Category Archives: Crafty Brew

Beer Style: Golden Ale

In this segment I’ll be shedding some light on the different beer styles, what makes them different from other beers and give a few examples of great beers within the style.

Brewed to compete with pale lagers, golden ales originated in the UK and Australians have embraced them as one of our favourite styles. These days golden/blonde ales are brewed throughout the world and take on regional complexities while sharing some common qualities.

Whichever way you swing, golden ales are what most would expect a beer to look like; crystal clear, light in colour, sparkling and a thick head that lingers. They’re also really easy to drink!

What makes a Golden Ale?

Appearance: Straw to golden in colour, effervescent and a thick fluffy head.

Aroma: Usually malt forward with some hop aromas and yeasty esters. Overall the aroma should be sweet and light where each component is balanced nicely.

Flavour: Crisp and clean should be your first thought. A light to moderate bitterness will support the malty sweetness, but not dominate the flavours. Hop flavours aren’t a necessity, though if they aren’t present you’ll probably find more flavour out of the yeast.

Bottom Line: It needs to be crisp and clean with subtle and balanced flavours.

Notable Examples

Leave a comment below and let me know what your favourites are.

Tagged , , , ,

What to Drink at Easter: How to Pair Beer and Chocolate

Easter isn’t too far away, and it is time to talk about two of my favourite things: beer and chocolate.

Much like wine, people are starting to appreciate that beer can pair nicely with food. In fact, the right beer can markedly improve the food that you’re eating!

Both beer and chocolate have so much to offer outside of what is their respective norms. Beyond a block of Cadbury’s milk chocolate is a whole spectrum of smooth and sweet, sharp and bitter, and flavours of fruit and spice. If you’re eating something special, make sure you have a suitable accompaniment.

Milk Chocolate: Stout or Imperial Stout

Either of these two stout varieties would pair with a sweet chocolate. The bolder flavours of roasted coffee and bitter chocolate itself will balance out the creamy sweetness of the chocolate.

Try: Woolshed Firehouse Coffee Stout, or Cavalier Imperial Stout

Dark Chocolate: Dubbel or Scotch Ale

Dark chocolate often has a biting or harsh bitterness, especially when you’re over 80% cacao. To balance this out, go with a strong malty beer that isn’t bitter itself. Dubbels and Scotch Ales tend to be smooth and strong with rich fruity flavours.

Try: Holgate Double Trouble, or Red Hill Scotch Ale

Fruit/Nut Chocolate: Porter or Brown Ale

The light roasty flavours from both Porters and Brown Ales make them perfect to combine with the sweetness from nuts or fruit in your chocolate.

Try: Kooinda Milk Porter, or Prickly Moses Tailpipe

All Chocolate: Barley Wine

This might seem like a copout, but it is true. Barley Wines are the dessert win of the beer world. They have a huge range of flavours but tend to incorporate everything that pairs well with chocolate! High ABV means that you’re best off sipping and savouring slowly between bites of chocolate.

Must try: HopDog Super Beast 2014

There you have it! I’d encourage you to exbeeriment yourself and find what works best for you. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’ll be drinking this Easter!

Tagged , ,

The Anatomy of a Beer Tasting

One of the first requirements we came up with when sitting down and planning our craft beer store was to sample each and every beer that we stock. It isn’t just about getting to try an overwhelming quantity of beer, it has a pretty important purpose: To provide a consistent description that you can rely on.

beer flight

When reviewing the descriptions of most beers, it is pretty obvious that they lie somewhere between brewers notes and marketing spin. To cut through all of that, we came up with model for our notes:

  • Beers are sampled around 8°C, warmer for dark beers
  • Appearance: colour, head and carbonation (if visible)
  • Aromas: hops, malt and yeast are the normal traits, but there can be some off-notes too (cardboard, wet dog, etc)
  • Flavour: Initial flavours through to the finish and the mouthfeel
  • Finish with a short overview about some of the positives of the beer

There is a little disclaimer though. Everyone’s tastes are different and sometimes aromas or flavours are misidentified. We’re still learning, and we’ll continue to learn more as we get new brews through the store. As always, feedback is welcomed!

