There’s a brew for every occasion this summer
James Smith proves there’s a beer for every occasion. Here he offers ideas to get you through summer refreshed and inspired by a brave new world of brewing.
ONE THING IS for sure in the fast-moving beer world: you won’t struggle to find a brew that suits any occasion. Heck, there are even beers for dogs on the market. As barbecues, beach days, camping trips and festivals fast approach, there is plenty of demand for a refreshing lager or a fruity pale ale. But what else could you serve up?
Once almost forgotten, but now back with a vengeance, the German-style Berliner weisse was called the “Champagne of the North” by Napoleon’s forces. And along with fellow German comeback kid gose, it can offer an experience not dissimilar to a glass of bubbles, albeit with one-third of the booze content.
More often than not, brewers use the base beer – high in wheat content and typically kettle-soured (the mashed grains are left overnight to develop souring bacteria, then occasionally topped up with more lactobacillus) – as a starting point to add fruit and spices.
Then you’ll find brewers who achieve acidic tang and spritzy carbonation by other means – perhaps via time in barrels or through a funky house yeast blend. Either way, playing with acidity has become almost as popular for small brewers as playing with hops.
While they achieve their goals in different ways, the likes of La Sirène’s Avant Garde range (particularly the lower ABV Provision, if you can find it), Holgate’s Hop Tart beers or the various gose from Blackman’s in Torquay deliver with delicacy. Blackman’s even released a gose with tomato and basil earlier in 2018 and it was quite unexpectedly delicious.
Some brewers will add pretty much anything to beer these days, with fruit commonly used. You’ll find plenty of
IPAs in which some form of citrus has been introduced to complement the fruity hops, but continuing the bubbly theme, there’s a growing collection of beers inhabiting the grey area between beer and wine.
Two NSW brewers, Wayward Brewing
Co. and Cupitt Craft Brewers, each put out co-ferments featuring wine grapes. Wayward’s brewer likened their Ripasso to a sparkling rosé, while the tempranillo release from Cupitt was very much in sparkling shiraz territory.
On the Sunshine Coast, Brouhaha has been releasing fruity sours in cans, while a few brewers have made such beers part of their core range, notably Miss Pinky from Boatrocker, The Pinkening from Little Bang, Green Beacon’s 7 Bells, La Sirène’s Citray Sour and, in WA, both Afterglose from Boston Brewing and Shirazzaweiss from The Beerfarm.
If you’re looking to go a little fancier, keep an eye out for big bottle-blended beers from Two Metre Tall, Van Dieman, Hop Nation’s Site Fermentation Project, Boatrocker
(their Sternweisse is a revelation) and
White Rabbit, among others.
Then, of course, there’s Wildflower from Sydney, the Marrickville blending specialist that has made the mastery of such beers its central goal. Wildflower even released its first wine in 2018 (as did Hop Nation and Little Bang, for that matter).
For the designated driver
I’m not sure how big the market is for flavoursome, craft mid-strengths, but there’s never been more options. Even discounting the many beers above that sit below four per cent ABV, plenty of ‘normal’ beers are brewed with good old-fashioned water, malt, hops and yeast, delivering high-quality experiences at designated-driver strength.
Fortitude’s Pacer, at just 2.8 per cent ABV, offers up passionfruit and mandarin, and a gently drying bitterness. And if the experts are to be believed, the best of the current crop of mids is Nail Brewing’s hoppy and pale MVP. A smaller version of the WA brewer’s equally highly rated VPA, the
MVP was a long time in development and has been winning awards since its formal release.
A number of mid-strengths get widespread distribution too, such as Bridge Road’s Little Bling, Pirate Life’s Throwback IPA, Balter’s Captain Sensible and Young Henrys’ Stayer.
If you were to suggest a dessert beer a few years ago, chances are a rich, velvety stout or luscious barley wine would come up. Today, with the envelope not so much pushed as torn up and set on fire, the ‘dessert beer’ category contains so much more. It’s partly down to brewers deciding lactose (milk sugar) and vanilla aren’t only suited to stouts or porters, but can be used anywhere to add a creamy sweetness.
In the world of sweet treats, Adelaide’s Big Shed has an army of fans for its Golden Stout Time and Boozy Fruit, which was inspired by the Frosty Fruits ice block, while Brisbane’s Bacchus has recreated everything from rocky road to peanut brittle, and Melbourne’s 3 Ravens launched the Shake series of ‘milkshake’ IPAs earlier in 2018. Then there’s Sailors Grave, which has made creamy and slightly acidic beers something of a calling card.
So if you’re in the mood for pavlova, peach melba or lemon meringue in liquid form this holiday season, they’ve got you covered.