Goodtimes Craft Beverages

Drink better. Be good.

WELCOME TO 2016 AND INSTAGRAM

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Welcome to 2016!

It’s been quite a while between posts however there has been a lot happening in the Goodtimes world.  Since the last official Goodtimes post I’ve been contributing to the Crafty Pint  for a number of venue and interview pieces.

I have also been moving Goodtimes Craft Beverages to a more Instagram based format. While there may be articles from time to time on the Goodtimes blog the majority of 2016 will be devoted to Instagram.

I wish you an amazing 2016 and hope you continue to follow my beer adventures on Instagram, Facebook and of course here on the blog.

 

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CHEEKY MONKEY GET THEIR CANS OUT

New Cheeky Monkey cans

New Cheeky Monkey Blonde and Pale Ale cans

A can explosion is sweeping through the craft beer world and Margaret River’s Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery is the latest brewery to launch in the format.

Before a number of Perth launch events, Goodtimes caught up with head brewer Ross Terlick about getting his Cheeky cans out.

Cheeky Monkey head brewer Ross Terlick

Cheeky Monkey head brewer Ross Terlick

The initial release features the Blonde Capuchin (4.9% ABV) and Old Reliable Pale Ale (5.0% ABV) as well as the Crooked Tales cider.  While this will keep regular fans happy, the beer nerds will enjoy future ‘Southern Wailer’ specialty releases in a 500ml can. It will be great to see the the current Oak Smoked Wheat beer, the first of it’s kind in Australia, or a recent Golden Stout be released beyond the brewery.

Cheeky Monkey - Southern Wailer Specialty Release Oak Smoked Wheat Beer

Cheeky Monkey – Southern Wailer Specialty Release Oak Smoked Wheat Beer

Ross Terlick was proud to talk through the brewery’s new six figure investment and the months of research. In the end it was a gut decision to choose the Cask Brewing canning line.  For those following beer packing installs (it’s a niche group), Cask are the same company that supplied South West neighbours Colonial Brewing Co. with their canning line.

Once the cans are feed down the line the machine cleans the empty cans, removes oxygen, tops up with CO2 and seals cans at up to 35 cans a minute.

Cheeky Monkey canning line

Cheeky Monkey canning line in set-up ‘gaffa tape’ phase.

While the brewery has been bottling for a number of years, cans allow a larger format to interact with the consumer. This is something that the Cheeky Monkey have maximised with tasting notes on the back of each can.

For the drinker that wants a cold Capuchin after a hard day’s work this won’t get a look in but over time these notes will lead to more educated drinking.  Interestingly this is something that ex-Cheeky Monkey brewer Red Proudfout is doing with his Pirate Life cans.

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Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery is located 3 hours south of Perth in Margaret River.

Cheeky Monkey can launch event s are planned around Perth in the next few weeks. Check the Cheeky Monkey and Cidery Facebook page for details.

GOSE: Drinking the new beer frontier

Anderson Valley Brewing Co. - Gose

Anderson Valley Brewing Co. – The Kimmie, The Yink and the Holy Gose Ale

Well before the high octane beers of the past twenty years, before the nascent rise of 1970’s US craft brewing, even before some of the classic European beers were first brewed, a tiny region in central Germany was brewing a beer style that would challenge the modern beer revolution.
It’s name?
Gose.
Pronounced ‘Go-zuh’, this style is typically brewed with yeast, lactic bacteria and salt which creates a beer that some say taste like sweat. This unappealing flavour reference has cautioned others to say that  Craft beer is dead.
My interest started late last year though a growing amount of international press on the style. Finally, at GABS this year, I was able to try Boatrocker Brewing’s brilliantly named ‘I ain’t afraid of no Gose’.
On tasting I wondered why a beer that has been extinct up until the end of the Second World War now seemed to be so polarising.
Sure it was a little sour and salty but it definitely wasn’t the worst beer I’ve ever drunk. The light Coriander flavour added freshness to the balance and I could see how it would be an excellent Summer thirst quencher.

That beer box ticked, I thought that would be the end of chasing Gose.

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A few months on, two new interpretations of the style have caused a minor revisit.

Firstly, New Zealand brewery Kererū released a salty seaweed ale called ‘Karengose’. Coming in at 4.0% ABV, this beer delivered a similar salty, slightly sour with citrus refreshment but with a umami note that was probably derived from the seaweed adjunct.
Within a couple of weeks of this US brewery, the Anderson Valley Brewing Co.’s version arrived on Australian shelves. This was the beer that many international drinkers were commenting on and I was very keen to try it.

‘The Kimmie, the Yink and the Holy Gose’ Ale was released as part of the brewery’s Session Series. Again the tangy balance of salt, citrus edge and light lactic sourness kept pulling me in for another sip. Sure, it’s quirky but but I could definitely get through a few of these on a hot summers day.

This style will not be for everyone but with an open mind this could easily be in many fridges this Summer.

NEW BOOTLEG BREWS

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Bootleg Brewery has recently released two new beers that are adding to a renaissance at the Margaret River brewery.

The first new beer is part of the ‘One Off’ series and was brewed for the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS), part of Good Beer Week. The inspiration for ‘Moo Chai’, a Chai Milk Stout, was born out of Head-brewer Ryan Nillson-Linne’s attempt to give up coffee. He admits that the caffeine cleanse  didn’t work but there is now a very interesting beer as a result!

