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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Thursday 2 October 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

3 Ravens Druid Released on 30/07/14

You can tell 3 Ravens head brewer Adrian McNulty is being given free rein in the brewery these days. The man has musical tastes of a particularly dark, intense and heavy shade of black and the creation of beers such as Black Mass – a whisky barrel-aged chipotle and vanilla porter – and now this Pedro Ximenez barrel-aged Belgian strong dark ale named Druid would seem to reflect brew days soundtracked by intense aural assaults. Having enjoyed the Druid on tap and from the bottle, we feel that maybe more brewers could experiment with drowning themselves in waves of intestine-rumbling drone. The brewery originally obtained the Pedro Ximenez barrels on loan and decided to try and create a beer that reflected the drink that once inhabited them. They brewed a Belgian quadrupel, filled four barrels, left them a while, then blended all four back together before kegging and bottling. The result is a wonderfully complex beer, awash with sweet, fortified wine aromas, stewed fruits, soft, creamy chocolate malts, hints of oak and much more besides. The only downside is that the barrels have now been returned from whence they came so the beer may never be repeated.

Barrel-aged Belgian Quad 11.0%

McCoppins Abbotsford
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Purvis Cellars
Carwyn Cellars
Low Buy Liquor
Public Brewery
The Catfish
Royal Hotel Clifton Hill
The Park Hotel
Gin Palace

3 Ravens USB (Uber Special Bitter) Released on 29/07/14

On the night of the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards, shortly after 3 Ravens head brewer Adrian McNulty had collected the trophy for Champion Small Australian Brewery, we asked one of his colleagues: “Does this mean Adrian will be allowed to brew USB again?” The beer – essentially a souped up version of their English Ale – was always a favourite at Crafty Towers but, when the brewery was taken over by Mash in 2013 the brewing of all limited release beers was put on hiatus to focus on the core range. “We just brewed it!” came the reply. And, thus, they departed the evening happy, laden down with trophies, and we departed happy in the knowledge that our favourite Ravens beer was coming back. It’s back in the larger, old-fashioned bottles those who remember the old Uber range from the brewery will recall and, barring a minor tweak to the label and the hops (because they couldn’t lay their hands on one variety in particular), it’s the same as before: a rich, layered, deep amber coloured beer dominated by hearty toffee malts. The change in hops gives it a more citrusy aroma then we recall from the past, but the raisiny dark fruit and spicy characteristics remain in what’s a fine beer to be supping on these cold, winter evenings.

Strong English Bitter 6.2%

McCoppins Abbotsford
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Purvis Cellars
Carwyn Cellars
Low Buy Liquor
Public Brewery
The Catfish

Mountain Goat Smoke 'n' Mike Released on 28/07/14

Just the other day, we wrote that you don’t often see a lager from Mountain Goat. So they go and release their second in a fortnight… It’s also the second In Breed in a fortnight too (where one of the in-house brewers gets to create a beer of their own), this time a beer based on the pale German Helles style of lager but with a smoky kick that’s been created by, you’ve guessed it, Mike. The follow up to his first beer, Mike’s Third Nut, is a light copper-coloured beer that uses a touch of classic German Hallertau hops for a subtle, spicy aroma and instead lets the malt take centre stage. A combination of Munich and Vienna malts along with homegrown peated and smoked malts combine to create what the Goats tell us is “rich, full malty body, tasting of biscuits, a hint of honey and a whack of campfire smoke”.

Smoky Lager 6.1% 30 IBU

Mountain Goat
The Catfish
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Alehouse Project
Young & Jackson

Murray's / Crafty Pint Auld Bulgin' Boysterous Bicep '14 Released on 25/07/14

The unlikely tale of the Auld Bulgin' Boysterous Bicep rolls on, getting smokier and fishier as it goes. For those new to the beer, it began as an idea at Crafty Towers for a beer to enter the Beervana 2012 Media Brew competition, became a 10 percent smoked imperial oyster and mussel stout brewed with a Trappist yeast, won the competition with a perfect score and was scaled up from that 20 litre batch to a commercial release last year. Murray’s head brewer Shawn Sherlock said it would never be repeated but relented in the end, in part due to a desire to see how the 100s of blue and green-lipped mussels and Port Stephens oysters would work in the hopback of his new brewery and also as last year’s batch failed to make it as far and wide around the country as intended. For this year’s batch, the percentage of peated distilling malt was increased (despite Shawn once saying it was the peated malt he feared in beer more than the molluscs) and the beer returned. If anything, this year’s third version allows more of its composite parts to share the spotlight. The distinctly fruity esters of the Belgian yeast are apparent alongside the sweet smoke aromas, while the salty brininess of the late addition of seafood comes into play at the end once the rich mid-palate malts have done their thing. It may sound weird (and given it’s the only commercial beer The Crafty Pint has helped design we’re undoubtedly biased) but it is a uniquely delicious beer. (Unless you’re allergic to shellfish; one prominent Sydney sommelier and bar owner with an aversion to shellfish was desperate to try it last year and figured the levels of mollusc would be minimal – only to fall ill and come out in hives for a couple of days afterwards. At least he knew we weren’t kidding about the mussels and oysters!)

