Monday, 24 June 2019

KAIJU BEER

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://kaijubeer.com.au/index.html
Kaiju! Beer was born out of the Golden Axe Cider company in 2013. It's true, but it's also a very simplistic way of looking at the journey brothers Nat & Callum Reeves, alongside Callum's wife Clara, have been on since they started gypsy brewing at Cavalier Brewing in Derrimut all those years ago.

They initially launched as Monster Mash rather than Kaiju! Beer. That didn't last long however as Monster Energy drink took exception with another beverage company sharing their name. Rather than spend money they didn't have on an expensive IP case, they renamed themselves Kaiju - Japanese for Monster - & added Beer for good measure.

By 2015, with legal issues behind them, the trio announced that they would be opening their own brewery alongside fellow Cavalier graduates Exit Brewing. They opened their own brewery in Dandenong South & bucked the trend by not including a hospitality arm to the business. They've become famous for their liberal, some would say excessive, use of hops.

Kaiju is one of few Australian breweries that I vividly remember the first beer I had from them. It was Grand Final Day, 2013. Barely a week after they'd released their first beer; Aftermath, a 9.1% Imperial IPA. That was back in the day when they were still named Monster Mash, before legal issues saw their name changed to Kaiju.

They have always had one of the most distinctive brands on the market. These designs have only been accentuated by the move to cans in recent times - I mean look how striking that Hopped Out Red can is below! As I have mentioned numerous times, and I'm sure I will mention numerous more times in The Year of Local, the key to a gypsy operation is great branding alongside great beers.

Kaiju combined both so successfully that they managed to turn their gypsy brand into a physical brewery. I could've taken the easy option and reviewed the Kaiju Krush, the beer that really put Kaiju on the average craft drinkers radar. Hopped Out Red though is the beer in their range that really resonates with me.

It's a superb Red IPA/Hoppy Red Ale that I am seriously impressed by every time I buy it. It combines a really full bodied malt bill, with layers of caramel notes. There's a good whack of hop bitterness, which also provides heaps of American hop characteristics namely pine & tropical fruit notes. If you're looking for a well priced Red IPA, look no further!

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

THE FLYING HORSE BAR & BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Western Victoria
  • Tasting Room: 10691 Princes Highway, Warrnambool
  • Food: Pub & Pizza
  • Brewed At: Prickly Moses
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.theflyinghorse.com.au/
Warrnambool is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of craft beer in Victoria. It's a town of ~35,000 people located 3 hours West of Melbourne. The Flying Horse Bar & Brewery opened there in July 2008, on the site of The Flying Inn a former service station & caravan park whose name they decided to keep. after being in planning since 2004. This is far earlier than I would've thought given I've never heard of them!

The Flying Horse Bar & Brewery is run by husband & wife team Matthew & Tania Monk. They've been there since the start and overseen a number of changes at the business over time. Initially they had a 10HL FB Propak brewhouse, which has since been moved on & production of their beers moved down to Prickly Moses at Otway Estate.

Probably the most notable thing about The Flying Horse was their dispute with the local council about their pokies licenses, which ended up in VCAT. The brewery won out and the 19 pokies machines went into their venue in early 2013. As far as I'm aware they are the only Victorian brewery to have pokies machines, although I'll know for certain by the end of the year!

Alongside the pokies machines are a TAB & Trackside machines, those fake horse & dog racing games you can bet on. These are all located in the back of the pub, which is very much a large country town hospitality venue. The outside of the building looks quite modern and the fitout is good with different areas having distinct styles. The dining room off to the left as you walk in was decked out in white linen & looked like they were hosting a party in one corner.

It's fair to say the vibe & crowd were both different to any other craft brewery I've been to... The bar is not dissimilar to many you'd find around the country, it's a big wooden clad bar that takes centre stage in the building. However unlike many bars in regional areas alongside the regular macro offerings their were two beer proudly displaying their local heritage; Whale Ale & Dirty Angel. I settled into the Sports Bar, complete with plenty of TV screens and solid large benches, with a Whale Ale to watch the footy.

However I'm not going to review Whale Ale, I'm going to review Dirty Angel. It's apparently an English Porter although, if the pub was anything to go by, I'm guessing it's a far different beer to the one that won Champion Porter at the AIBA's in 2009.

I owe The Flying Horse Bar & Brewery an apology. I don't have the BJCP guidelines in front of me, but off the top off my head I think this would tick a lot of boxes. There's lovely, slightly sweet caramel malts up front alongside some darker fruit flavours (I'm thinking red currants). There are some herbal hops in the mix as well, which provide a slightly bitter & dry finish. It's a beer I can actually see myself sessioning. I just hope the Warrnambool locals do too!

