FRECHIES COMET

Origin – NSW, Sydney
ABV- 5.4%
Size- 330mL can
Style- Pale Ale

It was Wilfred Sheed who famously insulted the Frogs when he said ‘if the French were really intelligent they’d speak English’. But in the back streets of Rosebery, in Sydney’s inner south, it’s the French that are having the last laugh as they seduce our English-speaking craft beer lovers to pass on the hop heavy IPA accompanied by a crispy food truck twice fried chicken sandwich, for a chance to savour a complex French Biere De Garde paired with a black Angus rib eye with a tarragon béarnaise! Affectionately known as the Frenchies, the maître d’s responsible for this seduction are the thick-accented Vince de Soyres and Thomas Cauquil, the founders of Frenchies Bistro and Brewery. The pair’s friendship dates back to hospitality school in their homeland, where head chef Thomas discovered a love for terrine and head brewer Vince… well, a love for drinking craft beer. And while Vince was mastering his ‘craft’, and also learning a few things about brewing along the way, Thomas was cooking up a storm in the kitchens of Michelin star restaurants. Inspired by the French explorer Lapérouse who famously sailed into Sydney in 1788 only to discover Cook beat him to it by a few days, the pair hatch a plan and packed their bags, arriving themselves in mid-2014. Following various jobs working in breweries and kitchens up and down the east coast, in 2017 the Frenchies’ installed their brewery and set out the couteau et fourchette’s in their shiny new bistronomy (in other words gastronomy in a bistro setting) and welcomed their first guests. One of the first beers out the door, a seasonal brew, was a tribute to the man that that sparked their interest in a far-away land, Lapérouse. Next up was a core range including a Kolsch, an IPA and this Comet Pale Ale, all designed to be versatile enough for standalone drinking or proper food pairing. Named after the Comet hop, which although a go-to back in 1980’s and now not commonly used, the aroma in the glass is clearly driven by the hops distinctive accent of grapefruit. Despite the flavour profile not being as complex as consommé, there is an outstanding burst of citrus and a bitter earthiness, all bound together with a caramel malt sweetness. With its big and bold flavours it’s best to have this one with some duck pate or a good smelly washed rind cheese. Merci beaucoup Frenchies!

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SIX STRING BREWING TPA

Origin – NSW, Central Coast
ABV- 4.2%
Size- 375mL can
Style- Pale Ale
I’m actually a little disappointed to share that the brewery wasn’t set up by Jimmy, Jody and some guys from school in the summer of sixty-nine. But from what I’m told, school buddies and founders Chris Benson and Adam Klasterka did having bleeding fingers following a three-year battle with planning permission, bureaucracy, council by-laws and even opposition from public figures in their home community of Erina, on the NSW Central Coast, an hours drive north of Sydney. I also have it on good authority that Chris does play six-string which, not surprisingly, is where the brewery got its name. Now unlike most blokes growing up on the Central Coast, rather than reaching for the surfboard wax, Chris was more interested in coding, home brewing and playing base. While it was this love of good music and great beer that now defines his current career, it wasn’t always that way. You see unlike home brewing and playing in a garage band, being an IT guru provides more than a square meal of frozen pizza pockets and Toohey’s New. Thus it was with that bank account full of bitcoins that he built his own commercial-scale brewing fit-out with a 12-tap tasting room, a hip restaurant and a cool bar that takes centre stage, because, well, it pretty much is a stage. And since pulling open the roller door in 2013 Six Strings hasn’t looked back, proving popular with both locals and Sydney day trippers. Yet despite its popularity, there’s a relaxed vibe to the place, a far cry from the drunken raucousness that the objectors had originally feared. It’s a vibe that also flows over into their beers, this Tropical Pale Ale the case in point. Brewed to sit at an approachable midway point between a lager and a regular pale ale, she’s insanely sessionable. Pouring a beautiful mango yellow with a little lacing and very light carbonation the aroma is all pineapple and passionfruit. The flavour also bursts forth with the same characters along with some restrained malt sweetness and a pronounced bitter finish. It might not have been Jimmy, but a few years after opening Adam did quit and was replaced by another of Chris’s school friends, another local Ryan Harries. Both with family still in the area I can only assume after closing hour the lads head back to mama’s porch, crack open a Six String and reflect that these are the best days of their lives.

