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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Friday 18 April 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

James Squire Hop Thief 6 Released on 17/04/14

Even in Hollywood there are few series that make it as far as number six. So as James Squire’s ongoing series of hop showcase beers reaches the half dozen mark, it’s in rarefied company: Rocky; Nightmare on Elm Street; Friday the 13th; Halloween; Police Academy – that sort of rarefied company. Thankfully, it is holding up rather better than those movies were by their sixth outing. In fact, it’s possibly even an improvement on its predecessor, with a leaner body than the slightly sticky number 5. This time around, the brewers in Camperdown chose popular US hops Simcoe and Columbus for the brew and it is the former that takes centre stage, offering up big passionfruit aromas, with a touch of pine, alongside the creamy caramel aromas of the crystal malts that contribute its enticing amber colour. That fruit and caramel combo follows through to the taste, with a touch of spicy hop in there too in what is a highly drinkable drop from one of the big boys. Apparently, work is underway on number 7 too, with the brewers having recently returned from Tassie armed with fresh Aussie hops…

American Pale Ale 5.0%

Nationwide in draught and bottle

Moo Brew Harvest Ale 2014: Rye IPA Released on 17/04/14

Traditionally, for the most part at least, when breweries have turned their attention to creating fresh hop harvest ales they have tended to favour pretty straightforward base beers that allow the hops to shine. Last year, Moo Brew took a rather different approach and released a fresh hop Robust Porter. It was one of the best beers we sampled in the whole of 2013. And now, for its 2014 harvest release, they are trying something a little different again. It is the first harvest release with new head brewer Dave Macgill at the helm and he tells us that for this beer they have used raw ingredients never before used in the brewery, including rye malt from Tasmania’s Belgrove Distillery. “The use of rye will give the malt structure a complex, dry and spicy finish showcasing the real hero of the beer: the hops,” he says. The wet hops used in this beer are Galaxy and Ella; Galaxy brings big fruit flavours and aromas, Ella contributes floral and slightly spicy elements. The result, says Dave, is “a dry fruit driven, well-balanced 7 percent Rye IPA.”

Rye IPA 7.0%

Saint John Craft Beer
The Winston
Lark Distillery
Peppermint Bay
Prince of Wales
New Sydney
Custom House Hotel
Jack Greene
Blue Eye
The Alehouse Project
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Great Northern
The Wheaty
Clever Little Tailor
East Of Everything
Earl of Leicester
Publishers Hotel
The Terminus
Gertrude Hotel
Odyssey Tavern
Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn
Royal Albert Hotel
Forest Lodge
Grain Store
Warners at the Bay
Prince of Wales
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Frankies Pizza by the Slice
Welcome Hotel
New Brighton Hotel
Beer Cartel
Flatrock Cafe
Sydney Wine Merchants
Jeremy’s Bistro
Archive Beer Boutique
The Scratch
Tippler’s Tap
The Burrow
Statler and Waldorf
Shady Palms Cafe

Grifter Marnie's Majority Ale Released on 16/04/14

Having any beer brewed to mark your arrival in the world is a pretty special thing. But having a beer as good as Marnie’s Majority Ale brewed for the occasion is pretty damn special (apart from the fact you technically have to wait 18 years to drink it). First created in 2013 as a celebration of Grifter’s head brewer’s transition to fatherhood, this beer found its way into the Hop Bomb section of our list of 50 top Australian beers in the 2013 end-of-year James Halliday’s Wine Companion Magazine. The brewers didn’t attempt anything crazy for the occasion, plumping for an American IPA. It’s not a style Australians are lacking, but few turn out as well as this. Combining aromatic American hops – Bravo and Mosaic – with British malts, they achieved a beer with big citrus and stone fruit aromas, a rich biscuit and toffee malt backbone and plenty of bitterness, all balanced rather beautifully. Flavoursome, complex, clean and rewarding, it beats a pair of embroidered booties any day.

American IPA 6.5%

Dove & Olive
Harts Pub
Hartsyard, Sydney
Lord Raglan, Sydney
Petersham Bowls, Sydney
Welcome Hotel, Sydney
Union Hotel Newtown
The Burrow, Brisbane
Tippler’s Tap
Tomahawk, Brisbane
More to come in Melbourne & Sydney

Morrison Brewery English IPA Released on 16/04/14

Across the land, brewers have been slaving away creating their entry for the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular. Among them is Paul Morrison, co-owner and head brewer of Launceston’s Morrison Brewery. But not only has he been creating a new beer for this year’s event, he’s also brewed a fresh batch of last year’s entry. His 2013 GABS beer was an English IPA, in keeping with his love of additional British and Irish ales. The new version features a different yeast and Paul tells us we should be looking out for: “Heaps of layered malt, earthy, floral hops, orange marmalade and fresh cut tobacco.” It is a keg only release and, at 6.8 percent ABV, is not one for the fainthearted.

