News - Crafty Pint /news 2014-09-23T00:00:00Z Drinking God's Tears /news/post/drinking-god-s-tears/ 2014-09-23T00:00:00Z james <p>We&rsquo;d last seen Dave Adams at around 4am on October 3, 2010, as we savoured the afterglow of Collingwood&rsquo;s premiership flag on what paint-stained clothing later revealed to be an as-yet-unfinished trophy presentation platform in Gosch&rsquo;s Paddock. Several months later, sat in the crowd at Collingwood&rsquo;s first game of the 2011 season alongside Dave – one half of musical comedy duo ElbowSkin &ndash; we discovered that much of a beery sense had occurred since.</p> <p>&ldquo;So,&rdquo; asked Dave. &ldquo;What&rsquo;s been going on?&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re planning to launch a new beer festival in May called Good Beer Week.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Really? We&rsquo;ve written a beer song.&rdquo;</p> <p>Within a week or two, we&rsquo;d caught up again with the other half of ElbowSkin, Ern Austin, approached our friends at The Post Project, tapped up a few friendly brewers and bar owners, and said beer song had become <em>Beer Song</em> with <a href="">accompanying video</a>. Good Beer Week had an unofficial theme, which was later to be performed at the first ever Good Beer Week event and then over the big screen at that year&rsquo;s Australian International Beer Awards.</p> <p>We all know what has happened to Good Beer Week since then and it turns out that <em>Beer Song</em> has become integral to the subsequent career of its creators too. More than four years later, the video continues to pop up in all parts of the online beer world, while Dave and Ern have been contacted by brewers as far flung as Canada and Spain telling them that, should they ever be in their country, please call in and be their guests: a performance of Beer Song for unlimited hospitality. Meanwhile, when they were invited to be part of this year&rsquo;s Melbourne International Comedy Festival national tour, the festival director insisted that the song had to be part of their set. They&rsquo;ve also picked up regular gigs in the beer world and now appear to be taking things to their logical conclusion.</p> <p>On October 1, as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, they will launch their new show, <a href="">From Beer to Eternity</a>. It&rsquo;s a 55 minute show that uses the medium of musical comedy to explore beer, right from its very earliest days up until the current craft beer explosion.</p> <p>&ldquo;The show looks at the history of beer and its impact on the world,&rdquo; says Dave. &ldquo;How it saved lives and helped to shape society.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s also about dispelling some of the myths about beer being bad,&rdquo; says Ern. &ldquo;Back in the early days, it was more of a health benefit and a way of providing safe, clean liquid and vitamins when water was generally dangerous to drink.</p> <p>&ldquo;In most of the ancient cultures, it specified that women had to do the brewing: only women of noble birth or really beautiful women too.&rdquo;</p> <p>While plenty of research has gone – and is going – into the new show, the duo were already well placed. In the dozen-plus years that they have been performing together since meeting at school, they have supplemented their time on stage with peripatetic careers in the world of fine dining and have long had songs about wine in their oeuvre. Indeed, they have also performed comedy degustations at which food and beverage pairings are matched with the comedian on stage at a particular time in the evening.</p> <p>That said, it&rsquo;s beer that seems to be increasingly the dominant theme.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve written the show for this year&rsquo;s Fringe but then we will take it to Adelaide [for the comedy festival] and want to take it overseas,&rdquo; says Ern. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a bit of an Australian spin with the history [in the current show] but we could just as easily go to the US and do it over there, tailoring the show accordingly. We want it to be a show that we can take on the road.&rdquo;</p> <p><div class="captioned med_rightCaptioned"> <img alt="ElbowSkin-2014-1" class="med_right" src="" title="ElbowSkin-2014-1" /> <blockquote><p>Dave and Ern ElbowSkin</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>&ldquo;<em>Beer Song</em> got us into craft beer a lot more than we already were,&rdquo; says Dave. &ldquo;That first Good Beer Week really open the door – like it did for a lot of people.&rdquo;</p> <p>Having done so much research and found themselves, like many before, fascinated by beer&rsquo;s incredible history and unravelling more and more little known stories, one challenge has been to ensure the comedy side of From Beer to Eternity remains front and centre and that it doesn&rsquo;t become too much of a thesis on why beer is so wonderful and important.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have got a blackboard&hellip;&rdquo; admits Dave.</p> <p>&ldquo;But there are songs all the way through,&rdquo; adds Ern. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got some Olde Worlde type songs, some sea shanties and some Irish pub song sort of moments.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s proven to be more difficult [writing to this theme] but that&rsquo;s because the topic is so broad. You find yourself researching about countries or ancient civilisations or embroidery just to make sure the jokes are factually correct.&rdquo;</p> <p>You can find out how they&rsquo;ve struck the balance from October 1 to 5 at The Butterfly Club off Melbourne&rsquo;s Little Collins Street. Tickets are available <a href="">here</a> and we will also be giving away a pair of tickets to the opening night in this Friday&rsquo;s newsletter. What&rsquo;s more, if you&rsquo;re heading to the <a href="">Festival of the Frothy III</a>, a certain comedy duo may well be making an appearance&hellip;</p> <p><strong>Trailer for From Beer to Eternity</strong></p> <iframe width="580" height="326" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> Beer In The Valley /news/post/beer-in-the-valley/ 2014-09-18T00:00:00Z james <p>Not too long ago, it seemed that pretty much every brewery in Australia was falling over itself to add a cider to its range, whether brewed in-house or paid for and badged accordingly. Now, however, the boot appears to be on the other foot with local cider makers entering the beer world.</p> <p>A few weeks ago, we ran the tale of <a href="">Riders Brewing Company</a>, a spin-off from the Kellybrook / Kelly Brothers wine and cider business with <a href="">The Local Taphouse St Kilda</a>&rsquo;s home-brewing Ale Tsar Shandy at the brewing helm. And now, established Yarra Valley winery Punt Road, producer of the Napoleone &amp; Co cider range, has opened its own brewery and released its first beers into the market.</p> <p>The Punt Road winery and Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse share the same family-owned property in Coldstream &ndash; also home to the family&rsquo;s vineyards and orchards. Taking charge of the brewery is Ben Waymouth, a man who chose one of the more challenging first jobs in brewing before moving to the Yarra Valley earlier this year.</p> <p>&ldquo;I started out as an assistant brewer at O'Brien in Ballarat [brewers of gluten free beers] for two years,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;They got me in when they moved to their new venue and I did quite a lot of the brewing.&rdquo;</p> <p>And not just the brewing. Given the market for gluten free &ndash; in other words, no barley and no wheat &ndash; beer is tiny, O'Brien uses a small maltster to provide them with malted sorghum and millet. To create different types of malt, for example crystal malts for their medal-winning and delicious Belgian ale and IPA, Ben would have to roast the grains himself, having been trained up by head brewer Andrew Lavery. Not only that, with each crop small and variable, they would have to carry out tests on the grains with the farmers to ensure they were suitable for malting and ultimately to make beer.</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not many [brewing] positions where you get to assess the raw grain and then get it malted or have to work without malt spec sheets [that tell a brewer what extract they should expect from a batch in a brew],&rdquo; says Ben. &ldquo;It was a pretty good education!</p> <p>&ldquo;They were banging out five pallets of beer a day so I&rsquo;d be brewing, running a filter and helping on the packaging line while roasting grain!&rdquo;</p> <p>Having helped O'Brien achieve the first ever trophy awarded to a gluten free beer by the Australian International Beer Awards, Ben moved to Napoleone in March this year, having met one of the brewery&rsquo;s staff, Simon Wright, and hearing that they had purchased <a href="beer/brewery/moo-brew/">Moo Brew</a>&rsquo;s old kit and were looking for a brewer. Positive noises about the Yarra Valley community and, in particular, the team at Punt Road / Napoleone from a friend who worked in the industry there encouraged him to apply and soon he was packing his bags.</p> <p>Since unpacking them at Coldstream, he&rsquo;s been given a pretty free rein in the brewery. The one demand the owners had was for an American pale ale but beyond that they have allowed him to choose his own direction and backed his requests to use the best, rather than the cheapest, ingredients to ensure he has every chance of creating top-notch beers.</p> <p>The first beers to hit the market were a porter &ndash; which fared well in our last <a href="">Blind Tasting</a> and is designed to be dry and suitable for year-round drinking – and a traditional-as-you-like ESB. The first Napoleone Breakneck Porter batch was brewed at Cavalier while they commissioned the brewery but, from now on, everything you come across will be brewed by Ben on the former Moo Brew system. Following those two beers will be a saison – currently being packaged in 330ml bottles, a rarity for the style – a Munich style helles lager and a wheat beer. Evidently, Ben is no hophead.</p> <p>&ldquo;The saison is hopped at just 14 IBU [a measurement of bitterness &ndash; a typical pale ale would register around 30 / 35 IBU], the helles is 12 IBU and the wheat beer just 16,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a huge hop guy.&rdquo;</p> <p><div class="captioned med_rightCaptioned"> <img alt="Ben-Waymouth-Napoleone_03" class="med_right" src="" title="Ben-Waymouth-Napoleone_03" /> <blockquote><p>Ben Waymouth, lover of fermenting, malt and beards</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>He does love playing with malt, however.</p> <p>&ldquo;No one really told me what I can and can&rsquo;t do in terms of malt. The porter and ESB use floor malted varieties; we&rsquo;re using the best we can. The ESB is very, very traditional: English yeast, English malt and late hopping with East Kent Goldings. It has low carbonation and the only things that are perhaps not traditional are the use of Magnum [an American hop] for bittering and the five percent alcohol is perhaps a little high for the style.&rdquo;</p> <p>As for why the team behind Punt Road and Napoleone Cider moved into beer, he says it&rsquo;s simple.</p> <p>&ldquo;Joe [one of the owners] loves beer! He has a real passion for it so put up the capital [for the brewery]. He has backed me and let me get the things for the brewery I wanted to achieve the quality I want.&rdquo;</p> <p>What that means is a few additions and enhancements to the Moo Brew kit, which is now installed as part of the Brewery and Ciderhouse, where the ten taps in the tasting room built from the foundations of a 19th century dairy are shared between Ben&rsquo;s brews and cidermaker Behn Payten&rsquo;s creations, themselves based upon the fruits of the onsite orchards. Among the additions are a packaging line that will allow Ben to send bottled product out into the wider world &ndash; along with kegs &ndash; as he develops the Napoleone range.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to go maltier,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve given myself six to 12 months experimenting in the brewhouse to see how it behaves and to perfect recipes. I want to have a look at our wine barrels and am always playing around with new ingredients.</p> <p>&ldquo;The plan at the minute is to try not to make any massive hoppy beers and hopefully people will want to try something that isn&rsquo;t an IPA, except maybe a traditional English IPA. I&rsquo;m looking more to Belgian and German styles.</p> <p>&ldquo;Mead was the first [alcoholic beverage] I ever attempted and that got me into fermenting stuff. Scott from <a href="">Red Duck</a> interests me with his variety and approach &ndash; doing something new and challenging yourself.&rdquo;</p> <p>The brewery and tasting room is open seven days a week and Ben has set up his working week so he&rsquo;s there on Saturdays, the busiest day, and, if not brewing or packaging, on hand to chat to visitors about his beers, brewing and beer generally.