Friday, 20 December 2019

THE FALLEN

2019: The Year of Local

It's fair to say that 2019 has seen the craft beer movement continue it's rapid expansion worldwide. Victoria has had the second most breweries/beer brands launch in a year since the early days of the colony, with a staggering 26 breweries/beer brands producing their first beers this year. With 11 days left in the year & 3 breweries still potentially to open their doors before the year is out, we could break the record of 27 set in 2016.

Craft beer still makes up only approximately 7% of the Australian beer market & whilst this number is growing - it isn't growing fast enough to support all the existing breweries/brands as well as more than 20 new entrants to the market. Accordingly, there have been a few casualties as well as a few brands that I've removed from my initial list that I will outline briefly below (in alphabetical order).

Albatross Brewing Co was placed into administration in August with debts of over $400,000, they mostly produced contract brews under their De Havilland Brewing brand. Their site in Mordialloc has been taken over by Wolf of the Willows, who will open their own brewpub in early 2020. The brand I'm least confident on removing from my list is Bellarine Brewing Co. I haven't seen their beers around, there has been no social media action since 2016 & their website is down. I still see the odd Untappd check-in, but I'm assuming that it most be old stock.

Bells Brewing Co, not to be confused with Bells Beach Brewing based out of the same coastal town of Torquay, went out of business in March without much explanation - just a link to a GoFundMe. One of the stalwarts of the Victorian industry, Buckley's Beer, also went the way of the dodo with a cryptic message in March. That message indicated that there would be updates soon, however almost 9 months on they haven't eventuated.

Two breweries from my original list; Caltoria Brewing Company & Yellingbo Brewing Company, have both been removed from the list. That's because their respective owners, Lein Jenkins & Brad Merritt (formerly of Oscar's Alehouse), have joined forces to create Hard Road Brewing Company on the site that previously housed Caltoria.

Cheeky Peak Brewery is something of a misnomer in 2019. It's a large homebrew store based in Albury that hasn't produced finished beer since late-2017. They do still produce fresh wort kits, which I think is where some confusion comes from. Dolphin Brewery is another that I'm a little unsure of. They sell their beer predominantly at markets in Central Victoria & haven't been seen for a while & also aren't answering their phone. 10 years after starting I think they might be gone, however I'd be happy to be proved wrong!

Himmel/Himmel Hund Brewing haven't been heard from since announcing they were taking a break from brewing in October 2018. Given the length of time, I'd be surprised if it reappeared in its past guise. Little Smith Brewing Co are best known for their Pale Ale, Bastard Son, that could be found around Fitzroy. There hasn't been an Untappd check-in since May & only 15 for the year, whilst emails & Facebook messages go unanswered, which in this day & age would imply that they're no longer operating.

I've also knocked off Mount Duneed Brewing Co. which also used to go by Pettavel Road Brewing. It's the home brand of Mount Duneed Estate, who have currently ceased production indefinitely due to the cost of producing the beer. I mentioned the demise of Sweetwater Brewing Company earlier in the year, whilst True Brew was removed because it seems like more of a U-Brew-It style facility than a commercial brewing operation.

It'll be interesting to see how long this sort of growth is sustainable for. Their will be natural attrition in any industry & it seems like a number of these operations were not primarily motivated by financial considerations when making the decision to close or suspend their operations. Hopefully craft beer continues to grow & almost all of the breweries we have in Victoria at the end of 2019 can still be here at the end of 2020!

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

Thursday, 19 December 2019

CARWYN CANVENT 2019 (PART 2)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 2)



December got me - I've fallen way behind on writing, but thankfully not drinking! Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's the preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

After the success of last year there was only ever going to be one Advent Calendar I'd buy this year! Once again this year I'll be cataloging the contents of the Carwyn Canvent Advent Calendar. The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days. In the interim, let me know what Advent Calendar you've got this year and your initial thoughts on it so far.

Day 6 - Frenchies Lola - Day 6 brought a beer I was really excited for! Frenchies have returned to the Canvent with another fruited Saison clocking in at 3.5%, following up their Oceanna (raspberries) from last year with Lola utilizing apricots. Regular readers would be aware how much I like apricot as a fruit addition in beers.

