MOUNTAIN GOAT FANCY PANTS

Origin – Australia
ABV- 5.2%
Size- 375mL
Style- Amber Ale

Just as Redhook brewery can stake a claim as the granddaddy of the US West Coast craft beer movement, Mountain Goat Brewery can do the same when it comes Australia. At a time when ‘craft’ was more likely a word to describe your nana’s knitting, Cam Hines and Dave Bonighton were rapidly expanding their home brewing operation out of their garage and into the backyard, hosting legendary Friday night beers and barbeques. Word spread quickly, a dozen turned into dozens and a legend was born in the back streets of Melbourne. Now well into their second decade, the amazing beers, local and international collaborations, and new experimental profiles just keep coming. The Fancy Pants is true to this philosophy. And it’s not only the name that is distinct, once you taste this amber ale, it’s a beer you’ll not likely forget anytime soon. Pull the ring on this mystery tinny and a passionfruit vine almost bursts right out of the can. Word from Dave, it’s the mountains of fresh hop flowers that are added post-boil that give it such a strong aroma. But if the aroma’s not fancy enough, the flavour profile is at another level. The combination of traditional ale malts, with a dose of crystal and wheat malts, chopped up American ale yeast delivers a caramel and toffee driven amber ale that would have even Moses thinking twice about what to carry off the mountain with him. Now it’s a recurring theme, unfortunately, but like most grandfathers, there comes a time for a triple bypass, and that blockage was cleared in late 2015 when Cam and Dave accepted a little financial injection (AKA a buyout) allowing them to cash up and still run their ‘backyard’ brewery, albeit with new boss. Even a billy goat has got to eat right?

BOWcube5beer4

CRICKETERS ARMS SCORCHER SUMMER ALE

Origin – United States of America
ABV- 4.6%
Size- 355mL
Style- Golden Ale

The values behind Cricketers Arms brewery (not to be mixed up with the hotel of the same name in Sydney’s Surry Hills, as the two are in no way connected) couldn’t be more aligned to our goal here at the Craft Beer Co-op, to honour friendship. I’ll even raise my glass to Paul Scott’s vision in 2007 of creating a brewery as a tribute to his dad, who loved nothing more than a game of backyard cricket followed by a beer and conversation with his mates- How Aussie is that? The bitter sting in the tail (or perhaps I’m just jealous?) comes from the sell out to the billion dollar big boys Anheuser-Busch InBev with only 6 years of brewing under their belt. Perhaps that fact kills the vibe a little, but does it change the flavour? One sip should answer that for you! Still brewed to this day by Dermot O’Donnell, the former head brewer at CUB, who interestingly started out a chocolate maker at Rowntrees, it continues to pick up medals at the various beer awards, most recently a silver at the Australian Beer Awards. Clearly many agreed that the Scorcher is still a sizzling drop. Brewed using 3 speciality malts and double hopped with Galaxy and Amarillo, this non-filtered, bottle fermented summer ale is highly drinkable, well balanced and with just a little complexity. It has a faint aroma of citrus, peach, pear and pineapple, with the same flavours slightly more pronounced on the palate. And at less than 5% ABV, you could well retire the 6 and out rule.

BOWcube5beer5

KONA BIG WAVE

Origin – United States of America
ABV- 4.6%
Size- 355mL
Style- Golden Ale

Does island-style beer taste as good when it’s actually brewed on the mainland? Some would argue not and last week two Californian crafties filed a lawsuit against the maker of Kona Big Wave, saying they were falsely led to believe the product was produced in Hawaii. And they certainly aren’t alone. Given the label features a big Hawaiian surf break and embossed on the bottle are the words ‘liquid aloha’, even I was fooled. However, the lads at Kona now produce most of their beers in the continental U.S. — in the decidedly non-tropical regions of Oregon, Washington State, New Hampshire and Tennessee. Where’s the romance in that? That said, if you’re looking for a great sessional, fortunately for you, the flavour profile is nowhere near as complicated as the back story. Designed to go down easy after a big day out on the water, at 4.4% this drop is on the lighter side of even a golden ale. She pours…well, golden, which can be mostly contributed to the caramel malt, and has nice little lacing in the glass. On the nose, the aroma is mildly hoppy with some floral, citrus and tropical fruit, along with just a touch of caramelised toffee. In the mouth, it’s all smooth, with just enough dry finish to make it interesting, ensuring it has you coming back for more. Just in case you were wondering if plaintiffs had a chance, Becks forked out $20M when sued by consumers who say they thought it was brewed in German and Leffe is facing a lawsuit because it’s not really made by monks…and I’m not bullshitting you!

