Feb 7, 2014

Tasting notes: Morrison English Bitter

In light of The Local Taphouse's Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers of 2013 in which Tasmania failed to place a single beer, I'm working my way through the range of available Tasmanian beers. There are 7 microbreweries in the state and I'd like to survey the scene systematically and get a proper sense of what the state has to offer.

First cab off the rank:

Morrisons English Bitter
4.2% ABV

Aroma: In a word: delightful. Orange, mandarin and marmalade mix nicely with the malt, the calling card of Styrian Goldings. It's also giving fruity esters that reminds me of when I've used the Wyeast 1968 strain. Could be wrong about both of course but not about it being delightful.
Appearance: Hazy orange with a thin head that reduces to a few wisps before long but leaves something behind most of the way down the glass.
Flavour: Lovely malt, it reminds me of the Golden Promise I've been using lots over the last year. There's a little crystal there too and the hops finish what they began in the aroma. Orange peel, mandarin and juicy citrus.
Mouthfeel: Carbonation on the lower side of medium. Low/medium body.

I first tried this beer sometime in 2012 and since then it's been one of my favourite Tasmanian beers so I'm not coming into this one with anything like neutrality. I'm very glad that it's just as good as I remember.

The success of this beer is in it's drinkability. The hops? Perfect. The yeast? Just the right level of esters and attenuation. The malt? The ideal canvas for this painting. It works so well as a whole. And while it doesn't really offer anything new or different, it is a damn good bitter. I could happily work my way through a carton of this which is pretty good considering that I love variety and wouldn't buy a 6 pack of most beers.

In fact, the only knock on this beer has nothing to do with any problems that the beer itself has. It's just that it's the best of a limited bunch. It's traditional and safe. It's extremely good but it's not doing more than that. It's not challenging anyone. There's always a place for very good beer and not all beer needs to be challenging or bold, but I want something more. A contender for the best beer in the state shouldn't just be very good. I want the best one to be interesting, creative, have some kind of x factor. It might be unfair to criticise it for not being something else but it exists in a context and in this context I want something more.

Actually, what I really want right now is some sourdough, pickled onions and a sharp and crumbly cheese to eat along with pints of this beer. I am a ploughman.


  1. That sounds lovely! Can't beat a good pint of well made bitter, and Styrian Goldings are one of my favourite hops.

  2. Sure is! If I ever make it to the US I'll see if I can smuggle some over. Styrian Goldings are incredible.

    I feel so torn about this review now that I've posted it. I should probably retract any criticism as it's more properly directed at the breweries rather than the beer but I would love some more diversity in the beer brewed in the state.


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