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all about education,&rdquo; he says.</p> <p>Education and great tasting beer, of course. Something he&rsquo;s determined to bring to the Valley and beyond.</p> <p><em><a href="">Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse</a> is at 12 St Huberts Road, Coldstream.</em></p> Out Back /news/post/out-back/ 2014-09-16T00:00:00Z james <p>It&rsquo;s not just beer styles being bastardised in the craft beer world these days. It seems that increasingly the lines between bars and bottleshops are being blurred too. In Victoria in particular, where the likes of drink-in bottleshops such as Mordialloc Cellar Door and Chapel St Cellars have been operating for many years, and where, after expanding and installing additional taps in the kitchen, <a href="">Valley Cellar Door</a> asked to be moved from the Crafty bottleshop directory to the one for venues, the hybrids keep on coming.</p> <p>In the past two months alone, two popular bottleshops have added bars at the back of their stores. First to open was the six-tap affair at Grape &amp; Grain in Moorabbin, with <a href="">Carwyn Cellars</a> in Thornbury following suit in the past fortnight. They are united by more than their melding of bar and bottleshop as one too; like fellow Melbourne bottleshop-with-taps <a href="">Slowbeer</a>, peruse their draught offerings and you&rsquo;ll find them heavily weighted in favour of the esoteric as opposed to the every day.</p> <p>&ldquo;I just wanted my own bar,&rdquo; says Ben Carwyn, who has operated a bottleshop in Thornbury High Street for a number of years and first told us of his intention to add a bar three years ago.</p> <p>&ldquo;[When we moved to the current site] the spot lent itself to this situation. We have the ability to expand if needed too.&rdquo;</p> <p>Having offered a sneak peek of the Back Bar – when it was still a work-in-progress – during this year&rsquo;s Good Beer Week, the finished version was unveiled earlier this month. It features 16 taps on a single font &ndash; &ldquo;The biggest single font in Melbourne, I think!&rdquo; says Ben with faux hubris &ndash; as well as 140 whisk(e)ys, a lineup of Mezcals that will rise to 40 and a colourful wine list that includes such rarities as orange wine alongside a selection of natural wines.</p> <p>One tap will always pour a &ldquo;house beer&rdquo;, with staff member Ben Duval bringing some of his homebrew recipes to life in partnership with nearby <a href="">3 Ravens</a>, while there is a food offering of cheese and charcuterie that will be expanded through a partnership with local Lebanese &ldquo;inauthentic pizza&rdquo; venue, the Moor&rsquo;s Head.</p> <p>Aside from the long bar, the venue features a series of tall benches &ndash; long and short, lightbulbs hanging low on long leads from the ceiling and walls lined with artwork. There is also seating on the graffiti-lined pavement outside.</p> <p>&ldquo;The offering ranges from left of centre to very left of centre,&rdquo; says Ben. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re looking to do some takeovers and launched with one from Feral and will always have three or four solid dark beers on. We had to consciously rein in the list otherwise, if we did it to our own tastes, it would be too big, too many high ABV beers, and too many big flavours.&rdquo;</p> <p><div class="captioned med_rightCaptioned"> <img alt="Carwyn-Back-Bar-2" class="med_right" src="" title="Carwyn-Back-Bar-2" /> <blockquote><p>Ben Carwyn manning his big boy&rsquo;s font</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>He says they&rsquo;re in the process of making their own bitters as well as their own tonic water and will be adding the ability to put beers under nitrogen as well. Add to that plans for beer events and beer launches and it seems fair to say Melbourne has a quality new northern outpost for craft beer.</p> <p>Since opening the bar, the Bens have also noticed an increase in takings at the bottleshop, a pleasant side benefit that has also been witnessed at Grape &amp; Grain (not to be confused with Yarraville home brew specialist <a href="beer/bar/grain-grape/">Grain &amp; Grape</a>.). The bottleshop opened at the end of 2012, bringing a great selection of quality brews to an area that had previously been something of a desert. Spotting potential in a site close to the Nepean Highway and Moorabbin train station, social media and word of mouth soon saw John Tei&rsquo;s venue become a destination for beer lovers from the eastern suburbs and Mornington Peninsula alike, with the lure increasing since the bar was opened.</p> <p>&ldquo;The regular tastings we were holding were getting bigger and we had the space,&rdquo; says John. &ldquo;We rang the council that the end of 2013 thinking it would be a nightmare. They came out the next day and said, &lsquo;Fantastic. How can we help?&rsquo;.</p> <p>&ldquo;They said it was just what they needed the area.&rdquo;</p> <p>Thus he set about turning the back half of the bottleshop into a &ldquo;home from home&rdquo;, with 40 seats of the vintage shop kind, plus chess, cribbage and the like. And it&rsquo;s proved to be a combination that people like.</p> <p><div class="captioned medCaptioned"> <img alt="Grape-and-Grape-John-Moorabbin-Junction" class="med" src="" title="Grape-and-Grape-John-Moorabbin-Junction" /> <blockquote><p>A happy John Tei</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going fantastically well,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not making a lot of noise yet it is growing organically. We&rsquo;re getting a great craft beer crowd coming along as well as a lot of locals.&rdquo;</p> <p>As with the Carwyn Back Bar, every tap is a rotating one – when we spoke to John he was pouring Make Beer&rsquo;s Apple Pie Rye alongside beers from 8 Wired, Yeastie Boys, Rodenbach and Doctor&rsquo;s Orders – and is turning them over fast.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s given us a hell of a lift,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We couldn&rsquo;t be happier.&rdquo;</p> <p>And with plans under way to add a nano-brewery to the venue in the future, it seems the story may not be finished yet…</p> <p><em><a href="">Grape &amp; Grain</a> is at 14-16 Station Street, Moorabbin and is open until 11pm all week (although tends to close earlier at the start of the week.</em></p> <p><em><a href="">Carwyn Cellars</a> Back Bar is open 10am to late seven days a week, with a 2am license when required.</em></p> <p><em>Photo of John Tei from the <a href="">Moorabbin Junction website</a>.</em></p> Craft Beer Awards Need U /news/post/craft-beer-awards-need-u/ 2014-09-15T00:00:00Z james <p>Next month will see Australia&rsquo;s first Craft Beer Awards take place in Sydney. They have been launched by the Craft Beer Industry Association (CBIA), a national association representing craft breweries in Australia. With submissions closed, they have received 277 beer entries from 80 breweries &ndash; and now they need help running the various stages of judging and the awards night.</p> <p>Volunteers are required for a number of positions both in the run up to and on the presentation night at the Giant Dwarf Theatre on October 24 during Sydney Craft Beer Week. They cover a range of roles, with volunteers receiving various benefits, including a t-shirt, meals, beer and a half price ticket to said awards night. The first duties kick in in less than a month so applications are needed pronto.</p> <p>The available positions and dates required are as follows:</p> <ul> <li>Sorting Team (4 volunteers) &ndash; October 13 to 17 at Tooheys Lidcome</li> <li>Database Guru (1 volunteer) – October 21 &amp; 22 at Novotel Olympic Park</li> <li>Table Captain (5 volunteers) &ndash; October 21 &amp; 22 at Novotel Olympic Park</li> <li>Stewards (10 volunteers) &ndash; October 21 &amp; 22 at Novotel Olympic Park</li> <li>Comment Cards (3 volunteers) &ndash; October 21 &amp; 22 at Novotel Olympic Park</li> <li>Randomising Crew (2 volunteers) &ndash; October 21 &amp; 22 at Novotel Olympic Park</li> <li>Awards Team (4 volunteers) October 24 at Giant Dwarf Theatre</li> </ul> <p>Full details of what each of these roles entails as well as more information on the volunteers requirements and benefits can be found on the CBIA website <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p>To apply, fill in the form found <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p>Please note: If you are affiliated with a brewery that has beers entered in the competition unfortunately CBIA cannot accept your help with the sorting or judging processes but would welcome your assistance with the awards ceremony.</p> Stockings & Spice /news/post/stockings-spice/ 2014-09-12T00:00:00Z james <p>Admittedly, you are opening yourself up to all sorts of danger when inviting a whole bunch of brewers into your home to brew a collaborative beer for which there is only a loose concept, plans to design it on the hop, and an instruction to the visiting brewers to &ldquo;bring along anything you might like to add to the brew&rdquo;.</p> <p>That was how the second annual Down South brew day at <a href="">Cheeky Monkey</a> in the Margaret River region started out, featuring brewers from <a href="">Cowaramup</a>, <a href="">Colonial Brewery</a>, <a href="">Bootleg Brewery</a>, <a href="">Eagle Bay Brewery</a>, Duckstein, Bush Shack and the soon-to-open WA wing of <a href="">Young Henrys</a> &ndash; as well as Roxy Boubis from Five Bar in Perth, where the beer will be launched. Things were going fine – Bootleg had brought some Galaxy hops, Colonial had brought some Enigma, but most had just turned up to lend a hand – when Nick d'Espeissis from Eagle Bay wandered in and announced he&rsquo;d brought some star anise and cinnamon quills to add to the brew.</p> <p>&ldquo;We had a rough idea of what we wanted to do from talking over email beforehand,&rdquo; says host brewer, Alex Poulsen of Cheeky Monkey. &ldquo;We knew we wanted to do something Belgian using our house yeast and something with a reddish colour, something nice and drinkable that would keep everyone happy, from the beer geeks to those just wanting a drink.</p> <p>&ldquo;Then Nick rolled in with the spices and the smell from the star anise permeated the brewery. We didn&rsquo;t know if we had anything in the brewery to put them in to add them to the beer so at one stage were considering using Roxy&rsquo;s stockings&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p>In the end another solution was found and the rest of the brew day went smoothly. The beer, which will turn out around about 6 percent, will be launched at Five Bar&rsquo;s South-West in the City during WA Beer Week. Kegs will also appear at The Pourhouse in Dunsborough as well as several of the British hating breweries.</p> <p>The name has yet to be decided – they are looking at Bitsa (as it&rsquo;s a bitsa everything beer) or Roxy&rsquo;s Stockings (for obvious reasons) – to follow last year&rsquo;s Council Worker, so named as there were so many brewers in the building that the was six or seven of them standing around with nothing to do for most of the day but supervise the one person working.</p> <p>As for the inspiration for the collaboration, it first came from Colonial head brewer Justin Fox, who was keen to take advantage of the fact there are so many microbreweries in the region.</p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s pretty special what we have down here,&rdquo; says Alex. &ldquo;The Brewers get on really well and drink each other&rsquo;s beers. It&rsquo;s a really good community.&rdquo;</p> <p>As for life at Cheeky Monkey, he says: &ldquo;We are ticking along nicely. I&rsquo;ve been tweaking the recipes [of former brewer Jared Proudfoot who is building a new brewery called Pirate Life in SA] and enjoying the calm of the winter period before things explode later in the year.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have a double IPA coming out in the next couple of weeks – 8.5 percent and stupidly hopped – and there will be a new addition to the core range.&rdquo;</p> <p>The South West in the City event is at Five Bar, Mt Lawley, on October 26, where the collab will be pouring as part of a celebration of beers crafted in south WA. There will be a south west inspired lunch board to match too. It kicks off from 12pm and tickets cost $50.00 and are available from Five Bar.</p> Australia Reigns Supreme /news/post/australia-reigns-supreme/ 2014-09-10T00:00:00Z james <p>Australian brewers have taken out the two most prestigious trophies at the world&rsquo;s largest package beer competition. For the second year running, Sydney&rsquo;s Redoak won the Supreme Champion beer award. Last year, it&rsquo;s sublime Special Reserve barrel-aged barley wine took the top prize with the 2014 trophy going to its Château Sour, a wild-fermented Flemish red. And, following up a trophy for its Australian IPA in 2013, this year saw Hawthorn Brewing Company named Supreme Champion Brewer after picking up a gold for its Golden Ale and three silvers for other beers.