Tag Archives: spice

Finch’s Beer Co. Fascist Pig Ale

Finch’s Beer Co. is another Chicago native brewery that keeps a humble profile. They’ve been around for five years brewing and packaging out of Elston. Their cans are great to look at – speaking to the founder’s background in visual communication – and I selected the can with the name that spoke the most to me …

The 8% ABV Fascist Pig Ale is a murky amber colour with a frothy uneven head. It has the lemon zesty aroma that I often associate with rye beers and an understated but fresh hop aroma. Think sauerkraut, onions and freshly ground leaves. There’s even a little background generic maltiness in the aroma. Although it’s not a mental cacophony, as so often is the case with a U.S. beer at such high ABV, this beer’s aroma has a lot going on.

Flavourwise the first truck to hit you is caramel, toffee-sweet malt. Then comes the bitterness wagon; again, a fresh, acerbic hop character, with a devastating afterbitterness that lingers on. A slick mouthfeel assists the malt-bomb along and restrains the affect of the alpha acids and spicy rye. This is a beer that I can’t drink quickly, but I sure can drink.

If I had to put it into a BJCP style, I guess it would be either a double IPA, with an unusual aroma, or a thicker example of an American Brown Ale, but without the citrus whack ova’ the ‘ead.

I bought a can of this beer at Sky Liquors, Norwood Park, Chicago, Illinois and drank it in a house nearby, after feasting on the immensely delicious Red Apple Polish buffet. Oh my. Still reeling from the meals I had there; I expanded my stomach to new limits.

Townshend’s Sutton Hoo American Amber Ale

Townshend are located in Nelson, that hippy enclave in the north of the south of New Zealand. They have only average penetration in Australia considering their range of brewed beers. The Sutton Hoo has been done previously as a collaboration brew with Murrays as well.

A clear burgundy colour strikes the eye on dispensing the Sutton Hoo American Amber from its busy bottle, plum with awards and patchwork graphic design. The head is slight with large bubbles, dispersing moderately on the surface. A hoppy aroma dominates with mango and dank wet-stone armies battling it out under a sky of spicy pepper. It’s a unique cocktail and I struggled to find the malt behind it.

Down the hatch and a tough bitterness coats the back of the tongue, giving a wave of toffee malt perfect shot at the stomach. Hop flavour again steals the prize, with grassy mandarin, dried apricot and resin this time providing the colour. The bitterness lingers and mouthfeel is about medium – slightly slick but not cloying. No doubt many New Zealand hops were murdered in the making of this beer.

This is an Amber for the hop heads. It won’t blow them away but satisfies for an ABV of 4.7%.

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

Hoyne Brewing Down Easy

From yet another brewery on Vancouver Island – a bit of a mini-theme on this blog recently – comes a beer with a mouthful of a title: Hoyne Brewing Co. Down Easy Pacific Northwest Ale.

Now the Northwest of the North American continent certainly has its own thing going on, but not too many of the breweries there explicitly market their pale ale as a “Pacific Northwest Ale”. I think Hoyne has actually changed the beer’s name in months subsequent to this tasting … but anyway, this is what I drank and the bottle looked the goods. I opened it up expecting … well, HOPS of course.

An initially confusing, finicky pine and spice hop aroma first confronted me when I poured this beer. Cascade is in there of course, but adjusted in a combination I was unused to. The liquid was a reflective bronze, deepening the aroma away from a muddle and more firmly in the direction of pine. A low carbonation – for easy drinking? – was present, whirling bubbles through this excellently poised beer.

Caramel sweetness and only light bitterness shake hands on sipping; an even keel of goodness that gives more malt than anything – roast pumpkin even. It definitely goes down easy. Esters were barely present but sort of there; hard to pin down.

I drank this bottled beer in Kitsilano, Vancouver and bought it from the Liquor Depot.

Panhead Port Road Pilsner

Panhead Custom Ales are a kiwi collective exporting ales and a single lager over the ditch to Australia. They’re based near Wellington and are pretty well-regarded in their home country, recently placing second in the NZ Society of Beer Awards. I would love to get my hands on their Vandal NZ IPA, but I haven’t seen it around here.

In the meantime I had to settle for their Port Road Pilsner. Right off the bat, this wasn’t a terribly enjoyable beer. It looks the goods, a nice clear pale straw colour and fine white bubs. A New World hop aroma was present, backed up by robust saaz-y spice. It smelled a little alluring, nontraditional hoppiness, but still clean. Mouthfeel was spot on for a pilsner; no complaints there. Unfortunately the flavour threw me right off. The lager was unbalanced, acrid and firmly bitter. It reminded me of a muted pale ale I brewed last year – in a bad way.

A nice lemony smoothness rode along with the bitterness, giving the drinker something else to chew on if so inclined. European Pilsners were hopped much higher in the past and I think that’s where the Port Road Pils is trying to fit in, but overall it was far too dry and caustic for me. So alas, on the whole a little unsatisfying, but I’m still keen on that Vandal NZ IPA … if I can ever get my hands on it.

I drank this beer at the Terminus, Fitzroy North.