Smoked Imperial Belgio Mollusc Stout 10.0%

Good craft beer stockists around Australia
Beervana 2014 Australia Bar

Matilda Bay / Mountain Goat / Moon Dog Abbey Collaby IV Released on 24/07/14

We all like to do our bit for charity. When “our bit” involves buying and drinking beer, it’s something we can really get stuck into. And when the beer involved is a 10.6 percent ABV barley wine created by Matilda Bay, Mountain Goat and Moon Dog for the fourth Good Beer Week collaboration, the ever-evolving in both beer and spelling terms Abbey Collaby. The beer has been pouring in draught form since it was launched during May’s festival but is now out in bottle too; bottles that come complete with awesome labels featuring Matilda Bay’s senior brewer Neil Whittorn as Mother Superior surrounded by beaming nuns Josh, Karl and Jake Moon Dog and a disturbingly transvestite Goat head brewer Dave Bonighton looking like something from a Chris Cunningham / Aphex Twin nightmare. The beer itself is far from nightmarish, being a glisteningly bright copper, coming crammed with big Aussie and American hops as well as some Belgian candi sugar to help it reach its boozy heights. Such is the impact of the burnt sugar, dried fruit and toffee malt and alcohol aromas, the fruity, tropical aromas you might expect from Galaxy, Citra and Simcoa are subdued somewhat, lending instead grassy and spicy characters. Once quaffed it’s a full-bodied, viscous, warming beast in which those rich malty, spicy and almost oaky characters take centre stage, before wrapping up with a surprisingly smooth bitterness. All profits go to the Collingwood Children’s Farm.

Watch how it came about here.

Barley Wine 10.6% 80 IBU

Mountain Goat
Matilda Bay
Moon Dog
Purvis Cellars
Purvis Beer Richmond
McCoppins Abbotsford
The Park Hotel
The Mallow Hotel
Odyssey Tavern
Others TBC

Southern Bay / Cartel Mr B.I.G.S. Released on 22/07/14

The brewers down at Southern Bay are planning to have a little fun. They’re launching what will be a semi-regular (or irregular if you prefer), keg-only releases that could be as little as a single keg or could be a dozen, and they’re doing it with a collaboration that has quite the genesis story. They hooked up with award-winning local roasters Cartel and set about conjuring something that would make the most of the beverages each are renowned for brewing. The result is Mr B.I.G.S. (Belgian Inspired Guji Stout), which features cold drip extract from Guji Kercha beans sourced from Ethiopia. It’s a bean that we’re told has berry fruit characteristics, which were specially selected to complement the malt bill and the fruitiness of the beer’s Belgian yeast strain, along with all manner of nut, cocoa, molasses and rose characteristics. On the brewers' side, they piled more malt into the mash tun than ever before at the brewery followed by enough hops to block the heat exchanger… As for how it turned out, the brewers say it’s “a big, black behemoth” – and one that won’t be around for long.

Belgian Coffee Stout 7.1% 40IBU

Bended – Yarra St, Geelong
Vue Grand
Young & Jackson
Raccoon Club – Plenty Rd, Preston
Deja Vu
You will also find two kegs at Bendigo on the Hop at the Shamrock Hotel

Cavalier / Proud Mary Imperial Coffee Stout Released on 22/07/14

This isn’t the first time Cavalier has released an imperial stout and it’s not the first time they’ve worked with Melbourne roasters Proud Mary either, having created a Black Coffee IPA to represent Melbourne for Time Out at Good Beer Week 2013. It is the first time they’ve combined an imperial stout with Proud Mary’s coffee, however. The Imperial Coffee Stout is a draught only release and, as you’d expect, it’s a nigh on black affair with a sofft brown, crema-like head. The coffee is the hero too, creating a beer that’s akin to drinking a long (very long) cold espresso, with any chocolate, nut or dark fruit flavours you find in their straight Imperial Stout playing second fiddle. That said, it’s a smooth coffee experience – no overt roasty or acrid bitterness, just a long, long, boozy, black shot.

