Back at the end of 2012, when compiling our 50 Beers of 2012 for James Halliday’s Wine Companion Magazine, we wrote: “The powers-that-be push stablemate Fat Yak but those in the know drink Matilda Bay’s genuine US pale ale.” In other words, their Alpha Pale Ale: the multiple award-winning beer that is inexcusably shunted to the back of their lineup by the marketing gurus at CUB. That may be about to change, however, following the announcement of the trophy winners in the 2013 Australian International Beer Awards.
The Alpha Pale Ale was named Champion Australian Beer at the Gala Dinner on May 23 and also took out the trophy usually reserved for Feral’s Hop Hog, the Best International Pale Ale. There was still cheer for WA’s Feral, however, as it added the Champion Medium Australian Brewery title to last year’s Champion Large Australian Brewery after the trophies were split into Large, Medium and Small to recognise the greater diversity in today’s beer world. Feral also picked up Best Porter for its Boris, a slightly odd win given it is sold as an Imperial Stout, while Champion Large Australian Brewery went to CUB.
Completing the champion trophy lineup were 2 Brothers from Moorabbin, who continued their period of success with Champion Small Australian Brewery, Germany’s Weihenstephan (Champion Large International Brewery), Norway’s Nøgne Ø (Champion Medium International Brewery) and Renaissance from New Zealand (Champion Small International Brewery). Oud Beersel’s Oude Geuze took home Champion International Beer.
Among the other winners on the night were Mornington Peninsula Brewery’s Imperial Stout, an aged keg of which was tapped at Josie Bones for Good Beer Week and declared the best Victorian beer ever poured at the venue by its owners, Up Yer Kilt Scottish Ale from the tiny Brisbane Brewhouse, and Cooper’s Sparkling, which triumped in the Australian Pale Ale category.
Reflecting the increasingly international nature of the awards, which received its biggest number of entries this year, there were gongs for breweries from Brazil, Germany, Canada, the USA, Belgium, Norway and most notably New Zealand. Our friends from across the ditch are travelling back with no less than six titles, so perhaps we won’t get too much grief when our next article in James Halliday is published stating that the Kiwi craft scene is more advanced than ours…
Brad Rogers, AIBA Chief Judge said: “Stand out classes this year included beers competing for Best Stout, with 49 medals awarded, Best Amber/Dark Ale with 48 medals awarded, Best International Pale Ale with 43 medals awarded and, of course, Best Belgium & French Style Ale with 55 medals awarded, 11 of these gold.”
“We are also pleased to have another first this year with a gold medal awarded in the Gluten Free Beer Class. This is a great result and a reflection that this beer is of the highest standard and quality in its category."
RASV CEO Mark O’Sullivan said: “The AIBA draws international recognition from the beer industry and showcases the commitment to excellence from brewers. Each year has seen standards continually improve and brewers continually exceed our expectations.
“This year in response to both Australian and international brewing industry changes and trends, a medium sized brewery category was introduced recognising, in particular, the global growth in the craft sector.
“The RASV would like to congratulate the AIBA 2013 winners, and thank all the Australian and
international brewers who participated in the competition."