After finding inconsistency when ordering Chai at cafes, Ryan plunged into researching the beverage. Masala Chai as it’s known in India, is a blend of Black Tea and a range of spices that usually includes cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves,  ginger, and black peppercorns.

Ryan added his own Chai spice blend to what he describes as ‘a beautiful Milk Stout’ that took its inspiration from the Thirsty Crow ‘Vanilla Milk Stout’. The spices create a drier finish to what could be a sweeter style of beer.

Inspired by an offhand online comment about Beeramisu I decided push the beery boundaries of this spiced ale. The resulting Chai Beeramisu was universally loved by recent guests.

Bootleg Brewing Moo Chai Beeramisu

Making the Moo Chai Beeramisu

The base recipe for Beeramisu can be found here.

Bootleg Brewery - Moo Chai and Chai Beeramisu

Bootleg Brewery – Moo Chai and Chai Beeramisu

Bringing things back to a more sessionable pace is the start of the ‘Hop Swap’ series.

It’s a return, of sorts, to the Settler’s Pale Ale that was brewed a couple of years ago. That beer evolved into the hopped up and very successful ‘Speakeasy’ IPA.

The Bootleg team were looking for an approachable beer to compliment the range but also one that the brewers could have some fun with.

This energy has given birth to the ‘Hop Swap’ series. Each 200 case batch of Hop Swap will be based on the same Pale Ale recipe but will showcase a single variety.

Ryan notes that he wants “to educate the drinker” and the each release will expand the drinker’s experience.

Bootleg - Hop Swap Galaxy

Bootleg Brewing Hop Swap #1 Galaxy

The first batch uses the Australian ‘Galaxy’ hop. Many drinkers will be familiar with Galaxy’s passionfruit and citrus characters from its use in beers like Stone & Wood’s ‘Pacific Ale’ and Feral Brewing ‘Hop Hog’.

The result is a bright, fresh beer that is approachable for the everyday drinker but will also keep the beer nerds happy.

Ryan commented that “after Galaxy I’m not going to use a hop that I’ve used before”

The next batch will use the New Zealand ‘Riwaka’ hop which should deliver grapefruit and citrus characters. After that, Bootleg has purchased the entire Australian allocation of the experimental ‘Equinox’ hop. This will be the first time that this particular hop will be used in WA.

Bootleg Brewery beers are available at most respectable bottleshops and from the brewery.

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GOOD BEER WEEK: Melbourne 2015

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This heading should read ‘What I did on my holidays’ and I make no apologies for the content in this post. Amazing beer will be referenced, sometimes casually. Name dropping is likely to happen even without my best editorial intentions. Good beers were drunk, Goodtimes were had and these are my beery highlights from Melbourne 2015.

Slowbeer

This is a short story about chasing rare beer across Melbourne, finding it and then missing a wonderful opportunity to share it with the man who made it.  After phone calls and cab rides I’m sharing a magnum of Jester King ‘Equipoise’ at Slowbeer oblivious to the fact that  Jester King Co-owner / Founder Ron Extract was browsing the store.

As the name ‘Equipoise’ suggests this beautiful beer is about balance. I met Ron later and he noted that Jester King rarely do magnums any more and this was a good find.

The store itself is well stocked with local and international beers and the ability to drink on-premise was great.

Jester King 'Equipoise' at Slowbeer

Jester King ‘Equipoise’ at Slowbeer.

Brewers & Chewers at The Local Taphouse

Brewers & Chewers at The Local Taphouse continues to be one of the best events of the year.  Hosted by the affable genius Pete Mitcham AKA ‘Prof Pilsner’, this is a speed dating dinner with brewers from near and far. This years guests included brewers from Jester King, Victory, Beavertown, Birra del Borgo, Modus Operandi and BrewCult.

Brewers & Chewers 2015: Bill Covaleski

Victory Brewing Company Brewmaster & President Bill Covaleski with Goodtimes.

Bill Covaleski from Victory (pictured above), Logan Plant from Beavertown and DJ from Modus Operandi were particularly informative and good fun. It also great to have Cam from KAIJU sitting on our table as a punter. This alone shows how good this event is.

Sour beers

It seemed that this year’s Good Beer Week was awash tartness. Local GABS entries held their own amongst the limited release of classic Sours. Draft pours from international breweries like Cantillon, Boon and Rodenbach were in high demand. From a punters point of view it was great to have options to refresh the palate from many of the high ABV and resinous beers. The generally lower ABV and complex flavours of Sour beers pleasantly slowed the pace of some sessions.

Cantillon beer range at Forresters Hall

The Cantillon range on tap at Foresters Hall, Collingwood.

The Alehouse Project – Pint of Origin New Zealand

The Alehouse Project in Brunswick East hosted the New Zealand ‘Pint of Origin’. Pint of Origin is a week long event focused purely on taps from one region or brewery, in this case EPIC Brewing from New Zealand. While trying to get a beer at the bar I ended up talking with Owner / Head Brewer Luke Nicholas . Over the next hour he shared many stories including his love of Gin and samples of a new Epic ‘White Gin IPA’.

EPIC Gin IPA

EPIC Brewing’s White Gin IPA.

Luke was funny, informative and brutally honest about beer and the world in general. It’s his passion for quality not only in his beer but in the industry that inspired me the most. While all of this was happening his ‘Armageddon’ IPA was winning Best IPA at the Australian International Beer Awards across town.

The conversation turned to music and he mentioned that he was DJ-ing tonight. What followed was a trip into heaviness with Metallica, Black Sabbath and some heavy New Zealand bands getting  airtime while I was drinking draft Epicurean Coffee & Fig Stout. I can thank him for having ‘War Pigs’ stuck in my head a week later!

