Fremantle will forever deserve a place in the hearts of Australian craft beer lovers as it was here that the Sail & Anchor pub with its in-house Anchor Brewery first challenged the dominance of the big brewers and, subsequently, Matilda Bay and Little Creatures were born. Today, the coastal town is a must for any beer tourist, not only because it’s a beautiful place to visit but because it’s crammed with quality craft beer venues, including – since 2007 – the Monk Brewery & Kitchen.
The Monk’s first beer left the brewery in January 2008 shortly after the restaurant opened; now they brew up to four times a week in summer and invite the public to pop their head into the brewery any time they like to have a look around and say “Hi” to the brewers. With a focus on preservative-free beers, they combine a year round range of regulars with limited releases that have included everything from a whiskey-soaked, date-infused Foreign Extra Stout named ‘Adios Amigos’ in tribute to a departing assistant brewer to a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel-aged smoked beer and coconut stout. As for the regulars, they saw the brewery shortlisted for Champion Exhibitor at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards, where the Monk Mild won the trophy for Champion Reduced Alcohol Beer.
If you want to taste them, you have to head to the Monk itself, however, as they don’t appear on tap anywhere else – except occasionally at the nearby Sail & Anchor. It’s a trip worth taking as the Monk’s a stylish venue in the heart of Freo, with wooden benches lining the beer garden on a strip filled with cafes, bars and restaurants that share a similar dedication to quality food and beer and boast a lively cosmopolitan atmosphere.
As for the Kitchen side of things, you’ll often find the chefs experimenting with beer in food or beer and food matching as well as offering up weekly specials, including beer and bratwurst and paella on the terrace. Meanwhile alongside the Monk’s beers on tap you’ll often find a great selection of US imports, especially since USA Craft Beer Week in early 2011 for which they travelled to the States to oversee the importing of some of the country’s finest beers. These were showcased at a series of special events, including dinners, tastings and tappings, that were in keeping with the Monk’s love of a beery celebration, be it during their annual Oktoberfest or just because the sun’s shining.
Monk Brewery & Kitchen (WA) Beers
The most successful of a highly successful bunch at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards, the Monk Mild took home one of five trophies won by WA brewers. The Champion Reduced Alcohol Beer is a light golden lager with a fresh hop aroma from the use of class Saaz hops. Designed to be crisp and clean on the palate, it’s the brewery’s session beer for hot summer’s days.
Awards: Champion Reduced Alcohol Beer at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards
Style: Mid-strength Lager
One of Germany’s classic ales with origins in Cologne, it’s light, easy-drinking style that’s often a good introduction for people new to craft beer. As The Monk say: “this is an ale impersonating a lager”, doing so with a delicate balance of light fruitiness and a slightly spicy German hop character. A good session beer and match for the Kitchen’s seafood dishes.
Taking inspiration from the Belgian style of wheat beers – or witbiers – this is a pale coloured, medium bodied, unfiltered beer with a cloudy appearance. Typically of the style, it’s fruity and spicy with hints of coriander, surprisingly potent and a refreshing option on a warm day.
Another beer in the Monk range that looks to Germany for inspiration, this one to the rauchbier – aka smoke beer – style. Described as “a robust, desert orange coloured ale displaying a strong smoked flavour balanced with a rounded malt fruitiness” it’s a good match with hearty meat dishes or the Kitchen’s rauch cheese.
The Monk’s Pale Ale uses 100% Aussie malt and hops to create an easy drinking beer with a smooth bitterness. Try it with their Pale Ale Prawns.
Style: Australian Pale Ale
The darkest of the Monk’s regular range, this is a classic interpretation of the British porter, with a smooth chocolate nose, hints of roast coffee and a mild bitterness.
The Monk Dunkel
They’ve been hop happy at Freo’s Monk in recent months, with many of their small batch releases high on lupulin love. Not that this is a bad thing, with versions of their Chief IPA and the Three Fires Imperial IPA doing rather well for themselves at the most recent Perth Royal Beer Show. But with Autumn upon us, it’s been time for Monk brewer Paul Wyman to take a turn to the dark (and malty) side to create a Dunkel. Based on the Bavarian Dunkelweizen style, the beer, says Paul, “has a delicious looking copper brown colour which dictates the extensive malt base this beer has been created from. From the mixture of speciality malts you should be tasting caramel, burnt toffee and possibly a hint of chocolate while on the nose your sensors should be picking up a indication of sweet clove and banana aromas.” Said aromas come from the yeast that’s traditionally use to produce normal hefeweizen (wheat beers), with a Dunkel (which translates from German as “dark” or “black”) a more beefed up version designed to cater to the “malt heads”. Like the brewer himself, in fact.