Imperial Coffee Stout

The Fox Hotel, Collingwood and South Melbourne
The Catfish
Sweeney’s Rooftop
And coming to “the usual suspects” in VIC, QLD, NSW & SA

Hargreaves Hill / Deschutes Hopburst IPA Released on 19/07/14

His predecessor in the head brewer role always professed to a love of black beers (and wasted little time knocking one out at his new home), but the new occupant of the role at Hargreaves Hill seems to have quite the affinity with hops. Since moving across the Yarra Valley from White Rabbit earlier this year, Kai Dambergs has made the Pale leaner and more hop forward, created an imperial IPA, a hopped up American Wheat and a number of IPAs, of which this is the latest. It’s the result of a collaboration with US legends Deschutes that took place around the time they were taking the Oregon brewery’s Kris Scholl for a beery cruise on Puffing Billy during Good Beer Week. It features ingredients from both brewery’s home regions and takes its name from a ‘hopburst’ late kettle hopping regime made up of Australian Vic Secret, New Zealand Rakau and a promising new US hop variety Equinox. They’re added to a selection of American caramel and toasted specialty malts to produce what we’re told is “an IPA of smooth bitterness and harmony between malt and hop.” If you’d like more, then Kai adds that we should be expecting an experience akin to this: “Sunday morning marmalade on toast rides alongside sweet caramel, accompanied by fresh spruce tips, Valencia orange and garden mint. A lively coppery-amber colour for a beer best observed and enjoyed on a cold and sunny winter’s day.” The odds on him winning the 2015 AIBA Media Award shorten by the minute…

American IPA 6.3%

Beer Deluxe, Fed Square
Belgian Beer Cafe Melbourne
Hotel Lincoln
Junction Beer Hall
Nieuw Amsterdam
The Alehouse Project
Gertrude Hotel
The Mallow Hotel
The Public Brewery, Croydon
The Scratch
Hargreaves Hill
Blackhearts & Sparrows – growler fills only
Deja Vu
The Fox Hotel Collingwood
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Spotted Mallard
TRU BRU – growler fills only
Dan O’Connell Hotel
Two Row
Palace Hotel

Van Dieman Hedgerow 2014 Released on 17/07/14

Tasmanian brewer Van Dieman’s Hedgerow has had an interesting development. Originally a soft, malt led annual release that made use of various pickings from around head brewer Will Tatchell’s parents' farm, where there brewery is based, in 2012 he decided to place it into pinot barrels too. The result was a delightful, spritzy, fruity and delicate sour that ended up collecting gold at last year’s Australian International Beer Awards. It’s been a couple of years between Hedgerows and again there has been a little evolution of the brewing process. The beer is still racked over sloe berries, hawthorn berries and rose hips from the farm but this time a portion spent a full 18 months bringing the funk in oak barrels before being blended into the finished beer. If recollections of the last sampling of the 2012 batch are accurate (and it wasn’t that long ago), at the current time the new batch has a fuller body as well as richer caramel malts running through it. There’s a touch of fruitiness, some oaky, vinous booze characteristics and a noticeably dry finish. The sour side of things have a more pronounced barnyard twang too. It feels like a beer that will grow into itself, so if sours are your thing get your hands on a few and watch it develop. The 2500 individually numbered bottles should be easy enough to spot as, taking a lead from the brewers of some Belgian sours, Will decided to punish himself and wrap each bottle in pretty paper too.

Barrel-Aged Sour 6.6%

Saint John Craft Beer, Launceston
Crown Cellars
Mill Providore, Launceston
Alps & Amici, Launceston
Cool Wine, Hobart
Abbey Bottleshop, Hobart
Club Hotel, Burnie

Moon Dog Cold Drip War Released on 16/07/14

The GABS 2014 beers keep on coming, with the latest cab off the ranks the entry from Melbourne’s Moon Dog. The Stalin-endorsed beer is tagged as a coffee and chicory porter, but has a wee bit more besides, with a touch of rye malt in the grist. The coffee (from their friends and neighbours at Coffee Supreme) was added during conditioning with the chicory making an appearance in the boil. As for the inspiration, it turns out that during the late 70s there was a coffee crisis in East Germany so a replacement was concocted called Mischkaffee that used root chicory, sugar beet and rye in an attempt to ease drinkers through the shortage. And as for the beer, it’s a dark brown affair (with a ruby tinge for those who like to look at light sources through booze) that has soft espresso and dark chocolate flavours as well as some spicy earthiness going on in the mouth. There are distinct liquorice / sarsaparilla aromas that nudge the whiff of coffee into second spot in the war of the noses, suggesting old Joe liked a root.

Coffee & Chicory Porter 6.4% 40 IBU

At good craft beer venues nationwide.
If you want help finding it near you, contact Moon Dog’s distributor Phoenix.

