EXIT BREWING SAISON

Origin – Victoria. Melbourne
ABV- 6.2%
Size- 330mL can
Style- Saison

I’m not sure if it’s lack of imagination or if the boys are just lazy, but Pike Brewing co in USA’s Mid-west recently started naming their beers after US Interstate highway exits. Now Exit Brewing may not be named after a highway turnpike, however, the name reeks of just as little imagination. Having decided in 2014 that beer was their future, the next step for founders Frase Rettie and Craig ‘Grum’ Knight was to determine a name. I’m reliably told that it was Grum who came up with the remarkably underwhelming ‘Exit’ based on the logic that the two lads were former IT guru’s getting out of the industry… hence ‘ex-IT’ people! The story goes that the two IT men meet in Melbourne before independently deciding, like so many Aussies before them, to strap on the backpack and travel the world. Although taking in much of the UK, rather than bunking in down in Earls Court like most, the lads reunited in Belgium. And it was there that they fell in love with beer more interesting than Newcastle Brown. Late one balmy night over a cold ale the lads stopped talking coding for a moment and start waxing lyrical about crafting beer. A dream was born and upon returning to Melbourne the planning began in earnest.  Release one was this Saison (known as #001- another remarkably creative name!) brewed in tribute to the country that set them on the road.  It won them fans almost instantly. Although having recently been repackaged into this slick looking can, this tribute to the roots of their brewing adventure in Belgium is still as good today as when it was first released. Following the traditional Belgium method, Frase and Grum use a mix White Labs Belgian Saison yeast and then blend them with new world hops, most notably here the Sorachi Ace. This quirky hop of Japanese origin has been used to wonderful effect in farmhouse inspired ales such as Brooklyn’s Ace. Here, it adds lemon and lime curd aromas to compliment the citrus driven characters of the yeast and other hops. In the mouth, you’re hit with honey like malts, spice, and a touch of tutti frutti, which is followed by a dry bitterness that sweeps up the sweetness that has come before. It seems they saved all their creativity for the flavour profiles …thank goodness for that at least!

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HAIRYMAN POP ALE

Origin – NSW. Sydney
ABV- 4.6%
Size- 375mL can
Style- Random!

We all love to walk down memory lane, as evidenced by the almost 4 million results listed when entering those words on Google. And what is not a love about looking back on when your dad wore Old Spice, your school teacher wore a tie, and, chances are you wore a hyper-coloured t-shirt. But just looking around it seems that Peter Allen was right, everything old is new again. Sydney streets are once again crisscrossed by tram tracks, Rosanne is back on the box after a 21-year hiatus and even the 1950’s crock-pot is back in fashion (FYI- it a slow-cooker kids!). And now to go with that slow-cooked lamb shank you can drink in some nostalgia with this new beer flavour – creaming soda. The Pop Ale was the brainchild of a big kid himself, Andy Orrell, the founder and head brewer of Hairyman. Andy tells me that as a young lad he loved creaming soda so much that rather than doing his homework after school he snuck out on his BMX bike a few times a week and rode down to the milk bar and knocked back a can or two. So, when channelling a flavour for a new beer last month it’s was an obvious choice. But to throw back to that infamous 1977 episode of Happy Days, is this a jump the shark moment? I’d suggest that moment has already come and gone with the rise of sours and Gose ales, (pronounced “Go-zuh btw) which if you ask me taste like spicy sweat, but I’ll let you be the judge. Made from 60 percent malted grain, Simcoe hops, a dash of New Guinea vanilla and few creates of Kirks 1.25L bottles of creaming soda, it’s not unforeseen that she smells like creaming soda and has the same mouthfeel. Perhaps without the bitter backbone, you could be mistaken that it is a soft drink rather than a beer. When I asked Andy how best to drink it- ‘it’s good on ice like a cider, but it’s unbelievably good with a scoop of ice cream for a boozy spider’ he said. Given I’m a good old fashioned honest and direct sort of talker (which I’m told isn’t the way I should be leading the millennials at work!) I’m happy to say that the Pop’s not for me. Though to be fair creaming soda was never my thing, I was a Mellow Yellow boy, but it is drinkable, refreshingly different and comes in an old school…wait for it …375mL can. Oh for the days when life was simple.

