Tag Archives: beer reviews

waiter, there’s some whisky in my beer

If you’re puzzled as to why there is whisky in my beer, then you probably read yesterday’s post. It may help demystify you, as this is the second in a series of posts devoted to the Mikkeller showcase tasting at Slowbeer in Hawthorn. The first part of the tasting was on Mikkeller Beer Geek Weasel and some whisky barrel aged variants. The second half was for the Mikkeller Blacks. The Mikkeller Black series was brewed at De Proef Brouwerij in Belgium – as previously mentioned, the Mikkeller brewer is ‘homeless’ of a fashion. I just can’t get over how cool the concept is, of having a roving brewer…


The Mikkeller Black is a formidable beast. It is an imperial stout with a whopping 17.5% ABV. To get it to this ABV, champagne yeast was employed for fermentation, as was brewer’s sugar. Chris, our humble host and the manager of Slowbeer did well to warn us to have a full stomach prior to tasting! It had quite a savoury aroma but was very sweet, a thick, rich mouthfeel and did feel like too much after a while. I think it would be fantastic with dark, bitter chocolate (we’re talking the 75% cocoa content and above!).

The Mikkeller Black Whisky edition was sweet. At first, it was “zomg this is amazing and soooo delicious” and then all of a sudden, pow! it’d hit you and you’d be saying “get it away from me!”. Again quite rich, with a slight head due to less carbonation than its vanilla sibling above. This beer was aged in French whisky barrels for three months – they don’t say what alcohol exactly but it could be either calvados, cognac or armagnac. I found that the alcohol of the barrel permeated the taste very nicely and was well integrated.


The last of the special Mikkellers was the Black peated edition. This lives in peated whisky barrels for three months and it’s so obvious in the final beer. Jourdan of The Salving Font and I were really quite taken by this beer and even the day after, I could still taste it…taunted (and haunted) me for quite some time after. Easily the winner of the three for me.

To recap…

Mikkeller Black – even thicker mouthfeel than the Beer Geek Weasel Brunches. Higher alcohol content. A little goes a long way. Try with dark, bitter chocolate. Very sweet, rich imperial stout.

Mikkeller Black Whisky Edition – shame they do not specify what French liquor barrel used to contain (I find calvados quite appley). Sickeningly syrup-sweet but whisky is well integrated into the beer. Least favourite of the three.

Mikkeller Black Peated Edition – very little carbonation, with the peat adding a wonderful depth to the beer. A special drop indeed. Clearly for the serious beer lover, but if you can get your hands on a bottle, try it!

Alas yes, these were special releases and the Slowbeer tasting (seriously $30 for a taste of six beers!) was ridiculously good value. It was a great way to challenge the palate too. There are whispers of a lambic tasting in the future which I think would be terrific. There also tends to be discounts on purchases made in store after the tasting – can’t wait for the next one.

a pithy guide to the Australian beer scene in zine form

Stubby Buddy vol. 1

Beer week continues! For your enjoyment today, we have a zine review on beer. It seems there’s a zine dedicated to just about everything!

As is usual whenever I’m browsing the Sticky Institute website, I start off by wanting to order one zine, and then leaving with seven or so in my online shopping cart. I was pretty gleeful when I saw a zine about beer and that it was selling for *one cent*. Mistakenly, I assumed it was going to be pretty bad but hey, who can complain at one cent, really?

Stubby Buddy is excellent, and the people who write it are articulate and clearly know what they’re on about. Their information is current and addresses issues in the beer industry that affect consumers right now. The first piece discusses the phenomenon of ‘low carb’ beer and cider and how commercial breweries are pushing these ‘products’ as the next big thing to snare the punters. Judging by this discussion, the zine was written just before summer 2009 got started.

The meat of the zine is devoted to beer reviews and there are plenty, mainly from various craft brewers around Australia, with a few international beer reviews peppered in between. Both Buzz and Bumble (the nicknames of our humble contributors) rate each beer out of five and state that anything with a three or above is “a fine and decent drop”. They also have a couple of cider reviews – hopefully they’ll have a few more next issue.

After the reviews, a brief history of Australian beer is given. I was quite surprised to learn that “at first beer wasn’t that popular. Rum was the preferred method of getting shitfaced.”, like in the West Indies (my father tells me that there rum is cheaper than beer so everyone drinks rum ‘back home’). This article had me giggling all the way through.

The column ‘Barfly’s Rant’ is spot on. Barfly goes on to list ten drinks that are overrated but are continually ordered by misinformed party animals. There are some pretty dodgy suspects on the list, and one item used to be an old fave of mine *winces*. It’s kind of cool, looking into the mind of a bartender and finding out what their bugbears are. If you ever read the zine and guess what my old fave is, I’ll buy you a beer.

Stubby Buddy can be purchased online or instore at Sticky Institute, city, Melbourne. I purchased volume 2 with this first one and will be keeping an eye out for future volumes as it’s of an excellent standard, and lots of fun. Stay tuned for a review of volume 2.