GABS edition: 5 Minutes with Craig from The Monk

Q&A with The Monk’s head brewer, Craig Eulenstein, about his GABS Festival Beer – Oakey Dokey

The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS,  is on again as part of the annual amazingness that is Good Beer Week, a nine day festival throughout Melbourne, all kicking off later this month.

Good Beer Week: 16-24th May

GABS: Imagine a really beautiful building and inside are all your favourite Australian breweries, even a handful of international brewing superstars too, with their beers ready for you to taste and have a chat. Upstairs there’s a variety of beer seminars with people who really know their stuff. There’s plenty of food and live music and on top of all this there are over 100 unique beers, GABS festival beers, which have been brewed especially for the event and all are on their debut outing because that’s one qualification to be a GABS festival beer. My blog has been pretty free of Good Beer Week activity this year and I can only put this down to an act of self preservation as I am not going to GBW this year. Every time GBW is mentioned I get a pang of beer envy but, nevertheless, I cannot ignore the thirst-inducing creative GABS beers that our fab WA brewers have put together for this years festival so I am hoping to bring you a few Q&A’s with the brewers over the next week or two.

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The first Q&A is with Craig Eulenstein, brewer at Fremantle’s The Monk Craig at The Monk

Photo: Craig Eulenstein, courtesy of the man himself

GABS Festival Beer: Oakey Dokey The Official GABS Guide says … “An oak aged Belgian Double IPA (India Pale Ale) which is effectively an American style Double IPA fermented with Belgian yeast on oak chips”

What is so exciting about GABS?

GABS is a very unique festival. Not only does it showcase extremely limited releases from many different breweries from around Australia and the world, but it does so in a very unpretentious way. I often go with a few non-beer-industry friends and they always have a great time and are always blown away by the beers on show. Mix that with a mini bowling alley, live music, giant jenga and and who wouldn’t love it?!

Tell us about the Oakey Dokey and what was the inspiration before the brew?

My focus as a brewer is to produce approachable beers, beers that are full of flavour but are still sessionable and appealing to all kinds of folks. So when it comes time to brew up a GABS beer, I usually look to different yeast strains I haven’t used before, and different brewing techniques. This year was a Belgian yeast strain I hadn’t used before, with a different fermentation schedule than I have previously done. Higher ferment temps and move the brew in and our of “oaked” fermenters and storage tanks is something of a normal days work! But its great for experimenting, which is what GABS is all about …

Why did you throw in oak chips and where did you source them from?

The oak chips I used were an American oak variety sourced from a wine industry supplier from the Swan Valley wine region here in Western Australia. I opt for infusing the oak during fermentation to reduce the risk of oxidation and flavour spoiling bacteria.

What was the trickiest part of the brew?

The brew itself wasn’t overly difficult, the trickiest part was keeping an eye on the flavour profile whilst on oak and choosing the right time to remove the oak and what hop profile would match it best.

Who’s beer are you most keen to try this year, and why?

I never limit myself to the same breweries but I am always keeping an eye on beers from the smaller boutique guys, they usually have more time to come up with some crazy ideas. Looking over the GABS guide I noticed a number of sour beers on the list, this is a developing market worth keeping an eye on.

5 Minutes with Craig, head brewer at The Monk

This edition of 5 minutes with is with The Monk head brewer, Craig Eulenstein, chatting about WA Beer Week.

5 minutes with … a 5 minute/5 question interview with great beer loving people

This edition of 5 minutes with is with the man behind the beers at The Monk and who has one of the beards in the business, Craig Eulenstein and he’s been kind enough chat all about WA Beer Week and tease us with his plans.

WA Beer Week is happening 25 October – 2 November, filled with beer events across Perth and regional WA with collaboration brews, beer and food matching, meet the brewer nights and more. Save up your sick days now cause you won’t want to miss any of the action!

The Monk

What is most exciting about WA Beer Week?

I think WA has a lot of excellent breweries and brewers, just look at the AIBA [Australian International Beer Awards] each year to see how many WA breweries bring home the gold. What WA does lack a bit of though, is bars and venues that are solely dedicated to craft beer. It is a slow process converting the masses and WA Beer Week is a great opportunity to get punters into your shop/venue or brewery who would not normally be there, and who will hopefully take away a great experience, help peach the love, and forever only drink quality brews. Collective improvement and progress is the key to anything and as an industry we all need to work together to promote craft beer.

WA Beer Week Logo

What events are you doing for WA Beer Week?

The Monk Brewery and myself are going to keep ourselves busy this year!

