Red Letter Day

Red Letter Day
October 3 2012 by Crafty Pint

It’s common practice for breweries to mark anniversaries with a beer, whether brewing a new beer every birthday like Bridge Road, tweaking an Anniversary Ale like they do at Murray’s or saving it for the big ones like Mountain Goat, who marked ten years with the Double Hightail and will commemorate turning 15 later this month with the Triple Hightail. What’s more, it seems the brewing of a commemorative ale is not confined only to brewers.

On October 26, Melbourne’s Fed Square turns 10. The landmark coincides with the latest running of the Victorian Microbreweries Showcase, so it didn’t take long for someone to decide to mark the occasion with a new beer. And thus was born F10 (the beer’s working name), a “hoppy red ale” that went into the tanks at Prickly Moses last week and was created by the brewing minds at the Otway Estate brewery, 3 Ravens and Holgate.

Lending a hand was Rory Murphy, from Fed Square, who told The Crafty Pint: “We had a birthday beer for our fifth birthday. That one happened by chance really. A talented homebrewer Robin Brown, who has since taken those talents to the next level with his Black Heart Brewery, won a homebrewing comp and got to brew his recipe at a local micro.”

The beer was a hefeweizen called the Fed-5-Weizen, which was served at Transport Hotel at Fed Square. Five years on, it seemed only fitting to brew another.

“With Fed Square’s long relationship with the Victorian micro scene through the Showcase we thought it would be easy enough to get some of our regular showcase attendees together to concoct a suitably delicious birthday brew,‘ says Rory. "And it was. Once we approached the guys they were all immediately interested and excited about the idea. Being a beer lover and homebrewer myself I also had the faintest of ulterior motives in the idea of being able to pitch in and get my hands dirty in helping out with the brew!”

Thus it was that he headed to the Otway Ranges with Adrian McNulty from 3 Ravens and Ian Morgan from Holgate (pictured above with Luke Scott from Prickly Moses) last week for brew day. Mountain Goat and Bridge Road, two other stalwarts of the Victorian scene and the Showcase, were invited but were unable to attend.

It was swiftly agreed that the beer should feature all Victorian ingredients. Among them are Victoria’s Secret hops, a new variety yet to be commercially released by Hop Products Australia but which have appeared in a couple of beers, such as the Good Beer Week Nogne O / Moylan’s collaboration Our Dark Secret. To make this possible – and to help with the beer’s packaging – ingredients and packaging have been supplied by Bintani, Cryer Malt and Pemara Labels.

Looking back, Rory recalls: “The first showcase was in February 2006. There were 16 breweries, with 3 Ravens and Holgate Brewhouse there from day dot, while at the last showcase in March this year there were 24 breweries.

“[I’m really] excited to be in [the Australian craft beer scene]. It just so happens I’ve been here in Melbourne and Australia for 10 years last month [and] in that time I’ve witnessed the craft beer scene blow up. Luckily Melbourne and Victoria have been at the heart of this explosion.

f10-rory-apprentice-cleaning-mashtun

Like most amateurs along for a brew day, Rory gets the choice jobs, such as emptying the mash tun…

“I see new breweries popping up all over the place with beers to suit all levels of drinker and different palates. It’s a beer fan’s paradise! I mean, with the likes of Temptress from Holgate Brewhouse, The Raconteur from Prickly Moses and 3 Ravens ‘55’ regularly available we’re really spoilt for choice in tasty quality craft beers.

“The growth of the Fed Square Microbreweries Showcase itself shows how the industry is growing. The showcase was a pioneer in the area of beer festivals – now we’re seeing a big increase the country. It bodes well for the craft beer drinker who can now plan their holidays around these festivals!”

As for F10, the beer will be pouring at participating outlets across Fed Square during the 10th birthday weekend, which runs from October 25 to 28. In the meantime, there’s a competition to name the beer. It’s being run through the Fed Square website and ends this Friday. The person who comes up with the winning name will win a six-pack and two champagne bottles of the beer plus a pair of passes to the Showcase. Simple head here to enter.

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