Luke Nicholas & Goodtimes

Luke Nicholas discussing the finer points of blogging, brewing and Metal.

Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS)

The heritage listed Carlton Exhibition Building is one of Australia’s most beautiful buildings. Originally it was the site of Australia’s first parliament and each year it hosts 15000 people over three days for the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) Melbourne.

GABS in action!

GABS in action!

Despite getting in at 4am that morning I elected to attend the Friday midday session. It’s a little quieter, easier to chat and generally softer on a dusty head.

The 118 GABS beers on offer represent an expression session of creativity for local and international brewers. They ranged from a 2.3% ABV ‘Tonic Ale’ from Pikes Beer Company to the 16% ABV ‘Brutus’ monster from Murray’s Craft Brewing Co . Both of these were great beers by the way!

Although many seem to be based around cheeky names, the beers are generally well constructed with many of them being brewed a year in advance only rest in specialty barrels for extra character. That said, it’s got to be fun designing a beer around names like  ‘Flaming Lamington’, ‘Pop My Maraschino’ and ‘Lord Helmet Schwartz’.

Most entries were enjoyable with my only exceptions being The Australian Brewery’s ‘Mad Mad Madras’ curry beer and Barossa Valley Brewing’s ‘Christmas Pudding Porter’. Full marks for creativity but I think the names speak for themselves.

GABS Panno

The first GABS session has begun. This is all beer!

My picks tend to be from the first half when my senses and attention span were at their peak. Well, as close as they were going to get on only a few hours sleep. The second half of my session consisted of doing laps of the venue talking to brewers and dispensing my own pours of Rodenbach ‘Grand Cru’ and cured meat cones during conversation.

Rodenbach 'Grand Cru' & cured meat.

Rodenbach ‘Grand Cru’ with a cured meat cone.

GOODTIMES GABS PICKS:
#11 BACCHUS BREWING CO – Atomic Lemon, Lime & Bitters (2.7% ABV) – Sour Ale modeled on the non-alcoholic drink.
#23 BLACKHORSE BREWING- Finger Lime Ale (4.7% ABV) – Pale Ale with Finger Lime fruit.
#24 BOATROCKER BREWING CO – I Ain’t Afraid Of No Gose (4% ABV) – Historical Sour Ale with Salt and Coriander.
#27 BRIDGE ROAD BREWERS – Creek (4.5% ABV) -Cherry Lambic (Sour) Ale aged in Cognac barrels.
#39 EAGLE BAY BREWING CO x MANE LIQUOR – Black and Tannin (6.5% ABV) – Black IPA aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
#55 HOMESTEAD BREWERY – Velvet (9.8% ABV) – Black Cherry Sour beer that nods at Cherry Ripe.
#64 LA SIRENE BREWING – Bebe Rouge (4.5% ABV) – Belgian style Red Ale with berries.

BrewCult’s ‘Milk and Two Sugars’ 8% ABV Sweet Stout eventually won the People’s Choice Award for their tribute to a classic coffee order. Vanilla beans and 3000 shots of Cold Drip coffee sourced from a boutique Melbourne coffee roaster were added to this very authentic beery take on a breakfast beverage.

GABS: So many taps!

So many taps!

Surrounding all of this delicious madness was an ample food area, giant Jenga, a roving brass band, a three piece ‘Cirque de GABS’ troupe, information sessions and opportunities to talk with breweries at stands throughout the Exhibition Building. It’s during these one on one conversations that I tried new beers like a 440ml Oaked Stout can from New Zealand brewery Panhead and elegant, European inspired beers from La Sirene.

I was also able to sample Mountain Goat’s new ‘Barrel Breed’ Barley Wine. This massive but nuanced beer was aged in Lark Distillery barrels and won Champion Australian Beer at the Australian International Beer Awards the night before. Highly recommended!

Mountain Goat 'Barrel Breed' Barley Wine.

Mountain Goat ‘Barrel Breed’ Barley Wine.

The Catfish

The Catfish is a classic old school Melbourne bar & bandroom with great Southern US styled food – Cheese steak anyone? This was the destination for anyone finishing or starting a GABS session. That included brewers, punters and the media.

The Catfish main bar in action.

The Catfish main bar in action.

I loved it’s well worn, knock-about-ness and lack of pretension. Dancing through The Catfish’s three levels is eight intelligently chosen taps and bottle menu depth that includes 2011 Marriage Parfait and 2012 Rodenbach Vintage. This is a bar that understands its punters.

Belgian Beer Brunch at The Local Taphouse

Belgian Beer Brunch with Filip from Rodenbach.

Belgian Beer Brunch: Rodenbach ‘Grand Cru’ & waffles.

A spur on the moment decision to head back to the Local Taphouse resulted Filip from Rodenbach very politely asking if he could join the table (of two) for breakfast. Cue: Waffles, bacon, Rodenbach ‘Grand Cru’ and a 40 minute tour of everything Rodenbach on his laptop all well before noon. Filip couldn’t grasp how thankful we were for his conversation and time. This experience was the most personal and humbling of the whole trip.

Carwyn Cellars Sour Saturday

Carwyn Cellars is about 25 minutes from the Melbourne CBD and had been on my list since beginning to plan the trip. Last year they conducted extensive renovations to the existing bottleshop to include a modern bar area at the rear. My visit was well timed with the stores ‘Sour Saturday’ in full swing.

