WA Beer News #4

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!


Cheeky Monkey

The last Southern Wailer, their limited release series, was an American West Coast style IPA called Hop Flinger. Juicy and unapologetically hop forward, the beer is going to make its way into the permanent line up and will be available soon in 6 x 375ml cans.

Cheeky Monkey at Gourmet Escape
Head Brewer, Ross, at the Cheeky Monkey stand for Gourmet Escape 2016

The next Southern Wailer release is scheduled for mid December and, fitting for the hot summer weather, it’s a lager designed to drink easy and satisfy thirsty mouths – Summer Smash Lager. It’s a single malt and single hop beer and both are Australian – pilsner for the malt and summer for the hops. It will be available on tap in selected venues and in 4 x 500ml cans at your favourite craft beer loving bottle shop. Keep an eye on the Cheeky Monkey Facebook page for updates.

Thorny Devil

A crowd funding campaign is currently underway by the Mandurah brewery to fund a new tank and to commission their new bottling line. Thorny Devil have paid the deposits when they say bank loan approval went from ‘yay’ to ‘nay’ and so here kicked off a crowd funding campaign.

You can read more about the campaign and contribute here.

Thorny Devil
Peter from Thorny Devil at Gourmet Escape 2016

Blue Mile Brewing

Busselton’s Blue Mile have a new beer out that is only available on tap called Lambic Pale Ale. Jason Credaro, head brewer, inoculated a pale ale with lactobacillus and pediococcus (both types of bacteria) and brettanomyces (a wild yeast strain) before leaving it in barrels for 18 months. I suspect this beer will be a tough one to find but well worth trying if you do see it, the sourness is pretty mellow and makes the whole beer pretty refreshing.

Blue Mile at Gourmet Escape 2016
Blue Mile at Gourmet Escape 2016

Eagle Bay Brewing

Summer is coming and that means that Eagle Bay’s seasonal Summer Ale is also coming!

Style wise it’s an Australian style pale ale and featuring a trio of Aussie hop – Galaxy, Southern Cross and Vic Secret – and will be available from December to March.

Eagle Bay Summer Ale will be available from the brewery from 5 December with an official launch on 7 December at The Balmoral in Vic Park. The event kicks off at 4pm and head brewer Nick will be there to chat all things Eagle Bay. Eagle Bay will be taking over the taps and it will be $9 pints and $5 middies all night!

If you’re down south then head direct to the brewery on the 9th for their Brewers Series Session where you can go into the brewhouse with the brewers to learn all about the Summer Ale. Cold beers + good eats + good times. Tickets just $35 and available from the brewery website.

Photo Courtesy of Eagle Bay Brewing Co
Photo Courtesy of Eagle Bay Brewing Co

Bootleg Brewery

Bootleg Brewery head brewer Ryan “Pizey” Nilsson-Linne tells me that they’re bringing back two limited releases soon – Boss Taurus, an Imperial Dark Ale aged in whiskey barrels first released last year in collaboration with Cellarbrations Carlisle and the Luna Lager. Keep an eye out for Boss Taurus at Cellarbrations Carlisle and the Luna Lager will only be available on tap at the brewery.

Monk Craft Brewery Kitchen

Freo’s Monk Craft Brewery Kitchen just released a triple collaboration with Cellarbrations Superstore and Artisan Brewing called Tripel Treating, a Belgian tripel brewed for WA Beer Week. Only a small amount was made so if you missed their WA Beer Week event, keep an eye out for some bottles available at Cellarbrations Superstore only and just one keg will be on tap at the Monk sometime soon. Watch their Facebook for details.

Monk have two more limited release beers coming out soon – a summer seasonal which head brewer Mal says will be “a take on the Monastic Enkel/Patersbier tradition”.

According to Wiki, the Patersbier style comes from the Trappist breweries where it is only available at the monastery and is for the monks to drink so usually is a lower strength version of one of their regular beers.

Monk also will be collaborating with Inn8 Brewers to create a Gose but don’t expect it to be a straightforward Gose, Mal hints they’ll be experimenting a bit with this one!

What is a Gose? A very pale beer made with 60% wheat that uses coriander and salt, the style originates in Goslar, Germany after which the beer style is named.

Mash Brewing

Since Mash are celebrating their tenth birthday this year they’re releasing a special beer to commemorate the occasion, suitably called ‘The Tenth’.

Past brewers joined the present Mash brewing team to create the beer which is a bit of a style mash up. Mash’s sales and marketing all round nice guy Scott describes it as “a freestyle Belgian golden / red / IPA”. The beer will be launched at their Tenth Anniversary Party at The Queens on 6 December.

Upcoming Events

Here’s a quick look at beery events coming up! You can also subscribe to the events page on Facebook to stay up to date.

