Falling out of love with big bottles of beer

I used to love the big bottles of beer but recently they’ve just lost their appeal …

When I started to tumble down the rabbit hole of the wonderful world of craft beer I was drawn to big American hoppy beers, beers with crazy or weird ingredients or the really boozy ones, anything limited release or special and anything that came in big 750ml bottles.

Years later, things are a bit different, besides the fact I’m older and don’t bounce back from hangovers as well as I did when I was in my twenties.

Goodbye big bottles of beer …

I’m not putting a ban on 750ml bottles from my life, I’ve got about ten in the fridge right now and that’s half the problem.

The main reason, and I do realise how indulgent this sounds, is that I have so many of the damn things.

They’re in my fridge just taking up space and most of them I can’t even remember when I bought them. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few have been in there for almost a year.

They are on such slow rotation out of the fridge for two reasons –

  1. The beer inside is usually something pretty big and bold; and
  2. You have to find the right occasion to open one.

More often than not, the beers in the 750ml bottles are either of the imperial, barrel aged, wild fermented or sour variety or frequently a combination of two or more of these; weird additional ingredient optional. In short they’re usually not very subtle beers and so sessionability goes out the window along with the chances that they get opened on any given evening.

I am very aware this is a first world problem; sub-category: first world beer geek problem but I am going to keep writing anyway.

Logically I know 750ml is less than one and a half pints and on any given day I’d be happy to have a pint and half of beer but usually it’s not some 10 percent palate wrecker beast of a beer. When I am looking for a thirst quenching beer after work I don’t reach for a 750ml bottle of barley aged Barleywine. A little more thought to occasion and company goes into opening the big bottles, you know, the “right” occasion.

What is the “right” occasion?

With one special, limited release bottle of beer I had it was months after I finally opened it but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. On a handful of occasions I went to open it but time and time again it didn’t happen, sometimes it was because my fellow drinkers weren’t really into it or because we had all enjoyed maybe a few too many drinks already. In the end, instead of opening it for a particular occasion my partner and I shared it on an ordinary Tuesday evening, for no reason at all other than enjoying the beer, and it was fantastic.

Saving a beer for a special occasion also puts a lot of expectation on that beer, something it may not be able to live up to regardless of whether the expectations were reasonable or not.

An exception to all of my above feelings is the ‘bottle share’ – gathering mates and all the big bottles you’ve got to share with everyone. After realising the unreasonable oversupply of 750ml bottles of various Russian Imperial Stouts in our fridge, last year a few friends came over to our house for a Russian Imperial Stout bottle share and it was a sensational night with an exceptionally awful hangover the next day.

I love finding big beers in smaller formats like 330ml bottles or cans, like Feral Boris – a Russian Imperial Stout – or Boatrocker Ramjet – a  whisky barrel aged imperial stout. It makes it significantly more appealing to me to buy because it doesn’t require a small army to drink it and I can buy a few bottles and enjoy over the course of a few nights.

Of course many 750ml bottles are limited release beers so on some occasions I feel compelling to buy them, but only some occasions. Coming soon on the blog, why I’m not hunting down every limited release beer.

 

 

 

 

 

WA Beer News #9

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festival … WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the beery news that our state has to offer.

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festival … WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the beery news that our state has to offer.

The girl+beer Facebook page has a list of upcoming beer events that you might find worth subscribing to!

NEW RELEASES

Eagle Bay : Single Series – Rye Session IPA

  • Limited Release
  • Only available on tap

Hot on the heels of their Citrus IPA, Eagle Bay will release another Single Series – a Rye Session IPA next week.

Single Series means just one 1,000 litre batch, so about 20 kegs, were made meaning it probably won’t last long! Keep an eye on their social media accounts for where it ends up!

Tasting notes from the brewery –

“Enjoy citrusy aromas with juicy notes of lemon rind and passion fruit, paired with a biscuity and spicy malt base. Well rounded and firm bitterness to finish”

Find this beer at –

Innate Brewers : Private Idaho IIPA

  • Limited Release
  • Only available on tap
  • Single hop beer

Private Idaho is named after the hop variety they’ve used in this imperial IPA called Idaho 7. The hop comes form the US and is relatively new, hitting the commercial scene in 2015 and known for herbal qualities as well as pine and stone fruit characteristics.

Being imperial it’s a boozy beer – 8.5 percent – and is pouring at –

 

Bootleg Brewing : Imperial Raging Bull

  • Limited Release
  • Available on tap and 330ml bottles
  • Aged for 6 months in Cabernet barrels

We all know by now that when we see the word “imperial” it’s going to be a pretty big beer. Well for this one Bootleg take their already strong dark beer Raging Bull and let it spent half a year in cabernet barrels. The result is a 9.1% beer made for sipping.