Just like last year I was a little disappointed in the Frenchies offering. The base Saison is nice and provides a good amount of barnyard/hay funk. There is only the tiniest hint of stone fruit, which probably indicates that they've never brewed with apricots before - as you need to use far more than you would with any other fruit!

Day 7 - Uraidla Primeval Slayer - Uraidla is a brewery that has come to my attention in the last couple of months. It's a brewpub that opened in the Adelaide Hills in June 2018 & have recently started canning. Everything I've had from them so far has been excellent - so my expectations of this Hazy Pale Ale & incredibly high!

Normally when my expectations are high, the beer fails to live up; not so with Uraidla's Primeval Slayer! There was so many different tropical fruit notes with mango very prominent. I also picked up some citrus towards the back end. I think what this beer has helped crystalize in my mind, something I've been thinking about for a while; that I prefer Hazy Pale's to Hazy IPA's! Uraidla, if you're listening, please please re brew this!

Day 8 - Ocho Cocoa Mauve - Ocho, fittingly, arrived on Day 8 this year. The crazy Tasmanian's have cranked out the most unique beer of the Canvent so far! Cocoa Mauve is billed as an English Dark Mild with cocoa, lavender & vanilla. I'm not sure how lavender is going to pair with the other flavours but I'm interested to find out!

My doubts were set aside after my first sip. The lavender manifests itself as this weird herbal/floral flavour, whilst the aroma is closer to what you'd expect when you think of lavender. It's definitely a unique taste, but it pairs well with the more familiar dark chocolate flavours. It's not a beer that people would drink more than one of however...

Day 9 - Molly Rose Baubles - One of my favourite things to happen in beer in 2019 is the launch of the Molly Rose brewery & the subsequent cavalcade of new beers from Nic & the team. Naturally they've gone with a Saison for their Canvent debut & have added a festive touch to it by adding red & green peppercorns.

As with every Molly Rose beer I've had - this knock it out of the park! This was a lovely base Saison, with a touch of sweet malt the main characteristic. There's some citrus hop character a bit of funk & a heap of pepper spice, without overpowering the relatively subtle characters of a 4.6% Saison. 


Day 10 - Little Bang Face Inverter - Little Bang's Face Inverter is going to round off this second installment of my Canvent wrap up. This beer became beer famous worldwide after a Facebook user posted a photo of a pH reading of this beer (a staggeringly low 2.95!), which was then picked up by Worst Beer Blog.

For those who don't understand pH readings, 2.95 is really really low! Stomach Acid is between 2-3.5! It was billed as a "Super Sour" & it lived up to its name! It was seriously tart! Beyond the sourness there was also some citrus characters, however it was hard to pickup much beyond the sourness! In saying that, I'd do it all again...

This next set of 5 beers was a little more hit & miss than the first batch. I think there were less beers that would be consistent sellers, with the exception of the Uraidla & possibly the Molly Rose. The other beers would be more novelty purchases, which I think makes them perfectly suited to the Canvent. Hopefully I'll manage to get the next post in this series up tomorrow & be somewhat closer to back on track...

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

Thursday, 5 December 2019

CARWYN CANVENT 2019 (PART 1)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 1)



Carwyn Cellars is a name that every Australian Craft Beer lover should know. It's the preeminent bottle shops in the country. For their advent calendar, they've partnered with 24 Australian Craft Breweries to make an exclusive canned release for their "Canvent Calendar".

After the success of last year there was only ever going to be one Advent Calendar I'd buy this year! Once again this year I'll be cataloging the contents of the Carwyn Canvent Advent Calendar. The Carwyn Canvent Calendar is going to get the full treatment - and with any luck you'll have updates every 5 days. In the interim, let me know what Advent Calendar you've got this year and your initial thoughts on it so far.

Day 1 - Mr Banks/Range Keep the Change - One of the issues advent calendar producers face is the logistics that goes into their creation. They need to leave enough time from beers arriving to be packaged, dispatched & delivered to customers. This lead times means hop forward beers may be quite old by the time consumers receive them. Hence it makes sense that the finest Australian producers Mr Banks & Range are first up with a NEIPA.

