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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Tuesday 23 September 2014

Barely a week goes by without another seasonal or one-off special flying out of an Australian brewery. We’ll do our best to know what’s coming when, where it’s going and – where possible – what it tastes like before it goes on sale. Be aware, however, that just because a venue’s getting a beer doesn’t mean they’ve tapped it. They tend to go fast too so check they’re not sold out first!

  Beer Details Where

Stone & Wood Mash Collective 4: Heartbreaker Released on 23/09/14

There must be something in the air. At the same time that The Crafty Pint’s younger brother was getting a sleeve tattoo based on the old pipe-smoking dude from the original Mash Collective beer, Amasia, on one side of the planet, Mash Collective number 4 was making its way into bottles and kegs here in Australia. For those new to the concept, this Stone & Wood side project sees them bring together eclectic groups of people to conceive, design and brew a beer, as well as providing its accompanying artwork.

The result this time around is Heartbreaker (because it’s a limited release, so you’ll fall for it then it will leave you), a colourfully spiced and multiply hopped amber (nigh on red) ale. In the spice corner are locally sourced quandong (bush peaches that were cooked sous vide then pureed and added to the fermenter) and pepperberry. In the corner marked hops are some of the most characterful varieties known to man: Sorachi Ace, Ella, Centennial and Mosaic. Combining such big flavours may sound like a recipe for disaster but, far from it, the beer is as balanced and integrated as it is unique, with aromas that bring to mind wandering through the section of a spice store marked “Australiana” or a stroll through a tropical rainforest on a a particularly steamy day. The brewers talk of lemon myrtle but there’s eucalyptus, plum, a touch of liquorice and citrus fruits there too, with those fruity, spicy flavours melding with the sweet caramel malts just so once supped. Despite so much action on the palate, it manages to finish reasonably dry and, while such prominent and unusual flavours (for a beer) won’t be to everyone’s tastes, it’s further proof of the potential for native ingredients in brewing. Such is the way the big flavours are handled it should come as no surprise that alongside a designer (Damian Kelly) and a musician (Powderfinger’s Darren Middleton) in the Mash Collective this time around was indigenous chef Clayton Donovan, with their combined efforts creating, to our mind, the best Mash Collective beer yet.

Spiced Amber Ale 5.5%

Find it in draught and bottle form at these stockists nationwide

Mountain Goat The Delmont Released on 19/09/14

The Crafty Pint may never have eventuated were it not for a cold, dark Melbourne winter’s evening when a couple of Brits, recently arrived in Australia, climbed into an old Mercedes outside The Greyhound in St Kilda. It was being driven by a woman who’d told one of them “my boyfriend works for a microbrewery” and had thus opened up the promise of finding good beer Down Under. Said boyfriend (now husband) was Tom Delmont, the larger-than-life On-Road Goat, and walking into the Goat brewery that night was something of an epiphany moment for The Crafty Pint’s founder. Six years and one website later, this legend of the local craft beer world has had a beer brewed in his name, his honour and his likeness. Those who know Tom know it could only ever have been one style: a West Coast IPA, and so it is, crammed full of US hops Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe, Centennial and Chinook.

In The Delmont’s own words: “In June 2010 four friends went on a great beer adventure (Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington State, NY) and visited quite a few of the USA’s best brewers, including Green Flash, Ballast Point, Stone, Anchor, Sierra Nevada & Russian River among many others. I fell in love with the big, clean hop flavours and the incredible drinkability of the true West Coast IPA or, according to the San Diego guys, the San Diego style IPA. This beer is a direct result of that trip and my last six years in the craft beer industry.” As for what it is in the flesh, it’s a gleaming copper colour, with plenty of familiar citrus and pine aromas and a slightly resinous bitterness that’s there from the off but never gets out of control (unlike its namesake), instead being lean, clean and open to repeat visits. They’ve brewed heaps so In-Breed bottles will follow the kegs. NB: should you decide to black and tan it with the Crafty Auld Bulgin' Boysterous Bicep, go easy on the latter…

West Coast IPA 7.0% 70 IBU

Mountain Goat
The Alehouse Project
Gertrude Hotel
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
Cherry Tree
The Terminus
Forester’s Hall
Brother Burger & The Marvellous Brew
Royal Standard
Rainbow Hotel
Dan O'Connell
Baden Powell
Steampacket Inn
Beer DeLuxe
Rockwell & Sons
The Park Hotel
The Mallow
The Wheaty
Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn
The Local Taphouse St Kilda