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
2013 Champion Trophies
BARRETT BURSTON MALTING TROPHY FOR CHAMPION AUSTRALIAN BEER
ALPHA PALE ALE: MATILDA BAY BREWING COMPANY, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
CITY OF BALLARAT TROPHY FOR CHAMPION INTERNATIONAL BEER
OUD BEERSEL OUDE GEUZE: OUD BEERSEL, VLAAMS-BRABANT, BELGIUM
GRAINCORP TROPHY FOR CHAMPION LARGE AUSTRALIAN BREWERY
CARLTON & UNITED BREWERIES – ABBOTSFORD, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
SPIEGELAU TROPHY FOR CHAMPION LARGE INTERNATIONAL BREWERY
DIE BAYERISCHE STAATSBRAUEREI WEIHENSTEPHAN, BAVARIA, GERMANY
FB*PROPAK TROPHY FOR CHAMPION MEDIUM AUSTRALIAN BREWERY
FERAL BREWING COMPANY, WESTERN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA
CRYERMALT TROPHY FOR CHAMPION MEDIUM INTERNATIONAL BREWERY
NØGNE Ø – DET KOMPROMISSLØSE BRYGGERI, GRIMSTAD, NORWAY
BREWPACK TROPHY FOR CHAMPION SMALL AUSTRALIAN BREWERY
2 BROTHERS BREWERY, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
CITY OF BALLARAT TROPHY FOR CHAMPION SMALL INTERNATIONAL BREWERY
RENAISSANCE BREWING LTD, MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
GARY SHEPPARD MEMORIAL TROPHY FOR BEST NEW EXHIBITOR
SCHLOSSBRAUEREI AU-HALLERTAU, AU-HALLERTAU, GERMANY
2013 Major Trophies
CITY OF BALLARAT TROPHY FOR BEST AUSTRALIAN STYLE LAGER
MAC’S GOLD: LION – THE PRIDE, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY OF VICTORIA TROPHY FOR BEST EUROPEAN STYLE LAGER
TAXI: 2 BROTHERS BREWERY, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
UNIVERSITY OF BALLARAT TROPHY FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL LAGER
CASCADE PURE: CASCADE BREWERY CO, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA
BREWERS GUILD OF NEW ZEALAND TROPHY FOR BEST PILSNER
MAC’S HOP ROCKER: LION – THE PRIDE, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
BEER & BREWER MAGAZINE TROPHY FOR BEST AUSTRALIAN STYLE PALE ALE
COOPERS SPARKLING ALE DRAUGHT: COOPERS BREWERY LTD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA
UNIVERSITY OF BALLARAT TROPHY FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL PALE ALE
ALPHA PALE ALE: MATILDA BAY BREWING COMPANY VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
BARRETT BURSTON MALTING TROPHY FOR BEST BRITISH STYLE ALE
UP YER KILT SCOTTISH ALE: BRISBANE BREWING CO, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
WEYERMANN SPECIALTY MALTING TROPHY FOR BEST EUROPEAN STYLE ALE
BAMBERG ALTBIER: CERVEJARIA BAMBERG, SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
GOOD BEER WEEK TROPHY FOR BEST IPA
SUPERCONDUCTOR: 8 WIRED BREWING, BLENHEIM, NEW ZEALAND
3 DEGREES MARKETING TROPHY FOR BEST AMBER / DARK ALE
SIREN RED ALE: LIGHTHOUSE BREWING CO, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
CRYERMALT TROPHY FOR BEST PORTER
BORIS: FERAL BREWING COMPANY, WESTERN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA
GOOD BEER WEEK TROPHY FOR BEST STOUT
MORNINGTON RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT: MORNINGTON PENINSULA BREWERY, VICTORIA,
UNIVERSITY OF BALLARAT TROPHY FOR BEST REDUCED OR LOW ALCOHOL
CARLTON MID: CARLTON & UNITED BREWERIES – ABBOTSFORD, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY OF VICTORIA TROPHY FOR BEST WHEAT BEER
WEIHENSTEPHANER VITUS: DIE BAYERISCHE STAATSBRAUEREI WEIHENSTEPHAN, BAVARIA,
WEYERMANN SPECIALTY MALTING TROPHY FOR BEST BELGIAN & FRENCH STYLE
ALE OUD BEERSEL OUDE GEUZE: OUD BEERSEL, VLAAMS-BRABANT, BELGIUM
LABELMAKERS GROUP TROPHY FOR BEST SCOTCH ALE & BARLEY WINE
TRIBUTE 2011 BARLEY WINE: RENAISSANCE BREWING LTD, MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
BARREL MEDIA & EVENTS TROPHY FOR BEST SPECIALITY BEER
SAMUEL ADAMS NORSE LEGEND: BOSTON BEER COMPANY, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
LABELMAKERS GROUP TROPHY FOR BEST PACKAGING
TUATARA BREWING CO LTD PILSNER TWELVE BOTTLE CARTON: TUATARA BREWING CO LTD,
WELLINGTON – KAPITI, NEW ZEALAND
Somewhere in south west WA there is a brewery tank full of hefeweizen made with cacao husks. A few kilometers away is another brewery tank, but this one is full of porter made with coconut and vanilla beans. Yet another contains a “big, malty, hoppy” beer. At least they did… Now they, like the brewers behind them have taken a road trip to Melbourne to represent the region at Good Beer Week.
Like all good road trips, the destination is worth the long haul, with the beers and brewers featuring heavily at both the Pint of Origin WA showcase and the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS). The events give the brewers a chance to showcase their creativity in the form of new beers as well as pouring their flagship beers to a host of thirsty punters on the east coast.
