La Sirène Brewing

Late in 2011, a buzz started spreading around the Melbourne beer cognoscenti that there was a hot new beer in town, a saison that had appeared all of a sudden. Bearing the name La Sirène and packaged in champagne bottles decorated with artwork of an elegance not usually found in the beer world, it was impressing all who tried it. Being avowed saison fans at The Crafty Pint, we hunted down its maker, brewing consultant Costa Nikias, and were soon sharing a coffee with him.

He told us how he and a mate, James Brown, who had met while studying winemaking, had decided to turn their passion for Belgian style ales into a small commercial venture. They'd done it properly too: hunting down via contacts in Europe their own unique saison yeast strain, which they purchased from a family in a small European village and air-freighted to Australia. The first sample failed to survive the trip intact; the second didn't, taking up residence in a lab at the university where microbiologist James worked.

It was quite the tale, but would the beer match up? We moved to a suitably elegant location (OK, the boot of Costa's old school Merc in a Collingwood side street), he pulled a chilled bottle from the boot along with two beautiful stemmed, branded glasses and out poured this glowing orange nectar with the most towering of fluffy white clouds as a head. Let's just say the beer matched up: a delicate, subtle yet complex delight that rivalled any saison ever produced in Australia.

We became instant advocates, encouraging friends to try it whenever they saw it. Which, over time, wasn't that often.

With Costa spending most of the time focused on his brewing consultancy business and James busy at the university, their trips to brew at Jamieson Brewery, in the Victorian High Country, were few and far between. For them, despite the acclaim – which only grew with each new release – it was a hobby as much as a passion. At least for a while.

In 2013, Costa decided it was time to give the people what they wanted. In between fitting them for others, he installed his own brewery in an old tank-building factory in the Melbourne suburb of Alphington, James departed and Costa's wife Eva stepped in. Since then, the focus has switched increasingly to La Sirène, output has grown significantly, more warehouse space has been leased and a rather large amount of oak barrels have been gathered. The barrels have been selected by their cooperage rather than for what was once inside them, a legacy of Costa's time in the wine industry (and his geek like obsession for detail).

For the most part, the beers tend to be variations on a theme: a wild saison, Super Saison, the Fleur Folie honey saison, an annual Saison Noel. But increasingly, the La Sirène wings have been spreading. A Belgian stout featuring cocoa, vanilla and hazelnuts called Praline took out People's Choice at the 2014 GABS festival. An experiment with spontaneous fermentation, barrels and cherries led to a delicious Kriek. And we suspect Costa plans to become a major player in the burgeoning world of sour beers.

The beers are lapped up by beer lovers and those who don't usually drink beer in equal measure, with fine dining restaurants also lured by the siren on the labels (as well as what's inside). The experts agree too, with the original Saison taking out Champion Belgian and French Ale at the inaugural Craft Beer Awards.

Setting out to brew nothing but Belgian farmhouse style beers in Australia is a ballsy move. Sending those beers into the world in clothing more akin to wine equally so. Yet, with Australians warming to such styles and having set impeccably high standards, it looks like paying off in spades. That the brewery is ten minutes walk from Crafty Towers doesn't hurt either.

Name
La Sirène Brewing
Address

2 Wingrove Street
Alphington
VIC 3078

Phone
0422 517 210
Website

La Sirène Brewing Regulars

La Sirène Sour Red

Tapped October 18th, 2016
During the 2016 Good Beer Week festival, we got something of a surprise. Midway through a throughly enjoyable beer, cheese and whisky event at Boilermaker House featuring La Sirène beers, we picked up what we believed was the brewery's Farmhouse Red and found it had turned sour. Surely, they'd have noticed... It turns out this was a precursor to what's become a new addition to the brewery's core range: a soured sibling to the Farmhouse Red. If you're not acquainted with the original, it's possibly… Read more
Style
Sour Red Ale
Strength
6.5%

La Sirène Florette

One of a handful of La Sirène beers to appear in draught only format is their faithful take on the Belgian witbier style. Pouring with the pale haze you'd expect, it uses Belgian wheat malts and heaps of fresh coriander to create a beer with soft orange citrus and spice aromas and a welcome dry finish. The brewery team recommend lining it up alongside Asian salads, Thai curries or fresh calamari.… Read more
Style
Belgian Witbier
Strength
5.0%

