Weekend Reading #30

This week features articles on Little Creatures Pale Ale and asking has it really changed or not, a beer geek science article on yeast and bacteria and a short case for wine glasses

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

It’s been a rather crazy busy week in my day job plus it’s been muggy and hot all week, this has resulted in me being in a constant state of sweat, craving sleep and my partner and I getting our ‘indoor camping’ on by sleeping in the lounge room to be under the air conditioning. This has also meant a heck of a lot less writing which I think makes me a very bad blogger for this week. Fortunately I have still been reading so here’s Weekend Reading #30 for your beery reading pleasure …

Australian Brews News | Little Creatures – Change for the Better

As far as Little Creatures is concerned I am happy to admit to some bias. I worked for the company for a couple of years as a sales rep and I genuinely enjoyed my job. I loved the beers, the people and its history and the weird little facts like that the site was previous a crocodile park, something I remember as a terrified child, and that the Pale Ale was actually called ‘Live’ when it was first released, so named in tribute to the yeast. Anyway, you get it, I like Little Creatures so when they were bought by Lion Nathan and I read the backlash on Facebook I couldn’t help but take a little offense.

I liked this article because it’s exactly how I remember the brewery and Russ, the head brewer. When I worked there, when it was independently owned, the brewers did their weekly tastings, they adjusted the brews when their new shipment of hop flowers arrived (that was a cool day at the brewery!).

Have a read of this article for yourself, even take in the comments if you wish.

I think there is a lot to be said for someone’s palate changing more than a beer and for the increased exposure of things. When you first had an olive it may have tasted like the biggest flavour you ever had, now you might eat them by the bowl full. At the same time, you’re really liking olives now so you’re trying different types of olives, marinated in different flavours and stuffed with feta or pickled. There’s so much flavour now, they’re all different, it doesn’t mean the plain black olive changed.

Larsblog | What is it that ferments lambic?

Unleash your inner beer geek with this article that I have bookmarked because I need to read it another forty times to really take it in. It tells of a study looking at the yeast and bacteria in play at Cantillon in one of their lambics. We’re talking graphs, science and two new types of bacteria. Oh yeah baby, this is one sexy article.

In all seriousness, it’s a fantastic read and I can’t wait to read it again.

“It’s no surprise that lambic is complex in flavour given the ragbag army of microorganisms that go on the rampage in the fermenting wort

Draft Magazine | The case for drinking big beers out of wine glasses

I have yet to convert to complete beer geekery with a full range of proper beer glasses at home, it’s more out of laziness than non-believing. I am pretty happy with our wine, tall & straight and tulip glass options for our home beer drinking needs. Besides, we don’t drink much wine at home anyway!



Weekend Reading #29

Articles and blog posts I’ve enjoyed this week including a brewer’s perspective on keg etiquette, a retailer’s reasoning for not stocking Garage Project and a few words on excise from The West Australian

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

Platinum Liquor | Why I Don’t Stock …

A friend put me on to this blog post and whilst I don’t particularly agree with what is said, it is still an interesting read from a retailer who I’ve interpreted as opinionated, unapologetic and a lover of beer. The blog is essentially an explanation for not stocking beers from New Zealand brewery Garage Project, which if for some reason you have no intention of reading the blog post, is basically due to a dislike for the beers and the marketing.

I think I find it interesting to read because my personal style of beer writing leans much more towards the unicorns, rainbows and smiles perception of things rather than brash opinion.

There is also a blog post before the ‘Why I don’t stock …’ which is the other side of his retail coin, ‘Why I Stock …’

The West Australian | Excise Taxes Brewers’ Strength

I think Ross puts it well,

“but excise remains the devil”

Craft beer lovers talk about the fight with the ‘big brewers’ and whilst it’s certainly valid it’s also possibly their strength that would assist the whole beer industry to fight the bigger war on excise. I’m no expert on excise, in fact anything with numbers might as well be written in Latin, but if there is one thing about our industry that brewers would change I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t list “excise” as priority one.