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

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

STOMPING GROUND BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 100 Gipps St, Collingwood
  • Food: Pizza & Share Plates
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.stompingground.beer/
Stomping Ground is the latest in a line of beer related success stories for owner Steve Jeffares, Guy Greenstone & Justin Joiner, who were destined to own a brewery. The trio are the driving force behind Melbourne institution; The Local Taphouse & the unstoppable juggernaut that is the GABS Beer Festival, which is slowly taking over Australia & now the world, having started at their little bar back in 2011.

They launched their first beer at their own festival in 2015 before Stomping Ground Brewing Co opened the doors to their Collingwood Beer Hall & Brewery in August, 2016. The space on Gipps St, in the heart of industrial Collingwood is unlike any other Australian brewery I've visited!

Stomping Ground combines a high end restaurant, brewery, beer hall, garden & children's play area all in one cohesive space. You walk in the entrance, down a little side street, to what from the outside appears to be a (very) large sawtooth warehouse which has had some windows added.

You're immediately greeted by long communal tables which wouldn't look out of place in a high end restaurant. The middle of the venue is taken up by a huge bar, there's exposed brick, rusted brass fittings and plenty of exposed steel in the roof. Might I add that this bar regularly stocks 30 Stomping Ground beers on tap, in addition to a wide array of spirits and wines - to keep everyone happy.

Step passed the bar and it's almost unthinkable to think you're in the same building. You step up into an inside beer garden, which is on a raised wooden deck. The roof is retractable, which makes for a wonderful spot for a beer or three in summer. It's seems to get greener every time I go to Stomping Ground with plants hanging from every available spot. On the deck there is a children's playground & it's dog friendly - it's a real family affair.


Stomping Ground have one of the better brewery going around. Of course they have pizza, like almost every other brewery around Victoria, but they also strike the balance between mains and sharing plates. The BBQ Chicken Salad with charred Cos Lettuce was absolutely superb!

The first time I had this beer it took me longer that I care to admit to work out the pun in the name of this beer. I thought for ages, why did they name their Imperial IPA Robert? And why did they use the less common acronym DIPA instead of IIPA?

It's named after the one and only Robert "Dipper" DiPierdomenico, former Hawthorn football great & later Channel 7 & 3AW boundary rider. I was just so pleased when I saw they canned this in early May this year. It's a spectacular West Coast Imperial IPA packing citrus and pine flavours alongside big assertive bitterness.

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

Saturday, 15 June 2019

MOLLY ROSE BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 279 Wellington St, Collingwood
  • Food: Toasties & Snacks
  • Price: Expensive
  • Websitehttp://www.mollyrosebrewing.com/
It's been a long journey but Molly Rose Brewing has finally opened the doors to their own cellar door and brewery in Collingwood, the Melbourne suburb that is quickly becoming a craft beer hub. It's taken the best part of 3.5 years and has seen owner & brewer Nic Sandery travel the world learning more about his trade.

After gaining experience at the likes of Stone & Wood, Little Creatures & Holgate, Nic packed in his job and set about launching one of the first crowd funding campaigns for an Australian brewery. Unlike many campaigns it wasn't for a new canning line or fermenters, it was for a laptop.

With that funding target achieved in early 2016, Nic set off on a beer fact finding tour taking in the usual suspects like Belgium & the United States, as well as more left field craft beer scenes in Japan & Slovenia to name just a few. You can still read all about his journey in the blog tab on the Molly Rose website. 

Upon returning from his trip Nic began working at a few Victorian wineries, to learn more about their methodology, whilst plotting the first brewing steps for Molly Rose. The first beers appeared in late 2017 as part of his Foundation Series, which were inspired by his overseas fact finding trip. The beers were packaged in 750ml bottles and were really well presented. This has continued through his sporadic releases since, you can always tell a Molly Rose bottle when you see it!

Fast-forward to June 2019 and the Molly Rose taproom and brewery opened. The brewery is located on the north end of Wellington St, up near The Gem for those who know the area. It's located in a small single sawtooth warehouse that is dwarfed by the buildings on either side. It's not really the sort of location you'd expect to find a brewery. I don't usually post the full food menu, but I thought Molly Rose's was incredibly well thought through whilst still being easy to serve without a full kitchen setup.

Inside the fitout is relatively minimalist. The taps are mounted onto a plyboard room that has been painted black. The right hand side wall is lined with the same thing, whilst part of the roof is covered with unpainted plyboard. There's some stainless steel in the back right hand corner, whilst there are a number of small tables and stool around.

Despite my description, it's beautifully presented. There's a lot of little touches that make the brewery what it is, including the little succulent cutoffs on each table as well as on the bar. It's the sort of touches you almost expect from a brewery named after the owners grandmothers. Free serves of popcorn topped with Togarashi, an inspired choice, just really topped off the experience.

