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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Wednesday 23 July 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

Bright Pinky Framboise 2013 Released on 9/04/13

It’s time to get fruity and funky with Bright Brewery as they bring their raspberry sour out of retirement, with the 2013 version having enjoyed a rather lengthy gestation period. The base beer has spent a year in tank with 100kg of locally sourced raspberries, during which time it’s been fed with all manner of funky yeast strains: Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brettanomyces lambicus and two Saccharomyces strains for good measure. According to Bright’s head brewer Jon Seltin: “We’re quite proud of how the Pinky has turned out: gorgeous pink colour, very layered and complex aroma and palate with massive raspberry aroma above all the bretty complexity that has developed over the past year – think sourness, damp hay, bran and wheat, wool, humus, and a slight woodsy mustiness. It has a nice, restrained lactic sourness which will, along with the brett characteristics, continue to develop on the bottle over the next several years.” There’s very little of it and, says Jon, it may never be made like this again so if you’d like to get hold of a bottle contact the brewery ASAP.

Fruit Lambic

Bright Brewery
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Beer DeLuxe
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Cookie
NB – there will be some at Penny Blue for this.

Bridge Road Harvest / Dark Harvest 2013 Released on 8/04/13

The Bridge Road Harvest Ale is developing quite a tradition. Now in its fourth year, it sees the brewery’s founder head to his local hop farm in the VIctorian High Country (at Rostrevor) and pluck an as-yet-unreleased experimental hop variety to be used in extravagant amounts in a one-off seasonal release. This year, however, there’s been a slight change as there weren’t enough hops of one variety to produce a beer to similar specs as before so two were used, two separate beers were brewed, then they were blended pre-release.

This year’s Dark Harvest is also a different beast to its predecessor, which was brewed with Mikkeller during last year’s harvest. Then the resultant Black IPA was all about the chocolate and orange characteristics; this time around they’ve selected a different hop variety with pronounced piney characteristics. Both are out on tap now, with the latter only appearing alongside the former.

Fresh Hop Ales Various

Bridge Road
Cookie
Others TBC

McLaren Vale EXP 3 Released on 8/04/13

It seems like they’re having fun at McLaren Vale now their brewery is fully up and running (and set to develop into a venue for punters too). This, their third EXP (or experimental) release sees them going a little fruity and adding a little rhubarb into the mix. We say a little as the fruit is subtle rather than the dominant force in this take on the Belgian witbier style, which is a full-bodied, deeply cloudy and creamy affair. If anything, the more traditional witbier ingredients (coriander and dried orange peel) are more noticeable with the rhubarb, which was added in the boil, adding a touch of tartness to what’s otherwise a lightly citrusy beer with a big sweet malty base.

Witbier with Rhubarb 5.5%

In good beer bars nationwide

Mountain Goat The Craig 2013 Released on 5/04/13

It’s time for the return of The Craig, with Goat brewer Craig back for his third annual release. First time around, he brewed an American Pale Ale before opting for a nitrogenated English style Red Ale second time around in 2012. Last year’s beer found favour with many, including judges at the Australian International Beer Awards, so this year he’s sticking with the tried and tested. Carbonated using nitrogen rather than CO2 to give it a fine bead and a dense, rich foam, it’s being tagged an ESB (Extra Special Bitter) and boasts floral, grassy hops up front and soft caramel flavours and a hint of roastiness at the end. Rich and creamy, it should make for a lovely transition into the cooler months.

ESB 5.8% 22 IBU

Mountain Goat
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
The Alehouse Project
Palace Hotel South Melbourne
Junction Beer Hall
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Eydies
Victoria Hotel, Brunswick
Young & Jackson

Illawarra / Local Taphouse Chuck Norris Released on 3/04/13

A beer made in 2013 but born in 1940, for that is the year that Chuck Norris was created. And this beer, surely, wouldn’t be the same without Him. It’s a beer created between the Illawarra Brewing Company and the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst when a bus load of staff from the latter took a trip down to the former’s Wollongong brewery. Why the Chuck Norris obsession? We’re not exactly sure, but when it comes to all things Norris we know enough to know that questioning Him will only result in trouble. Instead, let’s just be content that we’ve got a brand new single hop American red ale on our hands, and one He could be well proud of.

