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Tuesday
Jun162015

AKASHA BREWING CO FRESHWATER PALE ALE

Akasha Brewing Freshwater Pale Ale. In late 2014 rumours were brewing (see what I did there?) that Dave Padden, co-founder and head brewer of Riverside Brewing in Parramatta, was leaving the company.

By Christmas this became a reality when he sold his stake in the business. The split arose with his business partner, Stephen Pan, due to a fundamental difference in the vision and culture of Riverside. He indicated he was taking a break and would return to the industry with a new venture.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of its predecessor, Akasha Brewing Co, reared its head in early 2015.

‘Akasha’ refers to the unknown ‘fifth element’ which unites with the other four elements of earth, water, air and fire to produce an entity greater than the sum of its parts.

Padden teamed up with his brother-in-law, Wesley “Twoguns” White, announcing the company would be based in Western Sydney with an initial focus on brewing hop-forward ales. Continuing with the elements theme, the brewery’s core range will each represent one of the elements. The debut release Freshwater Pale Ale will represent the ‘water’ element, Hopsmith IPA will represents ‘earth’ and two other core beers will represent the remaining two elements, air and fire.

So back to the beer. Freshwater is an American style pale ale hopped with Cascade. It’s a sessionable 5.2% ABV and 35 IBU.

Golden yellow colour, white creamy head rich with hop oil bubbles. Nice citrus and pine aroma. Medium body moderate to low carbonation. Clean, smooth and moderately resinous mouthfeel. Juicy citrus and pine hop flavour, slightly earthy grain flavour with a piney bitterness lingering. The clean hop flavour and bitterness has you coming back for more.

It’s a bit like a repressed IPA trying to break free. No doubt the full hop fury will be released in future brews.

A solid debut brew and another welcome addition to the Sydney craft beer community.

 

8/10

Wednesday
May272015

WOLF OF THE WILLOWS XPA

Wolf of the Willows IPA. A couple from Melbourne, Australia took the plunge and started their own brewery, Wolf of the Willows, in 2014.

The name of the brewery alludes to a story of a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveller, officer and writer known as Pliny the Elder, who first identified the hop vine.

At this time. hops grew wild in the forest. They were described as wild, choking the willows, taking them down like a wolf to a flock of sheep.

Pliny and his naturalist buddies created the botanical name for hops - ‘lupus Salictarius’.  These Latin words can be roughly translated to ‘wolf among the willows’. The botanical name for hops were subsequently changed to ‘humulus Lupulus’. Poor old Pliny died in 79 AD while observing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Wolf of the Willows are taking a modern approach to brewing, starting with style guidelines and straying a little to make it their own. They call their debut release an ‘XPA’.

Strangely, in 2014, several breweries released XPAs each with their own definition of the style. Wolf of the Willows describe their XPA as an ‘Extra Pale Ale’. A west coast American style ale, extra pale in colour with extra hop aroma and flavour.  It’s 4.7% ABV and in terms of style it seems to be something like a cross between an American Pale Ale and a session IPA.

Pale yellow with a fine white head. Citrus, passionfruit and tropical fruit aroma. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Clean citrus, passionfruit and tropical fruit hop flavour with a mildly bitter and crisp dry finish. There’s a mild biscuity malt flavour which adds a bit of complexity to the malt backbone without being overpowering. In terms of style is reminds me a bit of Feral’s Sly Fox and Ekim’s After Battle Pale Ale.

An easy drinking and flavoursome thirst quencher.

 

7/10

Tuesday
May262015

BATCH BREWING CO MOSAIC IPA

Batch Brewing Mosaic IPA. I was pretty keen to try this beer for two reasons: firstly, Batch Brewing make awesome US style brews. Secondly, Mosaic is one tasty, tasty hop.

It’s known for its complex blend of floral, tropical, fruity, and earthy characteristics. It suits this American style IPA perfectly which is a respectable 6% ABV.

Golden yellow, slightly opaque with a fine white head with small hop oil bubbles. Citrus, pine and tropical fruit aroma. Medium body and moderate carbonation with a reasonably resinous mouthfeel. Strong citrus, pine and grapefruit with an underlying tropical fruit flavour.

Lip smacking and lasting bitterness with a nice dry finish. This is a flavoursome IPA that packs a nice bitter punch. As it warms up the bitterness mellows and the tropical fruit flavours become more apparent.

An excellent showcase of Mosaic hops and another fine beer from Batch Brewing.

