Goodtimes Craft Beverages

Drink better. Be good.

Month: August 2014

NAIL BREWING: John Stallwood talks about Clout Stout and Clayden Brew

Nail Brewing 'Clout Stout' x 'Clayden Brew'

 

As the cold nights of the past winter were lashed with rain and storms I have been kept warm by a rich, dark nectar. Strong and a little on the sweet side, this beer has its origins in one of Australia’s most celebrated and expensive beers, Nail Brewing’s ‘Clout Stout’.
Initially I was unaware of its pedigree however soon comments on social media linked Clayden Brew Imperial Porter to its esteemed sibling.
In order to understand how this came about I caught up with Nail Brewing’s owner and head brewer, John Stallwood. John was warm, funny and very open about the challenges he faces.
Not only did I uncover answers to this question but I learnt a lot more about Nail, the friendly sibling rivalry with Nail’s ’brother brewery’ and a little something about a planned anti-collaboration release.

Although relatively young, Nail’s ‘Clout Stout’ has become an icon of Australian Brewing. How did this big, beautiful beer come about?
“Originally we did it for Nail’s tenth birthday. We did three hundred bottles. It turned out really good. Moo Brew (Imperial Stout) and Boris (Feral Brewing) were the good reasons for doing it and the fact that Nail Stout was one of Nail’s core beers. We only had Nail Pale Ale and Nail Stout part-time”.
“For ten years we pretty much concentrated on Nail Ale and we actually perfected it at a time where it got Gold in 2008, 2009 and 2010, three years in a row at the Australian Beer Awards where there only had been given another gold to an Australian Pale Ale which is Coopers Pale. So it was all I did at one stage but Nail Stout we would do every now and again over those ten years”.
“So Clout Stout was a good beer to choose for the celebrations and something that I wanted to, I needed to make money from because I wasn’t making money and I needed to make a mark for the tenth anniversary. Not many breweries are ten years old”
“Excise laws were even tougher back then and I was lucky to brew at Edith Cowan. They would get the Excise Rebate so I could brew over 10000 litres”.
“Brendan O’Sullivan who now works at Josie Bones (now closed) was a student at Edith Cowan while I was brewing there. He’s got a good mind and I got good advice from him”.
“I hadn’t brewed anything that was high alcohol. I would say “this is four weeks old and this isn’t looking too good” and he educated us a lot which is good, a young student educating me. He’d say “Give it time, give it time” and it was a slightly low carbonation but probably one of the best beers I’ve brewed, Clout Stout 2010”.
“If you can find a bottle around you’ll be lucky. I actually ended up buying bottles back from Purvis in Melbourne to learn from. I bought some and had them sent back across the Nullabour. So it’s been across the Nullabour twice!”.

 

Have you tried the original 2010 version recently?
“I don’t have it much. Actually I haven’t had it in 18 months, I’m overdue for it. Imperial Stouts are an ageing beer. I’ve gotta drink every bottle I brew for the next ten years to really understand it because they change”.
“When you spend $90 on a bottle of beer you want to know when to drink it. People say ‘how long should I keep it for?’. I don’t know how long you should keep it for because each batch does change”.
“Master Brewer Tim O’Rourke (Brilliant Beer Technical Training) from the UK, he came over (to Australia) and said ‘most Imperial Stouts you can keep for ten years’ and I was like ‘Keep a beer for ten years?’. That shocked me”.

 

So how did you settle on the Russian Imperial Stout style as the tenth birthday beer?
“Nail and Feral are like brother breweries. Feral and Nail are very competitive towards each other so whatever I say in the next amount of time I will give a lot of shit to Feral but that’s because we are brother breweries but I won’t give them shit for this one”.
“Nail Stout was originally the beer that won lots of awards and then Feral brought out Boris and then Moo Brew brought out an Imperial Stout as well. I can remember thinking with the Moo Brew one ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money for a beer’. I love both of them”.
“Brendan’s a great brewer but I brew better beer. I got some advice from him and it’s probably wrong but beers like Boris really hit me”
“Beers like Nail Stout were one of my strongholds so I wanted to brew a revved up Nail Stout and also be able to make money from it”

 

