Origin – New South Wales. Sydney
Size- 330mL can
Alchemy is the four millennia old study and philosophy of how to change ordinary substances into extraordinary ones. Think something along the lines of the ancient Egyptians working up an elixir of immortality, or perhaps more recently (and successfully!) modern scientists creating remarkable medicines able to cure awful diseases. And at LAB they try to do just that by combining sustainable, fresh, and local ingredients to produce beautifully balanced beers that can be shared with friends and family …which is what makes them truly extraordinary. Though after talking with founders Richard Ridge and Riaz Shalla who started their little venture in 2014 in a small garage outside of Sydney, I’d suggest their name and story more accurately reflects that of the modern classic fable, Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s the story of a boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found, and along the way discovers the essential wisdom of listening to his heart, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following his dreams…and I think the novel goes something like that too! Still little and with day jobs in IT and the television industry to fund their (ad)venture and future dreams, the lads may no longer brew in Rich’s garage, but they do concoct recipes on a small pilot system in Sydney before up-scaling the recipe and producing commercial volumes in Hopes Estate’s Hunter Valley brewery. The core range includes an XPA, a Belgian Wit-Beir, a Midnight Ale and this limited release IPA which started it all. Riaz tells me they based it on the sessional style XPA and almost tripled everything (including the enjoyment!) to produce a bold but balanced 6%er. And despite her relatively light appearance, on the nose the heavy-handed use of Galaxy and Vic Secret hops is obvious. Though unlike your big-dry hopped giants with their even bigger ABV percentages, take a swig and you notice that this IPA is surprisingly fresh, with that signature piney flavour up front followed by a palate bursting with tropical fruit, citrus and toffee caramel sweetness. One tinny may not be the tonic of eternal life that so many are in search of, but there’s no harm in yourself and a mate trying a second or third just in case!