I once asked Alex Poulsen, former Cheeky Monkey brewer turned Hippocampus distiller, how he’d explain excise to your average Joe-drinker. Here’s what he said,

“I’d take a $100 note and set it on fire”

The Independent | It’s London’s First Ever ‘Beer Week’, with Cheap Craft Beer at 100 Pubs

My first thought was ‘London’s FIRST ever beer week’?!?! Surely that can’t be right. My second thought was ‘oh man, that’s a great idea!’ The idea is a wristband that gets you into participating pubs and breweries in the city for things like tours, tastings and discounted beers. A simple idea that encourages trial and that’s what we need, I think, to bring more people into the craft beer loving world. It’s not all about expensive rare beers or such gigantic flavours that you’ll never taste anything again, there’s a lot of sessionable, tasty and locally made beers around to ensure you’ll never go back to bland.

Anyway, a short and nice read about London’s rising craft beer scene.

Luke’s Beer | The Problem with Craft Beer

Luke isn’t your average beer blogger, he’s also a brewer at New Zealand’s Epic Brewery. If you’ve not read his blog before I would be bookmarking www.luke.co.nz now.

Anyway, this post highlights a disconnect between brewer and bar – a situation where a hoppy beer, which should be enjoyed as fresh as possible, was being tapped at bar months past its ideal serving period. Don’t worry, you won’t be reading an angry rant, instead Luke presents the situation, how he dealt with it, what he learnt from it and what the consequences are of this kind of beer keg hoarding/mismanagement.

Imagine ordering your meal at a restaurant only to find that instead of it being served to you straight after the chef had plated it, it had sat under the heat lamp for an hour first. It’s the same with beers sent with love from brewery to bar, the brewer wouldn’t send it if it wasn’t in the best drinking condition.



South West Craft Beer Festival 2015

I didn’t see any roses or any heart shaped boxes filled with chocolates on Valentine’s Day this year and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Instead I was at the South West Craft Beer Festival!

I didn’t see any roses or any heart shaped boxes filled with chocolates on Valentine’s Day this year and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Instead I spent the years most socially pressured romantic day of the year drinking great locally produced beers in the company of the fabulous personalities who brew it and sell it. Trust me, there was no lacking in love at this years South West Craft Beer Festival which was held last weekend.

Old Broadwater Farm in Busselton is a gorgeous setting for a beer festival, plenty of open space and shady trees and though it’s near the highway you’d never know it.

South West Craft Beer Festival

It was nice to look around the festival, people watching of course, and seeing some familiar faces from Perth, plenty of south west locals and beer-festival-regulars.

I was asked to be part of the Critic’s Choice voting panel again this year to determine the best beer of the festival. Along with Vic (The West Australian), Daniel (Nail Brewing), Jono (What’s Mashing WA blog), Steve (Boilertronics, trophy sponsor), Jason (event organiser) and Brian (West Australian Brewers Association President) I was in pretty damn good company to taste some great beers. We were taken to each brewery tent to sample one beer of their choosing, at the end we had three votes each and then results were:

1st: Bush Shack Brewery Milk Stout – all judges agreed this was a beautiful drop

2nd & 3rd (equal): Colonial Chief Pontiac IPA and Eagle Bay Summer Ale

Highlights and Sneak Peeks from the day:

Colonial Brewing Co.

Colonial’s IPA on Tour series continues with the last of their Chief Pontiac, an American style IPA, floating around and the release of their New Zealand IPA – Lil NIPA hot on its heels. This was the first beer I tried for the day and it was beautiful. The aroma wasn’t as big as I had expected but the flavours were great, bold and well rounded.

Colonial Brewing at SW Craft Beer Festival

Colonial Brewing’s line up of beers for the day

Eagle Bay Brewing Co.

Over a plastic cup of the Eagle Bay Summer Ale, the current Brewer’s Series release of which there’s only about 800L still around, I chatted with retail and marketing manager Margi and found out that, as always, there’s a lot happening at the brewery.

Three brewers are now working hard to bring Eagle Bay beers to thirsty hands with the addition of Shannon (ex-Duckstein) to the brewing team towards the end of last year.

