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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Sunday 21 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

Moon Dog Mustafa's Dancing Helmet Released on 7/11/12

Another eminently sensibly named beer from the Abbotsford crew that comes complete with another eminently sensible label. Just don’t try and locate it via the label as they decided to make this batch keg-only. The beer was offered up for sampling at last month’s Fed Square Microbreweries Showcase, alongside the Artisan Pouseure (sic), which will soon appear in bottles (confused yet?). It’s an apricot IPA and, in keeping with Moon Dog tradition, tips the scales close to 10 per cent ABV. Brewer Josh tells us: “Uses NZ hops, heaps of blended turkish dried apricots in the boil. Rather delish! 9.2 per cent, smooth bitterness. I’m incredibly hung over and haven’t been home yet so am struggling for much in the way of descriptors……… sorry!” As are we, Josh, As are we.

Fruit IIPA 9.2% 60 IBY

Slowbeer
Belgian Beer Cafe Eureka
Royston
Others TBC

Bridge Road / The Scratch Scrotch Released on 5/11/12

It’s easy to see how the name for this beer was conceived. It’s a Scotch Ale from a bar called The Scratch. That said, knowing the guys that run the Brisbane bar, it wouldn’t surprise us if they actually decided they wanted a beer that sounded like crotch and worked from there… Either way, the fourth release in the Bridge Road bar series, following beers produced with Josie Bones, Beer DeLuxe and The Norfolk Hotel, is a strong Scotch Ale that’s spent time soaking up the characteristics of American oak soaked in peated oaked 10-year-old Ardbeg whisky – in keeping with The Scratch team’s love of beer and Scotch. According to the brewers and bar staff: “This beer has turned out exactly as planned. A big malty scotch ale, that incorporates a huge range of aromas and flavours (who needs hops?). Smokey peat, big oak, huge scotch influence and caramel/choc malt characters come together in harmony.” Sounds like one to sip and savour.

Whisky Aged Scotch Ale 6.9% 20ish 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

HopDog All Hallowed Ale Released on 5/11/12

Whether you judge it by his brewery’s name or on five minutes conversation with brewery founder Tim Thomas, it’s pretty darn clear that this is a man who loves hops and loves to cram them into his beers. So it’s rather bizarre that, here at Crafty Towers, our favourites from his range are those where hops aren’t the focus: the Alluvial Peach, Hyper Hyper coffee beer, a barrel-aged spiced Belgian number we sampled at the brewery last year (which may actually have been a prior version of this) and now the All Hallowed Ale produced for Halloween. (Yes, we’re a little late in listing it…) Given the time of year, it uses pumpkins – roasted ones at that – along with some festive spices and sugars to create a big mouthful of a beer. Pouring a rusty brown and with a big, foamy head, there’s all manner of banana, pumpkin and spices fighting for attention without ever getting too out of hand. And despite that suggesting it would be an overwhelmingly sweet affair, it actually finishes pleasantly dry. Who needs tonnes of hops, eh, HopDog?

Spiced Pumpkin Ale 7.5%

Slowbeer
Olinda Cellars
HopDog BeerWorks
Others TBC

Murray's Smashing Pumpkin Ale (2012) Released on 3/11/12

A collaboration between Murray’s brewery and kitchen this one. It starts with head chef Adam Ritchie and his kitchen team peeling and dry roasting 60 kilograms of pumpkin before selecting the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice that also goes into the beer. At that point brewers Shawn Sherlock and Ian Watson take over to create “pumpkin pie in a glass”. This is the third year that Murray’s has brewed its special spiced beer, which features British and German malts and cooked pumpkin in the mash. The latter, say Murray’s, “adds a subtle sweetness and pumpkin aroma and flavour that is enhanced by the addition of the spices.”

Pumpkin Ale 5.2%

Annual Halloween release available on draught only

Murray’s
Murray’s At Manly

Red Hill Saison Released on 30/10/12

They’ve certainly been living up to their promise to make more beer and more beers since closing down their bar and cafe a few weeks ago. In addition to their regular, much-loved seasonal releases, Red Hill has put out a special Jubilee beer, joined forces with Mornington Peninsula for a collaboration specially for the Beers By The Bay festival and also released their first saison. They’re claiming it could be Australia’s only “true” saison as it’s brewed on a hop farm. Whether it is or not, it’s being given some unique treatment at the brewery when they open for Cup Weekend where a cask-conditioned version will be pouring through the handpump. As for the beer itself, it’s: “pale, light bodied with a tart and refreshing drinkability. It has a complex nose with plenty of funky yeasty farmhouse flavours and finishes lovely and dry with the addition of [their] Tettnanger and Hallertau hops.”

