Thursday, 9 May 2019

MAY BLOG UPDATE

Hi All,

I thought I'd do a quick update before the inevitable lack of communication that happens over the next couple of weeks as Good Beer Week gets into full swing. I'm slowly working my way through beers from the almost 170 (at the time of writing) Victorian brewers for The Year of Local. We got a number of posts up in April, not quite as many as I'd hoped but we're still relatively on track.

It's been a pretty crazy couple of weeks in the Victorian craft beer scene and particularly in the High Country, where there must've been something in the water! Firstly we had the sad news that Sweetwater Brewing in Mount Beauty shut its doors for the final time. Wrong Side Brewing shocked the beer community by giving up their Jamieson brewery to become a nationwide gypsy brand, before Bridge Road seceded from Australia to become the first beer micronation; Brewland.

Black Arts Beer, a brewery I've been aware of for the past 3 years, finally launched! They're have been brewing & blending since 2015 and finally have beer that is ready! I can't wait to check out their stuff! Shepparton Brewery launched in April, joining Nagambie Brewing & Distillery from the previous month, whilst western Victoria also gained another brewery with the opening of Paper Scissors Rock Brew Co in Halls Gap.

I'm currently making up some list and trying to organise a couple of weekends to blow through 10-15 brewery visits. Brewery visits are the main thing holding the venture up at the moment. The next month-6 weeks will be pretty important from a logistical point of view so bear with me as the content may come out in clumps. There's a number of posts that are mostly written and just need finalizing so I may be able to get some out over the next week or so despite the GBW festivities.

If I've missed anything that you wanted to know or if you just want to send me beer related questions/content, please do at gus.norris7@gmail.com and I will endeavour to get back to you as soon as I can. If you are a brewery and haven't seen your Year of Local post yet, please reach out and we'll prioritize yours. Cheers guys!

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

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

BONZA BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Mornington Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Brewed At: Jetty Rd, Mornington
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/bonzabrewing/
Bonza Brewing is a gypsy brewing operation located on the Mornington Peninsula. Mick is the owner, brewer and sole operator of Bonza Brewing. Mick's a brewer by trade and has worked at Mornington Peninsula Brewery, Mr Banks & currently at Jetty Road. The operation launched in late 2018 when Mick was able to convince his former employer Mornington to let him brew his beer on their gear. 

Since then he's been able to rent tank space from his current employer, Jetty Road, and begin brewing on site after the installation of their brewery. This has proved to be the perfect scenario for him as he is able to more closely monitor his brew rather than relying on someone else to do it for him.

There's an environmental aspect to Bonza Brewing's business, with one native tree being planted for every 50 Litres of beer sold. The Australian native theme continues with their artwork (pictured left), which I really like. It's the work of a Melbourne based tattoo artist called Mark Lording, from Vic Market Tattoos, who is known for his Australiana work.

To date, there is only the Australian Ale available from Bonza (I'm aware their is a Dark Ale on the way...). I had the Australian Ale down at Jetty Road, where Mick gypsy brews, in the most hands on sense of the term. It's not the greatest beer you've ever had but it is a solid example of what it is trying to be.

The malt body is light and on the sweeter side. There's a fair whack of hop flavour, primarily citrus & stone fruit, although there is very little accompanying bitterness. It's a beer that I can see people quite happily enjoying a full session on, I certainly would be happy to! Keep an eye on what Mick gets up to over the next few years!

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

HACK BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Inner Melbourne
  • Brewed at: Cavalier, Holgate
  • Tasting Room: 1 Crockford Street, Port Melbourne
  • Food: Gourmet Pub
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://www.thehack.com.au/
The world was introduced to Hack Brewing Co in September 2016, their Untappd listing was actually created on my birthday. The brewery was started by Jamie Cox, ex-Kooinda & Prosciutto Bros, and a few mates (James, Chris & Doug) when Jamie decided he wanted to get back into making beer rather than running a craft bar/deli in Eltham.


