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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Tuesday 16 September 2014

HopDog BeerWorks

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Take the train as far south along the coast as you can and you’ll hit Nowra. And there you’ll find HopDog BeerWorks, one of Australia’s youngest – and smallest – microbreweries. Opened in 2011 with a brewhouse measuring just 200 litres, its founder and brewer Tim Thomas wasted little time building a reputation for his beers among craft beer circles, appearing at bars in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne within months.

While the brewery may be new, Tim has been brewing for years, starting out at Sydney’s Lord Nelson and later spending time at Five Islands (now Illawarra Brewing Company) before taking some time out. His beer sabbatical didn’t last long, with the lure of the mash encouraging him to persuade his wife to let him start up HopDog in her hometown. Decision made, they’d found a site in an industrial unit just off the Princes Highway, installed the brewery and were brewing within 12 months.

A self-confessed hop junkie and lager hater, Tim has nonetheless mixed up highly hop forward beers with a wide variety of other styles, including spiced Belgian beers and barrel-aged fruit ales to name but too. Courtesy of a tiny bar at the front of the brewery, punters can take them home in growlers too, with Friday afternoon deals ($12 a fill!) bringing a steady stream of locals to the door.

Regulars

HopDog Pale

A Kiwi twist on the classic US pale ale style, HopDog’s Pale uses a single NZ hop variety – and plenty of it – to create a highly aromatic beer that, as the name of the brewery suggests, is all about the hops, with a bigger bitterness than you’ll find in most Aussie beers of its kind.

Style: American Pale Ale
Strength: 5.0%
Bitterness: 50 IBU

Hopdog-pale_bottle

HopDog Midgee

Styles as a “South Coast Red Mild Ale”, this is one of a small but growing number of lower alcohol beers from Aussie micros that don’t skimp on flavour. There’s plenty of rich malt character and a touch of Kiwi hops in a beer that goes some way to rescuing the reputation of light strength beers.

Style: Midstrength Red Ale
Strength: 2.9%
Bitterness: 30 IBU

Hopdog-midgee_bottle

HopDog Horns Up

Like it’s little brother, the Pale, this is a beer that’s all about the hops. OK, so it’s a rye IPA, which lends the malt side of things a little twist, but that’s really not where the focus is. Loads of US and Kiwi hops take control in a beer that’s big on aroma, hop flavour and bitterness. As Tim puts it: “This IPA finishes strong and dry with a lingering bitterness that just goes on, and on, and on like a screaming heavy metal guitar solo, and [has] an aftertaste that reminds you that you’ve just had an awesome hoppy experience, like the ringing in your ears after a decibel shattering concert.”

Style: US IPA
Strength: 5.8%
Bitterness: 70 IBU

Hopdog-horns_bottle

HopDog Black Sunshine

An oatmeal stout that makes up part of the HopDog year round range, the Black Sunshine is a deeply black beer that’s all about the coffee and chocolate characters from its roasted malts. Sure, there’s some hops in there too, but they’re playing second fiddle to the dark side, with a hint of dark fruits in there too and a smooth, rich body delivered by the use of 15% oatmeal in the mash.

Style: Oatmeal Stout
Strength: 4.8%
Bitterness: 30 IBU

Hopdog-stout_bottle

Specials

HopDog BeerWorks Bingo Wings

When a pre-Christmas care package arrived at Crafty Towers from the metalhead at HopDog, included was a pair of unlabelled bottles. Well, unlabelled in the traditional sense. In place of the Nowra brewer’s wildly colourful stick-on labels was a cardboard swing tag around the neck with just the words “Bingo Wings” and “Summer Wheat 5.0%” and an instruction to leave them another week or two to finish conditioning before consuming. Wait over, we popped a bottle of the light golden, cloudy liquid and discovered something hoppy of aroma, resiny of body and dry of finish inside. “A highly hopped American Wheat?” we asked of brewer Tim. “A hoppy, spicy American wheat ale, yes sir!” was the response. OK, that was just the end of the response. What he also told us was that Bingo Wings is “a non-denominational, nondescript beer without borders. It’s primarily a wheat beer that once read a book about Belgium, and loves American TV sitcoms. Bingo Wings is a tribute to summer and the fads of buffing up and getting your bikini/mankini bod in shape.” It’s also brewed with ale malt, wheat malt and oats, hopped generously with NZ Riwaka, and spiced on the end of the boil with orange peel and white & pink peppercorns, proving that nothing is ever simple at HopDog.