Red Tape Brewing Co Black Mamba Released on 16/07/14

Until the refurb takes place, the Red Tape taps may be a little tucked out of the way at the King St Brewhouse, but the fact that they’re playing with nitro taps, sparklers and have a Randall stuffed with hops, coffee beans, fruit or spices at any given time, it’s clear the brewer is having fun. His winter seasonal is in that spirit: Black Mamba, a black IPA. It’s one in which he’s gone hard in pretty much every direction imaginable: look out for the coffee, roasty and chocolate notes you might expect from a very dark beer along with lashings of dark berry flavours from the use of American Mosaic hops and a touch of pine and citrus from Chinook. It’s being given an injection of nitrogen gas for added creaminess. In fact, the only area in which he’s held things in check is the alcohol, with Black Mamba registering a perfectly respectable 5 percent ABV. This makes it “fully sessionable,” according to brewer Sam. “For the dark beer lovers out there, anyways!”

Black IPA 5.0%

King St Brewhouse

Mountain Goat In Breed The Bogan Released on 15/07/14

Mountain Goat’s In Breed series of beers is the one that allows its brewers to concoct their own brew (Rare Breeds come from on high, Cross Breeds involve other brewers or outside forces). Thus far it has seen the likes of the Craig series, the Naz and Mike’s Third Nut leave the brewery and now it’s the turn of The Bogan. The beer has been devised by the brewery’s resident Bogan, John Bogan, a chap who began doing as much volunteering as he could to get a foot in the door before being welcomed into the brew team. (At which point he accidentally knackered one of their fermenters, but that’s all water under the bridge now…!) The Bogan has appeared on a Crafty Pint Blind Tasting Panel at which he wowed with his palate and depth of knowledge so we’re keen to see what happens when he turns his talents to building a beer. The beer in question is a lager (well, he is a Bogan), but not an ordinary lager. As his boss at Goat, Dave Bonighton, says: “Taking the Bogan out of John Bogan would be like taking the bogan out of Jimmy Barnes. Won’t happen. Ever.” So The Bogan is a Dark Munich Lager (or Munchner Dunkel), brewed with pilsener malt, a big whack of Munich malt, some Kiwi crystal malts, and Aussie chocolate malt. It’s deep copper in colour, malty, mildly bitter and tips the scales at a sessionable 5.3 percent ABV.

Says Dave: “Just like John, it’s a Bogan, but not as we know it.”

Dark Lager 5.3%

Mountain Goat
Bendigo On The Hop (only keg going to regional Vic)
The Wheaty
Rockwell and Sons
The Alehouse Project
More TBC

Mash Brewing Rye Porter Released on 11/07/14

Ever since bringing in a new head brewer two or three years back, Mash Brewing in the Swan Valley has been impressing with its beers, from the unique, subtly oaked session beer Grasscutter, the fine recreation of an English IPA, Challenger, and most recently the newly crowned Champion Australian Beer Copy Cat American IPA. Despite taking ownership of Melbourne’s 3 Ravens last year, which allows them to brew some Mash beers on the East Coast, many of their limited releases only (or at least initially) only appear in WA, other than two kegs that are heading to Beervana. And that’s the case with the latest, a Rye Porter that is the brewer’s attempt, as with his Koffee Stout, to “squeeze character and complexity into small beers”. It’s a 4.2 percent beer, brewed with “a good whack of rye” in the mix. We’re told it’s pretty straightforward other than “an interesting little hop addition”.

Rye Porter 4.2%

All three Mash Brewing venues
Selected craft beer venues
Beervana NZ

Colonial Brewing Truffle Tripel Released on 11/07/14

“I had a Truffle Tripel at the Truffel Kurfuffle.” Try saying that after a few of them at the annual Truffle Kerfuffle festival in Manjimup, sponsored by Colonial Brewing… The Truffle Tripel was created by the Margaret River brewer for the festival and is a Belgian style ale using fresh local truffles that follows in the footsteps of their truffle porter in 2013. Only 11 kegs were concocted by the brewers at the Edith Cowan University (ECU) brewhouse using five kilos of truffles from The Wine & Truffle Company: that’s just under 500g of truffle per keg. They also made their own clear candi sugar using the ECU 50 litre pilot brew system, which did its thing alongside a Belgian ale yeast strain, French hops and Belgian pilsner malt.After spending more than a week in the beer, the truffles ended up in the hands of chefs from The Print Hall, Amuse and Colonial Brewing. According to the head brewer the beer boasts much of the banana and clove aromas you might expect from the yeast whilst the truffle sits quietly in the back waiting to be discovered. “Once you stopped thinking about it you get it,” apparently. Three kegs disappeared at the festival but the remainder are appearing at Colonial’s WA venues. PP

Truffled Belgian Tripel 9.5%

Colonial Brewery
The Print Hall, Perth
The Raffles, Applecross
The Royal on the Waterfront, East Perth

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