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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Saturday 2 August 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

Eagle Bay Single Batch Pilsner Released on 21/04/13

The team at Margaret River’s Eagle Bay have decided to welcome Autumn with open arms in the form of a traditional Czech style Pilsner. Using fresh rainwater captured on their own farm and their own homegrown hops to create a “fresh and crisp” sessionable lager, their latest has gone on tap at the brewery with a small amount making its way to Perth’s Five Bar. The brewers tell us: “It’s bright gold in colour with floral aromatics from the handpicked, fresh, green hops from our small plot we grow next to the brewery.” The handpicked hops are of the Hersbrucker and Wurtenberger variety, joining Helga and Czech Saaz in the mix. As for what to expect once swigged: “Our Pilsner is well balanced, with subtle fruity characters and a cleansing bitterness to finish.”

Pilsner 5.1% 35 IBU

Eagle Bay Brewery
Five Bar

Mad Brewers Wee Highlander Released on 19/04/13

It’s been a while – six months, in fact – since the last release from Malt Shovel’s Mad Brewers label, which is a shame as they’ve knocked out some crackers in the past year or two, such as the deeply unusual Scribbly Gum lager and the rather fulsome Hoppy Hefe. Now, they’re back with a beer inspired by Crafty’s homeland. The Wee Highlander is a Scotch Ale designed by the brewery’s own ‘wee’ highlander Hamish McArthur. “The style and name of this brew originates from Scotland and my Scottish heritage,” says Hamish, “a Scotch strong Ale (or Wee Heavy) that we have dubbed Wee Highlander.” In keeping with the style, it’s a "rich, full-bodied, Scottish Ale brewed using a small portion of peated malt to add a slight smokiness and malted oats to add depth of character.”

“Just like traditionally brewed Scotch Ales, this brew undergoes an extended boil which, along with the use of crystal malts, gives a high degree of caramelisation of the brewhouse wort. The result is a brew that has a deep red hue and a much more pronounced malty caramel and roasted malt flavour,” says Hamish. At 6.7 per cent, it should also make for a suitable transition beer as we head into winter. Enjoy from a thistle glass (of course).

Scotch Ale 6.7%

Nationwide from April 19
The Fitzroy Pinnacle

Red Duck Shy Blond Released on 16/04/13

The Crafty Pint belatedly made it out to Red Duck’s current haunt in Ballarat recently (they moved from their original home in Purrumbete late in 2011). There, dotted around the warehouse alongside the tanks named after the world’s leading footballers and pallets of beer were all manner of barrels and experiments. Within just a few minutes it was becoming tricky to keep up with Scott Wilson-Browne’s increasingly obscure journeys into beer, with the latest theme (if there is such a thing) being to take beers that were somewhat unusual in the first place and creating ever more weird and wonderful variations on them; look out for two more takes on Ra, his Egyptian hop-less bread beer coming soon… The latest beer to escape the madhouse is the punsome Shy Blond, a Chai spiced Belgian Blond. Using a strong Belgian ale as the backbone, Scott has gone to work with cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, ginger, fennel, cardamon, black pepper, tea and a touch of honey. Brewer’s note: Does not contain any real blondes.

Spiced Belgian Blonde 7.1%

Purvis Cellars
Press Cellars
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Swords Select
Olinda Cellars

Moon Dog Mr Mistoffelees Released on 15/04/13

Now this is a weird one. And not just because it’s a beer from Moon Dog. No, because when we first sampled Mr Mistoffelees at last year’s Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular, we found it to have an unpleasant characteristic that rendered it, to the Crafty palate at least, undrinkable. That it went on to be voted one of the most popular beers at the event was a surprise, one we put down to the fact that some beer nerds just want to love anything different or that we had yet to unlock some part of the Crafty mouth-brain synaptic highway that would allow us to understand such characteristics. This current release is to the same recipe yet is unrecognisable from the one we sampled 11 months ago, so presumably we got a beer from a bad line, a mouthful of yeast or God knows what. Certainly, back then, we weren’t hit by the sort of fruity aroma that Phil Spector would create if he’d spent his life creating fruity aromas for beers instead of walls of sound, crazy hair and dead women. Because that’s what Mr M is delivering here – tonnes of passionfruit and mango up front to entice you in before a gentle, puckering tartness takes over. In fact, such is the fruity explosion that the effects of the various wild yeast strains and six months of barrel-ageing on this cloudy orange beer play a supporting role rather than taking centre stage; just like Phil Spector to The Ronettes, in fact.

