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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

Red Hill Imperial Stout (2012) Released on 10/06/12

Does anything need to be said about this beer? The most eagerly anticipated of the Mornington Peninsula brewery’s seasonal range and now brewed in larger amounts to try and meet demand (they never will!) is a beer that has been warming the cockles and exciting the taste buds of Aussie craft beer lovers for years and never lets you down. It’s probably one of the most cellared beers in Oz too. If we can say anything about this year’s, it’s that we had some on tap at the Terminus and figured it would need a few minutes to warm up to optimal temperature. Yet there was no need to wait, as the thick oily body and its deeply brown head were doing just what you’d want from the off, with molasses, sweet liquorice and more among the typically roasty stout characters. Grab some before it’s gone for another year.

Imperial Stout 8.0%

Red Hill
The Terminus
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Atticus Finch
Junction Beer Hall
Beer DeLuxe
Josie Bones (where they also have a cellared keg from 2011)
In bottle at good bottleshops (see the Bottleshop section on here)

Seven Sheds Leggett IPA Released on 8/06/12

“Leggett? What’s that?” you cry. And with good reason as it’s not a hop variety you’ll find with ease. One of three varieties that went into Cascade’s annual First Harvest beer a while back (when they use three trial varieties) has been kept alive at Willie Simpson’s NW Tassie brewery and hop farm. For this year’s annual hop harvest brew he decided to chuck in all of his Leggett hops to make a traditional UK-inspired IPA. The hops went in at three stages in the kettle with one addition in the hopback. Willie says he picks up “sprucey, pine needle character”, assistant brewer Evan (whose idea it was to make the beer) reckons it’s pineapple. Either way, it’s pale, it’s uniquely hopped and it’s out now. 200l of it are also in wooden casks heading back and forth across the Bass Strait in an experiment recreating the journey of old IPAs, which you can read about here.

IPA 6.8%

New Sydney Hotel
Seven Sheds

Red Hill Queen's Diamond Jubilee British IPA Released on 8/06/12

It was time spent in the UK drinking real ales in British pubs that, at least in part, inspired the decision of Red Hill owners Karen and Dave Golding to embark on their brewing journey. So perhaps it’s only right that upon returning from their latest jaunt around the UK that they should return with a new British beer. And how much more British can you get than a beer dedicated to old Queenie’s 60 years in the top job? From the first whiff, it’s a beer to transport you back to a cosy British pub (if you’ve ever been to one and drunk a strong English ale that is, with 5.5% being something of a big one by UK standards), with subtle sweet and earthy aromas of Goldings and Willamette (the latter an American take on English Fuggles), distinct malt flavours, and earthy, somewhat spicy hop flavours. The bottle we sampled had yet to undergo the additional dry-hopping or secondary conditioning that the version pouring from casks through the hand pump at the brewery (or the soon-to-be-released bottles) have been through so expect even more hops when you get your hands on some.

British IPA 5.5%

Red Hill
Wider release coming soon…

Prickly Moses Vintage Ale 2012 Released on 7/06/12

Back before brewer Hendo (now at Southern Bay) made his brief dalliance with Prickly Moses and set about knocking out some big US-inspired brews, the seasonals coming out from the Otway Ranges tended to be more traditional in origin, notably the trilogy of Saison, Farmhouse Ale and Reserve De Otway. Those three are coming back soon, apparently, but in the meantime there’s this – a rusty coloured, spiced strong ale that’s spent 12 months in pinot noir barrels, something that’s apparent straight up with some light fruity (OK, pinot-y) notes from the off. It’s surprisingly delicate for a beer of its size, with some stewed fruit flavours alongside some malt sweetness and a gentle funky nod in the direction of Belgium, particularly as it warms.

Barrel-Aged Strong Ale 8.5%

Prickly Moses
Scratch Bar, Brisbane
Others tbc

Red Hill Sticke Alt Released on 7/06/12

This beer produced originally for the 2012 Great Australian Beer Spectapular and the Good Beer Week Great Beer Swap keeps to the Red Hill traditions of seeking inspiration from the classical styles of Europe. The Sticke Alt was a special version of the altbiers of Germany – one that you might have to ask the brewer or publican for with a nod and a wink. According to the Red Hill folks theirs is a “stronger, darker and hoppier variation of the traditional Dusseldorf Altbier. A cool ferment and extended cold conditioning creates a clean crisp ale with a surprising balance between bitterness and nutty-malty sweetness. Dark copper in colour with the flavour complexity of an ale and noble hop bouquet.”

