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Entries in 9/10 (117)



It sounds too good to be true. An Australian brewing company has dedicated itself to exclusively brewing IPAs - tasty, tasty American style IPAs.

Fixation Brewing Co is a joint venture between Stone & Wood and Tom Delmont of Mountain Goat fame. Their mutual love of West Coast IPAs resulted in the company being formed in 2015.  

Their debut release Fixation IPA is West Coast Style IPA and is a respectable 6.4% ABV and 65 IBU. On the malt bill are Briess Pale, Briess Caramel Munich, Weyermann Vienna and Weyermann Carared, which they describe as creating ‘clean pale malt backbone’. On the hop front are Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo added at multiple stages. Fixation IPA is available in bottles from April 2016. 

Golden yellow/orange colour and slightly opaque. Creamy off-white head. Great citrus and pine aroma. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Citrus and a resinous and dank pine hop flavour dominate with a caramel backbone providing great balance. The resin slides off the tongue with a satisfying bitterness. Hop fiends who like a good dose of citrus and resiny pine will enjoy this.

This is a mighty fine West Coast style IPA which gives US brewers a run for their money. It reaffirms that when Australian breweries are provided with fresh US hops they can deliver big, ballsy US style brews that could easily pass for a US brew in a blind taste test.

IPA fans should keep their eye on this up and coming hop obsessed brewery.





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.





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.





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.





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.





New Belgium Ranger IPA. I came across this by chance in a craft beer bottlo. The label, with what appears to be a Canadian Mountie’s hat filled with hops, caught my attention.

I had a closer look at the label and discovered the brewery is actually located in Colorado. An American IPA hopped with Simcoe, Cascade and Chinook and a typical 70 IBU. I noticed it was a bit less boozing than your typical American IPA, 6.5% ABV instead of the usual 7%+ ABV.

I find the American IPAs which are under 7% ABV are less syrupy, bittersweet and boozy tasting. So an American brewed IPA with some of my favourite hops and not too boozy sounded like a winner.

As I opened the bottle the hop aromas burst from the bottle. Pours a golden yellow colour, white head with lots of delicious hop oil bubbles. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Nice floral, citrus and pine aroma.

From the initial sip it packs a big hop flavour. Strong citrus and floral flavours followed by a decent dose of piney goodness. The malt takes a backseat allowing the hop flavours to shine.

Clean mouthfeel with a little bit of resin, moderately dry finish and a lingering bitterness. As it warms up it becomes a little more resinous, less bitter but the hop flavours still dominate over the malt flavours. There are no bittersweet or warm alcohol flavours like some other American IPAs.

This beer has what I love in an American IPA that is often so hard to find. Strong, delicious hop flavours without sweet boozy or malt flavours, particularly crystal malt, which often smother the hop flavours.

Check it out if you like American IPAs which are big on flavour, without being heavy or sickly, such as EPIC Armageddon or Coronado Brewing Idiot IPA. At AU$12 for a 650ml bottle it’s also ridiculously good value for a beer of this calibre.





4 Pines Keller Door Imperial India Brown Ale. You’ve got to give it to 4 Pines, they have a crack at brewing a range of different beer styles.

Their Keller Door Series allows them to show off their creative side. This one is no exception, an Imperial India Brown Ale. Not really a style you hear much about. Big, malty and packed with hop flavour. Kind of like Black IPA’s younger brother. I couldn’t find what malts and hops were used but it’s 8% ABV and 70 IBU.

Reddy brown colour, fine slightly yellow/green head with small bubbles of hop oils. Medium body and moderate carbonation. A delicious smooth pine hop aroma.

Starts with a big wave of pine hop flavour, followed by a chocolate and nutty malt flavour with a roasted malt aftertaste. Nice resinous mouthfeel with the hop flavours lingering. The alcohol is well hidden and there are no bittersweet or boozy flavours. It’s a lot hoppier than I was expecting however, it’s well balanced by the malt.

Big on malt and hop flavour, this is my favourite 4 Pines release to date.





Brewcult Thanks Captain Obvious. In an unusual step for Brewcult they decided to brew a beer to style. Most of their previous releases have combined beer styles to create hybrids or something leftfield like their porter with balsamic vinegar.

This time round they brewed an American IPA to enter it in the Strong Pale Ale class at the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA). As a result there is no rule breaking and it’s brewed exactly to style using some of the most popular hops for an American IPA: Simcoe, Citra and Centennial.

Golden yellow colour with moderate carbonation, medium body and a creamy, hoppy head. Delicious pine and tropical fruit aroma. Strong citrus, pine and tropical fruit flavour. The hop flavours and bitterness linger and it’s moderately resinous. The finish is slightly dry and refreshing. It's not as boozy, resinous or heavy as some other American IPA’s with similar level of flavour.

Ah Brewcult, even when you try to be boring and predictable you still excel.





Hargreaves Hill Imperial IPA. On a trip to the Yarra Valley wineries I conveniently had to pass Hargreaves Hill’s bar and restaurant in Yarra Glen. Just a couple of doors down from the landmark Yarra Glen Grand Hotel, it’s situated in a bank building that dates back to the 1880s. There’s a cosy little bar area at the front with the restaurant occupying most of the building. I didn’t try the food but it’s supposed to be one of the better restaurants in the area.

Along with their core range I noticed this Imperial IPA on tap. Apparently it was inspired by perhaps one of the most widely regarded Imperial IPA’s in the world – US brewery Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder. Using a simple malt backbone it’s heavily hopped with Simcoe, Amarillo and Chinook. Not idea of the IBU level but it’s 8.6% ABV.

Hazy honey-like colour with a fine head exhibiting hop oils. Great pine aroma. Medium body, moderate carbonation with a slightly resinous mouthfeel. Strong pine and citrus flavour. The hop bitterness cuts through the malt with a cleansing and firm bitterness. The hop flavours lingers with a dry finish making you want to come back for more. There are no bittersweet or boozy characteristics that can sometimes be associated with high ABV beers.

Definitely one of the best Imperial IPA’s I’ve had in a long time. Great to see an Aussie brewery producing American style brews of such a calibre. Unfortunately, this was a limited release but I hope they brew something similar in the future.





Ekim Co Hel. ‘Hel’ is the Nordic goddess of the underworld. What better way to pay homage then to brew a big black IPA with a crushing 9.2% ABV?

Jet black colour with a thick, creamy and hoppy head. Smooth tropical fruit aroma. Citrus, pine and tropical fruit flavour nicely balanced by a solid dark malt flavour. It’s dangerously drinkable given the high ABV and it’s not as malty and heavy as it looks.

This has to be one of the best black IPA’s brewed in Australia.