Thursday, 30 July 2020

BROOKES BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Goldfields
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Inexpensive
  • Websitehttp://www.brookesbeer.com.au/
Doug Brookes & his partner Melissa Church opened the first major brewery in Bendigo for decades when they opened Brookes Brewery in July 2013. After spending the best part of 20 years working in the corporate world mostly in aviation. An avid homebrewer Doug decided it was time to give away the corporate lifestyle & engage in his passion.

The plan wasn't always to setup in Bendigo. Doug & Melissa spent a long time looking for suitable venues before stumbling across the old abattoir on Piper Rd, East Bendigo. Once they settled on Bendigo the couple moved to the area and began attempting to convert drinkers in a relative craft beer wasteland.

It's taken some time but they've made a really good fist of the task. They've helped a number of brewers in the region, & beyond, get a start in the industry by offering their spare tank capacity to anyone who wants to utilize it. In June 2019 it was announced that they'd bought 40 Acres Brewing, a brewing company that'd always brewed out of their facility, from founder Trevor Mitchell.

In mid-2019 the couple put the business up for sale as a going concern. They believe they've taken the brewery as far as they'd like to, producing about 100,000 litres of beer per annum & servicing the greater Bendigo region. They say the business is ripe for someone who wants to expand the brand throughout Victoria & possibly beyond. At time of writing they have not sold the business & are still operating it.

The brewery is located on the fringes of Bendigo in an old industrial estate. If you can imagine a large 70's food production facility with brewing equipment in it you've nailed Brookes. It isn't fitted out with a taproom, although they are open for takeaways only on Friday afternoons.

In honour of their aim to be the brewery for Bendigo, I've decided to review their Bendigo Draught. I was expecting a pretty bog average lager, appealling to the local macor lager drinkers. I was pleased to be wrong; there was a fair bit of malt accompanied by that distinctive grassy/earthy Pride bitterness.

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

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

ST ANDREWS BEACH BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Mornington Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: 160 Sandy Road, Fingal
  • Food: Burgers, Pizza, Snacks
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.standrewsbeachbrewery.com.au/
Fingal is one of the least likely places in Victoria to house an enormous micro brewery & hospitality venue. It's at the far end of the famous Mornington Peninsula wine region. The brewery opened its doors shortly before Christmas in 2017 to huge crowds which haven't left since!

Photo Credit: Design Addicts
St Andrews Beach Brewery sits on the site of the former Markdel stables. This was a famous horse racing training facility, one of the finest in the world, run by the Freedman family; its most famous alumni is of course triple Melbourne Cup winning mare Makybe Diva. The old racetrack has been converted to an apple & pear orchard, from which they hope to be producing cider in the coming years, as well as some hop bines!

Andrew Purchase is the man behind the brewery - having got the craft beer bug after investing in a French craft brewery, Heads Beach Brewing Company in Seignosse, years earlier. He's joined by Michael Freedman, one of the original owners of the site, Tommy Berry, a famous jockey, David Warner, the cricketer, Jack Dahan & Michael Wallace.

The real reason to visit is the venue! It's immediately obvious why so many investors were needed; it's stunning! You walk through impressive gate into an enormous beer garden. There's wooden tables and bench under matching umbrellas, but the real highlights are the converted old horse stableslining the sides of the beer garden that seat 10-16 people. There's lovely touches like the rust covered metal kangaroos (pictured above) as well as a rhino at the entrance.

The building at the end of the wide footpath that cuts through the middle of the beer garden is just as worthy of discussion. It's beautifully constructed with huge windows behind the bar showing off the stainless steel. The bar is very modern with polished concrete floors, high wood panelled ceilings & intricate lighting.

Their core range is solid, but leans towards the new craft converts. One of their "Barrier Specials" (limited releases) is the beer I'm going to discuss today. It's a Rye IPA & it's amazing! There's a heap of spicy rye, plenty of citrus from the hops & good bitterness. I was really disappointed to see this beer not make a jump to their core range; there just aren't enough good Rye IPAs out there!

