Tuesday, 12 November 2019

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 11

Episode 11 - Show Notes 

It was inevitable, but we finally fell off the wagon and missed a month. So naturally we missed two & a half... In any case we're back with a big show for you! A few changes to note - we now have a Facebook page where you can interact with us & get timelier answers than via email. We also, at the behest of Apple Podcasts, are now having to give our episodes names; so if you have any ideas on how we should name them we'd love to hear the feedback.

We're going to rotate some segments in and out, especially early on while we get into the swing of things - so if there is anything you love or hate, please let us know! The idea at the moment is that the podcast will be (roughly) monthly, and we'll try and keep that pretty regular - at least more so than I've kept the blog up to date recently... Basically every month we'll discuss some of the latest news from the beer world, we'll talk about some beers that we've been enjoying over the last month & we'll crack something interesting from my cellar.

This month we discuss we discuss beer news both recent & quite a bit older, due to our longer than usual break. We attempt to slot beers from the Philippines, Argentina & Jamaica into our Ranking of Lagers, before talking about some of the reasons why there was such a long break between podcast episodes including my trip to Hawaii & our respective trips to the Victorian High Country. As usual we hope you enjoy the show!


 Show Notes

News Items (1:16)
  • Green Beacon sell to Asahi
  • Independent Brands Australia become an ABAC Signatory
  • Beer Cartel Survey results
  • Phil Sexton returns to Matilda Bay - new brewery to open in Healesville
  • Lion to launch a Hard Seltzer
  • Aether Brewery founders to split
  • The Tasting Paddle - Quick News Segment
    • MoonDog World
    • Sailors Grave @ Mikkeller Beer Celebration Tokyo
    • Tinnies win World Beer Awards Medal
    • Pirate Life Perth Brewpub
    • Liberty Brewing Cleanup at NZ Beer Awards
Ranking of Lagers (20:47)

  • This week we had to slot in San Miguel (Philippines), Quilmes (Argentina) & Red Stripe (Jamaica)
  • The New Rankings are as follows:
    1. Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic)
    2. Tennent's (Scotland)
    3. Carlsberg (Denmark)
    4. Quilmes (Argentina)
    5. Kingfisher (India)
    6. Gullmack (Norway)
    7. Sapporo (Japan)
    8. Corona (Mexico)
    9. Heineken (Netherlands)
    10. San Miguel (Philippines)
    11. Tusker (Kenya)
    12. Tiger (Singapore)
    13. Red Stripe (Jamaica)
    14. Vonu (Fiji)
    15. Cusquena (Peru)
What We're Drinking (33:56)
  • Hawaii Trip
    • Maui, Honolulu Beerworks, Waikiki, Lanikai, Inu Island
    • Village Bottle Shop
  • High Country
    • Byramine Homestead, Buffalo, Rutherglen, Billson's, Bridge Road, Bright, Malt Shed
Noz's Cellar (54:13)
  • Maui Black Pearl (2019)
    • Rum, Bourbon & Brandy Barrel Aged with Coconut
    • Imperial Porter
    • 12% ABV
    • Cellared since August 2019
    • Thumbs Up
There we have it for another episode of the Beer O'Clock Australia Podcast. As usual you can hit me up at gus.norris7@gmail.com or at our new Facebook page, if you have any questions or feedback. We deliberately kept this episode relatively free of Year of the Local stuff as we've got a special episode that is recorded but yet to be released, so keep us in your podcast feed for that! Until next time...

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

2 BROTHERS BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 4 Joyner Street, Moorabbin
  • Food: Pizza
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://2brothers.com.au/
It was a very different craft brewing scene in Melbourne in 2007 when brothers Andrew & Dave Ong decided to take the plunge & open 2 Brothers Brewery. The pair had lived their separate lives in the U.S.A., one as a Physio in New York & one as an Aeronautical Engineer in Seattle, where they discovered American craft beer.

Upon returning to Australia they set out to find similar beers. Whilst there were a few breweries around, their beers were still relatively difficult to find & were more demure than the beers they had been drinking in the States. They decided to throw in their careers & make the beers they loved full-time. With the decision made they had to work out how to do it!

