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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Thursday 17 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

Barossa Valley Brewing The Barossa Threesome Released on 26/02/14

The brewers at Barossa Valley Brewing have brought in the expertise of their local winemakers before. Yet they have never got their great-loving neighbours involved to quite the same extent as with their latest beer, The Barossa Threesome. Pitched as “a fusion of the best of the Barossa”, the beer takes a hefeweizen base then adds Semillon and Riesling wines. The result, we’re told, is a beer with “a beautiful hefe nose of banana” in which “the wines' acidity changes the taste to more of a krystalweizen”. It has been named The Barossa Threesome as it is a result of the joint efforts of one brewery and two wineries – David Franz Wines & Maverick Wines – and results in “a pleasantly light, easy-drinking beer which still retains the best qualities of a Weizen but has the thirst quenching properties of an everyday lager.”

Krystalweizen with wine 4.5%

Barossa Valley Brewing

Grifter Brewing Acid Drop Released on 24/02/14

What do dynamite, Post-Its and penicillin have in common with this beer from the Grifter Brewing Company? The answer is they all came about by accident. When the boys were brewing up a recipe for a Steam Ale, they experienced a bit of misfortune in the form of a dead burner, meaning they were stuck with 1400 litres of wort they were unable to boil. Because they hadn’t yet mashed out the spent grain, they kept their wits about them and did what anyone should in that situation: call for The Doctor. The doctor in demand was Sydney’s resident Berliner Weisse Meister, Darren Robinson from Doctor’s Orders Brewing, who was able to give a bit of guidance in the methods behind brewing a no-boil Berliner Weisse. This essentially resulted in the wort getting transferred again and being left overnight to do what it does. Having determined to make the best of the situation, they promptly named the beer Sour Puss and prepared it for release only to realise they’d been scuppered again, this time by fellow Sydney brewer Wayward who had – merely a day earlier – released a Berliner Weisse called… Sour Puss. So, renamed again to Acid Drop, we end up with this cloudy creature which has a light and pleasant tartness without ever seeming too dry. Regardless of how it was made or what it’s called, you should find a drop of this acid to be spot on for a late summer’s day. NO

Berliner-Weisse 4.2%

Dove & Olive
Young Henrys

Cavalier Brewing IPA Released on 20/02/14

Much as we’d love to, we don’t always get to sample every single beer released in Australia before telling you about it. However, we do always try and get as much information about said beer out of the brewers before posting here. And sometimes, it would seem, we are more successful at this than at others. Anyone who has met Heath from Melbourne’s Cavalier will know he likes to chat and has a way with words. Thus, we expected a little more than: “A beautifully rounded beer with a big hop flavour and aroma.” when informed about their latest one-off, this IPA. So, ever in service to you, our dear readers, we pushed for more information. “Yes it’s a one off, we brewed it because we are continuously rolling out limited release beers and cos we just wanted to make an IPA,” was the reply… Ah well, can’t have it all all of the time. Actually, we did get a little more information later, namely that it is brewed with four American hop varieties – Amarillo, Simcoe, Mosaic, Centennial – and that it’s “deep amber with a big hop flavour and aroma. A generous malt backbone with a warming alcohol presence and long lingering bitterness gives this beer great balance and complexity.” They’ve also sent kegs out widely across Australia, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find out and wax lyrical about it for yourself.

IPA 6.5% 50 IBU

VICTORIA
Atticus Finch
The Alehouse Project
Blackhearts & Sparrows (growler)
The Catfish
Fox Hotel
Gertrude Hotel
Junction Beer Hall
Odyssey Tavern
Mrs Parma’s
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
Prince Wine And Spirits (growler)
Royston Slowbeer
The Terminus
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Mallow Hotel
Tramway Hotel
Woodlands Hotel

NSW
Sydney Wine Merchants
Steves Cool Booze (growler)
Porters Liquor Balgowlah (growler)
The Pourhouse – Maitland
Flatrock Brew Café
Royal Albert Hotel
Welcome Hotel
Warners at the Bay
Trinity Bar
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Forest Lodge
Little Guy
Union Hotel Newtown
The Hive Bar
Quarrymans Hotel
Hop Factory
Prince of Wales
Grain Store
Old Growler
Petersham Bowling Club