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

HAWTHORN BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Brewed At: Tribe
  • Price: Inexpensive
  • Websitehttps://hawthornbrewing.com.au/
Hawthorn Brewing Co is one of the earlier entrants to the Victorian craft beer scene & certainly one of the earliest contract/gypsy brewers. Founded by Hamish Reed, Peter Willis & Darren Milo; 3 family friends who grew up in the Melbourne eastern suburb of Mooroolbark. When they launched in 2009, contract/gypsy brewing was a seriously divisive issue with many believing that owning your own stainless steel was key.

Their story is similar to many you've read in this series. Hamish homebrewed beer & brought it to BBQs, initially it "pretty bad" but over time it got "better & better". His mates, namely Peter & Darren, convinced him that they should try to sell it commercially.

In 2009 there was next to no second hand brewing gear in Australia & rather than splash out on new kit they went down the contract brewing route. Their beers were initially brewed at Mildura, before outgrowing the production capacity & moving to Southern Bay. My understanding is that their beers are currently brewed by Tribe in New South Wales, however I haven't been able to confirm that as Hawthorn haven't responded to me.

Their beers have been successful, winning numerous awards at the International Beer Challenge, including Supreme Champion Brewery in 2013. In early 2017 a controlling stake in the business was acquired by Dixon Hospitality Group. I'm not sure why they decided to upgrade their logo to the minimalist effort seen above, the old one had some character & I really liked "The Flavour Merchants"as a byline. I assume that was a DHG decision as at the time of the sale it was noted that they would be provided not only with additional capital but also marketing resources.

At the time of the takeover it was reiterated that the long term aim for the brand was still to have it's own venue one day. That has yet to materialize & I'm skeptical that it ever will. Although in saying that, if they end up with a brewpub type facility in Hawthorn, possibly at the current Beer Deluxe site, I'm sure it would do well - as there aren't any other breweries nearby.

I'm reviewing their Stand Up Pilsner, which I believe is the same Pilsner as before their rebrand. It's a really solid Pils, with good spicy hop character on a pretty simple malt bill. It's exactly what you want in a Pilsner, although the new packaging is horrible!

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

Monday, 27 July 2020

DEEDS BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 4 Paran Place, Glen Iris
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Expensive
  • Websitehttps://www.deedsbrewing.com.au/
Pat Alé & Dave Milsten have known each other for years. Like many university friends the two dreamed of starting a brewery, whilst both were studying engineering back in 2003. Soon reality struck & they realized they probably didn't have the financial clout at that time to do it justice.

Their first foray into the industry was founding the distribution business Red Island, they had their hits & misses but struck it big being the Australian distributor of Rekorderlig Cider when it blew up. The dream was still to open a brewery & they entered the industry as Quiet Deeds Brewing via the gypsy-contract route in 2012; finding any available tank space they could & having other people brew their beer. They sold the distribution rights for Rekorderlig to Coca-Cola Amatil the following year to focus on Quiet Deeds full time.

In the early years they were the embodiment of gypsy brewing at the time; highly inconsistent. One batch would be fantastic, the next very meh. Thankfully they realized this & their efforts focused on finding a permanent spot of their own. They eventually settled on Paran Place, Glen Iris; the only industrially zoned area in the whole of Stonnington Council, which they secured in early 2016 for a reported $9m.

They assumed that they would have their brewery & taproom up relatively soon thereafter; how wrong they were! After submitting plans to council in July 2016 for a brewery & taproom; they were hit with numerous rejections. A permit was eventually granted in January 2018 for just the brewery. Another separate application was lodged almost immediately, that has finally been approved in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic (June 2020).

Obviously there is no venue to report on at this stage, with Deeds hoping to open their brewery to the public in late-2020 (pending further restrictions in Melbourne). I'm sure I'll be there not long after opening, imbibing their wonderful range of hop forward beers & pastry stouts, & will ensure to update this post accordingly!