The ESB has been recently released in bottles and soon Eagle Bay’s Vienna Lager will get the same treatment which will mean their full core range will be available in bottles. Margi hopes to see Vienna bottles on shelves by March.

The next Brewer’s Series, their limited release, is almost ready and Eagle Bay fans will rejoice knowing it will be their much loved Black IPA. Keep your eyes on the Eagle Bay Facebook or Twitter page for details on the launch.

Eagle Bay Summer Ale

Eagle Bay Summer Ale

Margaret River Ale Co. / Settlers Tavern

Since I was driving I was restricted in the number of beers I could sample but I did get to try Margaret River Ale Co’s Pale Ale. It’s their best selling beer at the tavern and given its sessionability it’s easy to see why.

Getting briefly distracted from the topic of beer, it was hard not to notice the impressive Yoder smokers they had wheeled down for the day. Fully imported from Kansas to satisfy a desire for real American BBQ, owner and operator of Margaret River Ale Co & Settlers Tavern Rob was proud to handed out finely sliced brisket to all the judges and it was hard not to dive in for more.

Rob - Owner/Operator Margaret River Ale Co and Settlers Tavern

Rob, owner and operator Settlers Tavern & Margaret River Ale Co, at their Yoder Smoker

Cheeky Monkey Brewery

The latest Southern Wailer, Cheeky Monkey’s limited release series, was a sell out at the festival. The ESB – Extra Special Belgian – is an extra special bitter using the same Belgian yeast as their Hagenback Belgian IPA. The result is a delicious twist on a traditional English bitter which clearly many agreed on because the keg was empty by 4pm.

Cheeky Monkey Extra Special Belgian

Cheeky Monkey’s Southern Wailer ESB: Extra Special Belgian

Young Henry’s

The newest brewery to the south west, Young Henry’s is making an impact. The smiling faces at their tent were contagious was locals discovered YH beers for the first time whilst proud ‘sparkies’ who have been working on the ‘beer farm’ enjoyed the beer they’ve had a little part in helping get from brewery to hands. I got to chatting with Chloe, brewer and all round great gal, about how it has all been going and she was overwhelmingly positive.

Young Henry's

Young Henry’s Natural Lager

Chloe – Young Henry’s brewer on Twitter

Replicating the Real Ale was her first big challenge, aside from getting the brewery up and running of course, to bring the same brew loved in Sydney to the south west. She is keen to show off the beer farm and is hosting the WA International Women’s Brew Day at her brewery on Sunday 8 March for any women in the beer industry who would like to get involved.

Bush Shack Brewery

Anyone who has been to Bush Shack knows the name is more than a name, it’s an accurate description of the brewing facilities owner and brewer Danial Wind works with. Different to his neighbouring breweries Danial brews what some may label as “novelty” but their Milk Stout should be in the list for any self respecting beer geek to actively seek out. I remembered this beer from last year and it tasted gorgeous then too, even though the sun was out this lush, chocolatey beer went down a treat. So much so that the myself and the other judges all voted it in our top three beers for the day, the result being Bush Shack’s Milk Stout took home the trophy for Critic’s Choice beer for the festival.

It also has to be said that despite the busy day the Bush Shack staff were washing and rinsing everyone’s glass, that’s pretty damn good I reckon.

Bush Shack Brewery

Danial, owner and brewer Bush Shack Brewery, pours Milk Stouts for the judges

Another great festival and it seems to keep getting better each year (except more toilet paper in the girls toilets please!) and makes me pretty happy to see so many great breweries serving up fresh local beers. Big thanks to event organisers Buzz Marketing for inviting me along and asking me to participate in the judging panel. See you next year!

Weekend Reading #28

I love lounging in bed on weekends and catching up on all my favourite beery reading. From blogs to articles from the American craft beer scene and the best local beer news, there’s excellent reading material out there so every Friday I’m posting a list of the articles and blogs that have excited me.

Craft Beer | Craft Needs a Definition

By now you might be sick of reading about this particular topic, the debate on the meaning of the word “craft” but perhaps you’re like me and enjoy reading the different views on this single word.