The bitterness is crisp like His uppercut, the malt body is serious and well defined and the hops hit like a kick to the solar plexus – or more accurately like a seven hit combo representing the seven different additions of Mosaic hops through the brewing process. But far from flooring you immediately, which it so easily could – this is, after all, named for the man who can kill a living room – the beer will give nodding approval to those who summon up the courage to drink it by the pint. But always remain cautious, for this beer is Chuck Norris: seemingly harmless from the outside but will knock you the fuck out if you disrespect it.

American Red Ale 5.9%

Illawarra Brewing Company
The Local Taphouse Darlo

Mash Collective Aureus Chrysalis Released on 1/04/13

A chef, musician, furniture maker, engineer and tattoo artist walk into a brewery… and out pops the Aureas Chrysalis. It’s the second release from Stone & Wood’s occasional side project, the Mash Collective, which sees them bring together eclectic collections of creative people to concoct new beers. Having launched the first Mash Collective beer at the 2012 GABS, this time their select band included leading tattoo artist Trevor Bennett, home brewer Richard Grant who won a competition at last year’s Good Beer Week to become part of the team, chef and TV presenter Ben O'Donohue, furniture maker Greg Hatton and musician Ash Grunwald. They came up with some unusual inspirations for the beer, including using the colour of Ash’s favourite guitar for the colour. The name comes from one of Trevor’s pieces of artwork, with Aureus the Latin for gold, but also for hop, and Chrysalis referring to the cocoon that gives birth to a beautiful creature. According to the team, the beer is inspired by the bold ales of Belgium and Scotland: “Think the faint whiff of a smoky highland fireplace across a rich Flemish fruit cake, iced with a spicy resinous marzipan.”

Belgian Dubbel / Scotch Ale 6.5%

Find the beer here

Feral Brewpub Series: Raging Flem Released on 25/03/13

In their 10-plus years of brewing, Feral has accumulated such a long and wildly varied list of beers on its roster that you rarely see one-off, limited releases from them. Instead, it’s more a case of waiting until the next batch of Boris/Fantapants/Watermelon Warhead/Razorback (delete as appropriate) appears on tap or travelling to the brewery’s home venue in the Swan Valley to sample them year round. In fact, whenever a new release does appear, chances are it’s going to become a permanent fixture in one way or another anyway. But, with only four of their beers currently available in packaged form, it means you can’t stock your fridge with Feral specials without nicking a keg. That’s all set to change though with the launch of the Brewpub Series, which will see them release some of their less widely available beers every three or four months. First to set sail is the Raging Flem, a hopped up Belgian IPA that first appeared a few years back and gained its name from a competition run amongst the Local Taphouse’s Ale Stars. Professor Pilsner came up with the name – drawn from the raging seas that the original IPAs used to have to cross to reach India and the Flemish region of Belgium – for a beer that is a big, US hop influenced 7.6 per cent Belgian IPA. It combines the yeast-driven Belgian beer characteristics with floral American hops, including Amarillo, Cascade and Chinook, with a special addition of Belgium candy sugar to round things off.

Belgian IPA 7.4%

Feral
Australia wide at good bottleshops such as these

4 Pines Autumn Ale Released on 24/03/13

Inspiration for a new 4 Pines beer can apparently come from many different sources. It can, like their stout – the ‘Certified Space Beer’ – spend years in continual development and involve aeronautical engineers and zero-gravity flights. Others, like this one, have a rather more straightforward genesis. The story goes that 4 Pines brewers Andrew Tweddell and Chris Willcock were chatting with the bar supervisor, Chris Moore, when the conversation turned along the lines of:

Chris W: We need to brew another Cask Ale for after St Pat’s Day.
Andrew: What should we brew?
Chris M: The Summer Ale was popular.
Chris W: Yeah, but it’s not summer anymore.
Chris M: Autumn Ale?
Chris W: Makes sense.
Andrew: Autumn Amber Ale?
Chris W: Brilliant!

