“It’s fun … except when I get left in the brewery to do all the work!” Nick laughs when I ask him about collaboration brews at Eagle Bay Brewing.
Eagle Bay Brewing seem to love collaborating more than anyone in WA. From annual collabs like the Cacao Stout with Bahen & Co chocolate makers to once-off brews like their West Coast Native Ale with Fremantle venue The Mantle, Eagle Bay seem* to have an open door policy to their (brew)house. In fact they’re working on another collaboration brew right now with Clancy’s Fish Pubs and Twin Peaks coffee.
*always best to ask before you attempt to just wander into a brewery though!
“Working with like-minded producers is always such a pleasure,”
Margarita Wallace, marketing and communications, Eagle Bay Brewing
This year Eagle Bay reunited with retailer Mane Liquor, Whipper Snapper Distillery and artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers to make a beer called Black Vanilla, a whiskey barrel-aged coconut and vanilla imperial stout.
This has become an annual collaboration to make a barrel-aged dark beer and started in 2015 when Eagle Bay teamed up with Mane Liquor and Kyle Hughes-Odgers to make Black and Tannin, a black IPA aged in former Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
“Collaborating gives you a chance to play with new ideas,”
Nick d’Espeissis, head brewer, Eagle Bay Brewing
In 2016 the crew made Forest for the Trees, and brought in Perth craft coffee roasters Twin Peaks and swapped red wine barrels for whiskey ones with new team mates Whipper Snapper Distillery on board. The result was a whiskey barrel-aged coffee imperial porter.
To make this years Black Vanilla they brewed an imperial stout and barrel-aged it for three months in two Whipper Snapper “Upshot” whiskey barrels. “It’s quite a privilege”, Margarita says “because once those whiskey barrels are given over to us they can’t use them for whiskey again.”
After aging they added toasted coconut and vanilla beans. The result is complex and rich, dark and roasty and it’s drinking great now and will also certainly age nicely.
I was lucky enough to be amongst the first to try Black Vanilla at The Dark Side event at Eagle Bay Brewing last week which they kindly invited me to. The event was held as part of the Cabin Fever Festival in Margaret River. Photos are below from the wonderful evening of food, beers and chat.
My partner once told me about a guy he knew who loved whiskey and when an awesome one would come out he would always buy three bottles – one to drink, one to keep and one just in case. I applied this to Black Vanilla, purchasing three bottles before leaving the brewery.
If you this sounds like an event you’d love and you’re sans a time machine, you can catch the crew who made the beer at the Black Vanilla Winter Feast dinner at Lalla Rookh tomorrow night (Wednesday 25 August). Tickets are $82+bf, more information can be found here.