So what's in a name? The guys in the typical Australian self deprecating way, decided to tell it like it is and call themselves hacks. According to them, they're not the best so why try and act like they are. I've really struggled to get in contact with the Hack Brewing guys, so I do apologize for the brevity of this opening gambit. If the guys read this I would love more info from you - to better tell your story!


The venue, from the outside, looks like a lot of pubs in Port/South Melbourne. The facade is pretty old & not that well up kept. Inside is quite the opposite. It's clearly had a big refresh, it's very open, light & modern. My understanding of The Hack is that it is ostensibly a craft beer pub that also has their own range of beers.

As you walk through the doors you're confronted by a white tiled bar directly in front of you. Minimalist tables are scattered about the main bar area. To your left is a large board with the tap list, with some confusing abbreviations. To the right are some more tables and some couches. There's some characters on the wall that look like the works of Pocket Beagles, but I haven't confirmed that as yet.

The food menu is impressive, a sort of predominantly Mexican influenced gourmet pub menu. I arrived after I'd already had lunch one afternoon so didn't partake in a full meal. I did have a Pork Bao (which I am aware is not Mexican!) as a snack & at $4 I don't think you can beat the value! The pulled pork was excellent and the vegies were fresh & crisp!

I wish I could say the same about the beer! I had the Crunchy Porter, and there were a few issues... Where to start? Well firstly I don't like the infringement on the Crunchy IP - it's only a matter of time before a brewery really gets bitten badly. Secondly, look at the picture to the right, that mug was filthy! That's really not a good first impression.

Then the beer itself, it's supposedly a chocolate porter with honeycomb. It was certainly a chocolate porter, not a brilliant one but a porter nonetheless. There was some toasty malt flavours that complimented the chocolate & caramel malts nicely. It was quite sweet, with just enough bitterness to balance the beer out. I couldn't pick up any honeycomb, if it's there it's very light.

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

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

THE BEER-THUSIAST PACK: JANUARY 2019

The Beer-thusiast Pack: January


By now I hope you'd know the deal with these posts; if you're new to these welcome, you'll pick it up pretty quickly. Basically Dylan & I review the Beer-thusiast Pack, curated by Carwyn Cellars' subscription service Schmooze.

The Beer-thusiast Pack is delivered to your door monthly. It's composition is a complete mystery until it arrives - although it's likely to include a number of local offerings. Each month 12 beers arrive, recent packs have included 5 duplicates. As many of you know I'm not generally one for duplicates, which is where Dylan comes in. Dylan & I drink our duplicates individually and split the two singles before coming back to share our thoughts with you.

The packaging has changed from Carwyn/Schmooze has seen me remove the little picture that normally appears about here. I don't think it really matters as you'll see the lineup down below in any case. It was a bit of a mixed bag this month stylistically, whilst 5 of the offerings came from Victoria. We're running a little behind this year with various commitments and the huge Year of Local undertaking, so without further ado here's January's pack.

Frenchies Pale Ale - American Pale Ale - 5.4%

It's somewhat unusual to see a core range offering pop up in the Beer-thusiast Pack. I have to say this didn't initially excite me, despite having had very few beers from Sydney based Frenchies. That was until I looked into it a little more and found it was brewed with Comet, an American wild hop - that piqued my interest!

"I appreciated that this was trying something a bit different with the hop profile - using Comet as the primary hop in your pale is not something you’d see much nowadays! Much like Stockade using Fuggles in their Chop Shop I always dig when a brewery looks beyond the standard for their recipe, especially in a core range. The hop character was nice, some good stonefruit and citrus. The malt didn’t do a lot for me and I found it had a bit of raw alcohol which was odd for the ABV. Worth a try nontheless."
Stomping Ground Pridelweiss - Witbier - 5.1%

The Pridelweisse is a beer brewed by Stomping Ground each year to support the LGBTQI community, with 50 cents from each can/pot going to support a charity that helps support aspiring LGBTQI community members in the arts. This years iteration appears to be very similar to last, basically a hoppy wheat beer.
"I feel like I write about this beer every few months! This is the best incarnation of it yet I reckon - a really well balanced hoppy wheat beer, which you don’t see heaps of. Clean, refreshing and zippy. "

We have indeed written about this before - you may notice a strong similarity in the preamble - however that was back in January 2018.