Available:

HopDog BeerWorks
Slowbeer
Beer Cartel
Pumphouse Bar
Bitter Phew
The Yardarm
Sydney Wine Merchants
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Union Hotel Newtown
Grape and Grain
Olinda Cellars
Plonk, ACT
Camperdown Cellars, NSW
Justin Lill Wines
Bottlerocket Bar, Nowra
Wharf Rd Restaurant, Nowra
Tallwood, Mollymook
Sussex Inlet RSL
Barny’s Rosebery
Steve’s Cool Booze
Platinum Liquor
Crown West Cellars
Thirroul Cellars
Spooning Goats
Oak Barrel
Little Guy, Glebe
Black Penny, Sydney

Style: Spiced American Wheat
Strength: 5.0%

Hopdog-bingo-wings_bottle

HopDog BeerWorks Secret Santa 2013

There’s plenty going on in the ‘Doghouse at the minute. Founder Tim Thomas tells us: “We’ve recently placed an order for a bigger kick arse mill, and are also in the process of designing a new kettle for our brewhouse to upgrade it to a 500 litre kit. It’s a bit Franken-brewery, but that’s how we roll.” He’s also got a couple of beers lined up for the festive period, with Bingo Wings waiting in the, ahem, wings for now while Secret Santa makes another appearance. For once the heavy metal was replaced on the stereo with Christmas tunes and, while they changed the mood of the brewery, they didn’t rein in Tim’s love of going the whole hog. So, while the beer is pitched as a “Spiced Belgian Ale” it’s not just spices and Belgian yeast that went into the mix. Oh no, sirree. In went home backed gingerbread cookies, palm and coconut sugar and a bit of orange peel for good measure. At that rate you won’t even need Christmas dinner to fill your gut come December 25…

Available:

HopDog BeerWorks
Slowbeer
Beer Cartel
Pumphouse Bar
Bitter Phew
The Yardarm
Sydney Wine Merchants
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Union Hotel Newtown
Grape and Grain
Olinda Cellars
Plonk, ACT
Camperdown Cellars, NSW
Justin Lill Wines
Bottlerocket Bar, Nowra
Wharf Rd Restaurant, Nowra
Tallwood, Mollymook
Sussex Inlet RSL
Barny’s Rosebery
Steve’s Cool Booze
Platinum Liquor
Crown West Cellars
Thirroul Cellars
Spooning Goats
Oak Barrel
Little Guy, Glebe
Black Penny, Sydney

Style: Spiced, Gingerbreaded, Sugared Belgian Ale
Strength: 7.0%

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HopDog BeerWorks All Hallowed Ale

We’d happily wager that of all the celebrations and occasions that dot the western world’s calendar, Halloween is Tim Thomas' favourite. The metal-loving, Devil’s Horns-flicking brewer from Nowra loves to take inspiration from the darker side of life when conceiving and naming his beers: Children of Darkness; Superbeast; American Werewolf in Belgium; Horns Up… you get the message. Given it’s a time of pumpkin pies, sweet treats and spicy things, it also gives him carte blanche to do what the hell he likes in a brewery (not that he needs permission to go hog wild at any time of the year anyway). Thus it is that at this time every year he releases his All Hallowed Ale, one that takes his beloved Belgian ale base and “pumpkinates” the bejesus out of it. Not just pumpkin either, but specialty sugars and spices too. The result is a frothy, sweet ‘n’ spicy, pumpkiny, fruity, full-bodied beer that’s more treat than trick.

Available:

HopDog BeerWorks
Slowbeer
Beer Cartel
Sydney Wine Merchants
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Rubber Duckie Taphouse
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Union Hotel Newtown
Grape and Grain
Olinda Cellars
Plonk, ACT
Camperdown Cellars, NSW
Justin Lill Wines
Bottlerocket Bar, Nowra
Wharf Rd Restaurant, Nowra
Tallwood, Mollymook
Sussex Inlet RSL
Barny’s Rosebery
Steve’s Cool Booze
Platinum Liquor
Crown West Cellars
Thirroul Cellars
Spooning Goats
Oak Barrel
Little Guy, Glebe
Black Penny, Sydney

Style: Spiced Belgian Pumpkin Ale
Strength: 7.3%

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HopDog BeerWorks Super Beast 2013

In his two years brewing as HopDog, Tim Thomas has never been one to work within parameters. If there’s an unusual combination of malt, yeast and hops, he’ll give it a go. If he can throw fruit and veg at a beer, then a few spices and a barrel, likewise. So where could he possibly go to mark his second birthday? The answer is a peated barleywine. It comes a year after Super Beast one – a wheat barleywine – and features a malt bill that is 90 per cent peated distilling malt. There are brewers out there who refuse to have peated distilling malt in their brewery because it is such an intense, overpowering beast; one told us that it is the one bag of grain he can leave out on the floor in the knowledge the mice won’t go near it. So this is one beer that fits well into the extreme category – think Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude on steroids and shrooms.