Cheeky Monkey is brewing an imperial red ale that head brewer Jared “Red” Proudfoot says will be “big, malty and hoppy”. By no means will this be a subtle beer; it’ll come in at 7.1 per cent, uses several different malts and five different hops. It’s a hoptastic combination of Columbus, Centennial, Amarillio, Simcoe and Nelson Sauvin with Jared dry hopping at least three times during conditioning.
Justin Fox has been at the helm of Colonial Brewery since Easter and within a week of taking up the post was planning his GABS festival beer.
“We wanted to take the opportunity to thank departing brewer Mal Secourable for his friendship and great work at the brewery over the years. When we noted his car park space is actually named ‘Gary the White’ the beer just sort of rolled on from there,“ says Justin.
The mysterious origins of Gary the White aside, the beer will be a white stout – creamy and warming with hints of coffee flavours yet light in colour.
“The biggest challenge is to get some malt complexity into the beer without introducing any colour,” says Justin, “The same goes for getting some roast/coffee flavours."
Duckstein head brewer Shannon Grigg is indulging a long held desire to brew a porter, something the Germanic constraints of the brewery hasn’t allowed him to do before. But don’t be expecting a run of the mill porter, as Shannon has thrown in roasted coconut, vanilla bean and a small percentage of chocolate wheat.
The inspiration for the additions came from a mate who bought him a can of Maui Brewing CoCoNut Porter, brewing out of Hawaii. Coming in at about 6.5 per cent, Shannon still wants to keep the porter a little traditional by using East Kent Goldings hops, though is aiming for a slightly lower IBU so as not to overpower the coconut and vanilla.
In a bit of teamwork, or perhaps just showing off, Paul Wyman from Fremantle’s The Monk) and Nick d’Espeissis from Eagle Bay Brewery near Dunsborough, have collaborated to brew the “Cacao Cabana”. Although you probably now have Barry Manilow singing Copacabana in your head, brewing this beer was serious business (photo above notwithstanding). Paul and his assistant, Jack, drove south to Eagle Bay Brewery for a weekend where they combined Paul’s idea for a chocolate banana hefeweizen with Nick’s recipe for a brown ale and experience in brewing with cacao husks. The result is a hefewezien with a big malt bill, English hops, low bitterness and over 17 kilos of Margaret River cacao husks.
Bootleg Brewery will leave their impression at GABS with their limited edition Oaked Amber Ale. Head brewer Michael Brookes has been playing with oak fermenting and oak aging his core range of beers and Tom’s Amber is the second to receive the woody treatment.
Bootleg’s Oaked Amber Ale
If you miss out on Bootleg’s Oaked Amber Ale at GABS you might be able to catch it at The Royston during Pint of Origin. Another widely anticipated Good Beer Week event, the Pint of Origin has seven pubs playing host to a tap takeover from each state or territory – with three regional venues pouring beers from all over Australia too.
Western Australia’s host venue is the Royston in Richmond where the taps will be pouring beers from Broome to Margaret River. Four south west breweries will be participating amongst WA heavyweights such as Feral, Little Creatures and Nail Brewing.
Jeremy Good will be sending his award winning Cowaramup Pilsner at the request (or perhaps the demand) of the Royston. Cheeky Monkey Brewery have decided to send their flagship beer, the Hagenback Belgian IPA, while another flagship beer being shipped over is Eagle Bay’s Vienna Lager, with Nick selecting this to compliment the ale-laden line up. Bootleg will have their limited release Oaked Amber Ale along with dark ale favourite Raging Bull. It’s a list that’s sure to please both old and new fans of what is just a sample of the south west craft beer industry.
The New South Wales craft beer scene has been bubbling away furiously in recent times and it’s finally spilling over into neighbouring Victoria for Good Beer Week 2013. It means that, this week, Melbourne is experiencing its biggest invasion of NSW craft beer since, well… possibly ever.
Not wanting to turn up to a party empty-handed, brewers from across the state – from Nowra to Byron, Sydney to Wagga – have been brewing up a storm: a mixture of old favourites, rising stars and brand spanking new brews. Many brewers are making the trip south to partake in the revelry, appearing at events right across the week; hosting, presenting, brewing, chewing, PoOing and closing out GBW with a grandstand rock and roll finish.
