Weekend Reading #56

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.


Draft Mag | Making Sense of the Reinheitsgebot

In April it will be 500 years since the famous Reinheitsgebot aka Germany Purity Law came into effect. This is a fantastic read to get the facts of what this law is, how and why it came about (for pricing, not for great beer) and what it really means.

The Age | Ray’s Rant: What Happened to the Good, Old Fashioned Aussie Lager?

I don’t think this article is any good so you might be wondering what it’s doing here. It is troubling to me that an article like this makes it into the mainstream press.

I understand that it’s an opinion piece more than anything but it lacks a lot of research and the strange almost patriotic language, some could be Alf Stewart quotes, is at odds with the articles conclusion of five beers he recommends which are all owned by foreign companies. It’s also interesting to note that one of the beers has been discontinued, not sure when but I think it has been some time.

Perhaps the first article I have listed would have been good for Ray to discover the premium imported lagers he enjoys are not held accountable to the Reinheitsgebot.

“Bring back the taste of Australia,” he remarks. I don’t believe for a second that Australia can be encapsulated in just the ice cold lagers that have continued to decline year after year as this and many other articles and research tells us. What happened to the good, old fashioned Aussie lager, you ask? The same thing as instant coffee and sliced white bread, the market grew and a growing number of consumers are looking for something more.

Oh and this article wouldn’t be complete with a reference “bearded hipsters” though this time it’s aimed at the brewers not the craft beer drinkers. Please don’t make name brewers just in WA who are not bearded. Whilst I’m not listing things, if Ray would like a list of Australian lagers please refer to James Smith’s book 150 Great Australian Beers, pages 34-48 – the lager section.

Gage Roads | Meet the Team: Aaron Heary

A great interview with Gage’s long time brewer Aaron and when you read about his home brews you’ll get super thirsty! The photography in this interview is also lovely.

 

Hottest 100: It’s Fun, Honestly

I really enjoyed the post Beer Is Your Friend wrote on the Hottest 100 beers, I felt said everything I had wanted to say but evidently I have more to add.

Originally I wasn’t going to write a post on the Hottest 100 but ultimately couldn’t help myself.

I really enjoyed this blog post from Beer Is Your Friend that I felt said everything I had wanted to say. Evidently I had more to add.


Fun. You remember ‘fun’, right? I strongly associate fun with my love of craft beer but sometimes, like during the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll, I feel like fun gets overshadowed by snobbery.

I watched social media rant and look down on each and every vote that got James Squire 150 Lashes Pale Ale into the top 10, five Little Creatures beers into the list and Matilda Bay Fat Yak at thirsty-something.

Results here if you’ve not seen yet

Now, I’m not saying I don’t get worked up about things when it comes to beer. I have been known to voice my annoyance when I am at a venue that clearly doesn’t give a damn about their beer list or when a brewery lists its opening hours incorrectly. But I get annoyed, I move on, everything is alright.

What really bothers me is beer snobbery and it was in every negative comment I read about the poll. The negativity could have only been louder had there been an emoji of a child stamping their foot.

To the casual observer it probably seemed like craft beer isn’t much fun and those who drink it are beer snobs who will judge you for what beer is in your hand. If you have gotten this impression I want you to know that this is not true.

Beer snobs are out there, there’s no denying it, but I believe they are not the majority. Just like every lawyer isn’t a scumbag and every bartender isn’t a hipster male with a beard.

The Hottest 100 is a bit of fun, a way to bring people together with beer as the social glue. It celebrates the diversity of beer and the brilliant brewers who make them.

I don’t take the list to say that Feral Hop Hog must be slipping in quality because they dropped a place to number two and Stone & Wood must be the greatest brewers in the country with their Pacific Ale going up to number one. The list doesn’t mean that Little Creatures are better brewers than Boatrocker.

I think the list is more like a pulse check of beer in Australia, a snapshot of what beers are consistently loved, what styles are getting attention, what breweries are making noise. Every year it shows that more and more people are interested in the beer they are drinking with the increase in votes, it shows that the standard of beer in Australia is improving with some beers consistently placing in the list year after year. It shows me that the beer scene in this country is getting better and better.

If you ever wanted a list of beers you should try, this poll is a great place to start. They’re all Australian, they are all brewed by passionate and talented brewers, you’ll like some, you won’t like others, but the idea is to have fun trying!


PS: I really enjoy the hottest 100, I had a lot of fun jumping on social media and making some noise about the WA beers that made it on the list. Congratulations to all you wonderful brewers making beautiful beer!