English IPA 6.8%

Preachers, Hobart
Cromer Cellars on growler
New Sydney, Hobart
Saint John Craft Beer, Launceston
The Winston

Australian Brewery Mexican Lager (Can) Released on 15/04/14

Now this should prove interesting in beer geek land. It almost feels like rolling a hand grenade into the midst of a group of beer aficionados and waiting for them to spot it and cry out in horror. Why? Well, the latest beer to appear in cans from the Australian Brewery is its Mexican Lager, “inspired by the hot plains of Mexico”, decorated with psychedelic skulls, and essentially the lager designed with the brewery’s home crowd in NW Sydney in mind – those who might shirk from the brewery’s fine Pilsner (already available in cans). Brewed with maize and raw sugar, it has a touch of lemon in the aroma, some corn to taste and almost non-existent bitterness. Most of all, this pale straw-coloured beer with a surprisingly full body has a sweetness, both to smell and taste, backed up by a slightly savoury, spicy touch at the end. It makes for an inoffensive smasher; so inoffensive, in fact, it’s bound to offend the craft beer hardcore. Now, just how do you drink from a can when there’s a slice of lime in the way?

Mexican Lager 4.5%

In cans nationwide

Women of Beer Unite Released on 14/04/14

For International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day 2014, female brewers and beer industry types around the world were called upon to join together in their respective countries to brew a beer and help raise awareness of women in the beer industry. The said beer was to be brewed on the same day, to the same recipe – a four per cent pale ale using Cascade hops – and released under the same name: Unite. Australia’s participants in this celebration were the Women of Beer collective who assembled for their fourth brew and their first at Young Henrys in Newtown. Because things tend to get done a bit differently Down Under, our ladies opted not to strictly follow the pale ale recipe in favour of something a little different. And by ‘a little’, you can read as ‘quite a lot’ because what they’ve brewed is a Salted Caramel Ale. Based on a Brown Ale recipe, this one has had a load of crystal malts thrown in which give off burnt toffee flavours (more so as the beer warms up). Unusually for a brown ale, it’s got it’s both red and pink in it. The red is the hue you’ll see when you hold it up to the light and the pink, while not exactly visible, can be tasted from the pink Murray River salt which was added to the brew. This, unsurprisingly, adds a bit of a salty taste – though it’s very subtle and doesn’t detract from a very drinkable beer. With just over 20 kegs produced, this is a strict one-off brew which you’ll need to track down pretty quickly.

Brown Ale 5.2%

Young Henrys
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Matilda Bay
Two Row

Feral Brewpub Series: Barrique O'Karma Released on 11/04/14

Fresh kegs of the latest batch of Feral’s Barrique O'Karma have been hitting taps around Australia for a couple of weeks now. However, with one of the brewery’s staff telling us the bottled version – the latest beer in their occasional Brewpub Series – is the best beer they had ever put into a bottle, we thought we should wait until we could get our hands on a stubby. Well, now we have, and… First, a recap of the beer. Initially brewed for last year’s Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular, Barrique O'Karma is based on Feral’s Karma Citra India Black Ale (or black IPA if you prefer) but, like the Barrel Fermented Hog (BFH) version of Hop Hog, it undergoes its primary fermentation in oak, giving the end beer significantly different characteristics. So what does that mean in the new bottled product currently winging its way to specialist bottleshops across Australia? It means it is one complex mofo. The citrus hop aromas familiar from the straight Karma Citra still waft from its dense black body, but come with distinct vanilla and soft oak too, not to mention a touch of chocolate and cocoa. That interplay between the hops, malt and the effects of the oak continues in the mouth, with the beer also possessing the most ridiculously velvety, creamy mouthfeel too. It’s quite remarkable how much the beer has to offer as it warms, making it not only unique but intriguing as well.

Oaked India Black Ale 6.5%

At good bottleshops and craft beer bars nationwide

Bridge Road Harvest Ale 2014 Released on 10/04/14

The annual Bridge Road Harvest Ale release has become an event of note for both beer lovers looking for a hoppy new drop and the hop growers at Hop Products Australia, who learn much about how some of their experimental hop varieties will perform. Each year, head brewer Ben Kraus selects a different, as-yet-unnamed hop variety from the Rostrevor Farm just down the road from his Beechworth brewery, picks the entire crop and throws it into a beer as it is, still fresh and wet from the bines. This year, however, there weren’t enough hop cones on his chosen variety so the intention was to pick two types, brew two batches and then blend them for the final beer. That will still happen, with all bottled product and a later release of kegs featuring the blend.