Watching Ben Carwyn, owner and super nice guy, of Carwyn Cellars pouring himself pints of Cantillon Kriek and laughing at the absurdity of it rates as one of my favourite GBW moments.

Rodenbach ‘Foederbier’ was tapped for the third time only out of Belgium for this event and it drank beautifully.

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Some of the tap list at Carwyn Cellars Sour Saturday. Cantillon ‘Kriek’ and ‘St Gilloise’ are missing from the top.

Plans are a foot to include the shop next door and it shows how sensible liquor licensing can create a respectful, community hub.

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This Melbourne institution was the hub for Danish brewery Evil Twin’s tap takeover. Lucky for me Cookie was 40 metres from the hotel.

My highlight was drinking Evil Twin’s 10.4% ABV Russian Imperial Stout ‘Soft DK’ at Cookie, making the most inappropriate comments about ‘Soft DK’ to anyone that would listen and still being offered the food pairing of Fried Bananas with Coconut Ice Cream and Honey.

For the record the ‘DK’ refers to ‘Dookie’ or human faeces. Soft Dookie. It sounds repulsive but the beer drinks like a thick, vanilla spiked, velvet stout hug. It’s beautiful.

Evil Twin Brewing's 'Soft DK' with Banana Fitter & Coconut Ice Cream pairing.

Evil Twin Brewing’s ‘Soft DK’ with Banana Fitter & Coconut Ice Cream pairing.

There was also plenty of action at Two Row Bar, Beer DeLuxe and the huge Foresters Hall. This post could go on for days!

In short these highlights don’t even hint at the laughter, great beer and good times that played out over my four days. I’ve made some new friends and can’t recommend the the trip across enough next year if you are a punter or in the industry.

Cheers to you Good Beer Week!

#GBW2015

 

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NBC Chilli Beer Launch

NBC Chilli Beer with 18" Heatseeker Sub

NBC Chilli Beer with 18″ Heatseeker Sub

Somewhat fresh off the plane from Good Beer Week Melbourne, Goodtimes ploughed head on into the new Northbridge Brewing Company ‘Chilli Beer’. The beer was launched this afternoon as part of the NBC’s Chilli week that includes a themed food menu that the NBC is becoming famous for.

The Chilli beer is based on the NBC Lager with added Birds Eye chilli’s that were donated by local hot sauce maker Firehorse. Admittedly, it’s not a style of beer that I would normally drink however I do love chilli. Tasting shows the a chilli heat that is drinkable and has touches of capsicum sweetness.

NBC Chilli Week Menu

NBC Chilli Week Menu

NBC Chilli week also showcases a range of palate punishing dishes from Chilli Buffalo Wings, Sloppy José Burgers and an 18″ Heatseeker Meatball sub that has all of the Firehorse sauces in ascending heat. The real fun to had with friends is the Russian Roulette Sliders.

Who will get the Trinadad Scorpion, the second hottest chilli in the world,  hot sauce slider?

NBC Chilli Beer and Buffalo Wings

NBC Chilli Beer and Buffalo Wings

I thought that washing down hot food with a chilli beer would be a challenge but with a group of friends this quickly had tables filled with riotous laughter and sweaty brows. This can be shared through the event hashtag #NBCchilliface and the Goodtimes chilli face can be experience can be found on Instagram.

The NBC Chilli week runs until the Monday 1st June and as a bonus the palete cleansing, limited release NBC Saison is still available on tap.

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RETURN OF THE MUMME

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Thirty minutes north of Perth, Indian Ocean Brewing Co has been quietly evolving over the past six months. With plans underway for a re-branding Goodtimes shared a beer with Head Brewer Mal Secourable and Assistant Brewer Joel Nash to find out more.

Before getting into the future we reached into the past as the beer we shared was the Indian Ocean Brewing Co’s Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) entry for 2015. I say the past because the Mumme (prounced Moo-meh) beer is a style of beer that is considered to be extinct or with extremely few modern examples. On the beer family tree it’s a parent of the German Altbier style and was popular in the Middles Ages, being allegedly first brewed in 1492.

Traditional recipes do vary however most include a laundry list of herbs, berries, wild flowers, different types of tree bark and spices like cardamon. Some records show that this was then barrel aged for up to two years creating a strong and high ABV beer.  The guys at Indian Ocean Brewing Co. have taken a more restrained approach to the style.  Their modern version is brilliantly autumnal in colour and smoked beechwood aromas that is perfect for a chilly afternoon.

“It’s not an out of the box beer in the sense that it’s really ‘out there’. It’s still meant to be sessionable in it’s own way. Its malt driven and the smoke is really obvious. We’re huge fans of Schlenkerla (famous German Smoked Beer Brewery) and there are elements of that but its obviously more mild” Mal said.

The Smoked Beechwood is the first noticeable aroma along with a malt focused scents. There is a dryness that rounds off the finish that stops this from being to cloying. The 6.2% ABV isn’t noticeable which makes this a different but very drinkable beer.

“A traditional Mumme style may have be a lessor ABV. There are varying records of the attenuation levels but what was very much a part of the traditional beer was significant and quite varied spicing and literally herbing. A lot of different stuff thrown at it. We kind of stayed away from messing with that too much and really tried create a modern version of it” said Mal.

Joel explains the beer design further. “We took elements of what they were saying it was like and thought about how we could do that through other processes or other ingredients. For example we mashed really high that gave body in the beer because they said it was really worty (sweet unfermented beer). The original version was under-fermented, under attenuated so we mashed high for that. We chose a few spicey, peppery hops to give it a little bit of the traditional character.” Joel said.