As a personal note, one of the things that I’ve loved about the whole process is how my beer preferences have changed! I’ve been a big fan off hoppy beers like a strong Pale Ale or an IPA, and I’ve had the opportunity to try beers that I wouldn’t normally buy at a bar or bottle-o. I now keep a decent selection of lighter beers in the fridge, like Moon Dog Love Tap and Boatrocker Hoppbier.

Tagged , ,

Beer Style: American Pale Ale

In this segment I’ll be shedding some light on the different beer styles, what makes them different from other beers and give a few examples of great beers within the style.

American Pale Ale

Pale Ales have taken Australia by storm over the last few years. In fact, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is often regarded as starting the craft beer revolution in America. In much the same way, our own Little Creatures Pale Ale introduced many Australians to a whole new range of beers. Since then, we’ve not turned back.

Pale Ales are divided between American (APA) and English (EPA) subtypes. There are quite a few differences between them,  but the key difference lies with the hop choices. An APA is hop forward and typically uses citrus/fruity hop varieties, while an EPA is more malty and uses earthy/spicy noble hops.

We typically see more APAs in Australia, so that is what I’ll focus my attention on here.

What makes a Pale Ale?

Appearance: Pale gold to deep amber are the most common.

Aroma: A citrusy hop variety is common, but not required. Low to moderate maltiness, either from caramel or speciality malts. There shouldn’t be much, if any, aromas from the yeast or their by-products.

Flavour: Hops should be quite prominent and overpower a clean malt character. Any sweetness from caramel malts should be balanced out with a stronger bitterness from the hops.

Bottom Line: It needs to be refreshing and hoppy, but ultimately balanced nicely to be a sessionable style.

Notable Examples

I love a good Pale Ale and while I started off on Little Creatures, I’ve come to relish a few gems:

  • Bridge Road Beechworth Pale Ale: Perfectly balanced hop/malt profile that is just an absolute pleasure to drink
  • Cavalier Pale Ale: This one is a bit sweeter than your average APA, but still has great fruity hop aromas and flavours.
  • Killer Sprocket Hey Juniper: A wildcard entry, but it is just so damn good. The juniper adds a really interesting and fun dynamic. Really yummy.

Leave a comment below and let me know what your favourites are.

Cheers!

Tagged , , , , ,

Comments: 2014 Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers

It has been a few weeks since the list of hottest beers on the Australian craft beer scene was dropped. You can check out the commentary on the Crafty Pint for a full breakdown of the results.

hottest-100

There is always a lot of discussion around the list, and this year was no different. There are two main points that critics seem to address when discussing the results:

  1. The same beers feature heavily from year to year, and
  2. There is no diversity

They are points that are hard to argue with.

Anyone who has followed the poll in the past would recognise most of the beers in the list. In fact 60% of the 2014 beers featured in 2013, and 6 of the top 10 held steady. There is obviously nothing wrong with the beers themselves. People are buying and loving them enough to vote for them. So what is the issue? It really depends on what you expect out of the list. Is it used to highlight some of the best beers that have been available throughout the year, or is it used to highlight new beers?

I like the idea behind limiting votes to new beers only, but how many beers are released each year? How many are single batch or limited release? How many are sold at the brewery only? I would expect that only a handful of those would be available to buy at the time the results are released. It would also limit the scope of people who vote in the poll to people who seek ou these types of beers.

The hottest 100 boils down to a popularity contest, highlighted by the second point: the lack of diversity. 49 of the 100 were Pale Ales or IPAs of one variety or another. These are the beers that you see in bottle shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants. It is no surprise that they feature heavily; they are the beers that are selling! So many of the beers can be found in your local Dan Murphy’s or Bottle-O, and I think that is a big reason why they’re in the results.

I think that the competition is a great way of expanding the number of craft beer drinkers in Australia. My first experience with the hottest 100 was as a casual beer drinker. I mulled over the list and purchased beers that I could source easily enough. From there I expended my beer interests to more breweries and more styles.

If you’re near a great bottle shop that gets a good selection of beers, great! Otherwise, your best bet is to shop online and find some beer that you wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to. At the time of writing, we have over 140 Australian craft beers in stock. There are some amazing beers being brewed that didn’t make it to the list. Stay tuned to find out my top 10 that didn’t make it.

Tagged , , , , ,