At over $80 a 750ml bottle, Clout Stout is admired but is does come with a price tag to match. Can you let me know more about how you positioned Clout in the market place?
“Clout Stout is a very expensive beer for all different reasons but it is hard to sell an expensive beer and people do complain about the price”
“I’ll answer this in many ways. If you were selling a car would you sell it for $8000 or $20000?”
You would sell it at your best price.
“That’s one reason but then again you’ve got to be able to sell it and have people that are able to feel happy. You don’t want to sell a car and get consumer affairs on to you or whatever. You want you to be able to buy that car again”.
“I’ve never really had anyone complain that’s bought it which is a good thing”
“Every year I think I’m nearly getting to the level to be financially stable. Clout Stout helps dig me out of that hole a little bit. It’s the only beer I really make money from and even though it’s hard work and I wouldn’t want to brew it all the time”

Nail Brewing Clayden Brew Imperial Porter

Clout Stout was released in 2010, 2011 and 2012. What happened to the 2013 vintage?
“There’s also a lot of pressure brewing this beer which is where Clayden Brew comes about”.
“Clout Stout won gold at 2012 and 2013 Australian National Beer Awards and Champion Beer and the only Gold at the Sydney Royal Beer Competition and it puts a lot of pressure on you to brew another good one and I felt some much pressure that I felt “I don’t want to fuck this up” because it’s got such a big name for such a low volume beer you need to keep the perfection”
“Last year I did one batch and it was … I don’t know whether I had shaky knees or whatever”.
“I did another one and they weren’t quite … the main reason was they weren’t quite the high alcohol because Clout has to be ten plus (ABV). I’d never added sugars except for priming so I didn’t have the alcohol reading so I blended the two and that became Clayden Brew. My son’s name is Clayden Brew Stallwood and it’s the Brew Log collection number three. There will be more of them in the future”.
“There not many beers that have such a high terminal gravity yet such a high alcohol. I bottled it six months ago and I’ve been drinking it not every day but a lot. Maybe a couple of bottles a day”
“After drinking one of these you think ‘what do I drink next?”
“It’s a mini Clout Stout. Clout Light. And it will happen again”
“It’s actually a lot easier to do a Clayden Brew than a Clout Stout”.

 

So will there be a 2014 Clout Stout?
We’ve already got 600 bottles of Clout and packaging arrives next week then we’ve got to hand label them.

Nail Brewing Clout Stout Label

The packaging for Clout Stout is very iconic how did that come about?
“That was one of the easy packaging ideas where Nick Rawlings, he’s a good mate, I said I’ve got these 750ml bottles, 300 of them, and at low volume not many people help you with things like that but he’s a mate”.
“He said I’ll sort it out and I said “I want a pewter looking label in a box and he came up with the label with the Nail straight down”

 

You touched on Excise Tax earlier. Can you share your thoughts on it?
“Excise is a big problem in beer. Some weeks I pay more Excise than I earn in a year and that doesn’t seem right does it. I’m doing my dream but I want to appreciate the moments rather than look back and go ‘uhhh’. I can see the light and I’m probably three years away but I want to appreciate the moments because I don’t want to look back because I was stressed and had all these problems. So brewing is a dream job but it’s a nightmare to live it”
“I think all brewery owners are the ones that have the suffering. Everyone thinks that they’ve got lots of money where they actually just work hard and make, hopefully, lots of beer but don’t actually get time off”
“Some of the older ones now are getting their rewards. That makes ones like myself see the light. They are the ones that I bow to, the leaders like Feral”.
“There’s a lot that are starting that think that they are on the easy road but it’s a long road. It’s enjoyable but you’ve gotta love it otherwise you’re fucked”.

Nail Brewery
The Moo Brew Imperial Stout gets barrel aged in used Moorilla Winery barrels. Have you thought about a barrel ageing project for Clout?
“Brendan (Varis) is good at that but one of the problems I have at the moment is time. Now we have started to get a couple of good people working for Nail that will make things like that easier. They are eager and enthusiastic and someone that I could say “let’s go and do something with that Clout Stout in a barrel” and I think they’d jump to it but I haven’t had that opportunity before”.
“It will come and that’s part of the good thing about being able to share a brewery with Brendan is being able to do stuff like that and being able to get advice from our brother brewery”.
“We are very competitive and there is a beer coming out in the next three months and the best I can say now is it’s the opposite of a collaboration brew”.

 

Very interesting! Any other news from Nail Brew Log Series?
“The first one did was the ‘Hugh Dunn Brown Ale’ and while we were waiting for the labels to happen we had the malt so we brewed an Imperial Brown called the Hughe Dunn. That’s the one that’s had good dominance in Porter Trophy’s in Adelaide and Melbourne and now we’re making it part of the core range”.
“It’s not a beer that will do great volume. It’s a real specialty beer that’s something that’s not too conflicting. It’s a malt based and a high alcohol beer”.