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Photo taken from Bootleg Brewing’s Facebook page

 

The Beer Farm : Naked IPA

  • Limited Release
  • Only available on tap
  • Beer changes seasonally

This beer uses four hop varieties – Cascade, Perle, Chinook and Flinders – sourced from local growers Karridale Cottages & Hop Farm, less than an hours drive from the brewery.

The beer released under the Naked IPA series will always change, the brewery created their own hashtag on Instagram #notwoIPAsthesame and describe this one as a “resinous, roasty, dark IPA”

Trey at Karridale Hop Farm
Trey from Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm inspecting Cascade hops

 

Mash Brewing : Sarcasm

  • Only available on tap
  • Limited Release

Give it’s popularity when it’s released, it’s unsurprising and delightful to see the Sarcasm imperial IPA get another re-release. Called Sarcasm because of its hilarious “session IPA” tag and 9.5 percent alcohol content, it will be hitting retailers as of Monday.

Boston Brewing : Afterglose

  • Available on tap and cans
  • Limited Release

Previously only available on tap, Denmark’s Boston Brewing has now released this beer in their newly designed cans. It’s a raspberry gose and it’s sensational, I do love this style and this a great example – delicate, zesty, refreshing and well balanced, everything a gose beer should be I reckon!

 

 

 

WA Beer News #8

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festival … WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the beery news that our state has to offer.

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festival … WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the beery news that our state has to offer.

The girl+beer Facebook page has a list of upcoming beer events that you might find worth subscribing to!

NEW RELEASES

Mash Brewing : Imperial Red Ale

  • Limited Release
  • Only available on tap

It seems Red Ales are a bit of a WA favourite recently with Otherside Brewing releasing a Red Ale as their first ‘Pilot Series’ beer a few weeks ago, Cheeky Monkey also put out a limited release Imperial Red Ale in early February and Gage Road’s have a Red Rye IPA coming out next week. Of course there’s also Nail Brewing Red, released in 2014 it’s been a bit of a staple in the WA beer scene so it wouldn’t be a list of Reds without me mentioning it here and, in the interests of full disclosure as I always try to do, they’re also my employer.

Mash‘s Red is of the imperial variety, so think big and bold, and comes in at 9.2 percent ABV. By the sounds of it they have hopped the hell of out of the beer with normal hopping getting a boost from whole hop flowers and hop resin extract which is basically a super concentrated form of the hop resins which is all the good stuff brewers want from their hops.

Some kegs are being delivered today to Mane Liquor, Cellarbrations Carlisle, Liquor Barons Bull Creek and Cellarbrations Superstore in Hamilton Hill. Keep an eye out for it at other good beer loving venues as I am sure it’ll pop up in other places!

Photo from Mash Brewing Co Facebook

Colonial Brewing : Project Beer – Kiwi’s IPA

  • Limited Release
  • Only available on tap
  • Brewed with all New Zealand hops

If you have been down to Colonial Brewing in Margaret River, chances are you’ve seen the brewers hard at work in the brewhouse and one of those brewer is Jacob “Kiwi” Nesbit. Probably pretty easy to see where the inspiration of this IPA has come from!

Brewed with four New Zealand hop varieties – Pacifica, Rakau, Wakatu and Motueka, this beer is all about the hops. Sitting at 7.7 percent ABV it’s a little on the boozy side too. It was released on Thursday so if you’re down south you’ll be able to get it at the brewery and check out their Facebook page next week for some places in Perth you’ll find it.

Image from Colonial Brewing Co Margaret River Facebook

Coming Soon

Eagle Bay : Single Series – Rye Session IPA

  • Limited Release
  • Only available on tap

Hot on the heels of their Citrus IPA, Eagle Bay will release another Single Series – a Rye Session IPA next week.

Single Series means just one 1,000 litre batch, so about 20 kegs, were made meaning it probably won’t last long! Keep an eye on their social media accounts for where it ends up!

Tasting notes from the brewery –

“Enjoy citrusy aromas with juicy notes of lemon rind and passion fruit, paired with a biscuity and spicy malt base. Well rounded and firm bitterness to finish”

Little Creatures : Single Batch – The Dreadnought

  • Will be available on tap and in 640ml bottles
  • Limited Release

Back for another winter, Little Creatures The Dreadnought is a Foreign Extra Stout, a style that perhaps sit between a regular stout and an imperial stout.

Six speciality malts and Fuggles hops, a hop variety traditionally used in English Ales, are used in the brew. They have made a single batch which, given the size of Little Creatures, is a bit different to other WA breweries when they say ‘single batch’, which limits it to 10,000 litres on this occasion.