2 Brothers BOOM! XPA Released on 18/09/14

Just the other day, it occurred to us that we hadn’t seen a new beer from 2 Brothers in a fair while. Then: “BOOM!”, one appeared. And it was literally: “BOOM!” as word landed from co-owner and head brewer Andrew Ong that not only was a new beer imminent, but it was a new beer called BOOM! that’s borne of the repeated requests from customers for an IPA. Not that it is an IPA, however, even though it adds to the armament-based language we have for hoppy beers (hop bomb, hop bazooka) by coming complete with a hop grenade as its accompanying image. Instead, it’s the latest beer to enter the much-debated no man’s land between pale and IPA. Many have opted to call their hoppier pales (or less boozy IPAs) “session IPAs” whereas here, like near neighbours Riders Brewing, they’ve gone for XPA or “extra pale ale”. What this translates to is Andrew’s attempt to “produce a beer with as much hop character [as an IPA] but with less bitterness – lending itself to longer sessions.” The result is a combination of Scottish pale malt, English ale yeast and more than a pound per keg of Centennial hops, which we’re told will give you, the drinker, citrus and pine aromas and flavours, with a touch of peach and stone fruit esters. According to Andrew: “We’ve been told by industry critics that the 2 Brothers fold has a reputation for malt driven beers, but with some recent evolutions in our conditioning processes, we hope that BOOM! will break this paradigm.”

Extra Pale Ale 5.1% 35 IBU

2 Brothers from 18/9
Then appearing at:
Forester’s Hall
Deja Vu
Belgian Beer Cafe Melbourne
Great Northern
Edinburgh Castle
Young & Jackson
Mrs Parma’s

Cheeky Monkey Milk of the Hoppy Released on 18/09/14

It would seem that we’re among a very small number of people not to have watched Game of Thrones (more The Wire sorts here, although Mrs Pint has suffered a few sleepless nights and sought reassurances that everything is OK with the world after becoming hooked; something to do with a Red Wedding, apparently…). So the chances are that all of you will know that the latest seasonal from Cheeky Monkey in Margaret River is a reference to said boobies-and-violence saga. “They call opium Milk of the Poppy,” says brewer Alex Poulsen. “I don’t think there’s enough hop puns out there yet.” The punny beer may well be the hoppiest yet to leave his brewery too, being an Imperial IPA “gratuitously hopped” with Topaz, Centennial, Mosaic and Amarillo. So if you’d like to unleash a Battle of the Trident on your taste buds, you know where to look. (Are we doing this right? If not, suggestions on a postcard to…)

Imperial IPA 8.5%

Cheeky Monkey
Mane Liquor
Bob’s Bar

3 Ravens Unkindness BIPA Released on 16/09/14

Having helped Melbourne’s 3 Ravens to not only its first gold medals at this year’s Australian International Beer Awards but also the Best British Ale and Champion Small Brewery titles, head brewer Adrian McNulty decided it was time to take his brewing skills, love of dark music and collection of off kilter headwear to pastures new in the form of Moon Dog. Prior to leaving, he created a farewell beer with his recently installed co-brewer, Ian Morgan (who has since been joined by former Boneyard brewer Brendan O'Sullivan). The beer is the Unkindness, the name conjured during an idle moment at work spent Googling the name for a group of ravens, and is the latest to feature Hop Products Australia’s latest poster girl, the Enigma hop. The style is a black IPA (or India Black Ale or Cascadian Dark Ale) that features hop additions at every turn – mash, first wort, boil up, whirlpool, hopback, and dry hopping. The result is a beer that is indeed deeply black and ravenesque and which, despite a theoretical 130 IBU (bittering units for those scratching their heads, of which the normal human palate is unable to distinguish much over 100), is not as overwhelmingly hoppy as one might have expected. Instead the fruitier side of the aroma (with a side helping of mint, according to the brewers) sits alongside some chocolate from the Midnight wheat malt used to attain the colour and the finish is rather smooth instead of palate-strippingly bitter. All of which is good for the drinker, even if it’s not particularly unkind. What’s unkind is that there are only four kegs in existence.

