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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Friday 29 August 2014

Enter The Beer Cave

Nick O / 16.02.12

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Our prehistoric ancestors lived in them, Batman had one and Nick Cave actually is one by legal deed. But what exactly is the attraction of caves? They’re generally dark, dirty, full of terrifying insects and, if movies can be relied upon for accuracy, a hibernating bear.

So there was slight consternation when Geoff Huens and Richard Kelsey, owners of Beer Cartel, sent word that they were about to open their cave, one which had lain dormant for years. Who knew what may have been lurking in those murky depths? But then they assured us there was nothing to fear, and clarified that their Bear Cave was in fact a Beer Cave. At which point this suddenly became cause for urgent investigation.

As it turns out, the Beer Cave refers to the newly christened tasting room above the Beer Cartel’s Artarmon store. And, we must say, for a cave it’s remarkably light, welcoming and roomy – it even has a fußball table. It’s a well-suited environment for a beer tasting, centred around a large table with seating around the outside of the room, which means the focus rightly becomes the beer and the conversation.

To call it a ‘tasting’ may be a little unfair in that it might conjure up thoughts of an opportunistic sip of something new while you’re on your way in or out of a liquor store. This is more of an experience, taken deliberately slowly and thoughtfully to allow time for adequate digestion and discussion. The official title was the much more catchy ‘Sip & Sample’.

A large part of the fun comes from the range of people contributing to what becomes a fairly open forum: Geoff and Richard, the audience and a representative from the featured brewery – in this case the perfectly amicable Devon Tong from New Zealand’s Moa Brewing Company – all participated freely in the beer banter, leading to plenty of healthy, but not heated, discussions. As with the grand unveiling of any new project, there was a degree of uncertainty from Geoff and Richard as to how things would go. But due in no small part to their own efforts, they needn’t have worried. They orchestrated a great experience for their guests, notably with the food they had prepared personally to compliment the beer – no doubt having had to sample the beer many times beforehand just to ensure the flavours matched perfectly. Just to give an indication, the pairings were as follows:

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Hops and malt

Moa Original (Pilsner Lager) with Swiss cheese and water crackers


Moa Methode (bottle fermented Pilsner Lager) with Tropical Fruit skewers


Moa Blanc (Wheat Lager) with Smoked Salmon toasties with Cream Cheese and Dill


Moa Pale Ale with Spicy Chicken Wings


Moa Noir (Dark Lager) with Chocolate Brownies (which were actually homemade by Geoff’s better half)

Every course was unanimously well-received, as indeed was the whole Sip & Sample event itself. It was difficult to believe the best part of two hours disappeared so quickly, but time does fly when you’re having fun…

The new tasting element seems set to be a great addition to the Beer Cartel’s growing online and retail presence and gives them a valuable means to interact with their customers on a more personal level. It’s also an extra incentive for those that might not often travel to the store to be able to check out the impressive global range of craft beer. We’ll be looking forward to seeing how many of them might appear in future tastings.

The date and theme for the next tasting is yet to be confirmed, but it’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on their website and get in early once it’s announced – we’ll look to post it in the Crafty events diary too.


New Bay Watch

Crafty Pint / 13.02.12

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They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But as he prepares to take over the reins at Southern Bay Brewing, Steve “Hendo” Henderson (above right) is confident he can. The Geelong based brewery is perhaps better known for some of the beers it brews under contract for others, such as Boatrocker’s Hoppbier and Alpha Queen, and Two Birds Golden ale, than it is for the beers it releases under its own label, including the Southern Bay Draught. Yet, having plied his trade at Prickly Moses for the past two years – playing a major role in the introduction of seven new beers from the Otway brewery in 2011 alone – the new head brewer has big plans in mind.

“Southern Bay will always be a contract brewery in some capacity but the general manager has given me a creative license to turn the Southern Bay brand into something new,” he says. “There are beers that come out from there that I don’t think are much chop so you’ll soon start to see new, innovative beers. It’s like there’s a new craft brewery that exists in Victoria, but it’s already there.”

Among the new releases he hopes to brew will be a hoppy pale ale “with a twist” in that it features a hard-to-obtain hop variety and then a relaunch of the brewery’s lager, brewed to a new recipe.

It’s been a rapid ascent for Hendo, a Queenslander whose first professional brewing role was at Prickly Moses. He’s made his first signing too, with Chris Haren, another who recently moved from home brewer to commercial brewer, moving to Southern Bay from Tooborac Hotel & Brewery, where he’ll join Hendo in his mission to upgrade the brewery.

“It’s a very exciting and very challenging role I’ve taken on,” says Hendo. “It’s a very old brewery that used to produce Geelong Bitter before that was bought by CUB, who moved production to Abbotsford. It must be 40 years old and uses very old technology as far as brewing goes. When the tanks are changed over, people still have to get inside to clean them, so I’ll miss much of what was taken for granted at Prickly Moses. We’re putting together a modernisation program, however, with the owners putting in significant investment.

