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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Saturday 20 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

Portland Hotel #250 Released on 1/06/13

Despite being called #250, you may be surprised to know this beer isn’t actually named for a twitter hashtag. Rather, #250 is the 250th brew to come from the Portland Hotel’s very own brewhouse. Being a celebratory beer, it’s been cause enough for the brewers to let loose a little – after all, it’s their party and they’ll brew what they want to. And what they have brewed is a single hop Galaxy India Pale Ale. If you’re not already familiar with the unmistakable Galaxy hop, what you can expect from this beer are big tropical fruit characters like pineapple and passionfruit. While the #250 may be fairly light in colour, it’s certainly not in bitterness and strength as it weighs in at 7 per cent abv. Running the numbers, only 750 litres of #250 were brewed which means with each pint consumed we’re counting backwards until none is left. Therefore, the solution to this equation is to get down to the Portland Hotel, and get there quickly. NO

Single Hop IPA 7.0%

Portland Hotel

Young Henrys GBW 2013 Rockstar Brews Released on 26/05/13

During Newcastle Craft Beer Week, The Crafty Pint was sharing a late night whisky with Young Henrys founder Richard Adamson when the idea was hatched for him to bring his rockstar brewing collaboration concept to Melbourne for Good Beer Week 2013. Thus it was that six months later My Dynamite, Front End Loader and Hell City Glamours (featuring Young Henrys brewer Oscar) took to the stage at the city’s iconic Cherry Bar to launch three beers they’d created with the Newtown brewery. While the bands and attendees did their best to polish them all off on the night, there is still a little of each in existence.

Fresh Six was originally brewed with Front End Loader last year and features agave in keeping with the band’s love of tequila. It tips the scales at 6.66% and you can read the story behind it here. My Dynamite is a 4.1% dark red pilsner that features smoked chipotle to “give it a bit of bite” and results in a savoury characteristic to the beer. Hell City’s beer is the Red Barrel Red, a bourbon barrel-aged hoppy red ale. According to Richard, the band’s life used to be spent permanently on the road between Sydney and Melbourne so they were after an “asphalty” character – whatever that means. It tips the scales at 5.1% and has a predominantly English ale character.

Rock n Roll! Various

Contact Young Henrys direct for stockists

BrewCult Acid Freaks Released on 24/05/13

He’s never been one to shy from experimentation, has BrewCult’s Hendo. So it was probably only a matter of time before he hooked up with his brother, a man who makes award-winning artisanal vinegars in Queensland. The result was launched at GABS in 2013 – Acid Freaks, a Balsamic Porter. The balsamic vinegar in question was aged in Shiraz barrels and is kept in check enough that while it’s certainly distinct amid the beer’s chocolate, roast and dark fruit flavours, it’s not going to sear your palate with sharpness. Created as a bit of a jab at the rise of sour beers, it sets out BrewCult’s stall as one to watch for those of you with a curious mind in every sense of the word.

Balsamic Vinegar Porter 7.5%

Matilda Bay / Mountain Goat / Moon Dog Abbey Collaby 2013 Released on 22/05/13

The Abbey Collaby has been through many iterations since first being conceived by one of Good Beer Week’s founders back in 2011. It’s always been a collaboration between three brewers sort of geographically linked as being in Abbotsford (we say sort of as CUB is, although its craft beer arm Matilda Bay isn’t, while Mountain Goat is technically in Richmond) and has always offered up something different, from the waffles in the first beer to the multiple different spellings for the project: Abbey Collabey, Abbey Collabby, Abbotsford Collabbotsford.

This year the brew day moved from Mountain Goat to Matilda Bay and, for the first time, the beer has been packaged. The labels are worthy of close inspection with some neat Photoshopping bringing together the breweries and brewers in more ways than one, while inside there’s a tale to be told too. The beer was conceived as an India Red Rye Rauch Ale, but ended up an India Red Rye Rauch Rye-less Ale. In other words, it’s been loaded with an India Pale Ale level of Amarillo hops, is red (really, really, glisteningly red) and has a faint touch of smoke from the use of some smoked malt. It is also an ale. The rye / rye-less is where things get a little muddled.