The permanent home for a NSW beer fix is the Rainbow Hotel, which is the official NSW Pint of Origin venue. It’s pouring beers that seldom – if ever – appear in Victoria so get in while the getting’s good. Brewers will be popping in and out all week, particularly for the degustation tonight (May 21) and an informal Meet the Brewer session from 6pm on Wednesday. Social media will keep you up to date with the rest of the comings and goings – including what beers have been tapped and where – but the following is a general guide as to where some of the state’s finest will be appearing…
Coming all the way from Parramatta is ‘Dangerous’ Dave Padden of Riverside Brewery. He’s got the weighty task of representing Sydney in the NSW/VIC brewing smackdown, having brewed the BondIPA with TimeOut Sydney to compete with the Melbourne version brewed by Cavalier. Both those beers will be on at The Terminus all week where your votes decide the winner. Then there’s the intriguing prospect of the super secret beer brewed with the hosts of the Hair of the Dog Breakfast, for which we’ve been able to squeeze absolutely zero details – lucky tickets holders to the long-sold-out event will get the first taste of that one. Two of Riverside’s other heavy hitters – the 44 Amber Ale and 77 IPA – will be featuring at the NSW PoO.
Tim Thomas from HopDog BeerWorks will be set loose around town, at the Brewers & Chewers event pouring his new Massive Otter ESB and at The Spotted Mallard to launch the collaboration with Black Dog Brewing. That one’s called Red Menace and is a barrel fermented Imperial brown sugar red ale. Obviously.
Fellow south coasters Illawarra Brewing Company had a fruitful trip to Melbourne this time last year when their Koelsch took the trophy for Best in Class at the AIBA. Understandably they’re keen to come back for more and their beers will be featuring at Brewers & Chewers, Beergustation at The Rainbow and NSW PoO. Illawarra’s Shaun Blissett also hinted that “Brownish Bomber is in town somewhere”. Manly’s 4 Pines will be bringing their latest Keller Door releases – the Winter Tide series consisting of an Amber Mosaic, Oatmeal Porter and a Belgian Dubbel – to The Rainbow, while they’re also partaking in the Beer Mimics Food event on Wednesday.
In the newer brewers department, the Grifter Brewing Company have sent their new baby, Marnie’s Majority IPA, to the Terminus which Matt King (one third of the Grifter brewing trio) says is “good timing as it’s personally my favourite special batch we’ve done”. Fellow Sydneysider Wayward Brewing is also at The Terminus, pouring Keller Instinct and India Red Ale as part of the New Brews. Erina’s Six String Brewing are also making their first trip to Melbourne, appearing at The Rainbow and PoO dinner with their veeeery Dark Red IPA.
After appearing at just about every event at GBW 2012, Darren ‘Doc’ Robinson from Doctor’s Order’s Brewing is back for another go. You can catch him and his Iron Lung at the Micro Beer Club on Wednesday and the Hair of the Dog Breakfast for which he’s brewed a special ‘Morning After Pill’. Fittingly for a breakfast event, he reckons the beer “looks a little like Guava juice”.
Matt Hogan from William Bull will be appearing over at The Rainbow for the Meet the Brewer session along with two beers – a limited release IPA and a White Ale – and this is the only place in Melbourne they’ll be available. From the same (general) neck of the woods, Craig Wealands from Thirsty Crow will be bringing the seldom seen Vanilla Milk Stout and 26 Fifty Summer Ale, while a mythical keg of the 10.3 per cent Imperial Long Black Stout, Road 2 Ruin is also rumoured.
Murray’s only exclusive event of the week takes place at The Park Hotel in Werribee where they’re putting on a five course degustation featuring beers like Punk Monk and Seasons In The Abyss that you can’t usually get anywhere except at the brewery. After the Melbourne launch of the new Stone & Wood Stone Beer at The Gathering on Saturday (where thirsty punters drank every available keg of S&W beer dry), the crew are giving you another chance to get it on tap at The Rainbow and the festival hub at The Terminus.
The rock n roll circus that is Young Henrys will be hitting town midweek, with all their core range appearing at various venues across the week including The Rainbow, Odyssey in Geelong and The Terminus. They’ve also got the honour of closing out Good Beer Week 2013 with a bang, releasing three beers brewed with rock bands Front End Loader, My Dynamite and Hell City. That’s happening at Cherry Bar on Sunday and it might get loud.
