ROUGE PENDLETON PALE ALE

Origin – United States of America
ABV- 5.2%
Size- 355mL
Style- Pale Ale
On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to my God and the queen of Australia, to help other people, and to live by the Cub Scout Law. Now, I’m not encouraging underage drinking or condoning the time when as a young Boy Scout we snuck a few cans of Resch’s Real silver bullets from my dad’s fridge to enjoy with our rolly bark cigarettes. But the connection between good beer and good times outdoors in the woods cannot be denied. And it was that connection that inspired this collaboration between a 30-year-old brewery in Newport, Oregon called Rogue, and the 130-year-old woolen blanket manufacturer in Portland, Oregon called Pendleton. The result was the release of this limited-edition Pendleton Pale Ale filled into four purpose designed cans, each dedicated to a different National Park: Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier and this Crater Lake version (I’m told the design reflects a blanket, though if you ask me it looks more like it could be the new Scout Beer Brewing Activity Badge!). Now given that National Parks all over the world revolutionised the outdoors, it’s only fitting that a brewery that started a revolution in fermentation and a wool manufacturer that transformed blanket design with its dyed-in-the-wool process, should raise a glass together and produce a package that begs to be taken into the wild and shared with friends. Handmade with Rogue’s own Oregon-grown barley and hops, the Pendleton Pale Ale, unlike many of today’s hop heavy PA’s, is a light and easy drinking trail-friendly beer. Pour it into your empty baked beans tin and the first thing you notice is its orangey amber colour (or is it that the result of what was left of the beans now mixed with the ale?). If you put down the rolly bark for a moment, and you’ll notice the nose is all malt mixed with orange marmalade, a slight hint of tangerine and pine scented hops. The taste hikes up the same trail as the nose, with a moderate hop character that revolves around the marmalade. The malts deliver a bready backbone and a faint caramel sweetness, and the finish is balanced with a distant lingering orange pith that leaves its mark on the tongue. So next time you pack the camping gear for an epic hike through the woods with your Scout patrol, don’t forget to stop by your local to pick up some trail mix and a few of these adventure-inspired tinnies…of course, don’t crack them until the littlies are tucked up tight in their sleeping bags.

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HERETIC EVIL TWIN

Origin – United States of America
ABV- 6.8%
Size- 355mL
Style- American Strong Ale
So what is a ‘heretic?’ The Oxford dictionary states ‘strongly opposed to any generally accepted ideas, established beliefs or customs’. But Jamil and Liz Zainasheff, founders of Heretic Brewing Company, which was originally kicked off in the small suburb of Pittsburgh California, and is now located in Fairfield, California approx. halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento, have a different take on it. I’m told this husband and wife team landed on the name because they wanted to make beer that stayed true to the craft and pushed the boundaries of flavours, without submitting to popular demand or trends. However, it’s not only the company name or the beer styles that are unconventional; the story behind the start-up of this brewery in 2011 is also somewhat irregular. Jamil, a microbiologist come software engineer, only realised that home-brewing was an actual thing in 1998 when he struck up a conversation with his neighbour who offered him a home-brewed beer from over the fence. He recalls it was the best beer he’d ever had. After sharing the news with wife Liz, she did what all good wives would do, and she bought him a Mr Beer Kit for Christmas. He pushed beyond that bit that most of us get stuck on, the first 5 batches tasting terrible! and finally brewed a chocolate hazelnut porter that he was happy enough to send off to a local beer competition. Walking away with a bronze he set about perfecting the recipe, and the following year cleaned the pool with an improved version. That same recipe originally brewed from a $50 plastic bucket is now one of Heretic’s best sellers, only beaten to the post by this Evil Twin, which as stated on the label (and I’d have to 150% agree with it) is only evil because it’s too good to resist! Best enjoyed from a glass, this red Indian pale ale has a dark reddish-brown appearance that is topped with a nice frothy head. Sit it below your nose, draw in and you’re immediately hit with an aggressive floral and pine hop aroma, that followers with a soft caramel candy middle, and just a tiny scent of fruity fig and dried cherry. True to the philosophy of brewing beers that push flavour boundaries, a sip of this Twin leaves no doubt of the big malt and bigger hop approach. There’s a mouthful of malts- they’re roasted and earthy, like stone-ground dark chocolate with an edge of burnt sugar, and a face full of hops- pine and grapefruit pith from start to the long bitter finish. For Jamil, it all started with a neighbour, a conversation, a fence and a beer. You could do worse than pass your neighbour one of these over the fence, in fact, don’t be surprised if you wake up the next morning with your lawn having been freshly mowed!

