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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Tuesday 2 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 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%

NSW:
Bank Hotel
Baxter Inn
Dove & Olive
Foxtrot
Frankies Pizza
Gasoline Pony
Harts Pub
Henson Park Hotel
Petersham Bowls
Rose Hotel Chippendale
The Little Guy
Welcome Hotel
QLD:
Tippler’s Tap
Tomahawk
VIC:
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
Slowbeer
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.

Red Tape Brewing ESB Released on 12/08/14

With all manner of hand pump, nitro and tap sparkler action to hand at the King St Brewhouse, they do favour creating beers that can make use of them. The latest Single Batch brewed at the Darling Harbour brewpub is one that’s got “hand pump” written all over it. It’s an ESB (Extra Special Bitter), a British-inspired ale for which brewer Sam Clayman has combined a blend of traditional English malt and pale crystal malt along with some classic English hops to create a pale copper-coloured beer with a “biscuity-sweet aroma” and an initial “mild toffee-like sweetness up front that slowly gives way to an earthy, balancing bitterness”. We’re told it finishes refreshingly dry so look out for it on their Friday hand pump specials.

ESB

King St Brewhouse

Murray's Fred West Coast IPA Released on 9/08/14

In the realms of beer geekery, Murray’s is perhaps best known for its collection of imperial stouts – and with good reason. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that they do love to create the odd IPA too – or several. From the pint-sized, drink-it-by-the-pint, Retro Rocket to the aptly named Icon 2IPA via Big Wednesday and the occasionally spotted Spartacus Imperial IPA, they’ve got the full range covered. And now the range is getting fatter at the waistline too, as, hot on the heels of the Dog House Session IPA and the winter re-release of Shawn’s Fault Black IPA, we’ve got Fred. This is a classic US-inspired IPA with all the requisite focus on hops. So much so that, for the first time ever, Murray’s have eschewed the New Zealand hops which go into every one of their other beers in favour of those from the Pacific Northwest. That helps produce a beer with a big fruity aroma and substantial bitterness which lingers long. It’s an unfiltered IPA – only the second the brewery has produced – which retains a soft creamy head that helps round out the mouthfeel. At 6 per cent and 75 IBUs, it’s big enough to cause trouble and more than bitter enough to let you know about it. Like the countless tortured souls you might encounter when riding Greyhound buses in the region that inspires this beer style, Fred comes with an abrasive edge which might surprise. But unlike so many of those passengers, our Fred isn’t unbalanced – it’s just his style. NO

US IPA 6.0% 75 IBU

Murray’s
Hotel Sweeney’s
Grain Store
The Hop Factory
The Park Hotel
The Alehouse Project
Junction Beer Hall

Bridge Road Brewers B2 Bomber Mach 4.0 Released on 8/08/14

One of Bridge Road’s most popular annual releases is back in its fourth incarnation. The B2 Bomber first took to the skies to mark the brewery’s birthday back in 2010. Ever since then (barring one exception) it has been the birthday brew, evolving (well, being beefed up is probably more accurate) each year. It’s a melding of styles that takes in black IPA and Belgium, with the former meaning plenty of dark malts and punchy hops, the latter providing a fruity, herbal yeast character. Last year saw the hopping regime stepped up significantly, allowing the hops to take centre stage – a distinctly resinous centre stage – for the first time. This time around, the brewers upped the hops again – and the malt – and the result is probably the version that integrates all the various elements best, even at this early stage. The hops lead off, but are matched every step of the way by sumptuous chocolate and slightly roasty malt flavours. The Belgian characteristics seem subdued by comparison, but presumably contribute to the black and tan-coloured beer’s voluminous body and will likely nudge their way into the picture over time as the hops fade. At this rate, Bridge Road will never need to come up with another beer for their birthday; just keep knocking out more and more of this delicious monster and we’ll all be happy.

Bonus Mrs Pint review: “It’s big!”

Belgian Black IPA 8.6%

Bottles:
Grape and Grain Morrabbin
Olinda Cellars
Slowbeer
Barny’s
Beer Cartel
The Park Hotel
Kegs:
Woodlands Hotel
Belgian Beer Cafe Melbourne
Royal George Kyneton
Bendigo on the Hop
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Super Whatnot
The Scratch
Archive Beer Boutique
The Wheaty
New Sydney
Grain Store
The Park Hotel

Van Dieman Giblin Imperial Stout & Enigma IPA Released on 8/08/14

Clearly Will Tatchell is something of a glutton for punishment – or has a team of eager beavers on hand come packaging day. Because having been inspired to follow the Belgian lead and painstakingly wrap the 2,500 bottles of his Hedgerow Sour in pretty paper, he’s done the same with this year’s release of his Giblin Imperial Stout. Given many of the imperial stouts coming out from Australian brewers these days tip the scales above 10 percent, this one is a pretty restrained affair; at 7.7 percent ABV Will joked with one commenter on Twitter that it was a “light beer” in comparison. While it certainly isn’t light, it does have a softer, silkier body than some of the viscous behemoths that come your way each winter, containing within it much in the way of soft roasted and dark cocoa flavours and aromas, with a touch of something a little woody too. As with the Hedgerow, there are just 2,500 bottles in existence.