La Sirène Praline

The surprise hit of 2014? The Praline was the beer Costa Nikias conceived for the year's Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular at the Royal Exhibition during Good Beer Week, an event that sees more than 100 brewers come up with something brand new. Of the 100-plus beers of all shapes and sizes tapped in 2014, the Praline was the one that drinkers loved the most, taking out the People's Choice title. Since then, it's been regularly brewed and, almost without fail, tends to have pre-sold out before bottles… Read more

La Sirène Fleur Folie

The Fleur Folie is La Sirène's step into Saison Miel territory, in other words honey saison. Its name means "blossom madness" although the beer itself is far from crazy. The leatherwood honey lends a soft honey sweetness to a beer in which the aromas are less about the lively floral fruits of the straight Saison and more about delicate pepper and spice. Alongside the soft sweet flavours are an earthiness from the hops before the beer wraps up with a tart dry finish.… Read more
Style
Saison Miel
Strength
6.5%

La Sirène Super Saison

As if the straight La Sirène Saison wasn't super enough... Having played around with the malt bill, yeast profile and other aspects in a number of saison variants, in late 2014, Costa Nikia decided to ratchet the volume up a little. The Super Saison is the result; effectively an imperial saison, but presumably it was felt the word "imperial" was a little aggressive for both the beer style and the brand. The beer is another winner – along with the Wild Saison, The Crafty Pint's favourite… Read more
Style
Double Saison
Strength
8.0%

La Sirène Farmhouse Red

The original Farmhouse Red was the first beer to step a little outside saison territory for La Sirène, albeit remaining firmly within the boundaries of the French / Belgian farmhouse. For a long while, it was the only beer in their range of a darker hue, with the deep ruddy brew playing home to some "secret" floral ingredients and myriad aromas and flavours. Work your way through a bottle with friends and you could complete a Bingo full house even on a card as laden with descriptors as… Read more
Style
Farmhouse Red
Strength
6.5%

La Sirène Wild Saison

Is the Wild Saison an even finer drop than La Sirène's original? The beer uses a Brettanomyces strain alongside La Sirène's in house saison yeast and the result is a beer of even more complexity and possibly even a greater degree of refreshment. Brettanomyces, or "Brett" for short, is often credited in its various forms with lending beers certain "off" characteristics and highly "Brett-y" Belgian styles are often described as having barnyard or horse blanket like aromas.… Read more
Style
Brett-Fermented Saison
Strength
6.5%

La Sirène Saison

There's much to be said for announcing yourselves to the world in style. Whether it's the Stone Roses opening their first album with the thinly veiled menace and arrogance of: "I don't have to sell my soul, he's already in me." or Wayne Rooney's debut hat-trick for Man Utd against Fenerbahce (feel free to enter your own non-Manchester-based examples here), such opening salvos tend to stick in the mind. In the world of Aussie craft beer, few have fired an opening salvo to match that of… Read more
Style
Saison
Strength
6.5%

La Sirène Brewing Specials

La Sirène & Seven Seeds Seven Sirens

Tapped November 13th, 2017
There must be something in the air this spring, this being the third coffee beer with a difference to come our way in less than two weeks. This time around, it's one that's been a long time in the making, with near neighbours La Sirène and Seven Seeds coffee roasters building towards this collaborative release in stages. Having decided to work together on a beer, they first held a structured cupping session to select an appropriate coffee, landing upon a range from Honduras (from a micro-lot from… Read more
Style
Coffee Farmhouse Ale
Strength
6.5%
Stockists

Mr West

And other select good beer outlets

La Sirène Brewing Belle D'Orange

Tapped October 17th, 2017
On a recent visit to La Sirène's brewery, it's fair to say we were taken aback by one beer. OK, so there were plenty of tasty beers sampled that day but one that was pulled from the tank packed an unexpected amount of pizzazz. It was the Belle D'Orange, so named because it started out as the brewery's Belle French ale before spending 11 months in French oak with a stack of whole Navel oranges for company. Once drawn from the tank where it was undergoing final conditioning before release, you could… Read more
Style
Barrel Aged Citrus Farmhouse Ale
Strength
4.8%
Stockists