Andrew was sent back to the States to get some hands on experience brewing beer, as well as sourcing some equipment to make it. That proved easier than expecting as Times Square Brewery went out of business & the boys snaffled up their copper clad brewery, which was then shipped to Australia, albeit in a clandestine operation under cover of darkness to avoid paying for extortionate permits to close Times Square!

Whilst Andrew had been away securing brewing equipment & learning how to brew, Dave had been scouring the South Eastern suburbs for a suitable warehouse, which he stumbled across in Moorabbin. It's the same site that they still occupy today, although the Beer Hall underwent a major overhaul in 2016 to make it a more modern, welcoming space.

The space is really nice. You walk through their "industrial beer garden" at the front of the brewery to enter - it's a nice sun trap where you could easily sink a few beers. You're funneled passed the stainless steel through the relatively narrow area in front of the white tiled bar. Once you have a beer in hand you proceed passed the bar to an area out the back that really opens up.

There you find a number of large tables, each that would easily sit 8+ people, some with communal benches some with high seats. There's a projector and stage at the back for entertainment, while pot plants hang from the ceiling. There is a raised area on the bar side of the brewery that houses some barrels, which is something I always like to see.

As much as I wanted to review Grizz, I feel like I've talked about that beer more than enough on this site over the years. Instead it's Clifford the Big Red IPA. I thought it was a little bit too bitter and lacked a bit of malt presence, both in body & flavour, which is surprising considering it clocked in at 7.8%. I was a little disappointed by that as Grizz is beautifully balanced and lacks for no malt!

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

OCEAN REACH BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Phillip Island
  • Tasting Room: 47 Thompson Avenue, Cowes
  • Food: American
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttp://oceanreach.beer/
Simon Bismire started Ocean Reach Brewing in Cowes with his wife Alexandra & father Wayne. All three share a love of craft beer & after solidifying the idea to start a brewery on their honeymoon, Simon & Alexandra managed to rope in Wayne. The brewery was in serious planning from September 2015 before opening it's doors in December 2016.

I was amazed to find that Ocean Reach Brewing is the first commercial brewery to operate on Phillip Island. This may come as a shock to some of the older audience of this blog who may remember Penguin Brewery (now defunct) & Rusty Water Brewery (re-branded as Phillip Island Brewing Co). Neither of these entities ever brewed beer on the island, both having their beers contract brewed.

The brewery started in the tiny taproom that they have on the main street in Cowes. Their beers soon outgrew the space and the brewery moved 2km down the road. The taproom looks like a fish 'n chip shop from the outside, although in its past life it was a clothing store. It's a relatively small glass fronted shop with pristine white plaster walls - something you don't often see in a brewery!

The fit out is also reminiscent of a modern burger/fish 'n chip shop with light wood top Scandinavian/Industrial tables. They have the ubiquitous brewery stools, although theirs are in a grey colour I can't recall seeing before. I didn't have any food there although I understand that they serve burgers and wings from a food van out the back.

I sampled the Pale Ale on the day I visited & was really impressed by it. It was a well balanced Pale Ale with good floral hops & the perfect amount of bitterness. The highest compliment I can pay it is that it strongly reminded me of the original iteration of the Hawkers Pale Ale.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

BODRIGGY BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 245 Johnston Street, Abbotsford
  • Food: South American
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://bodriggy.beer/
Bodriggy is one of the great success stories of gypsy/contract brewing in Australia. They started their journey contract brewing back in 2016 & for the first year literally had their beers pouring at bars they owned across Collingwood & Abbotsford! That has slowly, thanks to Yarra City Council, morphed into one of the more stunning brewpubs in Melbourne!

Jon Costelloe, Anthony Daniels & Pete Walsh are the gentlemen behind the brand. The trio have built a reputation for their excellent venues ranging from Dr Morse to The Aviary. They've recruited some of Melbourne's best bar tenders to man the bar at the new brewpub & it really shows when you get there as the service is superb!