And so we have the 4 Pines Autumn Amber Ale, which the brewers have described as “a pretty typical American Amber style, with a toasty malt sweetness and rounded tropical and grassy hop notes”. Those come from the Mosaic hops from the USA which were used to experiment in bittering, aroma and in dry hopping. We’ve been told that’s it’s drinking perfectly from the hand pump and at the current rate won’t last more than a couple of weeks.

American Amber Ale 4.6%

4 Pines

Colonial Brewing Dampfbier Released on 22/03/13

They love their German beers at Colonial, in particular rare or forgotten styles. For this, their latest foray into that nation’s beer history, they’ve headed to the forests of Bavaria and seem to have been inspired to even greater levels. The beer’s release comes with a colourful tale about the origins of the beer that includes references to “flickers of sunlight flowing down”, “strong, noble common folk” and “little bundles of yeasty joy”. Essentially, it seems that the original beer was one borne of necessity, created by poor dwellers of the Bavarian Forest, comprising local barley (as they needed to use wheat for bread), locally grown hops (as they couldn’t afford those from the nearby Hallertau region), surplus yeast scrounged from the nearest weissbier brewery, all thrown together in a brew over which they had no temperature control. According to Colonial, the beer disappeared into the history books by the early 20th century and now is back as the last of their journeys into Germany’s brewing past. It is also the first seasonal beer designed and brewed by Sorcha Gillen, who works alongside head brewer Mal Secourable. And what is it exactly? A “German Steam Ale” apparently – or a hefeweizen using barley instead of wheat.

Dampfbier

Colonial Brewery
Apple Daily
Bobs Bar
Raffles Hotel
Print Hall
The Royal East Perth

Riverside Brewing Resurrection Ale Released on 21/03/13

The first official limited release to come from the Riverside Brewing Company is the Resurrection Ale and, quite aptly, it’s been released just in time for Easter. So then, what to expect from the Parramatta brewery’s first attempt at branching out? Will it be big and hoppy like some of their most beloved beers? Damn right! This has a substantial malt backbone balanced with a massive amount of hops (fans of the 44 Amber Ale and 77 IPA take note). There are two fundamental differences though; the first is that it’s got a healthy addition of the new hop variety to come out of the USA: Mosaic. The second is that it’s spent some time getting intimate with some Hungarian Oak which adds an extra level of complexity. It’s a beer head brewer Dave Padden says is a tough one to box into a style but, when pushed, he’d opt for India Amber Ale – “think a toned down amber grist with a shedload of hops, then rounded off with a touch of oak”. In the brewer’s own words, “mmmm….”.

India Amber Ale 6.3%

Bridge Road Bling Bling Imperial IPA Released on 21/03/13

He doesn’t tend to do things by half, Ben Kraus. Not only does he like to brew collaborative beers with international stars, when he does it he does things like brewing wet hop beers in the dead of night or sending beers in wine and whisky barrels by sea across the planet. And now, in launching his latest limited release – the Bling Bling Imperial IPA – a bigger brother to his long-standing Bling IPA, he headed to the 55th floor of Melbourne’s Rialto Tower to the Lui Bar of the three chefs hats Vue du Monde. There, gazing out across the city and Port Phillip Bay, his invited guests were the first to taste the 8.5 per cent hoppy treat. And treat it is too. While there is a solid malt backbone in place to bear the weight of the heavy hopping regime, it doesn’t over impose itself, allowing the punchy hop aromas the freedom to draw you in and plenty of hop character to shine through in the taste to create a full flavoured yet nicely balanced hop bomb of a beer.

