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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Thursday 24 April 2014

Taken To Cask

Crafty Pint / 29.09.11


When the Lambs Go Bar in Fitzroy closed earlier this year, mourning was kept to a minimum with owners Jason and Adam King popping up just a few streets away at the refurbished Rainbow Hotel. One thing they didn’t take with them, however, was the 3 Ravens hand pump, one of very few in Australia pouring genuine cask conditioned ales. But now it’s back, reincarnated at North Melbourne’s Courthouse Hotel. And this time it has a sibling too, with a second pump installed at the Great Northern in North Carlton by the Thornbury brewery this week.

“Having the Holgate hand pump here was an introduction for people,” says Great Northern owner Al Carragher. “It created a lot of interest, with people coming in at weekends to try it. The market is starting to get to a point where they understand different beers so we wanted to get a real cask ale on. It brings us to 20 beers on our tap lineup too.”

Most of the wooden handled pumps you see being yanked in the few Aussie pubs that have them aren’t pulling cask-conditioned real ale, but beer from a keg that’s usually at a reduced level of carbonation; it gives you a different experience to a fully carbonated version of the beer poured from a tap, but it wouldn’t pass muster as a real ale, which requires the beer to undergo a secondary fermentation in the cask (or bottle) to qualify for that title. The 3 Ravens Stout pouring at the Great Northern and English Ale pouring at the Courthouse do, however, tick the requisite boxes.

“The beer spends a couple of weeks conditioning in the cask, then we put it on its side, tap it and vent it,” says 3 Ravens' Dave Brough. For those who want to get technical, this means knocking a spile into the cask’s shive, something explained in detail on this stunningly designed website. “Once it’s sat for 24 hours, we take out the spile, releasing the pressure, pull through some beer until we get a partial vacuum, and then the clock starts ticking. You want the beer to be drunk in a maximum of seven days.

“You get a completely different beer. In the case of the English or the Stout, it’s probably how they’re supposed to be, with a lot more malt intensity and a fuller mouthfeel. With the lower carbonation, you get full of beer instead of bubbles too.”


Dave Brough (l) and Al Carragher enjoying pints of 3 Ravens Stout

3 Ravens plan to pour pretty much all of their ales into casks at some point, including the USB and Golden. Once they’ve got it working properly, they also plan to install a third pump at Penny Blue in Melbourne’s CBD.

If you’re on the lookout for real ale elsewhere, Canberra’s Wig & Pen has been serving a range of cask ales year round for years, while The Local Taphouse has plans to send casks to Aussie brewers to fill with ales for forthcoming cask systems in both St Kilda and Darlinghurst. Tasmanian brewery Two Metre Tall cask conditions all of its beers, which you can find at the brewery bar, Preachers in Hobart, Knoppies, Penny Blue and, coming soon, in Sydney too. Meanwhile, Moon Dog has bought five 25 litre casks they plan to offer to venues whenever they have beers they feel are suitable. And look out for an experiment of sorts at the Great Northern early next year.

“We’re going to mix up what we pour through the pump,” says Al. “We’re going to pour Foster’s through it on Australia Day just to see what happens.”

If you’re serving real ale in Australia or know somewhere that is, let us know and we’ll update the article accordingly.

Getting Back To Basics

Crafty Pint / 27.09.11


A few years ago, a group of students in Hobart started the Tasmanian Beerfest, an event designed to celebrate their local brewers. As it gained in popularity, it reached a point where it had outgrown their original intentions, so they sold it and started anew with a smaller festival. The Tasmanian Microbrew Fest debuted last year, under the stewardship of a new group of students based at the city’s Drysdale Campus, and saw them return the focus to small scale Tasmanian producers.

“The Beerfest got a bit out of hand so we decided to go back to basics,” says festival organiser Amy Crosswell. “Now we’re focusing on just Tasmanian beers and ciders.

“This year, we’ve got Two Metre Tall, Moo Brew, Seven Sheds, Taverner’s, Van Dieman, Ironhouse and also Captain Bligh’s, which is a new cider company based here in Hobart which will be appearing at their first event.

“The aim is to raise awareness of Tasmanian producers, to educate and bring an appreciation of their products because a lot of people still don’t really know about them.”

The Microbrew Fest runs from midday to 6pm on October 29 at the Wharf Apron, which is next to the Prince’s Wharf Shed. Additional exhibitors are expected to be announced before the event. Entry costs $8 per person, which includes five beer or cider samples. Additional tastings can be purchased separately.

