Thursday, 14 March 2019

BAD SHEPHERD BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Outer Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 386 Reserve Rd, Cheltenham
  • Food: American BBQ
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttp://www.badshepherd.com.au/
Husband & wife team Dereck & Diti Hales threw in their corporate careers and started Bad Shepherd in 2015. Their brewpub is housed in a converted warehouse in the back streets of Cheltenham, not far from the Nepean Highway. The brewpub has become something of a community hub in Cheltenham, attracting beer lovers and local workers alike.

Their brewing facility doesn't just house them however. In 2015 they teamed up with another husband & wife team, Scott & Renae McKinnon of Wolf of the Willows, to build the wonderful brewpub and production facility that has become so attached to their brand.

Bad Shepherd originally made their name making a really interesting core range, the Raspberry Wheat & Hazelnut Brown spring to mind. Their core range has been a little harder to find in recent years as they've focused more on limited releases.

The brewpub is on a relatively quiet street in Cheltenham. As you walk up the stairs to the brewpub their is a large decking area on the front right. The tiled bar is in front of you as you walk in and runs a pretty significant amount of the way from front to back of the brewery. This draws your eyes to the stainless steel, which takes pride of place at the back of the warehouse.

As you can see in the picture above, it's quite a well lit warehouse with a high roof. There's plenty of timber and exposed steel in the construction of the building and this has been incorporated into the fitout, which is quite minimalist and modern. The tables are quite large, which is a good thing as Bad Shepherd's food is plentiful! They've become known for their American BBQ, it's pretty good although, as it's BBQ, it is a little on the expensive side.

There was only ever one choice for their beer in this list; Victoria Pale Ale. This beer is brewed with 100% Victorian ingredients! The hops come from Barrett Burston in Geelong, the hops (Vic Secret & Topaz) from Hop Product Australia's Rostrevor Farm and the  piece de resistance, Melbourne No. 1 Ale Yeast - unused & in storage at White Labs since 1936!

The idea is wonderful, and might I add perfect for the project I'm undertaking this year, however the thing that really matters is that the beer is good. It's a 4.2% summer ale and so accordingly it's quite a light bodied beer, with malt taking a back seat. The hops again don't provide a heap of flavour or bitterness, however there is some fruitiness from the yeast.

I've heard that Bad Shepherd are looking to make Melbourne No. 1 their house yeast so watch this space... I think this yeast could work really well in a big IPA or Imperial IPA.

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

Sunday, 10 March 2019

LOCH BREWERY & DISTILLERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: South Gippsland
  • Tasting Room: 44 Victoria Rd, Loch
  • Food: No Food
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://www.lochbrewery.com.au/
Twenty minutes further down the road from Howler Brewing Company you can find another brewery that calls an old bank (& the butcher next door) its home. Loch Brewery & Distillery is housed in a 100 year old, red brick former bank in the quaint town of Loch. They've been producing beer there in 2014; however their journey to becoming a brewery is a bit different to most...

The team behind Loch's first passion was whisky. Trips to Tasmania and the U.K. followed for Craig & Mel, where they learnt more about the art of good Single Malt visiting some distilleries with some breweries thrown in for good measure. On this trip they learnt that to make good whisky you have to be able to make good beer. (The overly simplified explanation of whisky is that you brew a base beer and then distill it.) To use their own words "if you needed 80% of a brewery to make a whisky beer, why not complete the extra 20% and brew some good old fashioned Ales."

That is exactly what they did. They designed their own brewing system and had it made in nearby Langwarrin. The brewery fits snugly into the old butchers shop next to the wonderful brick building pictured left that functions as their distillery & cellar door.

The cellar door is beautifully presented with the copper still taking pride of place in the middle of the main room. The bar greets you as soon open the big glass doors. The walls are covered in shelves proudly displaying their wide range of products & shelves. When we visited there were a number of groups dotted around the place. For those of you with furry friends, there is a lovely little beer garden between the two buildings where you can sample the wares.