I had been waiting with baited breath for Bodriggy to open for years! After all the delays they experienced in the building process they finally opened less than a month AFTER my work offices moved from just down the road. It took almost 4 years from when they took ownership of Bruno's old LPG conversion site until they opened, but god it was worth the wait!

Photo Credit: Concrete Playground

Just like it's sister bar, Dr Morse, across the road; Bodriggy draws it's name from the building it is housed in. Before even Bruno's LPG conversion shop the building had housed an old stonemason's villa named Bodriggy. Like many of the buildings in the Collingwood/Abbotsford/Fitzroy area the name is adorned on the stonework of the building. It's still there today & the name stuck!

The brewpub is as spectacular as it is huge! They've licensed for 425 people, which would make it one of the largest brewery tasting rooms in Victoria. They've spared no expense with the fitout. It's one of those places where you could find new details every time you visit. There is greenery all around with full grown trees in the brewery!

As you walk through the large glass door you can immediately see through the warehouse to the stainless steel at the back of the brewery, behind another wall of glass. The majority of the brewery is wood lined, although there is still the exposed steel & brick you'd expect in Abbotsford. I particularly like the darker corner of the brewery complete with leather booths & brass light fittings. There's a mixture of table sizes, ranging from large group friendly tables to small tables suited to couples.

Food is not an afterthought at Bodriggy. They've hired John Dominguez as head chef, he's got quite a reputation having worked at Monte Carlo, Noma & Dinner by Heston to name but a few. He was born in Mexico before following his now wife to Melbourne & is drawing on his cultural upbringing to pump out some incredible Latin fare. His fish taco, which comprises smoked swordfish stuffed inside a giant jalapeno, is one of the best things I've eaten this year!

I'm reviewing their new Dayspring, it's a Kveik IPA which is packed with Azzaca & Idaho 7. It's the most Azzaca forward beer I've ever had! There is so much pineapple in this beer alongside orange juice, passionfruit & stone fruit notes. It's dangerously easy drinking factoring in its 7.1% ABV. Given the obvious turn around advantages of Kveik beers I wouldn't be surprised to see this one stick around.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Monday, 11 November 2019

CLUB BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Brewed At: Various
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://www.clubbrewing.co/
Club Brewing Co is unlike any other brewing company in Australia. They don't own their own brewery; that's not that unusual. They don't own any stainless; slightly less common, but also not unheard of. They don't own their own taproom; also not a unique situation. Every beer they make is a one off; there are a few out there, as breweries move with the market this will become more common. So what is it that makes them unique?

All Club Brewing Co beers are sold via a quarterly subscription through their website. All their beers are brewed in collaboration with an physical brewery using their stainless steel (with a few batches being brewed at Craft & Co.). Each quarter you receive a mixed case with 8 of each beer that they've collaborated on in the past few months. There is no wholesale of their beers! That means you can't go down to a bar and find them on tap, nor can you find them in your local craft beer bottle shop.

Like so many other breweries, the idea came to Chris Thomas, Dennis Nowak & Daniel Ryan over a couple of beers one night in January 2015. Unlike most of the time when this conversation occurs a few beers deep, the idea still seemed good the next day. The boys were further encouraged when they received a response from Danish brewer Christian Skovdal Andersen (Beer Here) within 15 minutes of sending out their idea.

Others soon followed; including John Keelings (Fullers, UK) & Mitch Steele (at Stone when he agreed, before starting his own brand). And thus the trio spent the best part of the next 2 years making the idea came to fruition, with their first pack being sent to subscribers in December 2016. The concept is still going strong & their list of collaborators has become seriously impressive, see here, with brewers of note from the USA, Europe, Asia, New Zealand & Australia having taken part so far.

Having put off committing to the membership for most of the year, I was finally about to bit the bullet before I was lucky enough to notice a Facebook post where Exit's Uitgang Bar, which is quite close to my work, said they had a few cans of their collaboration with Club Brewing for sale. Naturally I headed straight down there!

