Origin – Australia, QLD
Style- Summer Ale
Brave. Guts. Balls. Fortitude. It seemed successful accountant Jim O’Connor and one of Queensland’s most respected heart and vascular doctors, Gerard Connors, had a good dose of it when they placed a few bucks on a quaddie at the trots and turned it into a few thousand. And the lads clearly had a double dose when they then decided to use those winnings in 2012 to open a brewery! A 50 litre Baumeister pilot system kicked them off before Jim and Ged decided to double down, bringing in Ian Watson, a former plumber who became a respected head brewer and Australia’s first working beer sommelier. In 2013 the trio took over the 500-litre capacity Eagle Heights Brewery on the Gold Coast hinterland, and established the Fortitude name and motto, In Cerevisia Fortitudo – In Beer is Strength. And they certainly went from strength to strength. Southeast Queenslanders simply couldn’t get enough, and having outgrown their original home, they moved less than a kilometre up the road into the former Mt Tamborine Brewery site, which itself is just up the road from the hinterland’s oldest standing church. And the brewery building could, in fact, be mistaken for a house of worship (or perhaps that’s what it is?) with its grand entrance that draws visitors up the mountain. And based on the swelling congregation of beer lovers now well beyond Queensland, there’s quite possibly another religion on the mountain- that of great beer. Now although this Drifter summer ale is more of a no-brainer than a balls-out brew, it’s a cracker just the same. Pouring a golden body with a thin off-white head, the aroma is fruity, herbal and grassy. In the mouth, there’s enough fruity hop flavour to be interesting but not a hop hog. That, combined with the lower 4.4% ABV, and you’ve got yourself a dangerously drinkable beer. Next time you’ve had a few Drifters at the brewery and find yourself a little peckish, duck across the beer garden and into the Witches Chase Cheese Company. I’m told that if grab yourself a slice of washed rind you’ll really think you’ve died and gone to heaven. Perhaps The Life of Brian’s version of Matthew 5:9 was right….’blessed are the cheesemakers’!
Origin – United States of America
I believe the children are our future, teach them well to let them lead the way. It may have been Whitney Houston that banged that one out, but if you’re a little tired after a hard day at the office and are keen to kick back with a cold beer, that act of relaxation can also help teach the next generation the skills needed to achieve their dreams… as long as those dreams are brewing craft beer. Each year Newport, Oregon-based Rogue Ales releases a limited-edition lager that contributes 10% of sales to fund the Jack Joyce Scholarship for students enrolled in Oregon State University’s Fermentation Sciences program. Named after Rogue’s departed founder, since its launch back in 2014, the Scholarship has awarded over $185,000 to fifteen recipients. Famously it was one of those lucky students that gave the scholarship beer its name. Daniel Sharp, after disclosing that he had used most of the money to help pay for books, tuition and loans, admitted to putting the remainder of the funds into another worthwhile investment: a hot tub. While most benefactors would be displeased to hear their generous gift was spent on such an item, it turned out Jack Joyce was a hot tub enthusiast himself. Daniel’s candour and affinity for taking a dip were well-received and thus the Hot Tub Scholarship Lager was born, with the can artwork itself even reflecting old mate Jack Joyce having a beer in a tub! Now although Jacks sexy looks aren’t perhaps to everyone’s taste, I am confident the opposite can be said about what’s in the can. This German Style Hellas Lager is exactly what you expect from the style; with its brilliant golden pour and thick two finger bone white head that sticks like glue, it’s nose a balance of pale malt and light-to-moderate earthy hop notes, it’s taste of toasted malts, mildly bitter hops with just a touch of sweetness, and a finish that is crisp and clean. A simple, yet exceptional lager for a hot summer night. And what to do should your local be sold out of this limited edition? Grab John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke and Chevy Chase, and fire-up the hot tub time machine!
