Thursday, 16 January 2020

CARWYN CANVENT 2019 (PART 3)

Carwyn Canvent (Part 3)



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 11 - Venom Hazy Christmas Snakebite - I really liked the idea behind Venom's beer in the Canvent; a play off the reason the brewery was named Venom & a traditional Australian pub drink. A snakebite is traditionally a 50:50 mix of lager & cider, however Venom's has used a truckload of raspberries in a Hazy IPA.

The idea may have been great, but the execution didn't quite work for me. There was clearly too distinct elements to the beer, with tart raspberry upfront before some tropical hop notes became more apparent. The flavours never quite meshed for me
Day 12 - Black Arts Santa's Little Helper - Black Arts received a very late call up to the Canvent pack after the sale of Green Beacon to Asahi. Carwyn has a strictly enforced independent only policy. This beer is quite similar to their Biere de Coupage; a blend of fresh Saison with some of their barrel aged stock.

And just like their Biere de Coupage, this beer is fantastic! There's this lovely bready malt base that combines with light Belgian funk. I pickup touches of wheat as well as plenty of stonefruit on the backend. If these were canned year round, I would drink them year round! Superb! This is a brewery that everyone should be keeping an eye on.

Day 13 - Tallboy & Moose Oat Deer - Tallboy & Moose is the closest brewery to Carwyn Cellars. It's a small brewpub, which have been releasing cans in the last few months. This is a blended Oatmeal Stout, which is a mix between barrel aged & un-aged stouts.

At 7.4% it's the biggest beer of the Canvent so far. As a mix of Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatwine & an Oatmeal Stout you'd expect the body to be luscious; Oat Deer doesn't disappoint. There is the vanilla you'd expect from the bourbon barrels as well as licorice & dark chocolate. It's a lovely beer, but probably not the most appropriate beer for an Australian Summer...

Day 14 - Helios French Oaked New World Pale - This is the first beer that I've ever had from Helios. They're a brewery based in the South Brisbane suburb of Yeerongpilly. I've heard little bits about them, although not much about the quality of the beer. I generally don't like the idea of adding Oak to a Pale Ale, but we'll see if this offering changes my mind on the idea...

I'm sad to report that it did not. It's just a Pale Ale, admittedly quite a nice one, that has some oak character. There's spicy citrus & pine hop aromas which was on top of a creamy cereal malt bill. It finishes with this vanilla character from the oak, but really it was oddly dry & I don't think it added to what otherwise could've been a nice Pale Ale.

Day 15 - Beerfarm Watermelon & Basil Sour - Beerfarm are a farm brewery from the Margaret River region, in the South West corner of Western Australia. Carwyn have been bringing their beers over for the last couple of years & I've been impressed with most of the things I've tried from them.

Their sour beers are the ones that have really caught my eye, with many utilising native ingredients. This sour uses locally grown basil & watermelon, two flavours that should work well together. The beer was nicely tart, with a touch of sweetness coming from the watermelon. There was just enough basil on the finish to justify its use in the name.

Only one of these 5 was truly exceptional. There were for the most part well executed beers, although some of the ideas behind them were a little flawed. On the most part the beers in this section of the Canvent were good without being exceptional. I was actually a little underwhelmed by these beers, which is one of the reasons I fell behind on this post...

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

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 12

Episode 12 - Show Notes 

A few technical issues led to us not quite making our goal of getting this episode out by the end of the year! We've got a few plans for the podcast in 2020, but we'll hold onto those for now until things are a little more concrete. One thing I can let you in on is that we've changed up the theme music for 2020 - any comments are always appreciated. A reminder; 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 a number of brewery takeovers, including the big one by Australian standards; Balter. We talk through some of the Victorian breweries we visited as part of The Year of Local & we attempt to slot beers from El Salvador, Thailand & Italy into our Ranking of Lagers. There was no Cellar segment this month as we were recording in the morning before a Tequilla, Beer & Cheese event. As usual we hope you enjoy the show!


 Show Notes

News Items (0:15)
  • Balter Sale Discussion
    • Investors, Independence, Hottest 100, CUB Portfolio
  • Ballast Point Sale to Kings & Convicts
  • Little World Beverages Buy New Belgium
  • Anderson Valley Becomes Craftier?