This is a really nice Amber Ale! I'd say it's the best one I've had in years, as the style really has fallen out of favour. It's got a lovely malt base with layers of caramel with overlying rye spiciness. The hops are punchy but not overpowering with grapefruit & a touch of pine the most obvious. I know Club won't brew it again, but hopefully Exit make something similar down the track!

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Friday, 8 November 2019

TALLBOY & MOOSE

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Northern Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 270 Raglan Street, Preston
  • Food: Wee Man's Kitchen (Scottish)
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.tallboyandmoose.com/
Tallboy & Moose is a brewpub located in Preston, in Melbourne's northern suburbs. It was founded by Dan "Tallboy" Hall, a rake thin Englishman standing the best part of 2 metres tall, & Steve "Moose" Germain, a Canadian who relocated to Melbourne from Toronto in 2012.

Photo Credit: City Lane
They met in 2012, not long after Steve arrived in the country, when Steve was visiting Moon Dog to get acquainted with the craft beer scene in Melbourne. Dan was working as a brewer for the eccentric Abbotsford brewery at the time & the pair immediately hit it off.

Barely a year later and the pair had started their first beer brand; the tiny Make Beer, which sold minuscule amounts of beer between late-2013 and early-2015. It quickly became apparent that they needed to make more beer & so the wheels were set in motion for Tallboy & Moose to become a reality. The pair spent the next few years gaining experience at different breweries & distributors before opening the doors to their own brewpub in 2016.

Just over three years down the track & the boys' brewpub is a thriving part of the local community, featuring 16 taps of their own beer. Like many people starting out their brewhouse is cobbled together from bits of old dairy equipment. It's a system that makes great beer, as Dylan & I found out 18 months ago. They've been regularly adding more fermenters to their brewing corner of the warehouse, although they're seemingly running out of room.

The brewpub is housed in your typical suburban warehouse. It feels very much like a warehouse when you walk in, albeit a nice one, with a few licks of paint and some plants hanging from the ceiling. As you walk in the bar is in the middle of the warehouse, which is relatively long and thin. The brewing area is in the back right corner & very accessible to have a look at. The back of the warehouse is taken up by a large coolroom completely covered in their branding. It also features Wee Man's Kitchen at the front; the Glaswegian inspired food offerings of Chris Orr.

It's got a real homely vibe to it. The majority of the seating is long communal benches, although you can pull up a stool at the bar, where they've got up to 16 taps of their own beer on at any one time, with a few friends' beers filling the lines when their own stocks run low. There's also a few bits of mismatched seating at the front & back of the brewery if communal benches aren't your thing.

The beer I've chosen is actually a collaboration with one of the other best Hazy IPA producers in Victoria; Deeds Brewing. All Work & No Play is a fruit bomb, orange & pineapple flavours dominate, from a staggering 40g/L of hops! There's a touch of lactose but it's not overlying sweet, whilst it drinks dangerously easily belying it's 8.5% ABV!

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Monday, 28 October 2019

BEER REPUBLIC

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Northern Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 250 Cooper Street, Epping
  • Food: Gourmet Pub
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Website: https://www.beerrepublic.com.au/
Beer Republic is the newest kid on the Victorian craft beer scene. They opened on Father's Day 2019, in one of the fastest growing parts of Melbourne but one that has long been devoid of good beer options. It's a bold decision to open a craft beer venue in an area like Epping, especially one of the scale of Beer Republic.

It certainly isn't your standard start up! It's housed in the bottom of the Mantra Hotel on Coopers Road, Epping - just down the road from the hospital and across the road from the Melbourne Market. It's also clearly very well financed; as the fit out is fantastic & using furniture made in Melbourne can't be cheap!

Beer Republic are also sporting a Smartbrew System, the first brewery in Victoria to utilise the technology. For those who don't know what Smartbrew does, it basically allows restaurants/hotels to "brew" their own beer without the actual brewing process. Simply put they receive fresh wort kits add it to the fermenter & add yeast, dry hop additions etc. The fermentation is controlled from the Smartbrew offices in NZ & there is little required from the proprietor. The system also cleans itself as soon as fermentation is finished and the beer is racked out.