Thus it was that we decided to share our sample bottle around with friends in the beer world. It elicited responses ranging from “salted oranges left out in the sun for ages” to “a pig farm” to “chewing on shoe leather” to “licking a wooden crate that’s been pulled from the wreckage of a ship sunk 100 years ago” to “it smells like acrylic poster paint, but it’s strangely delicious”. And, once past the intensely smoky, burning bacon aroma, there is a rich, sweet, strangely delicious beer. Super and beastly in its own very unique manner.

Available:

HopDog BeerWorks
Illawarra Brewing Company
Beer Cartel
Others TBC

Style: Peated Barleywine
Strength: 11%

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HopDog BeerWorks An American Werewolf In Belgium

If someone were to say to you the phrases “HopDog Beerworks”, “Belgian IPA” and “American Werewolf in Belgium”, you might be forgiven for gulping a little nervously at the thought of what sort of frighteningly big and aggressive beer might have been created. That’s because HopDog brewer Tim Thomas isn’t the type that’s afraid to hold back. He’s someone for whom the term ‘hop restraint’ is a juxtaposition; someone that loves hops enough that they’re included in the name of his brewery. So it’s with some surprise to find that this beer isn’t simply a case of Thomas having fed the Werewolf on a hop diet, sent it to Belgium and let it loose completely. Rather, he’s taken it there, put it on a leash and said: “Go on, have some fun – but don’t go completely crazy”. And the results are very, very good.

As you might expect, it is still a complex beast; three kinds of malt, two yeasts (a Belgian and Canadian – presumably Flemish speaking) and three types of hops (NZ’s Southern Cross and Motueka and a Citra hit from the USA). And at 6.5 per cent abv and 70 IBUs it’s still got some aggression, yet those Belgian yeast characters have been balanced expertly with the hops, both on the nose and on the palate. When you do look at what’s gone into it – not to mention the name – perhaps this beer should be a bit frightening. But rest assured there’s absolutely no need to be afraid because rather than being a drooling, terrifying Werewolf, this beer is really a drop dead Belgian beauty. NO

Style: Belgian IPA
Strength: 6.5%
Bitterness: 70 IBU

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HopDog Redrum

Sometimes a beer comes along where you suspect that the brewer compiled a long list of ingredients and items that could be used to make beer, cut the list into little squares, drew a circle on the ground and threw the little squares of paper high into the air. Once they settled, those that landed inside the circle would form the basis of a beer. Then there are beers where you suspect the brewer instead collects up all the pieces of paper that fall outside the circle and uses them as the basis of their beer. Usually said beers come from breweries with the word “dog” in the title, such as the latest Shining-themed release from New South Wales' HopDog. It’s a Rum Barrel Aged Raspberry Wheat Beer tipping the scales at 6.2 per cent ABV. The barrels are 20 year old ones from the same source as those used by a handful of other NSW breweries. The raspberries (a “butt load” of them apparently) spent two months in the beer, which we’re told has “picked up some of the sourness from the micro flora in the barrels and hanging out on the fruit, so it’s a bit tart, it’s got a bit of fruitiness, and some vanilla and a touch of rumminess as well.” So are you in or out?

Available:

HopDog BeerWorks
Slowbeer
Grape and Grain
Josie Bones (Tap)
The Scratch (Tap)

Style: Barrel Aged Fruit Beer
Strength: 6.2%

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HopDog C-Bomb

We all drop the C-Bomb sometimes and we’d imagine that Tim from HopDog dropped it when he learnt that we hadn’t received our last delivery of his beers because they had been “disappeared” by couriers from Fastway. This time around he has a much better reason for dropping the C-Bomb, given it is the name of his latest beer. And it is a beer that lives up to the brewery’s name: a double IPA crammed chock full of American and Kiwi hops, this is one not to be messed with. According to Tim it “weighs in at 9.3 per cent abv and a calculated bitterness of 150 IBUs. It’s not for the faint of heart. Hopped with Chinook, Columbus and the mighty NZ Wiamea/Big Banger, it’s intense and full on. On the first sample bottle tasted at the Dubbel T Brau Haus it was fresh cut grass (with a hint of 2 stroke), stone fruits, citrus and tropical fruits. A huge whack of bitterness, a bit of alcohol warmth, and a loooong bitter finish. It bought out a couple of expletives.” It’s in 640ml bottles too.

