A Brewery in Headlights: Boat Rocker HoppBier


The Hoppbeir is a nod to Northern German style Pilsner. Those classic, quaffable, ridiculously fresh and easy beer garden beers designed to drink in the sun amongst friends, this brew reminds me of sitting in Munich beer gardens in summer time, drinking it by the litre and eating ribs. Classic.

Style: Pilsner

ABV: 4.5%

IBU: 33

$$: $5- $6


Pours a clear, filtered lemon gold with fine white head.

On The Nose:

Fresh, crisp and malty with sweet, floral hop notes also giving some bitters. Getting light citrus and lemon myrtle too with sweet biscuit and toast. Very much reminiscent of classic German Pilsners.


Super refreshing and crisp palate with this fine malt notes from the nose carrying through. Fantastic biscuity toast with light grapefruit zest, lime, sweet candied apple and crisp stone fruits. I could drink this ALL day, so easy.

Final Thoughts:

This is an absolutely outstanding example of a new world pilsner. A perfect beer designed for a hot day in the sun, sipping away, soaking up the rays. This beer isn’t complicated, just extremely easy, fresh and the perfect ode to German Pilsners. With summer fast approaching, I am going to pack my fridge with this…


A Brewery In Headlights: Boat Rocker Brewery

In light of the Beer Appreciation Dinner coming up with  Boat Rocker Brewery this week at the Lilydale General (thanks to the stellar work of the guys at Low Buy Liquor), I thought I’d go through a few of their beers and see just what they have to offer and what I’m getting myself in to…

Go check out the Boat Rocker website here, the Lilydale General website here, a great little write up for Low Buy over here and finally the menu for the night which looks crazy good:


picture quality not great, sorry…

But let’s check out the beers…. I’ve already reviewed one of their brews, The Misfit, which was a cracking hoppy Belgian but what else is on offer? Let’s see… Reviews to follow!

Moon Dog Black Lung IV


The Black Lung  has had a few incarnations, all with a Zoolander quote on the side… Making it pretty much irresistible. Each incarnation has stepped up from the next, starting with a small amount of barrel ageing with whiskey and rum barrels to the current American oak- aged smokey stout. The one persisting feature is the smokiness: sweet, sweet cigar smokiness… Let’s see how the fourth steps up from its predecessors!

Style: American Oak- Aged Smokey Stout

ABV: 9.1%

IBU: 45

$$: $10- $12


Pours a jet black sheen with slight brown tinges on the edge. Fine tanned coffee mocha head.

On The Nose:

Massive peat and smoke initially with lots of tobacco, cedar, white pepper and star anise. Slight sweetness in the background: vanilla bean, coffee, cocoa and roasted nuts.


The palate is rich, smooth and smokey like a fine cigar. The oak ageing adds a great depth of flavour and complexity that can only come from American oak: vanilla, coconut and a certain ruggedness and and creamy, rich texture. The smoke and peat is prevalent through out with black pepper, tobacco leaf, cedar and walnut with plenty of sweet spice. Surprisingly, getting plenty of sweetness too: dark bakers cocoa, rich espresso, salted caramel, roasted oats and almonds with soft liquorice.

Final Thoughts:

A cracking new incarnation of the Black Lung. Smokey tobacco blended with rich American oak, this brew brings together some of my favourite attributes: whiskey and cigars. Not getting much alcohol either, just smooth, rich good times…

8 Wired 2012 Chardonnay Barrel Aged Saison (NZ)


I’m a bit of a nut for barrel ageing at the moment. With most of my working experience being in wineries, I’ve had my fair share of vino and love the effect barrels have on finished products. Adding complexity, oak, toastiness and a great depth of flavour that accentuates the style: whether it be pinot, shiraz or, in this case, chardonnay. Where the oak comes from also plays a massive role, predominantly either being American or French, each give their own unique flavour. French tends to lend itself to more subtlety: spice and silky textures, while American tends toward bolder, oakier toast notes like coconut with creamy mouthfeel. Lets see how this barrel ageing from 8 Wired has turned out!

Style: Saison

ABV: 7.0%



Pours a golden orange with what started as fluffy white head but quickly dissipated.

On The Nose:

Lots of stewed apricot, peach, green apple, hints of pineapple and lots of toast, cedar, vanilla and tonnes of oak all thanks to the barrel ageing. Also getting some fresh grapefruit, sweet spices and leathery notes, flint, gun smoke  and lees.


Packed with apricot and stewed peach with loads of candied grapefruit pith, lime juice and Granny Smith apple, like you’ve just taken a big bite out of one. Absolutely loving the dryness  in this: puckering citrus rind, leather, cereal and cedar. Getting lots of earthiness too with stoney flinty notes. The barrel ageing is on full display here with lots of oak, toast, cedar and buttery mouthfeel. Getting sweet spices like clove, cinnamon and nutmeg too.