They've smartly split their range into two brands; the Beer Republic brand focusing on clean beers, whilst a separate brand, Twist Brewing, focuses on sour beers. In an area that isn't as immersed in craft beer I think it's smart to separate the two, so that people don't go away bad mouthing the beer when they don't understand the style. They've got a clean lager in their range which they hope to use to convert Carlton Draught drinkers across.

As you can see in the image above, the brewpub has quite a lot of wooden elements as well as large windows allowing plenty of light in. There are some boothed areas, as well as a nice secluded area around the corner from the main bar with a cooper fireplace. There's leather bound menus, exposed concrete; it really could be a trendy Melbourne bar. The food offering was really impressive, with a menu that wouldn't look out of place at a gourmet pub.

I was driving on the day I visited so only had the chance to taste one of their beers; the Hazy IPA. I got a whole heap of orange peel on the nose, with heaps of orange continuing onto the palate. There was also a good hit of passionfruit on top of a slightly sweet, creamy base. I was quite impressed with the beer, it's definitely a spot worth checking out.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

PLAYING THE LONG GAME

2019: The Year of Local


I've had a bit of writers block for the last couple of weeks, there's only so many times in a row you can write "converted warehouse", so have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to see if we can somehow complete this task, which seems to get longer by the week! The following is a quick wrap up of the breweries that haven't produced anything in 2019 but have plans to in 2020 & beyond. It's a relatively short list but hopefully will help kick start this challenge again.

7 Cent

7 Cent was started by three mates (Doug Bremner, Brendan Baker & Matthew Boustead) in 2013, 10 years after meeting at university.  The boys are currently on a brewing hiatus due to family & day job commitments, but hope to have their interesting range of ales available to the public again soon. 

Cobalt Brewing

Cobalt Brewing is the brainchild of Alister Robbie & Karl Curnow. Cobalt is focusing on the funkier side of brewing, with plenty of barrel aged & bacteria inoculated beers in their future. Since they launched we've seen a couple of Berliner Weisses - however their real passion is aged sour beer. They've had beer in barrels since March 2017 so we should start seeing some beer from that program in early 2020, although these types of beers are ready when they're ready!


Hopscotch Urban Beer Bar

Hopscotch Urban Beer Bar is on Melbourne's famous Southbank. It's the sort of place that if you were overseas you might think of as a tourist trap. It's a well presented bar in the middle of a tourist strip that serves craft beer, cocktails & great food. It also houses a 300L brewhouse known as Frank the Tank & pumps out a new brew roughly every 6 weeks when it's operational. It hasn't been operational all year, but I keep being told it's coming back soon...



Last Word Brewing

Last Word Brewing was formerly known as 40 Foot Brewing Company. It's the brewing arm of the seemingly ever expanding empire that is Carwyn Cellars. I've had a few of their beers in previous years, all of which have been really nice. In early 2018 they teamed up with Cobalt Brewing, mentioned above, to secure a warehouse in Heidelberg. Taking a leaf from the Cobalt team they've been aging some beer in wood & are hoping to release some in the coming months.

Tuesday Night Brewing

Travis Walton is known to most in the Melbourne craft beer scene, if not by name then by face. Travis released a Raspberry Berliner Weisse in late-2017, which was excellent & really got sour beer drinkers in Victoria excited. Since then all has been a little quiet. Like Cobalt & Last Word, Tuseday Night Brewing have barrels of beer & bacteria doing their thing with a view to releasing some more complex sours when the beers are done.



Keep your eye out for releases from these breweries in 2020. I'd be particularly excited for the 3 sour producers; Cobalt, Last Word & Tuesday Night Brewing. Barrel aged sours can take a number of years to fully mature, but the results are often spectacular! I also hope to see 7 Cent & Hopscotch get their operations back up and running as well, I really miss B4. Hopefully bashing this piece out gets me back on the writing wagon & we get another wave of brewery profiles up in the coming days. 