 

TASTING NOTES:

Clout Stout 2011
Russian Imperial Stout
10.6% ABV
This pours BLACK. No light passes even the edges of the glass.
Aromas of molassus, raisins, burnt fruit cake, liquorice and alcohol at start this massively complex beer.
Full feel is full with a rich viscousity.
Chocolate, treacle, figs and slightly burnt caramel are enveloped around a boozey alcohol.
This alcohol rises to a warming finish.
A stunning beer!

The 2012 & 2014 vintages were also sampled. Each has it’s own nuance and a vertical tasting would be an wonderful proposition.

Clayden Brew
Imperial Porter
8.5% ABV
This pours black with a dark ruby to brown tinge at the edges.
Caramel and burnt sugar aromas makes me think of sideshow alley. Coffee and a hazelnut-like aromas are also present.
Flavours of light licorice, chocolate and fig show through the a rich malt base. There is a slight oiliness too.
This lacks the depth of Clout when tasted side-by-side but on it’s own it punches well above it’s weight.
Given that is 10% of it’s siblings price, this is recommend for anyone with even a passing interest in trying Clout Stout.
Delicious and affordable.

 

Nail Brewing ‘Clout Stout 2014’ will be available in the next few months. Previous vintages are still available in specialist Liquor retailers and select Dan Murphy’s stores.

Nail Brewing ‘Clayden Brew Imperial Porter’ is still available in limited quantities from specialist Liquor retailers.

 

 

http://www.nailbrewing.com.au/

 

Goodtimes Small Logo

NORTHBRIDGE BREWING COMPANY

NBC Street Front

New craft beer taps are pouring in Northbridge!

Wednesday this week the Northbridge Brewing Company poured its first beer bringing together seven years of work on a  multipurpose venue in the heart of Northbridge.

The $800,000 build includes the state-of-the-art onsite brewery, multiple levels including a “Skydeck” and recycled wood from the old Perry Lakes Stadium. The outdoor terrace overlooking the Northbridge Piazza is the perfect place for a beer on a sunny day.

The appointment of Ken Arrowsmith, previously an icon of the Swan Brewery, as the Head Brewer adds curiosity and credibility to this new venture.

Northbridge Brewing Company Beer Terrace

Keen to find out more I asked Northbridge Brewing Company Venue Manager, Natasha Stickland about the past, present and future of the NBC.

How did the team come together to create Beerland and the Northbridge Brewing Co?

“With an extensive portfolio of hospitality assets, the team has long recognised Western Australia as the home of the craft beer revolution in Australia and had the vision to create an accessible hospitality venue where exceptionally well made craft beer was the focus.”

“We were very fortunate that the team managed to convince Ken Arrowsmith that it was time to resurface and put his Master Brewer’s hat back on to create his first commercial beer in at least five years. Luckily for us, one of our Directors went to school with Ken!”

Ken Arrowsmith hard at work.

Beerland Pale Ale, Beerland Lager, Beerland Mild and Beerland Wheat beer have been released as the core range. Are there plans to extend this range or add seasonal beers?

“In addition to our current core range, we will also produce limited edition seasonal brews – it would be fair to say that an IPA is high on our list, as is a German Festival beer. The list is endless and we look forward to engaging with our customers to make beers they have always wanted to try.”

“NBC has one of the most advanced breweries for its size in Australia. We utilise a step-wise infusion process and a full reverse osmosis water treatment plant which provides extra flexibility to fine tune the characteristics of our beer, particularly in the hands of our Master Brewer.”

Has there been an important influence on the development of the brewery?

“Yes, the support of Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi, City of Perth Councillors and senior staff there.
While we had the concept to provide a relaxed environment opening out over the green grass of the Northbridge Piazza, it was the support of the City of Perth which has helped to bring our concept to life.”

“Watching the development of the hospitality industry and the passion that people have for well-made beer has certainly been influential.”

The taps are pouring at the Northbridge Brewing Company.

The taps are pouring at the Northbridge Brewing Company.

Seven years is a long time to get the brewery up an running. What was the process to get the site like?

“It has been a long haul, however now we have a fully functional brewery, a sensational, dedicated team of hospitality professionals and a venue capable of hosting up to 500 people, we are only looking forward.”

“Let’s just say we appreciate the support that we have seen since we started and it will be worth the wait!”

What are your hopes for the Brewery especially given it’s a block from the new Perth City Link and in the heart of Northbridge?

“We have always enjoyed the experience of going to small breweries and trying these fantastic, world class craft beers made by passionate brewers. But in WA this is really something that is limited to day trips to the Swan Valley or down to the Margaret River and Dunsborough region.”

