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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Thursday 24 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

HopDog C-Bomb Released on 8/01/13

We all drop the C-Bomb sometimes and we’d imagine that Tim from HopDog dropped it when he learnt that we hadn’t received our last delivery of his beers because they had been “disappeared” by couriers from Fastway. This time around he has a much better reason for dropping the C-Bomb, given it is the name of his latest beer. And it is a beer that lives up to the brewery’s name: a double IPA crammed chock full of American and Kiwi hops, this is one not to be messed with. According to Tim it “weighs in at 9.3 per cent abv and a calculated bitterness of 150 IBUs. It’s not for the faint of heart. Hopped with Chinook, Columbus and the mighty NZ Wiamea/Big Banger, it’s intense and full on. On the first sample bottle tasted at the Dubbel T Brau Haus it was fresh cut grass (with a hint of 2 stroke), stone fruits, citrus and tropical fruits. A huge whack of bitterness, a bit of alcohol warmth, and a loooong bitter finish. It bought out a couple of expletives.” It’s in 640ml bottles too.

Double IPA 9.3% 150 IBU

Frankie’s Pizza, Hunter St, Sydney
Justin Lill Wines, Berry
Mogo Village Cellars, Mogo
HopDog BeerWorks
Rosebery Cellarbrations, Rosebery
Olinda Cellars, Olinda
Slowbeer
Pumphouse Bar
Camperdown Cellars, Camperdown

Moon Dog Dasher's Envy Released on 24/12/12

Apparently this is a “Fancy Christmas Ale”. We’re not sure what that means, to be honest. Does it mean that there are brewers out there producing beers for the festive period that aren’t fancy? Or have the Moon Doggers done something particularly out there for this one – perhaps swimming in the mash tun again? Perhaps the fact that they seem to have emptied the majority of the contents of their malt cupboard and spice rack into it has something to do with its elevated status – with a little black treacle added for good measure. Either way, the contents of the bottle (complete with female reindeer in 1980s Christmas office party stripper gear – to appease those who were upset at Wet Nurse Tonic’s boobie cakes, perhaps) do indeed smell like early evening on a Northern Hemisphere Christmas. A dark ruddy brown ale with a thick, treacly body, the spices are of the cakey variety and the aromas darkly sweet and fruity with a spot of what appears to be marzipan thrown in too. It brought to mind Holgate’s Double Trouble and is a beer we’d like to revisit on a Christmas future once Dasher, the racing reindeer, has put a few more miles on the clock.

Christmas Ale 8.1%

Beer DeLuxe
Deja Vu
Deco
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
Slowbeer
Others tbc

Hargreaves Hill The Phoenix Released on 23/12/12

The first Phoenix was brewed back in 2010 to mark Hargreaves Hill’s return to brewing after the original brewery was destroyed in Victoria’s Black Saturday fires. A luxurious Imperial Red Ale that has stood the test of time quite magnificently, as we discovered in a tasting alongside the new batch recently, it has been brought back just in time for Christmas. Once again presented in a number of wax-sealed, limited edition (350) 750ml bottles, it’s a beer you can set down for years to come. Alternatively, drunk fresh it’s a rich, full-bodied, multifaceted treat that glistens rusty red in the glass and has that soft, velvety mid-palate familiar to many of Hargreaves' beers. As for the wax seals, they’re handy for ensuring you only drink The Phoenix at a time when you’re going to fully appreciate it as we discovered when pulling our last bottle of 2010 out of the fridge rather too late one night; after 15 minutes chipping away unsuccessfully at the wax, we gave up and went to bed, awaking the next day glad it was still around.

