come off a bit weak, tending to be watery and lacking in assertive flavour.

The beer has a creamy mouthfeel, with medium body and carbonation, it goes down really easily.  Hefeweizens are at their best over a summer’s lunch and just the taste of this beer after so many months of Stouts and Porters has me anticipating the warm days to come.  

Cavalier itself is a very new brewery having only begun operations earlier this year in Melbourne, they are really small-scale at the present, batch numbers are handwritten on the bottles, so I’m not sure if any of their wares are available outside the state yet.  They also offer a Pale Ale which is brewed with Nelson Sauvin Hops and an American Brown Ale.  This is brewery I’m going to be watching with great interest...

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Beer of the Week - Red Duck Belgian Vanilla Porter

Belgian Porter - 6.5%
My fondness for Red Duck beers began with their lovely IPA, The Bengal so when I saw the impending release of three dark beers some weeks ago it didn’t take much convincing to go and seek them out.  This is the second of the seasonals I’ve tried the first being the Queen Bee which bills itself as a honey Porter.  Nice enough but I felt that the honey flavours just weren’t as apparent as they should be in something which sounds as appealing as the words honey and porter would suggest.
The Belgian Vanilla Porter though, this is on another level.  Luxuriant is the only word that can be used to describe it, like the Murray’s Best Extra from a few weeks back this is a dessert style porter, a good weapon to deploy when someone asks for a port or fortified wine.
Pours very dark with little in the way of any highlights, the head vanishes quickly, replaced by a spider web of latte coloured lace.  From appearances there seems to be a fairly high amount of carbonation for the style, with tiny bubbles breaking the surface in rapid succession, almost like a Belgian Strong Golden Ale, although this may be more due to the glass I’m using (Chimay Goblet).

The aroma is enticing; the most dominant characters are candied banana from the Belgian yeasts and sweet banana.  Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t some sickly sweet novelty, there is a solid chocolaty malt hiding beneath and a slight hint of cherry.  There is a definite boozy character wafting from the glass too.
The flavour is rich and malty, starting sweet with vanilla twinned to cocoa, the tartness of cherries and presence of alcohol reminds me of a cherry-ripe chocolate bar and prevent the beer from becoming unbalanced.  The finish is drawn out and smooth with a warming, malty flavour reminiscent of a hot chocolate.       
The carbonation I observed earlier doesn’t really make itself too apparent in the mouthfeel which is smooth and mouth coating with a medium body, it seductively dominates the palate like some fast talking, fur coat wearing, ivory cane wielding pimp.  This is highly recommended, I feel it would be a good gateway beer to introduce, over dessert, to a female friend whom wouldn't normally drink beer, especially one as dark as this.