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are absolutely rapt,&rdquo; says Hawthorn co-founder Peter Willis. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a real honour. We did well last year getting the trophy but went better this time.</p> <p>&ldquo;[Fellow owner] Darren [Milo] lives in London now so went along to the awards on Monday night. He accepted the award and said it was a great night – when we got called up he was like, &lsquo;What?!?&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p> <p>Hawthorn marked five years as a brewing company this year, with the past 12 months their most successful yet, both in terms of sales and competition success. For the time being at least they continue to have brewer Hamish Reed&rsquo;s recipes brewed under contract at BrewPack in Sydney, having previously utilised <a href="">Mildura Brewery</a> and <a href="">Southern Bay</a>, although Peter says the hunt for their own premises has been stepped up over the course of this year with the intention to find somewhere in – or at least close to – Hawthorn in time.</p> <p>&ldquo;These awards vindicate to some degree what we are doing,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Contract brewing can get a bad rap, but BrewPack brew a lot of beers for a lot of breweries yet only one is winning awards.&rdquo;</p> <p>He describes the Golden Ale, the latest addition to their core range &ndash; alongside Pale, Amber, Pilsner and Australian IPA &ndash; as &ldquo;fruity and floral&rdquo;, brewed with all Aussie hops Summer, Topaz, Galaxy and Pride of Ringwood.</p> <p>&ldquo;We missed out on entering it into the Australian International Beer Awards as we didn&rsquo;t have any of the first batch in stock,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So we sent over some of the second batch to the UK and are very pleased.&rdquo;</p> <p><div class="captioned med_rightCaptioned"> <img alt="Hawthorn-brewing-" class="med_right" src="" title="Hawthorn-brewing-" /> <blockquote><p>Hawthorn&rsquo;s trophy haul</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>Redoak&rsquo;s co-founder and head brewer David Hollyoak <em>(pictured above enjoying one of his supreme champion beers)</em> said he was &ldquo;pretty stoked&rdquo; to take out the champion beer trophy for the second year running. He was especially pleased that the Château Sour had won the title as it is a beer that he has been playing around with for some years.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve always felt it&rsquo;s a pretty special style of beer,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The malts we use are Château malts from the oldest family-owned maltings in Belgium [Castle Malting]. They have about 10 malts that are uniquely theirs and they give the beer these unique malt flavours.</p> <p>&ldquo;The beer is wild fermented in barrels, which give it a bit of wood, but as we use old barrels you don&rsquo;t get too much. It&rsquo;s more about the malts and the wild sourness: you get a hint of malt sweetness then really well balanced sourness. It&rsquo;s a Flemish red so Rodenbach is probably the closest comparison. It&rsquo;s a bit like the sweet and sour coke bottles you used to get as a kid: sweetness outside and sourness inside.&rdquo;</p> <p>The trophy follows success for Redoak&rsquo;s Icebreaker, an eisbock that took out the top prize at the Queensland Royal Beer Show and was brewed for Redoak&rsquo;s 10 year anniversary this year. Both beers are currently only available at the Redoak Cafe in Sydney&rsquo;s CBD but there are plans to have some Château Sour ready for release in time for Christmas.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s exciting that Australia is getting recognition for sours because there&rsquo;s quite a few getting into them now,&rdquo; says David. &ldquo;Red Duck is doing some, Bridge Road brew some farmhouse ales, Two Metre Tall are doing sour ales and a Kriek, which is fantastic.</p> <p>&ldquo;What amazes me is that the ones I have tasted in Australia from people who have done it for the first time is that they have done an awesome job.&rdquo;</p> <p>The International Beer Challenge is the largest packaged beer competition in the world. This year a team of 30 judges – made up of brewers, retailers, publicans, flavour analysts and journalists from across the globe – awarded just 30 gold medals to the 570 beers entered. Beers were divided into six categories – ales up to 5 percent ABV, ales above 5 percent abv, stout or porter, lager, wheat beer and speciality beer. After the medals were awarded, the most experienced judges met in London to taste all the gold medallists before awarding the trophies.</p> <p>You can view a full list of trophy winners and medallists <a href="">here</a>.</p> Setting Up Homestead /news/post/setting-up-homestead/ 2014-09-08T00:00:00Z james <p>One of Australia&rsquo;s most highly regarded brewers is set to return to the beer scene after a hiatus spent scouring the country for a new adventure. And he is doing so at the helm of a brand new brewery that means serious business. And by serious business, we mean <em>serious</em>, with the owners becoming the first in Australia, possibly even the Southern Hemisphere, to import a brewery from the world&rsquo;s oldest established brewery manufacturer, Germany&rsquo;s Kaspar Schulz, and planning to fully utilise barrels from the winery with which it shares a home for various ageing and sour beer programs.</p> <p>The brewery is called Homestead and will pour the first beers at its 2,500 capacity Swan Valley home later this month. The brewer is Ron Feruglio, who first made his name creating beers under the Temple banner as a &ldquo;gypsy brewer&rdquo; on other people&rsquo;s breweries around Victoria before helping to establish Temple&rsquo;s own home in Brunswick East. Following a change of ownership last year, Ron left Temple before being lured out west by the grand vision of property developer Allan Erceg, who arrived in Australia from Croatia with his family in the 1950s and is establishing a multi-million dollar tourist attraction at Mandoon.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an opportunity to brew the beers that I like to brew, that I have a reputation for,&rdquo; says Ron. &ldquo;Everything is about quality – no compromises. It&rsquo;s not about volume sales. The wine is premium, the food is premium and the beer will be premium.&rdquo;</p> <p>As for how he ended up swapping coasts, he says: &ldquo;They heard I was looking for a project so we got in touch, I came over and spent the whole day chatting about it and looking at the place being constructed. It was very much a case of a meeting of the minds. There&rsquo;s a really nice cross-pollenation [between the different elements of the business] to make it the best place we can.&rdquo;</p> <p>From a beer point of view, that extends to sharing the love between the winery, Mandoon Estate, and the brewery.</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a great synergy between the two,&rdquo; says Ron. &ldquo;The winemaker [Ryan Sudano] only uses barrels once so I have an endless supply of wine barrels. We already have a barrel ageing and sours program in place. They&rsquo;re going to build me my own cellar so I can keep the sours away from everybody.&rdquo;</p> <p><div class="captioned med_rightCaptioned"> <img alt="RonFeruglio2" class="med_right" src="" title="RonFeruglio2" /> <blockquote><p>Ron Ferulgio at his new home in the west</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>It sounds like the ultimate craft brewer&rsquo;s playground, and even over the phone it&rsquo;s easy to sense Ron&rsquo;s enthusiasm for the project. For those interested in the details, his shiny new toy from the family-run Kaspar Schulz, which has been making breweries and brewing parts since 1677, is a fully automated, 20 hectolitre system comprising a mash kettle, separate lauter tun and a whirlpool. There are six 40 hectolitre fermenters, similar sized bright tanks, serving tanks to supply the three bars and 48 taps in total in the building. It is, he says, &ldquo;a beautiful marriage between traditional look and method and modern cutting edge technology&rdquo;.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was chosen for quality but it also has the looks,&rdquo; says Ron. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a showpiece with mirror polished stainless steel domes, backed up by the quality of craftmanship and history and tradition of its manufacturer.</p> <p>&ldquo;It allows me to do some really cool things too, like with the Hefeweizen [called Kaiser&rsquo;s Choice] I brew it using a <a href="">triple decoction technique</a> &ndash; the old school way of doing it &ndash; and it&rsquo;s tasting gorgeous.</p> <p>&ldquo;The results are outstanding: all German malts, a German brewhouse and traditional German brewing techniques &ndash; it&rsquo;s as German as you&rsquo;re going to get!&rdquo;</p> <p>The brewery and associated venues, which include the region&rsquo;s original homestead, are located just 25 minutes drive from the centre of Perth, in an area already well served by microbreweries, with the likes of <a href="">Mash Brewing</a>, <a href="">Feral</a>, Duckstein and Ironbark all calling Swan Valley home. Alternatively, you can visit by boat; the venue has its own jetty on the banks of the Swan.</p> <p>Once there, you can make yourself at home in the beer garden, a fine dining restaurant, the brewery tavern, a deli and provedore or pull up a pew on the deck overlooking the vineyard. To put things in perspective, there are 30 chefs there led by Michael Hartnell, whose CV takes in Eureka 89 in Melbourne as well as big name restaurants in New York and London. The site will play host to concerts for 1,500 people and the owners are opening a series of individual, architect-designed townhouses.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s awesome,&rdquo; says Ron. &ldquo;A one-stop destination.&rdquo;</p> <p><div class="captioned medCaptioned"> <img alt="Homestead-brewing-3" class="med" src="" title="Homestead-brewing-3" /> <blockquote><p>The restored original Swan Valley homestead</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>The owners will be hoping the brewery matches the success of the winery. Mandoon Estate is home to the oldest vines in the Swan Valley and, since releasing its first wines in 2012, has picked up numerous awards. Initially, the beers will only be pouring at the venue itself as Ron concocts enough to fill the taps, but the plan then is to put them on at select venues around Perth with the occasional excursion outside WA too. In fact, some of his beers will be on the lineup for <a href="">The Alehouse Project</a>&rsquo;s next Hopfest.</p> <p>As well as the Kaiser&rsquo;s Choice and plans for the aforementioned barrel program, Ron has already brewed a pale ale, Belgian pale, a Munich helles style lager and a pilsner and will be making both a cider and perry in time for this summer while creating a barrel-fermented Normandy style cider for release next year featuring apples from a local orchard.</p> <p>&ldquo;Everything here is about keeping things local and real,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a couple taking all of our spent grain to feed their pigs and cattle. We&rsquo;ll then buy the pigs and cattle to use in the fine dining restaurant.&rdquo;</p> <p>He&rsquo;s enjoying the experience of living and working in a different beer culture to Victoria too, describing craft beer around Perth as &ldquo;a bit more established&rdquo; and requiring less &ldquo;looking over your shoulder to see what other people are doing&rdquo;.</p> <p>Which is all well and good, but the most important question is a very simple one: &ldquo;Will there be a black IPA?&rdquo;</p> <p>The answer, happily, is: yes.</p> <p><em>Homestead Brewery&rsquo;s soft opening is on September 15. You can keep up to date with happenings there via <a href="">Twitter</a>, <a href="">Instagram</a> and <a href="">Facebook</a>.</em></p> Riders On The Storm /news/post/riders-on-the-storm/ 2014-09-03T00:00:00Z james <p>These days, if you want to catch drinkers' eyes from the off, chances are you&rsquo;ll plump for something overloaded with hops, high in alcohol, aged in a barrel or based on an obscure style. New Melbourne-based brewing company Barrow Boys decided to do things a little differently, however: they launched with a lager, that oft-dismissed-by-the-hardcore branch of the beer family.</p> <p>That said, it&rsquo;s not your common or garden pale lager. Sure, it&rsquo;s not overloaded with hops, high in alcohol, aged in a barrel or based on an obscure style, but it&rsquo;s different enough to catch the drinker&rsquo;s eye. Rusty amber in colour and awash with layers of toffee and biscuit malt flavours, it&rsquo;s loosely based on the Vienna lager / Marzen style that is usually only rolled out by brewers as a one-off at Oktoberfest time. In fact, so rare are permanently available Vienna lagers in Australia that when we discovered recently that we could find no Sam Adams Boston Lager for a beer course we were running (that was due to start in an hour) with Miro Bellini from Good Beer Week there was a moment&rsquo;s panic.