Walking into Feral’s Baskerville brewpub shortly after it opened in the early 2000s, the beer board offered a fairly straightforward range of house-brewed beers – at least judged by today’s standards. But this concept alone is far from Noughties folk-spun cute: it was visionary at the time.
Now, think about doing that – serving up a range of changing beers – without social media to help spread the word (because that didn’t exist yet), and when you're located miles from any sort of population density... It makes it quite the wonder that this brewery waltzed into the 2010s in such fine shape, let alone is still here now celebrating its 21st birthday, if in rather different shape to a decade ago.
Of that early Feral litter, it was a Belgian-inspired witbier – Feral White – which first got up, gathering momentum for a tide that helped to shape modern Australian beer culture. It's a beer Feral's current innovation brewer Oscar David remembers well.
“I’d be happy to revisit Feral White, however palates have changed, and we chose to mark the anniversary with a big, hoppy beer," he tells me, "which is what people have come to expect from Feral.”
So, as the iconic brand turns 21, if anyone wants hops, Feral have them to spare! Visiting the brewery on Golden State's canning day, heady Strata passionfruit enveloped the brewery as if a dank tropical fog. Its strawberry jam undercurrent weaved through lean, light caramel malt as a modern US hop medley of Feral faves rendered heritage citrus and pine notions as mandarin, sweet orange peel and a subtle, sticky nadir.
Bitterness plays a harmonising role rather than leading in this imperial IPA, as if borrowing from a softer, hazy approach, which renders Golden State almost sessionable even though it gets close to a double digit ABV. More bodega glass than yard glass, Feral at 21 are ready to party, and with fresh vigour too.
Published November 9, 2023 2023-11-09 00:00:00