Latest Beer & Cider News
Welcome beer friends,
Well, we got through Sydney Beer Week relatively unscaved, and I would like to take this moment to shower some love and appreciation on the combined efforts of all the breweries and their representatives that came through and put tasty beer-y treats in your mouth holes, the Crafty Pint team for bringing an amazing two days of blind IPA tastings to life, and most importantly, the team of legends I get to work with every day at the Oak Barrel. Without everyone on board doing their bit, we would not have been able to bring this week to life in the best way imaginable!
Now, enough sappy words of appreciation, lets talk BEER. More importantly, beer from my home state, Western Australia (I'm already hearing BOO-URNS from the collective digital crowd). In the last 20 years, we have seen so many amazing breweries and beers make their way from the Wild Wild West into the heards, minds and drinking habits of beer lovers all around Australia. We have also seen some prove their merit and become acquired by multi-national beer goliaths.
Some how the beer lords of Western Australia have been kind to us on the east coast and bestowed both some amazing new and familiar brews from the great folks at Feral Brewing Co, Beer Farm and Nail Brewing. Each of these three breweries have been long-term contributors to pushing excellence amongst the ultra-competitive West Australian brewing scene, and the results ar emost certainly present in the quality of these tasty tinnies!
Nail Brewing, Bassendean
Beginning to play around on his home brew kit in 1994, John Stallwood seeded the ideas in his own head to one day create a beer all of his own flavour, style and identity. Fast forward to the year 2000, John managed to commission a tiny brew set up in a pub called Bobby Dazzler's and on March 23rd of that year, the first evert pint of Nail Ale was sold. Due to health reasons, John was forced to put Nail on hiatus in 2004 until he recovered and he came back to brewing with one objective, to bring back Nail. He utilised brew kits around Perth until in 2012, he and Feral Brewing founder Brendan Varis opened Brew Corp, the location where all Nail beers are produced. Nail now has an amazing array of varied core-range beers, as well as some amazing seasonal beers, released under the 'Brew Log' moniker.
|Nail Brewing VPA 6.5%
Staring it's life as a limited edition beer, Nail's VPA was pushed out into the WA market in the striking blue tins at the end of 2016. This beer showcased Stallwood's ability to move away from his more malt-focussed inclination (look at his oatmeal stout, imperial and clout stout releases) and brings hops to the forefront. Focussing on just one hop (El Dorado) to bring the intended juiciness of pineapple, passion fruit and orange, Stallwood has engineered a beer that balances these intense tropical characteristics taken from the El Dorado hops, with his usual malt integration to push out a truly unique take on the American Pale Ale.
Nail Brewing Super VPA 8.5%
Beer Farm, Metricup
Hailing from the south-west region of Western Australia, Beer Farm has had a massive change of direction over the years, from working with Young Henrys as a sattelite brewery for their operations to service and brew for the WA market, to now producing some of the most interesting beersin WA from their Metricup location (which also has some amazing foods, a giant slip-n-slide that goes into the water and entertainment as a fundamental component to how they bring their attitude to life). Beer Farm is, for lack of a better word, FUN! Their beers, their branding, how they conduct business and the people that make up the fabric of this brewery not only echo this fun sentiment, but do so without jeopardising the incredibly high-quality and diverse products that make it into your mouth. We are stoked to be able to partner with Beer Farm to bring you two seasonal, limited-release bangers to you Oakies.
|Beer Farm La Maison Saison Marmalade 6.5%
Every year, when the fruit is ripe, a beautiful, big seville orange tree serves as an inspiration to the Beer Farm team to put together an incredibly unique saison with the fruit and juice from this tree. The way they make it all happen is by adding the zest and juice to their house saison base, triggering a secondary fermentation that takes the sweetness of the orange and turns it into boozy, barrel fermented goodness. The complexity of the saison yeast utilised, married with a great malt base (pale, rolled oatas and rolled barley), a blend of hops (summer, helga, galaxy, topas and ella) along with the addition of the Seville Oranges yield a beer with the tang of marmalade without the inherent sweetness. Get in quick as this is super limited and damn, damn tasty!
|Beer Farm Asam Boi Gose 4.5%
Working and collaborating with the amazing team at Smith Street Taps in Singapore, the Beer Farm team were suggested to look into using some truly asian ingredients to bring a new look to their gose brews. The reccommendation to Beer Farm was listened to, and the team began experimenting with a weird, salty and sweet plum preserve called Asam Boi. The salted plums were dropped into a kettle-soured Berliner Weisse base, and left to make it's magic until the resulting beer brought fruit sweetness, saltiness and sourness in balance with a little amplification on the sweet side.