Final Thoughts:

8 Wired have crammed some serious complexity into this brew with the barrel ageing shining incredibly. Drinking this, the similarities of chardonnay and saison is blindingly apparent. Reminiscent of big, oaky chardonnays I’m guessing 8 Wired have used American oak here. Getting juicy citrus, granny smith apple, cereal and leather with flinty steel notes, like licking a whetstone. Classic chardonnay notes. This was a fascinating experiment and one that was fascinating to drink. Really well made and balanced, this is a perfect melding of wine making and beer brewing. Brilliant.

HopDog Beer Works Bingo Wings


HopDog has been rather elusive to me in the past, traipsing at the fringes of what I could get hold of… But finally, I have found some! These guys brew all the way up in Nowra on the south coast of NSW and are what would be considered a nano- brewery, brewing only 200 litres at a time (this may of changed by now, just going on what i’ve read…). So it’s pretty exciting to get hold of this fairly rare little gem.

So, a bit about this beer. As it says on the label this is ‘a nod to the fanatical “getting ready for summer” fads: toning down, bulking up and getting that bikini/ mankini bod in shape’. This beer is brewed with malted wheat,barley and oats, hopped up with Riwaka from New Zealand and spiced with orange peel and pink and white peppercorns. Something tells me I’m in for a treat…

Style: Wheat Beer

ABV: 5.0%

IBU: 40 


Pours a bright, golden straw colour with generous fluffy white head.

On The Nose:

Lots of tropical fruits, juicy apricot and peach, almost like the juice in cans of tinned SPC peaches. Also getting lots of candied orange, sweet spice, juniper and black current leafy notes in the background.


The palate is packed with fresh stone fruits, fresh jammy marmalade, mango, passionfruit and sweet pineapple. Getting lots of toasty pepper, cereal and sweet honey too with  drying cereal/ farmhouse notes in the finish. The mouthfeel is rich, creamy and coating like passionfruit butter.

Final Thoughts:

In the immortal words of Olivia Newton- John, this beer is all about “Summer Lovin'” and let me tell you, it happened so fast….. Drinking it that is. Super fresh and deliciously fruit driven this is packed with  summer fruits you’d expect to find in a cocktail or a summer fruit salad: juicy orange, passionfruit, melon, jammy red fruits and sweet pineapple. Some really refreshing sourness and light drying cereal notes. This is going on my summer beer list. When the thermometer hits 30, the Bingo Wings is coming out…

Napoleone Brewery Visit!


Dropped by the newly opened brewery this afternoon to catch up with Ben Waymouth and he is pretty stoked with his new set up… Having done their final brew of their Breakneck Porter at Cavalier, all production will soon be moving to the Yarra Valley site.


The brewery is immaculate and running incredibly smoothly, with pretty much everything being automated. At the moment Ben is managing to do all production by himself with some great ideas in the pipeline coming up to spring/ summer.With all of his production being small batch, he is being kept on his toes in terms of consistency but is getting used to his new set up and is ready to riff. At the moment he is mashing about 400kg, doing 1800 litre at a time over three tanks.


This little bad boy, fresh from the tank behind it, is Ben’s next creation that is about to hit taps: an ESB of his own creation. Packed with heaps of Magnum and East Kent Goldings hops, pale malt crystal, medium crystal malt and Maris Otter this thing is English through and through. Sitting at about 5.1%, it is super fresh, great bitters from the Magnum hops and delicious malt. His next planned small batch will be a Munich Helles which he plans to have ready by the end of spring/ start of summer, along with a Pilsner.

The long term plan is to make easy, accessible, English style beers that aren’t overwhelmingly hoppy and something everyone can drink. It is a very clever way to go I think; with craft beer being only a new phenomenon in the Yarra Valley this is the clever way to go: make tasty, full flavoured ales the is accessible to everyone. I know where I will be going on my weekends now…


Exit Brewing #003 Milk Stout


I’ve been waiting to drink this for a while now. Ever since I had their first release, a Saison, I’ve been waiting with baited breath. Now we have number three, a Milk Stout. This is bound to be quality, but just at what level of quality? Awesome? Super Awesome or Mega Awesome? Let’s find out…

Style: Milk Stout

ABV: 5.2%



Pours a luscious, dark black with generous light tan head.

On The Nose:

Rich and smooth, it packs heaps of rum and raisin liquor notes with rich milk chocolate, vanilla bean and lots of fresh roasted oats with sticky treacle and almonds.


Silky smooth mouthfeel, deliciously rich and velvety all the way. The rum and raisin is back here with dark bakers cocoa, sticky vanilla, rich caramel and toffee with a drying, bitter espresso finish. Lots of macadamia, coconut and almonds too. All the notes are expertly integrated, brilliant balance.

Final Thoughts:

Exit have stepped up their game here. This is super delicious, really well balanced, really well integrated and brilliantly layered. Chock full of rich chocolate, vanilla, creamy caramel and fresh roasted oats with rum and raisin and a dry espresso finish. So, so good; this is one to keep in rotation.

