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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Saturday 23 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

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

Grand Ridge Hoppy Frog Released on 9/10/12

We’ve had English IPAs, American IPAs, Belgian IPAs, Australian IPAs, Black IPAs, White IPAs, Double IPAs, Imperial IPAs… And now we have a French IPA. The Hoppy Frog is the latest release from Grand Ridge, a beer that uses all French hops, including the new Triskel variety, for a new take on the classic and increasingly popular style. In keeping with the first IPAs' origins, the malts are predominantly British, while the hops are all sourced from the Alsace region of France. According to the brewers: “The result is a unique floral aroma with pleasing lemon overtones and a gentle yet assertive bitterness.” Prepare to bid it a sunny “Bonjour” when it makes its way from the brewery any day now.

French IPA 5.2%

Grand Ridge
Other venues tbc very soon…

The Monk Bounty Released on 9/10/12

This Coconut Stout was the first seasonal concocted by the current brewing team at The Monk, Steve Brockman and Paul Wyman, just a month after they took up the reins in 2011. It has since picked up a silver at the Australian International Beer Awards and achieved instant popularity with punters in Freo, encouraging the brewers to push their creativity, and has also gone on to win praise from visiting brewers, particularly Christian from Denmark’s Beer Here when he was in Oz. As a result, it became the only seasonal other than their Oktoberfest Marzen to be repeated. According to Steve: “It pours thick and dark with a mocha head, and anytime any pours one you can smell it straight away. The aroma is of roasted coconut, with hints of chocolate. The first sips fill your mouth with a bit of Dutch cocoa and light chocolate, before mid palate our ‘liquid Lamington’ shines, with a bit hit of coconutty goodness before finishing off with a well balanced 55 IBU, coming through as more of a dark chocolate bitterness rather than anything hops related.” A bit of a perception changer for The Monk, Steve adds: It’s a beer most people turn down at the sound of it. ‘A stout? No I don’t do dark beers.’ Until they try it…!"

Coconut Stout 5.5% 55 IBU

The Monk

Murray's Big Wednesday IPA Released on 5/10/12

They love their Kiwi hops at Murray’s and they know how to use them to make some great hoppy beers, such as the Icon 2IPA, a beer that was the first Aussie beer to really knock The Crafty Pint’s socks off back in the day. They’re at play again here, in the brewery’s first IPA to appear in a bottle, which fills the gap between the Angry Man Pale Ale (formerly Nirvana) and said Icon. This time around, brewer Shawn Sherlock has done away with any bittering hops (in other words, those added to the kettle at the start of the boil for the purposes of making the beer bitter rather than adding any hop flavours or aromas) and instead put them in later on so that their flavour and aroma characters come through. The result is a pale ale that’s bigger in alcohol than their Angry Man and bigger still when it comes to the hops. They’ve balanced the aggressive hop flavour with a blend of British and German malts, while the nose is a “blend of citrus and spice – almost passionfruit character” with a “relatively dry” finish.

IPA 6.0%

Murray’s
Murray’s At Manly
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Online via the Murray’s shop here

Burleigh Brewing FIGJAM IPA Released on 4/10/12

Avid readers of The Crafty Pint and its newsletter will recall mention of a short run IPA from the Gold Coast’s serial medal-winners. Well, now it’s back as the latest in Burleigh Brewing’s longnecked “Bit On The Side” range, following My Wife’s Bitter, Fannie Gertrude and the Black Giraffe. This is a take on the American reinvention of the classic British style, featuring a blend of specialty malts and five US hops and ending up with the 7 per cent / 70 IBU measurements that has proved a winner in a handful of other beers of its ilk. According to Burleigh Brewing CEO, Peta Fielding: “Sampling at the brewery has the whole crew excited. Brennan describes the FIGJAM IPA as boasting ‘wonderful citrus and mango aromas, with those hop driven characteristics flowing through to a clean, robust flavour’.” Launched at the brewery on October 4 and heading across the land after that.