On brew day, they discovered that there was no rye malt at Matilda Bay, so Goat head brewer Dave Bonighton scraped around and found a handful that he brought along to throw in the mix; not enough to make any discernable difference, but some nonetheless, hence rye and ryeless. The result is a beer that might not have the complexity of previous Abbey Collabies but is perhaps the most drinkable of them all, a toffee-caramel led beer that’s balanced by plenty of hop bitterness and goes down just right with this sweet-toothed drinker. Wholesale proceeds go to the Collingwood’s Children’s Farm too.

Smoked India Red Ale 7.1% 55.6 IBU

Mountain Goat
Matilda Bay
Slowbeer
Others TBC

3 Ravens / Boneyard / Mash Crematorium Released on 22/05/13

The Yeastie Boys and Tasmania’s Seven Sheds may have released 100 per cent peated malt beers but this may take the prize for the beer with the most diverse range of smoked elements in the history of beer. A join project between 3 Ravens, Mash Brewing (who rescued 3 Ravens when it looked like they could be lost last year) and Boneyard Brewing (the spin-off from Josie Bones that brews at 3 Ravens) it’s got smoked malts, smoked hops and smoked tea (thanks to a dry tea-bagging process).

Inspired by Mash and 3 Ravens respective smoked beers (Deville and Dark), Josie Bones' hop-smoking technique, a love of peated malt and some hops beloved of the brewers, it was brewed specially for Josie Bones' Good Beer Week events and, while only a tiny amount was brewed (and a tinier amount bottled) there is still a little around. Crematorium features two types of beechwood-smoked malt as well as peat smoked malt and a hint of dark Munich malt, Glacier and Styrian Goldings hops, and was fermented to 8 per cent ABV with a blend of German Ale and Kolsch yeasts. The beer was dry hopped with fresh Victorian Galaxy hops, hand-picked by Hop Products Australia and couriered wet to Josie Bones, where they were carefully hot and cold smoked by owner Chris Badenoch over hops and malleewood. The final twist was an addition of Russian Caravan tea, a Chinese black tea smoked over pine wood and pine cones.

According to Brendan from Boneyard: “The result is a golden, hoppy, smokey and mildly tannic strong ale which we hope will excite even the most fatigued of palates.”

Label artwork by Brendan Ninness

Smoked Strong Ale 8.0% 41 IBU

3 Ravens
Josie Bones

Stone & Wood Stone Beer Released on 16/05/13

For a bunch of brewers on the cutting edge of the modern Australian brewing scene, the guys at Stone & Wood don’t mind taking inspiration from Marsellus Wallace once in a while.

Well, once in a year, to be precise. As that’s when they invite friends and family to their Byron Bay and “get Medieval on your arse”. Well, not your arse so much as a bunch of volcanic rocks that co-founder and head brewer Brad Rogers has been lugging around since his days brewing in Fiji.

They’re heated in a blazing fire on the brewery’s driveway before being lowered into the beer in a recreation of a brewing style from the Middle Ages. The Stone Beer has been tweaked each year, with this year’s a deeply dark, rewardingly rich and smooth chocolate led affair that’s so luxuriant it could soothe even poor, wronged, Wallace’s pain.

NB: This is what we wrote for Smith Journal’s Thirsty Thursday too – no point reinventing the wheel twice in one week!

Stone Beer 7.2%

Check out Stone & Wood’s Beer Finder for your nearest stockist.
As well as the standard 500ml bottles, Stone & Wood are also selling ‘vintage packs’ which consist of a 500ml swing-top, ceramic bottle and a standard 500ml bottle. These are available exclusively through their online store and cost $45plus postage.

Bridge Road Australian Ale Released on 15/05/13

Ben’s first beer under the Bridge Road banner remains an accessible starting point to his range. A balance of sweet malt and hop flavours give way to a slightly fruity finish for an eminently sessionable beer.

Golden Ale 4.4%

Clout Stout 2010/11/12 Released on 15/05/13

Despite the fact that well under 1,000 bottles of this have been released each year since it first appeared to mark Nail’s tenth anniversary of brewing in 2011, it’s probably the beer that has brought most attention onto the brewery in recent years. It’s an imperial stout that’s got progressively bigger each year and one that retails at $70 a pop for a 750ml. Such a price point means the beer is open to serious scrutiny and it’s scrutiny to which the beer has held up magnificently, collecting trophies and gold medals in each of its magnificent iterations. It’s a viscous, black-as-night beer that, as it warms in the glass, reveals pretty much every facet you could want in an imperial stout, from rich, creamy cocoa through liquorice to espresso. Try a glass with a chunk of Stilton and you’ll understand Heaven a little bit better.

