I generally try not to write up drinks that I don’t enjoy, or can’t rate that highly. Simply because people want to read about good drinks, and what new drinks out there that are worth laying down your hard earned cash on.
Often when I find a drink I don’t like I make sure I have as many people try it with me because I know I can be a bit of a tosser when it comes to this stuff. I realise that I look for different things in beers and wines than what even my mates do.
But every now and again I do review a bad drop, and when I do I like to go back a few months or perhaps even a year later and retry those drinks, just to see if things had changed. Maybe it was just a bad vintage, maybe the beers I bought had been left in the sun on the pallet out the back of the bottleshop for too many days.
For example I was convinced a while back to go back and retry Matilda Bay’s Fat Yak, and found it to be quite good on the second go, and that I simply shouldn’t have brushed my teeth that day before I had tried it.
So it was that I came back around to trying the Sail and Anchor beers. I had given them a pasting a while back, but since then they have brewed a limited release Devil Dodger IPA (Indian Pale Ale). So I thought perhaps I should go back and retry the range.
And you know what?
It’s still average at best.
Having said that though, the Devil Dodger is actually quite a decent beer. Originally I wasn’t sure if my judgement was clouding thinking that the only place left for the Sail and Anchor beers to go were up and surely they can pull at least one rabbit out of their hat. But going back and retrying it with others, I’ve realised that this is actually an ok and approachable beer.
Sure it won’t have all the hop-heads out there standing up and taking notice, as it’s not a huge hop driven face grenade, but it does have flavour, balance, a light bitter tang and is, well, inviting and moreish. It’s more of a subtle easy going IPA, and originally I didn’t get that, as I look for big bold assertive IPA, but this release is actually a good beer, it did float my boat (pun totally intended).
The Sail and Anchor beers are made exclusively for the Woolworths group, by Gage Road Brewing Company (which Woolworths has a large stake in), and distributed solely through the Woolworths outlets – BWS, Dan Murphy’s etc, and at Woolworths owned ALH Group hotels. Devil Dodger can be found at those larger bottleshop sites, and is often very heavily discounted.
And even though Sail and Anchor seem to drop the ball a bit with the core range, they seem to be able to get it mostly right with their limited release range. It makes you wonder if only they could get hat core range right, if only……
Other Sail and Anchors that won’t float your boat.
Monkeys Fist Pale Ale – I recently had to tie a Monkeys Fist on the end of a length of rope (Google it) to through it up into a tree while camping. I had to have about six goes at tying the bloody thing, and strangely enough it took me about six goes to try and drink this beer. Its sweet, little to no hop character and no bitterness, touches of apricot if you hold your tongue just right though. Mouthfeel isn’t too bad, but it’s the lack of flavour that marks this beer down.
Larks Foot Golden Ale – Little to no head in the glass, but this one actually smells like a beer, slight caramels, malts and hops to it on the nose. On the tongue it shows those same flavours. Touches of herbs and hops with just enough bitterness to keep it interesting. Not huge in the flavour stakes though, and that’s what lets it down, but it’s ok. Couldn’t do a session of it, but overall it’s not too horrible, and too be honest I’ve had worse.
Cats Shank Kolsch – Kolsch is a unique German type of ale, pale straw in colour, with distinct hop flavours and mild bitterness. This is maybe just a shade or two darker than typical, and mildly bitter, but not much going on in the hop department. Citrus and sour grains on the nose, with that citrus showing up on the tongue from a beer that is crisp and dry, like Kolsch should be too. Retrying this now in the summer heat we found it pretty easy to drink. It’s an ok beer at a reasonable price, but for a good example of an Australian Kolsch look at the Four Pines.
Boas Bind Amber Ale – seems to be trying to mimic the James Squire Amber Ale, with less promise of a good time. Its smells light, with a little toasty grain there, probably the best smelling beer of their core range. Heavy malt based beer, with a slight toastiness on the tongue, and with enough hop bitterness to keep you satisfied, but finishes slightly washed out. Not long, lingering and dry like you would expect it to.