Getting in to the Nitty Gristy with Dan Dainton

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I have to say, I have a serious soft spot for Dan Dainton. I genuinely site his brews as being one of the first craft beers that got me in to this insane game many years ago. His Red Eye Rye to me was just spectacular and I still love to drink it, it was a revelation to me. Since then, it has been an absolute joy to see Dainton Family Brewery grow over the years and see what has been coming from Dan’s addled mind. And it has all been good, damn good. His Insane Uncle IPA, Sinister Sister and Grand Pappy’s Whip Imperial Red stand out as some of my favourites, all which I have reviewed in the past.

With rumblings of Dan soon opening his own brewery and taproom in Carrum Downs and giving his labels a massive over haul and relaunch, I managed to catch up with Dan for a chat about where he thinks craft is going, his rye obsession and how his family plays a part in his brews.

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Where did your Brew Saga begin?
Along time ago, in a shed, far , far away… I was a young lad living my my uncle and Aunt after my father was betrayed by the empire and… Wait a second… He was never betrayed! You lied to my face Ben!
Oh, where… Shepparton, not unlike Mos Eisley, really…

How is the Dainton Family important to your brand? How has it influenced your brewing and style?
A lot of the time they provide me with great drinking stories and reasons to drink… What, no! I don’t condone that kind of behaviour. They are not unlike most families. There is always at least one weird one and a bratty one and a evil scientist etc etc. I want people to relate to that and feel sorry for me and in that moment of empathy, consume a beer crafted in the sorrows of inevitability of woe.

What was the beer that turned it all around for you?
A friend had come back from overseas, which was amazing for two reasons. 1. That he was allowed to travel overseas after the visa authorities saw Shepparton on his passport and 2. That he decided to come back to Shepparton. Anyway, he brought back a swag of beers we’d never seen and I was intrigued and mesmerized by the fact that you needed a special tool to remove the beer cap. “A bottle opener”, they called it. Astounding. We cracked open the beers and I was hooked. A crisp, herbaceous, bitter, floral and probably oxidized golden liquid poured into my gullet… It was the most exotic thing I had ever seen… A green bottled beer that didn’t taste like wet hay… My first international and inspirational beer… A Carlsburg.

What do you love about the job and the industry?
My job is convoluted and multifaceted, being the brewer and owner. I love making beers, tasting beers, talking beers, visiting breweries, designing labels and writing the crazed little bottle blurbs. Also the mandatory GBW break dancing and lifting fellow brewers over my head.
The industry is generally pretty exceptional in terms of people and passion. I will be interested to see how it copes with rapid growth of breweries and a possible lag of consumer education.

It’s present in pretty much all of your brews, so what’s with the rye obsession?
Rye not?

Where do you see craft beer and Dainton in 10 years?
In pharmacies, 7/11’s, vending machines, airport, planes, busses, on the moon, on Mars… We love what the West Coast of the USA has achieved so far and want to be a big part of where Australia needs to go. Which is right where the California and Oregon are. Growler fills at petrol stations, 10 breweries in tiny towns, Stone IPA tap rooms at airports. I want that. For all of us.

If you had a time machine, what part of brewing history would you go back to?
I’d go forwards. It’s only getting better.

What do you prefer, a fresh beer or an interesting beer?
Fresh IPA’s and hop driven beers are a big part of what I like to drink on a regular basis. Give me an oak-aged 3 year old barley wine and I’ll be pretty bloody stoked. I don’t want an oxidized or infected one… Needs to be in perfect condition.
I do get a little annoyed with the “drink local” mentality sometimes… I’d say drink what the bar staff recommend as fresh.

If someone asked you to put a six pack together for them, what would you put in it?
Do I like them?

YES
Pliney the Elder
Lost Abbey Track #10 Bat out of Hell
Crux Fermentation Galaxy IPA
Knappstein Lager
Spezial – Munich Lager
Pils Urquell Unfiltered and Unpaturized

NO
6 x bottles of my first batch of homebrew…

Dans Beer Hall of the Damned and Brewery will be opening early next year!