Mal added  “Staying with the Germanic, Teutonic that suits the style we used very traditional, predominantly German hops. Earth driven ones like Spalt and Tettnager and a little bit of Hallerteau for clean bittering. Tettnager for a  bit of pepper, Spalt for that earthy character”

“Because the malts would have originally been floor malted we used Maris Otter which is an English floor malted malt, one of the only ones that’s still available. Its about building the body underneath it to hang everything else off it because it was originally a very malt driven beer and the herbs were used to try to balance that. That’s where my original love of it all came because I love Altbier”

Indian Ocean Brewing Co logo

The current Indian Ocean Brewing Co. logo looks set to change.

The Mumme release looks to be the start of change at Indian Ocean Brewing as Joel notes.

“It started as a GABS beer but we are looking at where we can have it around Perth. It fits into a lot of things at the moment. We are going through a re-branding exercise at the moment, regenerating the brand. We are trying to create a new future for the Indi brand and a marketing brief has been given to some agency’s”

The team are looking at the whole core range as well as the branding with a relaunch in the next few months to drive the brand beyond it’s home in Mindarie.

“We are definitely hanging on to the Lager. It’s a Dortmunder style and suits our core market at the brewery. The American Pale will stay.
The Kolsch is going to part of that somehow. We’re looking at single dry-hopping the beer to take it through a sequence of different hops over a period of time to shows the hops and for us to experiment”.

“The Wit beer will stay for the moment but it would be good to change that through the winter months with a Robust Porter. The Robust Porter has just been brewed with a subtle smoke malt being thrown at that. We’re hoping for it to be rich and full with that slight hop bitterness and roast character to carry the sweetness. Outside of that there is a whole range of ideas that we’ve been throwing around including sake based beers, extinct beers, a barrel aged  old ale and sours. The thing with this range is to keep us away from the really hop driven beers, the Black IPA’s and all that sort of stuff” said Mal.

Joel  also noted “We don’t want to do what everyone is doing. It’s no offense but everyone is doing a variation of an IPA. Double IPA’s, Imperial IPA’s, Belgian IPA’s and then it’s thrown in a barrel. I wouldn’t mind doing that but I think there’s also room to do something else”.

It’s clear the Indian Ocean Brewing Co. team have a vision for the future and one which will bring something unique to West Coast beer drinkers.

Indian Ocean Brewing Co.

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PIRATE LIFE BREWING ARRIVES

Pirate Life Thowback Session IPA

New Australian brewery Pirate Life have stormed Western Australia with their debut range of craft beers.  In less than two weeks the team have supported around 15 events to launch the beers and found many new converts. Goodtimes spoke with one of Head Brewers Jared ‘Red’ Proudfoot and Michael ‘Mick’ Cameron from Pirate Life about the the brewery and stories of how hard work leads to great timing.

The core range was launched in Adelaide on the 1st of March with a solid two weeks of launch events. The recent Perth launch was very successful with Red noting that “the reaction here has been fantastic. People are really enjoying the beers”. This week it’s Melbourne’s turn this week which will be a solid lead in to Good Beer Week including the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) for which Pirate Life have planned something special.

Red shared some of the details about this one-off beer. “It’s going to be a Black Belgian Double IPA, about 10.4% ABV%. It should be fun to brew. It’s going to be around 150 IBU’s (International Bitterness Units). We’ll use Candi Sugar, Belgian Malts, American hops and then either just a single Belgian yeast strain or we might do a concurrent ferment with US and Belgian yeast. We haven’t decided yet”

The hopped up crossbreed beer gives some indication of the intention behind this brewery. They are not mucking around and they have a passion for hops.

This new world brewing passion can be taken in some way from a strong BrewDog connection. Head Brewers Jack Cameron and Red  met while working at the Scottish brewery and Jack’s dad Mick also worked for BrewDog as well as a number of other breweries.

The international experience in a reputable and extremely fast growing company has clearly influenced the Pirate Life brewery. From initial discussions in February 2014 the Pirate Life team signed the lease on a building in Hindmarsh, Adelaide on the 12th of November 2014. Four months later they brewed the first beer of the 12th of February 2015 for release in Adelaide in March.

This confident and focused attitude translates to the clean, modern packaging on the beer cans.

“We packed the way we wanted to package. We just wanted to keep it really simple. Not too much crap on the cans but informative and that’s why we put the recipe on the rounds, to use that space that nobody has used much. We’re pretty happy with it.” Red said.

“The more educated the drinker is the better off they are going to be to make choices in the future. Having that transparency is pretty important I think in the industry.  More brewers should probably do it. The best Craft Beer brewers in the world share everything. There’s no secrets for a lot of them.”

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Mick Cameron (L) and Red (R) from Pirate Life Brewing.

Mick Cameron adds that “One of the things that I learnt in the US when I was working with BrewDog and Coopers was that the Craft Beer world is very collaborative. You see that in all of the collaboration brews that go on. There’s communication going on with brewers all around the world. Everyone is open to sharing. It’s like when we wanted to buy our brew kit we spoke with the guy who’s the Head Brewer at the new Stone brewery down in the City of San Diego. Jack (Cameron) had met him in his job at BrewDog so he rang him and said ‘Premier stainless, whats the kit like?’. The bloke said they’d had no dramas at all with it, it terrific. It’s the very same kit that we’ve got and that gave us the faith to say ‘if Stone are using it, it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us” *laughs*

Red notes that “They’ve got a few more toys on their one. I don’t think that Kris (Ketcham – Stone San Diego) needs to run up and down the stairs as much as us” *more laughter*

The conversation then turned to the recipes. I was interested in the choice of the Mosaic hop in two to the core range.

