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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Thursday 21 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

Little Creatures Shift Brewers Stash #1: American Brown Ale Released on 8/07/14

It looks like those who feared the crash of doom when Little Creatures became 100 percent owned by Lion / Kirin may have to wait a little longer. The brewery continues to do plenty of good things, whether adding an excellent IPA to its core range, creating an urban hop farm or supporting loads of craft beer and community events. And now it’s giving its shift brewers the chance to shine too. The Shift Brewers Stash will become a series of occasional releases (draught only) that will slot in alongside one annual Single Batch release and a couple of seasonals, with the first hitting taps at Creatures' three venues in Freo, Fitzroy and Geelong to coincide with St Arnold’s Day, with Arnie being the Patron Saint of Hop Pickers and Brewers. The idea is that the brewers get to offer up their own ideas and home brewed beers and the best get brewed on a commercial scale at the Freo HQ. This first one is an American Brown Ale that features a blend of chocolate and biscuit malts with Topaz hop cones that lend the beer “a slightly resinous tropical character”.

American Brown Ale

Little Creatures Dining Hall
Little Creatures
Little Creatures Geelong (from July 11)

Feral Brewpub Series Hopfen Fahrt (bottles & kegs) Released on 7/07/14

Hopfen Fahrt first saw the light of day as part of Feral’s Brewpub Series of limited releases in draught form. It’s a beer that uses a bunch of new wave German hops just arrived in small amounts Down Under. It’s unusual hop character made it “one of the most divisive beers we have produced,” according to the brewery – very much a love it or hate it beer for drinkers. So, being Feral, they decided they should brew loads more of it and unleash it again in bottle form across the land. It’s the same beer as last time around, one that plunders the “flamboyant and expressive aroma and flavour hops” now being attempted by the traditional hop growing regions of Germany that gave the world the varieties from which many of the hops we know and love today were developed. The growers are hoping to match the kind of hops coming out of the US, NZ and Oz, so the Feral brewers selected a bunch of high oil varieties (ie the most flavoursome and aromatic), namely Palaris, Mandarina Bavaria, Sapphire and Herkules. The result is an IPA “bursting with stone fruit, rockmelon, mandarin and grassy aromas” and a flavour dominated by spicy, resinous hops and packing a serious bitterness.

German IPA 6.5% 52 IBU

Bottles and kegs to WA venues from July 7
East Cost from July 14
Actual venues TBC

Bridge Road One Autumn Sunday Morning Somewhere Three Hours North of Melbourne / Fat Man Red Suit Released on 7/07/14

It’s just as well there’s no self-imposed, Twitter-like character limit at Crafty Towers. If there was, we’d pretty much have exhausted it with just the names of two new limited releases from Bridge Road. One, which left the brewery late June, was given the dubious honour by Bridge Road’s senior brewer Steve of “the worst beer name ever”. Said name is One Autumn Sunday Morning Somewhere Three Hours North of Melbourne and the beer is the collaboration with Leo from Birra del Borgo and Tobias from To-Øl brewed on the opening weekend of Good Beer Week. It’s a “black session IPA” and, says Bridge Road founder Ben Kraus: “Session IPA seems to be the flavour of the month … and there’s plenty of talk/argument about whether or not it is really a legitimate style. We thought it’d be a good idea to add fuel to the fire and make a black one.” The hop bill is comprised of odds and ends lying around the brewery that were plucked from by Tobias and Leo over breakfast.

Also out now and bearing a similarly dubious title is Fat Man Red Suit Big Sack, which was originally brewed for, you’ve guessed it, a Canadian beer importer’s advent calendar (What do you mean you didn’t guess?). There was some left over so it’s been packaged for the Aussie market. It’s an India Red Ale brewed with a selection of Aussie hops drawn from pretty much every sector of Hop Products Australia’s Hop Flavour Spectrum. As such, it’s alternately tropical, spicy, herbal and grassy and, despite its relatively large size (7.5 percent), it’s pretty light on the palate with boozy sweet caramel playing second fiddle to peachy hop flavours.