Nomad Freshie Salt & Pepper

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I was pretty excited to see this limited release from Nomad. Gose (pronounced gose- uh) is a style that is very rarely seen in Australia. I’ve only ever seen it twice: Boatrocker at GABS this year with their one- off festival beer ‘I Ain’t Afraid Of No Gose’ and Doctors Orders Electrolyte Forte which was at the same festival a few years ago. I absolutely adore the style and really wish it was around more and i’m not really sure why it isn’t more widely brewed: it’s crisp, clean and a brilliant balance of tart sour and savoury. Very unique and seriously tasty. Traditionally brewed with salted water and coriander, the base is fairly basic: wheat and pale malts along with fermentation with lacto- strains and german yeast.

Inspired by the Northern Beaches and breathing the fresh, salty air of the ocean and wanting to put that in a glass, Nomad have stuck to the traditional with this brew and taken full advantage of their surroundings and local resources. Brewing with salt water straight from Freshwater Beach right down the road from the brewery, locally sourced coriander and Tasmanian Mountain pepper they have attempted to bring the beach to the bottle… Let’s see their take on this elusive, unique style.

Style: Gose

ABV: 4.5%

IBU: 15

From Where: Low Buy Liquor, Lilydale

Pour:

Pours a pale orange/ lemon colour with minimal, fluffy white head.

On The Nose:

Fresh and vibrant on the nose with notes of nectarine, honeydew melon and citrus pith. Touches of coriander are coming through too with pepper spice, fresh cut grass and savoury characters.

Palate:

Classic Gose balance. Tart, savoury and spicy with touches of stone fruits. The salt water really shines on the palate giving it a tart, acidic, drying, savoury character with touches of pepper and coriander. Also getting nuances of tropical fruits: think pineapple, peach and apricot. Great puckering sourness throughout too with grapefruit pith and lychee. Brilliant balance all round with a crisp, dry finish.

Final Thoughts:

This is as traditional as it gets with clever little touches here and there. Sour, spiciness, crisp, dry and a brilliant mouthfeel that really knocks it out of the park. I really hope to start seeing more of this style around, and just more variety for that matter: it’s crisp, clean, refreshing with touches of spice and great sour tartness that hits all the right spots on the palate, puckering me up and leaving me wanting more. A brilliant take on a rarely brewed style.

Riders Brewing Co. XPA

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For those that do not know Andrew ‘Shandy’ Gargans’ story, it’s pretty much the home brewers wet dream. Starting off in his garage, opening up his doors to his neighbourhood, he got a lot of great exposure; particularly from one: Gus Kelly. Gus, for those that do not know, is part of the Kellybrook Winery and Cider family. And he loved Shandys’ brews. What started as fanciful conversation between two mates blossomed into commercial brewing and Riders Brewing was born. Still relatively new, Riders is now out and about, doling out some seriously tasty brews. This one, Riders XPA, is a perfect example.

Style: Strong Pale Ale

ABV: 5.8%

IBU: 45

Where from: Low Buy Liquor, Lilydale

Pour:

Pours a pale orange/ amber with fine white head.

On The Nose:

The nose on this is fantastic. Plenty of dry hop character, lots of awesome orange and lemon pith, orange juice, fresh apricot and brilliant tropical fruits: pineapple, melon, cantaloupe, and fantastic earthiness with sweet, biscuity malt.

Palate:

This palate has got it all! Fantastic toasty biscuit malt, earthy characters with notes of honey sweetness and stacks upon stacks of fresh citrus and stone fruits. Freshly peeled lemon pith, fleshy grapefruit and lime with tangy pineapple. notes of mango and juicy peach. Absolutely delicious.

