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.