Feral Brewing Company, Baskerville
The long-term darling of the West Australian craft brewing scene, Feral was kicked of by Alistair Carragher and Brendan Varis in October 2002. The brew-pub was the fisrt of its kind in the Swan Valley region to the east of Perth, and allowed for people to truly immerse themselves in the ethos, culture and true authenticity of Feral. The focus for the Feral team, currently headed by brewing legend Will Irving, is to produce a consitiently well executed core range that has seen many awards garnered internationally, as well as an amazing amount of 'Brew Pub' series releases that are one-offs or limited runs that sometimes get released into the wild. We all are aware that in 2017, after 15 years of hard work to make Feral into a true representation of high-quality, integrity focussed and amazing craft brewing, the Australian arm of Coca-Cola invested in taking reposinsilbility for the ownership of the brewery. Brendan and WIll are still on board, so the literal heart of Feral is still there, and more importantly, so is the same committment to amazingly crafted, truly West Australian beers.
Hop Hog 10th Anniversary Can American Pale Ale 5.8%
|War Hog American IPA 8%
Originally released in 2015 under their 'Brew Pub' release moniker, the War Hog was Will's go-to-market twist on a very limited, keg-only release, known as Feral Cat. This hefty brew is the natural evolution of their all-conquering Hop Hog, bringing more hop intensity, body and boozebut delivering it in one of the most balanced finishes that a beer in this style could hope for. Originally a great piece of friendly competition between neighbouring breweries, War Hog has cut out a great space in the minds (and mouths) of hoppy-beer lovers all around the country. Remeber when you're enjoying this: PREPARE FOR WAR!
Happy Thursday beer lovers,
We are halfway through Sydney Beer Week and so far it has been an absolute ripper here at the Oak Barrel, with some great counter tastings from our friends at Grand Ridge Brewing, Colonial Brewing Co. and Pirate Life. We have also been hanging out with James from Crafty Pint for the last couple of nights tasting some of the best IPAs from Australia and around the world, but not knowing exactly which ones we were drinking and loving or loathing.
The great thing about weeks such as these is that everyone in this great city has the opportunity to be exposed to something new, whether it be stylistically or getting on board with their new favourite brewery.
Speaking of ones favourite brewery, I am excited to have been bringing in some new brews from my absolute favourite brewer in the world (and the reason why I got into craft beeer), Boatrocker Brewing.
Having launched in 2009 by Matt and Andrea Houghton, the operation, direction and styles of brewing may have evolved Boatrocker into the incredibly diverse offering that we see from them today, but with one thing remaining the same, and that being Matt's attention to detail for creating amazing beers that really make you sit back and think "how is this even possible?'.
At the Oak Barrel, we are fortunate enough to be able to have an incredible and constantly growing range from Boatrocker, encompassing sours, lambic-influenced, koelship brewed, barrel aged, fortified and everything in between. Let's dive in!
|6 Brett Barrel Aged Sour Ale 6%
Released in mid 2017, this sour ale was constructed by (as the name states) by effecting an ale base with six individual straing of brettanomyces, and a younger culture addition Pediococcus. This yeast cultures are left to fermet in French Oak Battiques for over a year, allowing for some amazingly fruity esters to be created and following up with a balancing amount of acidity to cleanse the palate and leaving a great level of moreishness.
|Asterix Blonde Ale 6%
Delicately funky, slightly soured from both barrel fermentation and the introduction of brettanomyces, asterix takes a largely wheated component to create a beautifully textural, bright, and adapbtble beer that is incredible refreshing on its own, but also lends itself to being enjoyed alongside simple, fresh seafood and lighter aperitivo style foods.