Boatrocker Tahitian Lime Sunshine & Rainbows - Table Beer - 3.8%

I was pretty excited when I saw that Boatrocker had added Tahitian Limes to their excellent Table Beer, Sunshine & Rainbows when I first heard about this beer. Apparently they juiced 700 Tahitian Limes, those who've had them know they pack a serious flavour punch, and added it to the brew.

"It no doubt says more about the general standard of releases they put out, but this was the worst Boatrocker beer I’ve ever had. Too light, with lime dominating, but without any of the tartness or juiciness you’d associate with that. I didn’t dig it at all, which is a shame as I’m a big fan of the regular S&R."
I have to agree - this did not work at all! Completely dominated by the lime, it wasn't particularly tart and didn't have any of the qualities that make the original such a lovely beer. A rare miss from Boatrocker.

Fury & Son Long Hot Days - Kolsch - 4.4%

I wasn't overly enthused when I saw this beer either, the label put me off a bit and I thought this might have been a market share grab by Fury & Son. I haven't seen the beer start popping up in chain supermarkets so maybe I misjudged them. In any case, it's a 4.4% Kolsch/Summer/Session/Golden Ale.

"My palate must have been in the sweet spot for this because it really surprised me. Lots of citrusy hops, with solid bitterness and lingering fruit. It’s a session ale, so don’t expect the world, but I’d definitely go back for more of this."

I did not like it as much. I don't know if there was some can to can variation, but mine was an OK example. 


Otherside Anthem - American IPA - 6.2%

It's so refreshing in this day and age to see a 6%+ IPA with bitterness being brewed in Australia. It's not hazy, it's not fruit juice, it's a proper bitter IPA. At least, that's how it is billed. We're seeing more and more stock from Otherside in Victoria now and I keep being impressed by their beers.

"Lots of stonefruit and melon. Nicely balanced IPA, not too heavy on bitterness. Good body and length. One of those well executed, straight up and down styles that is hard to write a heap about, but it’s a very solid Australian IPA."

It's beers like this that make me wish Australian brewers would stick to what they're good at. This is an excellent West Coast IPA.

Burnley Brewing Coffee Brown - Brown Ale - 5.7%

Burnley are really kicking goals at the minute. I think as more people discover them that they could be one of the hot breweries of 2019. First things first, well done on doing a nitro can, it's something I wish we would see more of in this country. A coffee infused Brown Ale seems like the perfect beer to use as a trial.

"Smooth and creamy from the nitro. Well crafted and executed. I didn’t get tons of coffee flavour, but the brown ale has some nice rich, toasty notes. Very easy to look at, very easy to drink."

Burnley Brewing New World Pils - Pilsner - 4.8%

As regular readers would know I rate Burnley's Vienna Lager as the best lager produced in Australia. Accordingly, I had high hopes that this Pilsner might also be of a really high standard.

"These guys know lager, and this is very solid as you’d expect. Very floral and crisp, with light bitterness and appropriate body. The kind of beer you’d be glad to have in the big 500ml cans they come in. "
It's certainly not as good as the lager, but it is a solid Pilsner offering. I'm expecting to see more Pilsners popping up in Australia in the coming years, as the style is perfect for our hot summers.

We're hoping to get this segment back under control relatively soon, although the priority will remain with the Year of Local. Things maybe a little quiet next week, what with Good Beer Week & all, but I'm still hopeful of getting a few posts out to you shortly. Also, for those of you asking about it, there should be a podcast out in the coming days.

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

Thursday, 2 May 2019

BEACH HUT BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 4 Rocco Drive, Scoresby
  • Food: Snacks & Pizza
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.beachhutbrewery.com.au/
The biggest surprise of our trek through the breweries of South Eastern Melbourne was Beach Hut Brewery. We walked in and were greeted very warmly by brewer and owner Shane Ward, who it's fair to say is a larger than life character. He clearly loves his job and was more than happy to talk us through his range & to discuss his methodology.