 

 

 

 

Weekend Reading #55

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.


The Guardian | Russia’s craft beer revolution: ‘The last time people stood in line for beer was in the Soviet Union’

A little insight into the vodka loving country of Russia where the craft beer revolution is, from the sounds of it, in it’s early days. It also seems like their liquor licensing laws are far more liberal than ours!

The Sip | Lion turns off Tap King beer

I don’t think this will be news to anyone. The Tap King seemed about a complete overhaul of the way we drink beer at home so it was a bold move that was always going to be really tough to sell, even if you did have a funny ad with Lionel Ritchie.

Malay Mail Online | Skål! Here’s the best craft beer in Scandinavia

Admitted this is a list with a lot of beers that we can’t get here in WA, maybes with a couple of exceptions, but it’s still interesting to see what other countries are doing with their beers.

Gold Coast Bulletin | Now is time for Gold Coast craft beer brewers but venues haven’t caught up

Sometimes you forget how big Australia is and that the craft beer scene in one city isn’t the same as another. Here in WA the industry is maturing and more and more venues are getting on board with craft beer, putting more thought into what is going on their taps and in their fridges. It’s a trend you’d like to see stop being a ‘trend’ and start being ‘the norm’.

First We Fest | How craft beer fails its female fan base

I’ve read articles like this a number of times but it doesn’t make this one any less true, in fact it’s spot on and the opening statistics on women drinking craft beer are, at least to me, a pleasant surprise.

Ultimately, the last thing I want is for beer to be marketed to me, or at least a girly version of me that some beer marketers think I am. I don’t want a beer ad reminiscent of the old Diet Coke hunk TV commercials featuring some hot guy, shirtless and sweaty. I want to hear the story behind the beer, tell me about the brewery, why you started it and what sort of beers you like to brew. What’s unique/different/interesting about your beers? That’s the stuff I want to know.

The Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers

Alright, folks. It’s that time of year again and as always I have left my voting to the last minute. I am, of course, talking about the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beer poll

Alright, folks. It’s that time of year again and as always I have left my voting to the last minute.

I am, of course, talking about the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beer poll.

Finding out what the most loved Australian beers of year has been is always fun, always brings some kind of debate and, generally ends with Feral Hop Hog taking out number one position. If they repeat this, who cares? Well a lot of people probably, but it doesn’t mean the poll isn’t any less interesting or fun. Don’t forget folks, beer is about the fun!

So,  here’s what I voted for and, as always, it didn’t take hours for me to put this list together, it’s a list of beers I have loved and would recommend any beer lover to seek out (if able to, of course).

    1. Nail Red Ale – love this beer and love that I work for Nail now. Damn right I’m voting for this gorgeous beer.
    2. Pirate Life IIPA – crazy great beer, epic 500ml can and beautiful branding.
    3. Boatrocker Orange Sherbet – I’m so in love with Boatrocker and this beer is perfect.
    4. Colonial Small Ale – the reduced alcohol beer that still tastes great and all inside a super fun can. Seriously, I love the POP it makes!
    5. Feral War Hog – Wow. A beer that slaps you around a bit but damn if it isn’t one of the finest beers to come out of Feral.

If I could fit more, well Monk R2D8 would be in there for sure. As would Boatrocker Banshee and Eagle Bay Citrus IPA. Damn it’s hard to fill just five spots.

Voting closes at 11.59pm AEST TODAY (Monday 18th January) so get voting now if you haven’t already!

 

 

 

Weekend Reading #54

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.


Munchies | Why it’s so hard to start a craft brewery in Mexico

This article is written by a guy who started a craft brewery in Mexico more than five years ago, it’s pretty interesting to read and a good reminder that there is a craft beer world outside of home, the US and the UK – something I tend to forget when I’m reading my usual sites and blogs.

Australian Financial Review | Big Beer’s curious plan to sell to consumers who mistrust them

Though the buying of small brewers by big brewers isn’t really news these days, this article interested me from a marketing point of view. Perception and cut through are pretty hard tasks in the beer world these days – new breweries are opening constantly, the multinationals are branching out and introducing new brands and the true craft breweries are trying to shout out to a market that’s saturated by status updates, tweets and hashtags 24/7.

The Guardian | Has Camden Town Brewery ruined craft beer for everyone?

Once you get past the overly dramatic headline it is actually a good read. Sparked by the purchase of London’s Camden Town Brewery by mega corporation AB InBev, the article proposes the idea of international growth and how much we, as consumers, would actually really want that. Growth and availability are the two biggest flags waved when it comes to big buying small but perhaps it’s not a great thing.