I desperately wanted to review Kapurkova, their Czech Pilsner (it's brilliant if you're not a podcast listener), but I knew it had to be a something hop driven given their pedigree. Survivor Type, their occassionally released Triple NEIPA, is where I'm going. It's 10.5% ABV, packs 40 IBU's, has a 31g/L dry hop of Galaxy & Motueka & drinks like a 5% Hazy Pale; until you stand up!

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

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

LITTLE CREATURES BREWING - GEELONG

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Bellarine Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: 221 Swanston Street, Geelong
  • Food: Gourmet Pub/Pizza
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://littlecreatures.com.au/
There will be some who say Little Creatures doesn't belong in a wrap up of the Victorian craft beer scene. I'm here to say that it categorically does. Little Creatures is probably the greatest success story in Australian craft beer. Being based in Fremantle they were always faced with logistical issues around ensuring their beer arrived on the more populous east coast in great condition.

Little Creatures have always put quality first, it's one of the main reasons they've succeeded in this hypercompetitive industry. Instead of taking the easy route, they decided to invest in a second brewery in Victoria's second biggest city; Geelong, to supply the ever growing demand for their beers on the east coast.

For those of you who don't know the backstory, Little Creatures was founded by Howard Cearns, Nic Trimboli & Phil Sexton in 2000 through their business Little World Beverages. The trio had all worked together at Matilda Bay before it was sold to CUB. They started their brewery in an old crocodile farm in Fremantle, pioneered the American Pale Ale in Australia & quickly built a strong brand. In 2012 they took the decision to sell the brewery to Lion (owned by Kirin).

At this time plans were already afoot to open a brewery on the east coast. with the purchase of the Geelong location taking place in 2011. With the increased capital backing from Lion, the brewery was opened in 2013, at an estimated cost of $60m, & launched with a beer that would have a signifcant impact on the Australian beer market: Furphy. A beer brewed with 100% Victorian ingredients & sporting the states iconic Big V.

The Geelong brewery is housed in the old woolsheds in South Geelong (pictured above). It's a fantastic old set of buildings & has been developing into quite the complex in recent years. The site holds Furphy Hall, the White Rabbit Barrel Room & Little Creatures Canteen. The LC Canteen is a very Little Creatures space. Exposed warehouse ceiling, lots of wood, mismatched brightly coloured chairs & a bar in a shipping container. My favourite place to sit is in the beer garden before you enter the canteen, between two huge brick warehouses with the misting fans going in Summer.

Fastforward to 2020 & the brewery (along with the original Fremantle site) has been accreditted as carbon neutral. The Geelong brewery is covered in solar panels, which currently produce about 25% of the brewery's energy needs/ The Little Creatures team have ambitious plans to further reduce their carbon footprint by 2025, by relying on 100% renewable energy for their electricity needs. Little World Beverages has also gone onto bigger things, completing a takeover of American craft bohemoth New Belgium in 2019.


The Little Creatures story doesn't end with Geelong, the brewery now has outposts in the London, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco & Auckland (& probably others that I'm missing!). It'll be interesting where the Little Creatures train rolls into next!

We all knew this beer had to be Furphy Refreshing Ale! It gets a bad rap in craft circles that it doesn't deserve. Losely based on a Kolsch, the beer has delicate biscuity malts with some fruity hops laid over the top. The hops aren't there to blow your socks off, simply to add moderate bitterness to the beer. It's well constructed & a great beer to have if you don't want to think about what you're drinking.

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

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

THE MILL BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 40 Sackville Street, Collingwood
  • Food: Pizza
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.themillbrewery.com.au/
The Mill Brewery was opened by Mirek Aldridge in March 2017, after 6 months of hard work turning an old warehouse into a fully functional brewery. Quickly it established itself as a local secret in Collingwood. Until the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and the accompanying mad rush of canned beers, the beers were very rarely found outside the walls of the old mechanics shop on Sackville Street with the odd packaged release from time to time.

The story starts about 10 years before the events that saw The Mill come to fruition. He had his epiphany moment at Little Creatures in Fremantle, enjoying their iconic Pale Ale with his brother. This led him down the slippery slope of homebrewing, which after 5 years looking for the perfect site eventually culminated in his completion of the journey to pro-brewer.