Black IPA 7.0% 130 IBU

Carwyn Cellars
The Alehouse Project Hopfest
The Catfish
Village Melbourne

Red Hill Double Barrel Temptation Released on 14/09/14

They do like to play around with casks and barrels down at Red Hill, with the latest of their oaky adventures resulting in the release of the Double Barrel Temptation. Fans of the Mornington Peninsula brewery will know and love the Temptation, their once-a-year strong Belgian golden ale. They’ll also likely know about their even more occasional “Double Barrel” series, which sees them bottle extremely limited amounts of their seasonals aged in oak barrels. Last year’s Double Barrel Imperial Stout aged in whisky barrels was one of our favourite beers of 2013; this time around, for whisky insert gin, with the Temptation spending time luxuriating inside a gin-soaked barrel. As with the stout, the beer became boozier (by the same additional 2.1 percent ABV, interestingly enough) and also evolved. In the case of the Temptation, it retains its familiar hazy golden appearance and the sweet, honey like malty nose, but gains a touch of booze and hints of botanicals from the gin (obtained from the Peninsula’s Bass & Flinders Distillery). It remains smooth, if anything is a little lighter on the palate than the original, and has a drier finish too, not to mention a warming, tingling afterglow. Just 20 cases produced.

Barrel Aged Belgian Golden Ale 10.1%

Red Hill
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Carwyn Cellars
Purvis Cellars
Purvis Beer Richmond
Grape and Grain
Mordialloc Cellar Door
Beer Cartel
Leura Cellars
Beer Bud

Illawarra Brewing Penny Pincher Released on 11/09/14

Fairly or unfairly, Scotland has a reputation for – amongst other things – miserable weather, a heavy drinking culture and its people’s fondness for thriftiness. Here then, is a beer which takes a certain self-deprecating view of all those things. The Penny Pincher from the Illawarra Brewing Company is a Scottish Export Ale (not to be confused with the country’s other favoured styles: Scottish Ale, Scotch Ale, Wee Heavy and Tennents Lager). Released at the tail end of winter, it was brewed specifically as a cool weather tipple and, as such, it’s a dark ale that’s absolutely packed to the gunwales with aromatic and caramel malts, layer upon layer of them. This is a beer that will warm you through (and will benefit from warming in the glass) but manages to do so without big alcohol; at 5.5 percent ABV, it’s surprisingly light considering how much flavour fits in your mouth. At the risk of fuelling the stereotypes further by suggesting they’ve squeezed every last drop of flavour out of this beer, it’s worth pointing out that the brewers have shown some extravagance in that they finished the beer on French oak for a week. All up, it means that, contrary to what the name might have you believe, the Penny Pincher is warm, rich and utterly enjoyable company. Just like the Scots. NO

Scottish Export Ale 5.5%

Illawarra Brewing Company
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
The Catfish
Others TBC

Stone & Wood Limited Release Jasper Released on 3/09/14

With the huge, self-inflicted obstacle that was Australia’s insatiable desire for Pacific Ale just about cleared thanks to the opening of brewery number two, the brewers at the original Stone & Wood site in Byron Bay have a little more time to play around. Play around or, perhaps more accurately, “sit around in The Rails and talk about beer”. Apparently it was one such evening that inspired this twist on Jasper, the red ale that is the third beer in their year round range. Rather poetically, we’re told: “the cane fields of the Northern Rivers had been ablaze, lightly blanketing the hills in a soft sheet of smoke and with the September winds starting to pick up, signalling the start of spring and the end of the cane harvest we decided to bring out a beer to coincide with the changing of the seasons…” So the brewers gathered some local paperbark and set about smoking some malt, added some traditional German smoked malt and worked it into the original Jasper recipe. There it adds a “distinct smoldering character” to the beer’s sweeter malts and soft, spicy bitterness and is doing so on taps around the country this Spring.

