Crown Ambassador 2011 Reserve Lager
The oaked portion represents around 10 per cent of the total volume and is detectable as a delicate sandalwood note in the final beer, which otherwise followed a similar recipe to last year’s release. The empty barrels were refilled with more 2011 Crown Ambassador and the contents will be incorporated in the 2012 batch.
Readers may recall that I detected an unpleasant “wet horse blanket” character in the 2010 Crown Ambassador, suggesting the presence of Brettanomyces, a wild yeast. Subsequent testing by Fosters confirmed my suspicions and Cozens acknowledges that the “brett” probably came from one of the oak barrels used during maturation, which previously held white wine from the Barossa Valley.
Having now sampled three different bottles of 2010 Crown Ambassador, it appears the level of brett varies from bottle to bottle.
“Every bottle I’ve had is different,” says Cozens.
The one I sampled and reviewed last year had by far the strongest brett character, while a couple sampled more recently displayed lower levels of the “horsey” character. Thankfully, the 2011 vintage showed no such feral elements.
Beechworth-based Bridge Road Brewers marked their 500th brew recently with an unusual Smokey Breakfast Lager. Owner/head brewer Ben Kraus used German smoked malt as well as coffee, tea, muesli, raisin toast, honey and maple syrup.
“Breakfast is a big part of our day at the brewery,” says Kraus. “It gives the brewing team a chance to sit down and discuss the day and week ahead. So we decided to celebrate our love of breakfast and this milestone, together.”
Despite the “kitchen sink” approach to the recipe, Smokey Breakfast Lager is a relatively smooth dark brew with only faint hints of coffee and bacon in the background.
Meanwhile, the Malt Shovel Mad Brewers have released their Stout Noir for the second winter running, with the volume of licorice character decidedly dialed up. Powdered licorice root is added to the brewing kettle at the last moment, which enhances the burnt flavours of the dark malts employed.
2011 CROWN AMBASSADOR (10.2 %)
Copper-amber. Aroma: hints of caramel, pine needles, allspice. Palate: sweet toffee dominates initially with sandalwood and praline notes; warming alcohol emerges late along with bitter finish laced with pine resin notes. Overall: preview sample suggests a rather shy new oak presence.
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