Big Beer getting Bigger?

Came by this on my daily internet trawling, being sucked into the beer vortex : SABMiller being bought up by A-B InBev. Potentially.

This could potentially mean that this mega- brewing conglomerate could be brewing up to 30% of the beer in the world…. That’s huge. If this were to happen they would own and brew: Budweiser, Bud Light, Corona, Skol, Stella Artois as well as the Miller label.

That is something ridiculous to compete with…. 30%?? Although I don’t think it will affect the craft industry directly, it certainly is not something to ignore. If something as big as SABMiller could be bought up from under them, anything could happen. They are number one and number two in the industry, the two of them teaming up will be an unstoppable juggernaut. They would literally own the market, if it happens… It’s all speculation, obviously. It also makes a lot of sense too: Number one and number two teaming up would mean no more direct competition giving them the ability to squeeze struggling suppliers, get rid of redundant employees and tighten their vice grip on distribution. Scary.

Now more than ever the craft beer market is important, to all markets. Now more than ever it will be the point of difference. If anything it could help the market! Let’s see how the US responds…

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Edge Brewing Project/ Stillwater Finger Lime Saison

edgestillwaterfingerlimesaison

A collaboration from the up and coming Edge Brewing Project; a Danish/ Australian duo who have been putting out some cracking beers lately: Angry Pirate Rum and Oak IPA, Cool Hops and their other collab with Frankie’s Pizza, Slaytanic Swill Blood Red Ale. Then you got Stillwater Artisanal: Masters of their off- beat, funky domain….. Kings of the castle if you will. Chuck in some Australian native finger limes and you have one interesting concept for a very cool Saison! A lot of love has gone into this: all the finger limes have been peeled by hand for their spritzy zest and steeped to extract all that oily aroma goodness then the beer is cold conditioned. Can’t wait to have a taste…

Style: Saison

ABV: 5.5%

IBU: N/A

Pour:

Pours a bright, cloudy yellow with fluffy white head.

On the Nose:

Lots of funky farmhouse yeast, forest floor and wet leaf characters. Getting all aspects of the finger lime here, flesh and rind. Juicy yet restrained, cleverly used. It is an absolutely intoxicating aroma. Getting some light stone fruits too.

Palate:

Some great malt notes coming through: wheat, biscuit and bready/ lees characters. Getting lots of lime citrus which seems to contribute to the dryness and sourness with green apple acidity and fresh melon. Some light sweet spices and juniper too.

Final Thoughts:

This is fresh, funky and a very quaffable Saison, so easy. It would be very easy to drink a six pack of this and not even think about it on a summers day. Fresh, juicy lime balanced with bready/ lees characters with malic acidity and fresh peach. There is no other way to explain other than to say “yummy”, this is yummy Saison.

Heretic Chocolate Hazelnut Porter (California, USA)

heretichazelnutporter

I gotta say, it is kind of an honour to be able to drink this. This beer is one of many of Jamil’s prize winning home brews, and the first he ever entered into a competition. It earned him a slew of awards and really inspired him to take his brewing to the next level. At first he was hesitant to release this, but after many test brews on a commercial level we are able to see humble beginnings turned into something the is just spectacular. It’s a freezing winters night out there and there is nothing better… Its porter time.

Style: Porter

ABV: 7.0%

IBU: N/A

Pour:

Pours a very dark, rich brown with fine, creamy mocha head.

On The Nose:

Super rich with lots of toasty hazelnut, milk chocolate, vanilla and sweet biscuit with a hint of coconut.

Palate:

Velvety, rich and super smooth on the way down. Thick, rich milk chocolate, lots of toasted hazelnut, vanilla and an espresso bitterness in the background.

Final Thoughts:

This is like drinking a glass of Nutella or melted Ferrero Rocher. It is just absolutely delicious, I could keep drinking this all night. Rich, smooth and velvety, this is like what satin would be if it was a drink. Obviously, it is predominately sweet but it has some lingering coffee bitterness in the background to make sure the beer isn’t cloyingly sweet. I would expect nothing less from the great Jamil, this is truly stunning. No wonder you cleaned up with this…

Dainton Family Brewery Insane Uncle IPA

daintoninsaneuncleIPA

Dan (Dainton head brewer) is a bit of a mad man when it comes to brewing with some fairly crazy and out there recipes. His current core range is just delicious and among my favourite in the aussie craft brewing scene, at the top of the list being the Red Eye Rye. Spicy, hoppy and seriously layered, it packs a lot into its small alcohol percentage. You can just sit there and sip and just taste it changing, it’s incredible. Now comes the ‘Estranged Series’, a series with rather (e)strange(d) family members that look like they are from the album cover of a Slayer album… Let’s see what Dan has in store for us this time!