Having started with a 70L homebrew kit, the transition to 600L kit wasn't as daunting as it would be for some. Mirek's processes have remained the same, testing recipes on his homebrew kit before scaling them up for commercial release. His brewery is tucked away at the back of the warehouse, passed the long bar, featuring 9 taps, made out of a solid piece of red gum.

There's more beautiful red gum throughout the building; red gum tables line the painted brick walls, complete with stools reminiscent of the old Corona mill Mirek started out homebrewing with which lends its name to the brewery. There's some couches around a fireplace, something that strangely doesn't feel out of place in an old industrial building, you'll also find a table tennis table, some barrels, plenty of outdoor seating & plants hanging from every imaginable place.

Since their inception the brewery has operated with a variety of foodtrucks parked out the front. Over time this turned into their own pizza caravan. During the first COVID-19 shutdown, they've brought the kitchen inside which is something I'll be very keen to check out when I'm next able to visit.

The resurgence of malty lagers in the past 18 months has to be one of the best things to happen to craft beer in recent years. The wonderfully named Marzen Scoresese is one such beer & the focus of my attention. It has lovely toasty malt flavours, with the slightest hint of smoke on the backend. Thinking about this beer has me pining for normality, as it's the perfect beer to sit on all afternoon at the brewery with friends.

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

VALHALLA BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Bellarine Peninsula
  • Brewed At: Salt
  • Tasting Room: 12-14 Union St, Geelong
  • Food: Jaffles
  • Price: Slightly Pricey
  • Websitehttps://www.valhallabrewing.com.au/
Valhalla Brewing is a gypsy brewing operation based in Torquay, on the surf coast. Scott Hunt had been homebrewing for 25 years & decided to take the plunge into the commercial side of things after hearing Jamie Roydhouse of Cockies Beer do a talk at the Odyssey Tavern about how he got started in the industry.

Unlike Jamie, Scott decided to go down the gypsy brewing route rather than investing in stainless steel. They were one of the first in Australia to embrace crowdfunding; resulting in 45 people backing their Obsidian Black Ale to the tune of $5,000 in March 2016. With the first beer a resounding success after selling out in 5 weeks the team returned to the crowd funding route to launch their second core range beer Aragon IPA,

Fastforward a couple of years to December 2018, which saw the arrival of the Valhalla Brewing Taproom. Scott & his wife Angela Tydd reprised their idea of 16 years earlier, only interrupted by the arrival of their daughter, by opening a bar! After struggling to find a suitable place in their home town of Torquay, their search turned to Geelong where they found a new build on Union Street, a quiet laneway that wouldn't look out of place in Melbourne.

It's a comfortable space that really knows what it wants to be. The couple describe it as having a “cruisy, retro vibe like walking into someone’s loungeroom in the 70s but without the kitsch”. Music plays a big role in the identity of the taproom, with vinyl nights, metal nights & pictures of artists adorning the skull wallpapered walls.

As you walk in there are some brown leather sofas, which really relax you into the space. The bar is on the right hand side towards the back with high backed stools around the bar as well as tables for 6-8 people with the same stools towards the back. There's 8 taps, featuring four of their own beers on the day we visited, alongside other local beers - whilst there is a moderate selection for takeaway.

Despite my love of Black IPAs, I've never tried Obsidian! It's something I'm going to rectify shortly... In the meantime I'm reviewing Freyja Moon; their Passionfruit IPA loaded with Galaxy, Riwaka & Simcoe. As you'd expect it is loaded with passionfruit upfront, as the beer warms a little you get a little malt sweetness coming through. It's a really enjoyable beer!

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

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 18

Episode 18 - Show Notes 

Melbourne is back, in COVID-19 lockdown, & so is the Beer O'Clock Australia Podcast. Hopefully the podcast brings you more joy than lockdown... Hope everyone out there is coping with the constantly evolving situation we all find ourselves in. We've got a bumper episode for you all this week!

