Alcohol has a rapid effect on me at the moment. Two beers and I’m tipsy, three beers and I’m drunk, four beers and I’m passed out by 8:30pm on a Saturday night. Back in May, during the beer soaked days of Good Beer Week, and then throughout the high-alcohol imperial stout indulgences of winter, my excessive beer consumption provided a level of resistance to intoxication. Today, that immunity has disintegrated.
I suspect my current vulnerability to intoxication is a consequence of my marathon training. I’m in the final weeks of preparing my body to run a full marathon for the first time.
This intensive training means that I’m drinking much less at the moment (and only on Saturdays and Sundays) and my body is constantly working at a very high rate of energy output. Any intake is rapidly absorbed and metabolised. Hence, when I drink I beer, I feel the impact of any alcohol hit very quickly.
I don’t mind this current state of affairs, because once again it reiterates the balance I can achieve as a vigorous beer lover who wants to always be fit and healthy. Regardless of my Untappd feed, I am able to keep my passionate beering in-check (…which remains important to me, after terribly unhealthy younger years).
Alcohol and health are not the best of friends, it’s a simple equation of kilojoules. However, it doesn’t have to be an uncontrollable vice if you find a balance that keeps you healthy. If I was unable to break a regular cycle of constant boozing…then I would be concerned. Thankfully, I’ve once again reset my body to recognise and respect the influence of alcohol. Booze vs health bashers should possibly consider other factors that cause conflict between the two, rather than simply blaming the beverage. [end rant].
Anyway…on Saturday morning I hit a new personal distance mark for running, 34 kilometres. Wow, my body did not like that! The pain immediately after the run was nauseating. Thankfully, a big hot Mexican breakfast at Bluecorn in St Kilda fueled a quick recovery.
When we arrived home I headed straight to the fridge and grabbed my first beer for the weekend – a beer that was cause for excitement and celebration – the new Mountain Goat Summer Ale in a can.
The excitement and celebration was not brought on by the amazingly crazy craft beer concoction in the can (save that for Moon Dog’s Jumping the Shark!), but because we finally have a local craft beer in real beer cans!
No offense to the Australian Brewery, which I believe may have been the first Australia small craft brewery of this era to release beers in cans, but their slim cans look like energy drinks or alcopops.
The other common beer cans that have been appearing on the craft beer market recently include the short and fat 330ml cans, as well as some 500ml cans. The 330ml size is understandable, as the volume is the same as the most common bottle size. Numerous canned examples from the UK and USA have been available here for almost a year now, such as the very enjoyable beers of BrewDog, including the canned goodness of Punk IPA and Dead Pony Club.
When in New Zealand last month, we enjoyed many of the marvelous Garage Project beers, three of which had been packaged in 330ml cans for the first time using a tiny and manual (two cans at a time) canning machine at their little Aro Street brewery. Garage Project’s Angry Peaches pale ale is a great example of good craft beer for drinking from a can.
So anyway, while cans are increasingly common, the lack of the “traditional” Aussie 375ml size and shape can was a little unsatisfying.
As a Melbournian, the thought of a beer can or “tinnie” brings to mind the 375ml cans of macro lagers from CUB and Lion (e.g. VB, Melbourne Bitter, XXXX). Released last week, the Mountain Goat Summer Ale is the first craft beer I have seen to use this format. I hear that Mornington Peninsula Brewery are also working on a canning line for their beers, so I’m eager to see what format they use.
To my delight, the Mountain Goat Summer Ale is exactly what I want from a craft beer in a can. Coming into the warmer months, it’s the type of beer that I will love to have in hand as I barbeque our dinner or enjoy the hot afternoon sunshine. It has a vibrant and fruity hop profile, not too dissimilar to the brilliant Stone & Wood Pacific Ale. Although, instead of Galaxy hops, this Summer Ale uses Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops. It has a bitterness of 20BU, and alcohol volume of 4.7%. The beer is produced under contract at the Independent Distillers facility in Laverton, which produces all of Mountain Goat’s core range of packaged beers (Steam Ale, Hightail Ale and IPA).
This beer is just right for drinking straight from the can. These days I’m usually an advocate for drinking good beer from a glass, and you will certainly experience more of the beer’s sensory elements when you do so. Nonetheless, the fruity hop hit of Mountain Goat’s Summer Ale is sufficiently present and satisfying when consumed straight from the can.