This is a cracking way to start! It's exactly what you'd expect from the two best Hazy IPA producers in the country. There's no astringency, very little bitterness & a wonderfully creamy mouthfeel. It's entirely dry hopped with Citra & is one of the best expressions of Citra I've had. There's heaps of tropical fruit & citrus notes.

Day 2 - Mismatch Boston Sour - Day 2 saw a beer style far more suited to the rigours of advent calendar logistics. Mismatch have produced a Berliner Weiss mimicking my favourite cocktail, the whiskey sour. Apparently the name Boston Sour is another name for a whiskey sour with egg whites (which I see as the only acceptable way to serve one, but whatever...).

They've done a really good job of nailing the brief. It has got all the citrus notes that you'd expect, with orange peel the most prominent, whilst there is a good amount of vanilla/oak character. There's a good amount of whiskey flavour & the beer is refreshingly tart, but certainly not overpowering.

Day 3 - Quiet Deeds Open on December 3rd - Another hop forward beer arrived on Day 3. Quiet Deeds/Deeds Brewing are producing some seriously good IPA's at the moment. so it makes sense that their offering would come up early in the Canvent Calendar. Open on December 3rd was supposed to be a Hazy Double IPA, however do to a filtration issue "Hazy" had to be crossed out, by hand, on EVERY label...

It was brewed with Simcoe & Cashmere Cryo hops, Cashmere are one of these new hops that I'm not terribly familiar with. The beer was quite dry & had plenty of pine notes. It's a beer that I'm sure will polarize opinions but it's one that I really enjoyed as a bit of a throwback to IPA's of 5-6 years ago.

Day 4 - Bad Shepherd Smashable - I was really excited when I saw this come out of the Canvent Box. My love of IPL's is well known & it's a SMaSH to boot! Atlas is a cool new Australian malt coming out of NSW, whilst Sabro is one of the hot new hops! This is one of the first beers I've had with this hop, definitely the first single hop beer, but I'm really excited to see if I can pickup some of it's weirder descriptors!

The malt was quite light & laid a good platform for the hops to shine. Most of what I got initially was pine, but as the beer warmed slightly I began to pickup some of the coconut that this hop is famed for; I didn't get any of the mint however. The beer lived up to it's name - it was a very smashable beer!

Day 5 - Rocky Ridge Brown Bean Bear - Carwyn are probably the biggest pushers of Rocky Ridge beers on the East Coast. Their Canvent offering is a beer that could easily have made it to the last week in good condition; a 7% American Brown Ale with Coffee.

This beer went through phases throughout the course of drinking it. At times I thought it was really well balanced between sweetish malts & muted coffee notes, whilst at other time coffee & roast overpowered the malts a bit. I can't think of a beer that's oscillated quite as much as this one, as these thoughts interchanged throughout the course of drinking.

Five days in and I haven't had a bad beer yet, as expected! The pick of these 5 beers for me has been the Mr Banks/Range collaboration; Keep the Change. These guys have been consistently raising the bar for this style of beer, so I'm glad they were able to deliver to a wider audience. The other thing I'd like to note is the openness of Quiet Deeds in owning up to what happened with their beer; you can read their full blog post about it here. If you're doing the Canvent, or any other Advent Calendar for that matter, please let me know what you think of yours; gus.norris7@gmail.com or on our new Facebook page.

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

Thursday, 28 November 2019

115 GRILL & BREWHOUSE

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 115 Cotham Rd, Kew
  • Food: Steak
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.hotel115.com.au/
115 Grill & Brewhouse is located in the bottom of the 115 Hotel in leafy Kew in Melbourne's inner east. It's part of the famous Best Western chain as part of their Premier range. When they launched the hotel in 2012 owner Brice Hateley wanted a point of difference & decided to install a micro brewery - something that would've seemed far more radical at the time than it would now. 

Despite never having home brewed before Brice decided to take on the role of head brewer. He brought in Vince Costanzo, a respected brewing consultant & set about learning how to operate his system & produce quality beer. Beyond that I don't have a lot of information, they operate more like a hotel than a brewery & get quite defensive when questions are asked.