You can keep up to date with the Tasmanian Microbrew Fest on Twitter and Facebook.

Ballarat's Beer Bash

Crafty Pint / 22.09.11


Back in the day, Ballarat Bertie was one of the Victorian beer industry’s iconic characters, a cheeky chap with bushy ‘tache and apron who beamed out from cans of Ballarat Bitter. That beer and the brewery that made it are long since gone, although the city’s ties to beer remain. The Prickly Moses brewers believe the hops they used in this year’s Wild Hop Organic Ale were originally grown for the beer, while the University of Ballarat has trained many of the country’s brewers. O'Brien’s knocks out its gluten free beers there, with Red Duck moving its brewing operations from Purrumbete to Ballarat in recent weeks too.

And now it’s to get its own beer festival thanks, in part, to the efforts of the great-great-grandson of the Ballarat Brewing Company’s founder. Simon Coghlan has joined forces with fellow hotelier Tim Kearney to create an event that will showcase local, regional and national breweries.

“Beer and Ballarat are two things I am very passionate about,” says Simon. “Australia has some great boutique beers that deserve to be celebrated. Ballarat’s ties to the industry make it the perfect place to put on a festival to do that.”

The organisers have brought in a couple of home brewing TV comedians to MC on the day, with The 7pm Project’s Charlie Pickering and standup Danny McGinlay (see above) on hand to talk about McGickering’s Brewing Industries, which is, apparently, “the world’s leading comedic home brewing enterprise”. Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn has also been lined up to educate the crowds on matching beer and food.

According to the organisers: “Visitors will be able to taste test new beers, learn more about the beer making process, visit catering stalls that sell food to match and even sample a few local wines.”

We can also reveal the breweries and brewing companies already signed up to appear:

James Squire
Mountain Goat
Prickly Moses
White Rabbit
Little Creatures
Red Duck
Hawthorn Brewing Company
Old Mout Cider
Coldwater Creek Microbrewery
Buckley’s Brewery
True South
Bridge Road
Three Troupers
Tooborac Hotel & Brewery


The party comes to town on January 21 next year, when Ballarat’s City Oval will be transformed into “a celebration of great beer, good food and entertainment” designed to be “enjoyed by beer experts, summer festival lovers and families.” Tickets are on sale now through Ticketek with prices starting at $35. Early birds who book before October 31 will receive a $5 discount.

You can keep up to date with the festival’s latest announcements on the festival website, on twitter at @vicbeerfest or by calling (03) 5331 6211.

New Hope On Excise?

Crafty Pint / 21.09.11


A fresh call for changes to the tough tax regime faced by the country’s craft brewers was put in front of politicians this week. Greens Deputy Leader Christine Milne raised a motion in Parliament calling for amendments to be made to existing legislation that would ease the levels of excise tax paid by microbreweries up to a certain size. The motion didn’t go as far as previous campaigns on the issue, which have called for brewers to be treated in the same way as small wine producers. Instead it asked for the definition of a microbrewery to be changed from one producing 30,000 litres per year to one producing 300,000 litres (meaning more are eligible for the existing excise refund) and also for the $10,000 cap on those refunds to be removed.

The motion, which was instigated by Tasmania’s Two Metre Tall brewery, was voted down by Coalition and Labor MPs but Senator Milne has pledged that the campaign will go on. While the issue has not been added to the agenda for the forthcoming Tax Summit, she says she will ensure it is raised.

“We’re not giving up on it,” says Senator Milne. “This is just the beginning to raise the profile and challenge some of these members. Some on both sides have been to various microbreweries around Australia and are all sympathetic, but when it comes to doing something they don’t have the courage of the commitments that they make.”

Jane Huntington, from Two Metre Tall in the Derwent Valley (see photo above), says: “I’ve been working on this for the last five years. We’ve been building relationships with local politicians and Christine Milne has been very supportive. She has a very pragmatic approach and when we asked what we could do, she said the simplest thing was to try to make some amendments to the existing situation.

“We’ve got it this far so the next step is to approach the Coalition and Labor and try to get people around the table and get something that everyone can agree to.”

A long-running nationwide campaign, A Fair Go for Craft Beer, submitted a petition signed by 6,500 people to Parliament in 2009 that called for more far-ranging changes than those in this latest proposal. It led to Holgate Brewhouse founder Paul Holgate speaking in front of a House of Representatives Petitions Committee question and answer session but, thus far, has failed to achieve the changes it was seeking.