And select Melbourne venues

La Sirène Brewing Forêt Sauvage

Tapped September 21st, 2017
When you're a brewery like La Sirène, it's good to have time on your side. Outside its core range of saisons and farmhouse style ales is an ever-growing and diversifying series of projects incorporating spontaneous fermentation, barrel ageing and much more besides. Some of them were kickstarted several years ago, in the early days after the brewing company built its brewery in Alphington, giving the brewers liquids that have been evolving for years to play with, sometimes blending them, racking… Read more
Style
Barrel Aged Wild Cherry Ale
Strength
8.0%
Stockists

And select Victorian beer venues

La Sirène Copper & Vine

Tapped September 8th, 2017
A visit to the brewery this week confirmed just how much is on the go at La Sirène's "urban farmhouse" brewery. Step away from their already diverse core range – the hoppy as anything Urban Pale and the array of saisons and other farmhouse style beers, plus Praline, of course – and there's all manner of paths being trodden. There's the monthly single hop saisons in kegs, various short run barrel aged and blended releases, beer-wine hybrids and spontaneously fermented ales at various… Read more
Style
Single Barrel Aged Saison
Strength
6.0%
Stockists

Mr West

And select beer venues around Melbourne

La Sirène Harvest Ale

Tapped November 10th, 2016
Brett sure is becoming a popular chap in Aussie beer circles. Having played around with various strains of Brettanomyces in a number of beers over the years, often as part of a blend of yeasts or picked up from the atmosphere around the brewery, La Sirène has now added a 100 percent Brett-fermented beer to its lineup. Its Harvest Ale is ostensibly a pale ale, one with a simple malt bill that allows the "wild" yeast to become the focus, albeit sharing the stage somewhat with tropical Galaxy… Read more
Style
Brett Pale Ale
Strength
5.1%
Stockists

And select tap points around Melbourne

La Sirène Urban Pale

Tapped November 8th, 2016
The term "farmhouse" in brewing is one that can get purists' knickers in a twist. Some claim that unless you're brewing on a farm, using ingredients from the farm, then you can't make farmhouse ales, even if your inspiration and intention is to recreate historic beer styles that are often bundled together under that banner. Few could doubt that Costa Nikias at Melbourne's La Sirène takes inspiration from a particular time and place in beer's history: he obtained his original yeast strain… Read more
Style
Hoppy Farmhouse Ale
Strength
5.2%
Stockists

Beermash Cellars

La Sirène Paradoxe

Tapped October 18th, 2016
Given the founder of The Crafty Pint has a soft spot for saisons, it's been rather serendipitous that La Sirène decided to build its brewery around 900m as the crow flies from the rear of Crafty Towers. It allows for fairly regular trips to the brewery, usually when there's a new beer coming out. And, pretty much without fail, once the new beer has been sampled, founder Costa Nikias can't resist pulling out samples of as-yet-unnamed beers (and sometimes things other than beers) to tease. In the… Read more
Style
Sour Ale
Strength
4.8%
Stockists

Beermash Cellars

La Sirène Wild Tripelle II

Tapped August 31st, 2016
The Wild Tripelle series is Melbourne based brewery La Sirène's first foray into 100 percent spontaneously fermented beer. For the first release last year, the brewers left their hopped, sweet wort open to the elements in their brewery for months, allowing the native bacteria and yeasts in the air to spark fermentation and add character, before ageing the beer until it was at a point where they felt it was ready for release. For a beer tagged "wild" it wasn't actually that wild, instead… Read more
Style
Spontaneously Fermented Ale
Strength
8.0%

La Sirene Avant Garde range

Tapped August 5th, 2016
They don't like to sit still too long at La Sirène, the Alphington based "urban farmhouse" brewery. In addition to finessing its impressive and expansive core range, it produces a seasonal Botanique range experimenting with herbs and spices, has released barrel-aged and spontaneously fermented beers and, last month, filled its custom built coolship for the first time. And, alongside all that, the brewery has just unveiled a trio of table beers going under the Avant Garde banner, each featuring… Read more
Style
Farmhouse Ales
Strength
3.8% to 6.5%