“Quibbling about terminology in an effort to destroy the efforts of small and independent brewers is a no-win proposition for every brewing company and every beer drinker.”

SommBeer | It’s OK to Enjoy Popular Beers

“I like your old stuff better than your new stuff,” sung Regurgitator and it whilst it is a feeling that is common in music it’s creeping into beer too. Being purchased by a “big brewery” or getting distribution in a national liquor store chain can spell t-h-e-e-n-d for a craft beer love affair.

Modern Times Beer | Read This Before Drinking Neverwhere

Although I am not likely to get to try this beer called “Neverwhere”, this is a nice quick read about the magic that is Brettanomyces and it’s pretty cool to read the workings of a beer and the thought process behind it’s creation.


girl + Holgate

Hosted by GrainCru and held at The Precinct, Meet the Man Behind the Bull showcased 8 Holgate beers with brewer/owner Paul Holgate

The food at The Precinct has always left with me a full stomach and a big smile so when I saw there was a beer event featuring Holgate Brewery I was eager to get my grubby hands on a couple of virtual tickets.

“Meet the Man Behind the Bull” was hosted by GrainCru (aka Cellarbrations Carlisle) and Grape & Grain Distributors and held at The Precinct on Thursday night. Over a delicious grazing dinner we sampled eight great beers, including Holgate special reserves, and got to chat with brewer/owner Paul Holgate.

Paul Holgate - Holgate Brewing

Holgate Brewery is about an hour out of Melbourne and they’ve been kicking around the craft beer scene since 1999. Like many of our fine Australian brewers Paul started off home brewing. On a trip to the United States with his wife Natasha in 1997 they saw many craft brewers opening up, “they were ordinary guys having a go,” Paul had observed and the idea that he and Natasha could do the same didn’t seem so crazy. Together they start the brewery in 1999, also have their first child, and continue their day jobs for a couple of years. Today their brewery is also a pub and accommodation and yes, the day jobs are long gone!

From the start of the evening Paul’s passion was very clear, particularly when it comes to their authenticity. All beers are brewed onsite in Woodend Victoria, all bottling and kegging is all done there too. “We make it ourselves” stands clear on the brewery website and Paul is steadfast on that statement.

The dinner kicked off with Holgate’s best selling beer, the Mt Macedon Pale Ale, named after the Mt Macedon mountain peak that sits in the brewery’s scenery.

Holgate Mt Macedon Pale Ale

Holgate Mt Macedon Pale Ale and The Precinct’s Lemon Pepper & Rosemary Popcorn

It’s the 3rd beer they ever released and brewed with US hops and dry hopped with three varieties. Due to the seasonal nature and availability of hops Paul may tweak the recipe here and there where needed. This was my first time tasting the beer and it’s easy to see why it’s the most popular – full flavoured but nothing confronting, I got a delicate blend of peach, pineapple and citrus that could be easily enjoyed by the pint-ful.

Next up we had the Roadtrip American IPA, the beer is a tribute Paul and Natasha’s family holiday to the United States in 2009, 10 years after they first opened the brewery. At dinner Paul recounted the agreement they had set with their kids, be good whilst mum and dad check out all these breweries and we’ll take you to Disneyland after.

They went to Disneyland.

A note on the popcorn – it’s earth shatteringly good, eating any other popcorn will forever suck.

Holgate Roadtrip IPA

Holgate Roadtrip IPA and Whitebait with Beer Aioli

Continuing down the path of hops we had the Hopinator, an American Double IPA. Not nearly as bitter as I would have predicted given it’s 80 IBU declaration on the label. I loved the sweet caramel and toffee malt characters that supported fresh bright hops. The beer uses American Chinook, Centennial and Citra together with Australian Topaz.

Around here some more food came out – a pig’s head terrine that was dark chocolate in colour, served with crostini and a smear of tangy mustard. The terrine was rich and flavoursome and the mustard provided a great contrast. Highly recommend this dish at your next Precinct visit.

