New Beer Week

5 nights + 5 incredible beers

My partner and I are in the process of moving back to Perth so we are slowly transitioning between the south west and P-town. This means that we are spending a few nights apart and so to sooth my aching heart I’ve been using beer – one new beer every night I’ve had the house to myself.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar 6.2% abv
Night 1: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
6.2% abv

This bottle was given to me some time ago accompanied by a boasting verbal review that this beer was sensational, that it was incredible, that it was amazing. With that sort of pressure, would it be possible for this beer to live up to such high expectations?

The answer is yes. Nice initial toffee apple sweetness with hints of green apple and a long dry finish. Each mouth full is warming but it’s hard to detect the six-something % ABV. It’s got a lot going on but is relatively light bodied that caught me by surprise.

Night 2: Boneyard Red Ale 2.9% abv
Night 2: Boneyard Red Ale
2.9% abv

I had no idea this was so low in ABV until I looked at the label. There was so much to smell in this beer – toffee apple, burnt caramel, biscuits, it was hard to keep my face out of the glass. The malts are well balanced with some mid palate fruity hops. The finish had a hint of tart/sour that was nice though I’m not sure whether it was supposed to be there.

Night 3: Brew Cult Acid Freaks 7.5% abv
Night 3: Brew Cult Acid Freaks
7.5% abv

Technically this isn’t a new beer for me. I fell in love with it at last years Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular and then bought some from Cellarbrations Carlisle.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this beer is genuinely interesting and well balanced, a great beer to sip on with food. The alcohol and balsamic are perfect together, there’s red berry flavours and a long soft finish that reminda me of red grape skin.

Night 4: Red Duck Gruitest 6.3% abv
Night 4: Red Duck Gruitest
6.3% abv

This is a damn sexy beer.

A beer without hops that instead uses a variety of herbs for putting in flavour. Stone fruit, berry, floral and apple cider aromas. There’s pretty much zip the way of carbonation and a nice dry finish with some under ripe apricots. It’s crisp, funky, more-ish and devilish hiding it’s 6.3% abv.

Night 5: Yeastie Boys PKB Remix 2013 6.5% abv
Night 5: Yeastie Boys PKB Remix 2013
6.5% abv

Another brilliant drop to finish a week of excellent beers. It smelt like chocolate buttons, I wanted to keep smelling it over and over again. The chocolate fades to a dry malty finish with some tropical fruits. As a black IPA this is certainly one of my favourite examples of the style.

Thanks beer for being such good company in lieu of my favourite company.

Acid Freaks + Salmon

“Are you freak enough? Go on. We’re watching” – the label on the bottle of Melbourne brewery BrewCult’s Acid Freaks practically dares you to drink it.

Challenge accepted.

“Are you freak enough? Go on. We’re watching” – the label on the bottle of Melbourne brewery BrewCult’s Acid Freaks practically dares you to drink it.

Challenge accepted.

Brew Cult Acid Freaks

However this wasn’t my first dance with this freak of a beer. It was one of my favourite beers at this years Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular festival, aka GABS, in Melbourne. Acid Freaks is a Baltic Porter infused with balsamic vinegar that’s been aged in Shiraz barrels, fitting firmly into the festival beer criteria of being unique, creative and just downright intriguing.

If you’re unfamiliar with BrewCult it’s a Melbourne operation headed up by Steve “Hendo” Henderson who’s one of the friendly smilest beer folk you’ll meet.

Hendo teamed up with his brother, Ian, who is a craft vinegar producer and together they made this wonderful beer. Imagine the sweetness of a Baltic Porter flirting dangerously with the sourness of balsamic vinegar. Oh my.

When I first tried this beer at GABS my notes were rather concise – “weirdly stunning”.

Tasting Tray and Beer List

Today GABS, Melbourne and Good Beer Week are just a big hazy beery memory. Then, thanks to social media, I saw Acid Freaks was making s way into bottles. Cue excited jumping up and down.

A quick phone call to Cellarbrations Carlisle and I had secured two bottles. Fate would have it a friend was coming down to visit so a beer delivery was arranged. Thanks Fi! Thanks Cellarbrations Carlisle!

Acid Freaks and Olives

I rolled the bottle gently, shifting around the sediment, and poured it into a wine glass with a muddy chocolate brown appearance. Aromas of plum and malt and lovely flavours of sweet red fruit, grapeskin and, of course, balsamic though not as strong as I remembered from GABS. I cursed myself for only getting two bottles, rookie mistake, but I hear there is more to come – yippee!

For a pairing with dinner, I decided to go for an easy match – finding a dish using balsamic vinegar. Gotta love a simple pairing.

Acid Freaks and Salmon

Girl + GABS

This year saw 90 unique beers hit the taps! Combined with lots of old favourites from dozens upon dozens of brewers, it was enough to blow my Untappd count into the next century (if I could be bothered updating it frequently of course!)

