A few weeks back, we were happy to report that the Clifton Hill Brewpub was embracing its brewpubbiness at last, steadily gobbling up more of the 16 taps in its front bar with its own beers. Then the count was about to hit eight with the manager insisting that 13 was imminent. And he was right, with every tap barring one cider, Guinness and Carlton Draught now pouring beers brewed a few metres away. The Stout we tasted back then has since nabbed their first silver medal at the Australian International Beer Awards too.
The latest five include a nitro version of the Irish Red we sampled previously plus these four new drops. Two are likely to be permanent, including the Summer Ale. It might seem a little odd to debut such a beer in the midst of a cold start to winter but, after playing with a recipe for a while, brewer Ben reckoned he'd got it where he wanted it and so on it went. Orange and lemon hop characters sit alongside some light malt sweetness in an easy-drinking, clean drop with a good body for a beer of its ilk.
The IPA is the other likely to stick around and has already been bottled for sale in the bottleshop out back. It's a pretty straight down the line US-inspired affair, pitting citrus and pine hops against a solid toffee malt backbone.
There's also the Redneck Falcon, a red IPA that was the winning entry in a Merri Mashers homebrew competition. The winning brewer got to brew it on the in-house setup (and take a keg home). As the name suggests, it uses Falconer's Flight, the US hop blend designed for IPAs, and sets orange and pine characters up against sweet biscuit and caramel malts while pouring a nice blood orange colour.
Last but not least of the current newcomers is the India Weizen, essentially a hoppier, boozier (6.5 percent ABV) take on their straight wheat beer. Possibly the quirkiest of the beers currently on tap, it was nonetheless finding favour from those at the bar when we called in.
"This is just perfect," said one customer as he returned for a second and talked his mate into getting one too. "Really good balance."
He was on the money too, with fruity lime and citrus hop aromas working well with the underlying banana esters of the wheat beer yeast and the bitterness there without being overbearing. With a Russian imperial stout currently ageing in barrels out the back, it looks like Ben has no intention of stopping there either.