The official launch happens at the brewery on Thursday 20th.

Photo from Little Creatures Brewing Facebook page

Gage Roads : Red Rye IPA

  • Will be available on tap only
  • Limited Release

If you follow Gage Roads on Instagram you would have spotted their teaser about this brew coming out soon.

The Red Rye IPA is 6.1 percent ABV, uses rye obviously and packed with American hops.

Tasting notes from the brewery –

“Pours a deep amber colour, with soft white head. Opens with a big American hop aroma, and notes of spice. Peppery spices combine with citrus hop character and alcohol sweetness for a fresh IPA flavour with subtle twist. It’s all wrapped up by a balanced, dry bitterness.”

 

 

Beer + Fine Dining

I figure this beer isn’t targeted at me and I am sure there are people who are excited about these beers including the people behind them but there’s a lot about this concept that sits awkwardly alongside the things I love about beer so here’s my thoughts on these beers in what is basically an extended version of my Facebook post.

With a reach of almost 2,400 people, my Facebook post on Sunday morning about the new James Boag Epicurean beers had more than the average number of eyes look over it –

Sometimes I don’t comment on stories like this, sometimes I just don’t click on it because I know it’s not for me but sometimes I give in and after seeing several sponsored Facebook posts for these beers, I finally clicked.

I figure this beer isn’t targeted at me and I am sure there are people who are excited about these beers including the people behind them but there’s a lot about this concept that sits awkwardly alongside the things I love about beer so here’s my thoughts on these beers in what is basically an extended version of my Facebook post.


“A fine drop for fine dining”

There’s a subtle implication here, and I am not sure if it’s intended or not, that until now beer has not belonged at the fine dining table. Yet here I sit, at my desk at home, with empty bottles around me of beers I’ve had, not all tonight of course, with incredible flavours inside and stunning label and design on the outside. None of these beers would look out of place on white linen.

With the sheer range of flavour beer can offer, no one can say beer doesn’t have a place at a fine dining restaurant.  The right beer isn’t missing from the equation, the education and knowledge to serve it is what’s missing but we are seeing and experiencing a change in places like Wildflower where there has been considerable thought put into their beer offering to reflect the personality and style of the restaurant, at least that’s my impression of Wildflower. A flick through this years Good Beer Week program offers a host of examples, testament to beers ability to sit side by side fine food, including An Evening with Michelin Star Chef Daniel Burns (NYC) who will be presenting his food paired with Stomping Ground (Victoria, Australia) and Evil Twin (Denmark) beers.

For me, fine dining is a luxury, it’s a total experience starting from when you walk in the door and finishing when you leave. It’s about the food of course but it’s also about the service, atmosphere, drinks and the way you feel when you are there. These things are pretty hard to replicate in a home cooking environment so whilst I like that Boag’s have provided the recipes for their recommended food pairings,  I do feel like it also misses the point slightly about why we indulge in fine dining experiences. Specially paired dishes in the venues where the Epicurean beers will be featured would be great; laying out the ideal Epicurean experience just leaves the punter having to book the table and the rest is done.

Photo from James Boag’s website

Making beer feel like wine

It feels almost like they needed some justification for beer to be at the dinner table at all, like one of those 90s sitcoms where a guest who’s rocked up from out of town, not aware of the dress code at a fancy restaurant, has a crappy tie forced on them before they’re allowed to take a seat.

The Epicurean “range”, which is actually a pair, consists of  ‘Red’ and a ‘White’, a clear call out to wine. Again, why do we have to make a beer for fine dining feel like wine? The labels themselves look like wine labels too, something I’d imagine was part of the design brief.

The website recommends serving these beers in a wine glass. Not a specialty beer glass? Nope, again beer is being dressed up in what are considered appropriate clothes. Now, I’ll be the first to say I’ve enjoyed many a beer from a wine glass at home and out at venues but in this case it’s the brewery’s recommendation, it should be the ideal way they want the beer to be served and that, surely, should be in the right beer glass. It’s hard to say what beer glass exactly because there’s almost no information on the beers themselves.

It’s a BEER

Of the three guys to create these beers – a chef, sommelier and a master brewer – there’s no cicerone, someone who is pretty much a sommelier of beer. Surely this would have been a welcome chance to work with one of Australia’s cicerone’s, we have a few now!

The beers are still in green bottles, an inferior bottle to keep out UV light from damaging the beer, compared to brown glass. In some ways they treat this beer like a wine and yet in others still mistreat it as a beer.

