beer review

Forget the gardening

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If a brewer designs a beer to be drunk in a certain way – with a certain food, during certain weather, in a certain glass, that sort of stuff – I try and abide by that.

It’s only fair – the brewer made the beer with a particular idea in mind so it helps to try it under those circumstances. That’s what I did recently with Matilda Bay’s Minimum Chips. It’s a beer that has copped some flak in beer geek circles for, among other things, being a copy of James Squire’s golden ale or the odd Melbourne-centric nature of the name. While I accept it is odd to give a beer a name that will make no sense to an entire state, I don’t get the comparison to JS and their golden ale. I like Minimum Chips and it’s underplayed hop flavour that give you a little hit as you’re draining the glass on a hot day.

Or with some fish and chips, which is where I was going with this. I tried it on its own and with fish and chips, and I reckon it works quite well.

So, when it came to Stone & Wood’s Garden Ale I figured it made sense to drink some after working in the garden. Only problem was, I hate working in the garden. Actually there was another problem, it was too frigging hot today to do anything but sit inside and think “jeez, it’s too frigging hot today”.

So I forgot about the gardening and just drank the beer. And I liked it. Other beer geeks probably won’t because it doesn’t have all the crazy bells and whistles going on. What it is is a simple, pleasant thirst-quencher, with the addition of juniper berries (which have made more than a few appearances in brewing history).

What that does is give the beer a little something extra. It’s a beer designed for the hot days of summer, so the main focus is going to be with making a beer that goes down easy. But while that beer is going down easy there’s this juniper berry flavour (at least I assume that’s what it is. I’ve never tasted juniper berries before) that causes you to think “oh, that’s a little bit interesting”.

It’s there at enough of a level to make you notice it but not so much that it distracts from the beer’s main aim – to be a fine, easy drinker for summer.

Would a drink it again?: Yep, and not just because I’m quite the fan of the Stone & Wood oeuvre. Well, except the lager. But I’m not much for lagers generally.

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