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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Wednesday 17 September 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

Temple / Weihenstephan Der Handschlag Released on 11/07/14

During May’s Good Beer Week in Melbourne, Frank Piefer, head brewers of the world’s oldest established brewery, Weihennstephan in Germany, visited Temple to create their second collaboration beer. The brew day, to which members of the public were invited, ended up being a mammoth session with brewers there late in the night thanks to opting for the sort of heavy duty grain bill that brewhouses don’t take to fondly. In the mix was heaps of wheat, some rye malt and a touch of smoked malt too, with the resultant beer, Der Handschlag (The Handshake), a deep amber, full-bodied drop. There’s a hint of smoke and a touch of spiciness, while there’s no mistaking the distinct banana and clove characteristics of the Weihenstephan yeast. The brewers used Galaxy and Southern Cross to add a touch of the tropical to a beer crying out to be paired with some hearty pork dishes.

Smoked Amber Wheat Beer 6.1% 19 IBU


3 Ravens Black Mass Released on 10/07/14

On the last weekend of Good Beer Week 2014, 3 Ravens opened its brewery doors and invited 200 guests in to sample barrel-aged beers of their and their peers' creation. One of the beers it debuted that day was Black Mass, which has since remained under wraps while collecting a gold medal at the Australian International Beer Awards. Only a handful of kegs were ever produced; little surprise, perhaps, when you understand the lengths that went to in order to fill them. The base beer – essentially a porter featuring some peated distilling malt – was brewed in February then transferred to a Starward whisky cask. While it did its merry thing in there, brewer Adrian McNulty steeped some vanilla pods and chipotle chillis in vodka, ready to be added to the beer once it left the barrel. The result is a fiercely complex dark beast – black with a ruby (blood?) tinge – that’s simultaneously smoky and oaky, with vanilla and whisky aromas and a distinctly throat-tingling chilli heat completing the picture.

Barrel-aged chipotle vanilla porter

Gold Medal AIBA 2014

The Terminus
Then one more keg to appear somewhere, some day…

Little Brewing Co Breaking The Cardinal Rule Released on 9/07/14

Having broken the shackles and let his inner beast free with Little Brewing’s last new release, the Death Between The Tanks Double IPA, head brewer Warwick Little has been at it again. Breaking The Cardinal Rule was the brewery’s entry for this year’s GABS festival and has now been released in packaged form, complete with comical labels mirroring those of the Double IPA. Said labels feature a hooded monk pulling a lever on a “Hop-O-Meter” all the way to “Full Tilt”, while it also informs us that the beer is, at least in part, a Belgian Tripel (not triple IPA as some have apparently misconstrued it). Given the brewery produces possibly the best homegrown Tripel (under its Mad Abbot range) you might think he’d simply combined that beer with the hop profile of the Double IPA. But that would be to forget that Waz is one of the country’s more cerebral brewers. So here you’ll find a mere 80 IBU worth of hop bitterness (what do you mean, “Merely?”) and hops carefully selected to “meld harmoniously” with the typical malt sweetness and yeast characters of a tripel. The result is a beer of the ilk of Feral’s Raging Flem, albeit not as chewy, one that pours the sort of cloudy orange-yellow that could be mistaken for Breakfast Juice (note: do not mistake for Breakfast Juice unless you’re up for a mid-morning snooze) and in which grapefruit aromas hit first but don’t overpower the spicy, clove like yeast phenolics. Flavour wise, the combo of malt / candi sugar sweetness and a mountain of US hops lend it a kind of stewed apricot nature with some yeast-derived spiciness and booze sweetness too. Certainly, there’s enough malt to prevent “Full Tilt” becoming “Palate Bashing” and it went down a treat with last night’s Thai green curry.

Hoppy Belgian Tripel 9.5% 80 IBU

Nail Brewing Imperial Porter: Clayden Brew Released on 9/07/14

With yet another major trophy clogging up the mantelpiece at the Stallwood residence, this time for the Hughe Dunn Imperial Brown Ale (which is set for an imminent re-release), there will be plenty on the lookout for anything bearing the Nail logo now that the beers are available more widely. Out and about now is an Imperial Porter, the third Brew Log release. Continuing the tradition of dedicating each Brew Log beer to someone important in brewer John Stallwood’s life, this one is for his son Clayden, who arrived in the world at a time when he’d just launched his new brewery and was working crazy hours. When he’s old enough to sample it (technically in another 16 years), Clayden will thank his dad as it’s a cracker: a voluminous, oily, opaque, off black beast blended from two brews created late last year. It’s awash with boozy chocolate and vanilla aromas that make way for flavours of chocolate fudge, hazelnut, molasses and a touch of umami. It’s as rich and sweet as a dessert, with just enough carbonation to keep it sliding over the tongue and into your grateful gullet but not so much that it doesn’t leave a wee coating behind to extend your gluttonous pleasure.

Imperial Porter 8.5%

At good craft beer outlets
(NB: At time of posting, the handful of kegs may have gone)

Stone & Wood Cloud Catcher Released on 8/07/14

To mark the opening of their second brewery in the Northern Rivers region of NSW (and presumably also marking the sense of relief that comes with being able to supply Pacific Ale to the many who’ve been craving it), Stone & Wood created a new beer. Taking its name from the Aboriginal name for Mt Warning, which stands over the new site in Murwillumbah, it’s as much a celebration of what the brewery stands for too. In other words, it’s bright and balanced and comes chockfull of Aussie hops. It wouldn’t have been right if they’d marked the occasion without using the Galaxy hop that their Pacific Ale has done more than anything else to popularise, and its distinct passionfruit aromas are prominent. To that they’ve added heaps of newer variety Ella (formerly Stella), a hop that has its creators equally excited and, if anything, offers more depth than its predecessor. It adds apricot to the tropical fruit salad mix while, at 5.5 percent, the beer is a full-bodied affair too. You could look at it as Pacific Ale on steroids, but there’s a bit more going on than that. Either way, word is it may only be a single batch release so if you’d like to raise a glass in tribute to Stone & Wood’s success, grab a bottle soon.

Australian Ale 5.5%

Find Cloud Catcher here

Young Henrys / Yeastie Boys My Coffee Is Cactus Released on 8/07/14

Like Theseus with his ball of thread in the Minotaur’s Lair, Banksy, a prolific junk mail deliverer or a rabbit with an insatiable appetite and particularly overactive digestive system, Stu from the Yeastie Boys rarely goes anywhere without leaving evidence of his visit. A collaborator (or “spooner” as he prefers) par excellence, his latest Aussie deposit took place in the loving arms of the Young Henrys brew team. There, he hooked up with long time friend and new head brewer Sam Füss and Young Henrys founder Richard Adamson to create a beer that was once to have been called the Turgid Miasma of Existence but has since been renamed My Coffee Is Cactus. It’s a Cascara Agave Stout clocking in around 8.5 percent, with Cascara being the skins from coffee and something that Stu had always wanted to use in a brew. Said skins were sourced from Toby’s Estate, who plundered their own plantation in Panama, then used in a beer whose original name was inspired by Richard and Stu’s mutual love of the Celibate Rifles, whose lead singer is a Zen Buddhist. It’s on tap at the brewery and some will be heading to next month’s Beervana festival too.

Coffee Cactus Stout 8.5%

Young Henrys
Beervana NZ

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