Feral + Fremantle

Love Fremantle, love The Sail & Anchor and even better when there’s a Feral Tap Takeover and the new Mountain Goat Fancy Pants …

High Street Fremantle

My partner and I recently did a day trip to Fremantle to see his family and play tourists for the day. We walked to The Roundhouse, originally a gaol back in 1831 that is the oldest public building in WA and I learnt that they hung one person in the 55 years it operated. I never knew that! We also did a tour through the HMAS Ovens submarine at the Fremantle Maritime Museum, a highly recommended experience unless you are claustrophobic or considering a career in the navy, if either of these are applicable to you I suggest avoiding it as you would a warm pint of VB.

HMAS Ovens

The destination for lunch was The Sail & Anchor and whilst you may assume this was my idea it was in fact where my partners mum wanted to go. Yippee!

I was, of course, well aware of the Feral tap takeover happening at The Sail for the month of March so I was extra excited about being at The Sail.

To get the bad news out of the way, the Feral Watermelon Warhead continues to elude me. Originally created for the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular (GABS) last year, the beer proved popular and thankfully it’s now on regular rotation. I have missed it a couple of times now, clearly indicative of a brilliant beer I reckon, but hopefully there will be a pint in my future.

The first beer I had was the Feral Runt, an American Pale Ale that takes it name from it’s position as Hop Hogs little brother, talk about big trotters to fill! The Runt has big aromas of fresh floral hops that had me compulsively sticking my nose in my glass like some sort of hop addict, a light mouth feel and flavours of grapefruit, pine and resin.  There’s no doubt the Hop Hog genetics are there but just a little softer. I really enjoyed it though I did feel a little taunted by the Feral website, describing the Runt as being for those who “can’t hack the true Hop Hog experience” Oh those cheeky hogs, someone get me a pint of Hop Hog stat!

Feral at The Sail

Next up, and last for that matter since I had no desire to be the intoxicated girlfriend at a family gathering, was the Mountain Goat Fancy Pants. After trying to decide on another Feral beer I noticed Fancy Pants on the list and I just had to have it. Just like Feral The Runt has beeretic links (that was me trying to combine the words “beer” and “genetic”, bare with me folks) to Feral Hop Hog, the Mountain Goat Fancy Pants is a decedent of Mountain Goat Hightail Ale. Like it’s Hightail predecessor the Fancy Pants is also an Amber Ale except a lot bigger and, to quote Crafty Pint, “sans financial constraints”. The nose is toasty with caramel and red fruit and a fuller body than its Hightail brother. The flavours are bold with the toasty aroma following through to the palate, floral and herbal stuff going on, tropical fruit and an assertive, but not aggressive, bitter finish.

According to Crafty, the hops Mountain Goat are using in their Fancy Pants are Galaxy and Cascade, two popular varieties many beer lovers will be familiar with. Galaxy can be found in the likes of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale and Eagle Bay Single Batch Summer Ale. Cascade will be well known by hop heads from many American style Pale Ales and India Pale Ales such as Little Creatures Pale Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

I am more than slightly excited to see what Feral and Mountain Goat will be doing at GABS and Good Beer Week in May … the countdown is on and I’m already mentally packing!

Mountain Goat Fancy Pants

Me + Redback Original Wheat

There are so many great stories around beer and breweries and people but often the best are the ones that are personal, that mean something to you. Here’s my own story around me + Redback Original Wheat

Redback Original Wheat
A beer almost as old as me …

Define difference between beer and craft beer?

 

As someone who really, really likes beer and lives in Australia there is a certain amount of *tsk tsk* about liking anything associated with Matilda Bay Brewing (aka Carlton United) and Malt Shovel Brewing (aka Lion Nathan). Yes, they are the certainly the two big players in the world of beer but it doesn’t make them evil or villainous. Judging from their photo in the 2011 Beer Lovers Guide to Australia, the guys at Matilda Bay are nice, smiley and happy people who probably really like beer too. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Dr Chuck Hahn a couple of times and he’s real nice too. Most importantly, just because they are the “big boys” doesn’t mean they make bad beer.

I have fond memories of Matilda Bay’s first born, Redback Original Wheat Beer. It reminds me of Saturdays spent with my parents in Fremantle. Dad always parked in the same car park near Myer despite the fact it meant we had to walk past the giant fake white pointer shark head that stuck out from one of the loading bays. I have yet to find anyone else who remembers this thing and I worry that my imagination is trying to scare me. Either way, I hated it. It scared the pants off me. I think Dad thought it was funny but thankfully Mum was a little kinder and would be sure to hold my hand as we went past. The rest of the Saturday would go pretty well – we’d shop around a bit, stop at Cully’s Tea Rooms for coffee and party pies and a good long stroll around the Fremantle Markets. We’d emerge from the markets to The Sail & Anchor and stop in so Dad could have a pint and I remember it was always Redback Original Wheat.

The artistic stylings of my boyfriend and I whilst drinking some single hop IPA at The Sail & Anchor

I’ve always loved wheat beers, from when I discovered Hoegaarden whilst working at The Belgian Beer Cafe Westende, and even now. The more I’ve journeyed through beer the further I’ve travelled away from Redback. However, one sunny day recently I made a quick decision to get a pint and get reacquainted with an old friend.

I am not even sure what prompted the thought in my head. I hadn’t walked past the beer taps. I knew the pub had it (since I had previously worked there) and perhaps I had walked past a table who were drinking it and it slipped into my subconscious. After all, they do have the branded glasses and they are rather striking in a sunny beer garden.

With the first sip it was banana! Someone had smushed a banana into my beer glass … and it tasted lovely with a little sweetness in there too. It’s by no means a heavy beer, very light on and so it easily falls into the refreshing category. This isn’t a bad characteristic either. There are hints of spice too but to be honest I was so happy sitting in the sun with friends that I didn’t focus solely on the beer and just happily gulped away.

What does make me sad is that Matilda Bay Brewing no longer brew in it’s home town of Fremantle, having moved away to Melbourne some years ago. I was lucky enough to do a brewery tour through Matilda Bay in 2005 before it closed the doors. I remember two things – lots of copper and an occupational health and safety poster that had a close up of an eye with a nail in it. With such a rich history in Western Australia, being the first craft brewery (to the best of my knowledge) around, I found it sad to see her leave for the East Coast.

Call me sentimental but I’ve known this beer since I was a kid. And whilst it’s not my favourite beer in the world (and really, who could pick just one) and I don’t rant on about how sensational it is like I do with Mountain Goat, Feral or Sierra Nevada, it still has a place in my beer drinking world.

Redback Original Wheat

4.7% abv

Kristallweizen

A German style filtered weissbier (meaning “white beer”) brewed with malted wheat and barley using Saaz and Pride of Ringwood Hops.

Weissbier …

This beer style has had a rollercoaster ride over it’s long history, going from massive popularity in its early days until it’s brewing was outlawed by a Bavarian Duke. He wanted to be the only one who was brewing wheat beer and he and his family had his way for 200 years. Over this time demand for wheat beer steadily declined. With profitability down the family put the right to brew wheat beer up for grabs. Other people tried brewing wheat beer but sales continued to fall, no one wanted it, opting for Bavarian Lagers instead. However, one brewer who purchased the rights to brew weissbier persevered and eventually saw great success. For whatever reasons weissbier production in Germany went from 3% in the early 1950s to holding about 1/10 of the overall beer market in the country and continues to be an ever popular category, brewed all over the world.