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

COBURG BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Northern Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: Not Yet
  • Brewed At: ???
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.coburgbrewingco.com.au/
Danial Caneva & his wife Jane started the Coburb Brewing Company in 2013. The pair owned Coburg's Post Office Hotel & saw the community sentiment towards craft/independent beer changing. They wanted to brew a better, independent beer that was easy to drink.

Naturally they went down the lager route, something that wouldn't be too alienating to their exiting clientelle at The Post Office, whilst still (maybe not as much in 2013 but certainly now) interesting craft beer converts. They started well by importing quality ingredient; the Weihenstephaner house lager yeast & Czech Saaz & US Cascade hops.

In 2016 plans were lodged, and widely publicized, that Coburg Brewing Co would set up shop in a new development at the the D-Division Wing of the old Pentridge Prison, in the heart of Coburg which has been closed since 1997. That all went very quiet & after much digging I found that council had rejected the proposal - not necessarily the brewery component but the wider residential element of the development.

Not deterred they still pushed on with plans to open a brewpub in Coburg. At the time of writing I haven't been able to confirm when that will be opening, however 2019 was stated earlier in the year - so watch this space. I'll be updating this post as soon as the new site opens!

This is a genuinely good lager! The malt base is clean which compliments the surprising amount of hop bitterness with citrus & grassy characteristics. I'm sorry that I'd written these guys off as just a pub trying to capitalize on the explosion of craft beer. I would be perfectly happy to drink this beer again!

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

THE CHEEKY PINT

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Western Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 231 Barkly St, Footscray
  • Food: Gourmet Pub
  • Brewed At: Anywhere
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://thecheekypint.com.au/
One of a number of venues that I have heard of for the first time through this endeavour was today's review of choice; The Cheeky Pint. Located in the old Barkly Hotel, on Barkly Street in the middle of Footscray, owner Mitch Peacock had hoped to have a fully functioning brewpub on-site come opening weekend in September 2018.

Red tape ended up quashing that dream and saw Mitch act like a gypsy brewer of years gone past, brewing his beers literally wherever he could find tank space. He's now managing to keep a core range of 5, 4 beers & a cider, on tap at the Footscray pub alongside 5 taps & 3 handpumps serving either his own limited release beers or offerings from other small independent producers.

The venue has been massively renovated from it's former days as the Barkly Hotel. The new look is modern & what you'd expect to find at most new high end pubs. What you don't see everywhere is the five distinctive copper serving tanks behind the bar. They are particularly eye-catching with the light glinting off them, almost drawing you towards them.

Joining Mitch is chef Massimo Spedalletti, who's spent time working as head chef in both Italy & Australia. Massimo has previously worked at a hop farm & has reportedly mastered the art of pairing beer with food, utilizing the skills he learned in his homeland whilst combining them with craft beer & Australian pub staples.

I always struggle to pass up a hand pump offering; so when I saw Raspberry & Blueberry Stout on hand pump there was only one way this review was going! It's a really impressive beer, with a cavalcade of chocolate & raspberry flavour. There's no hint of blueberry that I could detect, although it may well be hidden under the sweet chocolate.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Monday, 7 October 2019

RIDERS BREW CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Yarra Valley
  • Tasting Room: Fulford Road, Wonga Park
  • Food: Charcuterie
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.kellybrookwinery.com.au/beer/
Andy Gargan, better known as Shandy or the guy who hosts Ale Stars in beer circles, was just like any homebrewer brewing in his garage in the inner Melbourne suburb of Elwood. Over the years a number of curious neighbors dropped in for a chat or a beer during his many brew days & before long his garage became something of a cult local Friday night hangout.

Unlike most homebrewers, he happened to have a neighbor by the name of Gus Kelly, of Kelly Brothers Cider & Kelly Brook Winery. This quirk of the universe eventually led to Andy & Gus starting Riders. Gus just happened to have the old Coldstream brewhouse stored in the Moorabbin warehouse where they bottle the aforementioned Cider, making it comparatively easy to start out.