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ROGUE DEAD GUY ALE

Origin – USA. Oregon
ABV- 6.8%
Size- 355mL can
Style- Helles Bock
There’s no doubt the Mexican’s love a fiesta…and I’m not talking about a few Old El Paso tacos and a Corona or two. Think more along the lines of a full spread of quesadillas, pambazos, huaraches and a full-sized donkey piñata hanging from a tree branch, and you’re getting there. Dating back some 3,000 odd years it was the celebration of Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead that set it all in motion- an occasion where the living stopped to remember, celebrate and honour the lives of the deceased. Now, it would be a significant exaggeration to say that they’ve been celebrating it with one of these Rogue Ales for the last 300 centuries, but you are at least tasting a drop that dates back almost three decades. It was 1st November 1990 that Newport Oregon’s Rogue first debuted the Dead Guy Ale, brewing it for a local Tex-Mex to help lubricant conversation on what was this solemn and celebrated day. The German Maibock inspired ale proved so popular that it’s been brewed ever since, becoming an instantly recognised staple of the craft beer world. So much so that when redesigning the label of this 30 something late last year, Rogue simplified the layout to only include the oversize skeleton, with arms crossed and beer in hand, sans branding and description. As further proof that this Dead Guy is alive and kicking, last year it was named Best US beer at the World Beer Awards. So, what makes it so amazing? As crazy as it sounds, it’s not an IPA. After all, amidst the fridge full of over-hopped IPA’s and IIPA’s, it can be nice every now and then to grab a beer with a malt-forward flavour. And it’s that sweet malt driven aroma that is first noticed when pouring this cloudy, reddish-honey colour ale with little to no head. Despite the high 6.8% abv, he’s light in your mouth, with a touch of honey and toffee sweetness up front, that is balanced at the back with a dose of bitter hops. For a craft, notwithstanding its 9-ingredient mix, it’s not overly complicated, which is all part of the appeal. I suggest one thing’s for sure, when this drop final does go to the grave, it may well be a case of he who dies with the most beer awards wins!

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RAVENS IMPERIAL IPA

Origin – Australia. Victoria
ABV- 10%
Size- 330mL bottle
Style- IPA
So, is it art imitates life or life imitates art? In 1997 the 3-eyed raven was printed in the pages of George Martin’s book. In 2011 network HBO brought us Game of Thrones. And in between the two, in early 2003 from a basement of an engineering firm in Thornbury, Ben Pattison and Marcus Cox established their own take on the 3-eyed raven, launching 3 Ravens Brewing Co. And similar to the instant success of the show that’s estimated to cost upwards of $10M to produce each episode, it was only a matter of months before Ben and Marcus were the talk of the town by every inner-city Melbourne hipster. Unfortunately, as the brewery approached its 10th birthday celebrations (with an anniversary beer in the tank) there was a ‘red wedding’ moment between the lads, resulting in a fire sale. Riding into the rescue was WA’s Mash Brewing, which was looking for somewhere to brew its beers on the East Coast (is that classed as south or north of the wall?). Following this Jon Snow style back from the dead moment, the new owners set about pouring cash into the brewery. They start with a rebranding and also installed some new equipment. The move paid off, with 3 Ravens named Champion Small Australian Brewery at the 2014 IBA’s. Since then the investment has continued, as has the collection of silver wear in the trophy cabinet. Like most brewers, 3 Ravens roll out a solid range of core beers, but it’s when they turn their hands to the limited release that things get interesting. Folks still talk about the past favourites such the English style hand pumped British Ale and the Ale Noir – a dark beer aged in French oak barrels previously used for pinot noir. But, sitting high above all of them was a 2016 release of their aggressively hopped and infamous 8% abv double IPA. And two years on, in honour of that nectar of the gods, comes this Imperial IPA- a 10%, 2.6 standard drink, west coast style hop blaster with 70 IBU and over 50ml of hop oil per hectolitre (hint: that’s more hop oil than Tyrion Lannister’s had shags!) Best from the glass, its apricot nose is followed by a sticky fruit salad bowl full of hops in the mouth, all balanced with just the right amount of sweet malt. Life? Art? Who’s to know. I guess 3 Ravens can just be themselves after all everyone else is already taken. Thanks, Oscar.

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