The original Clout Stout came second in The Crafty Pint’s Imperial Stout Blind Tasting Panel, beaten by a whisker by the original Russian Imperial Stout from Courage. The 2011 vintage was The Crafty Pint’s pick as best Aussie beer of 2012. And the 2012 is brewer John Stallwood’s pick of the bunch. Roll on the next one.

Imperial Stout 10.79%

Mornington Peninsula Belgian Pale Released on 15/05/13

AG’s going easy on old Crafty these days. Where once the Mornington Peninsula brewer would crank out another new beer with his team every couple of days, he’s been taking things at a more sedate pace recently. That said, with such a vast range already on offer and a voracious and appreciative following, it’s not as if they’ve not been kept busy. However, they’re back this week with the second release in a Belgian trilogy. According to AG it’s “Pouring a light amber hue with a tightly-packed off-white head”, features Styrian Goldings hops and a Belgian yeast strain that “emit aromas of spice and baking bread.” Expect low bitterness and hop presence that allow “a delicate and lightly fruity palate to announce itself [before a] lingering malty sweetness and nutty notes round out this easy drinker.” Sounds almost poetic, no? Look out for part three of the trilogy – a Belgian Strong – post GABS.

Belgian Pale Ale 6.2%

Mornington Peninsula Brewery
The Terminus
The Alehouse Project
Spotted Mallard
Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn
Rosebud GPO
Woodlands Hotel
East Of Everything

Mountain Goat FX Stout Released on 10/05/13

It’s usually around this time of the year that Mountain Goat rolls out its big guns, sorry, Bigfoot. But this year, there’s a different kind of stout in town, namely the FX. Short for Foreign Extra, it’s a beer that weighs in roughly midway between where their Surefoot and Bigfoot normally register on the ABV scale, measuring 6.7 per cent. It’s smooth, rich, deeply dark and dangerously drinkable if you’re into roasty, chocolatey affairs. Traditional in its design and gently warming too, it should be perfect for when this last bout of 20C plus weather departs Melbourne and winter descends too. It’s also the precursor for another big beer from Goat; we hear a new Double IPA is waiting in the wings that one of the brewers tells us is their best DIPA yet. Watch this space…

Foreign Extra Stout 6.7%

Mountain Goat
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
The Terminus

Mash Brewing Dubbel Brown Released on 9/05/13

Another new beer that’s playing loose and fancy free with styles is the latest from Mash. With a tale that sounds not too dissimilar to that of The Mash Collective’s Aureus Chrysalis, the Dubbel Brown mixes a Belgian ale yeast (the Dubbel part of its name) with and English style brown ale malt bill. However, further twisting its DNA, the brewers have used US hops too. According to head brewer Charlie Hodgson: “We have fermented it on the cool side to keep the yeast on the down low but to still have a subtle impact. It comes with fantastic malt depth and complexity. A careful and somewhat generous blend of English style American grown hops late in the boil contribute layered fruit notes to support the heavier malts.The Americanised spin is just a reference to those guys taking normal styles and lifting them to heights not seen before.” He says to look out for “big raisin and caramel malts” plus “fruity notes coming from yeast and hops with soft warming alcohols to finish.”

Belgian Dubbel 7.0%

Mash Brewing

Illawarra Brownish Bomber Released on 6/05/13

It’s a brown ale. Or is it? As Shaun Blissett from Illawarra Brewing tells us, apparently in US beer competitions there are certain characters a brown ale must have in order to be classified a ‘true’ brown ale. Everything else claiming brown-ness but not fitting the technical definition gets reclassified to a separate category: Texas Brown Ale. It’s a nice way of saying that it doesn’t quite fit in and that’s probably what you could say about Milo Kerrigan. The former (and, it should be said, fictional) boxer nicknamed “The Brownish Bomber” was as famed for his 27 knockouts – two of which he inflicted on opponents – as he was for his ‘expert’ television punditry on all manner of subjects.

As a tribute to this Aussie cult figure, the boys from Illawarra have brewed a Texas Brown Ale and named it The Brownish Bomber. The beer itself is indeed brown and uses all US hops, including the new El Dorado variety which gives a fruity, citrus punch. It’s got a classic malt base that should keep brown ale traditionalists happy, plus hints of chocolate and a slight whiff of tobacco.