|House Red Flanders Style Red 6.2%
Bringing together stock bases aged for 12, 18, 24 and 48 months, House Red is carefully blended from oak aged beers to crate a beer that ticks all the boxes you want from this solera influenced beer. It covers ground with a textural sourness from lactic compounds, acetic acids to brighten and bring tartness, funkiness dervived from brett and overal deliciousness care of the time taken by Matt and his team to be patient and allow for their wild yeast cultures to play their part on this great brew.
|Orange Sherbet Barrel Aged Berliner Weisse 5.5%
Take a triple fermented berliner weisse, throw it in some freshly emptied chardonnay barrels and throw in a healthy dose of bitter orange peels and leave it to become friends with some brettanomyces and what you are left with is the refreshingly sharp, citric and slightly funky litte number. Easy going for this style, displaying characteristics that it even says in the name, this beer is on point with shellfish, seafood and sunshine!
|Squeezebox Barrel Aged Saison 6.4%
Taking their saison base, Squeezebox spends up to 12 months hanging out in French oak barriques with old mate brettanomyces and his partner in crime, pediococcus. With time and the interaction between the base beer and its new friends, this beer ends up tasting like Australia's national drink, the Lemon Lime and Bitters! Super refreshing with funk that will develop with age.
|Tripel Belgian Style Strong Ale 9.6%
Strong is an understatement for this beer. Healthy booze is balanced by yeasty goodness, delicate esters displaying light coriander seed, candied bananas, bright herbacious tones that leads to a balanced and very layered golden ale. This beer is from the Boatrocker archives, meaning that this beast is no longer in production and we may have some of the last stock in existence!
|Sternweisse Double Barrel Aged Berliner Weisse 6.1%
In 2015, one barrel of this banger was released and drinkers around Australia went wild, and for those that missed out, Boatrocker has brought this back this exceptional number to 2018. We hear you asking, Double Barrel - what the hell do they mean? Well, this Berliner Weisse is fermented in French Oak barriques with some brettanoymyces for a little over six months, is racked off from any additional yeast cells and put into some freshly emptied barrels from a little spot in port melbourne called Starward (you may have heard of these guys once or five thousand times before from scott and our team). This process yeilds a beer full of character driven with funk from the brett, boozy and grain based notes from the whisky and some great nutiness derived from the oak. Damn, just Damn!
|Dramjet Fortified 17.6%
When does beer transcend into another realm? What can you do to a beer to make it still taste like beer but create something so truly unique that it could only come from the mind of the Boatrocker team? DRAMJET...that is what. This devilishly boozy, still, dark dream takes Ramjet (Boatrocker's yearly Whisky barrel aged imperial stout, Ramjet) and adds a healthy splash of Starward Whisky to manifest in a beer that is unlike anything you have ever tasted before. Decadent, rich and delicious, this brings both worlds and products into perfect unison and you don't even need to finish it all in one sitting due to the booze and omission of carbonation on this beauty.
|Dramjet Sparkling Fortified 17.6%
See above beer, add bubbles, AND GO!
With Sydney Beer Week literally next week, I thought we'd take this opportunity to go over what counter tastings we have in store. We have one every day! I'll be pulling up a few of the unique brews that you guys can come in and try for free. We also have an Akasha counter tasting THIS Friday, just in time for their new release, Korben D which we will have available for you to buy! Dont forget either, this is your last chance to pick up tickets to our Beer Week event with Craft Pint. We have sold out for Tuesday and only have a handful of tickets left for Wednesday!
Monday: Grand Ridge Brewery
One of Australia’s most awarded and oldest independent craft breweries, Grand Ridge Brewing lives in an old butter factory in the Victorian Strezlecki Ranges. Their approach to creating pure beers representative of where they live is common through their entire range. Get in from 4-7pm Monday to get your taste of this great brewery!
Imagine chocolate, coffee, vanilla, chili and cinnamon jumped into a can and this is what you’ll find with Midnight Madness. Viscous and velvety on the palate to start, then cleaned up with some great hop bitterness to leave you ready for the next sip!