One of the most pressing question I had was why is a brewery in industrial Scoresby called Beach Hut? The answer surprised me. Initially the operation was far smaller and based in the coastal town of Torquay! The brewery was based there from 2013, before upscaling and relocating to Scoresby in 2016.

And upscale they did! The warehouse is big and very open. The brewery is located along the back wall, with tanks scattered along the left hand side. There's shelving stacked high with everything you could conceivably need down the right hand side, with the bar just in front. The middle houses the seating area, which is pretty spacious.

They've used reclaimed pallets to great effect, using them where they can to create tables and benches, whilst also constructing a fence out of them to divide the customers from the brewing equipment. It really does feel like you're sitting in a brewery! We didn't eat, having already had lunch, but the pizza's that went passed us looked & smelt great!

It's interesting to me that this brewery has been around for years and is yet hardly known. It's been described to me before as a "Dad brewery", a brewery for ~60 year old men who like a little variety in their beer, but not too much. This is a bit harsh; although I get where those people are coming from. They brew more English inspired beers, with flavours focusing more on malt. Maybe they aren't interesting enough to the craft drinker who is looking for maximum flavour?

With that said; the beer I've decided to review is the 93 Bears Pale Ale. It's the Beach Hut take on a traditional American Pale Ale & is hopped exclusively with Cascade. This really comes through in the flavour, with the hop flavour quintessential Cascade. The malt bill is a bit bigger than most Australian examples of the style, but this just balances the beer beautifully.

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

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

MR BANKS BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 12 Hi-Tech Place, Seaford
  • Food: Mexican
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttp://www.mrbanksbrewing.com.au/
Mr Banks launched in 2016 with some seriously eye catching cans. Those cans may have gone, I imagine they were incredibly expensive, but the brewery remains & has gone from strength to strength. The brewery began as a husband & wife operation, with Chris Farmer taking care of the brewing side of things, while his wife Penny handled the financials.


 Chris & Penny started the brewery when Chris' life was at a crossroads. He could either take over this father's family business, that Chris himself had been running for the past decade, or he could branch out on his own and do something else. He followed his passion for homebrewing & chose the latter option. And Mr Banks was born.

There are not enough breweries with Mighty Ducks references in their names. Mr Banks does, albeit in a slightly roundabout way. Banks is the name the dog, a chocolate labrador, owned by Chris & Penny. Banks, the dog, is named after Adam Banks; star player of The Mighty Ducks. Mr Banks, the brewery is named after Banks, the dog, who is name after Banks, the fictional ice hockey player.

Such was their success that they outgrew their first brewery, with a small cellar door, within their first year. Towards the end of 2017, they opened their new facility & bar at the current site in Seaford. It's based in a high ceilinged warehouse at the end of an industrial cul-de-sac. They've installed a nice outdoor space into their carpark which has plenty of seating. Opposite this area there's a basketball hoop setup on the wall as well as some other games to keep the kids (both big & little) entertained!

The brewery has a real family vibe about it, with a number of kids & dogs enjoying their afternoon at the brewery. Inside continues the sort of relaxed vibe with a number of couches scattered about in front of the main bar area, which is in front of all the stainless. They do a good mix of snacky foods, with Mexican inspired stuff (tacos, nachos etc.) served from a half length shipping container by the roller door and worth the trip on their own!

I tossed up for quite a while which of their Hazy's I was going to review - it's what they're known for after all. I ended up sticking with the 90's reference theme, stumping for Wheeze the Juice (Encino Man) over the early 00's referenced I Like to Break a Mental Sweat Too (Dodgeball).

The latest batch of Wheeze the Juice is tasting far better than the last one I had, which was a typical Australian NEIPA. Gone is the astringency and bitterness & in it's place is pure juice! You could honestly be confused if you were drinking orange juice or beer; it's that juicy! If fruit juice NEIPA's are your thing, make sure you try this one before it gets too old!

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