But before then there is a small number of kegs that have been released featuring one of the beers in unblended form. The reason for this is that the brewers were blown away by the characteristics they obtained from one variety. Ben says it has similarities with the unique Sorachi Ace, originally developed in Japan, and that they get “mango, melon and apricot as well as yoghurt and a curd like texture” from it. “I think it’s the best one we have trialled because it has such a cool character,” he says. “We’ve used it in such massive quantities that there is a lot of resin.” When the blended version follows, expect a more pronounced hoppy aroma from the second variety. Look out soon for a new version of the Dark Harvest, originally brewed with Mikkeller, a new version that is a return to the original version…

Wet Hop Ale

Unblended kegs:
Woodlands Hotel
The Terminus
Goldmines Hotel
The Catfish
Raccoon Bar
Builders Arms
Spotted Mallard
Bottles at good stores nationwide
Second batch of kegs TBC

Mash Brewing Bon Scotch & Copy Cat Released on 8/04/14

Although maybe not attracting as much attention as many of their peers, the brewing team at Mash has been steadily knocking out some intriguing seasonals in recent years. From the Rye The Hop Not ESB to the smoky DeVille to the unique Grasscutter, a lawnmower/session beer gently fermented on two toasts of French oak, their beers are always worth keeping an eye out for. Now they’re back with not one but two limited release beers: a Scotch Ale and a West Coast IPA, and both, according to head brewer Charlie Hodgson, “are crackers”.

The former is called Bon Scotch and features some peated distilling malt that we’re told “adds wafts of smoke to its raisin and chocolate like aromas”. At 7.5 percent ABV, it’s a full-bodied affair with the alcohol adding a soft warming touch, which suggests it should be perfect as the temperatures start to cool. As for the Copy Cat, the name hints at the sort of West Coast IPA it is – in other words, it may seem familiar. According to Charlie, it is “bulging at the seams with tropical, piney, resinous hop bitterness and aroma” with the malt there just to hold it all together and stop the bitterness spilling out into the streets. It tips the scales at 6.8 percent and 70IBUs, suggesting it isn’t one for the fainthearted.

Scotch Ale & West Coast IPA 7.5% & 6.8%

All three Mash venues
Print Hall, Perth – Copy Cat only

Southern Bay Lone Sailor Released on 4/04/14

Victoria’s Southern Bay returns to its nautical roots with its latest seasonal release. The Lone Sailor is one that has done something of a round the world trip, with the brewers sourcing a wide range of malts from New Zealand and Europe to create this multilayered amber ale. Gladfields, from across the ditch in New Zealand, supply five different varieties with a dash of rye malt from Germany’s Weyermann included to add a touch of spice to the mix. According to the team at Southern Bay, even the creation of the beer led to “the most amazing aromas in the brewhouse”. This wall of malt has been kept in check with the use of American Simcoe hops, while the use of an English ale yeast should add a touch of fruitiness to the mix. The result is, we are told, “a beautiful mahogany colour with layer upon layer of interesting malt character.” All of which sounds delightful – perhaps the Lone Sailor on the label should tuck into a couple himself and raise a smile…

Amber Ale 5.4% 32 IBU

Southern Bay direct
Venues TBC

Illawarra Brewing Company Voracious Herbaceous Released on 3/04/14

While consumption itself is generally the ultimate reward for a drinker, there is often – and certainly now more than ever – something innately pleasurable about simply ordering a beer. That’s because as the creativity has flowed from the brewers into the brews, so has what goes onto a label. As a result some wonderful beer names abound, replete with luscious words like ‘Imperious’, ‘Pernicious’ and ‘Girthsome’, to mention but a few. That such delicious language so often suits the beer beneath the label is no coincidence, and so it is with the latest release from Wollongong’s Illawarra Brewing Company; a Golden Ale named Voracious Herbaceous. As the title suggests, this brew has been rather busy devouring great quantities of hops. The brewers have added plenty of Australian and American varieties to leave a beer abound with tropical flavours like passionfruit and citrus. While there’s a good dose of hop oil and resin in this one, at 4.8 percent ABV the Voracious Herbaceous still manages to remain a fairly light and breezy wee drop meaning it goes down as smoothly as its name rolls off your tongue. NO