Imperial Red Ale 9.8%

Hargreaves Hill (keg and bottle)
Slowbeer (keg and bottle)
Purvis Cellars (bottle)
Purvis Beer Richmond (bottle)
The Local Taphouse St Kilda (keg)
The Alehouse Project (keg)

Bridge Road / Local Taphouse 13 Hours On A Bus Released on 21/12/12

It worked for the Yeastie Boys with their awesome Gunnamatta IPA, so why not invoke the spirit of Paul Kelly for another beer. With the sixth beer in the Bridge Road Bar Series featuring staff from the Local Taphouse venues in St Kilda and Darlinghurst, they decided to borrow a line from the singer’s classic From St Kilda to Kings Cross for their Black India Saison that uses 13 ingredients, including spices in the form of juniper, nutmeg and cloves plus hops in the shape of Nelson Sauvin, Falconers Flight, Northern Brewer and Chinook. The brewing collective tasted it for the first time at the venues' end of year Ale Stars this week and tell us: “Deep brown in colour with a reddish hue, this beer first presents a full mouthfeel with milk chocolate tones before leading to the style defining saison dry, funky finish. Backed up by hearty dry hopping and a big pop of juniper berries.” Now we just need the Everything’s Turning To White Ale, You’re 39 IBUs, You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine and When I First Met Your Maibock and we’ll be done.

Black India Saison 7.2% 30ish IBU

Josie Bones
Beer DeLuxe
Norfolk Hotel ( Fremantle)
The Scratch
Archive (Brisbane)
New Sydney Hotel
The Wheaty
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Cookie
The Albion Hotel
Junction Beer Hall
Bridge Road

4 Pines Christmas Ale 2012 Released on 19/12/12

There’s something undeniably comforting about a winter Christmas: the glow of an open fire, snow outside the window and a warming festive ale in hand. But in Australia – where Christmas is generally spent increasing one’s quota of sun, sand and surf – the last thing on most people’s wish list is a strong dark spiced ale. What would be far more suited to the climate is something like a Summer Saison, and that’s exactly what 4 Pines have delivered in time for Christmas 2012. This “highly sessionable” beer, as the 4 Pines crew tell us, is “orange in colour, with a distinctively spicy flavour and aroma, highlighted by the traditional yeast strain and the addition of cinnamon, clove, star anise, fennel, and pepper.” ‘Tis the saison! Nick O

Spiced Saison 5.2%

VIC
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Young and Jacksons
Junction Beer Hall
Gertrude Hotel
QLD
The Villager
Tippler’s Tap
The Scratch
The End
Archive
NSW
4 Pines
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Harts Pub
Frankies Pizza
Warners at the Bay
Station Bar

HopDog White Christmas Released on 19/12/12

It’s not just Bing Crosby dreaming of a White Christmas this year. Oh no, the crazy kids down at Nowra’s HopDog have decided to bring a touch of the Northern Hemisphere Down Under for the festive season. And with snowflakes on a 30C day beyond all but Bond baddies from the 60s, they’ve decided to do it in the form of beer, specifically an Imperial Belgian Witbier. We were hoping to have a taste before popping this listing up but instead there’s a bastard Fastway courier tucking into the bottles instead. So we’ll make do with the words of the brewer, Tim Thomas: “Two yeast strains, fruity, spicy, yeasty. Hopped with NZ Motueka, so there’s plenty of bitterness and hop character too. Pale gold, 50 per cent of the grist is malted wheat, the rest is Munich and Ale malt.” It’s all gone from the brewery, so hit up your nearest quality craft beer specialist. Or Fastway couriers.

Imperial Belgian Witbier 7.3% 35IBU

Slowbeer
Others TBC

Mornington Peninsula Czech Pilsner Released on 12/12/12

With the mercury rising and holiday season on the way, the Mornington Peninsula boys are serving up a pilsner for your delectation. Their latest seasonal is the brainchild of brewer Matt Inchley, designed to be as true to style as possible: all Saaz hops, pilsner malt, unfiltered. According to the man behind it, the beer is: “Deep burnished gold in colour … with a dense, snow white head. Rich and complex aromas of grass and soft spice interweave with bready yeast notes. A spicy hop presence imbues the palate underpinning a delicate malt profile and spicy hop notes. Rich and rounded with solid bitterness and impressive palate length. For the purists.” Hmmm… “interweave”, “imbues” – someone’s been getting into the Christmas spirit early, it seems.

Czech Pilsner 5.9%

Mornington Peninsula Brewery
Young & Jackson's
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Alehouse Project
Oscars
Fitzroy Pinnacle
Woodlands Hotel
Gertrude Hotel
Belgian Bier Cafe
Rose GPO, Rosebud.