“We will be aiming to provide a similar experience right in the heart of the Northbridge.”

“At NBC we have a full bar, including other people’s beer – we recognise that not everyone likes craft beer, but they can still enjoy the NBC experience. Importantly we also believe that our beers stand up to some of the best in the game, so we are not shy to stand them side by side with other great beer labels.”

“We hope that being accessible in terms of our offering and location will draw more people into our take on the craft beer experience, where we hope they will be bold and take advantage of our beer offering.”

The view from the Northridge Brewing Company Skydeck.

Where do you see Australian Craft beer in five years time?

“Western Australians love a good craft beer and we only see this continuing to improve. We have watched tastes change and believe that beer drinkers will continue to trade quantity for quality, particularly in WA where there is a lot of great choice.”

“At NBC, we cater to every beer drinker, whether you are a beer aficionado, a novice hoping to
increase your product knowledge or people who just share a love for the amber liquid and we will be doing our part to drive the craft beer sector further.”

Does the Northbridge Brewing Company  have a bottling or canning plan for the coming years?

“At the moment our focus is providing exceptionally well-made beer which is only available over the bar, straight from the tank.”

What are the game changing beers that have inspired Ken Arrowsmith and Beerland?

“Our Master Brewer, Ken will tell you he has a broad palate for beer and that his favourite beer is the next beer he tastes!”

“In fact Ken believes there are very few bad beers, it’s just a preference of taste.”

 

 

Further information can be found at www.northbridgebrewingco.com.au and on Facebook.

INTERNATIONAL IPA DAY 2014

International IPA Day

Big. Flavourful. Bitter.
The India Pale Ale (IPA) style of beer delivers all of these characters through its celebration of the hop cone.
Just as these characters are celebrated they also scare off those new to Craft beer. After drinking milder beer styles like Lagers the step into larger flavors can be a challenge. It can also be a challenge to understand why they are so celebrated.

The first Thursday in August marks International IPA Day.  It’s a great chance to reflect on this iconic beer style and it could be an even better chance to try one for the first time.
My own experience in pushing my palete came through drinking what was at the time was a massively bitter and fruity beer. It was a struggle to get through the pint but there was something there. This curiosity was enough that I ordered another and pushed on, falling in love with the India Pale Ale.
The origins of the IPA are from English beers that were comparatively highly hopped and higher in alcohol to help preserve them on the long sea voyage to India from the English brewing capital of Burton-On-Trent.
Hundreds of years later the American Craft Beer revolution was kick started in the 1970’s by the short lived New Albion Brewing Company and the Anchor Brewing Company. Anchor’s ‘Liberty Ale’ is considered to be the first new world IPA although in 1975 the style name was not used yet.

 

ANCHOR - Liberty Ale
In essence this beer was Pale Ale (also a term that was not used yet) that used a high hop regime and was also ‘dry hopped’, a process involving the addition of hops after the brew for extra aroma and flavour. It’s a beautiful beer that is mild by today’s IPA standards.
It’s also a drinkable history lesson that’s an easy entry point for those new to IPA’s.
From there Sierra Nevada took these rediscovered brewing techniques and produced their classic Pale Ale, an inspiration for many early Craft Brewers.
These developments were centred in the USA and drew bold on new American hop varieties. The aim of the early Anchor and Sierra Nevada beers was to reference classic English beers styles but put an American stamp on them.
This was done by using only American hops, in particular the Cascade variety which had been released for use in 1972 by the USDA. The Cascade hop is synonymous with Grapefruit like aromas.
It is one of four hop varieties that are regarded as the 4 C’s. They are Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Columbus.
All of these have played a large part in the evolution of IPA. In fact many of the world’s great IPA’s use only these hops either for flavour or aroma.

SEIRRA NEVADA - Torpedo Extra IPA

As the modern IPA style evolved the passion to push the hop boundaries of drinkers lead to the development of the Double IPA or Imperial IPA.  Californian brewer Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing fame is credited with developing this style in the early 1990’s.
Double IPA’s take these bold flavours and turn them up to eleven with massive resinous bitterness and alcohol contents reaching towards 10% ABV.

 

Russian River - Pliny, the Elder

As with most things the pendulum does swing back the other way and there has been a recent trend towards the “Session IPA”.
These, as the name suggests, are more like a Craft mid-strength beer with a high hop rate.

A very creative example of this is from New Zealand brewery 8 Wired whose very well regarded 8.8% ABV Double IPA “Superconductor” spawned a ‘half’ sibling in the 4.4% ABV Session IPA “Semi-conductor”.