Millions Of is the beer that I've chosen to review. It's a Biere de Garde, which is cool in and of itself, however this one has spent time in barrels with peaches. All of that is apparent to taste; you get that distinctive Biere de Garde sweetness upfront, whilst there is some funk & just enough peach flavour following in behind. It's a beer that I would love to see them bottle so that I could put one away for some time - I think it would improve fabulously with age.

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

Friday, 14 June 2019

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 8

Episode 8 - Show Notes 

This is a pretty timely episode for us, it's only been about 3 weeks since our last one went live. The last few weeks I've spent quite a bit of time dealing with The Year of Local stuff, visiting a lot of regional breweries. It's now about getting some writing done... Anyway about the podcast!

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 were continuing our Ranking of Lagers from around the world as well as discussing a plethora of news from around the beer world. We combined our Good Beer Week review with the Desert Island 6-Pack segment, which I think worked reasonably well. Hope you guys enjoy the episode.


 Show Notes

News Items (0:45)
  • Dogfish Head & Boston Beer Co Merger
  • Untappd Festival
  • Quiet Deeds Transparency 
  • Rochefort Abbey - Lhoist Berghman dispute
  • BrewDog Update
    • Marketing job interview issues
    • Brisbane brewery
  • Independent Brewery Association Seal - 12 months since launch
  • Coopers launch an XPA
  • AIBA Results
  • Sierra Nevada Resilience Project - Less than 50% of donations received 
Good Beer Week 6-Pack (32:54)
  • Crossovers;
    • The Winston Black Rye IPA, 
  • Dylan's 5 individuals;
    • Molly Rose Insuperable, 8 Wired Lokomotiv Merlot, Burnt Mill Heliacal Rising, Cantillon Kriek, Eden Prickly Pear Sour
  • Noz's 5 individuals;
    • Offshoot Grip It,  Bridge Road x Mikkeller Dark Harvest, Amundsen Marshmallow Psycho Bourbon BA, Holgate Beelzebub's Jewel (2016), Westmalle Tripel  
  • Honourable Mentions
    • Bonehead Phaze Out/In, Feral Watermelon Warhead
The Ranking of Lagers (58:29)
  • This week we had to slot in Kingfisher (India), Cusquena (Peru) & Sapporo (Japan).
  • The New Rankings are as follows:
    1. Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic)
    2. Tennent's (Scotland)
    3. Carlsberg (Denmark)
    4. Kingfisher (India)
    5. Gullmack (Norway)
    6. Sapporo (Japan)
    7. Heineken (Netherlands)
    8. Vonu (Fiji)
    9. Cusquena (Peru) 
Noz's Cellar (1:11:22)
  • Stumblefoot Questhaven 
    • Barrel Aged Sour Ale with Apricots & Peaches
    • 8.5% ABV
    • Cellared since January 2015
    • Thumbs Up
There we have it guys, hope you enjoyed the latest episode of the Beer O'Clock Australia podcast. As usual we'd love to hear from you if there are any questions or things you want us to talk about. You can send your questions through to gus.norris7@gmail.com or you can hit us up on Instagram, which we're less active on than we probably should be.

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

SOUTHERN BAY BREW CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Bellarine Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://southernbay.com.au/
Southern Bay is one of the older Victorian breweries. Their history is significantly longer & more complex than most craft breweries. Southern Bay has been around in some form or another for over 30 years, although they only became Southern Bay in 2005. Considering their age, they have a very low profile as for much of that time they didn't produce their own beer.

That all changed in 2012, when the brewery underwent a major re-brand and began releasing beers under their own name. They brought in Steve "Hendo" Henderson, a name that if you're not already familiar with you definitely will be if you read all of The Year of Local posts, and started producing a few really nice, albeit more on the entry level side, beers.

They underwent another re-brand in 2018 and ended up where we are today. Their core range now consists of a Lager, a Pale Ale & a Session IPA. This isn't particularly inspiring in the current climate, however you don't see much Southern Bay beer around in Melbourne and maybe this better suits their local market? Southern Bay are still predominantly a contract brewery and a number of brands produce their beer on their large rudimentary 1950's kit.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the controversy that has engulfed Southern Bay in 2019 to date. Both incidents relate to poor social media management and are a really good example for what not to do! The first involved the publication of a meme on Facebook in February, which fell afoul of the ABAC guidelines pertaining to the promotion of binge drinking. This resulted in the removal of their social media team & director Nick Warming taking over the management of their social media feeds.

Fast forward to June and Southern Bay again ran into issues with social media. This time they posted a meme that can only be described as homophobic. This led to significant community backlash and their 'social media strategy' of posting random beer related memes was called into question. Nick Warming, eventually, took responsibility for the post, showed genuine contrition and then resigned from his directorship.