Style: IPA

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: N/A

Pour:

Pours an orange copper with large, fluffy white head.

On The Nose:

The nose has some serious punchy, funky hop characters here: pungent tropical fruit and zesty, juicy citrus, stone fruits, passion fruit and fantastic, fresh pine and slight resin.

Palate:

Some awesome bitterness, really great sticky resin that sticks to and coats the mouth. Quite oily and really lingers on the palate. Balanced out with some sweet tropical fruits and biscuit malt characters.

Final Thoughts:

Dainton has basically made an IPA on steroids here… Everything that is great in IPA’s is accentuated: the nose is all about pungent hop characters and tropical fruit, apricot and passionfruit with juicy citrus. The palate is a resin- ed up pine fest, great sticky resin that coats the mouth and feels like an oil slick….. In a good way. Balanced lightly with pineapple, tart stone fruit and sweet malt biscuit. This is what IPA is all about…. Dan the Man has done it again! You crazy so and so…..

I’ll Drink To That #3: BrewDog and The Phoenix

Well, this should be arriving very soon…. BrewDog In Keg Form

Although BrewDog have been making their way to Australia for a while now, they are now officially being distributed by Phoenix, increasing their already impressive range. The thing I’m most excited about is that BrewDog will finally get some good tap listings in Melbourne! That is pretty fresh…

With BrewDog just launching their new labelling line, now seems like a great time to really hit the Australian market. They are already a very well established brand, these Scots are growing exponentially…

Looking forward to the fresh keg brews….

Amager Bryghus/ Cigar City: Xiquic and The Hero Twins (Denmark)

XiquicAmag:cigarcity

Saw this on the shelf, saw who the collaborators were and it was a very easy sell: Cigar City and Amager Bryghus. Cigar City are very well known for their off beat style of brewing and, taking advantage of Tampa Bay’s rich tobacco history, they use off beat ingredients: cedar, tobacco, chilli and cinnamon, really taking in the rich Latin culture. Amager Bryghus are a Danish microbrewer who have really been making waves, producing some excellent Black IPA’s and stouts so brewing this style with Cigar City seems like an absolute no brainer….

Style: Imperial Stout

ABV: 9.0%

IBU: N/A

Pour:

Pours a deep black with brown outer tinge. Head is a thick coffee brown.

On The Nose:

Lots of cherry wood and cedar notes with rich tobacco and pepper. Rich, dark bakers cocoa with sweet caramel undertones and kirsch.

Palate:

The palate is super smooth, rich and velvety. Getting lots of rich cigar leaves, cedar wood and black pepper. Some surprising sweetness too: Dark chocolate, vanilla and caramel.

Final Thoughts:

The nose is an absolute knock out, the absolute high light for me. Could not take my nose out of the glass, just incredible. Heaps of rich cigar tobacco, cherry and cedar wood and spicy pepper balanced out with dark bakers cocoa and kirsch. This beer is incredibly unique, complex and just really well balanced. I could very easily imagine me enjoying a Cuban cigar or a whiskey with this, it just begs for it…

I’ll Drink To That #2: TimeOut Melbourne Pub Awards

Todays ‘I’ll Drink To That’ comes via TimeOut 2014 Pub Awards

It is so awesome to see so many people dedicated to the Craft Beer Cause being rewarded for their fine efforts.

For me, it just highlights just how great the industry is and how many people are genuinely passionate about craft beer and promoting it. It also shows just how significantly quality has increased due to demand. Customers want a better product and, thanks to the efforts of these guys, they know where to get it. Tastes are improving, palates are maturing and people are on the look out for something they haven’t seen before, a point a difference. CUB is no longer what people want now, they want local and they want fresh and above all, they want delicious. It’s great to see this development and I hope it keeps going strong.

Everyone of these people are to be commended for all their hard work, and with these people leading the craft beer scene in Melbourne, it can only go from strength to strength. There’s no stopping craft beer now!

