Craft Breweries And The Name Game

For those unaware, this happened this week: Empire Brewing is being sued by Lucasfilms for the title of their spring lager: Strikes Bock.

Now, it’s worth mentioning too that they have been brewing this for seven years now and only now decided to apply for the trademark of the name as it was only ever on tap in their brew pub. But come on, this is pretty tongue in cheek. It’s funny, but it’s pretty cheeky at the same time. How could they NOT have thought of the movie when they named this beer? And it got me thinking… There are plenty of brewers in Australia taking liberties with naming their brews too.

Holgate ‘Millenium Falcon’, admittedly brewed with Millennium and Falconers Flight hops sports on its label what is unmistakably THE millennium falcon in hop form, HogDog Beerworks Chai Fighter label is pretty much a scene from Star Wars complete with the famous TIE fighter ship and yellow lettering and last but not least: just about every brew from MoonDog Brewery, an absolute cavalcade of pop culture references going on there: Jumping the Shark (Happy Days), Chocolate Salty Balls (South Park) and the famous Black Lung (Zoolander), just to name a few…

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Taking too many liberties?

 

I can see this argument from both sides: Brewers are infringing on intellectual license here at points but at the same time most brewers I know are complete and utter nerds and revel in the pop culture beast. Honestly, it is very difficult to come by any sort of media(i.e. movie, tv series, book, ect.) these days that does not have some sort of reference or just blatant rip off from what would be deemed ‘cult’ pop culture: Star Wars, Star Trek, the works of Tarantino (which by the way is nothing but homage!), Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Monty Python, the works of Tolkien…. The list goes on, and all of them have been used extensively. And unsurprisingly, those people that used these works as reference have never been pulled up about it because it has been given a slight make over: you can see where it came from, but it’s different somehow. Thats how pop culture references work.

I would go so far to argue that how could this NOT have happened? Pop culture is so deeply intrenched in to our every day lives that it would be impossible to not have beers called Rye Hard (Temple Brewing) and Hey, Juniper! (Killer Sprocket). When artistic people (brewers) are given artistic license (brewing) of course they are going to draw from what influences them most, which is most likely going to be  pop culture references.

The question that keeps coming back to me is this: How far is too far? When does it make that step from homage to absolute rip off? Is Empire Brewing being a little hard done by here or was the writing on the wall? Brewers out there, have you thought about this? Has it come to your mind? I’m really interested to hear your thoughts!

It’s a slippery slope people, I wouldn’t want to be on it…

 

 

 

3 Ravens USB

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It was an exciting day when I heard this brew would see the light of day again. As is now common knowledge, a few years ago 3 Ravens as we know it was on the brink of no longer existing but at the last moment was bought up by Mash Brewing and all limited release brews were put on hold until it got back off the ground.  And boy howdy did it: what followed was a pretty brilliant 2014 for them, snatching up the award for Champion Small Australian Brewery and releasing some stunning beers: my favourite for the year is still The Druid, their Belgian Quad aged in PX barrels. You can see my review of that here. But about the beer: this is basically their ESB but on performance enhancing drugs, hence Uber. And using the word Uber sums this up pretty well…

Style: Strong English Bitter

ABV: 6.1%

IBU: N/A

Got it from: Low Buy, Lilydale

Pour:

Pours a beautiful copper amber red with fluffy off white head.

On The Nose:

The aroma is incredibly malt driven (unsurprisingly): The thing that jumps out straight away for me is an ANZAC biscuit quality: oats, honey, golden syrup and a delicious fresh baked biscuit note. Getting light notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, spicy candied ginger and boozy raisin with dark fruits.

Palate:

Classic English strong ale in the palate with uber malt. Lots of honey, toffee and sticky caramel with lots of fresh rolled oats, hazelnut, walnut, almonds and dried coconut. The mouthfeel is like sticky, coating golden syrup with very fine bitters finishing it off. Getting some sticky stewed fruits in there too: apricot, raisin, cherry and currant.

