They've had a fair bit on at Colonial in recent years. As one of the bigger and faster-growing craft breweries in Australia, there have been major expansion projects at both sites in WA and Victoria, with a way still to go in Port Melbourne. But, in the background, they've been starting a barrel program – and taking their time over it.
The first beer deemed worthy of release is Brown, a blend of a dark ale aged in chardonnay and pinot noir barrels for a couple of years before being blended with a pale ale laced with plenty of funky Brettanomyces. It weighs in at 8.1 percent ABV and, if all that sounds like quite the mouthful, well, you'll be surprised. The beauty of taking time over such beers – and getting blends right – is that you can achieve subtlety and delicacy even at such weighty booze levels.
Indeed, when the Crafty team enjoyed a sneak peek of one of the 750ml bottles at our Christmas drinks, we were taken aback to discover just how big the beer was, given the pretty fleet-footed way in which it delivers its mix of berries, soft chocolate malts, gently cleansing acidity and barnyard-esque funk. They might be late to the barrel-ageing party, but this is a fine gift for the latecomers to bring to their guests.