ABC News | Crafty change for Australia’s beer tastes as small brewers grow lager by the day

For one, I’m not sure if the title is or is not a typo. All opinions on this welcome.

Two, though this article isn’t really surprising – craft beer is growing, it’s not just a fad etc – the statistics are interesting.

Ale of a Time | Matilda Bay – A Branding Mess (update)

Whilst I don’t count myself as a loyal James Squire drinker, you have to admire their branding and execution, they have done a pretty good job in my opinion. Then you look at Matilda Bay and you have to wonder what’s going on. Good thing Luke at Ale of a Time has put words to paper because it’s a great summary of that moment where you shake your head and don’t understand how a once strong beer brand got so lost.

Australian Brews News | Court to hear ‘Pacific Ale’ dispute

So it looks like the battle for ‘pacific ale’ between Stone & Wood and Thunder Road will head to court.

Beer of the Moment – Oude Quetsche Tilquin á L’Ancienne

Beer of the Moment – the beers that have been amazing, incredible and absolutely should be ‘must try’ beers on your list. In short, beers that I have LOVED …

Tilquin

Due to my poor set up of my blog, my ‘Beer of the Moment’ section was always written over and replaced so I’ve fixed that now and perhaps I’ll try to update this more than once a year!

Here’s the last post I did on this heading –

[December 2014]

On a stinking hot day or when you just feel like being refreshed it is hard to go past something a little on the tart side. Hello Oude Quetsche Tilquin á L’Ancienne for it’s perfectly refreshing, gorgeous complexity and stunning appearance.

Oude Quetsche Tilquin á L’Ancienne comes from the Gueuzerie Tilquin brewery in Belgium, it is a blend of one and two year old lambics and is spontaneously fermented with purple plums.

The result is nothing short of amazing, holding a glass of it always leaves me thinking about that Tim Tam commercial where the girl wishes for a never ending pack of Tim Tams. I’d love my glass of Quetsche Tilquin to do the same.

Aromas of plum, apricot, pear and funk. The flavour is slightly tart, nothing too confronting with dried fruitiness and rounded acidity.

Seriously stunning.

Quetsche Tilquin

Weekend Reading #53

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading

For those lazy weekend mornings when you just want to stay in bed and catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.

Illawarra Mercury | Making a beer with a “rock star” American brewer

Sam Calagione of well known US brewery Dogfish Head was recently in Australia. I have mentioned Calagione recently as I’ve been watching his YouTube series “That’s odd, let’s drink it” so I was pretty envious of being in the wrong part of the country when he visited.

Martyn Cornell’s Zythophile | AB InBev acquires Camden Town: Least surprising news in the history of beer

This caught my attention because I had read a few things, a couple of comments, that were along the same lines, that the sale of Camden Town to AB InBev wasn’t difficult to predict.

Maybe it is because I’m not that close to the UK beer scene, I read a little but certainly not lots. I have met Jasper, founder of Camden Town, on a couple of occasions and also interviewed him the last time he was in Perth. Based on that alone, I actually was surprised to read about the sale.

BrewDog Blog | Nailing our colours to the mother fucking mast

A blog post from the guys at BrewDog following the whole Camden Town Brewery sale, unsurprisingly they are against it and any other craft brewery selling part or whole to a big corporate. What is really interesting is their breakdown of what’s happened to breweries like Lagunitas, Nøgne Ø, Goose Island and Ballast Point who have been bought out part or whole.

Crafty Pint | The Big Issue: Quality

Maybe it’s time for us to stop wondering if the word “craft” is relevant in our industry and make “quality” the more important word, the defining feature that sets the good beer from the bad. Here Crafty interviews a range of beer professionals and asks questions around what is quality, why it’s important and what can be done to make it better.

Love Berliner Weisse

When temperatures are close to 40, it’s when I love Berliner Weisse beers even more …

“I’m melting, pass the Berliner Weisse!” this was basically the motto of the day in our house on the Monday after Christmas as Perth sweated and complained it’s way through a few 38+ degree days.

Like any sane and sensible humans we stayed inside for most of it, cranked the air conditioner and did lots of sitting around. We also indulged in a little “it’s the holidays!” justified Monday drinking and cracked open a few beers.

When the temperature persistently hovers around the 40 degree mark it’s hard to find a more refreshing beer than a Berliner Weisse. It’s the delicate sourness, the relatively low alcohol content and the zingy mouth feel that ticks all the right boxes.