// 25 November // Feral Brewing Tusk Day at selected venues

// 1 December // Tis the Saison at The Dutch Trading Co

// 6 December // Mash Brewing Tenth Anniversary Party at The Queens

// 7 December // Eagle Bay Tap Takeover and Summer Ale launch at The Balmoral

// 9 December // Eagle Bay Brewing Brewers Series Session + Summer Ale at Eagle Bay Brewing

// 12 December // Beer Club – Session Ale at Northbridge Brewing Co

 

 

South West Craft Beer Festival 2015

I didn’t see any roses or any heart shaped boxes filled with chocolates on Valentine’s Day this year and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Instead I was at the South West Craft Beer Festival!

I didn’t see any roses or any heart shaped boxes filled with chocolates on Valentine’s Day this year and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Instead I spent the years most socially pressured romantic day of the year drinking great locally produced beers in the company of the fabulous personalities who brew it and sell it. Trust me, there was no lacking in love at this years South West Craft Beer Festival which was held last weekend.

Old Broadwater Farm in Busselton is a gorgeous setting for a beer festival, plenty of open space and shady trees and though it’s near the highway you’d never know it.

South West Craft Beer Festival

It was nice to look around the festival, people watching of course, and seeing some familiar faces from Perth, plenty of south west locals and beer-festival-regulars.

I was asked to be part of the Critic’s Choice voting panel again this year to determine the best beer of the festival. Along with Vic (The West Australian), Daniel (Nail Brewing), Jono (What’s Mashing WA blog), Steve (Boilertronics, trophy sponsor), Jason (event organiser) and Brian (West Australian Brewers Association President) I was in pretty damn good company to taste some great beers. We were taken to each brewery tent to sample one beer of their choosing, at the end we had three votes each and then results were:

1st: Bush Shack Brewery Milk Stout – all judges agreed this was a beautiful drop

2nd & 3rd (equal): Colonial Chief Pontiac IPA and Eagle Bay Summer Ale

Highlights and Sneak Peeks from the day:

Colonial Brewing Co.

Colonial’s IPA on Tour series continues with the last of their Chief Pontiac, an American style IPA, floating around and the release of their New Zealand IPA – Lil NIPA hot on its heels. This was the first beer I tried for the day and it was beautiful. The aroma wasn’t as big as I had expected but the flavours were great, bold and well rounded.

Colonial Brewing at SW Craft Beer Festival

Colonial Brewing’s line up of beers for the day

Eagle Bay Brewing Co.

Over a plastic cup of the Eagle Bay Summer Ale, the current Brewer’s Series release of which there’s only about 800L still around, I chatted with retail and marketing manager Margi and found out that, as always, there’s a lot happening at the brewery.

Three brewers are now working hard to bring Eagle Bay beers to thirsty hands with the addition of Shannon (ex-Duckstein) to the brewing team towards the end of last year.

The ESB has been recently released in bottles and soon Eagle Bay’s Vienna Lager will get the same treatment which will mean their full core range will be available in bottles. Margi hopes to see Vienna bottles on shelves by March.

The next Brewer’s Series, their limited release, is almost ready and Eagle Bay fans will rejoice knowing it will be their much loved Black IPA. Keep your eyes on the Eagle Bay Facebook or Twitter page for details on the launch.

Eagle Bay Summer Ale

Eagle Bay Summer Ale

Margaret River Ale Co. / Settlers Tavern

Since I was driving I was restricted in the number of beers I could sample but I did get to try Margaret River Ale Co’s Pale Ale. It’s their best selling beer at the tavern and given its sessionability it’s easy to see why.

Getting briefly distracted from the topic of beer, it was hard not to notice the impressive Yoder smokers they had wheeled down for the day. Fully imported from Kansas to satisfy a desire for real American BBQ, owner and operator of Margaret River Ale Co & Settlers Tavern Rob was proud to handed out finely sliced brisket to all the judges and it was hard not to dive in for more.

Rob - Owner/Operator Margaret River Ale Co and Settlers Tavern

Rob, owner and operator Settlers Tavern & Margaret River Ale Co, at their Yoder Smoker

Cheeky Monkey Brewery

The latest Southern Wailer, Cheeky Monkey’s limited release series, was a sell out at the festival. The ESB – Extra Special Belgian – is an extra special bitter using the same Belgian yeast as their Hagenback Belgian IPA. The result is a delicious twist on a traditional English bitter which clearly many agreed on because the keg was empty by 4pm.