Tuesday: Colonial Brewing Co
Calling the Margaret River region in Western Australia home since 2004, Colonial Brewing Co. have always brewed beers that represent the uncomplicated lifestyle from where it hails. Having opened up a new East Cost brewing facility in Port Melbourne (formerly the Yak Ales facility), Colonial have managed to keep consistency and quality at the forefront while getting more tins into more hands. Join Hayley on the counter for a taste!
Australian I.P.A? Sorry what? This beer has been crafted to make this style of beer suit the Australian palate and lifestyle to a tee. Taking 100% Australian grown hops and bringing in Australian-made malts, this tin brings all the piney and tropical notes that you expect from an I.P.A with mellow and balancing malts to create a truly Australian riff on this style.
Wednesday: Pirate Life Brewing
Adelaide, known for its churches, the iced coffee and since 2014 they have been able to add Australia’s newest darling brewery to list as well. Featuring a team of brewers that worked for the great Brew Dog Brewery, the beers being released see some influence from their time abroad mixed with a great understanding of what craft beer lovers like to drink. Join Pat on the counter for a taste!
Hazy, NEIPA, Juicy . . .however you want to describe them, New England IPAs (NEIPAs) have seen a dramatic rise to being top of the global craft beer food chain in the last couple of years. But can you bring those similar flavours you get with a NEIPA in a beer that’s clear, bright and fresh? Pirate Life will tell you that you can, they’ve done it by blending Enigma, Kohatu and Mosiac Hops with a yeast strain used by most New England brewers. Yielding in a beer that is clear in appearance and filled with tropical fruits, citrus and a little splash of berries making its way in.
Thursday: Hop Nation
What happens when wine makers transition into the world of brewing? Great things if the results from Hop Nation Brewing is anything to go by. Opening up their brewery and tap room in 2016, this Footscray based operation still show their winemaking background by having constantly rotating barrel-aged brews as well as a focus on natural, un-pastuerized and minimally filtered beers being at the core of their operation. Join brewers, Sam and Dunc from FIVE to 7. We're starting a little later on this one due to their flight in!
Fruit forward and smashable, the Punch Mango Gose showcases one of the best interpretations of this style currently brewed in Australia. Heady and juicy mango aromas come on strong from the outset, with tart passionfruit and citrus being met with a silky and salty saline finish to round out this juice bomb nicely.
When two graphic designers moved from boston to Silverstream in New Zealand to work in the film industry, no one imagined they would create an AIBA winning brewery in the process. Set up originally as a small 50L Brew Kit underneath their garage, the outfit moved into an empty former carpet factory to build a much larger facility that would have a large focus on local ingredients, sustainability and a commitment to making their local community better for them being there. Join brewer, Emma on the counter for a taste from 4-7!
Taking influence from an ancient Egyptian beer recipe and paying homage to Hathor, the goddess of love, hospitality and beer, Holy Cow! Is a red ale brewed from New Zealand malts and hops, with additions of pomegranates and dates. This beer has a dark red colour, bright notes of caramel, spice, figs and raisins are met with a tangy finish.
Kicking into this week we will be looking at whats coming up in Sydney beer week!
We have a tasting everyday of new beer of the week, but our biggest draw card is our crafty pint tasting !
Have you ever tasted beer blind? It's a real eye-opener!
The Crafty Pint is bringing its blind tastings to Sydney. This will be presented by James Smith over two evenings at The Oak Barrel. Taste a dozen local and international IPAs with nothing to guide you but your senses and see whose comes out on top.
We'll be presenting top notch beers from each Aussie state – four from NSW and one from the others – plus ACT alongside two international classics and inviting you to judge the best.
There will be guest brewers along on the night to talk about all things beer and IPA – Akasha, Modus and Wayward are confirmed so far – and Crafty Cabal members can register for a bonus on the night too.
Today we are going to jump into the fun and funky world of Farmhouse ales, where ALMANAC BREWING are some the best and most consistent boundary-pushing farmhouse ales on the planet.
