Wednesday, 9 October 2019

THE CHEEKY PINT

2019: The Year of Local

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 7 October 2019

RIDERS BREW CO

2019: The Year of Local

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

TRUE SOUTH

2019: The Year of Local

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

RED DUCK BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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