Getting Blind With Crafty: Ambers and Reds


There was much change afoot for our latest Crafty Pint Blind Tasting Panel at the weekend. For a start, it featured an entirely new set of panellists. Each and every one of those who taken part in a previous panel had their own excuse for not coming along, although we suspect that they may just be waiting for the next Imperial Stout tasting to roll around next winter...

Thus it was that we lined up four new tasters –€“ all commercial brewers, which suggests that perhaps we need to widen our circle of friends to include normal people –€“ and, making use of a beautiful Melbourne spring day, we took the tasting onto the rear lawn at Crafty Towers.

These weren’t the only changes, however, as even the subject matter was something of a loose stylistic collection, as outlined in yesterday’s Drinking In Style feature. When we first sat down to work out how many Australian brewed reds or ambers were available, the list for neither seemed that long so we decided to lump them both together. As it was, more and more then came to mind and in the end we left it to our inimitable steward Prof Pilsner to do some surreptitious pruning of the list so we were even more clueless as to what beers were going to be presented. He dropped in a couple of unexpected internationals too, one of them a multiple winner of some major trophies, to see how the locals compared.

Due to a particularly hectic schedule and last minute rearranging of the panellists, we also didn’t pick up as many beers from bottleshops as we like to do, instead gathering many at last week’s Good Beer Showcase and having a couple sent by brewers (although Riverside’s highly rated 44 American Amber wasn’t off the bottling line in time).

When it came to judging, however, the usual procedures were followed:

  • Beer presented in flights of three by Prof in his AIBA Steward’s apron
  • Beers scored out of five for appearance, aroma and flavour plus an overall score out of ten
  • An anonymous calibrator beer presented at the start to see how the judges are scoring (in this case Anchor Steam)
  • Scores tallied and averaged, before being revealed last to first

There was the usual mixture of surprises, not the least that the top three scoring beers are all new this year; one has only been out a month or so, another just a week. There were a couple that didn’t present well that we’ve enjoyed in the past, although nothing scored particularly badly, while the Australian Brewery Extra Hoppy Ale, which is classed as an American Amber, was a better beer than its score suggests but didn’t have the requisite colour or malt on the nose to fit the style.

So congratulations to the new boys of the Victorian scene that sit atop the pile. A sign, perhaps, that the bar has been raised to a point in Australia where newcomers know that they’ve got to hit their straps from the off. And also, for the most part, that these are styles that favour some heavy New World hopping.


The Results

Amber-Reds-thin


  1. Dainton Family Brewery Red Eye Rye – Purvis Cellars
  2. Killer Sprocket Amber Ale – Good Beer Showcase
  3. Monster Mash Hopped Out Red Ale – Good Beer Showcase
  4. 2 Brothers Grizz – Good Beer Showcase
  5. Wayward Brewing Charmer India Red Ale – Rainbow Hotel
  6. Karl Strauss Red Trolley (USA) – Dan Murphy’s, Rowville
  7. Siren Lighthouse (Canada) – Prof’s AIBA stock
  8. Australian Brewery Extra Hoppy Ale – Purvis Cellars
  9. Rogue Dry-Hopped Red Ale (USA) – Purvis Cellars
  10. Mountain Goat Hightail – Brewery Bar (growler)
  11. Two Birds Brewing Sunset – Good Beer Showcase
  12. Stone & Wood Jasper – Good Beer Showcase
  13. Prickly Moses Red Ale – Good Beer Showcase
  14. Bright Brewery Hellfire Amber – Bright Brewery
  15. Van Dieman Jacob’s Ladder – Posted by the brewery

Next up in November we plan to look at sessionable summer ales.

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