Naturally I indulged in a tasting paddle at the brewery. They've got three core range beers & a rotating special release tap. The recipes are all heavily influenced by English brewing & utilize traditional English hops (EKG, Fuggle, Challenger, Bramling Cross etc.).

The beer I'm sharing with you today is the Dark Ale. I had this both on cask at the brewery and in a bottle that I took away with me and both were great. It had everything you'd expect from an English Dark Ale with chocolate malt characters the most prominent, with roast and smoke also both present. There is an earthy bitterness that balances the beer. On cask it's incredibly smooth, as you'd expect. It'd be a wonderful beer on a winter's visit to this picturesque brewery.

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

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

BURRA BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: South Gippsland
  • Tasting Room: 12 Commercial St, Korumburra
  • Food: Pizza
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.burrabrewingco.com.au/
Burra Brewing Co is a brewpub based in the small South Gippsland town of Korumburra, about an hour and a half from Melbourne. Like so many wonderful ideas, the idea for Burra Brewing Co started on a boys trip away, on the golf course, after a few too many beers. Most of the times these ideas are forgotten whilst partaking in even more beers or in the haze of the next day. Some remain as a in-joke; "Remember when we said...". Very rarely they get acted upon.

This is what happened for Phill, Anthony & Luke, now co-owners of Burra Brewing Co. That boys trip in 2013 lead to four years of research & planning before Burra Brewing Co was finally born in 2017. The doors to their brewpub were officially opened by their local MP on August 11th, 2018 to much fanfare in the township of Korumburra.

The town of Korumburra has a population of 3,500-4000 people and is situated 120km south east of Melbourne. It's a highly fertile area with excellent meat, dairy products, fruit & wine being produced in the region. Some of the co-owners are from Korumburra and decided to open their brewery in the township due to the growing food tourism trade.

The building that now houses the brewery was a run down nursery and farm supplies shop on the main street in Korumburra. It's been put through a serious transformation to house the brewpub; the before & after photos are quite remakable. I initially thought it must've been a new build when walking up to the brewery, such is the difference to the surrounding buildings.

Out the front of the brewery is a large decking area, which functions as a beer garden. We visited on a Sunday afternoon, there was a good crowd of people enjoying the beers & the sun whilst sampling a few of Burra Brewing Co's finest. They had a musician playing, complete with a harp - something you don't see at most breweries!

The bar is just inside the door, with prominent colourful tap decals. The whole brewery is designed around showing off the brew house, with plenty of stainless steel on display through windows behind the bar. We'd already eaten so didn't sample any of the food on offer, however what we saw looked really good! They predominantly do wood fired pizzas, although there are also some salads, snacks and desserts on the menu.

I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of beers on offer at Burra Brewing Co. I had an Amarillo IPA & a Maple Porter, amongst others. I've decided to write about their Pale Ale, which I took home in a squealer. I think drinking their Pale Ale is a really good way to measure a new brewery, particularly in Australia.

I have to say I was impressed by the version I had from the brewery, which was well balanced with nice toasted malt characters and tropical fruit hop notes. The bitterness is apparent, but fits in nicely with the overall composition of the beer.

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

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 6

Episode 6 - Show Notes 

We're back! The break between shows was a little longer than anticipated given we lost our 2018 wrap up show to a combination of technical difficulties & user error. In any case, we're back for 2019 and with any luck will have an episode up at the start of every month.

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 had a heap of news to discuss, given how long we'd been away this was hardly surprising. There is also a a good discussion of our trip to Brunswick to visit Foreigner & Inner North. We chat about Dylan's recent trip to South Korea & about some of the local beers that we've been enjoying recently. Our 6-pack this month is Goses, which turned out to all be fruited, and we finished off with an unusual style; a Yam Beer!