And if that’s not enough, nearly 20 per cent of the 92 beers brewed for the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular are coming come from NSW with most brewers roaming around through the different sessions. All of that means this Good Beer Week there’s no excuse for all the craft-lovin’ Victorians not to try a little something from north of the border.
There are a lot of very talented people in the craft beer world. And not just the brewers either. In our relatively short lifetime, The Crafty Pint has been lucky enough to work with a number of filmmakers, editors and cameramen to shoot short films on various aspects of the beer industry and document some of our events. We’ve had the travel journal from our trip to Goat Island, a music video for the Beer Song and sweet little wraps of events like those from the first ever GABS and the Gypsy & The Goat.
And today we’re kicking off the latest partnership, with the launch of Crafty Tales. This will be an occasional series of short films looking at different personalities and themes within Australian craft beer. It is being shot, edited (and pretty much everything else) by the team at Melbourne’s New McPherson video agency. Founder James McPherson is an avid home brewer and part of the Australian National Homebrewing Conference team and approached The Crafty Pint last year asking if we would help them with their next in house “love project”; in other words, a project that wasn’t for a client but that they wanted to do for fun and experimentation.
We jumped at the chance, worked out some stories to approach and set about lining up opportunities. The first video, which you’ll find atop our TV page, features the story of Mountain Goat from Dave Bonighton’s home brew days and daft fancy dress to their plans for the future. Next up will be a look at Boneyard Brewing, the spin off from Josie Bones that has seen founder Chris Badenoch hook up with award-winning home brewer and beer judge Brendan Sullivan to start producing some rather good beers at 3 Ravens.
We threw a few questions at James to find out why they were doing it…
What’s your relationship with beer and brewing?
I drank my fair share of Carlton Cold and Hahn Ice as a teenager, and as hard as it is to believe today, I thought it was pretty… pretty… good. It wasn’t until I first enjoyed Little Creatures Pale Ale that I discovered what beer could be. Back then, Little Creatures wasn’t even available in Victoria, so to sate my need for Cascade hops I had to learn how to brew. After a good friend introduced me to Grain and Grape, I discovered a whole sub culture of homebrewing, through which I became involved with the Australian National Homebrewing Conference and the somewhat intense world of clubs.
My love of beer is often challenged by periods of wine quaffing, intermittent fitness and big hop fatigue, but I’ve found the joy beer is, in that there is always something you haven’t tasted (never more than now).
Why did you decide to do Crafty Tales?
Well it doesn’t hurt to know the brewer… but really it’s a studio project… a love job. We’re pretty good at telling stories, and as far as we can tell – in the visual medium – the Aussie craft brewing scene is under represented.
Firstly, we’re doing this project for us. We’re genuinely interested in people have decided to dedicate their professional lives to making something that gives us, and so many other, such happiness. Making beer is not the easiest way to make a fortune (most will tell you it’s the easiest way to lose one), and these are people who are putting themselves out there, putting their hard labour in a bottle, and everyone’s a critic. Despite this, brewers are more often than not the most relaxed, friendly and down to earth characters we run across in our work.
Secondly, we do tend to pour a lot of beers in the process of making these films – so many artfully executed shots of pints backlit by the sun in 200 frames a second – someone has to drink it.
What you hope to gain from it and where you hope it leads?
We’d be happy if Crafty Tales finds an audience on The Crafty Pint, but there may be opportunities in different markets. Who knows?… maybe some nice people from PayTV land will see the genesis of a lifestyle craft beer doco series… well maybe?
What are the types of tales you want to tell?
We want to profile the people who make Australian craft brewing what it is, and we’ll curate snap shots/vignettes of the most brilliant/fucked up ideas in craft brewing.
New McPherson is a Fitzroy based video agency, that normally works with corporate, government and agency clients producing all kinds of video collateral. We’re a team of writers, producers, directors, editors and motion artists. We are visual storytellers.
We are an established company of multi-disciplined video experts that produces branded video content for corporate and not for profit clients including: Myer, Telstra, University of Melbourne and the Victorian Government.
We have worked extensively in the education sector and are a long standing suppliers of innovative and compelling video production services to the University of Melbourne. We have also recently completed a Regional Development Australia/DBI project promoting attractions and activities in Melbourne’s East to international students and their visiting friends and relatives.
