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Trent

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Gday guys
I am now back in Australia, after a very fun trip that was about 3 years too short. And I reckon that you could get drunk on a different beer every night for those said three years and not drink the same beer from the same brewery twice.

WARNING - This is very, very long. My apologies if it is boring, or too long for you. I am renowned for writing very long emails, and this will be the same. Down towards the end are some of the notes I kept on some of the beers I had, but nowhere near all of the ones I tried...
I will put up some pics soon, I promise.

Canada was great, great weather, hanging out in the lakes and stuff, wine tasting and stopping off at any brewery that would let me in for a look around. I think I have told ya about most of em, except for Ridge, a brewpub in Osooyoos, BC. They had a very nice blonde beer that wasnt too filling and would be a great all nighter. They had a nut brown that was pretty good aswell, but they used pale and 5 specialty malts aswell, which I found to be a little too much, trying to get too complexity in, or something. Their IPA was really good quality, they dry hopped with a mix of Hallertauer and Fuggles. Unfortunately I didnt think of keeping notes on any beers till my last few days, so I cant rmemeber too well, but Cannery Brewing have a very nice blackberry porter that should be tried if you are ever in BC. I estimate I tried about 50 different beers in Canada, and although some werent worth getting again (IMO) most were very good quality, and around $CAD10 a 6 pack, so quite reasonable
California was where I really went mental with my tastings. I discovered that LA doesnt have a single micro, wheras san Diego, a city about a fifth of the size, has at least 6 (and probably quite a few more). There are heaps of Alehouses, though, that have dozens of really good beers on tap, so maybe they dont need their own breweries! My stone appreciation night was postponed until after my trip to san diego to visit friends. The guy who we were staying with had to go and play poker on our first night there, so we tagged along. Turns out his mate holding the poker night was a lawyer for stone, and he had just about every specialty release they have ever put out! Even better, he was stoked to have someone there that was into beers and brewing! So, we start out with an IPA, then onto the 05 05 05, which was very dark with some very strong flavours that I am sure will dissipate a bit with age. Very smooth though. Then he opened the 04 04 04 for me, and that was an amber colour, belgian style, and was absolutely delicious. He had the 03 on ice for me, as well as the barleywine, imperial stout and a few others, but my friend had to drag me away to make it to Carlsbad to pick up his girlfriend from work. The piece de resistance, though, I got to try before we left - a bottle of the 2004 Symposium Ale. Tom (the lawyer) said he feels this was the best beer they have ever made at stone (made in conjunction with Pizza Port and Alesmith), and I have to tell you, it was one of the best beers that I have ever had the fortune to taste. Only 300 cases were ever made, so I guess its not what you know, but who you know. All those beers were 8.5% and up, so I was a bit wobbly by the time we got to Pizza Port to wait for Blakes girlfriend. By then it was 10.30pm, and we got one pint of "Frank", their double IPA. Very tasty drop, full bodied with plenty of hops. Cant remember the alcohol, but am sure it as somewhere around the 9% mark. by the time we finished that, they had stopped bar service, but the barman let us have a few sly tasters of some of their other beers, all very good.
Next day was Stone brewery where I got to try a cask conditioned amarillo IPA, apparently more IBU's than their regular IPA, but it didnt taste like it. It was super smooth and tasty, but we could only have one glass each. Lara (fiancee) asked if we could get a tour, so we got a bit of a look around the premises. They have brewers working 8 hour shifts constantly brewing, and they are doing that 24/7 to keep up with demand. They made 36,000 barrels last year (100L per barrel) and their fermenters are 150 barrel. Their new brewery that they are moving into in a month or 2 has 350 barrel fermenters. In comparison, last year Anhueser Busch made about 1.2million barrels. Disgraceful! When I was there, the brewer was putting down a ruination IPA with ALOT of hops. He was more than happy to come down from the brewers perch and have a bit of a chat with me about it all, though he wouldnt give me too much info on how to clone the beers! :( As a matter of fact, all the staff seemed very happy, I guess they really look after their employees. I had a quick chat with the owner Greg Koch, he was looking busy, but gave me the time to say he was glad I came out for a look, and told me that the recipes for their anniversary ales will be out soon some internet sites, and also in Zymurgy, so to keep an eye out for em. I almost detected a note of envy when I told him I had tried the Symposium Ale, he was amazed that I had gotten my hands on some, and said that he didnt have any left himself, so I feel very lucky to have been able to try it. We left there and went back to my mates house, where we tried a few of the brews I had been waiting to get into, and also started to take some notes
Rogue dead guy - Full bodied, very malty, little hop aroma, and a little too sweet for mine

Hop Rod Rye IPA (8%) - dark ale, quite a hoppy nose (sorry, not real good at picking hops yet), quite bitter but rather smooth. The rye definitely adds a different flavour/complexity

Stone Old Guardian Barleywine (11.26%) - Rich golden colour, very low carbonation. Kinda smilar to the vertical epic belgians in taste, kinda sweet but balanced out by bitterness that was quite understated for about 100+IBU. Full bodied, some alcohol notes, doesnt taste 11% but sure kicks like it

Alesmith IPA (7.25%) - Straw/amber in colour, intense floral hop nose, maybe chinook or centennial? Can detect coriander seed and maybe some anise on the nose, though obviously that isnt in it! Not too full bodied, quite easy to drink and long on the palate bitterness. Maybe a little too hoppy? (Impossible!)