American IPA 7.0% 70 IBU

Burleigh Brewing
For an exhaustive list of other stockists, head here.

Red Duck / Kissmeyer Rebellion Released on 25/09/12

The third and final collaboration between Red Duck and Danish brewer Anders Kissmeyer from when he visited Australia earlier in the year is a strong pale ale. Not as strong as the 25-hop-variety Hop Bach they composed together but a solid 7 per cent nonetheless. According to the brewer it’s “an ale that promises a rich reward, with deep golden leads, mild hops, strong malt aromas and a well balanced, full flavoured payload.” Just one batch was brewed, meaning there are just 650 wax-sealed, swing top bottles in existence then it’s gone. To read about Red Duck’s approach to naming beers, head here.

Strong Pale Ale 7.0%

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

Lord Nelson Double Nelson Released on 25/09/12

In cricket, ‘Nelson’ is a superstitious term used when a score, or multiple, of 111 is reached – 222 is a Double Nelson, 333 is a Triple Nelson, and so on. What that has to do with this beer is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly another multi-layered moniker that plays on the English-ness of all the Lord’s beers. But, ironically, the Double Nelson is actually their take on an American-style Pale Ale, and a quite fine one at that. It has the highly-hopped citrus and pine characters you’d expect of the style, with a dry, bitter caramel finish from the malt billing. But despite so much flavour packed in, it’s a surprisingly refreshing ale. You may want to double up.

American Pale Ale 5.2%

Lord Nelson

The Monk Marzen Released on 22/09/12

Brewed every year for the Freo brewpub’s Oktoberfest, this is their attempt to brew a beer as true to German traditions as they possibly can. Anyone who’s visited The Monk will be aware that tank space is limited, hence they rarely brew lagers that require extra time in the tank. This beer, along with their trophy-winning Mild, is the exception, given a full two months cold conditioning in tank followed by another month of cold maturation. The result, say the brewers, “is a smooth, clean amber/orange lager with a rich maltiness and moderate bitterness. The slight hints of caramel and toffee come from the wonderful blend of traditional German malts. A gentle carbonation and quick dry finish makes the brew super sessionable, perfect for drinking by the stein load at our Oktoberfest celebrations.” Many do, with the beer tapped in the traditional Munich Oktoberfest style, at the start of their annual celebrations.

Marzen 5.4%

The Monk

Mountain Goat Fancy Pants 2012 Released on 21/09/12

The beer that was originally conceived as what Hightail would be without any constraints is back. And we think it’s an interesting barometer of how far and fast the craft beer scene is moving in Australia. While it was never big in alcohol content, when it first arrived, its upfront tropical hop aromas were the sort to take you aback with what the American Amber Ale quite different to most of what was coming out from local breweries. Now it arrives like an old friend popping into town for a catch up, no longer as crazy and out there as he once seemed, but no less enjoyable for that. A lovely blend of those fruity hops and caramel and toffee malts, it’s a rich, seasonal quaffer for craft beer connoisseurs.

American Amber Ale 5.5% 40 IBU

Mountain Goat
The Alehouse Project
Cookie
The Terminus
Gertrude Hotel

Hargreaves Hill Russian Imperial Stout 2012 Released on 19/09/12

A beer that in its first incarnation last year blew The Crafty Pint and many of its big-beer-loving mates away and then, earlier this year, did the same to the judges at the Australian International Beer Awards, where it picked up a gold medal. Given its success, it had to return and, thus, here it is. Not quite as massive in terms of ABV as the last one, but still registering 11.3 per cent, it’s a full-bodied, rich, roasty, creamy, everythingy kind of imperial stout – a little softer than last year’s apparently too. It’s a beer you can sit on for hours and which the brewers hope will find a home in many a cellar ready to be pulled out and shared as an after dinner treat with friends.

Russian Imperial Stout 11.3%

On tap
The Alehouse Project
Courthouse Hotel
Hargreaves Hill
In bottle (out later this month)
Purvis Cellars
Purvis Beer Richmond
Slowbeer