Weekend Reading #63

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.

Fortune | How an Obscure 500-Year-Old Law Still Controls the Global Beer Industry

It’s kinda interesting to think about what impact the Reinheitsgebot – the German beer purity law of 1516 – has had on the evolution of beer.

“It neutered and diminished creativity”

Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Brewery

Draft Magazine | Pairing beer with Thai food

I recently read a local “article” that had the click bait title of ‘Perth Night Noodle Markets: Ultimate Guide to Beer and Spice Pairings’. Now given it was focused on the Perth Night Noodle Markets I should have known there was a beer sponsor involved and therefore this article would feature them but that’s not even the bit that bothered me about the piece. It was so very lazy, that’s what bothered me.

Anyway, not long after I saw this article from Draft Magazine, a much improved read and some great pairings I’m keen to try myself!

Draft Magazine | Lithuania and its peculiar, little known farmhouse ales

Staying with Draft Magazine, I have said it once and I’ll say it again, I’m always fascinated by the beer culture outside Australia, the US and the UK. This was an intriguing history of beer in Lithuania and insight into old beers I’ve never heard of.

Sydney Morning Herald | Headaches as Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught droop after $12b Buy

Mainstream beer is in decline and has been for a while so this isn’t a surprise but it’s always interesting to get the snippets and a little insight into where the ‘big boys’ are investing and placing their beer bets – Lion Nathan with their ‘Beer: The Beautiful Truth Campaign’ and CUB with Great Northern and Fat Yak. The article talks about Great Northern tapping into its Queensland origins and so I can’t help but think, yet again, that it’s such a shame that the Matilda Bay brand has been seemingly left to die given it is soaked in authenticity, history and significance in the world of Australian craft beer.

Related Reading: Ale of a Time | Matilda Bay – a branding mess

All About Beer | Anheuser-Busch to Acquire Italy’s Birra del Borgo

A press release on the sale of Birra del Borgo to AB InBev as another craft brewery sells to the brewing giant.

5 minutes with Trey from the Karridale Hop Farm

5 minutes with Trey from Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm talking all things beer and hops!

[photo credit: Todd Edwards – Instagram @toddy_boy]

In February I went to visit Trey and his partner Olivia from Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm in Karridale, not far from Margaret River. I had an excellent morning hearing their story, learning about their hop farm and basking in the glow of a vibrant hop field on the brink of harvest.


Seriously, it was amazing.

You can read the article I wrote about Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm for Crafty Pint here.

As the couple put the farms first harvest behind them, a harvest that was beyond their hopes and saw them work closely with The Beer Farm and Gage Roads, I asked Trey if he wanted to answer a few more questions. The answer was a resounding yes!

Trey at Karridale Hop Farm
Karridale Hop Farm, February 2016: Inspecting Cascade Hops
How different was the craft beer scene in Australia when you arrived from the US?

When we first arrived we really had to search around and struggled to find craft beer. Mostly expensive and from Europe and the States, we found assistance from The International Beer Shop in West Leederville! Thankfully within a year, Little Creatures began brewing pale ale and the Australian craft beer scene has never looked back! Its gone from virtually no small local micro brewed beers to the awesome state that we find ourselves in today!

Karridale Hop Farm
Karridale Hop Farm, February 2016: Perle Hops
What was your epiphany beer, the one that made you fall in love with craft beer?

I remember my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, opened in my back yard by the pool when I was wagging class one afternoon in 1991! I drank half and left the other! This permanently impacted my taste buds! Beer epiphany… when I sampled my first collection of Anchor Steam Holiday Ale, 1991, ’92, ’93 and ’94, all when I was just learning to brew, these complex beasts changed beer for me!

You’re clearly passionate about beer, what made you decide to start a hop farm and not a brewery?

Hops are what set beer apart for me personally! Malt, yeast, both equally deserved, but hops are what take beer to perfect balance, and in some great examples way past the edge! I will always brew beer, hopefully well one day, but the chance to grow my favourite ingredient in a wonderful part of the world is a dream come true!

I would buy hop air fresheners if they existed!

