If you've made your way down the South Melbourne side street that leads to Westside Ale Works and perused the chalkboards showcasing the 30 beers on tap, you'll be aware they favour things on the larger side. Initially inspired by the beers that founder Casey Wagner grew up enjoying on America's West Coast, and these days embellished by joint venture Ida Pruul with its focus on barrel-aged and wild ales, whether it's beers under those two banners or the guests they bring in, you can tell this is very much a passion project from genuine craft beer lovers.
At the same time, while the charms of red rye IPAs, barrel-aged barleywines, mixed ferments and big West Coasters are very real, sometimes people just want a beer as beer used to be understood in Australia, and indeed as still makes up the vast majority of beer consumed here. Enter South Melbourne Draught, a core range beer that looks to meet such wants as well as the challenges of 2023's economic conditions. There's some Kolsch-esque fruity esters, sweet, almost honeyed malts, low bitterness, a touch of straw like hops, and that's pretty much that: the brewery's entry into the world of "quaffers" housed in cans showcasing the 'burb in which it's brewed.
Equally simple is their first seltzer. Westside Spirits Gin & Soda Seltzer is effectively a low ABV (4.1%) showcase for their housemade gin (they don't buy in base spirit but distil their from scratch themselves). It's mixed with soda and lightest splash of lime juice, allowing the full-bodied, aromatic gin to take centre stage.
Published June 16, 2023 2023-06-16 00:00:00