The Hotel component of the venue has positioned itself well for conferences & the decor in the bar really reflects that. There's not a heap of personality with white walls a mix of large dark wooden group style tables. There's also a few smaller bar tables & a few benches around the edge of the bar to pull up a high backed stool. One positive of the venue is the big windows on the right hand side, where you can look through to the stainless steel.

Despite having the stainless proudly on display, I was immediately concerned for the beer quality by the number of spirits on offer behind the bar. This was further enhanced when I noted of the 40 or so, mostly older drinkers, in the bar when I visited that very few of them were drinking beer, always a worrying sign at a brewery...

I took my seat at the bar & with some trepidation ordered a Pale Ale. It poured quite a nice deep golden/orange colour with a small white head comprised of medium/large bubbles. That's where the positives stop! There was very little aromatics coming off the beer, whilst the taste resembled bitter dishwashing liquid..

Generally I don't like writing reviews where I really have to rag on a beer, but this was an abomination! I would be upset if I brewed this at home, let alone if I brewed it with the intention of selling it! If this is the sort of quality they are dishing up regularly it's no wonder so few people in the bar were drinking beer!

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

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

CAVALIER BREWING


2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Western Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 2 Derrimut Drive, Derrimut
  • Food: Food Trucks
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://cavalierbeer.com.au/
It's fair to say that Cavalier Brewing is one of the most influential in shaping the current Victorian craft beer scene. Interestingly though, it's not through their own beers that they've been particularly influential, but rather through the space & equipment that they let out to aspiring brewers who couldn't afford to build a brewery from scratch.

Cavalier Brewing was the brainchild of Steve Martin, his cousin Andrew Cronin & Heath Shirtcliffe, who he met on a dog walk of all places. After years of homebrewing they started out brewing commercially in 2011 on a tiny 100L system at the back of Heath's house in Pascoe Vale. Soon they realized this wasn't a sustainable long term plan and took their recipes on the road, to any brewery that would have them - most notably Prickly Moses.

Securing regular tank space was always difficult & so the trio found a warehouse in Melbourne's developing industrial west in 2012 and ordered their kit from China. They ensured they had excess capacity & space to allow aspiring brewers to be able to rent the brewhouse, install their own fermenter & be able to have access to a quality brewing facility whilst they grow their brands. Many of these brewers have gone onto bigger and better things with alumni such as Exit, Kaiju, Wolf of the Willows, Killer Sprocket & many more.

Cavalier's own brand has fallen by the wayside a bit in recent years. A re-brand in 2017 has definitely made the brand more visible than they once were & has seen the beers tweaked to be more in line with the modern palate. They are definitely not viewed with the same cache that they were maybe 5 years ago.

Interestingly I believe they are the only Victorian brewer with brewing operations overseas, quite a number export beer. They operate a couple of brewpubs with The Chancery Group in Bangalore, India. You can read about one of those brewpubs here, thanks to regular reader AJ's India Ale Trails blog. They also have plans for a production facility in the region - although that seems to have gone quiet with concerns about access to water.

It wasn't until September 2018 that Cavalier followed the trend and opened a taproom in a warehouse across the street from their production brewery, possibly to engage with customers they may have lost to more innovative brands. The tap room is in a new build concrete high ceiling warehouse with high level pallet racking stacked with supplies (kegs, pallets, flat packed boxes etc.).

The bar is under a large Cavalier motif and features a wide array of beers, both Cavalier branded & some of their contract brewed offerings. There is an area for a food truck to be parked inside the brewery, which was doing a roaring trade on the day I visited. Seating is most high communal tables - whilst there are a couple of barrels with stools dotted around.

I settled on the Pilsner, which was one of the new additions to the lineup when they did their re-brand in 2017. It's a beautifully brewed Pilsner, with great clarity & cereal malt character. The hops are very traditional, offering grassiness and a little bitterness. I think it's a touch on the safe side, appealing to their local crowd, & that a touch more bitterness could really elevate it.

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

Thursday, 21 November 2019

COCKIES BEER

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Bellarine Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: 112 Balliang St, South Geelong
  • Food: Snacks
  • Price: Inexpensive
  • Websitehttps://www.cockiesbeer.com.au/
Cockies Beer is the brand of beers produced by the Barrabool Hills Brewery in South Geelong. Cockies was started by husband & wife team Jamie & Lizzy Roydhouse in 2014 as a contract operation, brewing out of Cavalier in Derrimut. After 6 batches Jamie decided to take the plunge and purchase his own stainless, eventually opening in South Geelong in June 2015.