Murray's Anniversary Ale 7 Released on 7/12/12

Among Australia’s craft beer cognoscenti, Murray’s annual anniversary releases are one of the year’s most anticipated releases. The beers have generally followed a few common traits: big and barrel-aged for a start, with each vintage usually an evolution on the previous year. Last year’s was a 15 per cent Belgian style barleywine featuring a handful of different yeasts and made from a blend of French and American oak-aged versions. This one follows a similar line but with the addition of cherry wood smoked malt. Head Brewer Shawn Sherlock says: “Along with the use of Kiwi hops, we’ve made wood aging one of our signature styles – and Anniversary Ale is a key offering in this program. We don’t do ciders or sour beers, but a lot of time is now spent on developing a barrel aging program with plans for future releases of these beers.” As with previous year’s Anniversary Ales, this year’s beer has been treated to extensive oak barrel aging, and is packaged under cork in 750ml Champagne bottles. According to the brewery: “The blend of two different Belgian yeast strains makes for an incredibly complex ester profile. The high alcohol content makes its presence felt with warmth right across the palate, but even at this early stage of the beer’s life is not ‘hot’ or spirit like. The American oak barrels contribute further complex layers of flavour and aroma to the beer. Initially full and rich on the palate, Murray’s Anniversary Ale 7 finishes remarkably dry for a beer of this size.” Salivating much?

Smoked, Barrel-Aged Belgian Barleywine 15%

Murray’sonline shop and Cellar Door
Murray’s At Manly

Colonial Kottbusser Released on 6/12/12

Mal Secourable, head brewer at Margaret River’s Colonial Brewing Company, loves to brew German-inspired styles. It seems that he loves brewing them so much that it’s impossible for us to get him to take the time out to tell us about any specials he’s brewed. Thankfully, with Girl+Beer now calling the region her home, we have Crafty spies on the ground… Which means we know about the Kottbusser, a summer seasonal from Mal, which follows hot on the heels of the brewery’s popular Baltic Porter. It’s a wheat beer named after the town of its origins that was apparently outlawed because the inclusion of molasses, honey and raw oats went against the Reinheitsgebot. Colonial’s version sees Mal and assistant brewer Sorcha Gillen adding wheat, oats, light molasses and cinnamon into their brew before a generous dose of hops. According to Pia, it’s “delicious like a dirty, angry mandarin” and if that doesn’t make you curious, nothing will.

Kottbusser

Colonial Brewery

Red Duck Topaz Released on 5/12/12

Another day, another dollar. Or, in this case, another Red Duck beer. Latest cab off the rank is another that falls inside their bulging collection of strong pale ales as the Ballarat brewery continues what could be cast as a hop series of sorts. Inspiration for this single hop beer, which uses the Aussie hop Topaz, came about when brewing Hop Bach with Anders Kissmeyer earlier in the year. Among the 25 hops that went into that beer was this, a variety that has found a new lease of life as an aroma / flavour variety in the past year or two. It’s a variety with a huge alpha acid level (in other words it can add tonnes of bitterness to a beer) so has only been added very late to the brew (to try and maximise aroma and flavour and minimise bitterness – here endeth today’s technical lesson). According to brewer Scott Wilson-Browne, there’s still a fair amount of perceived bitterness in a beer that “has moderate malt characters, and the hops remind you of some classic English varieties, in particular East Kent Goldings, with soft earthy notes, long grass, and hot breezy afternoons lying under a shady tree…”

Strong Pale Ale 5.2% 40 IBU

Slowbeer
Purvis Cellars
McCoppins
Press Cellars
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Swords Select
Olinda Cellars

Cowaramup Lightsign 2012 Released on 5/12/12

When The Crafty Pint last called into Cowaramup, it was the height of summer and this beer, named by brewer Jeremy Good’s daughter and only just brewed for the first time, was the one we kept going back to more than any other. A beautifully hopped, summery ale, it’s been brought out of retirement in time for summer again. Crafty contributor Pia Poynton wasted little time getting a taste of the new batch, describing it as “perfect in the beer garden under a shady umbrella”. She adds it’s: “Bursting with apricot aromas and some grassiness, the taste is floral and lemony with a subtle bitter finish.” Wonder what Blur’s Alex James made of it when he dropped in…?