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CAVALIER BREWING PILSNER

Origin – Victoria. Melbourne
ABV- 4.5%
Size- 330mL Bottle
Style- Pilsner

The adjective for a cavalier is ‘showing a lack of proper concern’, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth when referring to the sword-bearing lads at Cavalier brewing. Pretty much since the inception of Cavalier in 2011 with their first 100-litre brewing set up, founders Steve Martin and Heath Shirtcliffe have been all about making a difference. However, unlike many, the difference hasn’t only been focused on the flavour profiles of their craft beers or educating Australia’s beer drinking public about better options for conversational lubrication. Indeed, despite their scale, Cavalier Brewing has punched well above its weight when it comes to community support and CSR, something some of the big brewers could certainly sit up and take note of. The finest example, without doubt, their commitment to Cavalier Courage, even in the brewery’s infancy. It was early 2013 when Dr Ian Davis knocked on the door. The avid craft beer lover and up-and-coming medical specialist who had recently been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease wanted to discuss a collaboration with the hope to raise funding and awareness for research into the crippling disease with no cure. It took the lads a millisecond to agree, and the bottled result was such a success that pretty much before it had hit shelves it was sold out. And although six years on the look of the labels have changed, the heart of what the lads are all about remained the same. Likewise, while interesting specials have come and gone, such as the various black coffee IPA collaborations with Proud Mary Coffee, the amazing core range seems to be brewed to perfection, batch after batch. This Pilsner is the embodiment of that. Taking its inspiration from Europe, she pours a pale gold with the foamiest of fluffy white heads. The aroma offers up wafts of pilsner malt and floral, herbal hop aromas. Take a big sip and there’s a perfect amount of spicy hop bitterness delivered by the Czech hops, which are neatly balanced on a sword edge with the sweet malt finish. Notwithstanding that Cavalier is a great name for a craft brewer, I can’t help but think that perhaps a white knight in shining armour is a more apt description.

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WAYWARD BREWING CO FUSAMI

Origin – NSW, Sydney
ABV- 6.3%
Size- 330mL Bottle
Style- Indian Pale Lager

In 1971 a group of former Walt Disney cartoonists took issue with Mickey Mouse. When their complaints fell on deaf ears that the Mickey they knew and loved from Steamboat Willie had been transformed to become a symbol of conformist hypocrisy in American culture, they took things into their own hands. Setting up a “secret” artist’s organisation, The Mouse Liberation Front, they created two issues of an underground comic, in which Mickey and gang got up to a little sex, drugs and rock ‘in roll. It wasn’t long though before the parody comics surfaced and soon ended up on Disney’s boardroom table. With Walt no doubt turning in his grave, predictably a lawsuit was filed. It was a David versus Goliath battle with no fairy tale ending- the MLF was hit with $190,000 in damages and $2 Million in legal fees. Presumably Peter Phillip, the founder of Wayward Brewing Co, wasn’t a comic book fan and had no knowledge of that case when in 2012 he took on multinational brewing giant SAB Miller in a trademark infringement case. The behemoth was convinced that their mega beer brand Haywards sold on the Asian subcontinent would be confused with the little independent craft beer brand of Wayward. The fact that Peter was only a Sydney based gypsy brewer at the time, rolling out 20 kegs per brew didn’t seem to stop them going after him with a threat to take everything. Channelling his inner David, Pete refused to back down or be intimidated by the multiple cease and desist letters and decided to take the fight to Goliath. After a drawn-out two year battle the decision went in his favour and he was free to continue being Wayward. To celebrate his victory, his very next brew was this Indian Pale Lager, which he named FUSAMI Victory. The FUSAMI serves up everything you’d want in an IPA, a nose and mouth full of hops, which head brewer Shaun Blissett has then stacked atop the clean malt characteristics of a pilsner. I’d suggest with all the lagers hitting the shelves right now, the lads were ahead of their time. Now, I’m formally told that the name is a tribute to the FUSAMI tribe of central Asia which supposedly invented beer some 10,000 years ago. But over a jam jar full of Victory late one night at Wayward brewery, nestled in a quiet lane on the border between Annandale and Camperdown, Pete had something else to say…. FU…

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