 Show Notes

News Items (1:20)
  • Balter release Hazy IPA - social media hype
  • Modus Operandi smaller cans 
  • Pirate Life x Limeburner Whisky Collaboration
  • Hottest 100 - Wrap Up - Local Community Breweries
  • New Zealand Hottest 100 Results
  • Broo ASX discrepancies
  • Ogdens Brewery - Opening in a heritage hotel in Perth
  • Bridgeport Brewing to close
  • Endeavour Brewing crowdfunding
  • Hahn Ultra Crisp - gluten free - including tasting notes
  • IRI Marketedge Growth Report 
  • House of Malt - boutique malthouse
  • Ellerslie Hop Australia - re-opened after fire
Scouting Report (29:00)
  • The Foreigner Brewing Co & Inner North Brewing
    • Polarizing experiences
What We're Drinking (34:55)
  • Dylan's South Korea Trip
    • Craft Beer Bars in Seoul
    • Quite cheap
  • Garage Project Golden Spiral
  • Mr Banks I Like to Break a Mental Sweat Too
  • The Year of Local Update
What We're Brewing (49:28)
  • Our Mango Gose
    • Needed re-fruiting & time
    • Almost 1g per litre
    • Bottle available - we're interested in some feedback
Desert Island 6-pack (53:28)
  • Goses - fruited, not-fruited, anything goes.
  • The cross overs this month were:
    •  To Øl Santa Goes F&#% It All, Hop Nation The Punch, Garage Project White Mischief  
  • Dylan's 3 individuals;
      • Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose, Red Button POiMA, Omnipollo Bianca Blueberry Lassi Gose,  
  • Noz's 3 individuals;
      • Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose, Prairie Flare, Magic Rock x Kissmeyer Salty Kiss
  • Honourable Mentions
      • Stomping Ground Watermelon Smash, Doctors Orders Electrolyte, Hop Nation Black Rhino Cherry Lips, Zagovor All Summer in a Day, Deschutes Smoked Gose, Magpie The Ghost
Noz's Cellar
  • The Bruery Autumn Maple
    • A Belgian Brown Ale brewed with yams, molasses, maple syrup & spices
    • Cellared since ~November 2016
    • Thumbs Up
Hope you all enjoy the podcast! Most of our time this year at Beer O'Clock Australia is going to be taken up by The Year of Local undertaking. Keep your eyes peeled as there are a number of posts waiting to be finalized. We'll be back with a new episode hopefully at the start of April. Until then...

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

Friday, 1 March 2019

HOWLER BREWING COMPANY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy (for now!)
  • Region: South Gippsland
  • Brewed At: Craft & Co, Black Dog & Burnley 
  • Tasting Room: 47 Westernport Rd, Lang Lang
  • Food: Gourmet Pub
  • Price: Inexpensive
  • Websitehttps://www.howlerbrewing.com.au/
Lang Lang is a small town located roughly 70km south east of Melbourne. The town entered my consciousness at an early age, as my grandfather was a long term member of the Lang Lang Golf Club. It's an area known for beef & dairy production, and is also the centre of the largest aspargus growing region in the southern hemisphere! All said and done, it's not a town you'd expect to find a craft brewery.

As you drive down Westernport Road, the main drag in Lang Lang, you spot the brewery on the edge of town. It's housed in an old bank, built in 1929 & originally tenanted by ES&A Bank (English, Scottish & Australian Bank) before becoming an ANZ branch after their takeover of the former in 1970. The building stat idle for 5 years before Howler came along two years ago.

They've done a heap of work changing the building into a space to serve beer, and soon to brew their own beer on site. The team are hoping to have a 600L pilot system setup out the back by mid-March and they aren't stopping there! They have plans to have a bigger off-site production facility up and running in the next three years and to spread their beer far and wide.

The brewery is named after the Howler, something of a local legend, a mysterious creature said to inhabit the swamp lands around Lang Lang. It's said to be a bigger, tougher version of the more well known Bunyip from just down the road.

The brewery has become something of a local legend as well, supporting both the Nyora Football & Netball Club as well as the Lang Lang FNC. This community aspect continues into their supply chain, with their kitchen serving as much local produce as possible.

