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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

Seven Sheds Black Inca Released on 13/06/14

Having been somewhat shunned in the past, there is an ever greater focus these days on the delights to be found in Tasmania’s northwest. Quite right too as, not only is it a beautiful part of the world, but it is home to a richly diverse collection of small, independent producers. Among them is Seven Sheds, the Railton brewery run by former beer writer Willie Simpson and partner Catherine Stark, who have been prominent in bringing attention to the region. They’ve also taken opportunities to involve local producers in their beers too and have done so again with Black Inca. A sneaky keg was tapped at the Pint of Origin Tasmania pub in Good Beer Week before it was formerly launched at the Anvers chocolate factory in Latrobe last week by celebrity chef Ben Milbourne. The beer is made with rare Fortunato # 4 cacao beans from a remote mountainous are of Peru, which are only imported into Australia by Anvers, as well as organic quinoa and oats from Kindred, Tasmania.

According to Willie: “These remarkable cacao beans are the real ‘hero’ in Black Inca. We wanted to create a beer that was every bit as complex, delicate and mysterious as the cacao itself. Other breweries have made chocolate-infused beers but once I heard the fantastic story behind Fortunato # 4, I knew we had to give it a shot.” The quinoa adds a nutty character with organic oats providing a creamy texture. Anvers' founder Igor van Gerwen travelled to Peru for the annual harvest at the Fortunato cacao farm and says: “In my 30 years of searching for different varieties of single-origin chocolate, I have never tasted a chocolate this intense. The floral aromas and exotic fruit flavours make Fortunato # 4 a very complex, powerful chocolate which finishes with minimal bitterness.”

Oatmeal Cacao Dark Ale 5.3%

Seven Sheds

Bridge Road Brewers IPA Pack Released on 8/06/14

Bridge Road Brewers continue their ongoing mission to educate the world about all things hops with a new partnership that has been struck up with glassware manufacturer Spiegelau. The Beechworth brewery has just released a rather eye-catchingly packaged three-pack of its Bling IPA in which the space for a fourth beer is instead taken by one of Spiegelau’s specialist IPA glasses, first released last year after being developed in conjunction with American breweries Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head. Having recently picked up the trophy for Best Packaging at the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards, for its Beer School Hop Pack, this may well have a chance of nailing the award two years running, coming across like the “BIFF”, “POW”, “ZAP” bubbles that enlivened fight scenes in the Adam West Batman TV show of the 1960s – with a little educational information on the pack to boot.


Specialist bottleshops, Dan Murphy’s and BWS nationwide

Grifter Brewing Co Omen II Released on 6/06/14

The chaps at Grifter have provided plenty of information about their latest release (which is a reworking of a beer first released in 2013). This beefed up oatmeal stout is “silky”, they say. It is “all about rich malt character” too. It has a “complexity which comes from the use of six different varieties is layered to give notes of chocolate, coffee and general roasted goodness” they continue. On and on. And on. There’s “a healthy addition of oatmeal” that lends the beer “a full bodied experience along with a velvet like texture which works in harmony with a beer of this calibre.” All well and good, we say, but, you know, whatever. What we really want to know is does this beer share any properties with the 1970s horror films with which it shares a name? Has anyone had their head sliced clean off by a pane of glass while drinking it? Has anyone been impaled by a lightning rod after consuming two or three – impaled by a lightning rod that leaves their body at a different angle to that which it enters (why do I remember this 23 years after watching the film…?). Apparently not (yet), but it hasn’t passed without incident. When it was first tapped at the Cricketers Arms, the bar girl fell down the hatch and had to get stitches in her head. So, as one of the brewers warns: “If you see this beer… don’t buy it!”

