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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Wednesday 30 July 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

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

Feral Watermelon Warhead Released on 17/09/12

Named after the sour kids' lollies, this was originally the Swan Valley brewery’s entry for the 2012 Great Australasian Beer Spectapular. When asked to nominate a style, Feral said it was along the lines of a Berliner Weisse, although that their main aim was to create something akin to said kids' lollies. The beer itself went down so well at the Spectapular and then everywhere else that it appeared, both in Australia and overseas at Beervana NZ, that it’s now being brewed regularly. It’s a fine, tart, aromatically fruity addition to Feral’s funky / sour / wild ale program, brewed with a heap of local watermelons added late in the ferment before spending time in Chardonnay barrels with some lactobacillus yeast. Remarkably full flavoured for a beer of such low ABV (the GABS batch turned out to be less than two per cent – now it sits just under three) and zesty and refreshing as hell, it’s a beer to get anyone excited about Feral’s barrel-aging plan extremely hot under the collar. Hot enough to need another Warhead, perhaps.

Berliner Weisse 2.9%

Feral

Mornington Peninsula English IPA Released on 13/09/12

The unstoppable brewing force that is AG is back with another limited release. Not just that, but he’s announcing the next one in line at the same time; something tells us there must be more than one brewhouse down on the Peninsula… Anyway, before the Marzen lands, his tour of Europe that commenced in Scotland last time around heads south of the border for an English style IPA. That means a blend of traditional English hops and toffee-like malts to create a golden amber ale that, according to the brewers “delivers sweet aromas of caramel and spiced bun”. There’s a little chocolate and raisin too, some earthy and floral hops and, as there should be, a “soft yet assertive bitterness”.

English IPA 5.1%

Mornington Peninsula Brewery
Woodlands Hotel
Beer DeLuxe
Josie Bones
The Park Hotel Werribee
The Alehouse Project
Odyssey Tavern
Deja Vu (former Biero)
Rosebud GPO
The Gertrude Hotel, Fitzroy
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Mrs Parma’s

Bridge Road Bar Series 1: Josie Bones Revolution Released on 12/09/12

A few weeks back, Bridge Road kicked off its Bar Series, a project that will see it invite staff from some of the country’s top beer bars to come up with their idea for a beer then travel to Beechworth to brew it. Each beer is then sold at the brewery and all of the participating bars. You can read more on it here or save your time for drinking instead and head to the venues that will be tapping beer number one. It was dreamt up by the team at Josie Bones and is an Australian Pilsner. The theory behind it is that the Kiwis have brewed so many excellent New Zealand Pilsners using their own hops in recent years that’s it’s becoming an internationally recognised style, so why shouldn’t there be an Aussie equivalent? Inspired by North German Pilsners and featuring Summer, Stella and Topaz hops it features spicy, tropical hop aromas, some yeasty esters, “soft, luscious fruity hop character” and finishes with a strong hop bitterness. Vive la revolution! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Australian Pilsner 5.1% 40

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

Red Duck Gnaume Released on 10/09/12

In a recent piece for the site, we asked Red Duck founder Scott Wilson-Browne for the favourite of all the names he’d given his beers over the years. This was the one he picked. When we suggested it was something to do with Gaume (a place in Belgium) and gnomes, it seemed we were on the right track. There’s something to do with “small interesting creatures” too. The best way to solve the puzzle might be to get your hands on one of the beers while you set the cogs a-whirring. It’s the second of the beers Scott brewed with visiting Dane Anders Kissmeyer back in March (the other being the 25-hop-varieties Hop Bach) and is their take on the Belgian Lambic style (sort of), brewed with a whole bunch of yeast strains, some sugars, and a pair of fermentations. The result is a light, cloudy beer that’s subtly fruity, a little tart, a wee bit spicy and finishes refreshingly dry. Another oddball to add to the brewery’s rather large collection of oddballs and one that the brewer loves so much he’ll be back for more.

Belgian Lambic Golden Ale 6.2%

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

Red Duck Bumble Bee Released on 10/09/12

Red Duck’s entry for this year’s Great Australasian Beer Spectapular makes a reappearance in bottled form, having landed a spot in the People’s Choice top ten. Continuing Scott’s penchant for brewing with honey (a quick flick through the mental rolodex brings up a honey porter and three braggots with honey – there could be others), this is a honey amber ale, which in this case means there are some soft, nutty malts at play with the honey. It’s the brewery’s first single hop beer, with said hop being Bramling Cross from the UK and adding some fruity, floral aromas.

Honey Amber Ale 5.7%

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

Red Duck Smells Like A Pony Released on 8/09/12

The third braggot to come from the Ballarat brewery – braggots being a Medieval style of strong alcoholic drink that are a blend of strong ale and mead. This one wears its heart on its sleeve (or something like that) with the name an indication that it smells a little pony like. Or, as the brewer’s notes say, the buckwheat honey lends it a “curiously aromatic, pony like, leathery aromatic”. That said, the sweeter side of the honey seemed more prominent to The Crafty Pint’s palate, resulting in a full-bodied aperitif of a beer that is more approachable, if not as crackpot, as Red Duck’s first one, the Ugly Duckling released in 2010.