 

9/10

Monday
May252015

MOUNTAIN GOAT THE DELMONT

Mountain Goat The Delmont. This beer pays homage to Tom Delmont, one of the Mountain Goat crew.

I had been looking for this beer for a while around the traps but couldn’t find it. I was at the Bendigo Craft Beer Festival 2014 and the beer name leapt out from the festival guide. I headed over to the Mountain Goat tent and the man himself was standing there.

I looked around and couldn’t see it, so I asked Tom if it was pouring, Unfortunately, it was not. I eventually tracked down this mysterious beer and once I did I started seeing it everywhere.

It’s a West Coast style IPA, 6.8% ABV and 65 IBU. On the malt front are NZ Gladfield Ale, Vienna and Redback malts which apparently deliver a semi dry palate. It was mash hopped with Cascade. Then Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo and Cascade were thrown into the kettle and whirlpool. Finally it was dry hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo.

Golden yellow, surprisingly crystal clear with a creamy, hoppy head. Dank pine aroma possibly from the Simcoe dry hopping. Medium body and moderate carbonation.

A clean, hop forward beer with the malt taking a backseat. Primarily dank pine and citrus with an underlying stonefruit and floral flavour. The hop flavours linger with a moderately bitter and resinous mouthfeel. As it warms up the bready malt flavours from the Vienna malt and the stonefruit from the Amarillo becomes more apparent.

This is highly approachable beer that reminds more of an American Pale Ale than an IPA.

 

8/10

Sunday
May242015

MODUS OPERANDI FORMER TENANT RED IPA

Modus Operandi Former Tenant Red IPA. Situated in Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches is Modus Operandi.

Husband and wife team Grant and Jaz Wearin started operations in late July 2014 and head brewer, DJ McCready, is the former senior brewer and head of the specialty beer program at Oskar Blues Brewery in North Carolina.

Along with expert knowledge of brewing US style beers he has also implemented an Australian first: takeway one-litre cans that are filled directly from the brewery taps.

The brewery collected four trophies at the Craft Beer Industry Association (CBIA) Craft Beer Awards 2014 including the the Kegstar Trophy for Champion Australian Craft Beer for their Former Tenant Red IPA.

The Former Tenant pays homage to the tenant that previously occupied the brewery site who had a passion for indoor hydroponics. It’s a Red IPA hopped with Mosaic and Galaxy and it’s 7.8% ABV.

Amber red colour with a fine, slightly yellow head with small hop oil bubbles. Strong citrus and pine aroma. Medium body and moderation carbonation. Strong resinous pine and citrus, underlying tropical fruit nicely balanced with a caramel malt backbone. The hop flavours linger nicely. Despite the relatively high ABV it doesn’t taste boozy or bittersweet. It’s flavoursome and dangerously drinkable.

A fine addition to the Sydney craft beer community.

 

9/10

Saturday
May232015

BATCH BREWING CO WEST COAST IPA

Batch Brewing West Coast IPA. I have to say I was pretty stoked when I received this as a Christmas gift from my brother (cheers Jon!).

I headed to Batch Brewing on the Australia day 2014 public holiday after they announce an impromptu opening. I knew they had recently brewed their West Coast IPA and I was keen to check it out. However, when I arrived I was told the tap had just run out. Like some kind of strange beer karma, the beer eventually found its way to me.

I couldn’t find much info on this beer other than it’s 6.4% ABV. I think they may tweak the recipe each time they brew it.

Golden yellow colour with a fine creamy white head with small hop oil bubbles. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Caramel malt and citrus hop aroma. Strong but smooth citrus, pine and grapefruit flavour. Soft and resinous mouthfeel. Lip smacking bitterness with the hop flavours and bitterness lingering. It has a dry finish that is very moreish.

Batch Brewing is sure raising the bar for Aussie craft beer.

 

9/10

Friday
May222015

FOUNDERS BREWING DARK PENANCE

Founders Brewing Dark Penance. Founders brew some of my favourite dark ales so when I heard about this beer I actively sought it out.

Since black IPA’s have been doing the rounds for a while now they decided to step it up a little. Dark Penance is an Imperial Black IPA, which is a burly 8.9% ABV and 100 IBU. Crystal malt was added for sweetness while Midnight Wheat malt creates its dark colour. On the hop front are Chinook and Centennial hops.

Very dark brown, light brown head with fine bubbles of hop oils. Sweet dark malt and citrus and pine hop aroma. Full body, low carbonation with a smooth and resinous mouthfeel. Starts with a strong citrus and pine hop flavour with a robust bitterness cutting through the malt.