A little information about Berliner Weisse …
It’s German, or more accurately it has origins in Berlin and it falls under appellation d’origine controllee meaning you can’t say your beer is a Berliner Weiss unless it’s from Berlin. Yup, that’s a law and that’s why frequently you’ll see the word “style” slotted in to the beer name.
It’s sour, not super dooper sour but certainly sour. It gets like this from using lactobacillus that, like yeast, eats sugar but instead of producing CO2 and alcohol like our yeast buddies, lactobacillus will produce lactic acid and therefore the lovely sourness!
It’s a wheat beer. At the heart of this refreshing sour brew is a wheat beer. Percentages of wheat tend to vary, one article I read said as low as 25% and a couple of others said 50%. The remaining malt is usually pilsner malt.
Fun Note: In 1809 when Napoleon and his troops entered Berlin and drank some Berliner Weisse beers they apparently enjoyed them so much they referred to the beer as the “champagne of the North”
Low Booze: Usually 2.8-3.8 percent ABV.
IBU: 3-6, though sour or tart, the beer isn’t bitter.
Cellaring: Debateable. I came across a few forums and the topic caused a good bit of debate and, from time to time, some name calling.
Read: CraftBeer.com style guide for Berliner-style Weisse
Read: German Beer Institute – Berliner Weisse

Buxton Brewery | Far Skyline

This was the first beer we had, it was recommended by Rich at Mane Liquor and if Rich recommends a beer, you should definitely listen because this was a cracker.

It bucks tradition a little with a higher ABV of 4.9 percent and it’s also dry hopped, a departure for a beer style that’s normally without any hop character.

There’s a light tartness, some lime and the zesty yet soft mouth feel you’d expect from this style. The dry hopping adds subtle and simply lovely stone fruit flavours.

Buxton Far Skyline

Boatrocker Brewing | Orange Sherbet

Back closer to home is this one from Melbourne’s Boatrocker Brewing. Again there’s some differences with this one, for one it’s been aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces (a wild yeast strain).

I wrote no tasting notes at all on this one, I was too busy sipping away happily but it doesn’t disappoint if you like the sound of the label. It’s bright and zingy like sherbet, there’s a lot of orange happening and hints other citrus friends along the way.

Boatrocker Orange Sherbet

Boatrocker’s Orange Sherbet isn’t their first Berliner Weisse and judging from their dedicated barrel room it won’t be the last. If you see any releases from these guys be sure to grab some.

Read more about Boatrocker Brewery, their barrel room and beers at here.

Though Berliner Weisse beers can be hard to find, there are a couple of local ones kicking around –

Feral Watermelon Warhead

Feral Watermelon WarheadThis only makes it out of the brew pub occasionally so you’re best bet is to head to the Swan Valley, grab it at the source otherwise keep an eye out for it at craftier beer bars like Petition, DTC and Bob’s Bar.

Watermelon Warhead is a Berliner Weisse brewed with fresh Swan Valley watermelon which also spends a little time in chardonnay barrels.

Mash Brewing Wizz Fizz

This one comes from 3 Ravens / Mash brewer Brendan O’Sullivan whose passion for sours is second to none. Wizz Fizz is not only a great Berliner Weisse but it’s also the base for a series of Berliner Weisse beers of which we’ve seen Purple Stain, Granny’s Apples and Cola Nick.

Read more about these beers here and here.

Mash Purple Stain

Wizz Fizz is intended to be a regular brew so this should be the easier of the bunch to find, there has been two versions released now. I went along to WA Beer Week’s Sour Power event at Mane Liquor in November where Brendan presented a few of his beers including the second version of Wizz Fizz. He said he had tweaked a couple of things from the first Wiz Fizz, using Vienna malt instead of pilsner malt, using 100% lactobacillus for primary fermentation and he also added some Brettanomyces* (a wild strain of yeast) after the first fermentation. Also, just to keep clouding the topic of cellaring Berliner Weisse beers, I’ll add in here that Brendan mentioned this beer in particular had cellaring potential to keep evolving.

*Read more about Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces etc at this great article on Draft Magazine – Yeast and Bacteria 101: Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces and Pediococcus

More Reading …

Paste Magazine – Tasting and Ranking 11 of the Best American Berliner Weisse

All About Beer – Stylistically Speaking: Berliner Weisse

Sour Beer Blog – Ask Dr. Lambic: Brewing a Berliner Weisse