Braggot 13.7%

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

Our Dark Secret Released on 8/09/12

A beer like no other… When the 2010 and 2011 Champion Exhibitors from the Australian International Beer Awards, Nøgne Ø and Moylan’s, visited Australia for the first time for Good Beer Week in 2012, we asked them if they’d get together and brew a beer. They agreed, we built an event around it and, three months later, the secret was out. A massively hoppy imperial black IPA featuring a huge amount of Aussie hops, including several kilos of the as-yet-unreleased Victoria’s Secret variety, it has some soft cocoa characters in amongst the hops once it warms, along with some roastiness that rides in at the end to join in the fun in what must be one of the most bitter beers brewed in Australia. Thanks to Hargreaves Hill for agreeing to host the brew, assisting the brewers on the day and getting it into the tanks with what we believe was one of the toughest transfers ever thanks to all the hop flowers in the kettle!

Imperial Black IPA 8.2%

Hargreaves Hill One keg
Beer DeLuxe Two kegs
The Wheaty Two kegs
The Local Taphouse Darlo Two kegs
Jack Greene, Hobart Two kegs
The Scratch Two kegs
Norfolk Hotel, Freo Two kegs

Moon Dog Wet Nurse Tonic Released on 7/09/12

It says something of the way the Australian beer industry is going that just days after learning Moon Dog was to release a beer called Wet Nurse Tonic, The Crafty Pint was at another brewery in another state when the brewer announced plans for a pale stout called Wet Nurse. Devious buggers… In the case of this one, it’s the Abbotsford brewers' take on a milk stout that – aside from the saucy label that channels British seaside postcards from the 60s via Mars Attacks and Jeff Koons' porno paintings of himself and ex-wife La Cicciolina – means the addition of honey as well as lactose, a touch of roastiness atop the richer, creamier, caramel malt flavours and a Belgian stout yeast thrown into the mix too. Allow it to warm before self-medicating with a couple of plump cupcakes.

Milk Stout 7.3% 36 IBU

Slowbeer
Purvis Cellars
Purvis Beer Richmond
Mane Liquor
Cellarbrations at Carlisle
Mayerling Cellars
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Woodlands Hotel
Grain & Grape
Carwyn Cellars
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Prince Wine & Spirits Essendon
Others tbc

James Squire Hop Thief IV Released on 1/09/12

The Hop Thief, or should we say Hop Thieves, are a series of beers released sporadically by James Squire whenever they feel like going on a hop splurge. Each one has featured a different blend of hops, often newly released, and this is no different. Based around the American Pale Ale style, the hops are a blend of the powerful Aussie variety Stella and Americans Citra and Falconer’s Flight, itself a blend of several punchy hop varieties. The latter two are used for some serious dry-hopping action to impart plenty of citrus and grapefruit aromas over what the brewers tell us is a “rich deep amber malt base”. Delicious with a big steak too, apparently.

American Pale Ale 5.0% 35 IBU

Portland Hotel
And at James Squire Brewhouses across the land (draught only)

Red Duck Gruiter Released on 1/09/12

Even by the brewery’s standards, Red Duck’s Canute the Gruit was a weird one. A hopless beer designed to be like the gruit beers of Medieval days, it featured homemade nettle goo and hawthorn berry juice as well as some deliberately scorched oats in the kettle. It was a beer we found beyond challenging when it was young but which developed into a really exciting smokey sour beer with age. The Gruiter is the follow up, designed to be how a beer might have been around Renaissance times. Less smokey and less confronting, it’s got some roastiness in there, but that plays second fiddle to the sourness. Fuller in body than the first one and with a sharper sourness, it’s a welcome addition to to slowly expanding canon of Aussie brewed sours.

Gruit Stout 6.8%

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

Red Duck Long Shot Released on 31/08/12

A public service announcement with this beer. This was a beer brewed in conjunction with a team of six people from Westgate Brewers (a home brew group from Melbourne) to a recipe by one of their members called Amber. It was a prize for winning the last VicBrews home brew competition. The whole brew day event was coordinated by award-winning home brewer John Kingston. Unfortunately, brewer Scott Wilson-Browne had a brain fade and put the wrong name on the label. So, when you pick one up and prepare to indulge yourself in its mocha-like treats, courtesy of Campos coffee and EquaGold organic Dutch cocoa, and read “John Preston” on the label, be aware that while John Preston is a very nice man and runs a very nice home brew shop called Grain and Grape, he had nothing to do with this beer. This beer was brewed by John Kingston, Amber and friends. And don’t you forget it.

Chocolate Coffee Porter 6.0%

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

Mountain Goat Before The Dawn IPA Released on 29/08/12

Given their previous two black IPAs – the Thorny Goat brewed with UK’s Thornbridge and the Gypsy & The Goat brewed with Mikkeller – are ensconced in the upper echelons of Ratebeer’s top rated Australian beers, it’s perhaps little surprise that Mountain Goat has decided to bring out another. Bigger than the Thorny and pepperberry free, it’s their farewell to winter. As for how dark it is, well, over to the brewers themselves: “There’s a black that’s blacker than its own shadow. As black as the dark side of the moon. So black even the white bits are black. Darker and more impenetrable than Keyser Soze’s heart. It’s as black as a midnight eclipse, the bottom of the Black Sea, or the inside of the Black Knight’s helmet. This is two shades lighter than that.” As for flavour, it’s hoppy, spicy, fruity with a touch of roast.

Black IPA 7.4%

Mountain Goat
The Terminus
Beer DeLuxe
Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn
The Alehouse Project
Baden Powell
640ml Rare Breed bottles to follow