Bitterness: 15 IBU
The Monk Bandito
Tall and hairy – as fair a description as one could give of the brewing team at The Monk Brewery and Kitchen. Well, except it’s no longer a team, after one half of the hirsute pair departed at the end of 2012 to chase his brewing dream in the States. However, before Steve Brockman departed, he worked with former partner in crime Paul Wyman to create this “reinvention of the Mexican Lager”. According to Paul: “When most think of Mexican lagers, they think of pale straw coloured beers, low on fizz in a clear bottle, unceremoniously crowned with a lemon or lime to completely blanket out any slight flavour that the beer had. This is not the beer we’ve brewed, we’ve created a Vienna Style Lager.” All of which begs the question: “Why the hell is it not called a Vienna Lager?” Because, says Paul, during the late 19th century, Austrian settlers took the style to Central America. At The Monk, they’re calling it the Bandito as it was brewed on the last day of Movember and they’d rocked “two ridiculously filthy moustaches for the whole month” and, he says “the beer is pretty bad ass as well”. Enlivening the mix alongside a fairly typical Vienna lager malt bill are Summer and Stella hops plus some Blue Agave Nectar added late into the boil. The result, says Paul, is some fruity hop aromas and, thanks to the nectar more usually found in tequila, “a burnt toffee nose, with a sweet, slightly sharp, ‘smokey’ honey flavour” adding complexity to the soft biscuit flavours of the malt. Probably don’t need to stick a lime in this one…
Style: Mexican Vienna Lager
The Monk Chief Superhop Edition
In recent years, a number of hops have grown so popular that they have become unavailable to many brewers. This was the case for the guys at The Monk, whose American IPA, the Chief, used Citra. But rather than crawl up in a corner and cry into each other’s arms, the brewers decided they’d create the Chief “Superhop” editions. In other words, take the same basic recipe and try brewing it with all manner of other hops while they waited for Citra to become available again. It all worked out rather nicely as their Amarillo version picked up the trophy for Best Ale Draft at the Perth Royal Beer Show, while the Centennial version also won So when Berg a gold medal at the same time as their Three Fires IIPA, brewed for their 250th batch, picked up a medal of its own. Since then, brewer Paul Wyman has knocked out a Simcoe edition and now this, featuring a mix of Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe and Cascade. This signifies the end of the Superhop Editions, and Paul plans to play around with it until the mythical Citra returns.
Style: American IPA
The Monk Three Fires IIPA
The beer brewed by the masters of facial topiary at The Monk in Freo for the brewery’s 250th batch was released on the first day of this year’s WA Beer Week. It promptly won a gold medal at the Perth Royal Beer Show the very same day, suggesting it was worthy of marking not one but two occasions. The brewers sent us the story behind the beer, which you can read in full here. Alternatively, know that the three fires refer to Buddhist philosophy and are the huge IBUs (250), massive alcohol content and subsequent hangover. It’s a hard-hitting beer that underwent 250 minutes in the kettle and is only being served in 285ml goblets – they’re only thinking of your head, you know.
Style: Imperial IPA
Bitterness: 250 IBU
The Monk Chief "Superhop" Editions
Few Aussie craft brewers need encouragement to experiment. Yet in this case, the guys at The Monk have been playing around out of necessity. Their normal Chief (and American IPA) uses the uber-popular American Citra hops. Such is the variety’s uber-popularity that they, like many others, have been struggling to get their hands on any. So, rather than crawl up in a corner and cry into each other’s arms, Steve and Paul decided they’d create the Chief “Superhop” editions. In other words, take the same basic recipe and try brewing it with all manner of other hops while they waited for Citra to become available again. For them, it’s a chance to play with new hops, for punters it’s a chance to see what they do to a beer. First up was the Centennial Edition, which has been followed by an Amarillo version. This will be followed by the Zythos (a new hop blend finding favour with hop-lovin' brewers) edition, which should hit taps some time in October or November. Silver linings an' all.
Style: American IPA
The Monk Bounty
This Coconut Stout was the first seasonal concocted by the current brewing team at The Monk, Steve Brockman and Paul Wyman, just a month after they took up the reins in 2011. It has since picked up a silver at the Australian International Beer Awards and achieved instant popularity with punters in Freo, encouraging the brewers to push their creativity, and has also gone on to win praise from visiting brewers, particularly Christian from Denmark’s Beer Here when he was in Oz. As a result, it became the only seasonal other than their Oktoberfest Marzen to be repeated. According to Steve: “It pours thick and dark with a mocha head, and anytime any pours one you can smell it straight away. The aroma is of roasted coconut, with hints of chocolate. The first sips fill your mouth with a bit of Dutch cocoa and light chocolate, before mid palate our ‘liquid Lamington’ shines, with a bit hit of coconutty goodness before finishing off with a well balanced 55 IBU, coming through as more of a dark chocolate bitterness rather than anything hops related.” A bit of a perception changer for The Monk, Steve adds: It’s a beer most people turn down at the sound of it. ‘A stout? No I don’t do dark beers.’ Until they try it…!"
Style: Coconut Stout
Bitterness: 55 IBU
The Monk Marzen
Brewed every year for the Freo brewpub’s Oktoberfest, this is their attempt to brew a beer as true to German traditions as they possibly can. Anyone who’s visited The Monk will be aware that tank space is limited, hence they rarely brew lagers that require extra time in the tank. This beer, along with their trophy-winning Mild, is the exception, given a full two months cold conditioning in tank followed by another month of cold maturation. The result, say the brewers, “is a smooth, clean amber/orange lager with a rich maltiness and moderate bitterness. The slight hints of caramel and toffee come from the wonderful blend of traditional German malts. A gentle carbonation and quick dry finish makes the brew super sessionable, perfect for drinking by the stein load at our Oktoberfest celebrations.” Many do, with the beer tapped in the traditional Munich Oktoberfest style, at the start of their annual celebrations.
The Monk Amber
The latest seasonal from The Monk has the brewers behind it excited. It’s “fantastic”, apparently, a single hop showcase, no less: an American amber ale bittered and dry hopped with NZ Nelson Sauvin. “We thought we’d use the rockstar hop-of-the-moment in this offering, and we’ve deliberately left it unfiltered to keep the good stuff in,” says brewer Steve. Blending roasted malts with said hops, it’s a fruit and nut affair with some caramel and passionfruit flavours in there too. “Both myself and Paul [his co-brewer] absolutely love it and are immensely proud of it.” Blimey!
Style: American Amber