Origin – Australia. TAS
Style- Red Ale
She’s big, bold and red, and certainly knows how to put on a show. Then there’s Bette Midler! However just like old Bette and her Emmys, Golden Globes and Tony’s, this She’s No Bette Midler Red Ale from Last Rites Brewing Co. is destined for greatness. The somewhat unusual drop was first brewed in 2015 as part of the core range of New-World hop-driven ales the lads used to announce their launch onto the local Tasmanian craft beer scene. As avid home brewers, Phil Zakaria, the former research chemist, and his mates Brett Allchin and Chris Cooper figured it was time for Tassie’s to taste some big, bold American-style ales. And the timing was ideal, with everyone including the Apple Isle’s Premier turning out for the rare occasion of the opening of a new microbrewery. It was a time when the craft brewing scene was in its infancy and the number in the state was still in single figures, with essentially only Moo Brew being known north of Bass Straight. Yet add only 18 months, and today it’s a state that is on the cusp of a craft beer revolution, with more than 25 brewers hitting the hops. Although the map of Tas has been famous since God grabbed one of Adam’s ribs and gave us Eve, it’s rapidly becoming famous for delivering enjoyment of an altogether different kind. And when it comes to enjoyment, the lads at this Hobart-based Last Rites Brewing Co. know how to both serve it up and drink it in themselves- the way they name their beers alone a clear testament to that. And I guess it’s only fitting that the beer behind as an unusual name as She’s No Bette Midler is also somewhat of an unusual red ale. A pour into glass reveals a shade reminiscent of the divine miss M’s bold red hair (in the past at least!). Her perfume is sweet and spicy, the result I’m told of the late hopping with local tassie Ella hops. However, it’s the generous use of red malts combined with some dark malts, and a little addition of Columbus hops that serves up rich full bodied malty mouth, full of caramel, biscuit flavours and toffee. Bette’s no ale that you want to view ‘from a distance’, rather pull the ring, take a good swing and in no time you’ll be singing, I feel ‘the wind beneath my wings’!
Origin – Australia. NSW
The glitz of the Sutherland Shire has come a long way since it was infamously introduced to the rest of Sydney, wider Australia and much of the UK via Australia’s first reality TV program, the 1990’s hit ‘Sylvania Waters’ featuring the wild family, the Donaher’s! Yet it was a different wild family, or man to be exact, who roamed the shores of Botany Bay long before it was to become officially known as ‘The Shire’ (or as the locals call it, ‘God’s Country’) that the Hairyman Brewery was named after. According to a story in the National Archive, the ‘Wild Hairyman from Botany Bay’, roamed the local area in the late 1800’s, helping himself to the abandoned beer supplies of the sailors after he had frightened them off from their beach camps. Fortunately, the only thing hairy about this little craft brewer is it man on the label. Having been a builder for over 2 decades, founder and head brewer Andy Orrell decided it was time to build something for himself. Although most builders opt to buy a ‘reno or demo’, transform it and then flip it for a small fortune, with a passion for home-brewing since a young man, Andy built his own brewery, literally and figuratively speaking, installing each tank with his own hands. Joined by his wife Joan, they first used the facility to brew other people’s beers before in late 2016 beginning to brew a small range of beers they could call their own. Each beer in the core range is named after a story about the encounters of the Hairyman, with each drop as unique as the namesake. Lawson’s Legend is a fruit driven pale ale, Cory’s Claim an easy drinking dark ale and, this Follet’s Fable a sessional lager. In the glass, the light golden colour is crystal clear with a fluffy white head. As you’d expect from a lager, the aroma is faint with a delicate grass and mildly citrus nose. In the mouth, there are some mild hops flavours delivered from the Pacific, Jade and Motueka, which is balanced perfectly with just a hint of sweet caramel malt. Given the high ratio of male models living south of the George’s River, it’s fortunate that you don’t need to be as ugly as the hairyman to get your hands on this drop, least the lads go thirsty!
Origin – Australia. TAS
Style- Indian Pale Ale
There’s much debate about as to where and when the first beers were born, with most reliable sources pointing towards the 5th Millennium BC in Iran. None, however, would argue that the little town of Burton-on-Trent, about 250 miles due north of London, was where IPA was born. It was the early 19th Century in Burton, men wore top hats, ladies tunics and a burgeoning brewing industry were in motion and keen to export their liquid lubricant to British India. To ensure the ale didn’t go off during the long trip down around the Cape, large amounts of hops were added as a form of preservative. These highly hopped ales would become known as the ‘Indian Pale Ale’. By all accounts, they were skilfully brewed and made liberal use of the freshest UK hops, but their secret ingredient was the water (Burton water is incredibly high in minerals) giving their IPA’s a signature crispness and clarity. It was this collaboration between nature and (beer) nerds that gave birth to a style which, thanks to the US craft brewing pioneers, now dominates the contemporary craft beer market. And as a tribute to the grandfather of IPA’s and the town where it all started, Stuart Grant, the founder and brewmaster at Ocho beer Co. has recently released this limited edition Born In Burton IPA. In direct contrast to this little new-school Tasmanian micro-brewery that was born in 2016, the Born In Burton is a hefty old world ale that showcases the fresh UK hops brought to life by tassies’ own, centuries old, mineral-rich water. East Kent Golding and Bramble Cross hops contribute jammy and floral aromatics- we get an apricot jam (or is it marmalade?) with a hint of berries, layered on top of a crusty bread malt character. The mouthfeel is thick and resiny –the bitterness firm but with a clean finish. There’s no doubting the emphasis on the UK hops serves up a much more floral, earthy, and subtly fruity ale compared to modern IPAs, which emphasise American hops with all their brash fruitiness. This one’s best served in a glass, sitting on an old wooden crate, wearing a flat cap, while bartering with the boys down in the borough.
Origin – Australia. NSW
Style- Golden Ale
It was the 20th July 1969 when Apollo 11 landed a man on the moon, with the world tuning in to hear Neil Armstrong famously said, ‘that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. It was a moment in time that captured the imagination of many, and it may just be my imagination running wild, but I’m not convinced it wasn’t just an elaborate hoax. After all, if NASA did it once why has it never been repeated? And it was the 19th March 2014 when Murray’s Brewing Co., just inland of Nelson Bay on NSW North Coast, landed this Moon Boy in-a-bottle on the craft beer world. It didn’t quite have the same impact as Armstrong and Buzz’s landing, and it wasn’t a giant leap for craft beer, but the label design certainly captured the imagination, with its bearded, bespectacled chap, with fangs for teeth, in a maroon sweater. Now I’ll admit that I love a trendy label design more than the next guy, but there was just something about this hipster on the decal that didn’t instil me with confidence. My other concern from the outset was the lower ABV, which is somewhat uncharacteristic for Murray’s who usually operate in the upper reaches of the ABV realm when sending new beers into the world. But I need not have worried as on the first sip it was revealed this Moon Boy Golden Ale was no hoax. The high wheat content and the extensive dry hopping with the New Zealand Motueka and Australian Ella hops gave a late tropical fruit aroma that spiced things up on the nose, while the light German Pilsner malt backbone provided a favour that was crisp and dry, with just a touch of residual hop bitterness. According to head brewer Shawn Sherlock, it’s the perfect summer sessional. So, when taking one giant leap across the scorching Bondi Beach sand this summer, make sure you’re at least heading towards an esky with a few Moon Boys on ice!