“It’s been a really rapid journey for me but that in part is testament to the rapid growth of the industry. I’m pretty passionate about craft beer and really proud of my achievements at Prickly Moses. They’re in a good position now to carry on and grow and have just bought tanks from Holgate, who are themselves expanding.”

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Chris Haren, with giant paddle, at Tooborac

Hendo and Chris start their new roles next Monday, ready to embark on the former’s grand vision. And given the Southern Bay site has already been transformed in the past from chicken abattoir to brewery, his plans to transform Southern bay’s beers will hopefully prove a cinch.

Southern Bay Brew Co is located at 80 Point Henry Road, Moolap.

You can follow Hendo and Chris’s progress on Twitter and Facebook.


AIBA Deadline Looming

Crafty Pint / 10.02.12

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Last year it was the turn of Americans Moylan’s and Brooklyn Brewery to take out the major trophies and for WA to claim domestic dominance with the state’s breweries picking up five gongs. Now, with little over three months to go until the winners of the 2012 Australian International Beer Awards are announced, the clock is ticking for any breweries wanting to enter their beers. The deadline for submissions was recently extended to February 24, leaving just two weeks to complete your entries.

Now in its 20th year, the awards are presented by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) in conjunction with the University of Ballarat. This year, following the appointment of an Advisory Group drawn from across the industry, there have been changes to some of the categories. The result is that there are now 24 trophies up for grabs – up from 17 in 2011. The Champion Exhibitor categories, both small and large, have been split into International and Australian, while the ale and lager categories have been subdivided in recognition of the changing beer world.

To find out more, or to enter your beers, head to the AIBA website. Judging will take place next month, with a number of international guests to be announced soon. If you would like to take part in assisting with the awards – with an eye to becoming a judge in the future – head here for info on the new Steward to Associate Program.

Run the Beer Awards

A position has become available at RASV for an events manager to join the Epicure Events team. Their role will include helping to run this year’s awards, which culminate in a Gala Dinner on May 17, 2012, during Good Beer Week. Full details can be found here.


Beer: It's Academic

Crafty Pint / 09.02.12

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When it comes down to it, the most important aspect of a beer is whether it tastes good in your mouth. Indeed, you may figure that knowing whether something is to your liking or not is more then enough. Yet, as with any product – food, wine, coffee, music, film, art – the greater your knowledge, the chances are the greater your enjoyment will be. So, with the popularity of quality beer growing fast – and the breadth of styles on offer seemingly growing just as fast – it’s good timing that The Beer Academy lands in Australia.

A British enterprise established by beer enthusiasts, it has already taught more than 10,000 people about beer since its launch. And, keen to make the most of Australia’s embrace of craft beer, it has appointed Brewtique as its antipodean envoy. The concept launched in Brisbane yesterday, where beer educator, writer and Brews News founder Mat Kirkegaard began his role as The Beer Academy’s Brisbane presenter, and will soon begin making its way to other capital cities.

Courses on offer range in depth, starting with a 90 minute tasting session that develops a basic understanding of different beer styles and how to taste them. They cover how beer is made, what makes it different, how to taste it professionally, how to present it, how to pick a fresh beer from a stale one, and other essential skills for the beer lover.

Beer enthusiasts can continue through courses including “Making Beer and Food Dance”, “How To Judge Beer”, and multi-day courses like “Advanced Beer Tasting”. The Beer Academy also offers the ultimate beer qualification: Beer Sommelier, a badge of honour that can only be achieved through extensive training, hands-on trade experience, and intensive one-on-one practical exams.

“We’re thrilled that the Beer Academy has chosen us to be the custodians of their important mission here in Australia,” says Brewtique managing director Mike Spencer. “With microbreweries and major brewers creating beer styles we haven’t seen in this country before, there’s never been more interest in beer or such a thirst for knowledge about it.”

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Brisbane host Matt Kirkegaard in action

The first courses to be available will be the “90-Minute Tasting Sessions” and the half-day “Making Beer and Food Dance” course. The first courses will be available during February 2012 with the other courses introduced progressively. They are designed to be suitable for everybody: beer drinkers, the hospitality trade and the brewing industry. Mike says he expects the courses, which can be tailored for specific needs, will be popular as gifts, corporate entertainment and social events.

The Beer Academy courses will be held in a range of cities in venues with a good beer and food reputation, but can also be held in other venues such as offices. Course fees start at $60. Booking enquiries can be made via the Beer Academy website or by calling (02) 9489 8888.

Photos courtesy of Mike Curtain.


What Is The People's Pint?

Crafty Pint / 08.02.12

Pp-go-pic

Friends, beer lovers, countrymen (and women) – lend us your beers! We’re looking for Australia’s first ever People’s Pint.

“What’s that?” you ask.

Well… Umm… We don’t actually yet know. In fact, we want you to tell us. From today, we’re inviting you, the good people of Australia, to tell us what your dream beer would be. The best ideas will be put to a public vote next month, with the winning one being brewed at Temple Brewery & Brasserie at the end of March ready to be launched during Good Beer Week.

That’s right – a beer dreamed up by you, called whatever you want to call it, could become The People’s Pint, brewed by one of the country’s top brewers and enjoyed by drinkers at some of the best beer bars in the land.