Summer Ale 4.5%

Cowaramup

Bellarine Ginja Beer Released on 4/12/12

One of the first beers to appear on Bellarine’s second label, Two Wives, this is, unsurprisingly, a ginger beer. It’s a style that’s been growing in popularity in Australia in recent years, particularly over summer, with Bellarine’s take perhaps best described as a summer ale that also packs plenty of palate-tingling ginger. It’s designed for the warmer months, so much so that the brewer even recommends drinking it over ice.

Ginger Beer 4.5%

Moon Dog Artisan Pouseuré Released on 3/12/12

The words “Moon Dog” and “pumpkin”, when used in tandem, send a shudder down the Crafty spine. Before the brewery launched, we were given a sample bottle of a trial Pumpkin Ale as a taster of what was to come. It miraculously disappeared one AFL Grand Final Day with nobody in attendance able to recall what could have happened to it. The mystery remains unsolved; our guilt unassuaged. Still, there have been subsequent chances to sample other Moon Dog pumpkin beers, including a previous Artisan Poseur that was a Pumpkin Porter. This new version (complete with different spelling – in fact, three different spellings that we’ve seen so far) ditches the porter and ramps up the spices. But not to an overt degree. Indeed for a 7.5 per cent spiced fruit beer from this mob, it’s all rather tastefully done, with plenty of roast pumpkin and crystal malts on the nose that are decorated rather than overwhelmed by the cinnamon and cloves. The taste is similarly fulsome without losing control. It pours a hazy burnt orange (like pumpkin pie) and, like the brewers' near neighbours at the Duchess, might not be the best of lookers, but goes down a treat and leaves you with a smile on your face.

Spiced Pumpkin Ale 7.5% 32 IBU

Beer DeLuxe
Deja Vu
Deco
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
Slowbeer
Swords

Bridge Road / Archive Tennessee Stud Released on 3/12/12

We’re a little late posting this one as it slipped out of Beechworth unnoticed at Crafty Towers, so we can’t be sure what’s left where. But for the sake of completeness, here’s the fifth in the fast-moving Bar Series, this time featuring the input of the crew at Brisbane’s Archive. They tell us: “We wanted to create something that reflects our varied backgrounds, collective love of our industry and that of delicious beer. Malty and hoppy, bold but beguiling, flavoursome but still sessionable, Tennessee Stud is an expression of what we want at the end of a long night pulling beers and throwing chat. A shot and a beer.” What that means is a brown ale with a load of US hops plus “American oak and Jack” thanks to the addition of American oak chips and some Jack Daniels.

Oaked Brown Ale 5.5% 40ish IBUs

Josie Bones
Beer DeLuxe
Norfolk Hotel ( Fremantle)
The Scratch
Archive (Brisbane)
New Sydney Hotel
The Wheaty
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Cookie
The Albion Hotel
Junction Beer Hall
Bridge Road

Moon Dog Love Tap Released on 30/11/12

Standards must be slipping at Moon Dog. I mean, seriously, when you’ve offered up busty nurses holding boob-shaped cupcakes and cigar-smoking skulls on your labels, who’s going to be satisfied with a pig in lime green bow tie and top hat? Next thing you know, they’ll be brewing a lager. Thankfully, this is nothing of the sort, but instead the equivalent of drinking fresh hop goo, goo that’s an amalgam of German, Aussie and Kiwi hops, an amalgam in which the New World hops carry out an almighty smackdown on the Old World, a smackdown in which, despite the seemingly huge amount of hops packed into the beer, the result is a smooth, bitter-without-being-beastly, hazy golden beer with bucketloads of fresh tropical aromas, a hazy golden beer that you’d swear was never 7.1 per cent. Yet it is. And it turns out it’s a lager too – a double lager, apparently – and we’d wager they’ll be making more of it soon. Just give the pig a monocle and feather in his cap and we’ll call it quits, guys.

Strong hoppy lager 7.1% 34 IBU

Beer DeLuxe
Deja Vu
Deco
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
Slowbeer
Swords