A Beer With Real Clout

A Beer With Real Clout

September 23rd, 2013 by Crafty Pint

A couple of weeks ago, Nail Brewing founder John Stallwood signed off an email: “PS Looking forward to beating Brendan in the SRBC.” It was a reference to the Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show and his plans to topple Feral, with whom he shares a brewery in WA.

Given Feral has a habit of picking up trophies wherever it sends beer, he was certainly setting the bar high. But then again, Nail does have a habit of winning awards itself. What’s more, it has the epic Clout Stout in its armoury, a beer that has won consecutive golds at the Australian International Beer Awards, taken out top prize at the Adelaide awards and was our pick as the best beer released in Australia last year.

And now the 11 per cent Russian Imperial Stout – the latest, 2012 vintage – has been named Champion Bottled Beer in Sydney, regarded as the most rigorously judged of all beer competitions in Australia.

“It feels very good and satisfying knowing you’re on the right track,” said John of the win. “I don’t make much money and I have my house and my parent’s house to help me have my loan. That causes stress in such a tough industry [so] winning this award gives me confidence.

“If you believe in a dream then one day the dream may believe in you.”

There has been a beer competition as part of the Summer Fine Food Show in Sydney since 2007, but this was the first year it had operated as a standalone competition. There were 149 – 108 beers and 41 ciders – into classes including Golden Lagers, Dark Lagers, Pale and Golden Ales, Amber and Dark Ales, Stouts and Porters, Wheat Beers, Strong Beers, Reduced Alcohol Beer, Cider, Perry and Speciality Beer.

Redoak, which you’ve been reading a lot about on this site in recent weeks, collected four silver and seven bronze medals, while Matilda Bay won 13 medals: four Silver and nine Bronze.

Chief judge Ian Kingham, who took on the role in the absence of Australian Brewery head brewer Neal Cameron due to illness, said: “Overall, I was really pleased with the standard of entries received across the competition with a high number of medals awarded. The beer entries were of a consistently good standard and I was very encouraged by the cider entries considering that the industry is still very young in Australia."

There was also noticeable success for a number of contract brewers, companies that don’t own a brewery and instead have their beers brewed under license elsewhere. SA-based Swell collected a Silver and two Bronzes, there were two Bronzes for Hawthorn Brewing Company and a Silver and three Bronzes for Endeavour too.


Trystam Hayden from the Lord Nelson casting judgement

Nail also took home two bronzes for its Nail Stout and one each for Nail Ale and Dunn Brown. But it was Clout, which retails for $70 for a 750ml bottle, that took the competition’s sole gold.

“I’ve never had a complaint from anyone that’s bought the bottle,” says John of the hefty price tag. “I’ve only had complaints [that it’s overpriced] from people that haven’t bought the bottle. It has to be good to sell at that price or it will be bad for the Nail name.”

So does releasing a beer at that price put pressure on him as a brewer?

“The pressure I feel is before I do the next batch,” he says. “I have pressure that Clout 2013 has to be very good. Sometimes I think maybe I should break from the series for a while.

“If I brewed a Clout and it didn’t come out as good I would call it something else and sell it cheaper. It will happen one day. I lost control of the Clout 2012 brew but got really lucky how good it turned out, so much [so that] it has given me ideas for 2013. The 2012 is very powerful and I was a bit worried I went overboard but it worked.”

Read the full results of SRBC 2013 here.

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