The Year of Local (18:20)

  • 3 Breweries To Visit (At time of recording)
    • Contract Breweries All Completed
    • I did manage to finish despite Alchemy opening!
  • Geelong & Surrounds Overview
  • The Worst Brewery of the Year?
  • Thunder Road & Temple
  • Yarra Valley

Ranking of Lagers (36:20)
  • This week we had to slot in Cantina (El Salvador), Singha (Thailand) & Birra Moretti (Italy)
  • 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. Birra Moretti (Italy)
    9. Corona (Mexico)
    10. Heineken (Netherlands)
    11. San Miguel (Philippines)
    12. Cantina (El Salvador)
    13. Tusker (Kenya)
    14. Tiger (Singapore)
    15. Singha (Thailand)
    16. Red Stripe (Jamaica)
    17. Vonu (Fiji)
    18. Cusquena (Peru)
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're hoping to get a couple of special episodes out to you in the next few months, so stay tuned on the podcast feed for those. In the mean time I'm going to keep plugging away on The Year of Local posts, if there are any breweries you'd like to see prioritised let me know & I'll see what I can do!

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

Monday, 13 January 2020

KOOINDA BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Northern Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: Heidelberg - Temporarily Closed
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://www.kooinda.com.au/
Kooinda was started by a group of mates from a suburban garage in Heidelberg. They had a home made 400L which utilised the family pool to help cool the beer on the way to the fermenter. After years struggling to get licensed, they finally entered the market in 2008 as one of about 25 Victorian brewers at the time & the first residentially licensed brewery in the country.

Within two years the brewery had outgrown it's humble suburban beginings & relocated to an industrial warehouse in Heidelberg West. As the brewery grew the founders dropped off one by one, moving on to other projects some within the beer industry & some outside. By 2015 only one of the original founders, head brewer Mick Opie, was left!

Unlike most craft brewers, Kooinda have gone through a number of ownership changes. In 2014 the brewery was acquired by a group headed by Brian Hardie, a former BrewDog Operations Manager. They had plans to reinvigorate the brand, however by September 2016 they too had sold to another group.

That group made significant changes; with a major overhaul of the packaging the most externally obvious. They also made the decision to outsource the production of their core offerings to BrewPack in NSW, to hopefully eliminate the consistency issues that had plagued them in recent years. This allowed the brewing team in Heidelberg to focus on new recipe development.

In March 2019 Kooinda announced that their Heidelberg taproom would be closed indefinitely, but that the wholesale business would continue unabated. I'm not sure that's true, I've found it very hard to find their beers & I haven't been able to get a response from them despite attempting to contact them via a number of channels.

It took me until late-November but I finally found one of their beers! The Milk Porter was always one of my favourites of theirs & one of the few beers that didn't suffer from the re-brand. It's still a lovely Porter, with chocolate & lactose up front before some bitter roasted coffee notes take over. It finishes slightly creamy, leaving you wanting more. There's far less around than their used to be, but it's still a lovely beer.

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

ODYSSEY CRAFT BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Bellarine Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Brewed At: Cockies
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttp://odysseycraftbrewing.com.au/
Odyssey Craft Brewing Co, originally Odyssey Brewery & Tavern, launched way back in 2012 in Mount Duneed. It's a suburb about 15 to 20 minute drive South of Geelong. The brand was started by Grant Byrne, a Geelong local, who had dreamed about having his own brewpub for the best part of 15 years before biting the bullet.

His venue was revolutionary for the region, only Forrest Brewing Co being open in the region & that being the best part of an hour away. He knew he was onto a winner when he had local visit, initially disappointed by the lack of Carlton Draught, but after some samples ended up trying their first Imperial Stout later that evening!

Grant operated a small 200L brewery in a room behind the bar at The Odyssey Brewery & Tavern from 2013. They peaked on a national front when their flagship Calypso Pale Ale placed 61st in 2015 Hottest 100 Beers, which resulted in them beginning to package their beer. After being readily available for the best part of 2 years, the beers began to disappear.

This came to a head in June 2018 when Odyssey offloaded the venue to The Hop Inn after 6 and a half years. You're still able to find their beer at The Hop Inn, which is a realatively open wooden pub with a beachside feel, befitting the area. There's plenty of surfboards around & they apparently serve a mean burger!

It was at The Hop Inn that I came across my Odyssey beer for this post; their Apocalypso Double IPA. It's very much an old-school IPA with plenty of caramel malt sweetness upfront, almost to the point of being cloying, before some hop bitterness cuts through along with plenty of pine. It's a nice beer, but is somewhat of a relic from a bygone era - possibly something behind their fading in the eyes of the public.

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

*I've received an update that Odyssey are currently on a short hiatus - with plans to relaunch soon.