There is also very little information on the beers themselves, from the website I could find out that the Epicurean Red is brewed with Super Pride and Helga hops whilst the Epicurean White uses Super Pride and Enigma hops. All hops are from Tasmania and that’s it, nothing about the style, the other ingredients, nothing at all.

Photo from James Boag’s website

The story is a marketing strategy

For me, reading through the website feels more like a marketing strategy than someone telling me a great story. A genuine story is one of the things I love about beer, you’ll catch me saying this time and time again. It is why I love talking to beer people because there’s almost always a great story behind the brewery, behind the person and behind the beer. What makes a great story is its authenticity and this, to me, doesn’t have that.

It’s all about Tasmania

There is one great overarching story in these beers and that’s how proud they are about Tasmanian produce and ingredients. Personally, that’s the story I think should be told here. Brew a kick ass beer that’s a showcase of Tasmanian ingredients and local producers, collaborate with them and make all us here on “the mainland” start Googling flights to Tassie because it sounds so amazing.


This beer isn’t even coming to Perth so maybe I should even bother staying up until almost midnight to write this post and Lion Nathan, under which the Boag’s portfolio of beers sit, have been really good to me, sending samples of Little Creatures and White Rabbit beers but these beers have some heart and a story to tell. Epicurean doesn’t tell me a story, at least not one that I want to read.

WA Beer News #7

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festivals … WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the beery news that our state has to offer.

There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festivals … WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the beery news that our state has to offer.

The girl+beer Facebook page has a list of upcoming beer events that you might find worth subscribing to!

Eagle Bay Brewing

Eagle Bay have released a Desert Lime IPA under their ‘Single Series’ which means just one 1,000lt batch was made and released in kegs only.

The desert lime is a citrus fruit native to Australia which grows on the citrus glauca tree. The trees are pretty resilient and can survive in extreme weather conditions so it’s no wonder they survive here in Australia.

Eagle Bay brewers used five kilos of desert lime sourced through Maverick Native Farm from Mogumber in the WA wheat belt region.

“Enjoy piney aromas with juicy vibrant notes of lime and grapefruit, with a smooth malty base. The brew was dry hopped with the unique American hop blend Fortnight, bringing a bold, clean and fresh grapefruit bitterness to finish,”

Eagle Bay Brewing Media Release

Desert Lime IPA comes in at 5.3 percent alc/vol and is available from the brewery, Long Chim Perth, Petition Beer Corner, The Balmoral and for growler fills to take home and enjoy there’s Mane Liquor, Cellarbrations Carlisle and Cellarbrations Superstore.

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Photo Courtesy of Eagle Bay Brewing

Bootleg Brewery

Bootleg’s The Flaming Youth Passionfruit Gose has just been released and it’s great!

The Flaming Youth is a collaboration brew with their WA distributors The Hop Squad and takes the traditional gose recipe which includes salt and coriander and adds passionfruit.

Gose – pronounced ‘goes-uh’ – is a delicately sour German wheat beer. The style almost disappeared a couple times in history but is now brewed regularly by a handful of German brewers and as more brewers look for styles to get creative with, we are seeing more of them pop up which is good news!

Read More about Gose: Beer & Brewer – Style Profile: Gose

This beer has a really dry finish so it’s super refreshing. It looks stunning, it’s a gorgeous pale gold colour and holds a big white head. The passionfruit aromas and flavours are pretty dominant but there’s a good amount of saltiness and citrus notes too.

I purchased a couple of bottles from Scarborough Cellars, it’s a limited release so keep an eye out for it at a bottle shop that loves good beer.

Bootleg The Flaming Youth Passionfruit Gose

Bootleg have also recently released their Pants Down IIPA and speaking of imperial beers, their Imperial Bull – a bigger version of their famous Raging Bull – will be released in the coming weeks.

Cheeky Monkey Brewery

Cheeky Monkey teamed up with home brewer Jay Hepden to create Dead Spotty Dog Session IPA under their Southern Wailer series header. The beer is a recreation of Jay’s beer that won ‘Best in Show’ at the WA State Amateur Brewers Competition.

The beers name, Dead Spotty Dog, is a play on the Scottish brewers BrewDog beer called Dead Pony Club.

The beer is now available at the brewery and will be heading to Perth venues shortly including Refuge Small Bar in Subiaco.

Indian Ocean Brewing

Indian Ocean recently released a new limited release called Hijack Pilsner which uses only New Zealand hops – Riwaka, Taiheke and Nelson Sauvin. The beer gets its name from a weird moment in television in the 80s when an unknown man hijacked a television network and according to Indian Ocean’s head brewer Jack Purser, that’s kind of what they’ve done with lager with this beer.