Smoked Red Ale 4.7%

Find it on tap here

Lord Nelson 2IC (500ml bottle) Released on 2/09/14

In recent years, the Lord Nelson – Australia’s oldest pub brewery – has been pouring a growing range of seasonal and one-off beers through its taps in The Rocks. Some reappear every year, others are concocted for a special occasion, do their thing and disappear and, as of a few months ago, every now and again one of them breaks free of the pub and is brewed and bottled on a larger scale and distributed nationwide. First for this treatment was the rather tasty Double Nelson IPA and following in its footsteps is this rendition of 2IC, the brewery’s brown ale. Although initially taking the real ales of the UK as inspiration, the Lord isn’t averse to crossing the Atlantic and throwing a little of the New World into the mix and that’s the case here, with gentle fruity, orange and citrus hops adding a slight American twist to the maltiness (toffee, biscuit, cocoa) of this cloudy, tan brown ale that’s light on the palate and presumably designed to ease the drinker out of the colder months.

American Brown Ale 4.7% 24 IBU

In bottles nationwide where you find Three Sheets and Old Admiral

Grifter Brewing Co Coven Released on 29/08/14

It might just be us, but there seems to be a bit of a sinister air surrounding the Grifter Brewing Company these days. Following on from their winter oatmeal stout release, The Omen, comes Coven, an amber ale firmly encased within some striking coffin-shaped imagery. The word ‘Coven’ represents a gathering of witches and it’s true you can almost imagine the three Grifter boys huddled around a vigorously overflowing boil, giant paddles held aloft, chanting, “Double double, toil and trouble!”. But despite some dark connotations, in reality the reference is far more innocent; namely the gathering of a wide array of malts and hops in the brewhouse cauldron. This has led to a beer that, the brewers tell us, has “luscious malt character combined with an array of subtle hop notes, ranging from earthy and spicy all the way to fruit and citrus”. Coming in at 5.7 per cent abv, they also suggest that this is a highly sessionable potion. NO

Of course, Coven also brings to mind this unique character.

Amber Ale 5.7%

Bank Hotel
Baxter Inn
Dove & Olive
Frankies Pizza
Gasoline Pony
Harts Pub
Henson Park Hotel
Petersham Bowls
Rose Hotel Chippendale
The Little Guy
Welcome Hotel
Tippler’s Tap
The Alehouse Project (Hopfest)

Nail Brew Log Collection #4 Red Ale Released on 20/08/14

Having become increasingly convinced that Nail’s founder John Stallwood is Australia’s maestro of malt on the back of staggeringly consistently high quality releases such as his Oatmeal Stout, Hughe Dunn Imperial Brown Ale, Imperial Red Ale, Imperial Porter and Clout Stout, we expected this Red Ale to be another exploration of just how much character and depth could be expressed in a beer via the mastery of beer’s backbone ingredient. So imagine our surprise when the first thing to hit us as the blood orange drop hit the glass was a wave of fruitily aromatic hops. In hindsight, the “Double Dry Hopped” note on the label should have offered something of a clue… Certainly, the hops play a more dominant role here than in anything other than the Golden Nail, with US variety Citra and a couple of Aussie varieties offering up heaps of tropical and citrus aromas as well as palate-tickling fruity flavours alongside the rich caramel malts. It’s full-bodied yet surprisingly light on its feet for 6 percent and set to win the hearts of those pining for Goat’s recent India Red Ale. As always with the Brew Log beers it is dedicated to someone who has played a crucial role in the Nail story, this time the late Maurice Brockwell who invited John to set up Nail Brewing at Bobby Dazzler’s in Perth’s CBD last decade, helping establish the then fledgling brewery.

Red Ale 6.0% 35 IBU

Purvis Cellars
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Purvis Beer Richmond
Low Buy Liquor
Prince Wine and Spirits
And good craft beer supporting venues across Australia

Young Henrys Red Hop Poker Released on 19/08/14

The folks at Young Henrys couldn’t be accused of not enjoying a lil’ bit o’ Yee Haw! Harking all the way back to one of their very first limited releases, the Yippee IA (Imperial Amber Ale), the chaps with the chaps have never shirked away from the opportunity for a Southern-inspired celebration, be it barn dance, hoedown or boot scoot. And now they’ve gone and developed themselves a Texas-style Red Hop Poker. Originally brewed for the Carnivore’s Ball in Marrickville, this is an India Red Ale that was created as the perfect accompaniment to Texas-style BBQ ribs and hot sauce. Appropriately, it’s brewed with El Dorado, Amarillo and an as-yet-unnamed experimental US hop variety. But for all the hop focus, the key to this beer is the caramel malt which, the brewers tell us, is “enough to quell the fire of the hottest chipotle”. NO