Set up in 2010 by Jessie Friedman and Damian Fagan, this northern Californian outfit has been pushing the discussions about what it means to be creating beers with a farm-to-barrel mentality, by sourcing the best fruits from local producers to bring forward seasonally amazing flavours with a bunch of funk!
This attention to detail on every part of the brewing process, along with partnering with an ever-evolving list of local fruit producers, creates beers that are truly individual and demonstrate where they come from.
All of these beers are available in extremely limited quantities both in-store and online so run, don’t walk on this sour goodness.
For those of you that enjoy your beer AS WELL as whisky, we have an event coming up next week featuring Highland Park whisky and some heavy Harviestoun beers to pair with them!
Keep posted next week to see what new beers I’ve managed to get my mitts on from some of our favourite brewers!
This is my first week writing a newsletter to you all about the best beverage in existence, in my humble opinion. Taking over the reigns from Claire is daunting and they are big shoes to fill but I am excited to share many new brews with you in the future!
Stepping into such an immense collection of beers, I thought instead of doing a post about the new beers we have in stock, I thought I'd take advantage of the VERY slow transition into spring and talk about some of my favorite dark beers that we have in stock. I am a staunch believer in the fact there are stouts for all seasons!
This little beauty has been out for a while, from one of my favorite Australian breweries Sailor's Grave. Based in Victoria these guys are exceptionally strong at farmhouse ales, with a unique twist. This beer is a mind bender! A stout brewed with Wapengo rock oysters and a good measure of smoked malts.
One of my favorite beers of all time. This beer has a minimal malt presence on the nose, hidden by strong presence of beechwood smoke and a pine forrest like woodsy aroma. The smoke presence dies away on the palate. There is minimal roastiness but still an amazing rich malt characteristic in this beer, thats cleaned up by the delicate salinity and soft carbonation of this beer.
This beer is an incredibly well executed example of a difficult style. The finess that Sailor's Grave have used in balancing these prominent flavors is insane and this beer can truly be enjoyed year round.
In terms of out there stouts, this beer is there being a Belgian style Imperial carrot stout. Every year a Dr. Shedlove beer is released with a different root vegetable at the core of it and this was their 2017 offering, strange right? It's what to be expected from a collaboration between two such innovative and out there Australian breweries.
The bottle reads that this is "a beer so dark that no light can escape it's surface" and thats pretty true, it pours jet black with a beautiful thick tan head. The nose is sweet and boozy with subtle carrot. I'd hazard a guess of unskinned carrot because its unmistable sweetness, but also very vegetal characteristics. Dark malts are prominiment in the palate with notes of chocolate and honey, very reminiscent of carrot cake. Honestly, the best way to describe this beer is carrot spice mocha flavor. It's decadent, its innovative. It's got a thick, rich mouthfeel, a prominent but balanced booziness and a cardamom spice kick. I cant wait to see what they release in 2019!
A local staple, Stockade have been blowing me away since I first tried them with consistently good beers ranging from hop forward classics to their richer, boozier bourban barrel aged bad boys. If you loved Old Money, but want a beer that you can enjoy a few of over the course of the night, this Bourbon Barrel aged dark ale is one for you.
With a nose of heavy bourbon, old school American style percolated coffee and demerara sugar this beer has no lingering bitterness due to its low to minimal hop profile, the carbonation in helps contribute to a lighter mouthfeel making this a prime example of a 'sessionable' dark beer.
Dainton are constantly releasing new beers that push boundaries, now they've got a beer that if it weren't for the booze content (a hefty 10%) I would replace my morning coffee with.
Kenyan and Ethiopian coffee from Mornington's Commonfolk cold brewed for 48 hours. This beer has a thick tan head, a viscous and rich mouthfeel and a coffee kick that will have you buzzing for a while. Definitely worth a try if you're a fan of big beers and caffine!
Firstly, I'd like to welcome Rosemary to the Oak Barrel. Rosemary will be taking over the beer buying role at the beginning of October when I leave to move back to Western Australia. I'm saddened to leave but am excited for the next chapter! Thank you to everyone who I've had the pleasure to chat to, meet and write to over the last three years. It's been a pleasure!