Cheeky Monkey Extra Special Belgian

Cheeky Monkey’s Southern Wailer ESB: Extra Special Belgian

Young Henry’s

The newest brewery to the south west, Young Henry’s is making an impact. The smiling faces at their tent were contagious was locals discovered YH beers for the first time whilst proud ‘sparkies’ who have been working on the ‘beer farm’ enjoyed the beer they’ve had a little part in helping get from brewery to hands. I got to chatting with Chloe, brewer and all round great gal, about how it has all been going and she was overwhelmingly positive.

Young Henry's

Young Henry’s Natural Lager

Chloe – Young Henry’s brewer on Twitter

Replicating the Real Ale was her first big challenge, aside from getting the brewery up and running of course, to bring the same brew loved in Sydney to the south west. She is keen to show off the beer farm and is hosting the WA International Women’s Brew Day at her brewery on Sunday 8 March for any women in the beer industry who would like to get involved.

Bush Shack Brewery

Anyone who has been to Bush Shack knows the name is more than a name, it’s an accurate description of the brewing facilities owner and brewer Danial Wind works with. Different to his neighbouring breweries Danial brews what some may label as “novelty” but their Milk Stout should be in the list for any self respecting beer geek to actively seek out. I remembered this beer from last year and it tasted gorgeous then too, even though the sun was out this lush, chocolatey beer went down a treat. So much so that the myself and the other judges all voted it in our top three beers for the day, the result being Bush Shack’s Milk Stout took home the trophy for Critic’s Choice beer for the festival.

It also has to be said that despite the busy day the Bush Shack staff were washing and rinsing everyone’s glass, that’s pretty damn good I reckon.

Bush Shack Brewery

Danial, owner and brewer Bush Shack Brewery, pours Milk Stouts for the judges

Another great festival and it seems to keep getting better each year (except more toilet paper in the girls toilets please!) and makes me pretty happy to see so many great breweries serving up fresh local beers. Big thanks to event organisers Buzz Marketing for inviting me along and asking me to participate in the judging panel. See you next year!

girl + SWCBF

A new venue at Busselton’s Old Broadwater Farm, tucked in behind Fairway Drive, gave the festival a bit of a make over for its third year (if my beer soaked brain recalls the years correctly)

Let’s just get it out the way early shall we? 2013 was not a good year for the South West Craft Beer Festival. From the moment those ticketing machines failed and the queue of people got progressively longer festival organisers were facing an uphill battle. I felt for them; sometimes shit goes up and there’s a fan waiting to spread it all over the place.

2014 was much brighter. Luminescent in fact.

A new venue at Busselton’s Old Broadwater Farm, tucked in behind Fairway Drive, gave the festival a bit of a make over for its third year (if my beer soaked brain recalls the years correctly). More space, more trees to relax under and a much improved layout with food and beer stalls scattered amongst each other rather than being separated like troublesome kids. I had a brief chat with organisers on the day, very happy with Saturday’s turn out, and they say next year there will be even more shade for relief from February heat. Of course having said that it rained the first year of the festival so who knows.

I walked in just after 1pm on Saturday, traditionally the busier day of the weekend long festival, and wasn’t greeted by queues, only friendly security and festival staff. Happy days!

Immediately I set about my mission, to taste the eight beers submitted for judging for the Critic’s Choice Award since the organisers were nice enough to ask me to be one of aforementioned critics. I was in fine company too – joined by fellow beer writer and award winning home brewer Jeremy Sambrooks, WA Brewers Association President Brian Fitzgerald and the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail rounding out the judging panel.

Here are the beers that were up for judging …

SW Craft Beer Festival Critic Choice

The Cheeky Monkey Hagenbeck Belgian IPA has always been a favourite of mine. When Jared “Red” Proudfoot was head brewer my tasting notes on my first pint was all praises for it’s strong bitterness, orange and piney hops. Now it’s Alex Poulsen at the brewing wheel, so to speak, and the Hagenbeck is still amazingly tasty. It’s fresher and crisper than ever with a little spice and great stone fruit flavours to whisk you into a happy IPA place.

Cheeky Monkey taps - aren't they pretty?!

Buck Shack’s Milk Stout was full of milky, chocolately, vanilla goodness but perhaps suffered from the almost overwhelming heat of the day. In fact this silly judge wore jeans so I was extra uncomfortable. It was a beer rated highly by all judges on the day.

On the other end of the weather-to-beer chart was Eagle Bay’s Summer Ale, another highly rated beer with all judges. Summer in a glass … that’s all I will say. Summer in a freaking glass.

Eagle Bay tent decked out nicely as always!

The stand out beer of the festival for all four judges was Bootleg’s Coconut Hefeweizen, taking out the Critic’s Choice best of the festival.