Sticke Alt 5.4%

The Terminus
Beer DeLuxe
Josie Bones
Bishop of Ostia
Bar None
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Local Taphouse St Kilda

Moon Dog / Beer Here Freaks and Geeks Released on 4/06/12

This year’s Danish invasion of Melbourne has left quite a legacy. Well, it would have if people didn’t keep drinking it so fast, with the Mikkeller efforts with Goat and Bridge Road all but gone already. Next cab off the collab ranks is this from kindred jokers Moon Dog and Beer Here. Described as a Danish farmhouse ale of sorts, it’s brewed with flaked oats, maris otter, biscuit, dark wheat rye and peated munich malts and a farmhouse yeast, the penultimate of these explaining why the initial aroma is woody and smoky even though it’s that rare beast: a Moon Dog beer that’s not seen the inside of a barrel. It’s an intriguing blend that has led to a cloudy blood orange beer with a Coke-like head, rich, sweet malt flavours, an oily mouthfeel, a long aftertaste, bugger all bitterness and a hint of farmhouse funk. Despite that, it’s actually not that weird at all, just a fulsome, slightly fruity, slightly spicy beer with alcohol that warms that’ll do rather nicely in these cooler climes.

Dark Farmhouse Ale 7.6% 14 IBU

Purvis Cellars
Local Bottle Store & Provisions
Purvis Beer Richmond

2 Brothers / Feral Collaborator Released on 21/05/12

What better way to mark 20 years holding the Australian International Beer Awards than to invite two of the most successful Australian breweries of recent times to make a beer together? For its landmark year, the RASV invited WA’s Feral and Victoria’s 2 Brothers to brew a beer using all Australian ingredients. The former was subsequently named Champion Large Australian Brewery at the 2012 awards, while 2 Brothers continued its run of form with a shortlisting for Champion Small Australian Brewery. The beer they created – an Australian take on the modern Brown Ale – is a deeply brown one that opens up with familiar tropical fruit notes from the hops and plenty of chocolate, caramel – possibly even vanilla – aromas too. There’s a nice balance between roasty, chocolate and caramel and some orange-tinged citrus hop flavours. Bitterness is well restrained in an eminently drinkable beer worthy of such an occasion.

Brown Ale 5.5%

2 Brothers
Good bottleshops

Moon Dog Melon Gibson Released on 16/05/12

The final part of the Magnificent Mullet series (unless they go and get all Hitchhiker’s Guide on our asses) sees everyone’s favourite ponytail-sporting, line-dancing, annoying sprog-spawning, Bill Hicks-inspiring hick have his face replaced with a citrus fruit and the Moon Doggers chuck a heap of citrus peel into their witbier-y, berliner weisse-y concoction. Of the three, it’s the one in which the fruit addition is most prominent, with a pretty intense lime like character offering up plenty of citrus zing. In fact, it’s so prominent that it masks the subtle tartness found in the other Mullets (the McGuava especially) to create a beer that’s low on funk, high on sitting-on-a-beach-in-Barbados fruity refreshment. Totally tropical, man!

Fruit witbier 5.6%

Purvis Beer Richmond
Smith Street Cellars
Local Bottle Store & Provisions

Mornington Peninsula Imperial Amber Released on 16/05/12

One of a handful of beers that was debuted at the 2012 Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular that looks like becoming a semi-regular release from its brewery is the second Imperial beer from Mornington Peninsula. The Imperial Amber sees pretty much every element of the beer ramped up to 11, with brewer AG describing it as “burnished copper in appearance, its aromas of caramel and fig jam are melded with subtle citrus hop character. The lashings of American hops used in this beer are balanced with rich toffee driven malt flavours, resulting in a luscious mouthfeel and a smooth lingering bitterness.” Given the popularity and success of the Imperial IPA – already out in bottles – don’t expect this to be the last biggie from the peninsula…

Imperial American Amber 8.0%

Mornington Peninsula Brewery
Mrs Parma’s
Odyssey Tavern
The Terminus
Fitzroy Pinnacle
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Great Britain

The People's Pint: Double Hoptendre Released on 15/05/12

We’ve written plenty about this beer already, given its unique conception through the competition we ran earlier in the year via The People’s Pint website. Invented by Brisvegan Leo Hede, chosen by a public vote, turned into a beer by Ron Feruglio at Temple, launched during Good Beer Week at a night on which Steve Grossman announced their partnership in the Temple Good Beer Week Scholarship and now available at a selection of the country’s top craft beer bars, it’s the first of what we hope will be many People’s Pints. Given Leo’s description of the Double Hoptendre, Ron came up with a heavily hopped rye red ale that does all of those things. With much of the 15kg of First Gold and Styrian Goldings hops added late, the first thing that hits you is the floral and subtly spicy hops on the nose then a strikingly firm earthy bitterness. It’s as the deeply red ale warms that it comes into its own, however, with the richness of the four different rye malts coming through to create a satisfying, hearty beer that takes Crafty back to fireside tables in northern English pubs. It’s unlike pretty much any beer you’ll find in Oz – and not just in the way it came to life.

