Brew Review: Rodenbach Grand Cru

Brew Review: Rodenbach Grand Cru

The Belgium brewery, Rodenbach, is entirely devoted to making one particular, very different type of beer. It’s not a lager or a pilsner and it is by no means an “easy drinker”.

The flavour can be described as almost “winey” with a tart acidity. This is due to the way the beer is aged: Not in your conventional casks, kegs or barrels, but in huge wooden tuns that are as high as the halls that they stand.

Barley What?

The Forester’s team have been pretty excited about a particular Belgian keg that we’ve just received. Let’s just say it’s not your average beer…

Aside from being aged in Muscatel Barrels, To Øl’s “Mine is Bigger Than Yours” is a strong barley wine that clocks in at 12% ABV.

So what is barley wine? (Or Stingo or Wee Heavy as it's been called in other parts of the UK). For a start it's got nothing to do with wine.

These things are usually dark, full-bodied, rich and fruity. But what really defines them is the strength… With an ABV of anything upwards of 7%, it’s not something you swig in pints, or schooners for that matter. There’s a good reason it was once named the sitting down beer (less far to fall).

The style of barley wine has been around as long as beer itself. In the days before refrigeration, summer-brewed beers could easily turn to vinegar so these sorts of big, strong ales were brewed to help preservation.

Here in Australia, the style has seen somewhat of resurgence with local brewers including Moondog, Mountain Goat, Feral and more dabbling in barley wine production. This Friday during our Prohibition Party, We’ll be tapping another highly regarded Barley Wine from the United States: Clown Shoes Brewing's Crunkle Sam.

Despite its relatively low production, barley wine is not about to vanish, so order a pot and enjoy! 

Funny Beer Business in New Zealand

So, what do we know about New Zealand? The people speak funny, Lord of the Rings was filmed there and they’re pretty good at rugby. 

What fewer people realise is that there is also a booming craft beer scene and some pretty incredible hop varieties being grown down there too...

Garage Project is a particularly interesting and somewhat wacky little brewery based in Wellington. The two guys behind the business are Jos Ruffell and Pete Gillespie, friends who share a passion for pushing the boundaries of brewing to the limit.

Their "Death From Above" is a self proclaimed “Indochine Pale Ale”. It uses aggressive, high citrus character hops and then adds mango, chilli, Vietnamese mint and lime juice. All the ingredients you’d expect to find in beer, right?

Prefer something with a bit more of a local flavour? How about ANZAC biscuits? The "Pan Pacific" is brewed with golden syrup, oats, toasted coconut and a combination of New Zealand Motueka and Australian Galaxy hops.

The most absurd of all could be the “Umami Monster”. It uses sea water, seaweed and fermented fish to create a monster of dark savoury smoke and rich umami complexity.

If all this is appetising to you, watch this space because Forester’s Hall might just have a bit of a surprise waiting around the corner.

Battle to Brew the Strongest Beer

After knocking back a few 11+% imperial stouts and Triple IPAs we got thinking, just how strong do beers get? It turns out that in the last few years, there has been a fierce battle raging between a few renegade brewers: The battle to brew the strongest beer

In 2008, German brewer Schorschbraeu was awarded a world record for the world's strongest beer and hence was one of the very first breweries to be recognised for their high alcohol brews. This traditional Eisbock clocked in at a modest 31% ABV.

It was this event that grabbed the attention of the lads from Brewdog over in Scotland. Renowned for their clever marketing strategies and creativity, they decided to rise to the challenge. The result was the 2009, 32% imperial stout known as Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

Since most brewing yeasts can't survive at such high alcohol levels, brewers have to get imaginative with their brewing techniques, using different yeast strains and freezing cold temperatures to make their brews stronger and stronger. 

Brewing such a strong beer in an otherwise quite conservative beer market gained Brewdog an awful lot of media attention and a lot of it was negative. In typical Brewdog fashion they hit back by creating a 0.5% ABV “worlds weakest beer”, cheekily naming it “Nanny State”.

For years, Schorschbraeu and Brewdog continued to go punch for punch: 40% led to 41% then 44%, until Brewdog released “The End of History”.

Packaged inside real roadkill (yes, you pour the beer from actual dead squirrels) “The End of History” clocked in at a staggering 55% ABV. At $780 a bottle, the beer containing hints of juniper berries, mead, and nettles is also the most expensive.

The Worlds Oldest Brewery...

Weihenstephaner Brewery can be found in the Bavarian beer-drinking heartland, about a half-hour drive from the Oktoberfest hub in Munich. 

There, in the beautiful town of Freising, brewers have been hard at work since 1044, when Benedictine monks at the Weihenstephan monastery decided they needed something to wet their whistle after a hard day at the office.

Although the brewery makes several classic German styles, including a helles (light-coloured) lager, a dunkel (dark) lager, and a doppelbock (a strong, malty brew), it's best known for its Hefeweissbier. 

This traditional Bavarian-style wheat beer has an amazing golden hue and hints of clove and banana in its aroma and taste. These are classic features of Bavarian wheat beers, and come from the brewery's yeast strain, which it has been using since the 1980s. There's also some tartness that comes through, thanks to the wheat. 

Come and try some of Weihenstephaner’s finest beer and learn even more about the art of German brewing from 7PM during our Oktoberfest celebrations. 


So you may have noticed the "Sour" label next to some of our tap beers. Sour beer? "huh?" you may say, but these beers have intentionally acidic, tart, sour tastes.    

"Sour" is a broad term for beers that have a funky/barnyard or other characteristics not generally found in beer. 

Yeast or bacteria (similar to those found in yoghurt) intruding into the brewing process produces pleasingly sour, food-friendly beer, that is mysteriously complex and engaging.  

The temperature at which the beer is fermented and then stored will then play a large role in determining how quickly the aromas, flavours and acidity develop.  

At Forester's Hall we have our fair share of sours, so come down and ask one of our staff for a try, you may just love it!