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.

Saturday Sunshine + Mt Lawley

Five Bar and The Brisbane Hotel – both in Mt Lawley and both former employers of mine and both amazing venues. Get acquainted or simply visit again and again like an old friend. Just be sure to get a beer whilst you’re there …

Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
During Beaufort Street Festival 2011

Driving up to Perth inevitably results in visiting places with friends behind the bar, so it was not a surprise that my boyfriend and I found ourselves hanging out at Five Bar & The Brisbane Hotel on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Located along Beaufort Street in the always evolving suburb of Mt Lawley, it is the sort of strip you can spend a whole day exploring. Book shops, almost endless cafes, clothing, knickknacks stores, day spa, florists, furniture stores, and don’t forget the pubs, the bars and the places to eat. What’s best is that you could spent a fortune in a day or you could spend very little. I have had many happy days doing a delightfully cheap n’ cheerful feed at Taka’s before grabbing a pint at The Flying Scotsman then walking around Hyde Park on a nice sunny day.

We arrived at Five Bar just before lunch and as my most recent ex in terms of employers, where I was Assistant Manager, it’s always nice to drop back for a visit! We sat at the bar and watched as it slowly filled with hungry Saturday lunch people. We had gone straight for the Feral taps, sighting Barrel Fermented (Hop) Hog and Karma Citra (India Black Ale) on offer. It made sense for us to get one of each and share since we are both wildly in love with Feral Brewing.

This may be a good time to congratulate Brendan and his team on Feral Hop Hog taking out #1 spot in the 2011 The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers!

Five Bar is a bit unique in that although they are a James Squire Ambassador Venue, offering 5 James Squire Beers and their Orchard Crush Cider on tap, they are also able to offer 2 Feral beers from a second set of taps. This second set of taps is also set a little differently, both in appearance and function. They stand out as two old wooden barrels on the bar, it’s hard not to wander down and take a look (though the barrels don’t actually store any beer) and secondly, the temperature is set a fraction higher and the carbonation a fraction lower. This has been done with consultation from Brendan, Owner and Head Brewer at Feral, meaning his beers are served with a little less chill to enhance flavours and with a little less bubble which, I find, results in a smoother, fuller mouth feel. Five Bar tend to get a couple of kegs of this and that from Brendan so it always pays to look down the end of the bar and see what’s there. More often than not it’s something offered normally only at Feral Brewing and always something sensational.

The B.F.H (Barrel Fermented Hog) remains the American IPA style of Hop Hog but, as though been sent to a naughty corner, has spent time in new French oak. The result is some delightful vanilla flavours lingering on the front of your palate. Dominant American hops are still very much present and very much welcome!

Sometimes I think beer tastes better out of glasses with handles …

The Karma Citra, always a favourite of mine, is an India Black Ale, or Black IPA, or whatever you want to call the style. On it’s first appearance at the bar, I explained the style to people as a porter and an IPA who had a baby. It seemed to get the idea across in the most time efficient manner. Dark malts for chocolate overtones, and we’re talking proper dark chocolate here, the 70% and above cocoa stuff. It’s a wonder they even manage to get to your nostrils with all the big hop aromas going on but they manage nicely. Citra refers to the hop variety used, which was created in a cross breeding hop program in 1990 and so named for a heavy citrus characteristics it brings to the table. Tropical fruits tag along for the ride too. It’s jet black in appearance with a smooth tan head and then those fruity flavours jump out at you with hop bitterness and malts. Love.

We left, intrigued by the Mash Up, a New Zealand collaborative brew reportedly by 44 NZ craft breweries but had a lunch appointment at The Brisbane.

One of my favourite city beer gardens that has been meticulously cared for since The Brisbane re-opened her doors in 2005. Perhaps it’s a bit on the cliche side but when you’re sitting there and the sun is shining through healthy green trees, it’s just a wonderful place to be! The Brisbane is another one of my former employers, a place I spent many happy years with, and it always makes me smile to come back and visit.

We sat in the back corner of the beer garden and I had decided to re-visit a beer I hadn’t had in quite some time, Redback Original Wheat (no lemon), and HELLO BANANA! I don’t remember tasting that much banana on it in the past. I was quite pleased and it had to be said, the beer looked sensational too. That distinctive shape, the red streak, the clarity and the sun, well, we were soon ordering another. Also, if you go to The Brisbane and don’t get the Homemade Sausage Rolls, you’ve done yourself a grave disservice and you should slap yourself on the wrist, write it down in your phone and make sure you order it next time.

A clear Redback branding win in the sunny Brisbane beer garden

All in all a rather successful afternoon in Mt Lawley and that only covered two spots!

You can visit Five Bar any day from 11am for tasty Feral beers on tap and be sure to ask the bar staff if there’s anything new in the fridges.

You can drop by The Brisbane any day too if you fancy indulging in Homemade Sausage Rolls with a pint in the beer garden.