“It’s the daughter of Simcoe and Nugget. I’ve always loved Simcoe but it doesn’t really have much of the tropical kind of flavour we were going for. So Mosaic has a bit of both and up until about a month before we were brewing it was a completely different hop. It was going to be Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe which was going to be exactly the same as the Double IPA and then one afternoon I popped into the the Wheaty (Wheatsheaf Hotel) on the way home and they had the Deschutes ‘Chasin’ Freshies’ on tap, so a Wet Hop Mosaic beer, and I sent a message back to Mick saying we need to rethink the hops in the Pale Ale and I’m pretty glad we did because it gives a really nice balance” Red said.

It’s this kind of timing that underplays years of hard work. Red was laconic about this but there does seem to be quite a few moments of perfect timing throughout the Pirate Life adventure.

“Ah mate, throughout my whole career it’s been like that. Some you think are good luck or good opportunities but you just gotta put yourself in the right place, at the right time.”

Pirate Life Pale Ale

Pirate Life Pale Ale (Photo courtesy of Pirate Life Brewing)

The core range is currently three beers but this will extend to up to six including an Imperial Red Ale, a Stout and possibly a Saison. This will be dependent of the new tanks that are currently being produced. The current monthly capacity is up to 45000 litres however Red noted that 40000 litres is comfortable and gives the beer the right time in the tanks.

Some other beers are already in the pipeline however one of them is destined to be the ‘lost’ Pirate Life beer.

“We had a Wheat beer lined up. A traditional Belgian style but we were going to use South East Asian aromatics like lemongrass, Kaffir lime, ginger but I’m not sure if we will anymore because Two Birds just launched a very similar beer. We need to do a bit of rethink. It needs to be around that softer, summer style.” Red noted.

“We’ll have a lot of seasonal releases throughout the year, a lot of single batches. We’ve got a Brown Ale only in keg in South Australia and the next single batch we’ll make sure it’s over here (Perth).”

“Because of our BrewDog backgrounds, always having a bunch of different beers in the tanks is something that excites you. So that’s something that’s pretty important to us to keep brewing at Pirate Life”

Pirate Life IIPA

Pirate Life IIPA

This lead to conversation about how Red got into brewing.

“I did two dreadful homebrews and probably wouldn’t even give it a crack anymore. I wasn’t a big homebrewer but I’ve always loved beer. When Creatures (Little Creatures Brewing) I’d just turned 18 and I was working for Western Power so I was away all the time. I’d spend two weeks in Albany or two weeks in Kojonup, you know out in the middle of nowhere. I figured there was no point living in Perth so I moved down south with the folks and befriended Jeremy (Good – Cowaramup Brewing) pretty early on and found out how he got into it and why he got into it. It got to be about four years on and I went ‘Right, I’m going to be a brewer’.

“He (Jeremy) was working as a network engineer and said ‘I’m going to give that away and follow a passion’. I thought why wait until I’m 40 I’m going to have a crack at it when I’m 25 and Jeremy said he’d done this course at the IBD (The Institute of Brewing & Distilling), so I did the course above it. While I was away I started reading instead of going to the pub. I was much better off reading at home in the caravan park, just learning as much as I can and it was around the time in November 2009 when BrewDog released their Penguin beer (Tactical Nuclear Penguin), 32% ABV. There was a big buzz around the brewing world and me being young and excited I spent an afternoon looking at the BrewDog site after watching the Penguin video  and at these pretty cool young chaps at this brewery.

“At that stage they were the bad boys of brewing, they’ve matured now but anyway there was the news page on the website that said “Brewers wanted” and I was like ‘There’s no chance in the world but I sent James and email and told him a bit about myself and then got a response that said ‘What are your five favourite beers and why?’. So I got that back to him a week later. I took me a little while to put it together. So I got it back to him and it was coming into December and I got an email back that said Martin’s (Dickie) Perth for the next two weeks”

“His brother lives here (Perth). In the next two weeks it would be good if you can catch up. I was away working, think I was in Albany at the time and this was before the Christmas break.  I worked Christmas Eve, drove back and went to the office and put away the paperwork for the day and went to Creatures (Little Creatures Brewing) and had a couple of beers with Martin. I got through the first pint of Roger’s and he’s like ‘Your about 70% of the way there’. The next pint I got it over the line and he said ‘Pack up your bags and come over’. I gave my boss two months notice  and my last day of work he dropped me off at the airport. I knocked off at 2 o’clock on a Tuesday and away I fly”. *Laughs*

I asked more about the BrewDog connection and whether Red had met Jack or Mick before working in Scotland.

“We (Jack) met in Aberdeen (Scotland). Pretty randomly actually. I got off the plane and I got a message on my phone from Dickie (BrewDog owner Martin Dickie) saying give this chap a call and he’ll tell you where you’re staying tonight. I knew Jack and Mick from the website because as soon as I got the job I was [researching] BrewDog, BrewDog, BrewDog.”

“Mick was in the US and Jack was in the UK by himself for three or six months and then Mick came over and set up the first BrewDog bar in Aberdeen for them. They were living in San Diego at the time.”