Look out if you can too, for any remaining kegs of Van Dieman’s Enigma IPA. Most has probably gone, but if you see any lingering around Tassie jump in. Enigma is the latest hop variety from Hop Products Australia and the one they rushed from trials to commercial reality faster than any other. You can see why as it offers up all manner of berry, melon and tropical fruit characteristics over the course of the beer, yet does so with a subtlety not always found in New World hop varieties; there’s a broad, caressing feel to the aroma rather than something coming at you all guns blazing.

Imperial Stout & IPA 7.7% & other

Saint John Craft Beer, Launceston
Crown Cellars
Mill Providore, Launceston
Alps & Amici, Launceston
Cool Wine, Hobart
Abbey Bottleshop, Hobart
Club Hotel, Burnie
Slowbeer

Young Henrys & Holgate I Should Coco Released on 6/08/14

It’s no secret that the team at Newtown’s Young Henrys love to collaborate. Roast coffee? Come and make beer with us! Got vanilla? Come make beer with us! In a rockin' band? Come and make beer with us! Run a radio station… Well, you get the message. It’s not that often, however, that they make beer with other brewers but, following a few real ales shared at this year’s Good Beer Week Cask Off, owner Richard Adamson got chatting to Holgate Brewhouse founder Paul Holgate and a plan was hatched. Young Henrys head brewer Sam rates Holgate’s Temptress as one of the best chocolate beers in the land so the plan turned into a chocolate stout but, being Young Henrys, that wasn’t enough so they called in supplies from the Truffle and Wine Co in Manjimup and chucked a kilo of fresh perigord black truffles in too. With a new brewery only recently installed, there were issues along the way: failing pumps and long hours, but the end result, so we’re told, “has depth and creamy smoothness with cocoa and truffle complementing roast and earthy tobacco notes – a triumph over adversity!”

As for the name, aside from the obvious chocolate pun, it harks back to 1930’s obscure rhyming slang for “I should think so", which is used sarcastically in retort to a whacky idea. Example: “Hey Paul, do you want to come up to Sydney to share your secrets and make a beer on our new brewery (which we haven’t worked out how to use yet and will probably break) and throw a kilo of one of the world’s most expensive ingredients into the mix?"

“I should coco!”

Chocolate Truffle Stout 6.2%

Young Henrys
Rose of Australia
Freda's
Angry Pirate
Lord Dudley
Petersham Bowling Club
Art Bar
More Sydney venues to come with some heading to Melbourne
Keep an eye on Young Henrys social media…

3 Ravens Druid Released on 30/07/14

You can tell 3 Ravens head brewer Adrian McNulty is being given free rein in the brewery these days. The man has musical tastes of a particularly dark, intense and heavy shade of black and the creation of beers such as Black Mass – a whisky barrel-aged chipotle and vanilla porter – and now this Pedro Ximenez barrel-aged Belgian strong dark ale named Druid would seem to reflect brew days soundtracked by intense aural assaults. Having enjoyed the Druid on tap and from the bottle, we feel that maybe more brewers could experiment with drowning themselves in waves of intestine-rumbling drone. The brewery originally obtained the Pedro Ximenez barrels on loan and decided to try and create a beer that reflected the drink that once inhabited them. They brewed a Belgian quadrupel, filled four barrels, left them a while, then blended all four back together before kegging and bottling. The result is a wonderfully complex beer, awash with sweet, fortified wine aromas, stewed fruits, soft, creamy chocolate malts, hints of oak and much more besides. The only downside is that the barrels have now been returned from whence they came so the beer may never be repeated.

Barrel-aged Belgian Quad 11.0%

McCoppins
McCoppins Abbotsford
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Slowbeer
Purvis Cellars
Carwyn Cellars
Low Buy Liquor
Public Brewery
The Catfish
Royal Hotel Clifton Hill
The Park Hotel
Gin Palace

3 Ravens USB (Uber Special Bitter) Released on 29/07/14

On the night of the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards, shortly after 3 Ravens head brewer Adrian McNulty had collected the trophy for Champion Small Australian Brewery, we asked one of his colleagues: “Does this mean Adrian will be allowed to brew USB again?” The beer – essentially a souped up version of their English Ale – was always a favourite at Crafty Towers but, when the brewery was taken over by Mash in 2013 the brewing of all limited release beers was put on hiatus to focus on the core range. “We just brewed it!” came the reply. And, thus, they departed the evening happy, laden down with trophies, and we departed happy in the knowledge that our favourite Ravens beer was coming back. It’s back in the larger, old-fashioned bottles those who remember the old Uber range from the brewery will recall and, barring a minor tweak to the label and the hops (because they couldn’t lay their hands on one variety in particular), it’s the same as before: a rich, layered, deep amber coloured beer dominated by hearty toffee malts. The change in hops gives it a more citrusy aroma then we recall from the past, but the raisiny dark fruit and spicy characteristics remain in what’s a fine beer to be supping on these cold, winter evenings.

Strong English Bitter 6.2%

McCoppins
McCoppins Abbotsford
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Slowbeer
Purvis Cellars
Carwyn Cellars
Low Buy Liquor
Public Brewery
The Catfish