Killer Sprocket Rye IPA


I’ve been hearing a great deal about this beer and nothing but good reviews so I thought I could no longer ignore it and finally drink it. Not having their own site particularly, Killer Sprocket have been ‘gypsy’ brewing about the place since 2012, starting at Southern Bay Brewing and eventually moving their production in 2013 to Cavalier in West Melbourne. Avid home brewers, these guys are passionate about full flavour. Now comes their Rye IPA… Can’t wait to dig in!

Style: Rye IPA

ABV: 6.2%



Pours a beautiful, jammy, deep red with orange tinges on the edge. Generous off- white head.

On The Nose:

The nose is a spicy, zesty extravaganza! Packed full of juicy mandarin, sweet, jammy marmalade, candied orange zest and fresh peach with the rye providing some brilliant spice: ginger, cardamon and nutmeg with hints of caramel and fresh pine needles lingering in the background.


The IPA component really comes out here, especially the malt profile. Roasty, toasty and cedar with almond, pepper, liquorice and clove. Great bitter resins. Some great fruit driven notes too: Stewed pineapple, grapefruit pith, dried currants and stewed plums. The mouthfeel is really well rounded with a dry resin finish that lingers on the palate, making me go back for more…

Final Thoughts:

Believe the hype people! This is one hell of a rye IPA. Spicy, fruity and some great citrus zest, this brew is brilliantly balanced with some fresh, floral pine needles and chewy resin. Great sweet spices here too like clove, nutmeg and ginger bread notes with chewy toffee. It is crazy delicious and really well put together, this my friends is how you make rye IPA…

Squealer Sunday!! presents Red Hill Brewery Imperial Stout 2014


I have always been aware of Red Hill Brewery but never paid too much attention, that is until I went to their Secret Stash this year… There, I was really able to sink my teeth into their wares. All barrel aged, all delicious. Now I associate three words with Red Hill: Rich, smooth and luscious. Their stouts and imperial stouts are just so smooth, so rich and delicious. On this cold Sunday evening, I can think of no better beer…

Style: Imperial Stout

ABV: 8.1%


$$: $24 a Squealer


Pours a dark, thick black with tanned head.

On The Nose:

Rich and creamy with some fantastic toasty malt and biscuit on the nose. Thick fudge, vanilla bean, cafe latte and sweet spice with almond, buttery walnut and sticky toffee.


The mouthfeel is beautifully rich, luscious, velvety and coats the mouth like silk. Packed with deliciously layered malt, you will find toasty biscuit and slight drying tobacco notes. Palate is packed with rich dark chocolate, roasted coffee, soft, chewy caramel with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Lots of roasted almonds and buttery walnuts with sticky toffee.

Final Thoughts:

This is why I now love Red Hill Brewery. This is so rich, smooth  and luscious, like slipping your palate into a silk slipper. The alcohol is finely balanced: it is there, spreading to your fingertips and toes like a warm hug, but it’s not overwhelming. I’m certainly not getting the 8.1% it says on the side of the bottle. Layered with some brilliant malt, you will find some tasty sweet morsels: soft, rich fudge, salted caramel and rich espresso with sticky praline and buttery walnuts. It is indeed a majestic Imperial Stout, just too good.

Is The Quality Trajectory of Craft Beer Unrealistic?

I’ve heard this debate a bit recently but it really came to a head for me a few days ago when I was in my local craft beer purveyor…

As I do, I like to hang about at the shop and chat to the staff about what’s going on, what is coming up release wise and generally what has been going on in the Yarra Valley. I noticed a gentleman come in, have a browse at the shelves and then make a bee- line for the fridge. From the fridge he produced a six pack of Mountain Goat Summer Ale and a four pack of Fancy Pants. As he came up to the counter he started talking to one of the shop assistants about what he drinks and said something that rather shocked me: “I can’t afford craft beer this week so I’m just getting some Mountain Goat.”


An inferior product?


This shocked me for a few reasons but mainly that I consider Mountain Goat to be craft beer, and great craft beer at that. For it to be considered an ‘inferior’ product is sacrilege to me, Mountain Goat sits amongst the great Australian craft brewers at the moment and are producing some amazing brews that just keep getting better and more interesting.

The question I keep thinking about is this: Is the quality trajectory of craft beer going to become unrealistic? Is it already? Are consumers beginning to expect too much from their local craft brewer and wanting more out there and nebulous brews or is this beer snobbery? I’ve had some pretty funky beers in my time but have never thought for a second that Mountain Goat is a beer not worth my time, they have brewed just as many different, funky brews.

This raises another issue for me: Will craft beer as we know it be no longer recognisable in the future? It is either that or this will be the point at which craft beer plateaus and we have hit a saturation point where we can’t go anywhere else.

These points are still a long way off from coming to this level but it is something to think about.

Your Thoughts?