Monteith’s Doppelbock Winter Ale

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Michael discovered this beer in August, just as the Winter was ending, but that did not impair his enjoyment.  Montieth’s Doppelbock Winter Ale is a throwback to classic Bavarian Ales, originating in the 1600’s.  The full malty flavour is the result of the use of 4 different premium malts, producing a beer with a delicious dark red colour, with a hint of bitterness.  The Ale is characterised by a rich smooth taste, followed with a rounded body and a long finish.  The beer contains traditional ‘Hallertau’ hops, typical of the German Bock type beers, the name means ‘double-bock’.  The final gravity is about 16 ‘points’ with an alcohol of 6%, giving the beer a near ideal combination of drinkability and strength.  In simple terms, it is a strong heavy tasting beer, just right for cool days, but only if not over chilled, or the balance is lost.




Cricketers Arms Lager

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Coming into summer it is always good to have a beer that drinks well whilst icy cold.  A recent discovery is the Cricketer’s Arms Lager.  It is available nationally by your favourite bottleshop, and also available in Singapore, Kowloon, and the UK (always good to know).

Cricketers Arms Lager is made with sun dried Australian malt and infused with Amarillo hops which impart a wonderful citrus character to the aroma and flavour.  It is not a particularly strong lager at 4.6%, but drinks well.

Cheers Paul

Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer

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Well we are back writing about beer, just because we haven’t had updates on the web page, doesn’t mean we haven’t been sampling some of the world’s finest brews.

This month in celebration of Paul and Fred’s trip to England and Scotland, we bring you the Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer.  A unique beer aged in ex-Bourbon barrels imported to the Innis & Gunn Edinburgh brewery from Kentucky, Tennessee.  This beer is aged for 77 days in oak, and the resultant flavours make the wait all worthwhile.  From every sip you get a distinctive oak with vanilla overtones complimenting a strong toffee and malt flavour.  Not a light weight beer by any stretch, with an alcohol content of 6.6%, so not one for the designated driver.

This ale is occasionally seen in good beer shops in Australia, if you see a pack grab it with both hands.

Cheers, Paul

Baltica 4

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Our apologies for the lack of new material here for so long, but our chief beer correspondent has been very busy tripping to Asia and Europe, conscientiously testing liquids for inclusion here, but has not had time to go to print. Therefore, I have decided to fill the breach with a review of a relative newcomer on the import scene-Baltica 4, from St Petersburg. The brewery is a post cold-war establishment, now part owned by Carlsberg and Scottish and Newcastle breweries.

This is nominally a ‘dark lager’ according to a translation of the label, which is written, of course in the Cyrillic alphabet. I find that description most misleading. It is more like a light sweet brown ale, or close to some of the Bavarian darker ‘Boch’ beers. It is a very satisfying drink, well balanced and malty, although on the sweet side, as there is obviously considerable caramel in the mix. It brews out to 5.6% alcohol, so it should not be taken lightly. It is possibly a trifle over carbonated, and could be smoother on the finish. The beer is a dark amber colour with reddish/orange tones-possibly from the caramel. I would normally suggest serving this at 15-17ºC, but its balance needs a little chill, say 12-15ºC for best results, and to keep the carbonation under control.

In summary, a welcome addition to Dan Murphy’s selection, at a very reasonable price ( about A$3.80 per 500ml bottle). Anyway, give it a try, something a little unusual and certainly value for money.

St Peter’s Brewery Ruby Red Ale

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Beer of the month comes from Suffolk, UK, the St Peter’s Brewery Ruby Red Ale.  The St Peter’s Brewery in Bungay Suffolk uses pure waters from beneath the brewery to produce a rich red ale with very subtle malt undertones and a spicy hop aroma from Styrian Goldings (Slovenian hops with a perfume containing pine, lemon and citrus character).  The Ruby Red Ale is cold filtered and very low on fizz, so you are left without the gaseous after taste.  The bottle the ale comes in is almost as interesting as the beer itself.  The bottle is an oval shaped flask bottle, very distinctive and characteristic of all of the St Peter’s ales.

For those that cannot tolerate gluten, St Peter’s do a “G-Free” ale with a pilsener style finish with flavours derived from American Amarillo hops (citrus and mandarin aromas).

The good news is that St Peter’s also export to Australia, so keep an eye out when you next visit you more discerning beer stockist. ( I found this in Sword’s at Prahran Market -Michael)

Cheers, Paul.