Like Milo Kerrigan in the boxing ring, it won’t be around very long. Unlike Milo Kerrigan, this beer does a far better impression of a brown ale than he ever did as a boxer. NO

Texas Brown Ale 5.9%

Illawarra Brewing Company (growler fills)
Illawarra Brewery Bar
Harts Pub
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Albion Hotel
The Duck Inn Pub and Kitchen
The Little Guy
Beer DeLuxe
Josie Bones

Bright Brewery Little Brother Released on 2/05/13

There’s a very strict rule in place for any brewer taking part in this year’s GABS – your beer must not be released anywhere before GABS is over (so we’ll keep schtum about the US entry we sampled at the Craft Brewers Conference in March – was bloody delish though!!!). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have offshoots of your GABS beer, which is what the team at Bright has done, creating a “parti gyle” brew with the left over grain from their epic entry. “Parti gyle” beers use what’s left over to create a weaker beer, meaning in this case a beer from the aftermath of brewer Jon Seltin’s barley/rye/oat wine. He tells us the “grist is 40 per cent rye malt, 5 per cent oat malt, and the balance a couple of different types of malted barley. Kettle hops are all Mosaic, dry hops are all Slovenian varieties.” It’s on tap at the brewery now, where you can also snap up tickets to their Hop, Skip & Lunch Good Beer Week event.

Partigyle Ale

Bright Brewery

Feral Tusk Released on 26/04/13

When The Crafty Pint was over in the US in March, there was plenty of hype around Stone Brewing’s Enjoy By Double IPA, a new release from the Californians that is sent out as fresh as possible with the date before which it must be drunk emblazoned across it. The result is an impeccably fresh hop bomb of a beer in which the hop characteristics don’t have time to taper off. The day before returning, we had another IPA – Maine’s Lunch – recommended to us that, again, comes with a tight best before date for the same reasons (we managed to drink ours 13 days after it was released in a different hemisphere from where it was released which must be some sort of record).

The point of this preamble isn’t to gloat (much) but to make the point that there’s a rising tide of awareness that some beers – particularly massively hopped IPAs – really are drunk best fresh. Yes, they might take on different characteristics later on, but not the ones the brewers want you to experience. Hence the latest venture from Feral for this new batch of their Imperial IPA Tusk. It’s the first time it’s been brewed in a few years and is the biggest brother of their line of US-inspired hoppy pales. The few kegs that have been brewed have only been granted to venues who have guaranteed that there will be cold refrigerated transport from brewery to bar and that it will be tapped the instant it arrives. As the brewery’s Steve Finney told us: “Northwest USA style IPAs need to be fresh to taste best.” FInd out for yourself when the Tusk lands near you soon…

Imperial IPA 9.8%

September 2013 release venues
Five Bar
Sail & Anchor
Clancy’s City Beach
Norfolk Hotel
SA
The Wheaty

Seven Sheds Fuggled Porter Released on 25/04/13

Tasmanian brewery Seven Sheds has just embarked on its second experiment recreating an historic beer journey. A year after sending an IPA in wooden casks for a month traversing the Bass Strait until it had covered the distance the original India Pale Ales travelled from the UK to India, they’ve loaded a beer in Tassie pinot noir barrels onto the Spirit of Tasmania II for two months to recreate the journey of the first beer sent from the UK to Australia. This time around it’s a “roasty, robust porter”, leavened with organic oats from nearby Elgaar Farm and a generous late gift of Fuggle hop flowers, estate-grown and hand-picked at the brewery in Railton. Continuing the uber-local approach, the backbone of this “complex, dusky brew” is Tassie-grown barley, malted nearby at Quoiba. According to brewer Willie Simpson, the blend of roasted barley, crystal and dark malts “provide toasted, tarry characters, while the naked, rolled oats add a silky touch.” You can read more about the brewery’s fifth anniversary this week here, as well as more on the ferry beer, which will be released in 420 bottles in August. If you’d like to pre-order one, call the brewery or pop in and pick one up from the cellar door later in the year. Be warned – if it’s anything like the Bass Strait IPA, they’ll go fast.

Porter

New Sydney Hotel
Seven Sheds