India Red Ale 6.2%

Young Henrys
Hotel Sweeney’s

4 Pines Keller Door: Imperial India Brown Ale Released on 18/08/14

Up until now, Sydney’s 4 Pines has tended to use its occasional bottled Keller Door releases to showcase beers a little different from their core range without straying too far from the 4 Pines path. There have been single hop IPAs, an Oktoberfest lager and a hoppy amber. But, for their latest, there’s been something of a change of tack, one that has essentially seen things ratcheted up several notches. And when we say “things” we mean hops, malt and booze content. The Imperial Brown Ale is a beer that leaves little in the locker room and it’s surely no accident they reference America in their release notes as it’s the sort of beer that would first have appeared in the American craft beer scene. It looks like a carbonated muscat, hits you with a combination of resinous hops, nuts, treacly toffee and dates then backs those up with a lingering, bitter but balanced, almost sticky finish. The brewers reckon it’s “so smooth it should be a Morgan Freeman monologue”, which seems appropriate as the surreptitious 8 percent booze will relax you just as quick as his soporific tones.

Imperial Brown Ale 8.0%

Good bottleshops nationwide

Mildura Brewery Winter Sun & Catcher In The Rye Released on 13/08/14

The short run batches continue to pour forth from Mildura, with the latest pair featuring a beer originally debuted in 2013 and a brand new one. The former is Winter Sun, based on the English strong ale or “winter warmer” style and inspired by winter mornings around the brewery, where it can be -1C at dawn then 20C by midday. As is often the way at Mildura the brewers have followed tradition, using a mix of quality British malts (with a touch of oats and some German specialty malts) and all English hops. There’s a touch of floral, rose-like aromas but they’re secondary to those created by the malt and yeast: distinct nuttiness, creme caramel, burnt sugar and treacle. There’s some raisiny fruit flavours in there too, a touch of spiciness and the familiar broad and building bitterness you get from East Kent Goldings and Fuggles hops.

The new beer is Catcher in the Rye, which came about following a conversation along the lines of “I want to do a rye beer with 50 percent rye malt.” “Normally they only use 30 percent rye because it causes problems during the brew.” “No pain, no gain.” Thus it was that the 50 percent rye malt beer was brewed, that there were indeed problems (a nine-hour rather than five-hour brew cycle), but that brewers Glen and Richard got there in the end. The result is a copper beer with that glistening appearance you often get with rye beers, a bold, spicy, caramel malt flavour, some resiny, citrus hops on top and a firm bitterness to finish.

Winter Warmer & Rye Ale 5.5% & 4.4%

Mildura Brewery
Other tap points TBC

Moon Dog Black Lung IV Released on 12/08/14

In a recent radio interview to chat about our new beer book, the host in Brisbane plucked a few beers from its pages that had caught her eyes for different reasons. Among them was Black Lung, with the eye-catching packaging – a suit-and-tie-wearing skeleton with hole in its skull smoking multiple cigars – prompting a question about the importance of presentation in the craft beer world. Acknowledging that Moon Dog’s was among the most visually arresting, we suggested it would only get a brewery so far if the beer inside wasn’t much chop, something she needn’t fear with Black Lung. At that point, we hadn’t tasted version IV but its great grandaddy (back when there was a solitary cigar) was the favourite among Moon Dog’s early beers at Crafty Towers and the beer, brewed annually, has since taken a merry journey from its initial bourbon barrel outing through the intense whisky affair that was II and the rather fruitier, rummified III. The latest, which has been out in draught form at a handful of venues, has spent time inside fresh American oak, whose impact is most apparent on the nose where, at cooler temperatures, you’ll find soft oak mixing with creamy vanilla, fudge and hazelnut. The peat smoked malt comes into play in the mouth, lending the beer a more aggressively smoky flavour than the aroma might lead you to expect, with dark fruits, leather and a roasted bitter finish tucked within its full, oily black body too. The smokiness, along with some tar and treacle, creeps into the aroma as it warms in what’s another fine addition to the Black Lung canon for those who appreciate the darker, more sinister things in life.

Smoked Stout 9.1%

At good craft beer venues nationwide.
If you want help finding it near you, contact Moon Dog’s distributor Phoenix.