If this is your first time listening to a Beer O'Clock Australia podcast, welcome! We change the segments up a little each month, however most months 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 there was a heap of news to get through, highlighted (lowlighted?) by the recent mainstream coverage of Blackhearts & Sparrows decision to stop stopping Colonial Brewing beers because of the connotations of the name. We feature our first ever interview on the podcast, with Dan Taranto from The Otter's Promise talking about the impact of COVID-19 on his business. We also managed to slot a Ukrainian lager into the Ranking of Lagers as well as discussing Range Brewing at length. Hope you all enjoy!


 Show Notes

News Items (2:00)
  • Colonial Brewing dropped by Blackhearts & Sparrows fallout
  • White Brick Brewing & Byron Bay Brewing's venue close
  • Marmite supplies in the UK struggling due to shortage of used Brewers Yeast
  • Lion cyber security issues
  • Distillers struggling after shifting to hand sanitizer production
  • GABS dates moved again
  • Deeds Taproom finally approved!
  • The Tasting Paddle (22:23)
    • Cantillon Australia Drop
    • Catchment Brewing hit Worst Beer Blog
    • Tired Hands brewing their take on Furphy & S&W Pacific Ale
    • QLD launch their TAFE brewing course
    • Funk Estate rescued from administration
    • Dollar Bill sign up to Black is Beautiful
    • Broo placed in ASX trading halt again!
    • Canadian barley soaring in China after Australia/China tariff kerfuffle
    • New hop varieties link (here)
What We're Drinking (29:54)
  • Blackhearts x Stomping Ground Bramble On
    • Blackberries, Raspberries & Silvanberries
  • Stomping Ground New Releases
    • Resinator, Hatchpot, Upside Down
  • Mr Banks Feels Series
    • Citra, Idaho, Mosaic
  • Mr Banks Lager Life
  • Bentspoke Flemm
  • Modus Operandi Hazy Series
  • Garage Project x Trillium Sunrise Valley
  • Bridge Road Jimmy's Bake Shop
  • Mountain Goat Hazy Pale
Interview (51:11)
Ranking of Lagers (1:09:30)
  • This month we add Lvivske from Ukraine
  • The largest brewery in Europe being in Ukraine is one of many fascinating facts about Ukrainian beer that gets discussed in this segment
  • 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. Lvivske (Ukraine)
    8. Sapporo (Japan)
    9. Birra Moretti (Italy)
    10. Corona (Mexico)
    11. Steinlager (New Zealand)
    12. Heineken (Netherlands)
    13. San Miguel (Philippines)
    14. Cantina (El Salvador)
    15. Stella Artois (Belgium)
    16. Tusker (Kenya)
    17. Budweiser (USA)
    18. Skopsko (North Macedonia)
    19. Tiger (Singapore)
    20. Karlovacko (Croatia)
    21. Singha (Thailand)
    22. Red Stripe (Jamaica)
    23. Bintang (Indonesia)
    24. Vonu (Fiji)
    25. Cusquena (Peru)
Brewery Deep Dive (1:19:07)
  • Range Brewing
  • The biggest hype brewery in the country at the moment
  • Limited releases only
  • Based in Brisbane, opening a taproom in Abbotsford
  • Call Your Friends 2.0, Mustard, In the Evening, Little to the Left, Wait, What?
Noz's Cellar (1:30:40)
  • Petrus Cherry Chocolate Nitro Quad
  • 8.5% ABV
  • It's as dumb as it sounds!
So there we have it guys, thanks for sticking around if you've got this far. As we said in the ep, if you're able to like/comment/subscribe to our podcast on your app of choice that would be greatly appreciated as it lets more people find the show. We'd love your feedback on our interview with Dan as well as if ther is anyone else you'd like us to try and get on the show. We're hoping to touch base with a few more people from different parts of the industry to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on them. As usual; angus@beeroclockaustralia.com or dylan@beeroclockaustralia.com if you have any feedback, comments or questions. Until next time...

