December 11, 2012 by Crafty Pint
The year 2012 was a notable one for space matters: Venus transited, NASA put a remote control car on Mars, there was the total eclipse, Neil Armstrong – the original moonwalker – departed for another world. But closer to home a different sort of space-themed program got underway. It wasnât further news about the Space Beer or even BeerSpace, but rather one of the countryâs newer brewing ventures. It goes by the name Dennis Beer Co and launched earlier this year with a beer called Rocket Science Galactic Ale.
Mike Archer, Dan Kemp and Steve Moore are the three men behind the brand; a slightly tongue-in-cheek name that builds loosely on the idea that drinking good beer neednât be rocket science.
Since around August, keen observers may have spotted their tap badges at a smattering of pubs and bars across NSW. But a smattering is all you will find, with production being about as small and infrequent as you get in commercial terms.
The trio are split between Sydney and Newcastle and they donât have their own brewery, which makes brewing a bit of a logistical challenge. But brew they do, developing the recipes together and travelling across the state for brew days. For them, that personal involvement is important – simply sending a request and ending up with beer wasnât the way they wanted to go about building their brand. They want to be involved in helping nail down the processes and be there to make the all-important recipe tweaks. And there have been many of those already.
Case in point was the IBU (AKA International Bitterness Unit AKA how bitter a beer seems to the drinker) count of the Galactic Ale which Mike recalls âstarted off at something like 118.“ In other words: bloody high, with humans generally believed to be able to perceive bitterness to around 100 IBUs.
“We didnât put that batch out anywhere except for a few bottles we put aside,” says Mike. “But the next batch was at about 58 IBU and it actually got received pretty well, but some people just found it too bitter. Version 3 was one we were happier with, about 43 IBU, and the latest version sits about the same. We still consider it to be on the high side for a Pale Ale but we donât think weâll go lower than that.
âWe also changed the hop percentages slightly, adding a bit more Galaxy over the Nelson Sauvin. I think this latest version has a better nose as well as less bitterness.“ It also adds some extra weight to the Galactic name, which comes from the Galaxy hops.
The business may only be a few months old but theyâre still managing to churn through a range of different brews. After the Galactic Ale came a double IPA called Halo of Saturn (pictured above) which Mike suggests âwas a pretty big beer – over eight per cent and 75 IBUs.â Hence why it was subtitled a “Hope Behemoth”.
The next release, only tapped in the past few days, is Rocket Science Californian – a 5.5 per cent steam beer or California Common. For those unfamiliar with the style, it’s one that, as Mike explains: âuses a lager yeast that can handle a higher temperature. Normally lagers are fermented at lower temperatures and ales higher. This was fermented at 18 degrees which gives it a bit of a weird flavour profile.
âI find the Californian a bit more malty, earthy and ârusticâ – just a little bit heavier. I find it hard to compare with other beers, but Iâm happy with it. If it gets received well, weâll look at it becoming part of the core range.â
After the Californian, thereâs already another release being scheduled – the Cosmic Hefe – which will also sit under the Rocket Science brand, followed by âsome sort of âBlack Holeâ for winter, which may be a porter with a twist.â
While theyâre clearly enjoying their brewing adventure thus far, perhaps of more importance is people enjoying what theyâre producing. Says Mike: âWe had a keg on during Newcastle Craft Beer Week and it sold out in four hours, which was insane. Itâs quite funny because Dan had to give a little speech that night and said heâs never been so nervous in his life, and heâs done thousands of presentations!
âTo have him ring me and say, ‘Mate, thereâs other brewers drinking our beer’ and Corey [Crooks, from The Albion Hotel] tell us itâs all gone was just really nice. Itâs all well and good making something you like personally, but having some people from the industry say they like it – itâs just really nice to have that sort of feedback â
So where to now for the fledgling brand?
âAt the moment weâre focusing on achieving a more consistent product – itâs only very recently where we feel weâve nailed the whole brewing process down better. Galactic Ale is the core product – or maybe the âmother brewâ – that weâll have the most general focus on. Batches like Halo of Saturn will be a bit more random – maybe with the lunar eclipse of Saturnâs moon, or something like that! It could be April next year by the time we do it again.
âWeâre getting ahead of ourselves, naturally. But thatâs the fun side of it – itâs not so commercial at this stage so weâre not afraid to have a play around.â
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