Tag Archives: banana

Brasserie Du Mont Blanc La Blonde

The Mont Blanc Brewery is in the French Alps and believes its beer to be “a rich and noble product”. The brewery also claims the local glacier water to be its main strength, an unusual pitch for breweries these days. The beer I tasted is best described as a blonde ale or Belgian pale ale.

This 5.8% ABV beer is a thoroughly clear yellow-gold and pours with no sediment. It has a busty head of froth that recedes very quickly, leaving little but attractive lacing around the edges. Its smell is toasted crusty bread with simple banana and a healthy dose of clove and musk stick.

At tasting a mildly fusel alcoholic note trips the tongue and sweet nutmeg malts accompany. These slightly spicy malt notes are finished with a sweet finish, almost cloying, in a medium thick mouthfeel reminiscent of diluted honey. Some spritzy carbonation helps offset this but it could do with a bit more.

I bought this bottled beer at Carwyn Cellars, Thornbury and drank it at home.

Case Swap: Skittlebrau

This post is part of a series of twenty-three discussing beers brewed by members of the Merri Mashers brewing club for their 2015 case swap celebration.

This beer is named the Skittlebrau – and you guessed it, the mystery ingredient is Skittles. I don’t really like Skittles. I do however love wheat bear, and that’s what this is. The label reads “A classic hefeweizen with the addition of Skittles throughout the boil and straight into the fermenter. OG 1060.”

The beer is a golden straw, not quite krystal territory, but not perfect gold either. It had a rushing, urgent carbonation and a nice centimetre of head that retained like Donald Trump (read: well). Liquid was nearly translucent but a bit of chill haze hung around and the bubble streams contributed to its high opacity. An aroma of banana first, clove second and sugary bubblegum third wafted from the glass.

This is definitely a classic Hefeweizen, but with a delicious creaminess. The head rests on the upper lip like silk. The malt is very forward with a rearguard action of zingy sugar-citrus; a little bit like Skittles. Hop flavour is nonexistent and mouthfeel is medium. The wheat yeast presents a very round phenolic package for this combination of flavours.

This is a nice beer, but although I never thought I’d say it … this wheat beer is a bit too sweet and malty for me! The citrusy background feels like it should cut across the malt, but it doesn’t, instead it lends a slightly artificial fruit note – just like a deliciously fresh beer brewed with mass-produced, lolly-flavour Skittles! I don’t know how many of these I could drink in a session …

Maredsous Abbaye-Abdij Blonde 6

The Maredsous abbey beers are brewed by Duvel under license.

The blonde 6 (they also brew an 8 and a 10, referring to ABV) comes in a delightful bulbous bottle, sitting squat on the table. The beer rings in a capacious head on the pour, staying fluffy for the drink’s duration. The colour is deep gold, completely clear, not a freckle of yeast to be seen swimming which is unusual for the style. Spritzy carbonation is evident on viewing. The beer smells interesting – sweet marshmallow wafts between banana and the faintest, dimmest hint of spicy phenolics.

On tasting delightful balance prevails. The Belgian yeast notes deliver a smooth ride of clean, mellow malt and a balmy bitterness. There is nothing puckering, astringent or harsh; it’s a perfect example of a rounded, delicate bitterness that still keeps the malt in check. This is a fairly dry beer with a nice finish that is worrying at 6% ABV. Oddly there is a subtle vegetative note going on, a phantom hop flavour that I find difficult to distinguish and elaborate on. Perhaps some late hopping occurs – my bottle was as fresh as you can get in Australia.

This is worth the time and money to procure. A good example of a Belgian blonde and I will look out for their double and triple.

I bought this bottled beer at The Wine Republic, Northcote and drank it at home.

Goji & Juniper Beers

I recently experimented with two additions to beer that are unusual in Australia. I brewed a split batch of very low-hopped, neutral pale ale and then infused one batch with dried juniper berries and the other with dried goji berries.

Garden Ale
1040 OG, 1010 FG. 4.1% bottle ABV. US05. Melbourne water.

Fermented at 18°C from:

96% :: American Ale Malt
4% :: Melanoiden Malt

60m single infusion mash at 70°C with calcium chloride added.
30m boil with 3 IBU of Horizon hops added at 0m.

I fermented the entire batch in one pot, reaching my FG quickly. I then bottled several litres so that I had a base to compare the berry ales with before transferring the remaining beer into two separate buckets. One contained 50g of dried juniper berries, the other 50g of dried goji berries. Each received five litres of the base beer. Both appeared to display signs of minimal fermentation as they sat at 18°C for another week. A fortnight later I bottled the beers.

I took growlers of the juniper, goji and base beers along to the August meeting of the local home brew club. This meeting was themed “Garden Ales”, with members being given the remit to bring along beers they had brewed using something from their garden. I cheated obviously. In fact not too many people were confident enough or had the inclination to bring strictly garden-derived beers. One visitor brought a smoked fig beer, there was a beer fermented from the yeast of a dead moth, a wild yeast cider and a chilli baltic porter. But mostly people brought the standard mix of IPAs, ESBs, milds etc.

I was fortunate enough to have eight people taste my berry beers. The base beer was clean and malty with a smidgen of banana aroma. Incredibly you could still taste the hops fairly distinctively beneath the malt blanket. I was expecting the barest of touches given my calculations of three IBUs. Tasters guessed wheat in the grist, due to the head retention and lacing characteristics. Melanoiden for the slam dunk.

The juniper berry beer displayed slight tartness and a subtle fruitiness. Its aroma was distinctively juniper. People compared it favourably to sahti, although my beer was very different to most sahti as I traditionally understand it, being half the ABV and a pale EBC. In fact both of the berry beers derived absolutely zero colour from the berry additions. All three beers looked identical.

The goji beer had a most distinctive aroma, best described as a kind of “vacuum”. All the malt appeared to disappear on the nose, replaced by a vaguely medicinal, slightly phenolic, but quite unique combination of aromas. The goji beer displayed no tartness and kept a full malt mouthfeel and flavour. Some tasters noted that the berry added some liquorice flavour. As you can tell, no notes were taken during these tastings unfortunately – but I remember thinking the goji would go well with darker malts.

It was a pleasure to have so many tasters giving the beers a go. It was also heartening to produce beers with no obvious major defects or problems and conduct a three-way experiment with them. Although I’ve had trouble translating my memories (the meeting was several days ago now) into text on this page, I feel like I’ve got a good taste profile locked in my mind of the two additions, and will definitely brew with them again down the track.

If anyone wants to try either of the berry I recommend using my method of adding the berries in a secondary fermentation as opposed to boiling them. Their impact was delicate yet transformative.