Like the sound of that? Then head to The People’s Pint site and send us your fantasy beer ideas now! Or read on to find out a little more…

The idea is simple. You don’t have to be a brewer, you don’t have to know how beer is made. We’re just looking for creative, inspired concepts. You might be after a beer that brings back special memories, or one that captures a feeling. You might have a flavour and aroma combo that will knock people for six – a big, hoppy beast or a delicate flower made with native ingredients. Maybe you dream of a stonking great Imperial Stout that’s a meal in a glass – or maybe the people will choose a plain old pale lager if you can make it sound appealing enough.

Perhaps there’s a magical ingredient out there that you’re desperate to see included in a beer. Perhaps you’ve never quite found what you’re looking for behind a bar and now’s the chance to tell us what that is. Or maybe you’ve got an hilarious name for a beer and are dying to share it with the world.

Whatever it is you have in mind, Temple is the perfect fit – led by a brewer who has never been afraid to approach beer a bit differently. When asked to brew a beer for the Shinobi Japanese Beer Festival, instead of the obvious choice of producing a Japanese style beer, the focus instead turned to ingredients. Head brewer Ron Feruglio had an idea to use buckwheat, more commonly found in Japanese soba noodles, and the result is now a core Temple beer – the aptly named Soba Ale.

Similarly, in the mission to brew their very own Draught beer, the team at Temple chose the quintessential Australian hop Pride of Ringwood – an uncommon choice among craft brewers – as the star attraction. After a series of pilot brews, the resultant Brunswick Draught became Temple’s very own “beer for everyone” – easy drinking and suitable for all occasions.

As such, Ron and wife Renata were only too happy to get on board with The People’s Pint.

“As part of my job as a brewer, I get to dream up beer ideas and recipes every day,” says Ron. “But that’s an opportunity that the majority miss out on.”

“The People’s Pint is both daunting and incredibly exciting for us at Temple,“ says Renata. "It gives everyone the opportunity to put forward their own idea of the perfect beer, and will give us the opportunity to interpret that to create what will hopefully be a great beer.”

As for the daunting part, “we have absolutely no idea what to expect from the entrants,“ says Ron. "The beers could be incredibly technical, far too weird to ever work, or downright scary. I guess we’ll have to see what the people put forward, and rely on our brewing experience and instincts to end up with a brew that’s worthy of the ‘People’s Pint’ moniker.”

Entries are now open and will close on March 12, 2012. At that point, a team of judges from The Crafty Pint, Temple, ingredient suppliers Bintani and Good Beer Week will select their top six. These will be presented on The People’s Pint website for two weeks for a public vote.

The beer that gets the most votes will be crowned The People’s Pint, at which point Ron will speak with the winning entrant while perfecting the recipe for what will be a full length commercial brew, ready to be launched during Good Beer Week. Then comes the best part: you all get to drink it.

The person who comes up with the concept for the winning beer also gets a pair of tickets to the launch event, a case of the beer and, if they live outside Victoria, one return flight to Melbourne from their nearest capital city (terms and conditions apply) plus one night’s accommodation in Melbourne on the night of the launch.

If you haven’t already, head to The People’s Pint site to learn more and enter your fantasy beer ideas. You can also keep in touch with the latest via Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll be sharing some of your beer ideas as they come in.

Anyway, enough chatter: get thinking, get creating, and send us your beers!

Temple has agreed to brew the beer for The Crafty Pint at no cost. Bintani is supplying all raw ingredients free of charge. Thanks also to Code Create and William Delmont for the website and logo respectively. We’ll shout you a beer some time soon!


Fed Square Gets Fruity

Crafty Pint / 07.02.12

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The bi-annual Victorian Microbreweries Showcase is to get a little fruitier next month with Fed Square turning the BMW Edge into a Cider Garden for the two evenings. The beer free zone will be handed over to some of Victoria’s best cider and perry producers, leaving the Atrium to the state’s microbrewers and brewing companies. It will mean the ever popular event, which has sold out both evenings for the past few showcases, will be able to offer that little bit more.

Roland Fraval, from Fed Square, says: “The space will be themed to mimic an apple orchard, complete with live music, apple trees and picnic rugs for punters to sprawl on.”

The showcase runs on the evenings of March 14 and 15. There will be stalls in the Atrium for 26 brewers and a further seven beer-related, non-brewing exhibitors. It’s an event at which punters get to sample a huge range of the beers being produced across Victoria, and one at which some brewers debut new beers. Tickets cost $25pp, which includes 20 tasting tokens to be redeemed at brewers' and cider producers' stalls.

Any exhibitor wishing to take part should contact Roland at roland.fraval@fedsquare.com. Deadline for registration and payment is February 29, 2012. Anyone wishing to purchase advance tickets can do so through Ticketmaster here.

For an idea of what goes on, check out our film shot at one of last year’s showcases:

TheCraftyPint - Fed Square Victorian Microbreweries Showcase from The Post Project on Vimeo.

See you there!


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