Enter Galactic

Enter Galactic

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 wasn’t further news about the Space Beer or even BeerSpace, but rather one of the country’s 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 needn’t 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 don’t 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 wasn’t 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 “started 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 didn’t 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 don’t think we’ll go lower than that.

“We 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 they’re 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 “was a pretty big beer – over eight per cent and 75 IBUs.” 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: “uses 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.

“I find the Californian a bit more malty, earthy and ‘rustic’ – just a little bit heavier. I find it hard to compare with other beers, but I’m happy with it. If it gets received well, we’ll look at it becoming part of the core range.”

After the Californian, there’s already another release being scheduled – the Cosmic Hefe – which will also sit under the Rocket Science brand, followed by “some sort of ‘Black Hole’ for winter, which may be a porter with a twist.”

While they’re clearly enjoying their brewing adventure thus far, perhaps of more importance is people enjoying what they’re producing. Says Mike: “We had a keg on during Newcastle Craft Beer Week and it sold out in four hours, which was insane. It’s quite funny because Dan had to give a little speech that night and said he’s never been so nervous in his life, and he’s done thousands of presentations!

“To have him ring me and say, ‘Mate, there’s other brewers drinking our beer’ and Corey [Crooks, from The Albion Hotel] tell us it’s all gone was just really nice. It’s all well and good making something you like personally, but having some people from the industry say they like it – it’s just really nice to have that sort of feedback ”

So where to now for the fledgling brand?

“At the moment we’re focusing on achieving a more consistent product – it’s only very recently where we feel we’ve nailed the whole brewing process down better. Galactic Ale is the core product – or maybe the ‘mother brew’ – that we’ll have the most general focus on. Batches like Halo of Saturn will be a bit more random – maybe with the lunar eclipse of Saturn’s moon, or something like that! It could be April next year by the time we do it again.

“We’re getting ahead of ourselves, naturally. But that’s the fun side of it – it’s not so commercial at this stage so we’re not afraid to have a play around.”

If you’d like to keep up with the adventures of some of the country’s newest brewers, follow them on on Twitter.

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