Final Thoughts:

This is an absolutely fantastic ode to the classic English Strong Ale. 3 Ravens have treated this style with the upmost respect and have done it so much justice you could easily say this could sit in an English pub on a hand pump and know one would know it was brewed in Melbourne, it’s that good. Classic oatmeal, golden syrup, treacle and plenty of toasted nuts with fine bitters and stewed fruit sweetness. An absolute winner.

Brew Cult Can’t Fight The Funk Farmhouse IPA

brewcultcantfightfunk

Style: Farmhouse IPA

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: 50

Where to get it: Low Buy Liquor, Lilydale

This rather beautiful looking beer is the first in the Brewcult ‘Psychedelic’ series, just recently re- brewed and re- released for a limited time. Very happy to have gotten a hold of one of Hendo’s brilliant beers. Hendo is known as a rather colourful character and that is something that really shows itself in all of his brewing endeavours: Beers with character, great flavour and just off- beat enough to give any craft beer nerd a beer- ection… Basically what we’ve got here is a rather delicious take on the American IPA with saison yeast thrown in and a generous new world hopping and old school brewing techniques. Lets see what is in store with Can’t Fight The Funk…

Pour:

Pours a brilliant copper orange with generous white fluffy head.

On The Nose:

The nose is a brilliant, effervescent smorgesbord of juicy stone fruits and tangy citrus. Getting stacks of ripe peach, fresh, mouth watering apricot and zesty mandarin. Layers of lime zest and fresh grapefruit juice accompanying notes of sweet turkish delight, juniper, bramble and sweet spices.

Palate:

Palate is fresh and juicy with heaps of fruit sweetness balanced out with cracking, lingering bitterness in the background. Getting lots of white nectarine, ripe peaches fresh mango and lots of honey dew melon and cantaloupe with sweet, sticky stewed fruits and raisins. Finishing in a drying white wine vinous note with plenty of lime juice and sticky, floral resin bitterness. Getting light notes of cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg.

Final Thoughts:

What we’ve got here folks is the feel good hit of the summer…When I first drank this I could of sworn it was a white IPA: alcohol is hidden brilliantly by all the juicy fruit sweetness, sticky stewed stone fruits and crisp citrus acidity. A fantastic white wine quality through out: fresh, crisp and juicy with brilliant lingering sweet spices and plenty of citrus zest. Very fresh, very tasty and classic Hendo…

Ekim Brewing Co. Slammer

ekimslammer

In the past couple of months I have really discovered the joy of the Sydney craft beer scene and I got to say: watch out the rest of the country because Sydney is taking the reins. With guys like Doctors Orders, Dennis Brewing, Nomad and the newly opened Modus Operandi turning heads, I can very easily see Sydney taking the mantle of Australia’s best craft beer producer. To add to this list we also have Ekim Brewing, who doesn’t like a beer sporting vikings? I have heard nothing but good things about Ekim and was very excited to come by the Slammer: as a new brewery, their stock isn’t massively available down here in Victoria and anything is a good thing! Brewed with heaps of agave and single hopped with Sorachi Ace hops, let’s see whats in store for with this tequila pale…

Style: Tequila Spiked Pale Ale

ABV: 6.0%

IBU: N/A

$$: $5

Pour:

Pours a hazy, rich golden amber colour with fluffy white head.

On The Nose:

The tequila spiking really jumps out on the nose: smooth, rich, creamy and warming with lots of spicy, herbacous notes thanks to the agave with dry, zesty lemongrass notes coming from the sorachi ace hops. Also getting some sweet spices like star anise, cloves, and sweet honey with minty/ medicinal characters.

Palate:

Fresh and crisp, the agave and Sorachi Ace balance fantastically. Getting lots of crisp lime and grapefruit flavour and acidity, creamy malic notes, spicy lemongrass and liquorice with sweet honeysuckle and sweet spices. Finishing in a minerally, steely character.

Final Thoughts:

This is a clever take on the conventional pale ale. Brewed using agave and sorachi ace hops this is a brilliant and harmonious balance of spicy lemongrass and awesome, crisp citrus characters with rich, creamy, herbaceous minty, medicinal and minerally notes. This is brilliantly dry, super refreshing and far too sessionable for its own good: a classic summer brew with all aspects brilliantly integrated. Fingers crossed, Ekim will start making it to Victoria more often because it is delicious!