</p> <p>&ldquo;Who else brews or brings in a Vienna lager year round?&rdquo; we asked Miro.</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s Brooklyn Lager.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Yeah, but we&rsquo;re already using their Black Chocolate Stout.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Ummmm&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p>Lightbulb moment!</p> <p>&ldquo;Hang on. What about the Stormy Lager from that new lot, Barrow Boys?&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m standing right in front of some now.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Perfect.&rdquo;</p> <p>A fortnight later, in the company of Ash Hazell and Justin Trail, two-thirds of the fledgling company set up by former <a href="">Little Creatures</a> CEO Ross Sudano, it turns out this was no accident.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a wide open playground,&rdquo; says sales/marketing guy Justin of the gap in the current Australian beer market for a darker, maltier lager.</p> <p>&ldquo;People are brewing great, hoppy beers,&rdquo; adds Ash, &ldquo;but I figured that the real hero of beer is malt.</p> <p>&ldquo;I love a good craft lager so when we started out doing trial brews and having a lot of conversations about beer, we wanted to do a lager or darker beer of some sort. We got some of my favourite dark lagers from around the world and then it was up to me to take our ideas and make them into a beer.&rdquo;</p> <p>Thus it was that he created the Stormy Lager, featuring a range of specialty crystal malts, as Barrow Boys' first release.</p> <p>&ldquo;You give it to a customer [expecting a pale lager] and they start looking at it sideways,&rdquo; says Justin. &ldquo;They see it pour and it&rsquo;s so dark but then there&rsquo;s that comfort when they try it and it tastes light. It&rsquo;s a bit of surprise.&rdquo;</p> <p>The style wasn&rsquo;t chosen purely to fill a gap in the market or to surprise people. It is a beer close to brewer Ash&rsquo;s heart. He learnt his craft at Little Creatures in Fremantle, where he spent eight years working alongside head brewer Russell Gosling as well as brewing at the Generous Squire brewpub in central Perth. During that time, he worked on a number of their Single Batch releases, including the (in some quarters misunderstood) Marzen, a Vienna lager that was his favourite of all Single Batches, designing the Puffing Billy Bock (another dark lager) and brewing a Marzen at the Generous Squire for good measure too.</p> <p>More recently, he was enticed to switch coasts by his former boss.</p> <p><div class="captioned med_rightCaptioned"> <img alt="Barrow-Boys-1" class="med_right" src="" title="Barrow-Boys-1" /> <blockquote><p>Ash and Justin at this year&rsquo;s GABS</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>&ldquo;Following the Lion takeover [of Little World Beverages that owned Little Creatures and White Rabbit] I didn&rsquo;t want to be there much longer,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Then Ross called me and said, &lsquo;Ash, would you consider moving to Melbourne?&rsquo; and I knew what was coming.&rdquo;</p> <p>He joined Justin, who has past experience in the beer world with Matilda Bay and Thunder Road in Australia and Good George in New Zealand, and set about getting Barrow Boys off the ground. Much of the early months were spent looking for a venue in which to open their own brewery, with the intended location North Melbourne. That hunt continues &ndash; still focused on inner Melbourne &ndash; with Ash regularly travelling to Mildura Brewery to brew and package their beers in the meantime.</p> <p>The name, however, was inspired by their search for a site around the markets of North Melbourne.</p> <p>&ldquo;Barrow boys is a term for the market vendors, the ones who would spend too much time hanging around the markets,&rdquo; explains Justin. &ldquo;They&rsquo;d be selling fresh produce, hand sold, and be happy to put their backs into it.&rdquo;</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s how they envisage Barrow Boys the brewers: suppliers of fresh, locally produced beer into their local market. Indeed, for now at least, there are no plans to target markets outside Melbourne with both Justin and Ash enjoying the challenges of being part of a small, start-up business.</p> <p>&ldquo;We share everything,&rdquo; says Ash. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what small business is. The main thing is it has to be sustainable, but we want to do our craft and to create a work environment that we enjoy. It&rsquo;s never going to be the next Little Creatures or Matilda Bay.&rdquo;</p> <p>As for immediate future plans, the next notable milestone will be beer number two. They&rsquo;re keeping things close to their chests, stating at one point that it will be &ldquo;hoppier&rdquo; and &ldquo;an ale&rdquo; before adding: &ldquo;Nothing&rsquo;s set in stone.&rdquo;</p> <p>Most immediately, however, they will be at <a href="">Flavour Exchange</a> in Fed Square this week if anyone is in Melbourne and fancies sampling some Stormy Lager with them in person. And, as of yesterday, <a href="">their website</a> is live too.</p> Hoppier Dogs /news/post/hoppier-dogs/ 2014-09-01T00:00:00Z james <p>Having celebrated turning three with four days of festivities in Sydney and its hometown of Nowra, one of Australia&rsquo;s most out there breweries is bigger, older and wiser. Well, the first two at least. After all, how many of the fans of the weird and wild beers that have spewed forth from <a href="">HopDog BeerWorks</a> in the past three years would want co-owner and head brewer Tim Thomas getting all sensible?</p> <p>Signs are he&rsquo;s not, certainly judging by some of the beers due for release in the coming weeks and months. Superbeast 2014 is on its way and sits &ldquo;somewhere between a double IPA and barley wine&rdquo; and features $600 of malt and $600 of hops in a mere 800 litre brew. And that&rsquo;s pretty tame compared to another couple.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve done a collaboration with Adam from Platinum Liquor,&rdquo; explains Tim. &ldquo;The idea was to create a beer to drink with the Coen brothers reimagination of True Grit so we created an American strong ale with some smoke and a little bit of rye that is currently ageing on Bourbon chips.</p> <p>&ldquo;Then I was talking about it to the guys at Plonk in Canberra and they said they had access to the Australian film archives. So for Canberra Beer Week we are brewing a beer for a screening of the 2003 film Undead, an Australian zombie horror film. We&rsquo;re trying to get in contact with the writers of the film to let them know and have sourced some locally grown seaweed so that we can create a Japanese/Norwegian IPA inspired by one of the lines in the film.&rdquo;</p> <p>So maybe not wiser but certainly bigger. Four times bigger these days, in fact. The brewery started out operating a 200 litre Braumeister brewhouse &ndash; capable of no more than four kegs per batch to put things in perspective &ndash; yet remarkably had beers in venues across the country within the first year. With an eye-catching schtick and unique releases regularly featuring unusual ingredients or untried combinations of ingredients and ageing processes, HopDog beers were soon being clutched close to many a beer geek&rsquo;s heart and, as consistency has improved and demand has continued to grow, Tim and wife Tess had little choice but to upgrade. Thus, earlier this year a new brewery and additional tanks went in.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was around Christmas last year when we ran out of beer again and went, &lsquo;Screw it!&rsquo;,&rdquo; says Tim. &ldquo;We had to upgrade as we were pedalling backwards.</p> <p>&ldquo;[In some ways] it&rsquo;s a great position to be in. The terrible part is when places are calling you wanting your beer and you have to tell them you don&rsquo;t have any or that they need to wait a couple of weeks.</p> <p>&ldquo;We figure that 800 litres is probably the size we are happy to go with so we got my wife&rsquo;s cousin in to convert a couple of tanks – an English cellar tank became our kettle [named Gorak] and one that was sat in a yard at the back of a local starch plant that is now our mash tun [called Sir Mashalot]. We&rsquo;ve got a couple of 10 kW elements inside the kettle which are like giant light sabres.&rdquo;</p> <p><div class="captioned med_rightCaptioned"> <img alt="HopDog-12" class="med_right" src="" title="HopDog-12" /> <blockquote><p>Tanks</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>Continuing with the themes of expansion and Start Wars, the fact they have more beer to package and distribute led Tim and Tess (&ldquo;general manager, main maker of decisions in terms of buying stuff, the person who when she calls about an overdue invoice you know you <em>have</em> to pay, reiner in of my excesses&rdquo;) have recently taken on their first permanent employee, going by the name Jedi Matt, although Tim admits Dogsbody Matt would be just as fitting as he handles cleaning, packaging, distribution and the like.</p> <p>As for how HopDog managed to get as far as its third anniversary having started out on such a tiny system, based in a town with little in the way of craft beer credentials and making frequently insane beers, Tim says: &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know!</p> <p>&ldquo;My wife and I always say that if we want to do it, will make it happen.&rdquo;</p> <p>A recent challenge that threatened to torpedo the business involved their bank. They went to see their existing one with regards to financing the expansion and were told they would be getting no more money.</p> <p>&ldquo;We were freaking out,&rdquo; says Tim. &ldquo;Then we went around the corner to another bank and they said, &lsquo;How much do you want?&rsquo;.</p> <p>&ldquo;Now we are kind of back at the same spot we were at three years ago: do it now [the expansion] as there&rsquo;s no perfect time. It&rsquo;s fantastic and just this week we have had our celebration beers and there&rsquo;s been more new people come in and say they didn&rsquo;t even know we were here, people who had driven past every day and said they never saw our sign <em>(pictured at top)</em>.&rdquo;</p> <p>In terms of highlights from the first three years of HopDog, Tim plumps for this year&rsquo;s Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular in Melbourne during Good Beer Week. His beer, Brett the Bloody Orange, polled ninth out of more than 100 beers in the People&rsquo;s Choice. He admits to having a soft spot for Horns Up too, the rye IPA that is one of his longest and most commonly brewed beers (look out for more now that he has secured a fresh supply of Riwaka hops from NZ) as well as the All Hallowed Ale that he releases each Halloween that has proved hugely popular.</p> <p><div class="captioned medCaptioned"> <img alt="HopDog-11" class="med" src="" title="HopDog-11" /> <blockquote><p>The event-friendly (if leaky) brewery bar</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>They have also hosted sit down events inside the brewery this year and plan to do so again in the future, making full use of the brewery bar that was opened on Australia Day.</p> <p>&ldquo;I finally got my dad to come to the brewery to do some things,&rdquo; says Tim. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s an engineer and designed our tap set up in the brewery. Unfortunately, it leaks like a sieve so I guess that&rsquo;s what engineers do. Let&rsquo;s just say it&rsquo;s a work in progress&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p>If you&rsquo;d like to check out the work in progress, <a href="">HopDog BeerWorks</a>&lsquo; home in Nowra is open from 10am Wednesday to Saturday. Look out for a host of HopDog collaborations and events during this year&rsquo;s Sydney Craft Beer Week as well.</p> A New Modus Operandi /news/post/a-new-modus-operandi/ 2014-08-26T00:00:00Z james <p>For six months Grant and Jaz Wearin lived the beer lover’s dream; travelling around the West Coast of the USA visiting every brewery they could. But it wasn’t a holiday. Well, it was &ndash; but it wasn’t just a holiday. The Aussie couple had a loose idea to open up a brewery of their own back home, so this was effectively R&amp;D.</p> <p>Says Grant: “The idea had always been simmering away, but then when we were in the States we thought, ‘This can definitely be done’. From the day we got back, which was January 2013, I worked pretty much full time on it &ndash; my wife’s still at work &ndash; and here we are 18 months later.”</p> <p>&ldquo;Here&rdquo; is Mona Vale, in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where the Modus Operandi brewery opened at the end of July. It’s not an area known for beer, but when you pull up to the gates and see tables full of happy drinkers it’s clear that there’s as much thirst for it here as anywhere else. Part of the appeal is in the venue itself, with the brewery, bar and casual dining venue benefiting from the Wearins having taken note of what they liked most about the breweries they visited and trying to incorporate the best elements into their own business.