Friday, 3 January 2020

BALE-WORKER PROJECT BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 14-16 Station St, Moorabbin
  • Food: UberEats/Local Restaurants
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.bale-worker.com.au/
Most Melbourne craft enthusiasts would be aware of the Grape & Grain bottleshop in Moorabbin. It has become something of an institution since opening in 2013. Far fewer would be aware that the little bottleshop & bar also houses the Bale-Worker Project Brewery. I was slightly surprised to find out that the brewery and bottle shop are seperate entities, although I was vindicated when I was advised that they had previously been a single entity & possibly the first licensed brewery, bar & bottleshop in the country.

Currently the brewery is owned by Matt Askeland & Neil McIntyre. Their brewing area is one of the smallest in the state (at just 16sqm), probably second only to Buffalo Brewery located in a pub in Boorhaman in Northern Victoria. The brewery backs onto the bars coolroom & has windows that you can view it through from the bar area.

It's a two man operation which, despite the space limitations, is capable of producing up to 600L of beer a day. Currently the duo are focused on improving efficiencies & cutting down their waste as much as possible. They don't package their beer for this reasons & only sell their beer through Grape & Grain. They have no intentions of increasing their size until they've perfected limiting their environmental footprint.

When I was in the bottle shop one afternoon I noticed their Galaxy Pale Ale was on tap & thought it's now or never! Knowing the guys down there I was pretty surprised with how bad the beer I was served was. It's one of very few beers in this Challenge that I didn't even finish... It was an oxidized mess! There was some passionfruit sneaking through underneath, but the beer wasn't salvageable.  Hopefully this was a one off issue & not a true indication of what they usually put out...

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

REDDOT BREWHOUSE

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Western Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.reddotbrewhouse.co/
Ernest Ng was heavily ensconced in the construction industry in Singapore before falling in love with beer whilst on holidays in South Africa after being offered a home brew by two soldiers protecting wild life at Kruger National Park. Ernest had never heard of homebrewing before, but was encourage by the soldiers that it was easy and pointed him in the direction of a home brew store in Johannesburg - which would eventually provide the inspiration for the name of his commercial brewery.

That was 1997. Ernest spent the next 10 years teaching himself how to brew, before working through the complexities of opening a brewery in Singapore. Red Dot Brewhouse was opened in a reconditioned 100 year old military barracks in 2007. The business expanded rapidly with a second 300 seat brewpub opening in Singapore & demand for their beers from all around South East Asia.

So why are we talking about a Singaporean brewery in The Year of Local? Well, in 2015 Ernest & his daughter Crystalla Huang, a professionally trained brew master, decided to open a production brewery to meet their demand both at home & throughout South East Asia. After investigating potential sites in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia & China - they settled on a site in Truganina on Melbourne's western fringe after lobbying from the Victorian State Government.

Despite this lobbying almost 4 and a half years on from the first beers leaving the Truganina site, the originally proposed beer garden & tap room hasn't eventuated due to council issues. Their brewery is one of the larger ones in Victoria at almost 2,000sq/m and annual capacity exceeding 2 million litres.

Sauvignon Ale is the only beer of theirs that I've ever come across, so I guess that's what we're reviewing. It's a really unique beer, which has been fermented with both beer & wine yeast. The resulting product has a slight vinous character accompanied by plenty of grapefruit & other citrus notes on top of what seems like a pretty solid Pale Ale.

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

THE YEAR OF LOCAL UPDATE

2019: The Year of Local

Hi Guys,

Quick little post to update you all with what's happening with The Year of Local. I've received a number of emails afer the brewery writeups seemed to drastically slow down in late-October/early-November. I think I answered this on the podcast, but never actually put it up in text form so apologies for that!

Basically I realized that I wasn't going to be able to complete the writing component of the project within the calendar year, which was probably obvious to anyone who's ever read this blog before this year - self imposed deadlines aren't really my thing... I instead focused my energies on ensuring that I managed to get to every brewery & try at least one beer from every brewing entity in Victoria.

I'm very pleased to report that I was successful in this mission; despite the best efforts of Alchemy Brewing Co who opened to the public for the first time on December 27th! As mentioned in the previous post, by my count this makes 2019 tied for the most brewery openings with 2016. My final count at the end of 2019 is 176 brewing entities currently operating in Victoria.

Over the next few months I intend to try and knock off the remaining posts, before indexing it to make it far more user friendly. I have a few plans for the completed project so stay tuned... I will also be endeavouring to keep on top of new brewery openings & keep the database as up to date as possible. Before I go here I'd like to shout out to everyone who helped me with adding new breweries to the database, as well as all those who visited breweries with me in 2019. Special thanks is due to my darling Lizzie, Dylan, Dave & Roz without whom I literally couldn't have completed this project!

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