Goldings Hops at Karridale Hop Farm
Karridale Hop Farm, February 2016: Goldings Hops
We often hear in Australia that we are 10 years behind the US, do you think this is accurate?

No, not exactly. I think, in regards to beer I do think the US relaunched craft beer for the world, including the UK, Europe and Australia. That said, after the general “catch-up” in the area of more bitter beers, with a focus on hop bitterness and floral finishes, Australia has begun to take things down a true Australian path. In my opinion, no one’s behind anyone at this stage in brewing, just different paths! Possibly the use of local ingredients is a similar path that we are in short supply of, not in the desire to use and celebrate!

Hop shortage is a hot topic, as a new farm does this concern you and how do you see the future of the hop farming industry in Australia?

Hop shortage is an interesting topic and one that won’t be fixed anytime soon! Worldwide, we brew more beer, utilising greater amounts of hops than ever before. Hop growing has not kept up the pace, simply put. I don’t think farmers like myself will have a massive impact on hop shortage, but definitely help support the push for local boutique ingredients which I love.

I do see HPA, or someone keen to get on the front foot here in Australia, increasing acreage on a large commercial scale. We have had such a positive result in southwest WA, that we are expanding our own acreage and varieties grown much quicker than expected and look forward to seeing where it takes us!


So what?

I think as beer lovers we should always be asking ourselves this question of “so what?”

I’ve had this idea in my head for a couple of months, though it’s not so much an idea but a question. That question is “so what?” and I switch from thinking it’s obvious ands are-you-seriously-going-to-write-a-whole-post-on-this to wondering if it might be the most important question in craft beer today.

I’ll try to explain myself.

As beer geeks we tend to get caught up in the wonderful stories and romance in our favourite brews and brewers, I know I certainly do. We cheer and whoop at the notion of something dry hopped, barrel aged, soured or all of the above; or a beer with Brettanomyces, some weird ingredient or new hop variety. Whilst there’s absolutely nothing wrong with such excitement I think it’s important to still ask yourself, “so what?”

Tone is probably important to note here too, please don’t read my question with a hint of teenage angst or foot stomping bratty child. A longer version of this question may be,

“Tell me why this is important …”

So what if a beer has been vigorously dry hopped? The reason it was dry hopped so intensely is much more important and relevant than the mere fact it was done. Did it contribute positively to the beer? Was the beer still balanced and drinkable? The answer to these questions needs to be ‘yes’.

Doing an exciting and/or new thing to a beer doesn’t guarantee that the beer is amazing. Every sour, every barrel-aged, every weird ingredient doesn’t give the beer an automatic big thumbs up.

I think as beer lovers we should always be asking ourselves this question of “so what?”

Great examples that come to my mind are Two Birds Taco and Brew Cult Acid Freaks. Both beers with strange additions, coriander & lime peel and balsamic vinegar respectively and each beer is a showcase of ingredients used to genuinely enhance the beer and create something stunning and unique. You can taste the harmony of flavours and see what the brewer was aiming for. On the other hand, and this is obviously just my opinion, Rogue’s Beard Beer – a beer from the United States that uses beard yeast – I didn’t get the same feelings about. Other than a passing curiosity, I couldn’t find a reason to really care about this beer. For me the “so what?” was just novelty and whilst that’s not a bad answer, most of the time I’m looking for more in my beers than novelty.

Recently I listened to an excellent episode the Good Beer Hunting podcast, episode 75 with Lauren from New Belgium and she talked about a situation with a yeast bank who had been visiting as number of breweries in US (this part is approximately half way through the episode).

“We’re going to identify all the species of sour bacteria and wild yeast,” Lauren was told.

“Ok. What for? What’s the point?” was her reply.

“So that you know.”

“But what am I going to do with that?”

Whilst she was interested in what the results might be Lauren thought it was unlikely to result in better beer. A great example, I thought, of the important question of “so what?”

Asking “so what?” might be a good way to remind us to ask “why”, to get more of the story behind a beer or a brewery or why they brew the way they do.

Thanks for hanging on this long, that has certainly been one of the more rambly posts I have done for a while!