Wild Ale with Fruit 6.2%

Beer DeLuxe
Deja Vu
The Dispensary Enoteca
Grain & Grape
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Mrs Parma’s
Olinda Cellars
Penny Blue
Pope Joan
Prince Wine & Spirits Essendon
Purvis Beer Richmond
Purvis Cellars
Raccoon Club
Rockwell & Sons
Smith Street Cellars
Others tbc

Bridge Road Bar Series: The Wheaty Weisse Ohne Schuss Released on 12/04/13

“At The Wheaty we love Hops. So we decided to brew a Sour.” An early entry for the best raison d'etre for a beer in 2013. But would you expect anything less from the ladies at Adelaide’s premiere beer, whisky and good times joint? This is the latest release in the Bridge Road Bar Series, for which the Beechworth brewery brings bar staff from the nation’s leading beer venues to their home to create a beer. According to the Wheaty team, this is a beer, “to all intents and purposes, that’s essentially hopless. After all, sour is the new bitter. And even if it isn’t, Ben had given us a great opportunity to play with bugs – in his brewery…” Their intention was to create a “clean” sour; light, lively, tart and dry; hence this Berliner Weiss style but stripped back to bare bones – no shots of raspberry or woodruff flavoured sugar syrup to be added to this. This being a beer consisting of Pilsner and Wheat Malt and a single addition of Hersbrucker Hops this beer, meaning it’s all about the bugs: a blend of ale yeast and Lactobacillus in the primary and a top-up dose of Lactobacillus in the secondary. According to Bridge Road’s Ben Kraus: “This proved quite a challenging beer to produce in a relatively short time frame. However, we got there in the end with a rather impressive example of the style. The aroma of this beer is typical of a German Wheat beer, with banana and clove, suggesting something sweet awaits. However the sourness refreshes your palate and lingers just long enough to encourage you on to your next sip – an awesomely refreshing smashable drop!”

Berliner Weisse 3.0% Less than 5 IBU

April 12 at The Wheaty
Others to follow, which are likely to include:
Josie Bones
Beer DeLuxe
Norfolk Hotel ( Fremantle)
The Scratch
Archive (Brisbane)
New Sydney Hotel
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Albion Hotel
Junction Beer Hall
Bridge Road

Moo Brew Harvest Ale 2013 Released on 11/04/13

The team from Moo has been leaping the fence at nearby Bushy Park once again* to pilfer a load of fresh hops for its annual Harvest Ale release. This time around they bundled a swag of Summer and Willamette hops back to the brewery near Hobart where they were used to create a robust brown ale. As they explain: “In using fresh, wet hops, the aroma is slightly resinous, with tangerine and tropical fruit elements. Due to the seasonal variations, the hop flavour and bitterness is always different.” What’s more, they add: “Given the unknowns when brewing this Harvest Ale, all we can guarantee is an interesting beer.” Given it’s master technicians we’re dealing with here, expect it to be rather well made too.

(*OK, so they were invited to pick the hops, but we like the idea of OJ in bandit’s mask crawling through the bines at dead of night on a secretive mission so we’re sticking with it.)

Fresh Hop Brown Ale 5.8%

Find it here

Holgate / Nøgne Ø Half A World Away Released on 11/04/13

Anyone else suspect the team at Nøgne Ø is after Aussie citizenship? Perhaps they’ve grown tired of the endless winters and fancy a life in the sun. Either way, they seem to be gifting us an endless supply of collaborative beers, which to date already includes the India Saison, Aurora Borealis, Our Dark Secret and now this, with a collab with Moon Dog and another with Bridge Road already in tank (and barrel and fish bowl or whatever else they can find to use). This is the beer that came about through the brewer swap that took place between Holgate’s Nick and Nøgne Ø’s Ingrid: an imperial red ale that’s all about the layers of malty goodness.

According to Nick: “Ingrid and I both approached our collaboration with the concept of a beer that would cellar and would be something of a special occasion beer. We are also both of the opinion that ‘original’ is getting out of hand in craft beer. We aimed to make a unique beer that showed creativity and originality, but without resorting to novel or non-traditional ingredients: no spices, fruit or exotic animal excrement in this beer!

“We ended up settling on an imperial red aleish type beer, the hefty use of various crystal malts gave this beer a complex aroma, a full body and a beautiful deep red colour. A whack of bittering hops balanced all that sweetness and some chinook at end of boil helped give the aroma some complexity. We like the idea that this beer showed off this group of malts and is truly unique in flavour; it’s a beer thats hard to categorise and I think quite original using just malt, hops, water and yeast!”

Imperial Red Ale 9.0% 50IBU

Beer DeLuxe
Others coming soon…

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
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
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
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%

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