Pig's Head Terrine at The Precinct

Pigs Head Terrine, Capers, Parsley, Crostini and Mustard

More on the White Ale here at Crafty Pint

Moving from hops to yeast, the fourth beer was the White Ale. Originally one of the first beers Holgate brewed it has since returned as a limited release and gone through a couple of recipe tweaks. The bottle we had was from a batch to celebrate the brewery’s 15th birthday. Made with coriander seeds and fresh organic grapefruit, it’s one of the better wheat beers going around and perfect for providing some cut through on those meatballs and highlighting the coriander salsa.

Holgate White Ale & Precinct Food

More amazing Precinct food – Triple Cooked Potatoes and Green Pepper Meatballs with Tomato Sugo and Coriander Salsa

From here we started down a far darker path with Holgate’s Temptress. This is the first beer I had ever tried from the Holgate range a couple of years ago and it made a lasting impression on me. It’s a chocolate porter that is silky smooth and beautiful. It’s made with Dutch Cocoa and whole vanilla bean.

This was followed by a beer from Holgate’s Special Reserve list, Double Trouble – a Belgian-style Dubbel Abbey Ale brewed with Belgian candi sugar.

Holgate Double Trouble

Check out The Precinct’s full menu here

Mains were served up here too – Black Angus Sirloin and seasonal mushrooms with truffle oil. The meat was perfectly cooked and the mushrooms bursting with aromas of truffle oil.

The Double Trouble is suitably named as it falls into that category of “dangerously drinkable” given it’s 8% ABV and disappears from your glass quicker than you may like to admit. I got a hit of liquorice on the nose and the flavour follows with chocolate, red berries, coffee and a dusty rounded finish.

Next up from Holgate’s Special Reserve list was the Empress, the big sister of Temptress, an Imperial Mocha Porter weighing in at 10% ABV. Brewing Empress begins just like her little sister with vanilla bean and Dutch Cocoa, the big difference between the two is the addition of coffee. They add what Paul described as a “cold coffee tea” and this brings out the rich fruity coffee flavours rather than the astringency. However they do it, the result is something to savour, sip and share.

Holgate Special Reserve Beers

Mane Liquor: 237 Great Eastern Highway, Belmont

The final beer for the night was a doozy, a word I don’t think I have ever used in the written format, and I even went and bought a bottle from Mane Liquor the next day. Holgate Beelzebub’s Jewels, another special reserve beer and apparently the name means “devil’s nuts”, is an oak-aged Belgian-style quadruple. That sort of style makes beer geeks weak at the knees and then to try it, to taste it and love it, well it’s a pretty wonderful kind of thing. Non-beer drinkers should also give this sort of beer a taste, it would be beautiful sipped on with a chocolate dessert or a cheese board. The bottle we shared was from 2013 and it’s oak aged in pinot noir barrels. I loved the nose of sultana, port and spice and I could easily spend a whole night just sipping on this beer.

Holgate Beelzebub's Jewels 2013

Throughout the dinner we got to pick Paul’s brain about his beers, his approach to brewing and his brewery. I also got to chat with him about general craft beer things like contract brewing, in which he believes there needs to be greater transparency and I wholeheartedly agree, and where beer trends get momentum.

On the brewery front Holgate have established a barrel aging program so I am excited to see what beers come as a result. Like many brewers Paul and his brewers at Holgate seem to be guided by the simple goal of brewing beers they would like to drink themselves. It appears I have the same tastes in beers so I think I’ll be watching Holgate a lot more closely from now on!

Holgate BeersThe full line up of Holgate beers sampled on the night

This was a really good night of beer, chat and fantastic food. Huge thanks to Paul, Joel & Adam at Cellarbrations Carlisle, Dan, Josh and the chefs at The Precinct and everyone else involved in such a top night.

Like Cellarbrations Carlisle/GrainCru on Facebook to stay up to date with future beer events like this one!