American Oatmeal Stout 5.5%

The Cricketers Arms
Frankies Pizza
Union Hotel Newtown
Harts Pub
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Blind Bear
Forest Lodge
Dove & Olive
Gasoline Pony
Tippler’s Tap
The Scratch
The Alehouse Project

Red Duck Baby Bear / Forest Gnaume / Transmission Released on 5/06/14

During the recent Good Beer Week, Ballarat Brewery Red Duck invited visitors to spend the day at the brewery sampling its entire range. That entire range currently numbers more than 60 beers – the core range, current releases, vintage specials and yet-to-be-seen beers. Over the past few years, head brewer Scott Wilson-Browne has embarked upon all manner of unique and unusual experimental releases, many of which have prove the spark for a series of sequels. Back in 2010, he released Ugly Duckling, a mediaeval-inspired Braggot (a blend of mead and strong ale) and since then has produced several more beers of the style. The Baby Bear is the latest and gentlest, measuring just 6.8 percent ABV. According to Scott: “First we made a methgyln, or more specifically, a chamomile mead, which was oak barrel fermented and conditioned. Next we made an unboiled pale ale ‘small beer’ with added lemongrass. Finally the two were blended to make a wonderful, floral, delicious Braggot.”

Another ongoing series is the Gnaume, a beer originally brewed with Anders Kissmeyer from Denmark and inspired by Orval. There has since been a barrel-aged Wood Gnaume and now the Forest Gnaume. This 6.2 percent ale is a barrel-aged Lambic style brewed with “many different yeasts, including some weird nasty ones that would make a normal brewer run away in tears, perhaps hiding in a forest until it was safe to come out,” he says. Described originally as “feisty, ugly, funky” it spent 12 months in oak whence “like some sort of magic fairy tale, has emerged as Prince Charming.”

The final new release is Transmission, a barrel-aged imperial porter. It’s a 9.4 percent beer described simply as “Dark, smooth, oaky, oily, delicious.”

Various Various

The usual Red Duck stockists, such as:
Purvis Cellars
Press Cellars
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Olinda Cellars

Illawarra Brewery Love Bug Released on 2/06/14

Never let it be said that the guys at the Illawarra Brewing Company don’t love you. This Valentine’s Day gone, instead of spending the day buying romantic gifts for their partners, they were tinkering away at the brewery with beer, barrels and bacterial fermentation to produce the fittingly named Love Bug. It’s a Berliner Weiss that started life as 50/50 blend of barley and wheat malts, brewed with the Illawarra house yeast, before being transferred to Hungarian oak barrels and infected with Lactobacillus. It spend some time there brooding before, a few weeks prior to being released, raspberries were blended into the barrels to produce a beer that’s simultaneously tart, sweet and fruity. At just 6 IBUs the bitterness is practically nonexistent and at 4 per cent abv it’s eminently quaffable. NO

Berliner Weisse 4.0%

Illawarra Brewing Company
Royal Albert Hotel

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout 2014 Released on 29/05/14

An Aussie classic – the beer Mountain Goat considered launching with back in the 17th century before plumping for the Hightail instead – is back for its annual jaunt around the bars and into the appreciative gullets of Australia. Surefoot Stout is a former trophy-winner that’s barely changed since day one, because it didn’t have to: a balanced stout that’s perhaps slightly closer to the sweeter than roastier end of the scale and that is among the most quaffable of the dark beers that roll out of Aussie breweries every winter. It’s making its 2014 appearance in draught form at good venues across the land. The big question is: will they have time in their ever busier schedule to create its hairier elder brother, Bigfoot…?

Stout 4.9%

Mountain Goat
Some Velvet Morning
The Park Hotel
Young & Jackson
Wesley Anne
Sporting Club
Edinburgh Castle
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Public Inn, Castlemaine
Aireys Pub, Aireys Inlet
Cambrian Hotel, Bendigo
Bendigo Taphouse
More TBC…

Feral / CUB / 2 Brothers Land of Plenty Released on 22/05/14

It’s not too often you see brewing behemoths like CUB becoming involved in collaborations. OK, so its craft beer arm Matilda Bay has been brewing the Abbey Collabbey for Good Beer Week for the past four years, but this time around it’s the mothership getting involved. Last year’s Australian International Beer Awards saw the Champion Australian Brewery trophies split into Small, Medium and Large, which meant this year’s AIBA Collaborator would include brewers from all three. That saw brewers Andrew Ong from 2 Brothers and Jaideep Chandrasekharan from CUB head to the Swan Valley in WA to join the Feral team in creating the Land of Plenty, launched at last week’s AIBA Gala Dinner (at which CUB retained its Champion Large Australian Brewery title). With the big boys on board, they opted for a lager and went all Aussie with the ingredients. It’s a relatively high alcohol lager and unfiltered too, featuring Tassie-grown Galaxy and Enigma hops that add a range of tropical, peach and berry aromas to the beer’s full-bodied malt backbone. A tasty tribute to the country’s brewing industry, complete with rather attractive packaging too. Watch a video about the beer’s creation here.