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

Thursday, 9 July 2020

BREWMANITY BEER CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Brewed At: Colonial
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.brewmanity.com.au/
David Neitz is best known as the longest serving captain & player of the Melbourne Football Club. Since retiring from the AFL in 2008, "Neita" has spent years working in and around sport in Stakeholder Relations. In 2015 he started Brewmanity Beer Co, a move that was initially seen, somewhat cynically, as a sportsman trying to capitalise on a growing segment.

A dig further into the people behind the brand & the reasons behind it shows that to be anything but. Alongside Neitz are experienced beer people in Jaime Fox, a key figure in early Matilda Bay & later at CUB, Michael Jontef, whose brewing career at CUB dates back to the early 1970's, & Paul Hopgood, who has been in hospitality since the 1990's.

The catalyst for Brewmanity was the diagnosis of Neitz's long time coach, Neale Daniher, with motor neurone disease (MND). They donate a small amount from each beer they sell towards MND research & have donated over $150,000 since they were founded in 2015. They've also managed to donate almost 60,000 days of fresh water to communities around the world that don't have access to it regularly.

Brewmanity have dreams of one day opening their own facility in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. For the time being their content brewing their beers on the lovely system at Colonial in Port Melbourne, with Michael keeping a watchful eye over proceedings.

I had to review Social Beast, the beer that indirectly references MND - the disease that Neale Daniher refers to as The Beast. It's a really well constructed beer, showcaing the tropical notes from Aussie hops Ella & Vic Secret on a light biscuity malt background. It's the sort of beer you could happily sink pints of watching some sport, all with the added bonus of supporting some great causes.

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

Monday, 6 July 2020

NOBLE BOY BEER

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Gypsy
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Brewed At: Craft & Co
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.nobleboy.com/home/
This is another reminder to brewing companies (all companies, really) to only have social media/emails if you intend on using them. This is going to be a relatively brief one, but the show must go on if we're to finish this in 2020... Noble Boy was launched in March 2017 after a conversation between mates that many people reading this will have had; "let's start a brewery". Normally in the clear light of day, that conversation is forgotten or labelled a silly drunken idea. 

This particular conversation took place in the front bar at Fitzroy's iconic Napier Hotel & involved it's eccentric publican, Guy Lawson. Joining Guy were current & former AFL footballers Ben Stratton, Joe Daniher & Sam Grimley, as well as Vedran Sabic who was in the middle of completing his Bachelor of Business at RMIT where he happened to be majoring in Entrepreneurship.

Vedran's connections proved useful, a fellow student at RMIT who he mentioned the idea to happened to have parents running a "successful brewery in country Victoria". This helped them find a brewer who was happy to work on a recipe for them on the side. I haven't been able to confirm details on either of these, but I have my suspicions.

To date there is only one beer available from Noble Boy. It's a Pale Ale & the brief given to the brewer was to get it to sit somewhere between Stone & Wood Pacific Ale & Balter XPA. The beer became the Napier's house beer, for wont of a better term. It's popularity soon saw it expand around Fitzroy & neighboring suburbs before making the transition to cans & national distribution through Dan Murphy's.

With the days ticking down to find one I reverted to the one place I knew always had the beer on tap; the Napier Hotel. The beer meets the brief, but leans closer to the Stone & Wood end. There's a fair bit of wheat in the grist, passionfruit (I assume Galaxy) is the main hop characteristic & it's there but not overpowering. It's a really easy drinking beer, but not particularly exciting.

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

Sunday, 5 July 2020

ALCHEMY BREWING COMPANY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 396 Lygon Street, Brunswick
  • Food: Toasties
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://alchemybrewing.co/
The very last brewery to open in Victoria in 2019 was Brunswick's Alchemy Brewing Company. Owners Pim Muter & Samuel Percy picked up the keys to the old Cleg's fabric store on January 1 2019 & spent the entire year converting it into their stunning brewpub. In welcome news for them, but unwelcome news for someone attempting to visit every brewery in a calendar year, they managed to open their doors on December 27th.

The duo have known eachother for the best part of a decade. Their stories are polar opposites, ones is a story that has been repeated a number of times throughout this project, whilst the other is from a path less trodden.