Available:

Frankie’s Pizza, Hunter St, Sydney
Justin Lill Wines, Berry
Mogo Village Cellars, Mogo
HopDog BeerWorks
Rosebery Cellarbrations, Rosebery
Olinda Cellars, Olinda
Slowbeer
Pumphouse Bar
Camperdown Cellars, Camperdown

Style: Double IPA
Strength: 9.3%
Bitterness: 150 IBU

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HopDog White Christmas

It’s not just Bing Crosby dreaming of a White Christmas this year. Oh no, the crazy kids down at Nowra’s HopDog have decided to bring a touch of the Northern Hemisphere Down Under for the festive season. And with snowflakes on a 30C day beyond all but Bond baddies from the 60s, they’ve decided to do it in the form of beer, specifically an Imperial Belgian Witbier. We were hoping to have a taste before popping this listing up but instead there’s a bastard Fastway courier tucking into the bottles instead. So we’ll make do with the words of the brewer, Tim Thomas: “Two yeast strains, fruity, spicy, yeasty. Hopped with NZ Motueka, so there’s plenty of bitterness and hop character too. Pale gold, 50 per cent of the grist is malted wheat, the rest is Munich and Ale malt.” It’s all gone from the brewery, so hit up your nearest quality craft beer specialist. Or Fastway couriers.

Available:

Slowbeer
Others TBC

Style: Imperial Belgian Witbier
Strength: 7.3%
Bitterness: 35IBU

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HopDog All Hallowed Ale

Whether you judge it by his brewery’s name or on five minutes conversation with brewery founder Tim Thomas, it’s pretty darn clear that this is a man who loves hops and loves to cram them into his beers. So it’s rather bizarre that, here at Crafty Towers, our favourites from his range are those where hops aren’t the focus: the Alluvial Peach, Hyper Hyper coffee beer, a barrel-aged spiced Belgian number we sampled at the brewery last year (which may actually have been a prior version of this) and now the All Hallowed Ale produced for Halloween. (Yes, we’re a little late in listing it…) Given the time of year, it uses pumpkins – roasted ones at that – along with some festive spices and sugars to create a big mouthful of a beer. Pouring a rusty brown and with a big, foamy head, there’s all manner of banana, pumpkin and spices fighting for attention without ever getting too out of hand. And despite that suggesting it would be an overwhelmingly sweet affair, it actually finishes pleasantly dry. Who needs tonnes of hops, eh, HopDog?

Available:

Slowbeer
Olinda Cellars
HopDog BeerWorks
Others TBC

Style: Spiced Pumpkin Ale
Strength: 7.5%

Hopdog-all-hallowed_bottle

HopDog Redhopulous

It seems to have been quite the season for red ales. A quick flick through the mental rolodex of new beers to roll out of Australian brewery doors in recent months brings up Two Birds Sunset, Kooinda’s English Red Ale, the People’s Pint Double Hoptendre, Stone & Wood’s Jasper and now this from HopDog. It’s called Redhopulous and the label says “It’s red. It’s hoppy.” so you can probably guess what’s in store. Given it’s come from the brewing hands of Tim Thomas, there’s a fair whack of hoppy hops, including Citra, as well as more than a little German melanoidin and British crystal malts to give it its deeply red hue. The latter pair would also presumably be in some way responsible for its big caramel aromas, with the fruity hops more prominent in the flavour than on the nose. The result is a veritable melange of maltiness and hoppiness in keeping with HopDog’s no-holds-barred style.

Available:

HopDog BeerWorks
Bottlerocket Bar, Nowra, NSW
Justin Lill Wines, Berry
Crown West Cellars, Wollongong
Platinum Liquor, North Strathfield
Lock, Stock & Bottle, Balmain
The Park Hotel, Werribee (opening soon)

Style: Hoppy Red Ale
Strength: 5.0%
Bitterness: 40 IBU

Hopdog-redhopulous-beer-australia_bottle

HopDog Ham on Rye

As the entries for The People’s Pint have rather surprisingly shown, it seems plenty of Aussies like a bit of smoke in their beer. Certainly, that’s the case with the HopDog family, as head brewer Tim explains: “The idea for the beer came from a visit to the Lowenbrau Keller in The Rocks in 2004 with my wife, Mrs HopDog, where we had Rauchenfels Stenbier and Schlenkerler Marzen. Wow! Smoke! Fell in love with them, and had to bring some of my own style to it.” The result is the Ham on Rye, which has taken eight years to appear but which is available now. A smoked rye golden ale, made with 50% German rauch/smoked malt, a hefty whack of rye, and plenty of NZ Southern Cross hops, it’s got both smoke and bacon going on, plus, says Tim: “a hint of cracked pepper and citrus”, adding that it’s “bacon sandwich in a glass”.

Available:

HopDog BeerWorks
Josie Bones

Style: Smoked ale
Strength: 4.7%

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HopDog Alluvial Peach

A beer described by the brewer as “the elevator music of our beer line up compared to the arena rock spectaculars of the rest”, this is a fruity number with quite a genesis. Made with 50kgs of fresh Araluen peaches per 100 litres of a simple Belgian wheat beer – “minus the orange peel and stuff” – then aged for 30 days in used French oak barrels. Look out for a hint of tartness in a smooth, sweet and peachy affair.

Available:

HopDog BeerWorks
Josie Bones

Style: Fruit beer

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