</p> <p>“We definitely picked and chose,&ldquo; says Grant. "We took a lot of inspiration from Portland and Colorado in particular.”</p> <p>While they may have taken inspiration from those areas, they took something else too: brewer DJ McCready. Having worked at the famed Oskar Blues brewery, DJ’s move to Australia just happened to work out, as he explains in his laid back North Carolina drawl.</p> <p>“I was planning on coming over here anyway just to do some travelling to Australia and New Zealand and I knew the craft brewing scene was taking off, so thought maybe I might be able to land a job somewhere &ndash; or maybe just have a cool holiday.</p> <p>&ldquo;But I started talking to one of my buddies at Rogue about it and he called me a few weeks later saying, &lsquo;If you’re serious about it, these guys are opening up a brewery right outside of Sydney and I think it’d be right up your alley &ndash; they want to do all these cool different beers.&rsquo; And it just worked out, so here I am!”</p> <p>He’s made his presence felt immediately. Where many new breweries in Australia are the project of a homebrewer-turned-pro and invariably involve a bit of a ‘settling in’ period as they come to terms with the larger equipment, DJ’s experience has meant Modus Operandi has hit the ground running. Indeed, it takes a certain level of gumption to open a brewery with seven beers, including two saisons. The rest of the initial range is made up of a cream ale, pale ale, two IPAs and a porter. As Grant suggests, it’s a deliberately expansive selection designed to make a bit of a statement.</p> <p>“We knew from our travels that first impressions really last so it was important for us to have a good lineup and be able to say, &lsquo;This is what we’re going to be doing&rsquo;. We’re going to have more, but seven was really all we could pull off in a couple of months.”</p> <p>And pulled it off they have, with the first batch of brews proving a hit from top to bottom of the list. Says Grant: “The cream ale’s designed to be highly sessionable &ndash; a classic California Common style and our unashamed gateway beer, but it’s got flavour. We actually had a debate about whether Australia was ready for a cream ale. DJ won and he’s still winning because it’s really popular.”</p> <p>At the other end of the spectrum, if you were to pick one brew that will have hardcore beer lovers hooked, it’s likely to be the Former Tenant, an unashamedly bold, Mosaic hop-fuelled, 7.8 percent US-style IPA.</p> <p>“Former Tenant has been our biggest selling big beer,&ldquo; says Grant, "which I’d call anything over about 6 per cent. I’m super stoked with how it turned out. We’ve had a few beer geeks in here chewing our ear off about it which is nice.”</p> <p>As well as brewing nous, DJ has brought with him to Australia an acute awareness of beer trends happening in the USA, the country so often cited as being the leader of the pack. To that end, Modus Operandi is set to take the canning revolution up a gear by becoming only the second brewery in the world to offer one litre takeaway cans that are filled directly from the brewery taps (the first was, naturally, his former employer Oskar Blues).</p> <p>Fill your own cans, you might ask? DJ explains&hellip;</p> <p>“Basically it’s a turn-of-the century food can seamer that, at Oskar Blues, we re-did to fit one litre aluminium cans. We fill off our taps, the can goes into the seamer on the bar, spins them around, puts a lid on them and there’s your ready-to-go packaging.</p> <p>&ldquo;We’re still testing it out to make sure it works but at Oskar Blues, where they have the proper testing equipment &ndash; whereas I’m just filling them, shaking the shit out of them and leaving them out for a week and seeing if they still taste good &ndash; they were saying they were getting almost two months out of them. I think you’re probably getting around the same oxygen content as as 330ml bottle but because it’s such a big vessel the amount of oxygen contact is small in comparison.</p> <p>“But we’ll still treat it like a growler and tell people it’s not like a regular can of beer &ndash; you want to drink it pretty quick so hopefully it won’t be a problem. I mean, when I buy beer I have a hard time getting it home before I open it!”</p> <p><img alt="Modus_Operandi_08" class="med_right" src="" title="Modus_Operandi_08" /></p> <p>In the meantime, there are several new beers to focus on. A couple of old Lark Distillery barrels sit atop the chiller, one filled with porter and the other likely to house the red IPA. There are some white wine barrels on the way in anticipation of a sour beer program, a Double IPA in the pipeline, a light summer IPA to come with the changing seasons and a Black Coffee Lager ready to go. The latter is a collaboration done with their the business next door, the Coffee Brothers, who brewed and added the coffee to the tank while it was still warm.</p> <p>Getting their neighbours involved is reflective of what Modus Operandi is already achieving in their new home, namely getting more people interested in beer.</p> <p>“I’ve had so many people come up to me in the brewery and say, &lsquo;I’ve never thought about how beer was made before&rsquo;,&ldquo; says DJ. "It’s a real ‘Whoa!’ moment for them and it’s really cool to be able to educate people, for example, that certain characters you taste or smell come from a hop. Hopefully folks will just be receptive enough to keep trying the beer.”</p> <p>With a great venue pouring some great beer, chances are they will be.</p> <p><em><a href="">Modus Operandi</a> is found at 14 Harkeith Street, Mona Vale.</em></p> Surf Coast Suds /news/post/surf-coast-suds/ 2014-08-21T00:00:00Z james <p>On a recent trip to the Great Ocean Road, a post-beach drink at the Wye Beach Hotel threw up some pleasant surprises. On tap was a choice that included <a href="">Mountain Goat</a>, <a href="">Prickly Moses</a>, <a href="">Southern Bay</a> and <a href="">Forrest Brewery</a> with far more options in the fridge. And if the owners plan to keep supporting their local breweries, they&rsquo;ll soon be able to add another to the list following the opening of Blackman&rsquo;s Brewery in Torquay.</p> <p>The brewery, bar and restaurant that welcomed its first guests through the door earlier this month has been opened by brewer Renn Blackman and his partner Jess Guidice <em>(pictured above)</em> on the town&rsquo;s Bell Street. Just a short walk from the beach, they have installed the brewery formerly found at True South in Blackrock, where Renn used to be the head brewer, at the rear of a restaurant and bar and are already pouring three of Renn&rsquo;s beers: a Belgian-style witbier, a hoppy golden ale and a West Coast-style IPA. And in the kitchen they have Mitch from Beersine, the WA chef who specialises in cooking with beer and beer&rsquo;s ingredients.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d always thought Torquay, Geelong or somewhere on the coast would be amazing for a brewery,&rdquo; says Renn, who grew up half an hour from the brewery. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a great space to live too and is becoming a lot less seasonal.&rdquo;</p> <p>In his six years as a commercial brewer, Renn has covered a lot of ground. His brewing career started out when he trained at Edith Cowan University in WA, with his first professional job at <a href="">The Monk</a> in Fremantle, supplemented by a spot of keg washing at the <a href="">Sail &amp; Anchor</a> across the road. Then there were a few months spent at the Old Swan Brewery before he moved to London and worked at Camden Town, becoming one of many Aussies to spend time there. After a spot of travelling, he returned Australia and became head brewer at True South before setting out on his own.</p> <p>&ldquo;Me and Jess travelled for six months before coming back to Australia and went to some classic beer towns like Pilsen [birthplace of the pilsner], Bamberg [home to Schlenkerla&rsquo;s smoked beers] and Cologne [home of Kolsch] and drank lots of beers,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;We went to quite a few breweries; Cantillon was the most amazing, along with Pilsner Urquell. We&rsquo;re definitely going to do an unfiltered lager as part of our core range because of that experience at Pilsner Urquell and one that Camden used to do.&rdquo;</p> <p><img alt="Blackman_s-Brewery-4" class="med_right" src="" title="Blackman_s-Brewery-4" /></p> <p>The three beers already pouring take their names from his dad and other family members: Bob the witbier, a soft, smooth, fruity and gently spicy number featuring lemon zest, coconut and coriander; Ernie the golden ale, with big tropical hop aromas and plenty of grapefruit hop flavour; and Reginald, the punchy US-inspired IPA that Renn hopes will become the brewery&rsquo;s flagship beer. All three were brewed when the system was still in place at True South before they moved it down the coast.</p> <p>Now that the brewery is in place and commissioned, everything will be brewed onsite and, initially at least, the beers will only be available at the venue itself before they look to send some to local craft beer-supporting venues.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have more tanks coming so we can smash more beer out for summer,&rdquo; says Renn. &ldquo;There have been quite a few local people approach us, like <a href="">Vue Grand</a> that are into their beers, who are keen to get some.&rdquo;</p> <p>As for the decision to bring Mitch over for a couple of months to set up the kitchen and design the menu, apparently it was a case of: &ldquo;Come and cook awesome food, Mitch. We love you!&rdquo;</p> <p><img alt="Blackman_s-Brewery-3" class="med" src="" title="Blackman_s-Brewery-3" /></p> <p>Say Mitch: &ldquo;We worked together at The Monk and when I came over for Good Beer Week I stayed with him and Jess and whenever they come out to WA they stay with us. They love the food we did at The Monk so I submitted a whole heap of ideas, they chose what they wanted, then I came over and looked to see what was left over from the old place and tried to keep costs down as much as possible [ while setting up the new kitchen].&rdquo;</p> <p>Among the beery dishes on the menu are spiced meatballs in a spent grain sauce &ndash; &ldquo;similar to a dish that Renn used to eat a gazillion of at The Monk&rdquo; &ndash; locally made sausages featuring IPA and served with beer mustard, Mitch&rsquo;s pale ale cheese and his hop honey. As well as designing the menu, Mitch will train up a permanent chef before heading back to WA.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have two weeks with the new guy when he arrives,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;He&rsquo;ll have a nice base to start from and can go wherever he wants. We&rsquo;ll be over once every three months to do seasonal beer dinners, which will be a lot of fun and will give me the chance to work with someone that knows my food.&rdquo;</p> <p>As for the decision to open a brewpub on the Surf Coast, Renn feels the time is right in the region. There have been a number of breweries operating there for some time, the likes of <a href="">Bellarine Brewing Company</a> and <a href="">Southern Bay</a> close to Geelong and <a href="">Forrest Brewery</a> and <a href="">Prickly Moses</a> slightly further afield. With venues like the aforementioned Vue Grand as well as <a href="">Frontbeach</a> in Torquay itself and the Odyssey Tavern just up the road embracing craft beer, things were on the up while the opening of Little Creatures in Geelong has taken things to the next level.</p> <p><img alt="Blackman_s-Brewery-1" class="med_right" src="" title="Blackman_s-Brewery-1" /></p> <p>&ldquo;Little Creatures is changing people&rsquo;s views on what beer is,&rdquo; says Renn. &ldquo;Their beer&rsquo;s great and that venue has gone absolutely bananas since it opened. They&rsquo;re great for doing what they&rsquo;ve done.&rdquo;</p> <p>He and Jess will be hoping to do the same for Torquay. Their venue was previously the iconic Surfrider restaurant, &ldquo;a bit of an institution here&rdquo; according to Renn, that has been &ldquo;pulled to bits: we redid the bar, polished the floor, basically took six months renovating to get it ready. In fact, we&rsquo;re still going…&rdquo;</p> <p>The latest addition is the beer garden, which will feature long beer hall style tables made out of Western Australian timber built, like much of the venue, by Renn&rsquo;s dad.</p> <p>Tasty beers, creative food, a beer garden and the beach a few hundred metres away&hellip; what more could you want? How about Brettanomyces fermented chilli sauce? Well, they got that too. See you there!</p> <p><em><a href="">Blackman&rsquo;s Brewery</a> is at 26 Bell Street, Torquay and is currently open Fridays from 6pm and weekends from midday. Hours will be extended from next month.