Talking about his new Pirate Life adventure back in Australia, I asked Red about what sparked the choice of Adelaide as the 1000 square foot Pirate Life brewing headquarters.

“We’re in Hindmarsh. It’s about 2 km’s from the city . Adelaide, has been personally has been fantastic . It’s such a good city and me being a country boy it feels like a big county town kinda thing so for me it’s really good. The food and wine scene over there is really strong so it’s exciting to be there.”

“Professionally it’s a good place to set up. For us we want to be as environmentally friendly as possible so shipping beer from Adelaide is a lot better than shipping beer from over here (Perth) to the East Coast. The West Coast is probably going to be 20% of our market so a small amount of beer comes across here, a long way and the bulk of the beer goes a short way and maintains freshness. All of our beer is transported cold.”

As for the future of Pirate Life Brewing Red is already thinking about their first Birthday beer.

“We’ve got a good one lined up for our first birthday which I’ll have to get on to. I’ll probably have to start planning that in November, start brewing it around then and then get it into some barrels. It’ll probably be barrels from the Caribbean I’d say. We need to get a big iconic flagship beer and get into barrels that’s previously held some nice rum. That’s pretty important, Pirates, rum, it makes sense” *laughs*

Pirate Life beers can be found by following this link.

 

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A VISIT TO BEATEN TRACK BREWING

Beaten Track bottles

Recently Goodtimes was able to travel to Kalgoorlie, WA and that meant a visit to Beaten Track Brewing!

An article on Beaten Track Brewing was the first piece for Goodtimes and I was excited to finally get to the source. They are renowned for brewing alchemy 600 kilometres east of Perth, Australia. Along with the mad science Nick Galton-Fenzi and his partners also produce a massive range of classic beers that are true to style but have a little piece of Kalgoorlie in them.

I arrived by taxi to a semi-industrial area in Boulder, Kalgoorlie’s conjoined twin town. There is little to look at from the front with only a small sign highlighting the brewery. In fact my taxi driver kept trying to drop me at a questionable, run down pub a few hundred metres up the road that he assured me had beer and entertainment. This was not what I was here for!

Walking through the gate and down the gravel path there is a great alfresco area at the back that Nick has plans to build on. From there you can see the solid wood topped bar tables, ‘shed-like’ interior and main bar. Its a smallish space that could hold 50 people at a push.

Beaten Track Facade

The unassuming facade of Beaten Track Brewing

Although most people in town I spoke with had heard of the brewery it seemed that few had ever been there.  This Wednesday afternoon after five o’clock there was about 15 people enjoying tastings.

Due to local liquor regulations and alcohol based social problems in the town, Beaten Track have fought an uphill battle for ten years to be able to trade. As a result of the current laws they are only allowed to sell tastings over the bar (six generous serves for $20) and packaged bottles for take home consumption that are not on tap.

It’s an overly complicated method that completely misses the point in the health situation that faces many towns in Australia. This style of regulation penalises artisan producers and reduces the likelihood of educating responsible adults into discerning drinks. In some way this legislation may be playing the card that it’s trying not to deal by reducing the options to consumers.

People affected by these health issues are unlikely to hand out $12 for 640ml’s of a Raspberry Wheat beer. I’m not down playing the massive concerns surrounding this blanket legislation however it does severely limited small scale producers like Beaten Track Brewing to offer something different to the community. If anything it’s these very producers that contribute to the regional identity.

Most of the beers I sampled had some ingredients sourced from or produced in the local area. Local honey, house smoked wheat malt, hops grown on site (Yes, on site)  and in the ‘it couldn’t get more local’ category, wild yeast are some of the local ingredients Nick and the team are weaving into their portfolio.

Beaten Track Hops

End of season heat affected hops growing at Beaten Track Brewing

Back to the beer!

I sampled most of the current range, about 15 beers all up starting with the ‘Sandstone’ Summer Ale. This beer sells ten times more than every other beer in the range. It’s refreshing and at 4.7% ABV would be the perfect refreshment for a hot day in the mining town.

Some of Beaten Track Brewing’s best sellers

‘Hamelin Bay’ Hefeweizen and ‘Gibb River’ Rye Ale are part of the standard line up and are true to style with a little touch of Kalgoorlie in them.

The 6% ABV ‘Cigar Box’ Lager uses house smoked Wheat Malt in a Californian Common (Steam Ale) style. The initial impression is literally of a cigar box with toasted tobacco and wood aromas. This may be off-putting for some but the very approachable base style makes this quite an intriguing  quencher.

Obama Honey Ale is the Beaten Track Brewing interpretation of the White House Honey Ale that US President Barack Obama tweeted out in 2012. This version uses locally sourced Honey and wheat. The honey creates a rich character rather than sweetening the beer. The QR Reader on the taphead and bottle links to the recipe. Nick noted that more of Beaten Tracks beers would be using this technology to engage with consumers.

The 6.4% ABV ‘Gunbarrel’ IPA is a more of an English take on the popular style. This lead into the Beaten Track ‘Youngs Scotch Ale’ which  is the only Nitrogen carbonated beer in WA. Nitrogen brings a finer bead to beer, increasing the creamy mouthfeel. It’s exactly this detail that lifts this beer above what could be a heavier Amber ale. It’s on style and delicious.

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Beaten Track Brewing nitrogen carbonated ‘Young’s Scotch Ale’

At 4.1% ABV the Barrel Aged Wild Ale comes off as an interesting yet light quencher.  Neither the oak or a sour character is upfront but the overall feel is refreshing. It’s almost like a Kalgoorlie Berliner-Weiss.