La Sirene Imperial Praline

Tapped February 19th, 2016
It's fair to say La Sirene's Praline got off to a reasonable start in life. The first dark beer from the Melbourne farmhouse ale lovers debuted at GABS in 2014 and took out the People's Choice. Drinkers were wowed by its layering of hazelnuts, cacao and vanilla and, as a result – and not necessarily planned – the brewery quickly added the beer to its year round offering. Clearly, they're glad they did and are rather enamoured of the beer and its success too as they've decided to give it a bigger… Read more
Style
Imperial Belgian Chocolate Stout
Strength
8.0%
Stockists

And other quality beer outlets

La Sirene Wild Tripelle

Tapped January 25th, 2016
Last year, Costa Nikias of Melbourne's farmhouse ale specialists La Sirene announced he was intending to construct a coolship inside the shed where he stores many of his oak barrels. The aim was to be able to spontaneously ferment several thousand litres of wort using the native yeasts and bacteria that exist in the nearby Darebin Creek and Parklands, thus creating an "urban farmhouse" ale. The coolship has been designed and built and is awaiting full installation and more suitable weather… Read more
Style
Spontaneously Fermented Tripel
Strength
8.0%
Stockists

Nationwide at specialist bottleshops

La Sirene Botanique Winter Seasonal

Tapped July 7th, 2015
There's much ado at La Sirene, the Melbourne-based farmhouse style ale protagonists. The brewery is much expanded, the collection of barrels is expanding and in just a few weeks a custom built coolship will be erected in the roof of the brewery's barrel warehouse ready for a spontaneous fermentation program to commence in earnest. There will be a herb garden to follow too, with the intention being to use what's grown there in beers such as this. The brewery's winter seasonal is the second in its… Read more
Style
Spiced Saison
Strength
6.5%
Stockists

Kegs to good beer venues in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and Japan

We'll update when we get names of stockists

La Sirene Saison Nouveau – RETIRED

Tapped March 6th, 2015
"Another new saison variant from La Sirene?" you ask. Well, yes and no. For some time now, the beer bearing the name Saison from the Alphington brewery that you may have seen on tap has differed from the bearing the name Saison in bottle. When putting the original 6.5 percent beer into kegs, head brewer Costa Nikias couldn't get the results he wanted in the same way so he reworked the beer to pour as desired on tap. The result was a different beer with a lower ABV and now he's decided to… Read more
Style
Saison
Strength
5.0%
Stockists

Then appearing at other good beer venues in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland

La Sirène Botanique - Summer 2014

Tapped December 12th, 2014
Considering how infrequently La Sirène beers used to appear on shelves and in bars in the first couple of years of the brewery's existence, the current flood of new releases is as unexpected as it is welcome. With their own brewery working overtime now and praise coming for their beers from all quarters, it feels like barely a week passes without head brewer Costa Nikias unveiling some new saison or farmhouse style beer. But, as he said when we bumped into him the other day, the creativity is coursing… Read more
Style
Spiced Saison
Stockists

And other good beer venues in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland

La Sirène Saisonette

Tapped December 1st, 2014
Of all the many colourful tales to be found in beer's millennia-long history, there are few that people enjoy telling more than that of the original saisons, mainly because the beer was originally brewed by farmers to water their workers at harvest time when they were given a daily allowance of up to five litres... With most contemporary saisons tipping the scales at or above the 6 percent mark, you can imagine the chaos that may have ensued. But back in the days when the beers that became saison… Read more
Style
Midstrength Saison
Strength
3.8%
Stockists

Clifton Hill Brewpub

Good beer venues across Victoria, Tasmania & Queensland

La Sirène Belle

Tapped November 1st, 2014
As the brewery has grown, head brewer Costa Nikias has dedicated time to developing a handful of beers of a more easy-drinking nature than those with which La Sirène made its name. Among them are the draught-only Belle, described as a "French table ale". The beer uses the brewery's in-house yeast alongside pale malts to create a beer they say offers "subtle fruit characters [that] initially lead into a medium body with rich yeast characters to conclude with a beautifully crisp dry… Read more
Style
French Table Ale
Strength
5.0%
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