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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Wednesday 3 September 2014

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One was working as a bullet-dodging physio in the Bronx, the other as a number-crunching aeronautical engineer in Seattle when the Ong brothers, Dave and Andrew, fell in love with the big flavours of the US craft beer scene. On returning to Australia, they struggled to find beers that satisfied their palates and decided to abandon their former careers and brew their own.

Andrew headed back to the US to gain hands-on craft brewing experience and source the best brewing equipment they could afford, Dave scoured southeast Melbourne in search of a suitable location. Six months later, the brothers purchased a gleaming, copper clad brewhouse from the bankrupt Times Square Brewery and shipped it over from the Big Apple in five 40ft shipping containers.

It now sits as the backdrop to their Moorabbin Beerhall, one of Bayside’s best kept secrets thanks to its location tucked away on an industrial estate; A fairly nondescript factory unit on the outside, inside is a smart bar with beer poured direct from the tanks and a pool table surrounded by sofas.

Their regular lineup of beers features an American brown ale, a German style lager and the Gypsy Pear Cider. Among their limited release specials is the Voodoo Porter, which walked away with the title of Best Victorian Beer at the 2010 Australian International Beer Awards. It’s not their only beer to pick up trophies at the awards either, with The Guvnor cleaning up in 2011. As a result, they were invited to collaborate with Feral in 2012 on the awards' 20th anniversary beer: The Collaborator.

The Beerhall is open on Thursdays and Fridays where beer can be enjoyed at its freshest and visitors can also take home 2l growlers filled with the beer of their choice.

Regulars

Taxi Pilsner

The most accessible of the 2 Brothers range, this clean German style pilsner was designed to be a no-brainer. It has a soft malt character and a balanced bitterness, making it a quaffable session beer.

Style: German Pilsner

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2 Brother Growler

Not a reference to the 2l growlers you can fill with fresh beer at the brewery, but a full-flavoured American Brown Ale named after a chainsaw. A mix of American hops and dark fruits make up the aroma, while the flavour of this medium-bodied beer is dominated by malts, giving the Growler biscuity and toasted malt qualities.

Style: American Brown Ale
Strength: 4.7%

2_brothers_growler_bottle

2 Brothers Rusty

While the Pale Ales on offer from most Australian breweries tend to take their inspiration from the UK or America, 2 Brothers took a different route and decided to create a Belgian variant. That means you’ll find all manner of fruity aromas – perhaps even a touch of vanilla – in a beer that mingles malt with dark fruits on the tongue too.

Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Strength: 4.7%

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Gypsy Cider

Not a beer, but a pear cider, this has proved a winner for the 2 Brothers brewery, quickly cropping up on taps across Victoria. Light-bodied with a fragrant semi-sweet aroma with hints of vanilla in addition to the pear, it has a soft, dry finish, making it a crisp summer refresher.

Style: Pear cider

Gypsy-pear_bottle

Specials

2 Brothers Trickster

2 Brothers, the reigning Champion Small Australian Brewery, has taken a trip down Memory Lane for its latest limited release. The Trickster is a beer that has spent so long in hibernation, it predates The Crafty Pint Pint by 18 months or more. Those with long memories may recall one of their earliest beers; for everyone else it’s a Mandarin Witbier (AKA a Belgian witbier brewed with mandarins) that was last brewed five years ago. Back then it was filtered before release, this time around head brewer Andrew Ong tells us: “I went out on a limb this time and left it with the yeast in!” The result, he adds is a beer that’s “tasting special” too. If you want to try it, you’d best head to the source as, for now at least, it’s only pouring at their Beer Hall and there are no plans to package it.

Available:

2 Brothers

Style: Belgian Witbier
Strength: 4.7%

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2 Brothers Magic Pudding

If you were asked to name the most successful brewery in Victoria when it comes to awards, what would your snap answer be? It should be 2 Brothers, as the Moorabbin brewers have steadily and consistently been racking up major trophies at the Australian International Beer Awards for the past few years while packing the punters in at their brewery bar every Thursday and Friday. Having picked up trophies for their beers, this year they collected another – Best European Style Lager for the Taxi Pilsner – and also took out the trophy for Champion Small Australian Brewery. It’s been a remarkable run of success for the business started by brothers Andrew and David Ong just a few years ago. And it’s one that’s been built without ever releasing an American style Pale Ale or a hop bomb of an IPA. Look at the beers on their roster in recent years and you’ll find a high ABV barley wine, a rice lager, a strong American Amber and big Belgian style ales.

