3rd Place - Feral Brewing Co "Fanta Pants" Red Ale
The Local Taphouse (of Darlinghurst and St Kilda fame) is normally one of the best places to go for a drink. A comfortable place, friendly staff, good food and, most importantly, a spectacular selection of beers, both on tap and in the fridge. Every now and again, though, they do something a little special. Read: their SpecTAPulars, where they invite 20 different brewers to provide something interesting for the day. And now they've come up with the tap takeover. First up is Feral Brewing from the Swan Valley in WA, who have answered the call and provided 20 different beers to fill up the taps at the Taphouse.
While not many of the beers blew me away, there was one that impressed to no end, "Fanta Pants". Dark mahogany red with a bitter, malty nose. It sips beautifully. It benefits greatly from being tapped on the day because the freshness gives it a real spark. Add to that the huge, bitter, hoppy beginning and the perfect amount of sweetness through the middle and on the end, and you have a great beer.
2nd Place - Russian River "Pliny the Elder" DIPA (Double/Imperial Pale Ale)
So my favourite bottle shop, Platinum Liquor has gotten in a MASSIVE shipment of beer from America's West Coast. And to the victor come the spoils. A beer that sits second on the Beer Advocate list and (when I checked) eighteenth on the Rate Beer list. You know this is going to be serious.
I might not be an IPA fanboy like the rest of the world, but as soon as I give this a sniff I know I'm going to like it. Caramelised orange is how I'd best describe it. With a bit of vanilla thrown in. And that's exactly how it tastes. But with something different added in. I can't put my finger on it, but it's awesome. It's like the beer equivalent of MSG that I'm tasting.
While I get the feeling that this is a bit overrated (it's not the second best beer in the world, sorry), it is still excellent.
1st Place - Green Flash Double Stout
I first tasted this beer in a smallish pub in New York called Pony Bar. For the two weeks I spent in New York, I finished nearly every night in the place. Why? Hands down, no doubt about it, unquestionably, the best selection of beer I'd ever seen, having never really gotten involved in the craft beer "scene". They had around a dozen taps and as soon as a beer ran out they'd add a new one. Of all the beers I tried at this place, this was the second. And it was the best.
I love my stouts, but, fuck me, this is exceptionally drinkable. The bottle advertises "big, bold and complex" and that is the perfect way to describe this beer. Totally malt driven and, at 8.8% abv, it's as strong as it is sessionable. But there's a complexity to it that I find totally addictive.
Apparently the boys at Platinum only got in 4 x 4 packs of this beer. I have bad news for you. I'm going to buy every single one. It's exceptional. It's the best sessionable stout I've ever tasted.