</em></p> Little Emerson /news/post/little-emerson/ 2014-08-19T00:00:00Z james <p>Other than play around with its younger sibling, <a href="">White Rabbit</a>, when creating the Little Rabbit beer for the 2012 Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, <a href="">Little Creatures</a> has kept its brewing mitts to itself. Yet a few weeks ago, we heard there were plans for a collaboration with another brewer, one that the staff at the brewery were excited about but keeping close to their chest.</p> <p>&ldquo;Who could it be?&rdquo; we wondered. And when the answer was revealed it was one that made perfect sense: the Challenge was to feature Creatures and Emerson&rsquo;s, the iconic Dunedin brewery that was bought by Lion in 2012, just a few months after the multinational took 100 percent control of Little World Beverages, owner of Creatures and White Rabbit. The first of two brews took place in Dunedin a couple of weeks ago, when brewers from Freo headed to New Zealand, with the return brew taking place in WA last week, where Max Brearley was on hand to ask what it was all about&hellip;</p> <p>With Richard Emerson heading over The Ditch to brew at Little Creatures in Freo, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a collaboration brew. But Richard and Freo head brewer Russ Gosling are quick to point out that this is a Challenge brew.</p> <p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s a Challenge brew?&rdquo; you ask.</p> <p>Well, in this case, each brewing team threw down a style and hop varietals for the others to have a crack at, for what could become an annual trans-Tasman challenge. No pilot brewing allowed, with the recipe worked out and honed on the day.</p> <p>While the two breweries are Lion owned, there’s a wealth of differences between their set ups that spice up the challenge, from largely computerised (Creatures) to old school hands on (Emerson). Emerson explains that “it’s a challenge to each other and to the brewers. It’s about what we can learn. We brew in isolation so the opportunity to learn from each other is what this is about.”</p> <p>The New Zealand leg of the challenge saw Russ and Brett Shore head to Dunedin, where they laid down the challenge of brewing an Australian red IPA using Topaz and Ella hops. It’s not a style Emerson’s had attempted previously, added to which the hop varieties were also a new to them. For Emerson, this is what the challenge is all about. That and the odd game of brew house pool, where the rivalry really came out.</p> <p>It set the tone for the return challenge.</p> <p>Russ explains: “It’s a saison that Richard has challenged us with. Traditional and true to style, no going mad with hops [they used just East Kent Goldings and Czech Saaz].</p> <p>&ldquo;It’s a style that’s well structured and unforgiving. It’s a technically difficult beer, so it can be very right or very wrong. Of course it’ll be very right!”</p> <p>Historically the saison is perhaps the perfect seasonal offering to take us from Winter to Spring, which is a good thing as both beers will be out in late October in keg and available at all Single Batch stockists, which can all be found at the Little Creatures website <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p>There was one more unexpected challenge too: that of getting Richard back to New Zealand.</p> <p>&ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t want to let him go,&rdquo; says Creatures marketing manager Ash Cranston. &ldquo;He was great!&rdquo;</p> <p><em>Max Brearley writes on beer for all manner of publications in Australia and overseas and is one half of <a href="">Offshoot Creative</a>.</em></p> <p><object width="580" height="435"> <param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&lang=en-us&page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fcraftypint%2Fsets%2F72157646197047770%2Fshow%2F&page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fcraftypint%2Fsets%2F72157646197047770%2F&set_id=72157646197047770&jump_to="></param> <param name="movie" value=""></param> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="" allowFullScreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&lang=en-us&page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fcraftypint%2Fsets%2F72157646197047770%2Fshow%2F&page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fcraftypint%2Fsets%2F72157646197047770%2F&set_id=72157646197047770&jump_to=" width="580" height="435"></embed></object></p> All Aboard For Beerland /news/post/all-aboard-for-beerland/ 2014-08-14T00:00:00Z james <p>Who wouldn’t want to go to Beerland? Aside from the fact that it just sounds so damn appealing, it’s also conveniently located in the heart of Northbridge, Perth’s nightlife centre&hellip;</p> <p><a href="">Northbridge Brewing Company by Beerland</a> (NBC) is the latest WA brewery to open its doors to a thirsty public. It is a project many years in the making, with beer geeks across Perth long wondering when the doors would open. Their question was answered last week as the founders welcomed their first customers to a soft opening.</p> <p>Commanding the 12 hectolitre brewhouse at NBC&rsquo;s heart is Ken Arrowsmith, who was coaxed out of brewing retirement after just over four years spent running his own business. His love of beer goes back many years; in fact, he was involved in brewing Redback in its early days and speaks highly of Phil Sexton of Matilda Bay and Little Creatures fame. From there, his career takes in an impressive list of roles with larger breweries, including Swan and Toohey’s. You may well have &ldquo;met&rdquo; him too as it&rsquo;s his caricature that features on cans of Emu Bitter.</p> <p>“It sounded like too much fun not to get involved,” Ken says of his return to brewing at NBC. “I’ve always been interested in science and brewing and it’s just a wonderful industry to be involved in.”</p> <p>The new, state-of-the-art brewhouse features a reverse osmosis water system, up to eight fermentation tanks upstairs, and serving vessels that will send the beer straight from the tanks to the drinker&rsquo;s glass. The brewery fits snugly into its custom brewpub surroundings, while the building is textually interesting: a combination of exposed red brick, neon signage and industrial additions.</p> <p><div class="captioned med_rightCaptioned"> <img alt="NBC-3" class="med_right" src="" title="NBC-3" /> <blockquote><p>The impressive two-storey brewpub</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>Being a part of the community is literally built into the two-storey venue, complete with rooftop Skydeck, with parts of the bar taken from historic Perth buildings such as the old Ford factory and Perry Lakes stadium. It&rsquo;s clear the NBC team hopes to become a part of the greater Northbridge community and is proud to be supporting other local businesses like Torres Butchers.</p> <p>It’s a brewpub for the beer curious and newcomer as much as the beer geek. The initial Beerland range provides accessible craft beer while the bottle menu includes offerings from the likes of Sierra Nevada, Two Birds and 4 Pines to broaden the drinking experience.</p> <p>In creating the core range, Ken brewed up to 30 prototypes before launching with a wheat, pale ale, lager and mild.</p> <p>“Given our location we wanted a core range that was easily accessible,” he explains.</p> <p>The Beerland Wheat is a Bavarian style beer, with unmistakable banana and spice on the nose and a soft, fruity and lightly spiced palate. The Beerland Pale Ale is fresh and crisp, using Galaxy hops and then dry hopped with Cascade. For anyone who likes a clean lager, the Beerland Lager carries a good dose of spice from the use of Saaz hops and a solid all German malt body.</p> <p>The final core beer in the Beerland range is the Mild, not available at the time of writing but set to run through the brewhouse soon. Ken is promising a darker beer with more malt character and plenty of complexity. He also has plenty planned for one-off special brews, the first of which will make its way into production in the coming few months.</p> <p><div class="captioned medCaptioned"> <img alt="NBC-2" class="med" src="" title="NBC-2" /> <blockquote><p>Glistening stainless steel</p></blockquote> </div></p> <p>Visitors can line up a few of his wares to sample with a tasting tray, sign up for a Brew Master tasting package or dive in deep with what&rsquo;s described as &ldquo;a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a Brewer for a Day with Ken&rdquo;.</p> <p>“We’ve long recognised Western Australia as the home of the craft beer revolution in Australia and we were thrilled when Ken agreed to head up our brewery,&ldquo; says Beerland brewing director Michael Rasheed. "NBC aims to deliver a relaxed hospitality experience where exceptionally well-made beer is the focus.”</p> <p>Since starting out as an assistant chemist at The Swan Brewery, Ken reflects positively on his career to date: “It has been filled with constant challenge and change,” he says.</p> <p>But as much as the beer industry has evolved since our palates were introduced to Redback, he says it is still all about the beer.</p> <p>“Make a good beer,&ldquo; he says. "Sell it to people who enjoy it.”</p> <p>And who can argue with that?</p> <p><em>NBC is adjacent to the Northbridge Piazza, on the corner of James and Lake Street in Northbridge. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, offering a full menu with various dining options throughout the day and night.</em></p> <p><em>Pia Poynton writes the <a href="">girl + beer blog</a> and handles the <a href="">Crafty Pint WA</a> Twitter account.</em></p> Coopers Collaborates /news/post/coopers-collaborates/ 2014-08-13T00:00:00Z james <p>Yesterday, Coopers brewed a pale ale.</p> <p>&ldquo;So what?&rdquo; you may ask, with good reason. &ldquo;They must brew heaps of the stuff every week.&rdquo;</p> <p>And you&rsquo;d be right. Except this pale ale wasn&rsquo;t the familiar green-labeled Coopers Pale and the batch wasn&rsquo;t their usual 85,000 litres, but a mere 1200 litres. What&rsquo;s more, instead of using just Pride of Ringwood, the rather old school hop used in Coopers Pale, it featured that variety plus Cascade (for bittering) as well as Galaxy and French variety Triskel for flavour and aroma. Perhaps most crucially of all, it was brewed with a unique crop of barley. And, last but not least, it was the first time in its 152 year history that the largest Australian-owned brewery has ever collaborated with another brewer.</p> <p>Their partner in this experimental brew was Alistair Turnbull <em>(above right admiring the malt in the mash tun on brew day)</em> from <a href="beer/brewery/lobethal-bierhaus-sa/">Lobethal Bierhaus</a>, who had first met Tim Cooper <em>(above left)</em> at a beer industry conference before he&rsquo;d even open the doors to his venue in the Adelaide Hills. And he wasn&rsquo;t the only partner in the venture, as the original instigators of this unique brew were the people at the Botanic Gardens of South Australia.</p> <p>They had grown some Navigator barley as part of an ongoing mission to highlight the connection between nature, agriculture and what we consume, and had approached Coopers to sponsor the project. Given the amount of barley being produced, it &ldquo;wouldn&rsquo;t touch the sides&rdquo; of Coopers' brewery, according to brewery operations manager Nick Sterenberg, so they approached their friend in the Hills and the first collaboration in 152 years of unbroken brewing was born.</p> <p>&ldquo;We grew this barley in the Botanic Garden to bring home to people the connection between agriculture and what we all eat and drink,&rdquo; explains Nick.</p> <p>&ldquo;Last year, the Botanic Garden grew wheat and used that to make some artisanal pasta. This year, they grew barley and asked us to sponsor it and we said we should try to turn it into beer.</p> <p>&ldquo;The quantity was so small that it wouldn&rsquo;t touch the sides of our brewery. We know and love Alistair and we thought, &lsquo;Coopers has never done a collaboration brew with anybody in 152 years, if we are going to work with another brewer, let it be Alistair and let&rsquo;s have a bit of fun.&rsquo;'</p> <p>The barley – a variety developed by the University of Adelaide &ndash; was malted by Joe White before being transported to Lobethal, where Al and a couple of brewers from Coopers used it to create a pale ale more in the New World tradition of the one Lobethal brews year round.</p> <p>Dr Tim Cooper said: “The amount of barley available was too small for us to process through our brewery, so we looked for alternatives and our friends at the Lobethal Bierhaus had the right equipment for the job.</p> <p>“We approached them about collaborating with us on the project and Alistair Turnbull, the owner and brewer of the Lobethal Bierhaus, was happy to help."</p> <p>He certainly was, describing the people he has come to know at Coopers over the past eight years as part of a business that &ldquo;really does behave like a family&rdquo;.</p> <p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve done things for me in the past – water samples and so on – and are lovely blokes,&rdquo; says Al. &ldquo;I met Tim Cooper at an IBD conference in 2006 before I opened Lobethal. We had registered as Adelaide Hills Craft Brewing and that must have caught Tim&rsquo;s eye as he came up and introduced himself to us. We didn&rsquo;t even have the brewery yet, but he was a total gentleman.