Imperial IPA 8.5%

Bridge Road
Others TBC

Little Creatures Shepherd's Delight Released on 21/03/13

They took the Aussie beer world a little by surprise with this release did Little Creatures. Bottles arrived at Crafty Towers before we even knew the was another Single Batch on the way and it seems plenty of others were unaware too. Still, following in the footsteps of the likes of the Big Dipper, Dreadnought and Quiet American, there’s always a frisson of excitement to see what the team at Freo comes up with when given free rein to have a play in the brewery. This time around, they’ve brewed a Red IPA, one into which they tell us they’ve lobbed their “most lavish hopping regime to date”. It’s a regime that has cast its net far and wide, featuring British, American, Kiwi and new Aussie varieties. The multinational approach doesn’t hit you up front, however, with the aroma defined as much by the sweet, caramel malts as anything hoppy. They go to work on the gleaming, blood orange coloured ale once in your mouth instead, particularly as it warms and allows the layers of malt and hops to come out to play. The hops also ensure that, despite the initial sweetness, it finishes pretty dry, with the distinct earthiness of what one assumes is the East Kent Goldings lingering at the end. It’s not an IPA that’ll knock you sideways, rather a well-balanced, decidedly drinkable one.

Red IPA 6.2% 50 IBU

Find it here

Young Henrys The Real Thang Released on 20/03/13

The Real Thang, the latest release from Young Henrys, is a Cola-inspired Spiced Black Koelsch. Better read that again… The Real Thang is a Cola-inspired Spiced Black Koelsch. The first question is where would one find inspiration for such a creation? Being 2013, the answer is of course: they found it on the Internet. But being 2013, we’re equally within our rights to respond with: ‘WTF?’. Apparently the Young Henrys crew stumbled across the open source recipe for Open Cola and figured it was worth a shot trying to translate it into a beer. Cue the caramel malts and three dark malts for the required colour, sweetness and general mouthfeel. Next comes the (now not so secret) herbs and spices; bitter orange peel, kaffir lime leaves, lemon myrtle, coriander seeds, cassia bark, lavender, vanilla, coffee and nutmeg. Throw in some light hops, chuck in a Koelsch yeast and – hey presto – Cola Beer! The boys at the brewery imagine this to be something along the lines of what the original cola elixirs might’ve been – “minus the cocaine like effects”.

Spiced Black Koelsch 4.6%

Young Henry’s
Others TBC

Australian Brewery Breakfast Ale Released on 20/03/13

“We wanted to see whether we could generate enough orangey character from US Cascade hops to make a beer that was like having a beer and orange juice together,” says brewer Neal Cameron. “In other words like a normal breakfast but in one glass. Whether we succeeded or not doesn’t matter: it’s hoppy.”

Hoppy Ale 5.6%

Mornington Peninsula / Ale Stars Bonzer IPA Released on 19/03/13

The crew at the Local Taphouse Ale Stars clearly got a taste for the brewing lifestyle when they created their 13 Hours On A Bus beer with Bridge Road Brewers a few months back. Because they’ve been at it again, with the St Kilda crew heading down to Mornington Peninsula Brewery for a brew day and the Darlinghurst mob trotting along to Hunter Beer Co in the Hunter Valley to create another. First to hit the taps was the Bonzer IPA created by the St Kilda Ale Stars. The Bonzer is a Belgian IPA, of which Mornington’s head brewer AG says: “It weighs in at 7.7 per cent and uses all Pacific Rim hops – Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy – including a heavy dose of dry-hopping to compete with fruity and spicy Belgian yeast esters.” It was tapped for the first time at March’s St Kilda Ale Stars session and will be a feature beer at the Mornington Peninsula Brewery’s Hopulence showcase from March 21.

Belgian IPA 7.7%

Mornington Peninsula Brewery
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Alehouse Project
Gertrude Hotel
Slowbeer