“As an industry we need to share the load,” says Jane. “This is proof that, if you keep putting pressure on politicians, it’s not as if they’re sitting in ivory towers. The more they hear the message, the more they will think it’s a real, serious issue.”

For Senator Milne, part of the impetus for the campaign is to help promote innovative Tasmania producers. She told The Crafty Pint The Greens are keen to build the state’s brand as not just a holiday destination but a place known for high quality food and beverages. They also aim to help local farmers get “out of commodity markets and into the high value niche markets”.

And, while this push has been sparked locally within Tasmania, she sees the potential for widespread benefits.

“Microbreweries have a special place in Australia’s food culture, and they create excellent local jobs in rural and regional areas,” she said in an earlier statement.

“Like small wineries, microbreweries are also becoming tourist attraction, spurring further development and job creation across the regions.

“But, while small wineries can claim back all the excise they pay under the Wine Equalisation Tax, only breweries of a very small size that is out of step with industry reality can claim an excise rebate.

“A study in 2008 by Street Ryan Associates showed that, if the government lifted the threshold for microbreweries, tax receipts would actually increase thanks to the growth of businesses.


“The Greens want the government to consider this easy step that will not only help small businesses become medium-sized businesses but also help all Australians, when we drink responsibly, to drink great quality Australian beer.”

Looking ahead to the Tax Summit and beyond, she says: “I have told colleagues to get out into their various states to meet the microbrewers and to talk about the contribution they make within the local communities and within food culture.”


That the Senate notes that:

• Microbreweries are important niche businesses in Australia, providing valuable job opportunities and economic growth particularly in rural and regional areas; • Microbreweries need recognition within the tax system through the Microbrewery Refund, given that they are competing in a domestic market heavily dominated by multinational companies; • The Microbrewery Refund was introduced in 2000, and that the definition of a microbrewery has not been reviewed and is now markedly out of step with industry reality; • The maximum excise refund has remained capped at $10,000, while the beer excise has been raised twice a year for the last eleven years with CPI;

Calls on the Government to:

• Amend the definition of a Microbrewery under Excise Regulation 1925 2AB, so that a microbrewery is defined as a brewery that produces up to 300,000 litres of beer annually, replacing the current maximum volume of 30,000 litres; • Amend Subparagraph 50 (1) zzd of Excise Regulation 1925 to remove the maximum of $10,000 excise refund that can be claimed in a financial year. I will continue with this campaign. We’re going into the tax summit and while it won’t be directly on the agenda the government can’t prevent it being raised. It’s the start of what will be a dedicated campaign.

Anyone interested in finding out more or becoming involved with Senator Milne’s campaign can head to her website or make contact with her office in Hobart on (03) 6224 8899.

Sydney Craft Beer Week

Crafty Pint / 14.09.11


For the past couple of years, one of the most enjoyable – and eye-catching – events surrounding the Australian International Beer Awards in Melbourne has been the Hair of the Dog Breakfast. Run by the guys behind BeerMen TV (above), it does exactly what is says on the tin: offer breakfast with beers the morning after the awards. Having debuted in 2010, it was the first event to sell out during this year’s Good Beer Week. And now the Beermen are setting their organisational sights even higher by holding an entire week of events across Sydney.

The city’s inaugural Craft Beer Week will take place between October 22 and 29 and features everything from a Medieval Feast complete with fancy dress to tastings, comedy, degustations and live hookups with international guests.

“There was an element of inspiration from seeing what happened in Melbourne, where we had done the breakfast for a couple of years and seen the buzz and could see how organising a bunch of events helps spread the word to people outside the craft beer circuit,” says Beerman Todd Venning. “There was no one else doing anything up here so we thought we should. We spoke to people that we’ve featured in past episodes [of our online beer show] and they were excited because they’d seen what had happened elsewhere.

“The state that I live in is sadly lagging behind when it comes to craft beer so I’m taking a stand!”

The BeerMen, who are now a whopping 66 episodes into their online beer show, have brought many of the city’s microbreweries, bottleshops and bars on board, including Harts Pub, The Local Taphouse Darlo, Beer Cartel, Yulli’s, the Lord Nelson, Shady Pines and 4 Pines. And the aim, above all else, is to attract a new audience to craft beer where, slowly but surely, it is beginning to get a small foothold in a market dominated like few others in Australia by the major brewers.