Unfiltered Lager 6.0%

At select craft beer stockists nationwide
2 Brothers

The Monk Humorous Humulus Released on 21/05/14

Former Mountain Goat brewer, The Craig, returned to his home state of WA recently to take up his first head brewer role at The Monk in Freo. With a fine roster of brewers (most of whom are now at Colonial in Margaret River) having inhabited the brewhouse at The Monk before, he has much to live up to and now has his first new creation on the bar. The Humorous Humulus – not a Dr Seuss reference, apparently – is based on the Latin name for the hop flower, large amounts of which were used in this brew. Given the success of The Monk’s other hoppy beers, not least the ever present Chief IPA, this is no doubt a good thing. This time around, Craig turned the mash tun into a temporary hop back, allowing him to “infuse a heap of hop flavour without extracting too much bitterness”. He did so with Willamette hop flowers rather than pellets “to extract more flavour and aroma without the heavy bitterness that can be associated with hoppy beers”. The result, he says, is: “One hell of a hoppy beer!”

Extra Pale Ale 5.5% 30 IBU

The Monk

Hargreaves Hill Imperial IPA Released on 18/05/14

Last time we popped in to see the team at Hargreaves Hill, there was a distinct buzz in the air. Hops – and a lot of them – were about to be added to a new brew that was in progress at the brewery. That brew is now here, and is an Imperial IPA inspired by brewery founder Simon Walkenhorst’s first encounter with the iconic Pliny the Elder from Russian River. Based around the simplest of malt backbones to allow the hops to shine, it has been dosed up then dosed up then dosed up some more with US hop varieties Simcoe, Amarillo and Chinook. When we say dosed up, we mean heavy late kettle hopping, dry hopping post-fermentation and even more dry hopping after that for good measure. Although we’ve yet to sample it, we are told by a brewer Kai Damberg that the resultant beer exhibits “a deep rich amber hue” and that “pine needles, fresh mango and mandarin hop characters overlay the light toffee malt aroma. Strong and clean malt flavour underlies vibrant tropical fruit, candied orange and resinous piney hops.” He says it’s silky on the palate and has a smooth, lengthy bitterness, that sticks around “long after the glass is empty”. Look out for it at a few venues around Victoria during Good Beer Week, with it taking its bow at the close of the Puffing Billy Beer Train event.

Imperial IPA 8.6%

Oscar’s Alehouse, Belgrave
Hargreaves Hill
Great Britain Hotel as part of Pint of Origin VIC
Oscar’s Alehouse
The Terminus (also tapping Phoenix 2013 during GBW)
The Alehouse Project – after GBW
Deja Vu
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Village Melbourne
Public Brewery, Croydon

Eagle Bay Brewers Series: Black IPA Released on 18/05/14

Over the past two and a half years, Eagle Bay’s head brewer Nick has been experimenting with single batches that have led to a Brewer’s Series. This is made up of four limited release beers in draught and bottle, all seasonally inspired and selected from the crowd favourites from all of the brewery’s previous single batches. For the latest, its Autumn release (it is still just about Autumn!), they brought back their Black IPA. It was in kegs in April and has now been bottled too. The launch was celebrated in collaboration with Toastface Grillah (a Perth based toasted sandwich bar) at Mane Liquor, leading Crafty Pint WA to describe a “lovely balance of tropical fruit and citrus hops alongside toasty and slightly chocolate malts… Whether tap or bottle this is definitely a beer worth seeking out, the dry toasty tropical fruit finish is genuinely moreish.” on her girl plus beer blog. The beer is available until the end of June, at which point Nick will be teaming up again with local chocolate making duo Bahen & Co and brewing the Brewer’s Series Cacao Stout.