In 2012, New McPherson was the most awarded Victorian-based video agency at the Australian Video Producer Association Awards, taking out three categories.
The wait is almost over – the third Good Beer Week kicks off in less than 24 hours. The Crafty Pint will be there at 8.30am tomorrow morning for the start of the very first event, The Big Apple & The Goat at Mountain Goat, and, all being well, will still be going strong when the last beer is being poured on May 26.
By now, pretty much everyone should know what they’re doing over the coming nine days – if not, why not!!! There’s a pretty hefty amount of information about the festival, visiting brewers, the Pint of Origin and most of the events that we are involved in up on Crafty already (mainly in the Features section). But there are still a couple of things that we need to tell you about.
First up, is the return of Crafty Curates, one of the events from the first Good Beer Week that saw the fledgeling site take over the taps at The Terminus and Royston for the week. Back then, we aimed to create a lineup that covered most beer styles and featured at least one beer from each state across the taps. Given the concept grew legs and spawned the Pint of Origin at last year’s festival, we haven’t covered every state and territory this time around. However, throughout the festival, the 32 taps (pouring 16 beers) at the Festival Hub, the Terminus Hotel, will be pouring a lineup of beers that we hope captures the essence of craft brewing in Australia today and also provides a platform for many of the international guests that are travelling to Melbourne.
Throughout the week, four of the lines will be pouring what we’re terming “Aussie Classics” – Hightail, Pacific Ale, Little Creatures Pale, Hop Hog – while another two will be dedicated to the Time Out “Intercity Smackdown” beers, of which more later. The other ten lines will rotate permanently, with two dedicated to new Australian breweries, four to big, rare and generally great Aussie beers and four featuring some amazing beers from around the world. We’ll aim to tap the last of these categories when the brewers responsible for them are in town and hope to have the brewers at the venue to meet punters and chat about the beers while they are pouring; keep an eye on social media for updates.
Anyway, here’s the opening night lineup…
Mountain Goat Hightail
Stone & Wood Pacific Ale
Little Creatures Pale Ale
Feral Hop Hog
Cavalier / Proud Mary / Time Out Melbourne Angsty Hopster
Riverside / Time Out Sydney BondIPA
7 Cent Japanese Ale
Edge Brewing Project Cool Hops
Murray’s Spartacus IIPA
Moon Dog Love Tap
Moo Brew Vintage Stout
Feral Watermelon Warhead
Garage Project Venusian Pale
Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black
Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace Saison
ParrotDog BitterBitch IPA
Believe us when we say the standard will not drop over the week…
Time Out’s Intercity Smackdown
Many of you may have already read about the Melbourne – Sydney beer face-off instigated by Good Beer Week media partners Time Out. The full story is here, but essentially the staff at each city’s mag teamed up with a local brewer to create a beer that encapsulates each city. In Sydney’s case a fruity, sunny, beachy IPA with passionfruit; in Melbourne’s a brooding, feisty and mysterious Black Coffee IPA featuring Proud Mary coffee.
And now it’s up to you guys to decide which is best and, thus, bring an end to the time-honoured battle for superiority. To do so, read on – you could win a prize for partaking. Here’s what Time Out’s Gemima Cody has to say on the matter…
“Which city tastes better as a beer, Sydney or Melbourne? The best argument in favour of Sydney’s passionfruit-forward BondIPA or Melbourne’s dark and brooding cold drip coffee infused Black IPA (Angsty Hopster) will win one night’s stay at Crown and a $200 bar tab at 29th Apartment.
“Tag the beer #BondIPA or #AngHop and tweet @timeoutmel and @goodbeerweek your best tasting notes. Talk some smack! Shake some cages. Settle the score.
“Is it #BondIPA because it smells like the beach, and it drinks like a rainbow rave at the Opera house? Or the #AngHop because it’s smooth, sophisticated and, like Melbourne, tastes entirely douchebag free?
It started as a bit of fun. Challenged with brewing an unusual beer for the Media Brew beer competition at Beervana, The Crafty Pint approached Murray’s to be its partner. They agreed and were soon afterwards presented with the following proposition:
“I think it should be a beer that reflects the origins of the three parties involved: Scotland, New Zealand and Newcastle. It looks like there are different species of mussels native to each of those three areas, so how about we do a mussel stout with all three in? And can we use some peated distilling malt too, just cos I like Islay whisky?”