Golden Ale 4.8%

Illawarra Brewing Company (growlers)
The Alehouse Project
Royal Albert Hotel

Young Henrys Hop van Damme Released on 3/04/14

Since rolling up the doors for the first time in early 2012, the team at Newtown’s Young Henrys brewery have managed to effortlessly ingratiate themselves into their local community to the point where it’s actually a little difficult to remember what life was like without them. Now, as the brewery approaches two years of beer-fuelled rock & roll fun, they can take a brief moment to take stock of a journey that’s seen them grow in every regard; doubling their brewing capacity three times already and winning new fans through a long, long, long list of collaborators. But amidst all the fun, there’s always been a lot of hard work. Exactly 499 brews worth of hard work, in fact. That’s obviously reason enough to celebrate brew #500 with something extra special; a doubled-up version of their mainstay Hop Ale. For this, they doubled the malt (enough, apparently, that it wouldn’t all fit in the mash tun in one go), then they doubled the hops; in the mash, when the wort was transferred to the kettle, at the start of the boil and also in the whirlpool. Then, for good measure, they dry hopped with double the amount normally used and conditioned it for twice as long. The beer is, you may not be surprised to learn, very hoppy and very malty. In keeping with the community-minded nature of the brewery, they left the naming of the 500th brew to their drinkers and crowdsourced around 80 suggestions. The unanimous favourite and winner of a place in the Young Henrys family album: Hop Van Damme: Double Impact. NO

English / Australian Double IPA 7.2%

Young Henrys
Dove & Olive
Transit Bar, Canberra
Others TBC

Mountain Goat Fancy Pants (Can) Released on 2/04/14

Following the runaway success of their first can, Summer Ale, Mountain Goat is back for more. This time around, it’s not a new beer but the return of an annual release that’s been doing the rounds for a few years now. Fancy Pants is the amber ale that they’ve always said is the beer Hightail would be were there no need to balance the books. What that means is a richer burnt toffee malt body and a cranking up of the Galaxy hops to create a dark copper-coloured beer in which fruitiness – and a touch of spiciness – mingles with the aforementioned malt characteristics before wrapping up with a slightly toasty, gently bitter finish. Just the sort of thing you need for the transition into the cooler months.

Amber Ale 5.2%

Nationwide throughout the cooler months

Mornington Peninsula Brewery Pale Ale (cans) Released on 1/04/14

The cans keep on coming, with Mornington Peninsula Brewery following in the footsteps of the Australian Brewery and Mountain Goat by popping craft beer into cans. They’ve installed their own canning line and first to make an appearance, in rather fetching black and gold livery, is their Pale Ale. Already an appealingly aromatic, balanced and flavoursome beer, it has received its first tweak in the three and a half years since it was the brewery’s launch beer. The tweak takes the form of dry hopping with Citra and Amarillo with the intention of boosting its upfront passionfruit aromas. Following a series of launch events in late March, the cans are making their way to the usual Mornington stockists around the country.

Pale Ale 4.7%

Feral Beral Released on 1/04/14

The current craze for craft brewers to put their product into cans continues unabated. Latest to get involved is the reigning Champion Medium Brewery of Australia, Feral. The arrival of their first can has come almost unheralded and, most surprising of all, it is also their first cider. Feral Beral is launched following extensive research by the Swan Valley brewer which showed that, while Feral’s core beer products appealed to discerning drinkers of both genders, they where missing out on a significant market of “18-40 Mainstream Bingers”. They believe this more scientific approach to creating new products will stand them in good stead for future growth. As well as carrying out extensive research, Feral has been lobbying the Australian Cider Society to recognise “Olde Englishish” as an official style.

The brewery’s Steve Finney explains: “As the cider market becomes flooded with brands, the ACS has recognised the need to create categories that allow manufacturers to take full advantage of cheap constituted apple juices. Obviously ‘Chinese Cider’ isn’t as desirable to our target audience as something that is reminiscent of the traditional home of cider.”

Head brewer Brendan Varis adds: “By reconstituting these juices and adding sweeteners, we were able to create a very cost effective product and a taste profile that appeals to those that are interested in consuming their alcoholic beverages in bulk. It’s not something that I would choose to drink, but it makes economic sense and it is an approach that I am excited to pursue on the beer side of the business if this proves successful, which all our data suggests it will. The reality is that creating fresh, local products will only take you so far and my ambitions for Feral are global.”

Extra Sweet Cider 5.0%

Nationwide at good bottleshops