We arrived at Howler on one of the hottest days I can remember in Melbourne. Our dog Jimmy was with us, so we had to sit in the beer garden and sweat it out. Despite the heat; the beer garden was quite pleasant, it's well shaded by umbrellas and there was a gentle, if warm, breeze blowing through. The vibe was really nice with an acoustic guitar player playing & a number of people enjoying their Sunday lunchtime - I got the vibe that there were more locals than craft beer lovers, which is so pleasing in a smaller town.

I was really impressed with the offerings; both beer and food that we sampled at Howler. The Moroccan Pumpkin dip is one of the best brewery foods I've had! Their beers are lower in alcohol than most breweries, with their IPA clocking in at 5.8% ABV; that didn't stop it being exceptionally tasty. It's a great example of why IPA's should be clear & bitter, not hazy.

There are only so many craft breweries out their producing good lager, although that number is growing. That's why I've decided to review Howler's Triple L - Lang Lang Lager. I had this on tap at the brewery and also took a 6-pack away in cans, which look great with the black lids as an aside.

Lang Lang Lager pours a lovely golden colour with a fluffy white head. The head dissipates relatively quickly however, and shortly there is none left behind. The nose indicates some sweetish, bready malts. This carries over into the taste where it is complimented by some lovely grassy bitterness. It's a really well balanced lager and one that was incredibly refreshing on a hot afternoon at the brewery in Lang Lang.

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

FOREIGNER BREWING COMPANY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Melbourne
  • Tasting Room: 12/102 Henkel St, Brunswick
  • Food: Pretzels
  • Price: Inexpensive
  • Websitehttps://shop.foreignerbrewing.com.au/
Foreigner Brewing Company launched in late 2016 to little fanfare. Since it's gained a loyal local following and is known only by the most ardent of Melbourne craft beer drinkers. The brewery is a little off the beaten track, tucked away in an industrial estate in one of the less populated parts of hip Melbourne suburb, Brunswick.

The brewery was started by two mates, Mira Koman & Peter Denison, both of Czech origin, who met through a Czech expat group in Melbourne. Both loved beer and naturally they progressed to brewing beers from their homeland at home, before dreaming up & building their own brewery.

And when I say building their own brewery, I mean it! Mira is a boilermaker by trade & literally constructed their fermentation tanks & parts of their brewhouse. They shipped in friend & respected Czech brewer Petr Petruzalek, a man who spent two decades brewing Pilsner Urquell before entering craft, for recipe development; and Foreigner Brewing was born.

The converted warehouse that houses the Foreigner Brewing Co is relatively small on first impressions. There are a few tables scattered around the front of the warehouse where the bar also sits. The brewery is in the back left, roped off from the public but clearly visible. Shelving is stacked high with all manner of equipment. You can even find the grain mill covered by the bathrooms.

The space is quite eclectic. It's busy with hanging plants & seemingly random items placed everywhere, yet somehow it all comes together to create a really interesting space. The vibe on a sunny Friday afternoon/early evening was great, full of people (& dogs) of all walks of life enjoying the start to their weekend. The staff were friendly, knowledgeable and really seemed to enjoy what they were doing and where they were working.

After gushing a little over the venue, I'm now going to gush over the beer. Having owners of Czech origins the beer I was going to review was always going to be a lager of some description, although I was somewhat disappointed not to come across a Czech Tmave.. I picked the Silent Hunter Pilsner - their flagship beer - a true Czech Pilsner.

As soon as the beer was poured you knew you were in for a treat. The colour is a beautiful golden straw, with wonderful clarity and a small white head. The beer has this lovely Pilsner malt sweetness initially that gives way to the grassy/herbal notes that Saaz is so well known for. The beer finishes dry and bitter, just leaving you wanting more!

I haven't enjoyed visiting a new brewery as much as I enjoyed visiting Foreigner in a very long time! There wouldn't be many better spots in Melbourne on a warm summer's evening.

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