Queensland
Archive Beer Boutique
Bitter Suite
The Scratch
The Burrow

Tasmania
New Sydney Hotel

SA
The Wheaty

Mad Brewers Garden de Paradisi Released on 19/02/14

They like to mess around a little at the Malt Shovel Brewery when it comes to conjuring up beers for their Mad Brewers series of occasional releases. In the past, they’ve thrown native plants into a smoked lager, licorice at a stout and now their latest is a relatively high ABV Belgian style witbier that we are told features a rare West African native spice traditionally referred to as “Grana Paradisi” that was once used by Ghanaian which doctors and occasionally in Caribbean voodoo rituals. It has been conceived by two of the younger brewers at the Camperdown facility, Dan Feist and Josh Staines, and is the sixth limited release under the Mad Brewers label. As well as the unusual spice, they threw lime and mandarin peel into the brew along with a blend of Mosaic, Topaz and Summer hops. The result is a cloudy, light yellow beer with a steepling, fluffy white head that gives off some soft spice aromas with a touch of the tropics and more than a hint of lemonade. As for the taste, anyone who grew up in the UK in the late 20th-century may remember Um Bongo, a kids fruit juice with the memorable advertising jingle: “Um Bongo, Um Bongo, they drink it in the Congo.” Well, said advertising jingle came flooding back with the first mouthful of this beer, with the fruity jungle juice moving from sweetness to a drying tang as it goes down.

Spiced Witbier 6.2%

Available nationwide

Six String Brewing Bobby Brown Released on 18/02/14

The name ‘Bobby Brown’ means different things to different people. If your formative years included the late 1970s, it might conjure up memories of Frank Zappa’s confused sexual deviant. A decade later, the infamy of the name passed to another Bobby Brown whose prerogative was apparently excessive use of drugs and drop crotch pants. With those sorts of associations, you might expect a beer called Bobby Brown to be similarly twisted. But what’s in a name, right? The Bobby Brown Ale from Six String Brewing is a far more wholesome take on the American dream. It has the richness of roasted barley and chocolate malts which it flaunts like 80s Brown in his pomp, while a late addition of US hops gives it a fruity character akin to Zappa’s character. Six String’s Brown achieves what the others couldn’t by managing to curtail the excess and leave you with something that not only delivers style, but balance. NO

American Brown Ale 5.1%

Six String Brewing
Union Hotel Newtown
Spooning Goats
Quarrymans Hotel
Forest Lodge Hotel

Stone & Wood Garden Ale (2014) Released on 17/02/14

The masters of the session beer are back with their second Garden Ale. This year’s release is a tweak on the mid-strength they first debuted in 2013. Out go the juniper berries and Summer hop variety, with Australia’s Ella hop (the humulus lupulus formerly known as Stella) sticking around for a second bash. In many ways, it is similar in conception to their all conquering Pacific Ale – take an ultra-sessionable English style ale as a starting point and pretty it up with a delicious local hop variety. At just 3.8 percent ABV, It is exactly the same weight as The Crafty Pint’s go to pint in the years before moving to Australia (Castle Rock’s Harvest Pale, for anyone who’s interested) and just as a delightful and quaffable. There is a more prominent malt character than its stablemate, Pacific, with citrusy and floral hops going to work on the nose.

Summer Ale 3.8%

Available nationwide

Matilda Bay 1947 & Heat Wave Released on 17/02/14

They’ve got a couple of new limited releases pouring at the Matilda Bay brewery bar in Port Melbourne and one of them is a special commemorative beer. Not commemorating the 30th anniversary of the brewery or anything, but the 66th birthday of one of the stalwarts of the Aussie craft beer industry. Brewer and all round top bloke Neil Whittorn was born in 1947, thus 1947 is their tribute to him (hence it’s 6.6% too, with 66% seeming a stretch too far). It’s a strong Golden Ale with a sweet, spicy and faintly tropical aroma, some sweet malts upfront and then a herbal dryness and lingering finish that, late on, reminds us a little of a Chardonnay. Pouring alongside it until the kegs run dry is Heat Wave, an experimental, developmental beer that is being loosely termed as a “Summer Ale” on the grounds that it is an ale and it is summer. Brewed with an American ale yeast, plus wheat and oats to give it some extra body, it has some distinct fruity esters and flavours as well as a nice, creamy sweet malt mouthfeel and some lingering lemony citrus flavours too. One day, one or both may venture outside the brewery bar, but for now that’s the only place you will find them.

Strong Golden Ale / Summer Ale 6.6% / 4.7%

Matilda Bay

Bootleg Brewery Coconut Hefeweizen Released on 13/02/14

As they start to gear up for the third South West Craft Beer Festival, the brewers at Bootleg have been having some fun in the brewery. Never ones to shy away from getting playful when it comes to their seasonal releases, which might feature fruit or spends time the note, this time around the inspiration seems to have come from Germany via the Caribbean. It’s a Coconut Hefeweizen that does exactly what you would expect from the title. The beer started out as a traditional German style wheat beer, brewed with rolled oats, malted wheat and pale barley, before being infused with delicious toasted coconut. On tap at the brewery now and, according to a head brewer Michael Brookes, “It’s a ripper!”