With my metabolism working overtime post 34km run, two beers soaked through me quickly and I was nicely content. However, once the heat of summer kicks in and my body is a bit more relaxed again, I can see a full 6 pack of Summer Ale disappearing down my throat very easily on the weekends.
Mountain Goat Summer Ale cans are now widely available through craft beer friendly retail outlets throughout Melbourne, and will soon be stocked by various major supermarkets and their big beer barns, such as Dan Murphy’s, across Australia.
We purchased our 6 pack of Summer Ale from McCoppins in Abbotfords. It cost $20, which I thought was great value for 6 x 375ml cans, when compared to local craft beer prices.
I have a feeling that this beer will prove to be a massive success overing the coming summer, as Australian’s discover a flavoursome, characterful and sessionable beer that outwardly looks just like the beers they are most familiar with.
It’s not a crazy or aggressive craft beer, nor is it a bland attempt at being a Aussie lager-like crossover. Mountain Goat Summer Ale is friendly, crisp and refreshing. It’s a beer that you can drink ice-cold yet still experience a good hoppy flavour.
Even the Summer Ale packaging is wonderfully basic. A strong design with no need for superfluous explanation, no wasted words trying to justify it’s existence, appeal or “craft beer” status. No back story either. Mountain Goat’s promotion of it has revolved around a sense of “we brewed it, we like it…hope you do to”, and that is awesome.
It’s a simple beer that will hopefully put the canned mainstream Aussie lagers to shame.
Best of all, I finally have use for those many beer holders that I used to collect, which have been neglected for years because they are too wide for 330ml bottles and I mostly drink out of a glass anyway.
All in all, whether you like the beer or not, it’s just fun to be holding a classic beer can again, which I believe is amplified by the added bonus of having a good crafty beer in the can.
A few weeks back, a free sample of this beer arrived in the mail from the DB Breweries (Asia Pacific Breweries/Heineken) PR team. Strangely, it was sent in a soft envelop instead of a box or supported mail parcel. Not surprisingly, the bottle had smashed and all I received was a soaked packet of broken glass. Who posts glass bottles of liquid in a soft satchel? Weird.
For a long time I have stayed away from Monteith’s beers. I tried many from the brewer’s range back in my early “craft beer discovery” days of 2007-2008, and I recall buying their Summer Ale, Celtic Red, and Black Beer on several occasions. However, the tide turned in 2010 when I learned about an unfortunate case of nasty business tactics deployed by DB Breweries. The company trade marked the name ‘Radler’, which is a descriptive beer style term, no different to ‘porter’, ‘stout’ or ‘pilsner’. This effectively shut down beers of their competition, with small brewers forced to either withdraw and change existing products that were labelled as Radler based on the beer’s style.
A campaign lead by New Zealand’s Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA) and supported by Australian Brews News called for a boycott of Monteith’s products. Whilst such an anti-competitive business strategy was nothing new, and many examples can be found throughout the global beer industry and market, there was enough value and impetus in this case to capture my agreement and support. It was a local example that went harshly against all I had come to love about the friendly and supportive “craft beer community”. Hence, I have not purchased a Montieth’s beer since.
Anyway, since DB attempted to send me a freebie, I thought I’d try it out regardless. The attraction of this beer comes from the claim that it has been “conditioned in American oak pinot noir barrels”.
Some of my most favourite beers of all time have been pinot noir barrel aged, but they have all been very strong and rich beers, usually barleywines or imperial stouts in style.
I believe Glen of the blog Beer is your friend hit the nail on the head concerning this beer. Other than weasel marketing, this beer doesn’t warrant special release status or branding.
It’s a decent straight porter, smooth and full. I did not dislike it, but it completely lacked character. I could not detect any elements impart by the pinot noir barrels. I was hoping to taste some berries, dark fruits or spices. Mostly the flavour was of just of dark malt tending to chocolate. Possibly, the barrel ageing helped smooth out the edges a little, but I thought the beer was essentially similar in taste to the BrewSmith Chocolate Paradise Porter that we brewed at home in June.
The comparison porters from local craft brewers, which I mentioned in that BrewSmith post, have more character than Monteith’s porter, and those beers are just core range products, not special releases.
The Monteith’s Barrel Aged Porter is approachable but uninspiring. I finished the bottle, but felt that was more than enough. It would probably be more satisfying when paired with food.