I decided to review the Session IPA from their core range. As soon as I cracked it the aroma reminded me of the smell of US IPA's from when I first started drinking craft beer. I'm guessing, with what I know now, that this beer was probably a bit old and a bit oxidised. It certainly wasn't offensively so, it packed reasonable bitterness and at 3.8% I'd quite happily have a few more.

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

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

DAINTON BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 560 Frankston-Dandenong Rd, Carrum Downs
  • Food: Food Trucks
  • Price: Expensive
  • Websitehttps://www.dainton.beer/
The Dainton story starts in 2008. In a story repeated around the world, Dan Dainton began playing around with a homebrew kit that his Mum got him for Christmas. Dan made some truly awful beers. They began to improve around the time he got a job in a homebrew shop. Federation Uni followed. Fast forward to 2011; Dan won Champion Australian Pilsner in the Amateur Awards & landed himself a brewing job at what would later become The Crafty Squire.

2012 saw a move to Holgate in Woodend to continue learning his trade. Not long after starting at Holgate, Dan's old man Kev spoke about starting their own label. They contract brewed their first beer, Red Eye Rye, in the middle of 2013. Such was their success that they had to brew at 7 different breweries over the next two years as they were exceeding the available capacities.

2015 saw them secure their site in Carrum Downs and construction of the brewery began almost immediately. The first beers were brewed in the middle of 2016 before the grand opening of the bar in July with 6 Dainton beers on tap.

Dainton's facility is huge! One of the benefits of being so far from the CBD. The bar would be the best part of 50m from the doorway you walk in through. Behind the bar the tanks stretch for probably just as far again. It's a really new looking building, it may have even been built for Dainton, and there is plenty of exposed steel around.

I actually thought their was a little bit of brand incongruity between Dainton's very out there beers and outward perception compared to their actual home which was very run of the mill - sort of an out of the packet brewery. Apparently there is some street art, more in line with what I was expecting from Dainton near the stairs, but it certainly wasn't as out there as I was expecting/hoping.

Onto the beer & I had to go with something typically Dainton. I settled on Super Trooper, their 10% Imperial New England IPA. Ignoring the egregious IP infringement on the can artwork; the beer itself is seriously dangerous. There's next to no sign of the high ABV as it's hidden behind this wonderful wall of juicy mango and peach juice. It's a fabulous beer & a sign of what Dainton can do!

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

Thursday, 6 June 2019

BURNLEY BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 648 Bridge Rd, Richmond
  • Food: Italian
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://burnleybrewing.com.au/
Two uni mates, Neil Mills & Phil Gijsbers, started Burnley Brewing together in late-2017. It was not their first business venture together, having started a cafe together whilst still in uni. The duo worked in and around the beer scene for a number of years before teaming up with restaurateur Renton Carlyle-Taylor, who'd been running his Italian restaurant, Romulus & Remus, on the site the brewery now sits.

Renton had decided to head in a different direction and when the boys approached him with the idea to stick a brewery in his restaurant he jumped at the chance. The now trio had worked in beer & hospitality for years but had no hands on brewing experience. They hired Head Brewer Michael Stanzel, who'd recently completed 7 years of brewing studies & work in Germany and set about constructing their brewery.

The Bridge Road Brewpub had a custom built 500L system & plenty of fermentation tanks installed, but Burnley didn't stop there. Unlike most start up breweries, Burnley Brewing actually have two breweries. Alongside their Bridge Road taproom brewery they also have a much larger production brewery in Dandenong South - which focuses on producing their main beers for package format.

We're focusing on their Bridge Road Brewpub, which is open to the public. The venue is a large, relatively modern restaurant. It has high ceilings and an entirely glass front. There's some tanks in the window, with more in the back corner of the brewpub. On the right hand side as you walk in are a number of booths, whilst tables take up the middle area in front of the bar.

It's a pretty slick looking fitout, with Melbourne grey (apparently that will make sense to some...) & finished light wood throughout. It's definitely more of a restaurant look than your typical brewpub, but it doesn't feel out of place. There's a few bits of greenery scattered around, whilst some fairy lights give a nice ambiance at night. It's one of those rare craft brewery spaces that work just as well during the day as at night, although they are completely different vibes.

There was only ever going to be one choice for which beer was to be reviewed; the Lager. More accurately the Vienna Lager, but that may confuse people if they put it on the can... I feel like this beer get mentioned almost every podcast episode, but I can't find that many references to it on the blog. The style is characterized by the balance been malt and crispness. Burnley's is a wonderful example of the style with toasty & caramel malt flavours pairing with the earthiness and bitterness of the hops.

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