The brand is named after the trio's (including the other Kelly Brother, Phil) shared love of riding - be it skate boards, snow boards, surf boards or mountain bikes. Over the years there's been a few changes; Michael Leslie, co-owner of Black Arts Beer, has been brought in as a full-time Head Brewer & is currently undertaking a revamp of the beer range.

If you've been to a winery in the Yarra Valley you should have a reasonable understanding of what you're walking into at Kelly Brook. There's picturesque views of grape vines, the tasting room is rustic & they serve some lovely cheese platters that pair beautifully with their beer/wine/cider.  There's no restaurant here so keep that in mind.

I'm reviewing their XPA, one of their beers I've never had before. I was quite impressed with the beer; though it's probably more in the style of an APA. There was good biscuity malt character, which was offset by bitey citrus hop notes - dominated by orange. There is also some resinous notes in there. It's beautifully balanced and a beer that I'd happily sit on all afternoon.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

TRUE SOUTH

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Outer Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 298 Beach Road, Black Rock
  • Food: Argentinian
  • Brewed At: Blackman's
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://www.truesouth.com.au/
Grant & Suzanne Dow opened True South in 2009. They opened in Black Rock, a suburb about 20km S.E. of Melbourne, between better known suburbs Sandringham & Beaumauris. Their venue, when they opened, was a restaurant & with it's own microbrewery something that would not be uncommon now, but would've been almost unheard of in 2009!  2014 the kit went out with Renn to Blackman's in Torquay - where their beers are now brewed.

Since 2009 True South's identity has changed quite a bit. Firstly, they're now an Argentine restaurant - although that change happened very early. Secondly, and probably most significantly for this audience, they no longer brew their own beers. Their last on-site brewer, Renn Blackman, took the kit with him when he opened his own brewpub in Torquay in 2014. Renn has continued to brew the True South beers, which are available for onsite consumption at the restaurant & apparently wholesale, but I can't recall seeing their beer elsewhere for years.

The biggest obstacle I see for True South is it's location - it's very hard to get to by public transport & is a long way from anywhere, making it a reasonably expensive Uber/Taxi. Thankfully, I had Lizzie drive me down one Saturday afternoon. The building used to be an Auto Repair Shop & they've done a great job of transforming it into a pub/restaurant, with it's white paint job you would have no idea of the buildings history.

It's beachfront location is superb, they've got an open top deck which has great views & would be a great spot to have a drink on a warm summer's evening. The main dining area is open and light. There's a few high tables with stools at the front, whilst the rest of the seating is for tables of 2-6 people. The bar spans the whole of the left hand side as you walk in & is laden with 15+ CUB products, including Tank Carlton, & only one of their own offerings...

Beer aside, the wine list is impressive & the food menu is wonderful - making it particularly hard to choose! Lizzie & I eventually settled on an array of starters which we shared. The highlight of which was, at least in my eyes, the snapper cerviche or the tuna tacos. Considering we'd just got back from Hawaii, & the freshest seafood I've ever eate, that's high praise!

So I only had one choice for the review, although it's one I may have selected in any case. The New World Pilsner is a really nice example of the style. The base beer is clean grains and is free of any major faults, while the hop profile gains the grassiness & bitterness of the Saaz hops they've used as well as the unique gooseberry note from the Nelson Sauvin. It's a lovely beer that I would quite happily have several pints of.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

RED DUCK BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Ballarat
  • Tasting Room: 11a Michaels Drive, Alfredton
  • Food: ???
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.redduckbeer.com.au/
Red Duck is one of the more misunderstood brewery's in Victoria. It was initially founded in Lake Purrumbete, near Camperdown, in 2005 by husband & wife team Scott & Vanessa Wilson-Browne. For a number of years, the Red Duck facility at Lake Purrumbete was the only brewery between Adelaide & Geelong, a distance of over 700km!

Issues at the Purrumbete Homestead, where the brewery was originally based, saw the Red Duck team pack up and head ~100km to Alfredton, on the outskirts of Ballarat in late-2011. There they found themselves in a much more suitable, light industrial warehouse with plenty of room for expansion & for the first time a cellar door.