While the modern IPA revolution has had an American focus brewers in the UK have been well aware of its heritage.
Alastair Hook of the Meantime Brewing Company has been producing what are considered to be some of the most faithful recreations of classic beers styles including the IPA.
The UK revival also comes from brash Scottish brewers BrewDog whose ‘Punk IPA’ created a storm when released in 2007.

In the their flagship beer, Punk IPA, BrewDog have focused on new world hops like New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin to create Tropical flavours and aromas to ride over the bitterness.
These bold flavours and audacious packaging have seen BrewDog become champions of the UK Craft Beer movement and respected internationally.

Brewdog - Punk IPA

Locally, Australian beer interest in the IPA has taken much longer but the big flavour train has really gathered momentum in the last few years.
In Australia the American IPA (AIPA) style is driving this growth however some Australian brewers are using only Australian varieties of hops creating an Australian IPA style.
FERAL - Hop Hog AIPA
Feral Brewing’s “Hop Hog” American IPA is an icon of Australian IPA Brewing.  It ‘s an American IPA style that has won the Critic’s Choice of Australia’s Best Beer for the last three years running.
From a little further up the road in the Swan Valley, Mash Brewing has won the Champion Beer 2014 award at the Australian Beer Awards with their “Copycat” American IPA.

MASH - Copycat AIPA

While some of this piece focuses on the modern American take on the India Pale Ale style there have been further developments and sub-groups over time . So here is a quick recap on the variations on the style:

ENGLISH IPA: The origin of the style focuses on lots of fruit characters of a bed of sweet malts with a mild bitterness for the style.

AMERICAN IPA: The modern resurrection of the style with a bold hop bitterness, floral or citrus aromas and a caramel base.

SESSION IPA: Essentially a hoppy Pale Ale and easy entry point for those new to the IPA.

BLACK IPA: The marriage of a Robust Porter (another classic beer style) and a hoppy IPA. Imagine coffee or chocolate malt characters with a ramped up bitterness and Citrus or Tropical notes.
The Goodtimes Eagle Bay BIPA post in “Beer Favourites” is a good local example.

http://www.goodtimescraftbeverages.com/beer-favourite/

A massive example of the Black IPA is Arbor’s 2014 “Freestyle Fridays #44”.

This would rate as the most bitter beer I have ever tasted.
Beer bitterness is graded by the Internal Bitterness Units (IBU) standard. The easiest way to understand this is from some examples.

CORONA is about 15 IBU

FERAL Hop Hog is about 50 IBU

RUSSIAN RIVER Pliny, the Elder Double IPA is about 100 IBU

ARBOR Freestyle Friday #44 2014 is about 1200 IBU

This is a HUGE beer that will challenge the most seasoned beer drinker!

ARBOR - Freestyle Friday #44 2014

So where does the new Craft Beer drinker go with all of this?

 
I believe it’s all about expectation. If you understand and expect bigger flavours from your beer then you’ll have much more chance of enjoying or at least respecting them.

Unfortunately being blindsided by massive flavours, bitterness and a passionate Craft beer friend may not be the best way to start with this style.

From my experience, treat this style with respect and it will give it back to you in spades.

Some suggested staring points for IPA’s would be:
BREWDOG – Punk IPA
ANCHOR BREWING – Liberty Ale
FERAL BREWING – Hop Hog

 

Cheers to the India Pale Ale!

 

Drink better. Be good.

International Beer Day 2014

DANCING CAMEL - Midnight Stout

The Goodtimes Craft Beverages beer for International Beer Day 2014 is recycled from a previous social media post.

It’s recycled because it represents the absolute BEST of what I believe my forum is about: fellowship.

The backstory is recently a friend of mine traveled to Israel because he his passionate about the Ancient World. While he was there he found the one of the few Brew-Pubs in Tel-Aviv, Israel: Dancing Camel.

From his account, Dancing Camel is run by a hilarious and courteous American man, David Cohen.

The Brewery has a range of Craft Beers including a Pale Ale, an IPA, a Stout and a Wit which is brewed with Etrog, a type of ancient citrus that is referred to in the Bible.

In the spirit of fellowship he brought me back the Dancing Camel ‘Midnight Stout’, wonderful stories of his time at Dancing Camel and a glimpse into the rich history of Israel.

I am not politicising beer but I am thankful I can enjoy it.

Moreover, in many thoughts of revelry for International Beer Day I hope that there are some thoughts of peace and fellowship.

#IntlBeerDay2014

Drink better. Be good.