Coconut Hefeweizen

Bootleg Brewery

Bridge Road / Nøgne Ø Aurora Borealis II Released on 12/02/14

Given the extraordinary lengths that Bridge Road and their Norwegian brewing buddies went to to create the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis beers – involving brews on either side of the planet, unrefrigerated shipping of said brews from one side of the world to the other in barrels via ship – they will presumably be rather chuffed with their reception. Aurora Australis is currently the highest rated Australian beer ever on Ratebeer and Aurora Borealis scored a top 10 finish in the recent Hottest 100 poll; pretty good for a limited release, 14% plus beer. Now they have repeated the operation for two more beers, which will apparently be the final two in this rather unique experimental series. The Aurora Borealis II barrels arrived from Norway in Beechworth just before Christmas and have now been packaged ready to be sampled around Australia. The Aurora Australis II will be doing the same thing in Europe. The base beer is a Belgian style Tripel and any booze hound would presumably be able to tell what sort of barrels the Borealis travelled south inside. There is an unmistakable heady whiff of cognac that welcomes drinkers before the more familiar characteristics of the Belgian ale come through. In fact, the soft, sweet, pillowy Tripel exists like the filling in a cognac sandwich, with the spirit returning at the end complete with a boozy, back palate tickle. There are limited numbers of this never-to-be-repeated beer, so grab one quick.

Barrel-Aged Tripel 9.1%

Bridge Road
And at good craft beer-supporting bottleshops.

Hargreaves Hill New Season IPA Released on 9/02/14

The brewers at Hargreaves Hill have been enjoying themselves with hops, particularly new varieties (or varieties new to them), in recent years. There’s been the Topaz & Amarillo IPA (A.K.A. Melanie), Admiral Nelson IPA, C4 IPA and the recent Eldorado IPA list a few. With the most recent crop of US hops recently arrived in Australia, their back with another. This time they are showcasing varieties that play an important role in some of their core beers, Pale Ale and Extra Special Bitter. They have chosen Citra, Amarillo and Simcoe, combined them with a simple grain bill – UK Golden Promise with a small percentage of Chocolate Malt – and used them both at the various stages within the brewing process and then all three in “generous quantities” for dry hopping. According to head brewer Simon Walkenhorst: “The result is a beer which exhibits fresh and vibrant hop character, with a sweetly tart hop flavour from the Citra and Simcoe. The perceived bitterness is not overpowering, but builds pleasantly through the drinking of a pint. The palate character of the hops is tropical and citrusy, as you would expect, but very vibrant owing to the outstanding harvest, and also the freshness of the hops.”

IPA 6.2%

Hargreaves Hill
Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn
Blackhearts & Sparrows (growler fills)
Great Northern
Slowbeer
TRU BRU
The Alehouse Project
Cookie
Deja Vu
East Of Everything
Junction Beer Hall
The Terminus
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Palace Hotel
The Public Brewery (Croydon)
The Spotted Mallard
Young & Jackson

Grifter Cold War Released on 7/02/14

There’s a war going on in the beer world. It’s one of attrition between two fundamentally different attitudes. At the extreme of the Old World thinking is the immovable pillar of the Reinheitsgebot – the German purity law decreeing thou shalt only brew using water, barley and hops. At the opposite extreme is the ‘anything goes’ policy of the New World, where the blending of styles and use of new ingredients is not only welcomed but encouraged. And somewhere amidst all of this is an invisible line where the tradition inevitably meets the innovation. Playing in and around this line is where you’ll find the Grifter Brewing Company and the inspiration for their latest beer: Cold War. It takes the German brewing attitude to a classic, yeast and wheat malt driven Hefeweizen and blends it with a healthy dose of New Zealand hops – Waimea, Kohatu, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin – to create a hybrid style, the Hopfenweizen. With some of the clover aroma and crispness you’d want from a Hefe and a citrus hop punch, Cold War is a beer that borrows from the best of both worlds. Just goes to show that when you put all your differences into beer, we can all get along just fine. NO

Hopfenweizen 5.3%

Harts Pub
Union Hotel Newtown
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Dove & Olive (For Craft Beer Rising)
Yulli's
Petersham Bowling Club
The Scratch
Tippler’s Tap