Pim, a veteran of the specialty coffee industry, spent some time living in Amsterdam in his early 20's & was appalled by the price of Australian beer upon his return. Naturally, he popped straight out, bought a Coopers home brew kit & began honing his craft. Samuel Percy's story is not quite as stereotypical. He has a background in carpentry before turning his hand to the fitness industry, setting up North Walls Indoor Climbing in Brunswick.

Walking into Alchemy is an experience. Firstly there are far more plants than you find in most breweries. It's also very open, light and minimalist. It's a massive change from the old grafitti covered warehouse that stood in it's place less than a year before! The floor to ceiling front window, which can fully open, provides great light, as does an addition to the sawtooth warehouse which allows a stream of light to reach the back of the brewery.

It's quite a cool space. There's polished concrete floors, wooden tables, metal stools with leather seat covers. Although it's only a new addition to the area it already feels like something of a locals hangout. You'd almost forget it's a brewery, if not for the 500L brew kit tucked away in the back corner hidden from the street by the bar.

I arrived at Melbourne's newest brewery, mid-afternoon on their first day of trading, somewhat under the weather after a rather large day at the MCG the previous day. I was only able to pop in briefly so settled on their Pilsner. Despite the name I'd easily have this sitting in Helles Lager territory, with sweetish grains & moderate grassy bitterness. It's quite well brewed as have been the beers I've had on a couple of subsequent visits. They're one to keep an eye on.

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

Thursday, 2 July 2020

RED HILL BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Mornington Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: 88 Shoreham Rd, Red Hill South
  • Food: "Beer Friendly Food"
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.redhillbrewery.com.au/
Red Hill Brewery is one of the bastions of the Victorian craft beer scene. It was founded way back in 2005 by husband & wife team Dave & Karen Golding. At the time it was the first brewery on the Mornington Peninsula. The brewery is best known for their focus on English & Belgian style ales, styles which have fallen out of favour with the wider craft beer drinking community in recent years.

Dave & Karen set up the brewery after quitting their jobs in the city & moving down to the picturesque Mornington Peninsula. It's a wine growing region & although there is a burgeoning craft scene there now, they were the pioneers. Their passion for beer & the styles they brew was born after spending a few years in the UK, travelling all over the country as well as venturing into continental Europe.

After starting a family there was a period of about 2 years where the brewery taproom was closed, except for special events. The couple thought that the proximity of the house to the brewery & the accompanying people constantly coming and going wasn't a great mix with young kids. After managing to move off site in 2014, the brewery taproom reopened albeit with reduced hours. The house the Golding's used to inhabit is now available to rent through the brewery's website.

2018 saw a much talked about rebrand, as well as the introduction to the packaged range of some hop forward beers, previously tap only offerings. In an effort to appeal to the modern craft drinker & play into the beach lifestryle, they made the decision to package the beers in cans. At least anecdotally it's worked; I've seen far more talk about Red Hill in the two years since. The afficiando's have always been Red Hill fans; their Imperial Stout, Temptation (a Belgian Strong Golden), Harvest ESB (wet hopped with their own hops) & Scotch Ale made sure of that!

If my memory serves me correctly, visiting Red Hill is the first time I'd seen hops up close. They're quite a different sight from the rows upon rows of vines around the brewery, nestled in the hilly terrain of the wine region. The brewery itself is housed in an old wooden artists studio. There's limited some seating inside, however there's a wonderful verandah out the back, as well as some nooks & crannies to sit & enjoy the lovely country air.

The website says that they're currently rejigging their menu & plan to relaunch with a new menu in Spring, (hopefully) post-COVID. I've enjoyed burgers through full South American BBQ there in the past, all of which has been excellent, so I would expect nothing less when their new menu launches.

Red Hill was a brewery that I couldn't get enough of in my early craft days. It made choosing a beer for this post next to impossible. In the end I couldn't go passed a vintage Imperial Stout (complete with old label for those interested). It's a luscious Imperial Stout, starting off with chocolate & dark fruit before roast and bitterness strike on the backend. It's a beer I make sure I always have in the cellar; one of the true most try beers in Australian crafft beer.

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