Beaten Track Wild Ale

Beaten Track Brewing  ‘Wild Ale’

‘Cookie Monster’ (10% ABV) stems from a local homebrew club. An ANZAC Biscuit inspired beer stirred interest at a brew-share and the recipe owner was happy to share it with the Beaten Track crew. Not surprisingly yet surprisingly, it tastes like a beery ANZAC biscuit. Caramel, oats and Golden Syrup are all prominent with an assertive alcohol heat. It’s rich and sweet.

Beaten Track 'Cookie Monster' ANZAC Cookie beer

Beaten Track Brewing ‘Cookie Monster’ ANZAC Cookie beer

Later I tried the French Saison yeast  version of ‘Cookie Monster’. This is one of the best beers I’ve tried this year. The French Saison yeast smooths out the richness by bringing complexity and dryness to the beer. The result of this is the alcohol comes forward but isn’t as hot. It acts as an anchor for all the other flavours.  It’s brilliant brewing that I begged to be bottled!

No Hipsters

Beaten Track’s sense of humour. No Hamsters!

There were many more beers sampled including a Smoked Helles, a West Coast Red, a Dopplebock and an Alt.  It seemed every time my glass was empty there was another style of beer to sample being poured into it.

The takeaway bottled Reserve range includes excellent examples of a Barley Wine and a Russian Imperial Stout which uses Cascade hops that are grown on premise.

I recommend seeking out Beaten Track Brewing should you be in Kalgoorlie. The creativity and welcoming attitude of the team makes this an essential reason to visit.

If you are in Perth Beaten Track Brewing’s beers can be found at Mane Liquor, ReStore Leederville, International Beer Store Leederville and Cellarbrations Carlisle.

http://www.beatentrackbrewery.com.au/

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NORTHBRIDGE BREWING COMPANY: IPA

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Northbridge Brewing Company IPA

Recently Goodtimes was invited to the launch of the new seasonal from the Northbridge Brewing Company (NBC). The 7% Indian Pale Ale (IPA) had been on tap for a week and this was a great chance to learn more about it from Head Brewer Ken Arrowsmith.

The third floor Sky Deck was the perfect location for a couple of hours of hop-head heaven. As the sun set Ken worked the crowd with  the history and brewing techniques that centred around hops.  This included a flight of seven beers finishing with the new NBC IPA.

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The sun sets on the Northbridge Brewing Company Skydeck.

The first beer tasted was Tuatara’s ‘Pilsner’ which showcases the New Zealand Pacific Jade, Motueka, Riwaka, Nelson Sauvin hop varieties. This beer was included to highlight the seasonality of hop growing as well as to highlight the classic Pilsner style. Previous to establishing Southern Hemisphere hop growing regions, Northern hemisphere brewers were limited to just one harvest a year.

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Master Brewer Ken Arrowsmith sharing his hop knowledge.

Mash Brewing’s English style ‘Challenger IPA’ followed showing a modern yet English leaning take on the classic style. Although recent fame has been for their ‘Copy Cat” American style IPA, this beer can certainly hold its own. In many ways it’s a more approachable beer for those new to hoppy beers.

Next up was British brewery Youngs with their ‘Special Ale’. The Special Ale was brimming with classic fruity characters from the Fuggles and Goldings hops. This fruitiness was supported by the honey and caramel from the Maris Otter and Crystal malts. I’m sure this has many fans in its homeland but I’m not one.

Before the run of modern IPA’s commenced pipping hot pizza’s, arancini balls and mini Burgers were delivered to the tables. These continued throughout the night. I’ve eaten at the NBC quite a few times and it has to be one of the best kitchens in Perth for casual dining.

Stone & Wood ‘Pacific Ale’ heralded a shift into more contemporary territory. This is a beautiful, 4.4% ABV beer that was that has it’s origins in Byron Bay on the NSW north coast. It’s unfiltered and uses the Australian Galaxy hop which creates summery passionfruit aromas. Pacific Ale is consistently rated in the top two Australian beers.

Feral Brewing’ ‘Hop Hog’ is the beer that takes the number one position. As the tasting were being handed out more than half the audience had worked out what we are about to taste. This shows not only the prevalence and respect for this beer but also the changing tastes  of Australian beer drinkers. It’s a classic.

Things stepped up from there with New Zealand brewery Epic’s ‘Hop Zombie’. Before tasting Ken noted that this was one of his favourite beers and it’s easy to see why a hop-head would love it. Hop Zombie is an 8% ABV Double IPA – that is a massively scaled up version of an IPA.  It’s inspiration comes from one of the original Double IPA’s, River River Brewing’s ‘Pliny, the Edler. Both of these beers are very balanced and drinkable, even at 8% ABV and with 80 International Bitterness Units.

Finally it was time for the new Northbridge Brewing Company IPA to be sampled. Ken had a few words to say about it but really wanted to let the beer do the talking. The IPA uses classic American hops (Cascade, Centennial & Chinook) with an addition of Galaxy hops. This is then dry-hopped with the resinous Amarillo & Centennial hops.

With its assertive bitterness and solid malt backbone, Ken has created a wonderful expression of a classic beer style. This will be quite a step up for the novice beer drinker from a Pale Ale or even the less assertive ‘Hop Hog’.  Given this is a one-off anyone wanting to try it is advised to get to the Northbridge Brewing Company soon.

http://www.northbridgebrewingco.com.au/

 

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