Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Beers of Xmas - On the seventh day of Christmas....

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...a Lobethal Bierhaus "Red Truck" Porter...

After yesterday noting that I was only aware of four "Christmas" beers produced in Australia, today I discovered that there is actually a fifth Australian Christmas ale available. Fellow good beer lover and beer writer, Chris McNamara, drew my attention to the Lobethal Bierhaus Christmas Ale, a 6% ABV beer that has "cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice added so it's like Xmas cake in a glass". That is one beer I will be super keen to try next Christmas. (Melbournians can purchase the Lobethal Bierhaus Christmas Ale from SwordsSelect Wine&Beer Stores.)

However, since it was too late for me to acquire one this week, today's review is of the Lobethal Bierhaus "Red Truck" Porter, which I had already acquired and seemed rather timely for this Porter-appropriate weather that Melbourne is currently throwing at us. It is almost like a Northern Hemisphere Christmas here (...there has even been SNOW on the Victorian the middle of Summer!).

South Australia's Lobethal Bierhaus (Adelaide Hills Craft Brewing) was established in 2007 by former bankers, Phil Jones and Alistair Turnbull, who were seeking a lifestyle change with a move to the Adelaide region and a new career focusing on their keen interest in both wine and beer.

The brewery, with its adjoining cellar door and resturant, was previously a woollen mill. However, apparently the origin of the building has been traced back to another brewery - the Kleinschmidt Lobethal Brewery - which operated there from 1851 until the 1870s. Lobethal Bierhaus is definitely one of the breweries I am very keen to visit when we pop over to Adelaide mid-next year.

The Porter is something of an underrated style in Australia. There are a couple of excellent ones, such as the Bridge Road Brewers Robust Porter and Mornington Peninsula Brewery Porter, but many local versions tend to me rough, overcooked or just bland. Not so with Lothethal's 5.2% abv effort.

Richly dark with a slight brown hue and a generous tan head, the Lobethal Bierhaus "Red Truck" is a classic English Porter.

It has a very good nose of malt, cocoa, dark berries and some vanilla. The vanilla is there in the taste too, along with a healthy dose of cherry and plenty of well rounded dark malt that is not too roasted and hence this porter is soft and is not dry.

In the mouth Red Truck is silky smooth with a good solid body and deep texture yet medium-to-high carbonation. The finish is quite short. I only had one available, but probably could have drunk 3 of them.

Without being anything overly special, other than a well brewed and enjoyable dark ale, the Lobethal Bierhaus "Red Truck" surely fits right along side with the other top regular English Porters from Australian brewers.

Alt Christmas Song of the Day: "December Is For Cynics" by The Matches


  1. the old xmas ale can be a bastard to get a hold of (I remember going to way to many bottle shops chasing the red oak one a year or two ago) and then they can leave you with that oh dear I'm eating a ginger bread man feeling. However they are a good thing in general and an idea to be aspired to. I probaly will still go for a saison or a tripple with my turkey though.

    I think there is space for an Aussie xmas ale though, perhaps something that tastes like passion fruit and kiwi, or a prawn on the bbq rather than the big heavy winter beers that seem to fill the euro xmas role rather than the aussie xmas.

    May be a challenge better suited to the home brewer.......

  2. Couldn't agree more, Darren. Traditional Belgian Christmas Ales are hardly appropriate for our Aussie climate (with the exception of Melbourne's current weather!)...but it's still enjoyable to try them out as part of the eternal journey through the beer landscape.

    As a's not for everyone and is clearly not something you'd stand around a bbq with.

    Have you tried the Red Hill Christmas Ale this year? They've toned it down a fair bit to make it more suitable for the Australian climate. It is still a dessert sipper...but lighter, hoppier and fresher than the richly dark and fruity typical Christmas beers. They might just be on the right won't be an easy journey to a really Aussie appropriate Christmas tipple.

  3. nope last taste was last year, a kinder beer than the year before. The pills that comes out around xmas is an awesome beer but was like hens teeth this year unless you could get to the brewery.

    I actually like the big spicy beers, but more the ones that make you go "I cant quite put my finger on what that spice is....

    However preface all this with I'm doing a tasting of my homebrew tripples. Not a good pairing for objective thinking. Excellent pairing for Turkey or pudding though.

    For the Aussie xmas beer have been thinking a tripple with the coopers yeast, kind of an imperial aussie ale, perhaps with some aussie bush spice, lemon gum, koala or penguin :)

  4. Oh yes indeed. We were lucky enough to have an afternoon at Red Hill Brewery back at the start of the month, so we picked up a healthy supply of the Bohemian Pilsner (along with the Christmas Ale and Double-Barrel Christmas Ale) to be drunk on Christmas Day...and the weather is looking perfect for it! Cheers!

  5. all I can say to your supply of the bo pills is lucky bastard. I think it best drunk before the turkey!