&rdquo;</p> <p>As for this week&rsquo;s venture, he says: &ldquo;In the process [of the barley growing project] Nick Sterenberg rang me and said they wanted to do a brew with this barley but the amount was too small. I thought, &lsquo;#$%^ing hell! Collaborate with Coopers!&rsquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d always had this false illusion that one day I&rsquo;d brew a 100,000 litre batch of my double-hopped IPA at Coopers and spread it all over Australia&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p>While that may remain a pipe dream, being chosen as Coopers' first brewing partner is no mean feat and follows his multiple collaborations with the Yeastie Boys and <a href="">The Wheaty</a> &ndash; not bad for someone whose father warned him off becoming &ldquo;a drunk&rsquo;s labourer&rdquo; and who spent 20 years in the world of banking before following his brewing dream.</p> <p>The beer, called Botanic Ale, will be available in keg and bottle from October 29 at Lobethal Bierhaus and the bar at the Adelaide Botanic Garden, with proceeds going to the Botanic Gardens, whose director Stephen Forbes <em>(above centre)</em>, said: “Our visitors watched the barley crop grow, experiencing agriculture in the heart of the city, and through the production of Botanic Ale are able to make the link between cultivating a crop and creating a great product."</p> <p>But will it lead to further collaborations by Coopers?</p> <p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no plans to do any more collaborations,&rdquo; says Nick. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve always been a friend to the craft brewers and microbreweries – those who are the more genuine ones. We are all fellow brewers and we all want to help them prosper.</p> <p>&ldquo;[As we said to Alistair] he only has to keep it up for another 145 years to be as big as us.&rdquo;</p> Awards On The Move /news/post/awards-on-the-move/ 2014-08-12T00:00:00Z james <p>The organisers of the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) have announced a new format for next year&rsquo;s competition as well as confirming the identity of the Head Judge for 2015 and 2016. Judging will take place in the three days immediately leading up to Good Beer Week allowing the judges, many of whom travel to Melbourne from overseas, to stay on for the festival and attend the Gala Dinner. Previously, judging took place several weeks before the festival.</p> <p>And, having stepped into the Head Judge role in an interim manner in 2014, Little Creatures head brewer Warren Pawsey has been confirmed in the role for the next two years.</p> <p>“It was a great privilege to lead a team of talented judges with a diverse mix of backgrounds and a wealth of experience for the first time this year,&ldquo; he says. "When the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria approached me to continue my role as Head Judge I was thrilled to accept. The awards are incredibly important to the global brewing industry and a wonderful opportunity for brewers of all sizes to mix with the best in the business.&rdquo;</p> <p>Warren has more than 27 years of experience in the beer and brewing industry and has been a judge at the World Beer Cup, the Great American Beer Festival and the New Zealand Beer Awards.</p> <p>“Warren’s extensive experience and global knowledge has made him a valuable part of our dedicated team and we are thrilled that he has agreed to stay on as Head Judge,” says RASV CEO Mark O’Sullivan. “Many thanks also go to our previous Head Judge, Brad Rogers. It’s been a privilege to have such a passionate and prolific judge in our midst.”</p> <p>In response to industry feedback, the AIBA will hold its judging period from May 13 to 15, in the lead up to the 2015 Good Beer Week, which runs from May 16 to 24. The awards are conducted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) in partnership with Federation University Australia.</p> <p>The key dates for anyone wishing to enter their beer for the awards are:</p> <ul> <li>Entries Open: January 27</li> <li>Entries Close: March 6</li> <li>Judging: May 13 to 15</li> <li>Awards Presentation: May 21</li> </ul> <p>Registrations for venues wishing to take part in Good Beer Week 2015 open on October 1.</p> Expanding The Flock /news/post/expanding-the-flock/ 2014-08-07T00:00:00Z james <p>Like a sculptor chipping away at a giant block of granite (albeit a block that keeps growing at a rate of knots), we&rsquo;re steadily making progress through the list of venues and breweries keen to be featured in our various directories. It&rsquo;s been a while since we last did a roundup of the latest to join the fold so figured it was about time we did another in case you missed any when we announced their arrival via social media. What&rsquo;s more, there have been nine new additions since we last did this and that&rsquo;s a perfect number for creating one of our postcard montage photos as above.</p> <p>Anyway, without further ado, and in no particular order&hellip;</p> <ul> <li><p><strong><a href="">Low Buy Liquor</a></strong><br/> A goldmine of great beer on the edge of the Yarra Valley. Ever since deciding to embrace the world of craft beer wholeheartedly, the staff have gone nuts, filling ever more of this bottleshop in a Lilydale mall with the best beers from Australia and overseas. They hold regular, sold out beer dinners at nearby Lilydale General too.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Hotel Sweeney&rsquo;s</a></strong><br/> Like a new government in its early days in power, the hotel group that owns the four-storey Sweeney&rsquo;s in Sydney&rsquo;s CBD has been indulging in a spot of top down reorganisation. The rooftop has become a city centre haven for beer lovers amid the Sydney skyline, hosting regular tap takeovers and meet the brewer sessions.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Welcome Hotel</a></strong><br/> New owners took over the Welcome in Rozelle and gave it such an amazing new lease on life that this year it was named Time Out Sydney&rsquo;s Pub of the Year. It&rsquo;s a turnaround centred on great craft beer, delicious food and creating an old school community vibe, just how pubs should be.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Ekim Brewing</a></strong><br/> Based in a small industrial unit in Mount Kuring-gai in the north of Sydney that it shares with Habby Goblin, Ekim is a brewery with a love of hops, especially big, punchy American ones. They&rsquo;re a feature of pretty much every release, with the beers winning over drinkers all along the East Coast.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Clifton Hill Brewpub</a></strong><br/> This former live music venue and haunt for Melbourne&rsquo;s Irish community has been reinvented (not for the first time) by its owners. Today, it&rsquo;s a smart pub, bar and restaurant, with a busy and craftily stocked drive thru bottleshop attached and, most crucially, its own 600 litre microbrewery smack bang in the middle pumping out beers you can enjoy just metres from where they&rsquo;re brewed.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Green Beacon</a></strong><br/> One of the driving forces behind the craft beer boom in Brisbane, Green Beacon opened its doors in early 2013, turning a warehouse in Teneriffe into a brewery and bar. A colourful core range is embellished with a series of regular limited releases, with a number set to be released locally in cans soon.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Beer DeLuxe</a></strong><br/> The original Beer DeLuxe in Fed Square is much changed since originally featured on the site. Significant investment has gone into developing its two urban beer gardens and the beer selection covers a broader spectrum than at the most pointy-headed times in its past. CUB has installed copper tanks and takes up residence on a few taps with the remainder free to feature an evolving array of craft beers, from the approachable to the outlandish, with the fridges offering further choice.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">Quarryman&rsquo;s</a></strong><br/> Another big pub chain entered the world of craft beer and did it with all guns blazing at the Quarryman&rsquo;s. They took a faded venue, injected much-needed love and began pouring 20 taps of craft beer and hosting a regular lineup of popular beer events.</p></li> <li><p><strong><a href="">King St Brewhouse</a></strong><br/> This former James Squire Brewhouse changed owners last year, with the new ones bringing in a new brewer to create a range of beers under the Red Tap Brewing Co banner. They tap regular seasonals, play around with nitro and filling a &ldquo;Randall&rdquo; with hops, fruit, spices and more &ndash; and all in the heart of Darling Harbour.</p></li> </ul> <p>We&rsquo;ve got heaps more in the pipeline that we&rsquo;ve already visited and then a bunch more after that so look out for more great venues to visit and breweries whose beer you can hunt down over the coming weeks and months. If only there were more hours in the day&hellip;</p> The Flight To Beervana /news/post/the-flight-to-beervana/ 2014-08-05T00:00:00Z james <p>In less than three weeks, what&rsquo;s becoming an ever larger annual trans-Tasman migration of Aussies to Wellington will be well underway. The goal is Beervana, New Zealand&rsquo;s biggest craft beer festival, as well as the lure of checking out one of the craftiest cities in the beer world. The festival itself takes place over two days and four sessions at the city&rsquo;s Westpac Stadium and, both inside and outside the stadium, visitors can look forward to plenty of awesome beery action, drawn not just from New Zealand but across the globe too.</p> <p>Around 12,000 people are expected to attend sessions, sampling hundreds of beers, eating great food, meeting marvellous people and soaking in the atmosphere of a city where Yeastie Boys Stu McKinlay reckons 50 percent of the draught beer poured is craft.</p> <p>“It’s an exciting time to be part of the craft brewing industry in New Zealand, with Beervana showcasing some of the best in the country as well as profiling beers from some of the newer breweries to hit the scene,” says Beervana director David Cryer.</p> <p>“With the additional element of our &lsquo;Beervana Exchange&rsquo;, where three award winning brewers will be here from Portland, as well as other events within Beervana such as specialist beer seminars, home brew and media brew competitions and the launch of the New Zealand chapter of the Pink Boots Society, which supports women in the brewing industry, there will be something for everyone.”</p> <p>With so much going on, here&rsquo;s a snapshot of some of the highlights for those lucky enough to be making the trip.</p> <p><strong>The beers</strong></p> <p>More than 250 beers from 60-plus breweries will be showcased over the four sessions. With the Kiwi beer industry a few steps ahead of that in Australia, if it&rsquo;s your first visit you can expect to be dazzled, as you&rsquo;ll find some incredible beers on offer from breweries whose beers never make it to Australia &ndash; as well as from those whose do.</p> <p>More Aussie breweries are sending beer across than before too, while The Crafty Pint&rsquo;s founder might even pop up at the Australian bar at some point for a Kiwi launch of <a href="">this</a>. You can check out the brewers (both Aussie and otherwise) on display <a href="">here</a>; NB there will be a few more Aussies than listed after we prompted a handful to get on board with a keg or two after this list was published.</p> <p><strong>Amazing food</strong></p> <p>We returned from our first visit to Beervana in 2012 having been as impressed by the food as the beer; who wouldn&rsquo;t be when breakfast on day two was black pudding, scallops and chorizo next to the Tuatara stand, with freshly shucked oysters to follow later in the day?</p> <p>Once again, the culinary side of the event is being curated by one of the city&rsquo;s most respected chefs, Martin Bosley, who says: “I’ve brought together some of Wellington’s best restaurants, ensuring that each provides a sensational variety of food, all different, yet all complementing or contrasting the craft beers available. “As the quality of craft beers has improved, so has our understanding of just how important it is to match the food to them. Frankly, this year’s lineup shows just how much craft beer has been embraced by the capital’s restaurants.”</p> <p>The eateries include: Boulcott St Bistro, Big Bad Wolf, Epicure, Grill Meats Beer, House of Dumplings, Monsoon Poon, The Fire Truck, The Goose Shack, The General Practitioner and Tommy Millions.</p> <p><strong>Beervana seminars</strong></p> <p>David Cryer says: “Through the seminars attendees can experience Beervana at different levels, whether it’s about extending their knowledge of brewing, or how to pair beer with food, or having the opportunity to taste award winning craft beers from other parts of the world.”