PS If you’re in Melbourne for Good Beer Week there is a rare chance to sample Eagle Bay beers at the Royston as part of Pint of Origin WA

Black IPA 5.5% 60 IBU

Takeaway at: Eagle Bay Brewery
Zinns Liquor, Dunsborough
Cape Cellars, Busselton
Mane Liquor
The Restore, Leederville
Cellarbrations at Carlisle
Como Liquor, Como
The Freo Doctor, Fremantle

BrewCult Get Down American Brown Released on 16/05/14

He may not have a ‘fro – in fact, there are a few people on the planet with less chance of growing a 'fro then BrewCult’s Hendo – but that hasn’t stopped him looking to the era of funk and disco for inspiration for many of his beers. The Get Down American Brown is the fourth in the brewing company’s ongoing Psychedelic Series. And, as with the three that have come before, it is presented as a “different interpretation of the hoppy beer category”. What does that mean in practice? Well, in this case, it’s a dip into darker territory, what with winter just around the corner, with a beer based around a hearty sweet caramel, chocolate and cocoa malt backbone and topped off with some pungent hoppy aromas. This time around, Hendo’s interpretation of “different” might not be as unusual as some in the past as he has opted for a combination of hops known as the “3C’s” – Centennial, Cascade and Chinook – that has found a home in many an American pale and IPA. Look out for floral and piney hop aromas as well as a distinct hop bitterness as well as, we’re told, more psychedelic beers to come.

American Brown Ale 5.8% 60 IBU

Cammeray Craft NSW
Hop Factory NSW
Bitter Phew NSW
Grain Store
Usual QLD outlets via Calibre Craft Beer Trading Co
Clever Little Tailor SA
The Highway Hotel SA
Gertrude Hotel
Woodlands Hotel
Beer Bud NSW
Bottle O Whickham NSW
Beer Cartel
Stirling Hotel SA
Low Buy Liquor VIC
Gin Palace VIC
Vue Grand
Olinda Cellars VIC
The Precinct WA
The Beach Club Collaroy NSW
New Brighton NSW
Harts Pub
The Station Bar NSW
Petersham Bowlo NSW
Preachers TAS
St John Craft Beer TAS
Plonk ACT
Camperdown Cellars NSW
Oak Barrel
Prince of Wales Hotel NSW
Leura Cellars NSW
Warners at the Bay
Steve’s Cool Booze NSW
The Garden Cellars NSW
Clock Hotel NSW
Edinburgh Cellars SA
Bleair Fine Wines SA
Cork Wine Cafe SA
Purvis Cellars
Purvis Beer Richmond
The Pour House WA
Big Brews Liquor WA
The Freo Doctor WA
Liquor Shed WA
Porters Liquor Balgowlah NSW
The Winston

Grifter Brewing Co & Baxter's Swill of the Gods Released on 16/05/14

Collaboration is very much the name of the game in the Sydney craft beer scene these days, it seems. There are the more typical brewer on brewer affairs – Darren from Doctor’s Orders has been hunkering down with Shane from Sixpoint this week to create something monstrously hoppy and high in alcohol – but also plenty that look outside the beer world. Young Henrys has mixed with the music, food, coffee and various other worlds and now the brewing company that shares their brewery has hooked up with one of the city’s top bars. The Grifter guys have put their heads together with Baxter – mainly the staff member they call “The Beer MONSTER Jordan himself” – and have come up with something to little different from the many hoppy beers they have been releasing recently. The result is Swill of the Gods, an approachable, “no fuss”, malty Scotch ale. According to the brewers: “For this beer we decided to ease off on the hops and focus more on malt complexity. Pouring a deep amber/red colour with a creamy tan head. This beer has layers of bready, biscuit, toffee and raisin notes complete with a full body and some residual sweetness. An easy drinking interpretation of a classic but uncommonly found style.” Designed as a perfect transition from warmer to colder months, it is heading out far and wide.