Jamie's story is a little different to most new entrants to the craft brewing industry. After a long career in pharmacy Jamie decided to take his long term hobby of home brewing & turn it into a second career. In fact he started home brewing in the 1970's, before many of his fellow new brewery owners were even born!

The brewery is located in an industrial cul-de-sac, a stones throw from the far better known Little Creatures Brewery in Geelong. It's a relatively modern concrete warehouse, that was clearly a showroom of some description in an earlier life. You enter through a little reception area before entering the brewery proper. It's a welcoming little brewery with a small bar around to the right hand side. They keep a tight taplist with their 4 core range beers joined by two seasonals.

The stainless steel takes up the back left third of the warehouse and is mirrored by a cool room on the right hand side. There is a Cockies motif on the back wall, whilst various brewing supplies are neatly stacked around. The brewery is only open to the public on a Friday afternoon & accordingly the tables and chairs are all fold out picnic style stuff. It's definitely an older crowd than you'd find at most craft breweries, but it had a lovely relaxed vibe.

I think this adds to the charm of the brewery. It's a real family operation, with three Roydhouse's the only staff working on the day we visited. They offer free pool upstairs, while there is also a little putting game. There's also complimentary cheese platters & chips, for which they ask for only a small donation, while the jazz band on the night we visited were really good.

The beer was better than I expected at Cockies. The IPA was tasting seriously fresh! It was packed with Galaxy hops, which translated to an IPA with heaps of passionfruit flavours & aromas as well as moderate bitterness! It's one of the better traditional (read bitter not juicy) IPA's I've had this year!

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

BIERSAL BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 27 Hartnett Drive, Seaford
  • Food: Uber Eats/Snacks/Cafe
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.biersal-brewery.com/
Biersal Brewery is a family owned & operated brewery in the South Eastern suburb of Seaford, a stones throw away from the far better known Mr Banks. They were the newest brewery in Melbourne when I started writing this piece, until the wave of openings that struck on the weekend of the 8th of November & continued the following weekend...

The head brewer is Ben Luxton, a professional brewer who studied in Palmerston (NZ) & South Australia before returning to his home state, where he honed his craft at The Public Brewery & at Boatrocker Brewers & Distilleries. All the while he was tinkering with home brew recipes in a custom built shed at home. The inevitable happened and Ben decided he wanted to do his own thing, which is where Dad Geoff comes in...

Geoff had always encouraged Ben to find something that he was passionate about & then find someone to pay him to do it. Unfortunately he forgot an important caveat; not me! Geoff was coming to the end of 40 years in the banking sector and was looking to do something else when Ben approached him to start a brewery. Needless to say, they entered into an arrangement where the bank of Mum & Dad financed a substantial portion of Ben's new brewery.

Like many new startups these days they took the risk of ordering equipment from China. They'd done their research & picked the supplier with the best track record. They took the risk on Chinese warranty & ordered a 500L brewhouse, with the idea of brewing to only service their brewpub. The family have lived in the South Eastern suburbs for the last 35 years & knew the area was perfect for their brewery - they just had to find the right space.

The name & logo was derived from old German folklore. A "biersal" is a type of kobold (spirit/sprite), that was thought to inhabit breweries as well as cellars in pubs. The spirits would help with menial tasks, such as washing bottles, glassware & kegs, in return for their share of beer. They were generally well-natured, however failure to pay them in beer often led to equipment going missing. 

And find it they did! The brewery is housed in a large 70's brick warehouse on Hartnett Drive, Seaford. It's licensed for 75 people although it could easily hold more. The bar, featuring a wood mosaic pattern, is on the left side of the brewery about halfway down, whilst the stainless steel is proudly on display lining the back wall of the brewery.

There's a whole range of different furniture, ranging from high tables with brewery stools, through regular tables with black backed chairs, to coffee tables with little arm chairs & even some little colouring tables for the kids. Coupled with the cafe food from The Black Goose, next door, & the promise of food trucks on the weekends this is very quickly going to turn into a locals hangout.