</p> <p>The inaugural Taste of Portland seminars offer a chance for attendees to meet the brewers and try the beers of the World Beer Cup Medal Winners from Portland: Gigantic Brewing Company; Commons Brewing; and Widmer Brothers. Portland-inspired culinary delights will be presented by specialist beer chef Paul Kasten, also from Portland.</p> <p>Look out for Home Brewing Masterclasses led by brewers from Panhead Custom Ales, Fork Brewing, Liberty and Epic, as well as Beer and Cheese seminars run by local cheese expert Wendy Adams. All seminar spots are booked in advance when buying your festival tickets &ndash; and some are already sold out &ndash; so jump online quick <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p><img alt="Beervana-crafty-5-small" class="med_right" src="" title="Beervana-crafty-5-small" /></p> <p><strong>Media Brew Beers</strong></p> <p>Also on offer will be the largest collection of Media Brews yet. Each year, Beervana organisers invite media to pair up with a brewer to create a new beer (this time with the theme &ldquo;Spring&rdquo;) to be judged by industry professionals. There will be a Media Brew bar this time around too.</p> <p>In the past, the experiments have led to commercial beers such as Epic&rsquo;s Epicurean Coffee &amp; Fig beer, while we seem to recall Yeastie Boys experimenting with the sort of technique in 2012 that they&rsquo;ve used in their recent Spoonbender Defender collaborations with Some Young Punks.</p> <p>Sadly, our plans to enter following the win for the Auld Bulgin' Boysterous Bicep with Murray&rsquo;s in 2012 have been scuppered by some dastardly unforeseen circumstances at both Crafty Towers and for head brewer Shawn Sherlock. There will be other Aussie entries from Brews News and The Shout as well as one from the US to check out though.</p> <p><strong>The City of Wellington</strong></p> <p>You could head to Wellington in any of the other 51 weeks of the year and still have an amazing, beer-themed trip. The city is awash with amazing venues and has a growing number of breweries too, such as Garage Project, Panhead Custom Ales and ParrotDog.</p> <p>The city is also home to a forward-thinking city council that has helped fund <a href="">Craft Beer Capital</a>. It&rsquo;s a resource and promotional tool for all things craft in Wellington and also one of the best places to start when planning a spot of self-guided beer touring while over for Beervana. Here&rsquo;s hoping more Australian councils take a leaf out of Wellington&rsquo;s book and start backing some of the great festivals and events taking place here too.</p> <p><strong>Trade Show</strong></p> <p>The Beervana Trade Show is being held on the afternoon before Beervana opens to the public (August 21) and is for the brewing industry, retailers, restaurants, bars, caterers, media and others wanting to develop their business with the brewing industry.</p> <p>It is being held from 2pm to 4pm in the new Mezzanine Lounge at the stadium, with craft beer tastings will be on offer during the afternoon. Anyone wishing to attend can register <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Photo of Westpac Stadium at the top by Jed Soanes.</em></p> The Kings of Queenscliff /news/post/the-kings-of-queenscliff/ 2014-08-04T00:00:00Z james <p>An iconic Victorian hotel which only started stocking a handful of local craft beers a few years back has been awarded the Best Beer List title for 2014 in the <a href="">Australian Wine List of the Year</a> awards. The <a href="">Vue Grand</a> in Queenscliff now has an evolving list of around 90 beers on its list and, as of last year, has a dedicated beer bar – the Vue Street Bar &ndash; where it showcases a mix of tap and bottled beers alongside fine beer-friendly food.</p> <p>The hotel pipped Melbourne&rsquo;s The Botanical and the Precinct in Perth to the award, which is presented by Fine Wine Partners and Gourmet Traveller Wine each year. Last year&rsquo;s winner was the Healesville Hotel in the Yarra Valley. The aim of the awards is &ldquo;to recognise and reward the efforts of restaurants, cafes, bistros, international hotels, wine bars, pubs and clubs, whilst promoting and rewarding excellence in these venues with Australia’s wine and food enthusiastic public.&rdquo;</p> <p>For the team at Vue Grand, it is validation for the changes introduced over the past five years, with Australian Wine List of the Year Award judge Ken Gargett calling their beer list “a sensational collection of beers and a worthy winner" and describing it as a cleverly constructed collection of cracking, well-priced beers with an eye very much on the craft beer scene.</p> <p>“It is such an honour to be recognised by the judges for what we do, and to be considered amongst undoubtedly the best restaurants, hotels, pubs and bars in Australia,” says the hotel&rsquo;s food &amp; beverage manager Caleb Fleet. He&rsquo;s the creator of the list and a passionate beer advocate who is ably assisted by a team of beer loving staff, not least the home brewers in the kitchen who are always keen to add beer, hops or malt to their recipes.</p> <p>“It’s such a huge win, and a huge compliment for the hotel,&ldquo; adds Caleb.</p> <p>&ldquo;We decided about five years ago to start to showcase some of the local Bellarine beers on our wine list [as we] pride ourselves on using the best local produce on the menu and showcasing the wonderful wines of the region, so it made sense to show off these great beers. It has now turned into somewhat of an obsession.”</p> <p>That first craft beer was the Honey Wheat Ale from locals <a href="">Bellarine Brewing Company</a> but today you&rsquo;ll find plenty from the region&rsquo;s other breweries, including <a href="">Forrest Brewery</a>, <a href="">Southern Bay</a>, <a href="">Prickly Moses</a> and <a href="">Red Duck</a> as well as a host of other Victorian beers and many from cutting edge breweries in Europe and the US.</p> <p>“We essentially buy the beers that we like and are excited by, and ultimately that we want to drink,&ldquo; says Caleb. "The staff are passionate and excited about the beers too.”</p> <p>More than 370 restaurants, clubs, pubs, hotels and brasseries entered the awards this year, with winners announced in 27 categories. As well as taking out Best Beer List, the Vue Grand was also awarded a one glass rating for its wine list, one of only three listed for the Greater Geelong Region.</p> Crafty's Book Is Out! /news/post/crafty-s-book-is-out/ 2014-08-01T00:00:00Z james <p>It&rsquo;s International Beer Day! No, we&rsquo;re not really sure what it&rsquo;s all about either, but what we do know is that it coincides with the launch of the new book by Crafty Pint founder James Smith. Copies of <em>150 Great Australian Beers – Your Guide to Craft Beer and Beyond</em> are on the shelves of bookstores around the country from today in plenty of time for Father&rsquo;s Day. We&rsquo;ve already written a little about it on the website <a href="">here</a> and you may well be hearing plenty of James' voice on radio across the country in the coming weeks so we don&rsquo;t need to say too much more here.</p> <p>The book is designed to be a snapshot of where the Australian beer world is today as well as giving readers an insight into how the beer industry got where it is today. It looks to give readers some knowledge about beer so they are able to better enjoy it and become inspired to discover more. And it features a bunch of stories and anecdotes about the beers and brewers that are featured therein.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s been beautifully designed by the publishers, Hardie Grant, and pitched to have broad enough appeal to act as another weapon in the armoury to aid our ongoing mission to encourage Australians to drink better beer and to explore the wonderful, diverse industry that is flourishing today.</p> <p>If you can&rsquo;t get to a bookshop, you can get hold of the book online <a href="">here</a>. And if you do pick up a copy, we hope you enjoy it and find some great new beers inside.</p> <p><em>Thanks to <a href="">Moon Dog</a> for hosting the launch and collaborating on the delicious Austro-Belgian Peated Scoth [sic] Ale for the night &ndash; let&rsquo;s brew a big batch of it!</em></p> Band of Brewers /news/post/band-of-brewers/ 2014-07-30T00:00:00Z james <p>
It was only a matter of time before something like Band of Brewers happened in Brisbane. There&rsquo;s an unfathomable amount of beer love around town so it should be no real surprise that local craft brewers have taken the community spirit one step further and come together as one.
 Spearheaded by Fortitude Brewing Co&rsquo;s national sales manager Dan Rawlings, the Band of Brewers is a new collective of brewers from South East Queensland that plans to release a collaboration beer every few months. And it&rsquo;s one that will evolve too because the representative craft breweries &ndash; and their brewers &ndash; will diversify every so often. 
</p> <p>
The plan is that every participating brewery will take a turn in hosting and producing a batch of beer. The first brew took place recently at Fortitude&rsquo;s Noisy Minor brewery. In the driving seat were Ian Watson (Fortitude &ndash; above left), Simeon Bonetti (Brisbane Brewing Co &ndash; above right) and Mark Howes (Newstead Brewing &ndash; above centre).
The next brew will take place at Newstead and the third will be hosted by Brisbane Brewing Co.</p> <p>As the foundations are laid and the Band grows, more breweries will come into the mix and others will take a step back.
</p> <p>
"There are no set rules with the Band of Brewers,&ldquo; says Dan. "It&rsquo;s supposed to be fun with no set timeframes and certainly no boundaries. It&rsquo;s a great opportunity for local production brewers to stamp their name on a beer and shine.</p> <p>&ldquo;This time around, for brew number one, three head brewers have taken the reins. However, next time there&rsquo;s absolutely no reason why somebody that works in the background at, say, Newstead for example, can&rsquo;t devise the concept for our second beer.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s also a fantastic chance for everybody to learn new techniques on different, unseen brewing systems. It really is all about sharing the love that is craft beer in Brisbane.
&rdquo;</p> <p>As for the beers that will bear the Band of Brewers banner, Dan hopes that they will explore new avenues or experiment with new ingredients rather than plunder reserves of hops or aim for massive alcohol content.</p> <p>
"We all want to use the Band of Brewers as a platform to explore things that we&rsquo;ve never tried before such as brewing with ingredients that aren&rsquo;t used everyday,&ldquo; he says. "This will be a common theme. We aren&rsquo;t out to set records with big ABV beers. We want to show Brisbane what can be achieved by funnelling our communal desire to brew good, craft beer.&rdquo; 
</p> <p>For 
Mark, the appeal is very much around engaging with his crafty comrades.</p> <p>
"The whole concept of Band of Brewers is very exciting. We get to share ideas and thrive on each other’s perspectives,&ldquo; he says. "We want to give something back to Brisbane that we &ndash; as a craft beer community &ndash; can be proud of. As a collective with a single identity we&rsquo;re able to showcase what we can do at a different level.&rdquo;</p> <p>With such an enthusiastic beginning to what promises to be an adventurous journey, Brisbanites can certainly expect a few treats. At present, there are no immediate plans to bottle any of Brisbane&rsquo;s free flowing beer love; instead each brew will generate a limited amount of kegs which will be tapped at selected venues across Queensland&rsquo;s capital.</p> <p>The brewing of the first batch appears to have passed without incident.</p> <p><img alt="Band-of-Brewers-logo" class="med_right" src="" title="Band-of-Brewers-logo" /></p> <p>
"We had a blast!&ldquo; says a jovial Sim. "The hosting brewery was super hospitable. Special thanks to the Dan Rawlings personal taxi service up and down the mountain complete with cock-rocking beats and corny jokes! Everyone enjoyed an eye-opening exposé of the brewery and went home with a new trick for their own kit. Beery ideas and anecdotes were thrown around like paper planes in a playground.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was such a good feeling being surrounded by like-minded people who share, love and care for the good beer industry."
</p> <p>Details surrounding the inaugural Band of Brewers beer are currently a closely guarded secret. What we do know is that it will feature at the Band&rsquo;s official launch at South Bank&rsquo;s Tomahawk Bar on a date yet to be finalised. To maintain an air of suspense in the lead up to this and future releases the Band of Brewers are urging those with an interest to keep an eye on social media for clues.
Follow the Band of Brewers of <a href="">Facebook</a>, Twitter and Instagram (@bandofbrewersbrisbane).</p> <p><em>Darren Magin is the author of the increasingly inaccurately named <a href="">250 Beers blog</a>.</em></p>