Following the PRBS [Perth Royal Beer Show] awards night on the 24th, we will be hosting a beer and food matched degustation dinner at The Monk Brewery in Fremantle on Sunday night the 26th.

The Freo Doctor Liquor Store | 27 Arundel Street, Fremantle

Tuesday night, the 28th, I will be hosting a Beer and Whiskey matching night, along with Diageo (Talisker/Lagavulin etc…), at The Freo Doctor, this one will be a great night! Excellent whiskies matched with one-off specially brewed beers with food to match as well!

Wednesday night, the 29th, I will be taking part in the Young vs Old brew off, along with the likes of Hugh Dunn [Edith Cowan University], Justin Fox [Colonial Brewing] and Charlie Hodgson [Mash Brewing].

Before taking reigns at The Monk, Craig was a brewer for Mountain Goat in Melbourne

Friday the 31st, The Monk Brewery will be hosting a collaboration launch with Victorian heavyweights Mountain Goat Brewery with a smoked BBQ out on the terrace. Both myself and Dave Bonighton from Mountain Goat will be there to talk all things beer.

Mountain Goat, Richmond

Saturday the 1st, we will be hosting an open brew day with a beer style invented by an online competition we will run through our Facebookt and Instagram/Twitter feeds.

Sunday, the 2nd, I will sleep sleep sleep!!!!

Are you releasing any special beers for WA Beer Week?

Along with our regular seasonals, we will have a collaboration brew with Victorian based Mountain Goat Brewery. We may even sneak a few extra kegs across the border as well!

You used to be a goat in Melbourne, how do you think the WA and VIC craft beer worlds differ?

First of all, there no difference in quality!!! I think the ultimate difference in the two scenes comes down to population density and demand. In Melbourne, due to the higher and more progressive population, there are a lot of small bars that will only serve independent craft beer, some venues can have up 16 taps only pouring good beer. This keeps the industry charging forward with innovative and original ideas, with the likes of American Pale, IPA and Hybrid beers being prominent styles, with an exponential growth of craft beer drinkers. In Perth, due to a lower and more conservative population, you find all the breweries spread out into rural wine regions surviving primarily on tourism. This, I’ve found, has kept the beer styles quite traditional with the likes of Kolsch and Australian Pale ale being quite prominent, with a slower growth of craft beer drinkers. If I had my way, I would put all the WA breweries in one area, with a few key venues like Sail and Anchor, Five Bar etc and we would have am industry to challenge Portland, Oregon!

What does your perfect WA Beer Week look like?

Fresh, hoppy, malty and well balanced…

 

GABS Edition: 5 Minutes with Craig from The Monk

5 minutes, 5 questions with Craig Eulenstein, brewer at The Monk in Fremantle, talking all things GABS!

Good Beer Week is fast approaching! 10 days of epic adventuring through Melbourne with beer as your guide, what more could you want?

This years GABS will be 23-25 May at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, Melbourne.

One of the many, many, many events on the GBW calendar is the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS for short (and much easier communication after many beers). It’s a celebration of brewing creativity  and at it’s heart are the “festival beers” – beers brewed especially for and launched during the festival. The result is 115 beers that are totally unique and available for very first time.

Even more at GABS … The marketplace with even more beer, live music, plenty of food and craft beer college

One of these “festival beers” will be from Fremantle’s The Monk Brewery + Kitchen where Craig Eulenstein, previously of Mountain Goat, is brewing his first GABS beer as a head brewer.

So it’s time to spend 5 minutes/5 questions with Craig to talk all things GABS!

Craig at The Monk

What is so exciting about GABS?

For me GABS is a great way to break into the brewing industry as an individual, not just as a member of a brewing team. It is a chance to build up a reputation and release a beer with my name on it… providing people like it of course!!!

What beer are you brewing for GABS and what was the inspiration for it?

It’s a secret till GABS!! Buuuut…. It’s a Belgian Black IPA, the idea came from sampling a few over dinner one night. I really like Black IPA but the extra twist that Belgian yeast gives the beer really tiggled my fancy and I thought “I reckon I could do that!”

What will be the trickiest part of the brew?

Balancing Yeast ester with hop profile, don’t want one to outweigh the other!

Favourite beer from last year’s GABS, and why?

I actually didn’t make it to last years GABS, I was too busy working for The Man… but given that “The Man” was in fact a big hairy Mountain Goat I guess its ok.

Who’s beer are you most keen to try this year, and why?

I’m not too sure really, all of them! I will certainly be keeping an eye on my usual favourites, Feral/Goat/Cavalier/Mash/Bridge Road… just to name a few!