Saison 6.0%

Red Hill – Cup Weekend only!
Other good beer venues around Victoria – TBC

Illawarra "Slasher" McKay P.A. Released on 30/10/12

Summer 1960/61, Fourth Test Match, Adelaide Oval. Australia down to their last wicket against a rampaging West Indies pace attack. With the series locked, Australia need to hang on to take the series to a deciding Fifth Test. At the batting crease were Lindsay Kline and Ken “Slasher” McKay – an ironic nickname for a man known for his staying power rather than attacking verve. For over 100 minutes the pair held firm and, on the final delivery, McKay elected to take the ball on his ribcage rather than chance an edge or LBW. The test was drawn and Australia went on to win the series. In homage to these late Australian heroics, Illawarra Brewing Co have created the “Slasher” McKay.P.A, with a local malt backbone and full batting line-up of Australia’s best finishing hops; Summer, Stella, and Galaxy. That Aussie stayer of bittering hops, Super Pride, was also integral in the design and naming of the beer. In fact, this beer is so focused on Aussie hops that they were added at every point from first wort additions through to the dry hopping stages – they even had to build a Hop Back. That leads to a beer with a clean, lasting bitterness and bouquet of fresh rock melon, honeydew and passionfruit. Like “Slasher” McKay himself, this is full of classic Aussie character but isn’t afraid to be different.

Aussie IPA 6.6%

Illawarra Brewing Company
Bitter & Twisted Festival
The Albion Hotel
More to follow…

Little Creatures Puffing Billy Released on 26/10/12

While the impact of the Lion takeover remains to be seen at Little Creatures, the Single Batches continue to appear, much to the delight of the beer-loving public. On a roll after the likes of the Big Dipper, Dreadnaught and Quiet American, here they’ve returned to Germany for inspiration (following last year’s Single Batch Marzen) with a lightly smoked Bock. The use of beechwood smoked malt is such that it’s barely detectable on the nose, where sweet malty aromas hold fort; instead, it appears more prominently in the flavour of this dark amber-coloured beer, where it goes to work with lots of earthy, spicy hops and ultimately contributes to a reasonably bitter, gently smoky finish. However, this Billy is mainly about the fulsome layers of malts, resulting in a delightfully smooth and impeccably balanced beer. But then again, it’s from Creatures so what did you expect…?

Smoked Bock 6.5% 33 IBU

Little Creatures
Little Creatures Dining Hall
We’ll provide a link to other stockists once it’s available

Bridge Road Bar Series: The Norfolk Cecil Released on 24/10/12

The third beer released as part of the Bridge Road Bar Series, where the Beechworth brewers invite members of staff from top beer bars across Australia to come up with a beer and brew it with them. The Cecil is the work of the team at Freo’s Norfolk Hotel and was designed as a Red Brewed with a combination of Cluster, Sauvin, Zythos and Falconers Flight hops, the outcome wasn’t quite as red as intended – “a lesson to be learnt for us here at BRB,” says head brewer Ben Kraus, but makes up for it with big orange marmalade and citrus hop aromas familiar to lovers of West Coast US IPAs. Unsurprisingly, those hops are back in the mouth too, with the malts playing a chewy, toffee backup role. “Damn tasty!” says Ben. Get it at all participating Bar Series venues.

Red(ish) IPA 6.5%

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

Lord Nelson One Eyed Rye Ale 2012 Released on 22/10/12

Over at the Lord Nelson, they’ve brewed a batch of something we’re starting to see a little of in Australia: a Rye Ale. Called ‘One Eyed Rye’, it made its debut slightly in advance of Sydney Craft Beer Week, during which The Lord is hosting a brewer’s dinner. After that, it’ll be available at the bar until it’s gone. Trystam Hayden of the Lord Nelson tells us it’s a golden-coloured, 4.6 per cent affair that’s “luxurious and malty on the palate, with fresh floral aromas and a dry, spritzy finish."