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OSKAR BLUES DALES PALE ALE

Origin – United States of America
ABV- 6.5%
Size- 355mL
Style- American Pale Ale
The roots of Oskar Blues date back to 1997 when Dale and Chisti Katechis swung open the doors to their small family restaurant and bar. Located in Lyons, Colorado, at the gateway to the Rockies, they quickly become famous with the locals for their southern hospitality, some amazing pulled pork (long before it was fashionable with everyone from Newtown’s hipsters to George Street’s bankers) and nights filled live music. Like most lads, Dale grew up dabbling in a little home brewing, and after a late night of a few too many ales and way too many fried chicken wings, he and his mate Gordon Knight concocted the idea of setting up a brewing operation in the restaurant’s basement. It was a game changer, and before long they turned the place into a heavin’ brewpub. But the master stroke of genius came when he decided it was time to distribute his brews. In 2002, at a time when canned beer used to be the bad beer your dad drank while he mowed the lawn, the thought of craft brewer packaging beers in anything other than a bottle seemed absurd. But the lads did the unthinkable, putting their microbrews in cans, prompting a collective gasp all over the craft beer world about the effects it would have on our health. No doubt many of Oskar Blues’ tinnies can be blamed for the odd pregnancy, but from what I can find on Google, none have resulted in the birth of any 3-armed babies! In fact, I’m told the tinny’s flavour retention was so good, that in a New York Times blind testing in 2005, the Dales Pale Ale was awarded the best in the country. And over a decade later, take a swig of this voluminously hopped monster of a pale ale in a can and you can still see why. Somewhere between an American PA and an IPA, this 6.5%er brewed using European malts and American hops, pours clear and light amber colour. There’s a smell of pale malts, some grapefruit and plenty of floral hops. In the mouth, it’s crisp and complex with an unmistakable bitter hop bite right up front that is like a kick in the teeth. That bite is balanced with the malty backbone leaving behind a just a little caramel and toffee on the finish. With beers such as the Dale, it’s not surprising Oskar Blues has transformed from small-town restaurant to burgeoning brewing empire. So next time you crack open a tinny, which now accounts for approx. 20% of all craft beer packaging, you can raise a glass… correction, a can, to the now not so little brewer that started the craft-beer-in-a-can craze all those years ago.

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GOLDEN ROAD GET UP OFFA THAT BROWN

Origin – United States of America
ABV- 5.5%
Size- 355mL
Style- English Brown Ale
Get up offa that thing, And shake ’till you feel better, Get up offa that thing, And try to release that pressure! The late great Godfather of Soul and LA’s most successful craft brewer seem to have more in common than just a song lyric becoming beer name. Both were born from somewhat humble beginnings, James Brown in 1911 in a shack in Barnwell, South Carolina and Golden Road in 2011 in an old factory in Los Angles, California. Both went on to accumulate significant wealth, James was estimated to be worth over $100M USD and Meg Gill and Tony Yanow, the founders of Golden Road in 2015 sold approx 45,000 barrels of beer. AND the death of both was followed by significant dissension. Due to family in-fighting over the estate, Brown’s body remained on ice for almost three months following his death in 1993. While the sale of GR in 2015 to the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev resulted in a social media meltdown with ‘#say goodbye to craft beer as you know it’ trending solidly on Twitter for days. Fortunately, they both also have something else in common, their amazing product. Who could forget ‘Get Up Sex Machine’, ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ or of course ‘Get Up Offa That Thing’. And I’m confident that once you try this signature brown ale from Golden Road, it won’t quickly be forgotten either. The sass starts with the look of the can, which features a distinctive image of the famous Sunset Strip in Hollywood. However, pull the ring and pour a glass and you’ll quickly realise it’s not just the packaging’s visual that reflects the Los Angeles shade of brown and orange sunset. Based on the sweet and full flavoured traditional English-style browns (think Newcastle Brown Ale) your nose instantly fills with hints of smoke, caramel, chocolate, and a touch of something slightly floral. The taste follows the nose, starting with a nice caramel malt, some biscuit and bready malts in the middle and a finish of light toffee mingled with hints of chocolate. For a complex ale, it’s well balanced and goes down remarkably easily. Though at 5.5%, it won’t take too many of them before you’ll be singing out loud ‘I feeeeeeeeel good’!

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SIERRA NEVADA BEER CAMP GOLDEN IPA

Origin – United States of America
ABV- 6.5%
Size- 355mL
Style- IPA
Oh! And this one time… at band camp…. Now if you’re lucky enough to ever get along to Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp you might not find Jim, Finch, Stifler’s mum or even Michelle and her infamous flute, but what you’ll find will still blow your mind… pun intended 😉 Sierra Nevada’s first ever Beer Camp was hosted in 2008 at their brewery in the little town of Chico in Northern California. It was a two-day, hands-on beer experience for local bar owners who had the good fortune of joining together to brew a new beer from scratch. In that inaugural year, they produced an Imperial Pilsner which was labeled Sierra Super 7. Beer camp has since become a regular event which more recently has been made famous by the ‘Across America’ series, where Ken and his team have worked in collaboration with smaller brewers all over the US. Camp this year even took it one step further by teaming up with 6 international and 6 stateside craft brewers. It allowed some younger hipster brands that have followed in Sierra’s footsteps, the likes of Garage Project (NZ), Kuichi (Japan) and Tree House Brewing Co. (Massachusetts), to pick up some operational know-how and gain some amazing exposure. Beer Camp is now so popular that they run both a traveling festival across the US selling the collaborations and donating the profits to charity, and produce a seasonal label. And as you would expect from a Beer Camp tradition where no style or ingredient combination is off limits, this year’s seasonal label resulted in a citrus heavy, wheat malt driven golden IPA, in direct contrast to the traditional amber style. Given its name, not surprisingly it pours a brilliantly clear pale straw colour with a head formation that is ample and persisting. The nose is fresh and grassy with a good dose of pale malt aroma that seems to be an identifiable trademark for Sierra Nevada. In the mouth, the flavours dance between an upfront hit of sweet candied lemon and tropical fruits, a mid-palate of breaded malt and sharp and short finish of herbal hop bitterness. Unlike most IPA’s, it’s the wheat malt driven character that results in a refreshing light dry finish, rather than the trademark hop heavy aftertaste. So what do you pair such a unique IPA with? Can I be as crass as to suggest hot apple pie?

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