Red Duck Supa Nova / Saison / Saison Bee Released on 7/02/14

Ballarat’s Red Duck is showing no signs of slowing down in 2014. Already, a number of limited release seasonals have hit shelves, with more coming, including sours, barrel-aged beers and the like. The most recent three to appear are the Supa Nova Australian IPA, Saison and Saison Bee. The Supa Nova features just the one hop, the ubiquitous Galaxy, and despite tipping the scales at 7.5% ABV isn’t particularly fierce, instead allowing the familiar citrus and tropical hop aromas obtained from the use of nothing but hop flowers, to shine. The straight Saison is light and refreshing, as you would expect from the style, with a sharp, zesty carbonation, some spiciness and citrus on the nose with some orange citrus flavours that linger afterwards too. It’s not as dry or tart as some Saisons; in fact, not even as dry as its stablemate, the Saison Bee. This honey saison is lower in alcohol, yet has a fuller body and some distinct honey aromas too. All in all, a rather sane trilogy from Red Duck; who knows what lurks around the next corner…

IPA & Saisons 7.5% / 6.2% / 5.2%

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

Mountain Goat India Red Ale Released on 31/01/14

Time for the first Rare Breed of 2014… Fresh from seeing six beers hit the Hottest 100, with their first can, Summer Ale, hitting the top 10, Mountain Goat has brought back a beer first trialled in kegs last year. This time around, they’ve given the India Red Ale a boost and a tweak and popped it into suitably bright red Rare Breed bottles too. The ABV has been nudged up to 6.6 per cent and they’ve done something of a tour of the world for the ingredients, with three different US hops (Athanum, Cascade and Amarillo) joining homebody Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin from across the Tasman. NZ has also been plundered for the malt bill too, with a blend of five different types giving it both its red hue and full-bodied mouthfeel on top of which the spicy and citrusy hops do their thing.

India Red Ale 6.6% 60 IBU

Kegs:
Mountain Goat
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
Catfish
The Terminus
The Alehouse Project
Great Northern
Rockwell & Sons
Royston
Odyssey Tavern
The Mallow Hotel
The Park Hotel
Atticus Finch
Village Melbourne
More to follow
Bottles available widely

Mountain Goat India Red Ale Released on 31/01/14

Time for the first Rare Breed of 2014… Fresh from seeing six beers hit the Hottest 100, with their first can, Summer Ale, hitting the top 10, Mountain Goat has brought back a beer first trialled in kegs last year. This time around, they’ve given the India Red Ale a boost and a tweak and popped it into suitably bright red Rare Breed bottles too. The ABV has been nudged up to 6.6 per cent and they’ve done something of a tour of the world for the ingredients, with three different US hops (Athanum, Cascade and Amarillo) joining homebody Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin from across the Tasman. NZ has also been plundered for the malt bill too, with a blend of five different types giving it both its red hue and full-bodied mouthfeel on top of which the spicy and citrusy hops do their thing.

India Red Ale 6.6% 60 IBU

Kegs:
Mountain Goat
The Fitzroy Pinnacle
Catfish
The Terminus
The Alehouse Project
Great Northern
Rockwell & Sons
Royston
Odyssey Tavern
The Mallow Hotel
The Park Hotel
Atticus Finch
Village Melbourne
Goldmines Hotel
Great Northern
Bottles available widely

Seven Sheds Platypus 200 Released on 22/01/14

Tasmania’s northwest doesn’t tend to be lavished with as much attention by tourist bods as some of its other regions. But on a trip there for a travel feature a couple of years ago, in the company of brewer and beer writer Willie Simpson, we were introduced to all manner of colourful, quirky and fascinating local producers, often hailing from other parts of the world and settling in NW Tassie after years travelling the globe. For his 200th batch of Seven Sheds beer, Willie decided to bring a few of them in for a collaboration, with the result the exotic Platypus 200. And even for someone who’s recreated the journey of the original IPAs and the first beers to come to Australia from the UK, courtesy of the Spirit of Tasmania, this is a rather unique beer.

Combining the fruits of the labours of a Belgian, a German, a Dutchman and a Kiwi it’s a rich, brown ale enhanced by cocoa from Anvers Confectionery (founded by Belgium-born Igor van Gerwen), ginseng from (German-born) Ziggy Pyka’s 41° South salmon and ginseng farm, and quinoa from Kindred Organics (owned by Dutch couple Lauran and Henriette Damen) – all members of the newly-formed Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail. We’re told each adds a subtle twist to the toasty base ale. Just 500 individually-numbered 750ml bottles have been produced, which are only available from the cellar door in Railton from January 22.

Spiced Brown Ale

Just 500 bottles available from Seven Sheds