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”
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.