Rye Ale 4.6%

Lord Nelson

Illawarra Smashing Rumpkin Released on 18/10/12

In the early 90’s, a bunch of American Bourbon Whiskey oak barrels turned up in Australia. Seizing the opportunity for a slight career change they found their way to Queensland where, like a heaven-sent pirate, they spent the next 20 years filled with rum. After a well-lived life in the the spirit game, they moved south to Wollongong where the guys from Illawarra Brewing Company found them a new gig in their brewery, working closely with their 2012 Pumpkin Ale… Brewing a Pumpkin Ale is something of an annual tradition for IBC and the oak barrels gave them a chance to play with the recipe more than usual. Brewer Ashur Hall’s mum’s special spice mix (think allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and coriander seeds) was kept on, but they doubled the amount of pumpkin from the 2011 version and let the oak ageing “go nuts”. The charred interior of the barrels gives off a smoky character on the nose but drinkers will likely be more concerned with the vanilla, coconut, sweet spice and cinnamon notes of classic Caribbean spiced rum.

American Spiced Pumpkin Ale 5.5%

Australian Hotel Beer Festival 2012
Illawarra Brewing Company
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Little Prince
Bar Next Door to Samuels
Harts Pub
King Street Wharf Brewhouse
The Albion Hotel

Feral White Hog Released on 18/10/12

The most successful brewery in recent Aussie history turned ten this year and decided to mark the occasion with a new beer. How to mark the occasion appropriately? Why not combine their first and historically best-selling beer – the White Ale – with their most successful – the Hop Hog. The result is the White Hog (well, they did tell us recently they don’t put much thought into their beer names!). According to the brewers, the beer displays “all the bitter hoppiness of the Hog and the smooth mouthfeel of the White.” To be more explicit: “It’s like there is a party in your mouth and these two beers where the only ones to show up.” Still, it’s a high quality guest list.

Belgian White IPA? 5.8% 52 IBU

Feral
The Alehouse Project
Other good beer bars tbc

The Monk Chief "Superhop" Editions Released on 15/10/12

Few Aussie craft brewers need encouragement to experiment. Yet in this case, the guys at The Monk have been playing around out of necessity. Their normal Chief (and American IPA) uses the uber-popular American Citra hops. Such is the variety’s uber-popularity that they, like many others, have been struggling to get their hands on any. So, rather than crawl up in a corner and cry into each other’s arms, Steve and Paul decided they’d create the Chief “Superhop” editions. In other words, take the same basic recipe and try brewing it with all manner of other hops while they waited for Citra to become available again. For them, it’s a chance to play with new hops, for punters it’s a chance to see what they do to a beer. First up was the Centennial Edition, which has been followed by an Amarillo version. This will be followed by the Zythos (a new hop blend finding favour with hop-lovin' brewers) edition, which should hit taps some time in October or November. Silver linings an' all.

American IPA

The Monk

Australian Brewery The Motherlode Released on 15/10/12

The first ever craft beer from a small brewery in Australia to appear inside a can! This ESB is inspired by the “deeply flavoursome strong bitter ales of England”. According to the brewers, it’s “brewed to be darker and richer than the day to day ‘ordinary’ bitter ales” yet be “oh so drinkable”. Expect “complex dark stonefruit aroma on a full-bodied rich caramelised toffee palate, distinct spicy hop aroma and bitterness from Target hops.”

ESB 6.0%

Mountain Goat Triple Hightail Released on 12/10/12

The first beer ever released by Mountain Goat commercially was the Hightail Ale, a beer that remains one of their most popular. For their tenth anniversary, they brewed the Double Hightail, a beer that has since become a semi-regular Rare Breed from the brewery and which is essentially, double everything of the original. So, come their 15th anniversary, what else was there for them to do other than brew a Triple Hightail. It’s a more intense version of the Double Hightail and is being taken around Australia as part of their birthday tour. A very limited number of bottles have also been released too. Rich and malty, with strong notes of caramel and toffee and a subtle spicy hop finish, it’s one not just for Goat lovers, but lovers of luscious malt-driven beers too.

Strong Scotch Ale 8.3% 37 IBU

Mountain Goat
The Wheaty
New Sydney Hotel
Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle
Bitter Suite
The Dispensary Enoteca
Great Britain, Richmond
The Pinnacle, North Fitzroy
Union Hotel, Newtown

Mornington Peninsula Marzen Released on 11/10/12

To mark their Oktoberfest, the brewers at Mornington Peninsula Brewery have concocted a rarity among their beers – a lager. And because it’s Oktoberfest time, it’s a Marzen, the richly malty German lager found pouring at the Munich fest itself. Described as “light copper in colour with a densely packed head of foam” it has “nutty aromas [that] lead into hazelnut notes, [with] Vienna and Munich malts providing a mild bready backdrop.” The brewers say it’s: “A mildly hopped, malty soft beer that sits lightly across the palate.” And it’s pouring now.

Marzen 5.3%

Mornington Peninsula Brewery
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Local Taphouse Darlo