“We’re looking to have variety so it’s not just a series of dinners and pairings,” says Todd. “There’s a bit of fun in there: some comedy gigs, the Medieval Feast where we can play dress up. Part of the fun is trying to design events that people who don’t know anything about craft beer will like.”

He’s worked closely with fellow BeerMan Mark David, who has years of experience running events and managing comedians under his belt, and Scotty Morgan, the brewer at Rocks Brewing Company, which is part of the same business as Harts Pub. Having secured enough events to fill the week, they created a website and remain open for more events.

“At first when I spoke to some of the venues I’d never met before they wanted to know what I was getting out of it,” says Todd. “When they saw that we were doing it just for the love and spread the word then the barriers were gone. Now that the site’s up, if a venue is happy to put on an event and gets in touch within a reasonable time then we’ll take listings on board.”


Anyone hoping for a return of the Hair of the Dog Breakfast will have to wait as the intended venue, Murray’s at Manly, has just closed for a few weeks for renovations. Instead, the BeerMen are helping kick off events with their Medieval Feast at Harts Pub on the first Saturday. The week closes with the 7th Australian Hotel Beer Festival, while in between times there will be all manner of events including the return of the Brewers and Chewers dinner concept that was a success at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda during Good Beer Week, an appearance via Skype by Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver, trivia, a collaborative brew and more.

“There’s a bit of everything: putting events on for beer nerds is cool, but at a lot of them the message and style is targeting the average punter and assuming no prior knowledge.”

Having been heavily involved in Good Beer Week in Melbourne and seen not only how much fun celebrating craft beer can be – and the positive impact it can have in promoting the industry and new venues to a wider audience – we wish them the best of luck. All being well, we’ll be there to enjoy it too.

To find out more, visit the Sydney Craft Beer Week website or follow it on Twitter for updates.

(Photo at top shows the BeerMen hosting their last Hair of the Dog Breakfast at Beer DeLuxe)

Ready For The Off

Crafty Pint / 13.09.11


The program has been finalised for Newcastle’s first Craft Beer Week, with 17 events taking place across 11 venues between November 21 and 27. The Hunter Beer Co, based nearby in the Hunter Valley, has also rescheduled its Oktoberfest for the weekend beforehand for anyone keen to get a little practice in beforehand. Over the course of the seven days, breweries from across Australia will be represented with guests including a number of head brewers, including Aussie brewing legend Chuck Hahn, and Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn, who is hosting a Women & Beer session on the opening evening.

The festival has been driven by Corey Crooks, from Newcastle’s Albion Hotel, and Mark Mead, manager of the Warners at the Bay Bottleshop, who have brought the local council, newspaper and Australian Hoteliers Association on board as supporters. Newcastle City Council is printing posters, flyers and programs, the Newcastle Herald is producing a lift out magazine in the weeks before it kicks off, while the AHA has offered financial support.

“It’s all been pretty smooth,” says Corey. “The aim is purely to spread the craft beer message further afield, to open a few of those eyes that still think beer’s about Toohey’s New and VB.”

They’ll be doing that with the aid of beers brewed from Swan Valley to Sydney with a list of beers that includes those from Feral, Little Creatures, Holgate, 4 Pines, Burleigh Brewing and many more. Events include Meet The Brewers sessions, beer and food matching lunches and dinners, masterclasses, BBQs and tastings. The venues hosting events are:

Prince of Wales Hotel
Bar Petite
Junction Hotel
Silo Lounge
Burwood Inn
Hotel Delany
Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club
Clarendon Hotel
Albion Hotel
Warners at the Bay

The official Newcastle Craft Beer Week Dinner is on the Thursday evening, with a seven-course degustation featuring beers from Stone & Wood, Feral, McLaren Vale, 4 Pines, Mountain Goat, Murray’s, Hunter Beer Co, Burleigh Brewing and Holgate. Among the beers will be two special releases brewed for the week. The festival closes with Warners on the Bay’s 5th Annual Beer Festival, where 30 breweries will be showing off their wares.


“The biggest thing is getting the message about craft beer out there and raising awareness of both the brewers and the venues,” says Corey. “We also want to have some little events that take place all throughout the week, whether that’s venues pairing some of their dishes with a beer for a set price each day or holding Beer 101 sessions for small groups throughout the day.”

The best way to keep tabs on developments – and to find out when tickets for individual events will be on sale – is via the Newcastle Craft Beer Week Facebook page. Over time, each event will have its own page created here.

(Photo at top shows Warners at the Bay Bottleshop, host of the closing event)

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