Botany-based Beer Fontaine have made a mighty impressive entry into the Sydney beer market. Their combination of routinely brewing modern and traditional styles is my exact jam, so it’s exciting just to be able to write about some new releases.
First up is Draught, an easygoing Kolsch that’s more new world than Cologne. Such beers are traditionally ales disguised as lagers to varying degrees of success. Fontaine’s Draught is using some high level Hollywood makeup and digital trickery because this is almost indistinguishable from an unfiltered lager.
It wouldn’t be a Kolsch without Saaz hops but the use of Motueka here is very much a welcome addition. The nose is relatively hop forward with floral spice, lime zest and just the faintest trace of pear. The malt structure is lead by a bit of bready malt and grain but, generally, the sweetness is minimal, while the crisp, biting bitterness is reminiscent of a Czech pils that practically forces you at gunpoint to keep drinking.
Next up is Caldwell’s Call, a West Coast IPA brewed with four legendary American IPA “C” hops, only most of them were grown right here in NSW. The Columbus, Centennial and Chinook that’s weaved through this very modern WCIPA have been sourced from Ryefield Hops in Bemboka before being finished with a whack of Cryo Citra for good measure.
Usually, if I’m looking at a can of beer that has any mention of Columbus, Centennial or Chinook, I’m gleefully bracing myself for that deep, dank, piney, resinous bitterness. I haven’t had a lot of beers with Australian grown varieties of these hops so I’m not sure if it’s a product of terroir or just how they’ve been utilised in the process of this beer but it’s remarkable just how dank is IPA isn’t. There’s a heap of grapefruit and lemon citrus, passionfruit and pine aromas emanating from this slightly hazy golden brew. Don’t get me wrong, there is a remnant of resinous pine playing off the mildly sweet malt but the restrained bitterness seems to accentuate the fruit rather than the dank. It’s super clean and drinks like a much lower ABV IPA.
Not going to lie: of these three beers, the final one is what I was most excited for. Given how infrequently English bitters are brewed in Australia, I’m guessing the number of punters thrilled to see a 4.5 percent ABV malt driven English ale in a can must be vanishingly small. But there are dozens of us! Dozens!
Botany Best Bitter pours a clear iron oxide and smells exactly as it should. Aromas of earthy and sweet Goldings hops, caramel, toast and marmalade make this as English as complaining about the spirit of cricket. A bitter lives and dies on the strength of the malt and this is a pearler: biscuit, red fruits and a kind of almost Belgian malt character that gives the impression of sweetness without being cloying or heavy going whatsoever. It makes for fabulous drinking and I’m sure would be an absolute delight on a handpump.
Published July 31, 2023 2023-07-31 00:00:00