Origin – Australia, Victoria
Style- Blonde Ale
The write-up on the online city guide Broadsheet states ‘tucked behind Lygon Street’s main strip, this hidden bar is about so much more than beer’. And a late-night trip to this craft brewery, located in one of Melbourne’s more industrial stretches, had me thinking the same. The big black façade topped by the enormous sign simply stating ‘Temple’ could easily be mistaken for a high-class establishment selling an altogether different type of service… it’s lucky perhaps they also haven’t printed the Craft Beer Coopery’s vision statement on the façade- ‘We provide the lubricant’! Thought once inside there’s no doubt it’s a space for worshipping beer. The perfect blend of a working brewery full of vats and the freshest beer humanly possible, mixed with a first-class kitchen offering food of a quality rarely seen at brewpubs. However, unlike so many success stories where mates open an amazing micro-brewery that then goes from strength to strength, Temple’s story begins in failure, with the first owners forced into liquidation only 2 years after the 2011 opening. Fortunately, in one of the great comeback stories of the craft beer world, Nick Pang reopened those same doors only a few months later, bringing a new look to the beers, and a new brewer (Glenn Harrison from Hargreaves Hill) to the brewery. It was a winner of a move. Given the growing number of MAMIL’s (middle-aged men in lycra!), the next winner of a move was the launch of this Bicycle Beer. An ale designed to quench the thirst while, you guessed it, light enough to get you back on your Trek, BMC, or Specialised. And if you think because it’s a little light on the ABV, it also drops its cadence on the flavour, you’d be mistaken, evidenced by the bronze medal at the 2015 Australian International Beer Awards. Brewed with a blend of seven hops and American wheat yeast, it pours a light apricot hue and serves up a spicy hop aroma of citrus and summer fruits. The flavour mimics the nose, with hints of passionfruit, peaches, and some citrus overtones, all of which are balanced by soft malt characters and a dry hoppy finish. Perhaps, as it states on the back of the label ‘and the addition of an ancient sea salt’ (I’m told it’s sourced it from an ancient lake found underneath the Grampians) adds to the dryness of the finish, or perhaps I’ve been taken for a ride by the marketing bullshit! Either way what I do know for sure is that when looking to mix your pints with your pedalling, this Bicycle Beer will come in handier than a spare tube or some chain grease.
Origin – Australia. QLD
Style- Brown Ale
We’ve all heard the story about the horse that walks into the bar, but what about the one where the brewery owner goes surfing and punches a shark in the nose? Crazy as it sounds, it’s the true story behind Balter Brewing. That brewery owner is 3 x ASP World Champion Mick Fanning, who famously on live TV, punched what is believed to be a great white in the nose during the J-Bay Open finals in 2015. Jump forward a year, and word is that Mick was surfing in Hawaii with co-founders Joel Parkinson, Bede Durbidge and Josh Kerr when discussions moved to boyhood dreams of setting up a brewery. And on the site of an old radiator factory in their Gold Coast hometown of Currumbin they did! Although ‘wax heads’ may be stereotyped as not too bright, they were switched on enough to comprehend that neither drinking or dreaming of beer, or a combined 4 x ASP World Titles, was going to be the ingredients for success. So they convinced former Stone & Wood brewer Scotty Hargrave to jump on board and help them realise their dream. His first batch was an XPA that was sold out in a weekend and picked up more medals than most sharks have teeth. But the boys weren’t just on a winner with their choice of staff or trophy winning beers. Their philosophy deserves a world title! To balter is to dance artlessly without particular skill or grace, but usually with enjoyment. And it’s the enjoyment of bonding over a tasty beer that Balter is all about. Their mantra revolves around their beer being more than just a drink, rather something that draws us together and often a companion to life’s great moments. And companions don’t come trustier than this ALT Brown. Rather than getting all hoppy and up in your face, this well-structured brown ale is happy just to come on the journey with you. Although it looks like most brown ales in the glass, neither the aroma nor flavour share much in common with others of the style. The nose is faint, with a touch of grains and caramel sweetness, while a good swig reveals an ale that keeps its hop character in the background. It instead delivers subtle layers of toasted, nutty, chocolatey goodness in a tight, sessionable fashion. If you’re looking for something with the bite of a great white, you’ll be disappointed. But when it comes to kicking back with some mates, you’ve found your beer.