Looking in from the outside, if there is a preference, it seems to be for the malty end of the beer spectrum, often those that pack a well-disguised boozy punch. And their winter seasonal – first sampled at GABS 2013 – is no different. The Magic Pudding is a dessert beer tipping the scales at 9.1 per cent. Not only does it tell you that on the label, but there’s an image that could have been lifted straight from a Roald Dahl book on it too. Inside is a thick, rusty brown coloured concoction that mixes rummy caramel flavours with those of dark fruits, spices and marzipan. There’s some sweet alcohol flavours in there too, and enough booze to offer a warming tingle; maybe even enough to pour it over dessert during Christmas in July and set it alight.

Available:

2 Brothers
Good bottleshops

Style: Dessert Beer
Strength: 9.1%

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2 Brothers / Feral Collaborator

What better way to mark 20 years holding the Australian International Beer Awards than to invite two of the most successful Australian breweries of recent times to make a beer together? For its landmark year, the RASV invited WA’s Feral and Victoria’s 2 Brothers to brew a beer using all Australian ingredients. The former was subsequently named Champion Large Australian Brewery at the 2012 awards, while 2 Brothers continued its run of form with a shortlisting for Champion Small Australian Brewery. The beer they created – an Australian take on the modern Brown Ale – is a deeply brown one that opens up with familiar tropical fruit notes from the hops and plenty of chocolate, caramel – possibly even vanilla – aromas too. There’s a nice balance between roasty, chocolate and caramel and some orange-tinged citrus hop flavours. Bitterness is well restrained in an eminently drinkable beer worthy of such an occasion.

Available:

2 Brothers
Good bottleshops

Style: Brown Ale
Strength: 5.5%

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2 Brothers Kung Foo

While there are a multitude of breweries producing summer ales and IPAs for the warmer weather 2 Brothers are offering their own summer session beer, but it’s a little off centre from the norm. Opting for a different summer direction, 2 Brothers have brewed up a Rice Lager to quench the thirst of Melbourne’s south east. The beer itself is a simple solution to the rising mercury. A light, straw coloured lager that is crisp and refreshing all the way down to the bottom of the pint. The nose has some light lemongrass and passionfruit notes and this follows onto the palate of a very quaffable summer beer. A simply flavoured (and very drinkable…) beer for us to enjoy this summer. DE

Available:

2 Brothers
Raccoon Club
Gasometer
Cho Gao

Style: Rice Lager
Strength: 4.7%

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2 Brothers Tabooki / Super Rusty

A beer with an air of mystery surrounding it… Those that attended the last Victorian Microbrewery Showcase may have been intrigued by this African Amber Ale: what constitutes an African Amber Ale? It was suggested it may have been a yeast strain from deep within the Congo, but the truth of the matter could be just as enigmatic as the origins of the mother continent itself. To throw another spanner into the works the packaged version of this beer gives a nod to its little brother (the Rusty Pale Ale) and is categorized as a Belgian Amber Ale. Upon tasting it, this makes more sense. The aroma offers up a sweet hint of biscuity malt surrounded by banana and this leads seamlessly into the taste. A big, sweet, malty flavour with hints of biscuit and other toasty nuances which is laced with the banana flavour from the Belgian yeast. The 7.8% ABV gives this a thick, full mouthfeel that warms you all the way down to your boots. DE

Available:

2 Brothers
Smith Street Cellars
McCoppins
Biero

Style: Strong Belgian Amber Ale
Strength: 8.0%

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2 Brothers James Brown (2011)

The funk is back in town. One of 2 Brothers most eye-catching beers of 2010 is back for another run. The James Brown is their take on big Belgian browns, featuring a truckload of candi sugar and described last year as “bananas coated in Nutella” by one appreciative bar manager. As for this latest version, brewer Andrew Ong tells us they’ve deliberately reined in the estery notes this time around. They’re “still there but better balanced” he says. It’s already on at the 2 Brothers Beer Hall in Moorabbin and should land at Biero this week too. Watch out for bottles making an appearance at some point soon…

Available:

2 Brothers
Biero

Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Strength: 8.8%

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2 Brothers Terminator

Ideally, we’d like to work the phrase “I’ll be back” into this review, but as it’s the first time 2 Brothers have released the beer, we might just have to wait until they make another batch next year. Instead, we’ll have to console ourselves by telling you all about it, it being a German style doppelbock. According to brewer Andrew Ong: “We followed the traditional German naming convention of doppelbocks always end in the letters ‘…ator’” while the brew itself was apparently a nightmare, with the runoff that normally takes 90 minutes taking over six hours “due mainly to the very high loading of crystal malt used in the grist.” Rather promisingly, the last time a brewer confided that the brewing process had gone awry, the result was Hargreaves Hill’s splendid Melanie IPA so the omens are good. As for this one, we’re told to expect rum, brown sugar and dates on the nose, biscuit, molasses and vanilla in the mouth. Sounds like one for the sweet-toothed among us.