Black Session IPA / India Red Ale Various

The Park Hotel
The Wheaty
Grain Store
More to follow

Red Duck Forsaken & Igor Released on 1/07/14

You have to wonder how much longer it will be before Red Duck has exhausted every ingredient on the planet for its range of beers. Among the latest of its latest seriously limited releases is a Japanese Red Sake Ale. Called Forsaken, the 6.3% beer was Red Duck’s entry for this year’s Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular and is described as a “sessionable dark red ale”, one that features (deep breath): black rice, red rice, white rice, oats, malted barley, roasted wattle seeds, Nori seaweed and sake yeast. It’s joined on the Red Duck roster by a big, dark beast of a beer. Having released a whole bunch of porters in the past – chocolate ones, coffee ones, Belgian vanilla ones, barrel-aged ones and more – this one combines many of those elements and is also by far the biggest. Igor, The Humpbacked Porter, tips the scales at 10 percent is described by brewer, Scott Wilson-Browne, as a “big, dark, complex, lush, strong dark ale”. It’s one to which he added Muscovado sugar, Panela sugar, dark brown sugar, molasses, coffee and chocolate. It’s a single hop ale too, using Sticklebract and, according to Scott: “Everything about Igor is intense…”

Rice Ale & Imperial Porter Various

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

Green Beacon Barbary Coast American Brown Released on 1/07/14

In the mid 19th century a motley crew of Australians terrorised an area of California known then as the Barbary Coast. They were drawn to San Francisco in search of one thing: gold. In Barbary Coast Brown we’ve utilised El Dorado hops, a new gold from the west coast of the USA. Combined with the iconic Simcoe hop and backed by a malt bill that includes British pale, roast, chocolate and crystal malts Barbary Coast Brown at 5.9 percent ABV and 50 IBUs is one our most intense beers to date. The combination of pungent, piney hops and woody, toasty malt gives this beer a distinct gingerbread note. Sweet malt flavours dominate up front and are finished by a firm bitterness that lingers briefly before slowly fading from the drinkers palate. Barbary Coast started as a special release but due to the popularity of the beer joined the permanent line up here at Green Beacon as our Winter seasonal in 2014. Brewer’s notes

American Brown Ale 5.9% 50 IBU

Cheeky Monkey Southern Wailer Rogered Uncle Rye Porter Released on 27/06/14

When you see Southern Wailer attached to the name of a Cheeky Monkey beer that means the brewers have been at play. It’s the tag given to their limited release beers, which in the past have included the likes of a black IPA, double IPA and tripel. With the temperatures dropping and rain falling in Margaret River, they decided to try to warm their guests up from the inside this time around. The Rogered Uncle is a rye porter brewed “as the name suggests with a slightly ridiculous amount of rye malt to give it spice and pizzazz.” There’s plenty of hop action too, with American Cascade and Centennial added late in the day to give the beer “a piney resinous character”. According to the brewer (and Crafty doppelgänger) Alex: “It goes well with rainy days and an open fire.” And guess which Margaret River brewery just happens to be home to a log fire…

Rye Porter 5.5%

Cheeky Monkey

Burleigh Brewing Dream Date Released on 25/06/14

With a heritage that includes the Black Giraffe Coffee Lager, Figjam IPA and Hassle Hop, if there’s one thing that can be said for Burleigh’s Bit on the Side range it’s that they’re worth checking out. Latest to leave the Gold Coast in longneck form and march across the land is Dream Date, a beer that, like Fanny Gertude’s Anzac Bickie Beer (remember her?), has a rather sweeter inspiration than the others. Specifically: dates. And even more specifically: “Hundreds of kilos of them” added to the brew. The brewers' minds were sparked by a chance encounter with a “seriously smooth, sticky date liqueur” that got them wondering how to recreate it in beer form. The result is Dream Date, a “dark date ale”. And it’s quite a surprising affair. For one, it’s not as dark as we’d expected it might be, nor as sticky (they are masters of balance, after all). Along with the dates, there’s a hefty addition of Burleigh’s beloved aromatic hops so, when poured chilled, it’s those hop aromas that initially arrest your attention. As it warms, raisin like aromas join the party, while the rich, fruity caramelised flavours reminiscent of British old / strong ales gently sidle into the room and begin to wiggle their booty too before the 5.7 percent ale wraps up with a firm, drying bitterness.

Dark Date Ale 5.7% 50 IBU

Find it here

Mornington Peninsula / Stillwater Peppers Lonely Farmhouse Ale Released on 24/06/14

He came, he saw, he saison-ed. During his visit to Melbourne for Good Beer Week, Brian Strumke from Stillwater Artisanal completed three collaborations – all of them variations on his favourite style of beer. The first of them to hit venues is the one he created at Mornington Peninsula on a brew day that was also an event at which guests travelled to the brewery for the day. The guests were allowed to choose the name and, what with the saison featuring native Australian pepperberry, they chose Peppers Lonely Farmhouse Ale. The resulting beer clocks in at 5.6 percent ABV and had its pepperberries added in both the mash and fermenter. Completely the locally focused picture, only Australian grown hops were used too. According to Mornington’s head brewer AG: “The beer presents with a rich golden hue and abounds with ginger and fruity esters on the nose leading into a palate of fruit and spice. Pepper notes late in the palate provide a suitably dryish finish.”