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The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS, was held at the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Hall on Friday 24th – Sunday 26th May. It coincided with the last three days of Good Beer Week so I deliberately didn’t booked any GBW events for my partner and I on Saturday so it could be our “GABS day”.

GABS is the brain child of Steve and Guy, the guys behind The Local Taphouse venues in Darlinghurst and St Kilda. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve and Guy when I visited GABS. They are obviously passionate about craft beer and about providing the right platform for consumers to enjoy, discover and share.

Thursday GABS

So, what is GABS? I’m glad you asked – it’s a beer festival that celebrates brewing creativity. At the heart of the festival are the GABS beers – those which are brewed specially for the festival. This year saw 90 unique beers hit the taps! Combined with lots of old favourites from dozens upon dozens of brewers, it was enough to blow my Untappd count into the next century (if I could be bothered updating it frequently of course!). And it wasn’t just Australian brewers showing off, breweries from the United States, the UK, Italy and Aussie neighbours New Zealand also showed off their brewing flair.

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The folk at GABS were kind enough to provide me with a media pass for the event and our friends at Eagle Bay Brewing provided my partner with a ticket. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I love the beer community, their generosity knows no bounds. Thank you Steve and Guy, thank you Margi and Adrian.

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Best Beer of GABS

The “best of” categories fell into two categories – People’s Choice and Brewer’s Choice.

My vote for the People’s Choice Best Beer of GABS went to the collaboration brew from Moon Dog / Nøgne Ø – Selvmordstokt, a cherry wheat porter. Gorgeous black cherry, coconut and chocolate, a little funky and a whole lot yummy.

The winner was Bacchus Brewing White Chocolate Raspberry Pilsner and sadly one I didn’t have! I did try their White Chocolate Pilsner at Dejavu as part of Pint of Origin and very much enjoyed it. I even thought it had a touch of raspberry to it, perhaps it was my palate trying to tell me something about the future. Congratulations to Bacchus, hopefully we see this make it into their regular line up for more folks to enjoy.

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The winner of the Brewer’s Choice went to a brewery who must have a hell of a trophy cabinet these days – Feral Brewing for their Barrique O Karma. Being one of my favourite brewers and from my home state, I made sure I didn’t miss out on this one. It had a soft and sweet maltiness and the nose on it was great. Being that it’s based on their Karma Citra, a black IPA, that I have enjoyed many times it’s unsurprising I really liked this one.

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More Beery Highlights

Staying with Feral, their collaboration with Richard from The Wig & Pen (ACT) was appropriately called ‘Pig Pen’ tipping its hat to both breweries (not that pigs wear hats of course … actually maybe some do) it was called a ‘free range ale’. What does this mean? I’m not sure, perhaps it comes from the ingredients reading like a global shopping list or perhaps simply because they didn’t brew it to a specific style. Regardless of the reason it is a very good drop. Slightly tart, refreshing and with great drinkability. It was the first beer I wrote “yum” beside.

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Two Birds Brewing (VIC) Taco, “a hoppy wheat beer with inspiration” or as I wrote it “wheat beer with omf”. Twitter and crackbook had provided a few insights into this beer so I knew to expect lime and coriander and that’s exactly what I got. It was inspired after eating fish tacos in San Diego and so I’m not sure whether I read this and expected to taste corn chips or whether I really could taste corn chips. Either way, damn good beer!

Birra Del Borgo (ITA) won me over with their fabulous name – Myrtle’s Bunga Bunga Party. A spiced ale that was just lovely with honey and almost nectar sweetness. Also oddly moreish.

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Speaking of fun names, Cacao Cabana from Eagle Bay (WA) and The Monk (WA) had a smushed banana flavour going on with soft chocolate notes buried inside. It was like peeling back the layers on a dessert!

Gary the White from Colonial Brewing (WA) was a white stout, dry and rich, the flavours were all strangely familiar packaged in the unexpected. Fab!

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The GABS beer from Steve ‘Hendo’ Henderson’s Brewcult had been a bit of a talking point in the lead up to the event. A collaboration brew with Steve’s brother, a craft vinegar maker, it was described as porter infused with barrel aged balsamic vinegar. The aptly named “Acid Freaks” had the beer geeks intrigued. I had met Hendo by chance a few days earlier and asked how Acid Freaks had turned out. He simply replied that he didn’t want to say too much and inadvertently influence peoples opinions but he would say he was happy with it. My notes read: “soft tang, weirdly stunning”. The all important balance of sweet and bitter was spot on. God I hope he sends some to WA.

Taking me back to my childhood, the Duckstein (WA) Porter tasted like lamingtons. I love beers that evoke my memories and this beer did exactly that.

So many beers …. god that was amazing! Thank you GABS, loved every minute!

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