Available:

Young & Jackson's
Dan O’Connell (Carlton)
Gertrude’s Brown Couch (Fitzroy) Dexter’s (Clifton Hill)
Biero
Mrs Parma’s
Baden Powell
Prince Albert (Williamstown)
Marquis of Lorne (Fitzroy)
Gasometer (Collingwood)
Great Northern

Style: Doppelbock
Strength: 7.7%

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2 Brothers Grizz

Having trained their beady eyes on various parts of Europe for recent seasonals, 2 Brothers have returned to the land that gave them the inspiration to start their own brewery in the first place: the US of A. The Grizz is an American Amber inspired by Mack and Jack’s Amber from Redmond, Washington. Brewer Andrew Ong says it pours a deep red amber and is nicely hoppy, finished with Cascade and Amarillo. A very small amount will be available in bottles – watch this space – while you can taste it fresh at the brewery from this Thursday (March 24). Be warned – one tank only then it’s gone…

Available:

2 Brothers
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Valley Cellar Door
Slowbeer

Style: American Amber Ale
Strength: 5.7%

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2 Brothers Chief

This 2 Brothers seasonal release has previously only been available in draught form – and, being based on the Oktoberfest beer style, usually timed to hit taps around October. Given the Oktoberfest beers were spawned from the German Märzen style – a strong lager brewed in March to last through the summer when hotter temperatures could affect brewing conditions back in the Middle Ages – it makes perfect sense to release some in March too. So here comes The Chief in bottled form (plus a few kegs). It’s an ideal beer for this time of year with the mercury starting to fall – bigger than the summer ales and pilsners you’ve quaffed to cool down but not as imposing as the stouts and porters you’ll be looking forward to come winter. Pouring a vibrant copper colour and boasting a rich, creamy mouthfeel, it packs in loads of biscuity, toasty malts and finishes with a nice, lightly spicy tingle, keeping its 6%-plus ABV dangerously well disguised. Following the Voodoo, James Brown and The Guvnor, it’s another classy limited release from the Moorabbin bros.

Available:

2 Brothers
Slowbeer
Purvis Beer
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Valley Cellar Door
Purvis Beer Richmond
Biero
Oscar’s Alehouse

Style: Oktoberfest / Märzen
Strength: 6.0%

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2 Brothers The Guvnor

ON TAP TWO NIGHTS ONLY!!! We like it when the brothers go big. First there was the Voodoo Porter, weighing in around 7% and so good it won a medal at last year’s Australian International Beer Awards. Then came the funk: James Brown, the big Belgian armed with 1000kg of candi sugar that won an army of fans and was described by Biero’s beer man as “bananas coated in Nutella – awesome!”. And now they’re back with their biggest beer yet: The Guvnor. An English barley wine packing a whopping 10.3% of heat, it’s being tapped this afternoon at the brewery in Moorabbin and will be pouring from the bright tank until close of business tomorrow (Friday). And then that’s your lot. Well, not quite your lot, as the remainder will be bottled in the fancy limited release packaging the Voodoo and JB appeared in, with maybe a couple of kegs heading to other venues at some point. Brewer Andrew Ong says: “It’s definitely the biggest beer we’ve ever produced. Mashed with a buttload of English pale and crystal malts the colour is a deep amber. We put a few bottles through our accelerated ageing test, and the beer produces really full rum and raisin notes.” Some – maybe all – of the bottles will be held and aged, so if you want bragging rights, you’d best get busy.

Available:

2 Brothers
GABS at The Local Taphouse St Kilda

Style: English Barley Wine
Strength: 10.3%

The-guvnor_copy_bottle

2 Brothers James Brown

The Moorabbin bros have got the funk. Having gone all voodoo on us with their last limited release, this time they’re getting up like a sex machine with James Brown, a rather large Belgian strong ale tipping the scales at 8.8%. Crafty’s not had the chance to have a tipple yet, but 1 Brother tells us it’s “brewed with 50% extra funk. Estery nose, with chocolate and peach up front, followed by rum, raisin and vanilla back palate. Over a thousand bucks of Belgian candi sugar went into the mix.” Or there’s the take of the bar staff at Biero – the first place outside the brewery to tap it: “Tastes like bananas coated in nutella – absolutely awesome”. Funky.

Available:

2 Brothers Brewery
Biero Bar
Local Taphouse St Kilda
Mrs Parma’s
Valley Cellar Door

Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Strength: 8.8%

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Voodoo Porter

The brewery’s finest moment to date, this Autumn seasonal picked up the Premier’s Trophy for Best Victorian Beer as well as a Gold Medal at the 2010 Australian International Beer Awards. And with good reason. It’s an incredibly smooth, velvety take on Baltic Porter style of dark lager. Fall under its spell and discover liquorice, coffee and espresso notes aligned with rich chocolate, dark cherry and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Available:

2 Brothers Brewery
The Terminus

Awards: Premier's Trophy for Best Victorian Beer 2010

Style: Baltic Porter
Strength: approx. 7%

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