Pepperberry Saison 5.6%

The Alehouse Project
Spotted Mallard
Deja Vu
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Brother Burger & The Marvellous Brew
Village Melbourne
Belgian Beer Cafe Melbourne

Feral Karma Chameleon Released on 20/06/14

The Crafty Pint’s younger brother was born while Karma Chameleon was number one in the British charts and here at Crafty Towers we tend to enjoy hoppy dark ales. And now Feral has released a hoppy dark ale – a massive one at that – called Karma Chameleon. Spooky! What can it mean? That our dreams will be red, gold and green? That we’ll develop a smack habit, move to New York, become a Hari Krishna then undergo a transformation into a moderately talented but popular-on-the-house-circuit DJ? Or that we’ll get to enjoy a bigger version of one of the first and best black IPAs / India black ales to come out of Oz? Either way, it’s a future full of exciting possibilities, as this “Karma Citra turned up to 11” lands on taps around the country, mixing “a solid malt backbone of chocolate, coffee and liquorice from a small addition of rye” with plenty of bitterness and dry hopped with “a silly amount of Citra hops” for a tropical fruit and citrus aroma. According to Feral: “Karma Chameleon has nothing to do with Boy George, nor will it give you any positive Karma. In all actuality you may just end up dancing like Rick Astley.” Which we do anyway so nothing to fear here!

Imperial India Black Ale 10.0% 84IBU

On keg going to each of:
Sail & Anchor
Old Faithful – WA
The Pour House – WA
The Alehouse Project
The Terminus
Grain Store
The Local Taphouse Darlo

Hargreaves Hill Barrique Barrel-Aged Stout Released on 18/06/14

Hargreaves Hill’s Stout (or Foreign Export Stout) is already one of the best of its kind in the land. And now it’s been given a tweak that makes full use of the other thing the Yarra Valley is known for: you know, wine. A while back, the brewers decided to fill some French oak barrels formerly used for Shiraz by various local wineries with said stout and now they’ve decided it’s ready and has been switched to kegs and sent on its merry way from the brewery. According to head brewer Kai Dambergs, this extended period of secondary fermentation and maturation and “several months of contemplation” yielded a “blackened, oaky beer of intensified breadth and depth, with the normal chocolate and coffee notes taking a backseat to a deepened acidity, rich sweet liquorice and dark berry malt characters upfront, yielding to a dry, textured finish that continues to dance across the palate long past the final encore.” A stout that leads to dancing well past the encore? Sounds like last year’s Crafty Pint Imperial Stout Blind Tasting Panel…

Barrel-Aged Stout 6.8%

Hargreaves Hill
Belgian Beer Cafe Melbourne
Brother Burger & The Marvellous Brew
Deja Vu
East Of Everything
Hotel Lincoln
The Mallow Hotel
The Public Brewery, Croydon
Royal George Hotel, Kyneton
The Spotted Mallard
Valley Cellar Door

McLaren Vale EXP 5: Faux Nero Released on 17/06/14

The cross-pollination / melding / bastardisation / whatever-you-like-to-call-it of beer styles shows little sign of abating. And if anything is likely to encourage brewers to indulge in a spot of jiggery-pokery in the brewery, it’s the annual Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular in Melbourne with its requirement for more than 100 never-before-released beers. And thus it is that this year’s GABS led McLaren Vale to conjure up a “very limited edition” white coffee stout. It’s the sixth beer in its VALE/EXP line and a handful of kegs have made it out across Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne since the festival drew to a close. It’s described as a combination of “sweet malts, coffee notes and creamy mouthfeel” that “offer hints of mocha milkshake”. Head brewer Jeff Wright is a self-confessed coffee connoisseur who found inspiration while drinking a coffee martini.

“Firstly, I wanted to trick people’s tastebuds with a beer that has the flavours of a stout but is white in colour,” he says. “We used wheat and ale malts in the mash and added freshly roasted Ethiopian Nikesse coffee beans from popular Adelaide roaster Bar 9. Then we used nitrogen during keg filling gives the palette a smooth, round finish."

Coffee Stout

Union Hotel Newtown
The Australian Hotel
Kirribilli Hotel
Dove & Olive
Clock Hotel Surry Hills
Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel
Young & Jackson
Robert Burns Hotel
Brunswick Mess Hall
Jack Greene
The Winston
The Franklin Hotel
Jack Ruby
The Wellington Hotel
The Archer
Hotel Wright Street
Kings Head Hotel
Middle Pub (The Willunga Hotel)
Publishers Hotel
The Hotel Metro
The Scenic Hotel
Royal Oak North Adelaide
Bar 9 – Specialist Coffee Boutique

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