Also be sure to like The Precinct on Facebook and follow them on Instagram and Twitter


Hottest 100 2014

As I get older I find my interest in Triple J’s Hottest 100 fading away; I put this down to the fact that as I am pulled kicking and screaming into my mid-thirties I now say things like “I don’t get this song” about new music and “f**k yeah!” when I hear stuff that was released when I was in my teens/early twenties.

On the flipside, The Local Taphouse Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers is increasingly of interest to me. The all Australian beer countdown is hosted by Melbourne venue The Local Taphouse, with support from Australian Brews News & Crafty Pint, and counts down our countries favourite beers from 100 to 1 on Australia Day.

See the full list of 100 beers here

Some feel as though the countdown is a bit boring what with Feral Hop Hog and Stone & Wood Pacific Ale taking out 1st and 2nd position in 2012 and 2013. Incidentally they did it again for 2014 and whilst many predicted this result for the third year running, a pretty impressive achievement even if it’s a bit repetitious, there is a lot that isn’t at all predictable from 3rd to 100th.

Excellent infographic of the 2014 results here

Here is what I noticed from the countdown –

Little Creatures

When Little Creatures was bought by Lion Nathan in 2012 there was some talk of a falling out between craft beer drinkers and LC Pale, the prediction of the end of a great love affair. Yet in this poll by aforementioned craft beer drinkers Little Creatures Pale was voted –

2012 – Little Creatures Pale Ale #3

2013 – Little Creatures Pale Ale #3

2014 – Little Creatures Pale Ale #4

I thought this year may have seen a bigger drop in Fremantle’s favourite brew but it held strong. To think this beer was #1 when the poll first started in 2008 and eight years later it continues to poll in the top 5 is fairly remarkable.

Little Creatures at Gourmet Escape 2012

On a side note Little Creatures Bright Ale jumped up 29 positions to #51. That’s huge! I have no idea what would cause this jump, I know personally I have had an on/off relationship with Bright. When it first came out I loved it, dare I say it, it was my favourite LC beer. Then I went off it, I found it too lolly sweet and now, probably in the last twelve months, I have actually enjoyed a few pint bottles of it.

Another great analysis of results can be found here at Crafty Pint

Mash Copy Cat

I genuinely wasn’t sure where this beer would poll, trying to weigh up the accolades both beer and brewery collected in 2014 with the fact that it’s a WA beer in a poll generally dominated by VIC . I think to debut at #16 is pretty impressive, equal to the impressive nature of the beer itself I reckon.

How WA Breweries Performed

Feral took the most positions with six beers in the poll followed by four beers from Little Creatures and three from Nail Brewing.

Feral Beers


Tasting Paddle at Feral Brewing

How I voted

I was happy to see that three of the five beers I voted for made it into the list –

#33 – Feral Watermelon Warhead

#66 – Nail – Red Ale

#70 – La Sirene – Wild Saison

My Votes - Hottest 100 Beers 2014

How I voted

Whilst I knew Cheeky Monkey was an unlikely show in the poll since their distribution isn’t much greater than WA, I was still eager to vote for it because it was such a stupidly delicious beer.

GABS 2015 will be in May hitting Melbourne and Sydney, check out the website for more info.

GABS Beers

The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular aka GABS is one of the best beer events on the Australian calendar and part of the festival involves ‘GABS Beers’, beers brewed specially for the festival. The result of a brief like this is more than 100 totally unique beers to make your Untappd check in’s skyrocket.

La Sirene’s Praline scored the highest of the GABS beers at #5 and I am super stoked I bought one from Mane Liquor when I saw it. It’s also one of the few beers I didn’t try when I was at GABS last year.

GABS Booklet 2014

See? No scratchy notes = I didn’t try La Sirene Praline at GABS 2014

Another good read can be found here at Beer is Your Friend where Glen gives his thoughts on the countdown.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Two Birds Taco place at #13, not bad considering it was a GABS beer in 2013 before being made available in bottles in about April 2014. Clearly the bottled beer was an equal success and probably able to reach more hands than at GABS because it climbed 12 places from 2013.


If you like beer, whatever beer, get in and vote next year!

Did anything stand out to you about the poll? Any surprises? Did all your beers get into the countdown?