Pilsner Urquell

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During my recent European trip, I was fortunate to sample a number of excellent Czech brews, including the original Gambrinus, Kozel and Budweiser. (not to be confused with the rather insipid US drink of the same name!). I therefore felt it appropriate to feature one as our BoM. I was going to feature a micro-brewed dark lager, but felt that would be a waste of time since none is exported. The decision as to which to feature, was made for me as I left the Czech republic by train to Frankfurt via Nuremberg. On this route, the train passes within a Kilometre of the immense Plzensky Prazdroj complex on the outskirts of Plzen, which includes the Pilsner Urquell brewery. This very famous brand still retains the elegance of traditional manufacture, even though the Miller group now owns it.

Beer has been produced here since the 1840’s, but now of course Pilsner Urquell is world famous. Justifiably so, and there is probably not a better mass produced lager in the world. Bottom fermented in the traditional way, PU finishes with a modest 4.4 % alcohol, but retains that ‘harmonic’, pleasantly bitter taste of a good lager, without any harsh or unwanted aftertaste.

The beer is widely available here; so don’t waste time thinking about it! Action speaks loudest. Good drinking.


P.S. You would not believe how cheap this is in Prague Supermarkets, sold in 500ml bottles!




Ruddles County Ale

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Ruddles County Ale comes from deepest East Anglia in the UK, and is a relative newcomer to the Australian market. It has a warm brown-red hue, achieved with the use of the rare Bramling Cross hop, and brewed to 4.7%. Its taste fulfils expectations, being mellow with a hint of bitter toffee, with an aroma of soft fruit and hops. This beer comes with my normal warning for UK beers-do not overchill it, this is best appreciated at a temperature of about 12-15°C. Available from Dan Murphy’s and other good stores.

happy drinking, Michael


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Due to the amount of time Paul has spent in China over the past 12 months and especially in January 2006 it is only fitting that this month’s “Beer of the Month” be a salute to China’s Tsingtao (pronounced ‘Ching-Dow’).

Tsingtao is brewed in Qingdao (pr. Ching-Dow) with water from the mountain streams of the Laoshan area.  Water quality can be a real problem for Chinese brewers and the water from Laoshan is some of the purest available in the country.  Tsingtao brewery was originally set up by the Germans and is now the highest selling brewer of the 600 breweries throughout China.

Tsingtao Beer is in the Pilsner style with a strong malty flavour and well-hopped character.  The original recipe for the beer was derived from a German brewery and the beer is not unlike some of the European Pilsners.  It is certainly a very gaseous beer and something one needs to take into consideration when the call of “Cum-pai” or cheers is thrown your way from all directions around the business dinner table.

It is a beer best drunk in the same manner as the Chinese drink their red wine ….. chilled!  Surprisingly, it goes well with Chinese food.


Summer DIY

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This month’s beer of the month is in the spirit of summer DIY.  It’s a home brew recently tried and rated high enough for mention as this months Beer of the Month.  The beer is made using brewing malt from Black Rock (Canterbury Brewery in Christchurch New Zealand).  The style we chose is a two-row lager, there are others available from Black Rock and are sold throughout Australian home brew shops.

We made the brew up using the canned brewing malt and yeast with 600gm of glucose, 400gm of LD malt and 200gm of corn syrup.  The brew was held in the carboy for about 5 days (it was a quick brew due the warm weather in Melbourne recently).  The lager was bottled and left for secondary fermentation in the bottle.

At the two-week mark the beer presents well with some bitterness and a sharp hop aroma.  We will keep you up to date as to how it drinks after extended bottle conditioning.

If you enjoy a lager with a two-row barley, then we recommend trying to brew the Malt Shovel Brewery’s, Two Row Lager.

Happy brewing

Paul Plater

Holgate Brewhouse Old Pale Ale

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This month’s “ RefMet beer of the month” is the Holgate Brewhouse Old Pale Ale.  This beer is based on an English style bitter.  It has a strong copper-red colour and a full taste brought on by the hops.  The beer boasts an alcohol content on 5%, which is typical for Pale Ale.  The malt adds a nutty flavour, which helps to balance the bitterness of the beer, and certainly makes the beer very enjoyable to drink.

If you find you self around the Macedon Ranges in Victoria and enjoy the OPA then call into Woodend and visit the Holgate Brewhouse (in the old Keatings Hotel) and order the Bitter Pale Ale and watch it pulled by traditional beer engine.


Paul Plater

© RefMet 2011