Lost, But On Purpose

Lost, But On Purpose

December 21, 2012 by Crafty Pint

“I’d been homebrewing for close to 14 years. I decided I really needed to do something with it.”

So spake Peter Philip, founder and head brewer of Wayward Brewing Company, the latest Sydney-based beer company to hit the market and – all things going to plan – the city’s next brewery.

Wayward could perhaps be considered a ‘specialty beer specialist’, with the list of already released and impending releases enough to make beer lovers giddy in their loins: India Red Ale, Biere de Garde, Eisbock, Bavarian Kellerbier and a Jasmine Saison.

Says Peter: “My preferred styles lean towards European, but I think the styles I make are more of a fusion."

That’s somewhat reflected in the choice of the company name “Wayward”. The inspiration, Peter says, comes from a phrase he heard: “Lost, but on purpose.” In other words, the beer might not necessarily be what you expect, but is all the better for it.

The first official release from Wayward is the Charmer India Red Ale (IRA). The label states: “Yet Another IPA? Nope”, and is true to its word, being a bitter but highly drinkable 5.6 per cent ruby red ale. The second batch is out now and Peter reckons it’s “drinking nicely with slightly more hop aroma coming through up front”. While the IRA is currently the only available Wayward beer, the new brews should be coming thick and fast in the New Year.

As he enjoys a holiday during the festive period, the magnificently named Keller Instinct, a wheat/rye Bavarian kellerbier, will be fermenting in readiness for a January release. And after that will come the intriguing Jasmine tea-infused Summer Saison. The idea behind that beer came from talking to people running bars who mentioned a lot of their customers, particularly females, don’t enjoy the bitterness in beer. Wayward’s antidote is a light saison, somewhere just over four per cent ABV. Having brewed two trial batches – one with the tea and one without – the tea-less version was found to come up a bit short of what was expected, but the tannins of the tea version struck just the right balance.

As all of this is going on, Peter is hoping to get a couple of considerably bigger beers ready for the cooler months. One is the Raconteur, a 9.5 per cent Biere de Gardem which has been trialled for some time and is through several batches already, experimenting with different yeasts and varying levels of carbonation. It’s a necessarily slow process of refining the recipe because, as he says, “the Biere de Garde needs at least three months [maturation].”

The other beer he’s been working on is an extraordinary Eisbock named Devil’s Advocate. The reason it’s so extraordinary in that it clocks in at around 18 per cent but drinks as easily as something nearly a third of that. The inspiration for it came, in some part, from the much-publicised brewing war between Scotland’s Brewdog and Germany’s Schorschbräu in their pursuit to brew the world’s strongest beer.

While on a trip to Germany, Peter elected to take an unscheduled 45 minute detour in the pursuit of Schorschbräu and its brewer, Georg Tscheuschner.

“We tracked him down to this little village with about five houses, a pub and a brewhouse absolutely rammed with fermenters. That’s where I was able to pick up some inspiration and a few tips. And a souvenir photo with him and a bottle of his beer…”

The problem with creating such weighty brews is the time they take to develop. As Peter says of the Eisbock: “It’s virtually undrinkable in the first three months. I thought it was a complete failure but it cleans itself up and develops beautifully with time.“ Here, comparisons to wine are apt. “You just wouldn’t drink a red wine straight after primary ferment. Like a big Shiraz, it needs a few years on it. I tried a four-year-old bottle and it was tasting fantastic.

“I’m desperate to get a batch of Devil’s Advocate and Raconteur brewed so I can get them out in the autumn.”

Any difficulties are made worse by not having his own brewery, though this is hopefully set to change very soon.

“It’s been really hard to find good locations in the city,“ says Peter. “I want it to be in the Inner West – Rozelle, Annandale, Chippendale. I’ve been in the Inner West for 15 years and want it to be a local brewery.

“I looked at a site recently which could be positive, but we’re still negotiating with council, landlords, etc.“ With the on and off planning having taken the best part of three years, Peter is confident “it won’t be too long now – the real delay will be council approvals.”

Once the brewery is up and running, he’ll be that much closer to satisfying his desires for producing specialty beer. “I think that’s where I really see a niche. Strong beers that compete well with wine and are a really good accompaniment with food. And I’d love to do barrel aging.”

But, at the moment, it’s just a case of “too many beers, not enough time!”

Wayward Charmer India Red Ale is currently available on tap at The Duck Inn and The Little Guy and in bottles at Mr Falcon’s and Vinery Foods.

Follow on Wayward Brewing on Twitter and keep tabs on Nick’s adventures in NSW’s burgeoning craft beer scene here.

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