We can only imagine the huge, resigned shrug that must have taken over Murray’s head brewer Shawn Sherlock’s shoulders. But being someone who’s game for pretty much anything when it comes to beer, he accepted, suggesting it was an imperial stout (more room to hide the molluscs, perhaps) and accepting our request that we use the Belgian yeast found in their awesome Heart of Darkness.
In the end, only mussels native to Scotland (Blue) and New Zealand (Green-lipped) were used as it turned out the freshwater ones native to NSW are “rough tucker” used for cleaning shit out of ponds. Instead, fresh Port Stephens oysters were substituted and a 25 litre batch of what was to become the Auld Bulgin' Boysterous Bicep was brewed and promptly went on to win the Media Brew comp with a perfect 45/45 score.
All of this (and more) is documented here. But that wasn’t the end of the story. We’d always hoped Murray’s might be tempted into brewing the beer on a commercial scale – after all, who wouldn’t want to throw several hundred sea creatures into their expensive brewery? – even if there appeared to be reluctance. However, there were occasional flickers of hope…
Soon afterwards, the brewery owners asked about replicating the artwork created for the beer by Andy Shaw, a good friend of Nick O (AKA Crafty Pint NSW) based in Wellington, for posters in their venues. Then, a few months later, when they were working on plans for their Trump Cards, it turned out the ABBB would feature. Surely they wouldn’t commit a beer that was never commercially released to such an honour…
And then came the call.
“We’re going to brew the Bicep as a winter seasonal so we can release three different imperial stouts again,” said Shawn. “Are you available to come and brew it?”
Of course we were.
“It’s just going to be a small batch. Just a few kegs for our venues and a couple of others in Sydney and Melbourne,” he added.
But then that changed too, with brewery owner Murray Howe so enamoured of the story behind the beer that he suggested there was a limited bottle release too.
And so it was that The Crafty Pint Two rocked up to Port Stephens last week for Bicep Mk II. The brewery chef had bought in 100 blue mussels, 100 green-lipped mussels and 100 Port Stephens oysters that had been pulled from the ocean little more than 12 hours before mash in. The recipe – going by the name “Beardy Weirdy 2” – had been exactly scaled up from the small batch and still featured the peated distillery malt that Shawn said was an ingredient he was more wary of even than the seafood (he’s no Rex Attitude lover, that’s for sure) and all that remained was to work out how to add the molluscs.
First time around, former Murray’s brewer Ian Watson (now heading up Fortitude and Noisy Minor) advised us very strongly not to remove any beards from the molluscs and to throw them in whole, so that was the plan again, with them receiving a good scrub to remove dirt and nothing more. First time around, they’d been deposited into the kettle at the end of the boil, so this time we figured popping them into the whirlpool was the go. But how exactly?
There was concern that one might get sucked down a pipe and make its way into the pump and thus do $8,000 of damage.
“And that’s not a call I want to make,” said Shawn.
Working against that, fired up with beer the night before, he’d told Grainfed brewer Lachlan McBean there was no danger we’d be chickening out and using a “hop sock”. But when the moment came, the hop sock was summonsed and tension rose.
“Could one fit down that pipe?”
“Are you man or mouse?”
The brewery resembled a Mexican stand-off. Then sense prevailed.
“We’re making a bloody Smoked Belgian Imperial Mussel and Oyster Stout. Put down the sock!”
So in they went. First the 100 oysters – given a little longer on the advice of the chef – then the 200 mussels, disappearing into the black, murky deep. Soon afterwards, one plucky fellow reached the surface while the whirlpool bubbled away – a novelty for this and, in all likelihood, any whirlpool.
When the run off took place and the creatures began to reappear, it was clear they’d behaved as they were stacked nicely in the centre, the whirlpool having done its job splendidly. A bit of smart thinking from brewer Alex ensured no one had to climb in to remove them as a valve was removed from the base, and the smokey, briney, roasty, chocolatey mixture was safely transferred to a fermenter to meet with millions of Belgian yeast particles.
The finished beer will be ready in July and we plan to hold a series of launches along the East Coast. Shawn says it will be impossible to get an exact replication of the original beer (which is still tasting splendid) due to the different system, but it will be interesting nonetheless. So watch this space for release dates as we’ll be keen to ensure that something that started out as a bit of fun ends up as a bit of fun too.