 

 

 

 

Garage Project: Umami Monster (NZ)

umamimonster

I gotta say, I’m kind of scared to crack into this beer. With the rather ominous Godzilla swamp monster on the label and the incredibly risky brew the guys have done, I have some serious hesitations. I mean, the Garage Project have done some insane brews in their brewing career and pulled them off with incredible success, but brewing with Kombu kelp, Katsuobushi (fermented fish flakes) and sea water is a risk even for these guys. But if there is any brewery that could pull it off, it’s the Garage Project. I’m still terrified though…

Style: Spiced/ Vegetal Ale

ABV: 9.0%

IBU: N/A 

Pour:

Pours a very dark, murky brown with red/ orange tinges on the edge. Fine, thin white head.

On the Nose:

A serious amount going on here. Unsurprisingly, heaps of savoury notes: tobacco, cedar with smoked peat/ malt characters and charred meat. Soy/ fish sauce sweet salty character.

Palate:

Umami up the wah-zoo… Lots of salty soy notes, salt water, smooth smoked malt/ peat, pepper, roast meat, mushroom and touches of the fermented fish in the finish. Surprisingly, I’m also getting a little bit of salted caramel and coffee, a small amount of sweetness.

Final Thoughts:

This beer is unlike anything I have ever had. I’m sitting here still getting notes on the nose and on the palate and it is clear to me it is impossible to get everything out of this beer in your first sitting. This is a beer I will have to come back to at some point: it’s just too complex, too layered and just so unique an experience it demands another tasting. And I love it, I love an experience. This is one of the best beer experiences I have ever had, an absolute must for craft beer lovers.

I’ll Drink To That….. #1: Sessionable IPA??

Tell you what, the internet is a big place and I am forever finding something new to get excited about, beer related of course. ‘I’ll Drink To That’… is a little piece that i’ll occasionally  write when I find something awesome, new and upcoming or if someone is up to some awesome high- jinx or has something interesting to say or share. The craft beer scene is an ever growing behemoth and there is so much going on, this is a small snap shot of some of the awesomeness that is going on out there, peoples thoughts, ideas and what people are up to.

My first one comes via the twitter account of The Alehouse Project:

AHPtweet

 

When I read this I did an awesome fist pump into the air al a The Breakfast Club. I could not agree more with this and I think this is one of those things that a lot of people think but just haven’t been saying.

To me an IPA should not be in any way ‘sessionable’, a term I would only deem to refreshing ales or crisp, fresh Saisons; those sort of beers. If you were to drink an awesome IPA, I personally think you should only be able to get through two or three maximum. It should be chewy piney resin from the addition of all the hops, an abv that starts at least at 6.5% and an IBU kicking off at at least 45- 50. This is what is meant to be standard for an IPA, anything less is by definition just a hoppy ale.

So please, please, please breweries: Stop labelling your hoppy ales ‘sessionable’ IPA’s! It’s okay to call it a hoppy ale, people will still buy it. People love fresh, hoppy, accessible ales. It should be a staple of any good brewery. I’m not saying these ‘session’ IPA’s aren’t tasty, they are, they just aren’t IPA’s…

Stone Levitation Ale (California, USA)

stonelevitation

If you have never heard of Stone Brewing, it is very obvious to me that you have been living under….. Well, a stone.

At the top of the craft beer market in the USA and fierce advocates of beer freshness, they have been outspoken and fierce fighters of Grey Market beers and brewers of some of the worlds most renown beers. Lets see what this ale of ales holds.

Style: Amber Ale

ABV: 4.4%

IBU: N/A

Pour:

Pours a red amber/ orange with fine white head.

On the Nose:

Some good, fresh malt, cereal and honey notes with some great red fruit and stone fruit notes. Lots of currant, cranberries and apricot.

Palate:

Fresh, crisp and clean, it’s full of fantastic biscuit notes with plenty of red fruits and toffee coming through. Great lingering pine bitterness in background balanced by the fantastic hop freshness: currant, raspberry, peach and apricot. Lingering honey sweetness in the background.

Final Thoughts:

After drinking this the greatness of Stone of indeed founded, they are truly masters of freshness. This is everything an ale should be with all the right components and balanced meticulously. It is incredible how much flavour they have managed to cram into 4.4% abv. This is by far one of the most sessionable beers I have ever had, i could keep drinking this forever and ever and ever….