Beer hunting is something I do a fair bit of. If I’m passing by a bottle shop I’ll stick my head in to see if they’ve got a hidden gem in their fridges. Sometimes I’ve struck gold, like finding a bottle of Deus and Three Monts in a mainstream bottle shop in Bowral. But most of the time I walk out empty-handed (and I’m sure that the guys behind the bottle shop counter think I’m weird, because you’re not really supposed to browse in a bottle shop).
Some places I’ll check regularly and the most unusual of those is Aldi. It’s unusual because most of their stock seems to be made up of beers whose packaging and labels bear an uncanny resemblance to other beers – like James Squire, Stella Artois or Corona. But every now and then they’ll stock beers I haven’t seen anywhere else. That’s usually the Hopper Whitman range from the US, which I’ve written about before.
Back then one of the beers they had was a Belgian white ale, which was quite tasty – much more so than you’d expect from a supermarket beer. Well, a week ago I found two new Hopper Whitman beers – an amber ale and a nut brown ale. Some internet research tells me that the Hopper Whitman beers are brewed for a supermarket chain in the US and, according to rumour, one or both of these beers aren’t available in the United States. That would imply that they’ve been brewed especially for Aldi but I haven’t been able to confirm that.
Anyway, the weaker of the two beers for me was the amber ale (though i give you the caveat that I’m not a great fan of ambers in general). There was a slightly nutty aroma with a metallic edge. The flavour was of very mild nuttiness and not a lot else. Also, the first bottle I had tasted like it had an infection but the second bottle was fine. My reckoning is, if you’re after a simple amber ale, stick with the one from James Squire. It’s better than this.
The nut brown ale was better, even though I’m not a fan of brown ales either. The label states that it’s an “ale with natural hazelnut flavours” which I take to mean that they’ve used flavouring rather than actual hazelnuts. At least they’re open about that. The beer pours a watery cola colour. There are some noticeable but aromas and flavours. Are they hazelnuts? Dunno, I’m not prone to eating hazelnuts so I wouldn’t have a clue how to describe their aroma and flavour beyond “nutty”. So it’s nutty. But not so nutty than it’s unpleasant. While it’s not as good as that quite nice Belgian white ale from the same brewer, I’m glad I bought a six-pack of it.
I also bought a sixer of the amber ale, which might stay in the cellar until I can foist it on some unsuspecting visitors.