Rye Red Ale

Pumphouse Bar
The Wheaty
Scratch Bar, Brisbane
Sail & Anchor, Fremantle

Illawarra Saison Rouge Released on 11/05/12

What to do when someone asks you to brew something you’ve never been made before and release it to thousands upon thousands of people at a beer festival? Saison Rouge is the answer. Illawarra Brewing Company’s entry for the 2012 GABS Festival was a Belgian-inspired saison that leaned heavily on stewed, dried fruit and specialty Belgian malts. Scoffing in the face of the winter event and any natural inclination towards dark, heavy beers, the Saison Rouge is clean, fruity, crisp and utterly drinkable despite a 7 per cent-plus ABV. Unsurprisingly, it is entirely unique and proved a big hit with punters.

Fruit-infused Saison

Illawarra Brewery Bar

Temple / Weihenstephan UNIFIKATOR Released on 4/05/12

When the head brewer from the world’s oldest existing brewery decides to pop into your brewery when it’s only been open for a few weeks to make only the second collaboration in his brewery’s history, you have every right to give the beer a name entirely in capital letters. And a name as bold as UNIFIKATOR. Because however you look at it, the fact that Temple hooked up with Frank Peifer of Weihenstephan is an incredible achievement. The beer – a strong wheat beer or weizenbock – uses the distinctive Weihenstephan yeast strain as well as some rye in the brew to add a layer or richness to the malt character. The result is a luscious, full-bodied blend of the banana and spice esters typical of the German brewery’s beers, some dark fruit notes, rich malts and a touch of chocolate before it ends both spicy and slightly sweet.

Weizenbock 7.0%

And more to follow at a series of launches soon

Moon Dog McGuava Released on 1/05/12

Part of the brewery’s ongoing Magnificent Mullet series (and their obsession with tart, sour or wild ales) gets off to a flier before you’ve even opened it. In the centre of the label, surrounded by said mullet and where McGuyver’s head would be is an open guava that makes it look like the enduringly popular TV star has had his face cloven in two with an axe. Such prettiness continues in the glass with the beer pouring as a cloudy light yellow with the purdiest of foamy white heads. That they’ve used some lactobacillus to add a touch of pucker is apparent from the first whiff, while the fruit is more prominent than the watermelon was in Melon Gibson. The result is a slightly tart, fruity witbier that’s refreshingly dry through its sweetness, a little bit funky and rather moreish.

Fruit Witbier 5.6%

Purvis Beer Richmond
Smith Street Cellars
Local Bottle Store & Provisions

Hargreaves Hill C4 IPA Released on 24/04/12

We have to be careful when writing about IPAs from Hargreaves Hill. We mistook a joke about the name of the Topaz and Amarillo IPA from 2011 as serious which resulted in parts of the beer world thinking it was indeed called Melanie. So just to be certain, this one is called the C4, not 4C IPA. So called because it contains four hop varieties that begin with the letter C – Citra, Columbus, Centennial and Chinook – and also in a nod to the IRA’s explosive of preference in its 20th century campaign against the British Government, presumably as it’s a hop bomb. That said, while it is bursting with those piney, citrusy notes you’d expect from such hops – and possesses a resiny character in the mouth – it’s far from explosive. Instead it’s all under control, with the malt backbone holding everything in check, the bitterness firm but not overbearing and the result yet another addition to Hargreaves fine arsenal of beers.

US IPA 5.4%

Hargreaves Hill
Others TBC

Mountain Goat Black Pepperberry IPA Released on 18/04/12

Danish brewing genius Mikkel Borg Bjergsø was in Australia last month and, while here, starred at The Gypsy & The Goat event that we ran at Mountain Goat’s brewery. It featured a rather special brewery floor degustation while a collaborative brew was created by Mikkel, Dave Bonighton and the Goat brewing team. The result is this, the Black Pepperberry IPA, a lusciously rich beast with a seriously powerful hop aroma and plenty of hop flavour (thanks to “aggressive” dry hopping with Galaxy, Citra and Cascade), a wee bit of rich, chocolatey malt and plenty of bitterness too. We detected a little berry flavour prior to the fruity hops racing in like a horde of wailing banshees, while Dave reckons it adds a little peppery spice to the bitterness too “to create a different kind of back palate sensation”. He also describes it as “big, black, bitter” which is probably all you need to know, other than the fact The Crafty Pint makes an appearance on the label. It’s in Danish, so we’ll leave it up to you to work out what it says. Hopefully, it’s something nice… EDIT Having revisited the beer on draught and again in bottles, the pepperberry is far more prominent throughout the beer than it appeared on first sampling, especially on tap. It adds another dimension to what is a genuinely unique beer.

Black IPA 7.3% 70 IBU

Mountain Goat
Josie Bones
And other good beer bars and bottleshops TBC