Scotch Ale 5.0%

Baxter Inn
Union Hotel Newtown
Petersham Bowls Club
Cricketers Arms
Old Fitzroy Hotel
Harts Pub
Lord Raglan
Midnight Special
Dove & Olive
Forest Lodge
The Little Guy
Lefty’s Music Hall
Tippler’s Tap
The Scratch
The Alehouse Project
The Terminus

Mornington Peninsula Brewery Red Ale Released on 15/05/14

You’d think with all their Good Beer Week events, not least a collaborative brew with the USA’s Stillwater, and GABS on the horizon – as well as the defence of their Best Stout Trophy at the Australian International Beer Awards – it would be time for early nights and slippers by the fire down at Mornington Peninsula Brewery. But it seems you just can’t keep those lovable rogues down. And thus it is that they are back with yet another limited release. It’s a Red Ale – not to be confused with their Little Irish Red Ale – and one that head brewer AG reckons “will prove to be pretty damn popular”. Admittedly, saying a Mornington Peninsula beer will prove to be pretty damn popular is like saying beer will be consumed in Melbourne nest week, but it does sound rather appealing. Fruitily dry-hopped with Cascade and based around chewy caramel malts from New Zealand maltster Gladfield, AG describes it as “deep burnished red in colour [with] grapefruit, raspberry and floral aromas [and a] smooth, quaffable, lightly sweet palate rounded out with caramel notes.” And that’s no lie.

You can still grab tickets for the Stillwater brew day here (although not if you’re reading this after May 20)

Red Ale 5.8%

Mornington Peninsula Brewery
The Local Taphouse St Kilda – on tap for Brewers & Chewers
The Alehouse Project – AFTER GBW
Cookie – AFTER GBW
Deja Vu
Raccoon Club
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
Oscar’s Ale House
Junction Beer Hall – AFTER GBW
Woodlands Hotel – AFTER GBW
Royal Hotel Clifton Hill
Spotted Mallard

Stone & Wood Stone Beer 2014 Released on 13/05/14

Hang around the beer world long enough and smile nicely for long enough and, chances are, at some point you may get the chance to become involved in a brew. Usually, this will take the form of adding some grain or hops, pushing the odd button or, most likely, being asked to shovel the spent grain out of the mash tun so the brewer doesn’t have to. With Stone & Wood’s Stone Beer, there’s a chance to take things a little further. Each year, the brewery invites friends, family and peers to join them at their Byron Bay home for the brew day, one at which head brewer Brad Rogers pulls out the volcanic rocks he picked up in Fiji and invites guests to help build a roaring wood fire in which to heat them so they can be craned (by humans) in a cage into the brew to aid caramelisation in a recreation of an old technique with origins in Germany. There’s also plenty of beer and food going around, but the beer and its brewing are the spectacular stars. Each year, the beer has evolved, with this year the darkest yet, a deeply dark brown with a blood orange tinge, that weighs in a little lower in alcohol than the 2013 vintage but higher in terms of dark cocoa and soft roast aromas and flavours. Smooth on the palate with earthy, spicy characteristics from the hops too, it’s another addition to the Stone Beer canon.

Watch the 2014 brew come together here.

Stone Beer 6.9%

Use the brewery’s Beer Finder to locate your nearest drop

Holgate Brewhouse Double Trouble (500ml) Released on 12/05/14

You don’t see a huge number of Belgian Dubbels been brewed around Australia. Thankfully, generally when you do they are rather tasty. There’s Little Brewing’s deeply complex Mad Abbot version, Hargreaves' occasional AD (new batch available at the cellar door right now) and a handful of one-offs, while Bright has long had its Fainters Dubbel, recently reworked by head brewer Jon Seltin who, in a conversation last week, declared a barrel-aged version of said beer that is due for a very limited release imminently to be the beer he is currently most excited about. One of the longest in the tooth is Holgate’s Double Trouble, another beer that’s – like most in their range – been given a wee tweak. The latest version, which features a new yeast variety and also comes in eye-catching livery and 500ml champagne bottles, is an absolute treat. It’s awash with enticing dried fruit and sweet toffee malt aromas and flavours and has a lovely full and soft mouthfeel to boot. Gently warming without being notably boozy, it’s a rich and layered ale that’s ideal as the mercury starts to tumble.

Belgian Style Dubbel 8.0%

On tap at Holgate
Nationwide at good beer stockists