The hop flavours and bitterness linger with a chocolate and roasted malt aftertaste. Despite the relatively high ABV there are no bittersweet or sickly characteristics. As it warms up it becomes less bitter and the malt and resinous mouthfeel becomes more prominent. This is a well balanced beer that has both great malt and hop flavour.

Fans of beers such as Ekim Brewing Co’s Hel Black IPA and Brewdog’s Libertine Black Ale should check this out.

 

9/10

Thursday
May212015

HALF MOON BAY MAVERICKS AMBER ALE

Half Moon Bay Mavericks Amber Ale. This is the signature beer from the little brewery across from the big-wave beach south of San Francisco. So you'd hope it would be magic.

It's not bad, but it's not magic.

With an IBU of 20 and an ABV of 4.8%, it's obviously a beer for long sessions in the sunshine while you're eating languidly in the outdoor sunshine at the brewery. Like we did.

For that, it's indeed pretty good, and considerably better than the saison from yesterday.

It pours a beautiful brown colour, and though the head is small, it's retained all the way to the bottom. Disturbingly, though, we could only get it in a plastic cup. Am I at a brewery or a football game?

There is the smell of nuts and toffee and it's more of the same when you taste it.

It could use a touch more bitterness to finish off each mouthful with a bit of cleanliness, but it's not bad.

It's creamy, with tastes of everything from burnt sugar to hazelnuts to a touch of pine and citrus, but it's mostly roasted caramel that eases off late on the tongue as the citrus comes through.

There's something slightly unremarkable and unfulfillng about it, though. Maybe it could use a silkier mouthfeel or a more dominant flavour profile, but it's a decent enough location beer. And that's about it.

And they lose a point for plastic cups.

 

6/10

Thursday
May212015

LITTLE CREATURES FURPHY REFRESHING ALE

Little Creatures Furphy Refreshing Ale. Little Creatures expanded their operations in late 2013 by opening a second brewing in Geelong, Victoria.

They decided to create a brew especially for the people of Geelong and they did just that, launching ‘Furphy Refreshing Ale’ at the Geelong brewery in July 2014. They went a little further and announced it would be initially available exclusively on-tap in Geelong.

The name of the beer comes from the stainless steel tanks and fermenters at the brewery supplied by Furphy Engineering. The Furphy family of Shepparton, Victoria have produced water tanks for over century. During WWI, J. Furphy & Sons delivered water tanks on horse and cart to the Australian army. Solders would often meet at the tanks and exchange banter. This of course led to embellished or improbable stories being told which would later be referred to as a ‘furphy’.

The beer is roughly based on the Kölsch style using 100% Victorian ingredients. It’s a highly sessionable 4.4% ABV.

Golden orange, opaque with a fine white head. Mild malt aroma. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Soft sweet malt flavour, clean mouthfeel with a rounded bitterness. It's refreshing and easy to drink but a little boring in the flavour department.

Ironically, I tried this on tap at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Lorne, Victoria., a good 65km from Geelong.

 

6/10

Tuesday
May192015

HALF MOON BAY NOT FOR SALE ALE

Half Moon Bay Not For Sale Ale. Nope, that doesn't refer to the beer, but to the California brewery's collaboration with the charity Not For Sale that works against human trafficking.

Maybe it's not for human trafficking, but there's a whole lot of other trafficking gone on to make this Saison, which mixes everything from the Big Four to the Peruvian herb Cat's Claw to honey to ginger and hibiscus flowers.

It's not the first time the two organisations have teamed up, having done a Not For Sale ESB a year ago, all brewed from HQ (which also serves mean seafood) right across the road from a mean break, south of San Francisco.

For all that oddness, though, you'd expect the beer to have more character. Something to love or hate. It ends up a bit middle-of-the-road, which is a surprise.

We had it at the brewery, so it was as fresh as it was going to get, and the best thing about it was an aroma that boasted pepper, flowers, ginger, honey and cut grass.

Maybe we should have stopped there. It failed to retain its head, though the mouthfeel remained pretty good.

The dominant flavours are malt and there is no aftertaste to speak of. There are hints of ginger early, some flowers late and fruit and grass in the middle, but none of them are enough to overwhelm and we were hoping for a little more fruit and a lot more spice, which is almost non-existant here.

Shame. it all read so beautifully odd on the page...

 

5/10