Now on to the beer! This weeks sees the newest beer trend to finally makes its way into package and onto our shelves. Brut IPAs are rolling out across Australia and look set to be the biggest thing since NEIPAs.
Brut IPAs originated from Social Brewing in San Francisco in late 2017 and have been likened to New Englands in regards to the low bitterness of the hop profile. But what does separate a Brut IPA from every other IPA out there? Simply, Enzyme amylase. This enzyme is added during the brewing process, leaving it to break down all remaining residual sugars, leaving the beer bone dry. This is not the only defining factor. The malt bill uses very pale malts, the aroma hops are generally added after the boil so as not to impart any bitterness, leaving a low IBU.
So, the four factors to consider when drinking a Brut IPA: 1. Paleness, 2. Extremely Dry, 3. Highly Carbonated and 4. Demonstrates clear hop aromas (low bitterness).
I have no doubt that as Aussie brewers get a hold of this style, we'll see many reiterations of a Brut IPA, leaving it not as a Brut IPA but as some mutated, blended style as they are want to do, but oh well! In the mean time, we have three packaged ones coming into the store plus many on tap, out and about.
We've only had a small amount of beers turn up this week so I won't put up a New Beer List (seriously, only 4 new ones1) but you can check out the new beers via the button below. We'll have plenty of new things rolling through in the next two weeks.
We have tapped a new keg as of Wednesday. A boozy little number from Pirate Life and Tomfoolery Wines. Details can be found HERE.
This weeks sees one of the oldest Aussie craft breweries joining our ranks as well as one of the newest.
Grand Ridge Brewing was founded in 1989 by six founders. Eric Walters (one of the original six) has been the sole owner since 1997. Located in the Victoria in the Strzelecki Ranges, it is one of Australia's most awarded breweries.
For the first time, we're seeing Grand Ridge in cans. Launched last Saturday, Grand Ridge has decided it's time and whilst a lot of the core is still in bottles, we have two new exciting offerings.
Thanks to Grand Ridge, we're also happy to mention that West City Brewing is back! Launched in 2015 by a couple of homebrewers and largely inspired by a beer Facebook group, West City were making smashable ales to be enjoyed at the footy. In 2017, after deciding to focus on other careers, the gypsy brewers put West City up for sale. As of, April 2018 Grand Ridge decided to buy the brand and keep it kicking, with the continual imput of the original founders/brewers.
We've got a busy few months ahead with tastings and Sydney Beer Week on the horizon. First up, we have a Holgate Brewhouse tasting this Friday 21st October with our local rep, Colton. Come on down between 4-7pm and welcome Holgate back into the Oak Barrel beer family.
We're also very excited that not only are we running our annual Free Counter Tastings over the course of Sydney Beer Week, but we have partnered with Crafty Pint to run two nights of Blind IPA tastings. Details for that can be found HERE.
As usual, The new beer list can be found HERE or you can check out the link below.
I think the first day of Spring gave us a bit of false hope that we were headed for much warmer weather. Thankfully, the last of the dark limited releases are hitting the shelves to tee up with cooler weather. We've got some new releases from Brewski in Sweden. Much loved for their funky artwork and hazy beers, we've finally seen some stouts come into Australia. There are also two new releases from favourites, Hawkers and Mountain Goat.
You won't be hearing from the beer department next week as we have an exciting shipment of Sake hitting the shelves but I will be back the week after and you will be able to check out the new beers with either the New Stuff List or the button below!
After the madness of Whisky Fair we are still putting ourselves back together. In the madness, some exciting Alaskans turned up.
Sitting on the south east coast of Alaska is the beautiful town of Anchorage and nestled in the town is Anchorage Brewing Co. Founded by Gabe Fletcher in 2011, they have gone from strength to strength with their funky beers. In fact, all of Gabe's beers have brettanomyces in them. The brett is not just added at bottling it is included in the brewing process. Gabe uses a Belgian strain of brett (b. bruxellensis) to ferment in large oak foudres to create some very unique styles.
All the New Beers will be put up over the next two days (keep an eye out for the Jolly Pumpkins!) and the list will be updated accordingly. A lot of the international beers are very limited, so remember, you can Click and Collect in store.