I was driving on the day I visited so I opted for one of the lower ABV options; the Hefe'Rye'zen. I was actually pretty impressed with the beer. It had the banana & bubblegum that you would expect from a normal Hefeweizen, with a good amount of spicy rye. I didn't pickup any cloves, however it may have been obscured by the rye. I'd be really keen to get back out and check out a few more of their beers!

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

SHIKI BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: Not in the traditional sense
  • Brewed At: La Sirene
  • Food: Asian
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://shikibrewing.com/
Shiki Brewing is the house range of beers from the Lucas Group of restaurants & is primarily found at their restaurants. Before people jump down my throat about including Shiki & not including other house brands; Shiki is sold in select bottle shops from time to time. Therefore, under the criteria I set, it qualifies. Although I have to say I did think about it for a while.

Chris Lucas is the man behind the restaurant group, which now comprises Kong, Chin Chin, Kisume, Gogo, Hawker Hall & probably more that I've missed! Before he setup his own Asian dining empire he was the man running my local "pub" The Botanical. It was here that he began to understand the disregard in which big brewers hold good food, preferring him to push beer sales rather than focusing on the food offering. He ignored them & beer sales rose anyway due to the people flocking there to eat...

When he opened Chin Chin his customers were demanding a better product to accompanying the wonderful spicy food. Unfortunately Chris was locked into a contract with a major brewer at Chin Chin... This is when he had the idea for Hawker Hall, his Windsor based Asian style food & beer hall complete with 18 independent taps - naturally he would need his own beers on tap as well! Shiki is Japanese for formula & Chris certainly followed the right formula when he set up his own brand.

He interviewed a number of leading brewers before settling on Costa Nikias of La Sirene to design his beers. A number of iterations of the various beers were trialed, before settling on the right beers that would pair with his Asian inspired food. I believe the beers are still brewed at La Sirene, but haven't been able to confirm this.

This brings us to the review, I had their Lager recently at Hawker Hall. (Yes the photo is focused on the wine not the beer - I may have had a few...). The recipe is a simple German Pilsner, using Pilsner Malt & Hallertau hops. That follows through to the taste, it's a clean lager with citrus & grassy notes and just enough bitterness. It's a really nice accompaniment for the food on offer at Hawker Hall!

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

THE GREAT BOTTLE VS. CAN DEBATE PART 12

The Great Bottle vs. Can Debate


STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle/Can
  • Price: Inexpensive
I was slightly surprised when I looked back & found that it had been almost five years since I'd done one of these! I guess that's a sign of the times with more and more craft breweries moving away from bottles. This segment really became the domain of the big brewers & feel by the wayside accordingly. 

When I saw that Old Mate, the Pale Ale that is now driving Moon Dog's expansion to Moon Dog World & a 400% increase in production capacity, was to be canned I felt like we'd be a chance to reboot this segment. Luckily I was able to get my hands on a bottle & a can brewed within a month of each other, which should allow for the best outcome in this segment. As usual, I better stop typing & get these beers out!

The beers pour an almost identical golden colour with a moderate white head on top. The head on the canned version is marginally larger, although this may be due to way a can pours versus a bottle. Both heads diminish to next to nothing relatively quickly. They're both exactly what I'd expect from the style.

Initially both beers smell very similar. They're both inoffensive with some cracker malt aroma up front. There's more on the hop front which initially smells a little green, despite both beers having been packaged for a few months. Once you get passed that there's some nice citrus & stone fruit notes.

First impressions, I slightly preferred the bottle. There was a slight dirtiness to the can at first that the bottle didn't have. After a couple of minutes this was gone & the hops on the canned version were able to shine that little bit more than they did in the bottled version. Both follow the aroma closely, with malt taking a backseat to the grapefruit & peach notes from the hops.

This is one of the hardest decisions I've had so far, as the beers are so similar! Had they been brewed on the same day I feel I would've had an even tougher task splitting them. I'm going to have to give it to the can, by a whisker. It was probably warmer than you would drink the beer in a normal situation before the difference was noticeable though - so feel free to fire away on either packaging vessel, just get the freshest one!

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

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!