The expansion didn't go as many would've predicted. Rather than installing a bigger brewhouse and add fermenters, in 2016 Scott opened Kilderkin Distillery, in the same facility as Red Duck, with Chris Pratt. Since then a number of barrels (pictured left) have found their way into the brewery, while a lovely copper still takes pride of place on the right hand side of the back tasting area.

Scott's beers, and I think this is where the misunderstanding comes in, have always been weird. Sure they have a core range with a Pale, an Amber & a Porter (alongside others), but that's not what the majority of craft beer drinkers know Red Duck for. They've become known for brewing beers with any number of adjuncts, & of course who could forget their Gruit's & Egyptian Bread beers? At one stage, 4-5 years ago, the brewery had 50+ beers available now it's a far more manageable 15-20.

It's this sort of eccentricity that made my visit to their tap room seem somewhat underwhelming. The venue was pretty normal. There's a small office that has been built into the warehouse for tastings & takeaway sales. A window looks through into the brewery & distillery where there are more tables, alongside a wall of barrels filled with spirits & beer as well as plenty of heaters to take away the cold that Ballarat is known for.

I was intrigued by their decision to not have taps at their tasting room. All beers you try are from a bottle or a can. I didn't get a good answer on why, although I assume it's something to do with install cost or licensing. I saw them crack all 4 beers for my tasting paddle, which makes me wonder if they then hold those beers for the next person? Or whether they only pour the taster...

The beer I'm reviewing is their Passionfruit Kettle Sour Saison. It's a really interesting little beer, which has the added bonus of clocking in at only 4.2% ABV. There's plenty of passionfruit, I'd hate to know how much went in to get this much flavour, & it's reasonably sour. In one of the cans I had I noticed some Saison-esque funk, however that wasn't apparent in the other two. It's a really refreshing little sour!

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

CLIFTON HILL BREWPUB

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 89 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill
  • Food: Gourmet Pub
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttp://www.cliftonhillbrewpub.com.au/
The Clifton Hill Brewpub is located in Clifton Hill, a small wedge of a suburb in Melbourne that many wouldn't know that sits on the juncture between Fitzroy, Collingwood, Abbotsford & Northcote. The building the Brewpub is now housed has quite a history; having served beer to the Clifton Hill community since 1884 as The Clifton Hill Hotel.

At the end of 2013, the same family that has owned the hotel for 30+ years decided to rip out the TAB & the band room and replace it with a brewery. The Clifton Hill Brewpub was installed and commissioned in 2014, which is far later than I had recalled - I must've first visited within weeks of it opening.

The venue appears to be a classic Melbourne pub from the outside, complete with drive thru bottle shop at the rear. The bottle shop is pretty well stocked, with a wide array of craft beer in addition to a good wine & spirit selection across multiple price points. 

Inside the pub still has some features showing it's heritage, although most of it has been replaced by a more contemporary vibe. There's plenty of exposed brick, so very Melbourne, some predominantly white funky wallpaper, which really lightens up both the bar and the dining room at the rear of the building. The decor is quite modern in the dining room, whilst showing come character with bright yellow metal tables and stools in the front bar.

Throughout the venue there are a number of windows through to stainless steel, so that you still know you're in a brewery. Speaking of the stainless steel, they currently run a 600L custom designed system, which allows them to keep their taps stocked with their core range offerings as well as a number of limited releases. In the last year or so they've started to package a small number of their beers into 750ml bottles for takeaway consumption.

At the back of the building is a lovely little beer garden, which continues the more modern/contemporary vibe. It's a restoration that's been done really well, without taking away all the character of the old building. The food at Clifton Hill is well worth trying, they've got one of the more extensive brewery menu's I've seen!

One of those limited releases was their Russian Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels. As an indicator of just how limited, I had bottle 125/408. It's also one of the better Imperial Stouts I've had this year. There was huge notes of chocolate, roast & bourbon barrel, as well as notes of caramel & dark fruits underneath. It's beautifully integrated for such a small release.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!