BOWcube5beer3

WIDMER BROTHER HEFE

Origin – United States of America
ABV- 4.9%
Size- 330mL
Style- Hefeweizen

Kurt and Rob Widmer may now be living large as two of the founders of the US West Coast craft beer scene, however in 1984, when they decided that they were tired of working for the man, quit their jobs and turned a hobby into a vocation, in the back streets of Portland, Oregon it was an entirely different story. Like many brothers and indeed blokes, they often went for weeks without taking a moment to talk to one another. However, it was their joint love for beer that kept them close, and it was late one night after putting down a home brew, and enjoying a few cold ones, that the conversation turned to what most lads dream of, starting their own brewery. Perhaps it was one too many pints, but in an ‘if you build it they will come’ Kevin Costner type moment, the following day they punched the ticket for the last time and immediately began scrounging up parts wherever they could, to build what is now known as Widmer Brothers Brewing. And the beer started it all? The naturally cloudy, unfiltered Hefeweizen. Brewed continuously for the past 33 years, the Hefe, as it’s known, is an American-style wheat beer. Unlike German weisse beer, where there is little hop profile and most of the flavour comes solely from the yeast, the US style tends to rely more on a variety of ingredients to build out the profile. True to the theory this Hefe is brewed using 4 malts (pale, Munich, wheat, caramel) and 3 hops (alchemy, willamette, cascade), which on the pour delivers that distinct citrus and floral aroma. Take a sip, and surprisingly it’s not overly ‘wheaty’, rather the blend provides a balanced taste profile of pale malts, tropical fruits and just some hints of wheat, that finishes with a slightly bitter aftertaste. If you’re looking for a Hefe you could drink all day, look no further.

BOWcube5beer1

MURRAY’S FRED IPA

Origin – Australia
ABV- 5.6%
Size- 330mL
Style- Indian Pale Ale

Old Billy the blacksmith, first time in his life, has gone home cold sober, to his darling wife, He walks in the kitchen, she says you’re early my dear, but he breaks down and tells her, the pub’s got no beer…. Well, old Billy need not to worry no more, ‘cause a brewer named Murray has come to the fore, with his passion for craft there’d soon be some draught, ensuring that Billy or the barman never need to fear that another day should come when the pub’s got no beer. If you haven’t worked it out yet, the birthplace of Murray’s Brewery was the iconic “Pub With No Beer” of Slim Dusty fame, on the NSW North Coast. The installation of a microbrewery not only solved the pub’s supply problem but was the humble beginnings of what is now one of Australia’s best craft beer producers, evidenced by the being awarded the 2016 Australian Brewery of the year. Now calling Bobs Farm (not far from Port Stephens) home, Murrays have become synonymous with pushing the boundaries of brewing, bottling the likes of Pumpkin Ale, Sea Monster seaweed beer and Melon Rouge watermelon wheat beer. Fortunately for your average craft beer lover, the Fred IPA isn’t as polarising as some of those brews or as unbalanced as the random looking label would suggest.  That said, it’s also not for the light-hearted. At 5.6% ABV this classic USofA inspired ale is big on flavour, dominated by citrus, tropical fruit and pine, and huge on the hops. The assertive bitterness, however, is wonderfully balanced by the triple treat (pale, crystal and wheat) of malt sweetness. I’m sure if old Billy was still around, he’d enjoy sharing a cold one with his new mate Fred.

BOWcube5beer2