In their ongoing mission to explore every nook and cranny of the lager world, Freshwater's brewers joined their fellow lager-lovers (and champion lager-brewers) from White Bay for a brew. Up Top is very much in the vein of the latter's excellent Gantry Crane: classically Euro-inspired but with the hops ratcheted up for modern crafty tastes. It's been brought to life with Slovenian Bobek and Celeia hops and a "painfully long four-step mash", resulting in a beer that's lean, dry and broadly bitter, coaxing heaps of floral, spicy, herbal character from said hop varieties. It was the last brew at White Bay by founding joint head brewers Dennis and Jess before they jetted off to traipse around Europe, and a fitting send-off it is too.
Dusky Dark and Moon Rise are all the Northern Beaches brewers' handiwork, however, with the former a Czech dark lager starring Saaz hops and caramel malts that's highly popular at their taproom and may well become a mainstay at some point. And dusky it certainly is; you might even argue it sits later into the night with its deeply dark brown hue and a roastiness that's not far off that of a dry Irish stout, rising from below once the upfront chocolate and caramel make way.
Now, Moon Rise is a few things. It's a beer you could play tricks with: pour it into a glass for a mate, making sure you're stood a little distance away or they've pinched their nose closed, and ask them to guess what it is. Chances are you're going to get pale lager or pilsner, maybe golden ale if people utter those two words together anymore. It's also a little like those stripped back pales or IPAs designed to let the hops shine unabated, but not about hops at all. Instead, this is all about showcasing European smoked malts.
It's a quality that also makes it a little like the white stout or black IPA of lagers as the distinctive smokiness – honey-smoked ham hock, perhaps? – really is showcased to the full, adding to the tannic, drying bitterness, and wrapping itself around the rounded, otherwise delicate helles at its heart.
Published August 11, 2023 2023-08-11 00:00:00