Final Thoughts:

Forget session ales, XPA is King. Packed full of flavour, brilliant mouthfeel and awesome finish that just keeps on going. Riders have nailed it here, this is amazing. This beer is an absolute staple to be in constant rotation for summer. Great work Shandy, this is absolutely delicious.

Brew Boys Hoppapotamus

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I have been hearing hushed whispers of the greatness that is Brew Boys lately, particularly this brew: Hoppapotamus. I have to give a massive thank you to Chris at Low Buy Liquor in Lilydale for relinquishing this beer from his private stores. My brothers bought it for me for my birthday (who have excellent taste) and he graciously offered it. Thank you all who were involved in this excellent present…

Style: American Pale Ale

ABV: 7.0%

IBU: N/A

Got it from: Chris!! and my Bros… Thanks guys.

Pour:

Pours a hazy copper amber orange with fluffy white head.

On The Nose:

Incredibly floral and fruit forward on the nose: super fresh nectarine, peach blossom, melon, fresh passionfruit, pineapple with fleshy orange and lime. Freshly crushed, floral pine needles in the background and light resin with sweet spice and lychee. Brilliant, brilliant nose!

Palate:

The palate, like the nose, is all about the hops to an insane degree… Dominating fresh citrus sweetness, fresh stone fruits and zesty tropical fruits. Orange pith, grapefruit, lime and juicy nectarine. Finishing in some intense, chewy pine and resin.

Final Thoughts:

This is up there as one of my favourite brews of the year! Just absolutely, amazingly balanced and fresh with hops being the victorious hero of this beer. This brew to me seems to be more IPA than APA though, which is in no way a criticism, it’s the only thing I can think that is even slightly negative in any way. It’s just so perfect! Everything I have come to know and love about the humble hopis here and here in spades… Amazing citrus and tropical fruits with juicy, mouth watering stone fruits. I cannot speak any higher of this beer, just get it. Now.

Victoria High Country Brewery Collab: Rule 47 2014

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What is not to love about this brew from the get go? A collaboration between the best brewers North East Victoria has to offer this annual tradition involves the coming together of Black Dog Brewery, Bright Brewery, Sweetwater Brewery and Bridge Rd Brewery and the brewing of something they would not necessarily brew by themselves; a unique beer that showcases a love that they all share: Riding. Hence Rule 47 of the Velominati (basically disciples and preachers of cycling), which states:

Drink Tripels, don’t ride triples. Cycling and beer are so intertwined we may never understand the full relationship. Beer is a recovery drink, an elixir for post-ride trash talking and a just plain excellent thing to pour down the neck. We train to drink so don’t fool around. Drink quality beer from real breweries. If it is brewed with rice instead of malted barley or requires a lime, you are off the path. Know your bittering units like you know your gear length. Life is short, don’t waste it on piss beer.

Words to live by I think…

Designed to quench the thirst of any cyclist, they use  regionally grown hops and celebrate the excellent trails connecting the high country towns North East Victoria has to offer and is available at all of the breweries involved in the collaboration. Let’s see what they have done with this years brew!

Style: India Pale Wit. Basically IPA style mixed into Belgian White Ale…

ABV: 6.6%

IBU: N/A

Got it from: Low Buy, Lilydale.

Pour:

Pours a beautiful, light copper orange with fine white head.

On The Nose:

Some fantastic sweet spices of cinnamon, candied ginger and nutmeg with chewy bubblegum and fresh, sweet apricot and melon. Getting light notes of preserved lemon, sweet pepper and fresh biscuit with lees/ yeast notes.

Palate:

Palate has a very solid, spicy malt back bone with lots of broad fruity ester notes: spiced apricot, peach, lemon and grapefruit pith. Finishes us bone dry with lots of lingering, chewy bitters. Crushed pine needles and aromatic resin.

Final Thoughts:

Have to say, I would be very happy to smash a few of these after a ride! If I got off my arse for a ride… Absolutely fills the criteria here: Clever balance between two different styles: this Witbier base steps it up with some serious additions of aussie Enigma and Summer hops and seriously freshens it up with some interesting Belgian notes playing along. Seeing this on tap somewhere would make me very happy… Perhaps in the Yarra? Pretty Please?

