The brewery at Lawrence Victor Estate Winery
I discovered Lawrence Victor Coonawarra Old Ale (ABV 5%) at a local bar here in Singapore called "Ice Cold Beer". The place used to carry Cooper's, but its supply of Aussie beers is now sadly limited to the uninspiring likes of Fosters, Victoria Bitter and Castlemaine's XXXX. Lawrence Victor is not a beer I would recommend although I would suggest sampling at least one, it's a unique little creation. The head was weak and dissipated rather quickly. The beer had a sickly sweet flavor, reminiscent of overripe fruit. It did have some unique notes, although excessive carbonation masked too many of them. One other reviewer aptly described the aroma as 'vommity.'
Bottle: Poured a very cloudy orange with a medium sized rocky off-white head. Sour dried apricots with a kind of vommity aroma in the background that, surprisingly, wasnt that bad. Tart, sour taste, somewhat like fermented orange juice. Quite fruity, with a touch of light crystal malt when slurped. Strange carbonation with occasionally very big bubbles. Not bad, and quite unique, but not in any way great.Despite the sweet, vommity, fruitiness this is not a beer that you would confuse it for something Belgian. Coonawarra is, of course, a region far better known for its wine and the Old Ale is a side project for the Lawrence Victor winery's (which has a Shiraz I would like to try). Therefore, I can forgive some of their deficiencies on their virgin attempt and beer. I've known several good micros that have had less-than-impressive first products and although this beer wasn't to my taste it did show promise. It should be interesting to see what they come up with next.
The Inchant brewery's beers were a little more seasoned, the best of the three I sampled was the Thomas Jecks Ale (ABV 4.5%), supposedly a reproduction of the ale brewed at Guildford 's Rose & Crown hotel from the 1840s. Sadly, the hotel seems they have recently gone out of business. I was expecting the worst from the beer after the horrible, horrible head it produced on the initial pour. It was nothing but head... scaarrry! After giving the brew a few minutes to turn into something drinkable, it was fairly decent. It was slightly nutty and yeasty at the finish. The yeasty taste is described here as 'vegemite,' which is about as uniquely Australian as you can get.
The Fettler (ABV 6.3%) reminded me of the spiced homebrews that I used to make for Christmas dark amber and seasoned with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange rind. And it also had that yeasty (vegemite) taste that my homebrews. While a bit thin, and again lacking head, I am a fan of spiced ales and would buy this one again just for the nostalgia. The Bullant bitter red label (ABV 5.5%), was the most disappointing of the three. A bit too sweet at the finish, syrupy mouthfeel and no carbonation or head. I possibly had a bad bottle.
Coming next, Myrick's choice for best Australian Beer.