Stone Levitation Ale (4.4%) Anise on the nose, deep copper tome. Medium to full bodied, nice flavour, slight roasty notes and a good hop aftertaste. Noticeably lower alcohol.

Didnt manage to hit up Alesmith with in SD, nor any other breweries, got to try a few ballast Point beers, and a couple of other local numbers, but it was after I was already wasted, and I have no real worthwhile info on any other beers from there. Back in LA, I tried a heap more beers and went to a really good alehouse that only served beers in pints or halfpints or specialty glasses (400mL odd) so I was smashed by the time I left

Old Rasputin (9.5%) - Russian Imperial Stout. Thick brown head, very creamy mouthfeel, but it was served on nitrogen, so the body and taste may be a little less than authentic. Very dark, but possible to see through when held to light. Crazy coffee notes and a tannic/acidic palate. Couldnt drink more than one glass.

Pliny the Elder (8%) - Amber in colour, very intense hop nose, piney, maybe centennial? Quite bitter, I think around 100IBU, maybe even a little too over the top in the hops dept! Not really sweet on the front of the tongue, slightly tingly. BIG double IPA, 2 glasses would be more than enough, does a number on the palate, thats for sure

Lost Coast Brewing Great White Ale - The menu says an unfiltered Belgian style white ale scented with lemongrass. Light straw colour, there is a SLIGHT lemongrass taste on the palate (wouldnt have picked it if I hadnt read it) but none on the nose. Slightly spicy, fruity and very crisp. tastes like water after the first 2 beers, something you could drink all night

Alesmith Xtra Pale Ale - Pale amber in colour. Hoppy nose, maybe european finishing hops? Definitely not NW hops, no real citrusy or piney notes. Low-medium body, malty tones with a low bitterness aftertaste. Lara (fiancee) says it has a muddy undertone

Bear Republic Red Rocket - Dark amber to copper. Full bodied, sweetish on front of tongut yet sufficiently bitter on back of tongue. Its a Scottish Red, but more american than any scottish ales I have tried from england or scotland, maybe an american amber?

Stone Vertical Epic 05 (8.5%) - Deep ruby red, spicy phenolics on nose. Chocolatey molasses flavour on palate and an almost metallic aftertaste. Lara describes it as sucking on a copper coin, and also a little bit like soy sauce. Very full bodied, extremely complex, but maybe still a little young.

Double Bastard Ale (10%) - Very malty, not much of a hoppy nose, but very bitter, tingly on the front of the tongue, malty bitterness at the back. Alot bigger than Arrogant Bastard, not something you could drink all night, but definitely worth a drink. A mate said he could taste some honey on the palate (phenolics?). Lara complained that it made her eyes water.

Stone Ruination IPA (7.7%) - Quite pale, maybe a kinda straw colour. Big hop notes and a pretty insane amount of bitterness. Tastes pretty much like Chinook hops, easily 100IBU. Quite easy to drink at the start, but by the end, the palate gets a bit tired! Not sure if this is the kind of beer to start the night on, or end it on, but you would be a better man than me if you could drink it all night.

Um, thats about it. My last night in LA, I was debating between the Alesmith Horny Devil, the Speedway stout, or a pumpkin ale. Unfortunately, I went for the pumpkin ale. It was an amber colour, and tasted EXACTLY like pumkin pie, which was nice for the first half a glass, but after that it got a bit much. Too much spices and stuff. Next time I will get the horny devil. I couldnt end my beer sojourn on that note, so I cleansed myself with a few Firestone Pale Ale's, a fine version of an APA.
All in all, there are a ridiculous amount of good beers available in the US and canada, and if you like beer, you probably owe it to yourself to go over there for a month (if you can ever afford it and/or have the inclination) and check it all out. i picked up a free publication called NW Brewers News, and they list every micro and brewpub from San Francisco to Alaska, and I counted somehting like 307. I assume in the whole country there would be in the vicintiy of 1000, and alot of the micro brewers that I met were in their early 30's, so that bodes well for people like us who may wish to get into that market in Oz. I reckon we are at least 10 years behind them in terms of micro's, so maybe one day there will be a selection in Oz of so many good quality beers, and hopefully alot of the brewmasters will be people like us on the forum. But I have to be honest, I have tried a few of my beers since I got back, to see how they compared, and I hate to admit it, but I have a looong way to go before I could compare with most of the beers I tried. But hey, at least I have about 10 years to get there :beer:

Thanks for letting me rant, pics will follow in the next few days
Trent
 

AndrewQLD

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Well done Trent, good write up, entertaining and interesting. I myself, am renowned for my VERY short emails :lol: so I will not go into too much detail here. Suffice to say i am very jealous :angry: of your exploits over there, and I can only hope that one day in the not too distant future you will be able to get over that MONSTER hangover you must surely have :p .
Sorry to hear you could'nt get the hops you were looking for, but maybe on the next trip.

Cheers and welcome back

Andrew
 

kook

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Nice one! Looks like a fun trip! :)
 

THE DRUNK ARAB

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Welcome back Trent.

Great report and reading this at 9:00am has made me thirsty. <_<

They have a thriving Micro industry over there which I noticed on my trip earlier in the year.
Have to hand it to the PNW brewers, they LOVE their hops :super:

C&B
TDA
 

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