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

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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

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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!

Squealer Sunday!! presents Doctors Orders Prescription12

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I’m a little obsessed with these guys at the moment. Unfortunately I have not seen a great deal in bottle but luckily Tru Bru always has a healthy stock of their various brews. Ever since I had their Plasma White IPA and discovered just how interestingly out of left field their brewing style is, I could not help but want to try the whole range. Now comes Prescription12, a mish mash of styles that in your head you think will come together harmoniously but you can only tell once you have sampled…

Style: Belgian Black IPA

ABV: 7.6%

IBU: N/A

$$: $13

Pour:

Pours a pretty jet black sheen with deep brown tinges in the corners. Generous, fluffy off white head.

On The Nose:

Some serious layers going on with its rather intricate style. First off the cap is some fantastic toasty notes and the Belgian yeasts: banana, bubblegum and sweet spices. Once you overcome the toast characters you will find some juicy black berry, black currant, bramble and sweet red fruits with juicy, zesty orange; fantastic sweetness.  Getting hints of cherry ripe too with light tobacco notes.

Palate:

The palate is crazily intricate, layered and complex. The mouthfeel is full and rich with fantastic lingering bitterness that just keeps going, just stunning! I didn’t want it to end… Getting lots of fruit sweetness with plenty of stewed black fruits, fresh raspberries, dried cranberries and candied orange zest. Lots of juicy peach, pineapple and ripe, juicy mango. Finishing in lots of dry, dark cocoa, roasted pecan and hazelnut, toasty cedar and delicate resin.

Final Thoughts:

This beer possesses every aspect of its rather interesting style. The nose has plenty of interesting Belgian yeast notes, sticky fruit characters and roast notes. Palate is a similar story of juicy, zesty orange, red fruits and black currants finishing in dry cocoa and light, leafy tobacco. Doctors Orders are truly genius, my obsession continues…

La Sirene Wild Saison

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There is a certain amount of mystique surrounding La Sirene at the moment. After taking out the top spot this year at GABS, taking out the Peoples Choice Award with Praline, they have been on the up and up ever since. I suppose the thing thats making them really stand out at the moment is their fantastic French/ Belgian style brewing, wild yeasts, sours and Saisons. No one in Australia is really doing this kind of brewing exclusively and that just excites me and makes me want more and more of these guys. Bring on the Belgian I say…

Style: Wild Saison

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: N/A

$$: $10

Pour:

Pours a bright yet hazy lemon orange with generous white fluffy head.

On The Nose:

The nose is serious zesty funk with funky malic flint notes, sweet candy apple, stewed peach and apricot, fresh mango and sweet, sticky melon.  Finding lots of poached pears, baked red plums and sweet red fruits with dried prune and baked citrus. Lingering sweet spices of nutmeg, cloves and candied ginger too. Just brilliant: amazing florals, incredible aromatics and fantastically zesty. Unlike anything i’ve ever smelled.

Palate:

The palate is brilliantly sour and refreshing. Getting lots of grapefruit juice, orange zest and lime along with fresh juicy peach, apricot and mouth watering mango with drying malic acid and pear. Getting some interesting oaky notes too: fresh butter, toast, pastry and vanilla with some classic farmhouse- y cereal, forest floor and lees notes. Sweet cinnamon, ginger and cloves too with great puckering, mouth watering mouthfeel.

Final Thoughts:

The beer is very much what the name suggests: wild. Brilliantly balanced with fantastic florals, juicy stone fruits, baked citrus and luscious tropical fruits with lovely drying cereal, flint and apple/ pear malic acid notes. To me, La Sirene could very easily sit amongst the great sour/ farmhouse producers in the world, going toe to toe with the likes of Rodenbach and Saison Dupont. Keep an eye out because these guys are going all the way to the top.