“Freaking awesome” I wrote on my piece of paper on the day. Bootleg brewers Michael Brookes and Ryan Nilsson-Linne have created a little tropical monster with this one. The beer is so good that it almost makes me forget about the girl with the coconut boobs on the logo, sorry boys not my cuppa tea. The Coconut Hefeweizen still tastes very much like a hefeweizen should with banana and slight vanilla flavours. The toasted coconut folds in nicely, slipping into the style as if it’s meant to be there the whole time, it’s like an uninvited guest who turns out to be the life of the party. I could barely keep my nose out of the glass long enough to drink it.

And it turns out the drinkers agreed with us with Coconut Hefeweizen, taking out the People’s Choice award for best beer of the festival too! Nice work Bootleg!

Ryan happily sampling Coconut Hefeweizen

girl + festival [part 1]

Recently the second annual South West Craft Beer Festival was held at 3 Oceans Winery in Margaret River. I went along on behalf of The Crafty Pint, you can read my article for Crafty here, so I was lucky enough to attend both days as a VIP.

IMG_20130216_133118

Recently the second annual South West Craft Beer Festival was held at 3 Oceans Winery in Margaret River. I went along on behalf of The Crafty Pint, you can read my article for Crafty here, so I was lucky enough to attend both days as a VIP.

I know a lot of people were unhappy with the festival organisation. There was a long line to get in, a line to buy tokens and more lines for beer. The South West Craft Beer Festival Facebook page reflected these frustrations and it was great to see the organisers jump in, acknowledge the problems and apologise, promising to address these issues next year. I’m sure we’ll see this great event just get better and better.

My partner and I had driven into 3 Oceans and upon seeing the line decided to kill some time at Cowaramup Brewing, a mere 10-15 minutes down the road. A walk through their hop bines and a middy later, we were back at the festival more than ready to get into the swing of things.

Beer and Hops at Cowaramup

First up we tried the Duckstein Wolf Pale Ale, an unfiltered American Pale Ale, that I really enjoyed though didn’t get the typical big grapefruit, pine needle characteristics that I was expecting. I got big aromas of cooked lemon and spices whilst the palate had a nice fruitiness and upfront bitterness. That’s the beer in the top picture if you want to see its hazy glory!

Next up was the latest seasonal from Michael Brookes at Bootleg Brewery, the Bramling Cross. It’s a twist on an extra special bitter using imported Chinese Blackcurrant tea in post fermentation and the English hop variety Bramling Cross, known for its blackcurrant characteristics. This beer completely blew me away with it’s subtle tartness and bitterness that was perfectly balanced with fresh blackcurrant fruit. Initially I tried the Bramling Cross at the start of December and since then this beer has really settled, all the flavours have balanced out and created a very unique and beautiful beer.

P1050625

Not to get all boring and talk about the weather but it was a freakin’ sensationally sunny day. So much so that it seemed improper not to stop by the Eagle Bay Brewing stall and have a glass of their Single Batch Summer Ale. Though it had only been a few weeks since we were introduced it was great to revisit such a tasty little number. Tropical fruits, fresh bitterness, citrus and pineapple. Gorgeous.

We pulled on our metaphorical lederhosen and walked back to see the guys at Duckstein Brewery where they were pouring something new. Assistant Manger, Patrick, presented us with their latest limited release, the Unbekannt. German for “unknown” it is a beer with no proper stylistic home. Head Brewer (or as Patrick says, “the hardest working brewer in WA”) Shannon Grigg has used Belgian yeast and German malts to create a complex and tasty ale with funk, toast, chocolate and red fruit all getting along nicely.

It was time for some food and though there was some delicious food being put out in the VIP room I wasn’t about to miss out on a Spicy Goat Balls Sub from my friend Mitch, aka Beersine.

Beersine

Back to the beers again and this time I stole a gulp of a friend’s honey pale ale from Brew 42. It was just enough to think “damn that was tasty, I gotta remember to visit them!” and add it to my long, long beery to-do-list.

I don’t think a beer festival in WA has gone by without me having a Colonial Kolsch and a freshly shucked oyster. It’s now a ritual and one I’m happy to continue until they stop serving me!

I reacquainted myself with the the Cheeky Monkey Hagenback Belgian IPA and had one of those moments when you realise your memory of a beer has barely done it’s justice. Good hits of citrus and tropical fruits, a little honey and a whack of bitterness.

In between trying to serve a long queue of thirsty drinkers Josh, Assistant Brewer at Bush Shack Brewery, managed to find a little of their Old Saint Nick Christmas Ale just before punters had run them dry. Thick and devilishly moreish with big red fruit characteristics I instantly wanted more. I added another brewery visit to Bush Shack to my list of things to do!

By this time it was getting late into the afternoon and there was the People’s Choice Award. Votes had to be counted from punters and the judges added their two cents too – somehow I ended up in that category but that’s all for Part 2 I think …

P1050603