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4 Pines brewery popped up out of nowhere down here in Melbourne. Well, it seems that way to me, at any rate (the caveat of course being that I’m violently anti-social and don’t really keep my ear to the ground. The two are related, I promise you). All of a sudden, their beers were everywhere, even in my local grocery store. I was immediately suspicious and thought they were Lion Nathan or the other big mob trying to gain another foothold in the microbrew market. However, according to a source I trust, they were among the first microbreweries in Manly/Sydney/that big glamorous city to the north of us. And when I tried their beers, not knowing anything about them, I was very impressed. I’d actually rate their Kolsch over this pale, but it’s more of a summer drink, whereas for sessionability I like pales because they are suitable (for me) in almost any weather. And this is a really nice example of a pretty faultless, pleasurable pale. It’s perfectly balanced to these tastebuds, just the right amount of hop bitterness to malty flavour at the end, the body is just about right and the finish is dry enough to be satisfying but not so much that it leaves you parched. I’m quite fond of this brew, and by the looks of it, I have to go to the brewery one day to try the stuff that doesn’t make it past the doors.
And here we have one of my very favourite bands, Pagan Altar, with yet another re-release of their previously unreleased, quite poorly produced but still magical, EP The Time Lord. When they first hit the scene, they were probably just a little too weird and sinister and yet melodic for the average heavy metal listener (well, actually, hard rock listener, since this stuff was recorded and being played on stage in the late 70s) to really dig. But they were an enigma, and only years later was their material given a proper release (and a few bootlegs as well) and by then they were old farts who probably couldn’t be arsed dressing up in the robes anymore, and just let the music do the talking. And it’s the sort of stuff I just can’t describe, really - you either love it or you scratch your head and look confused. Especially with the vocals, which I think fit perfectly but others have been heard to complain about their “high-pitched, nasal shittiness”. Suffice to say, those people are wrong.
Pagan Altar’s material’s getting very hard to acquire on vinyl, so whenever I get a change I grab it, and I’m glad I managed to get my greasy hands on this beauty. Most of the songs on this EP were re-recorded on their late-released first album, but I’m quite enamoured with the murkiness of these scratchy recordings when these guys were young lads, no idea of how their music would later inspire many a young doom metal fan.
So here we are, beer drinkers. The final installment of the Forrest beers. Do you recall how I was somewhat disappointed with the beers out of glass as opposed to the keg? Well, this one, sadly, is no exception.
Again, it’s not disagreeable. The aromas in the glass are marvellous - the strong hops and a grassy note that is very appealing. The taste, though, is a let-down - not upfront enough, with the hops not announcing their presence like they should. The body is a little thin, but the finish is quite nice - dry and a little bitter, which is the only thing that gives it a personality. It would actually be a nice session beer, but I already have enough of those. I will keep an eye out on this brewery and see if they can impress me. I hope so because their set up is great and I want them to do well.
Another album off my list of favourites - Black Magician, another fine English doom band. They play very Cathedral-esque doom, the difference being that I like these guys much better than I ever liked Cathedral. Blasphemy, I know. But there’s something about the crushing, bruising riffs, the manic incantations of the lead vocalist, and the little organ flourishes they put over everything that push all my buttons. I haven’t played this one nearly enough and it still made my top albums list. Highly recommended - my favourite track is definitely the Four Thieves Vinegar (the link is to the demo recording as the album version on youtube isn’t working for me for some reason…)
So, I said I’d re-review this beer from the days of my old Facebook photos, and I see no better time than now, a couple of days into the new year.
I did rip their lager a new one, but upon having this very Aussie version of an American pale both on tap and this new bottle, I’m finally a fan. This is the quintessential hot weather drink - it goes down so smoothly when you’re hot and bothered, and has great sessionability but, again, in the right season. When I first had this, it was winter, it was freezing, and the lack of body and the fairly minimal finish made it highly unappealing. However, right now, the amazing floral, almost tropical aromas followed by enough of a hop bite upfront to keep one interested, lack of grainy taste and that minimal finish makes it absolutely perfect for slamming down in the sun. As someone who doesn’t really like pilseners, I lack a good summer beer, and this is the one. So I apologise, Stone & Wood, for originally doubting this beer. I still don’t like your lager, though.
Again, I’ll pair it with the original vinyl I had it with, although again it doesn’t match, but for a different reason. Atlantean Kodex are an epic metal band from Germany, thus they probably require a strong ale or a Bavarian wheat beer or a pils of some kind. Anyway, they are up there on my list of favourite bands of all time. Calling to mind early Manowar, with viking-era Bathory, and a Manilla Road-esqe sense of grandeur and an obvious, obsessive love for homeland and lore, the absolute passion they display on their recordings is second to none. Beautiful, barbaric, melodic and, that word again, passionate heavy metal. When I listen to their stuff, shivers run down my spine. This double vinyl is their demos repackaged and put onto wax like it should be. I’ve annoyed many a neighbour with this band, and I will continue to do so…