With the allure of a bin chicken on the label, it’s easy to be drawn to a can of Sticky Beak. This Australian pilsner brings that combination of refreshment and flavour that new world lagers do so well.
Sticky Beak is a pretty thing, sparkling like a sprinkler oscillating on the lawn. But don’t expect a standard Aussie macro-style lager here; this is more like "New Zealand pilsner, but make it Australian.” With a dry-hopping of Aussie varieties Eclipse, Enigma, Ella and Galaxy, this beer pushes out clean citrus, some white wine, and even a little melon. Light bread notes enter in the finish as a touch of bitterness settles in. Perhaps the brewers could have used more ibis in the whirlpool to really bring out the flavour (I could barely taste it), but other than that I have no complaints.
Wollongong is on the east coast of Australia, and Mangawhai is on the east coast of New Zealand. So when Five Barrel Brewing and Pacific Coast Brewing collaborated on a beer, it just made sense for them to make an east coast IPA. But the brewers wanted to add a little something-something extra as well, so they fermented it on a hefeweizen yeast.
The resulting beer, Possum Paradise White IPA, is awash with tropical fruit and pungent stonefruit aromas. While I didn’t get that banana creaminess and clove that can come with hefe yeast, I found the yeast to bring a real dry earthiness to the table, which gave space for those fruit notes to shine more and more as the beer warmed up, and for the biscuity bitterness to linger for as long as it liked.
And since too much New Zealand is never enough for our friends at Five Barrel, they’ve also got a NZ IPA called Wild Russell on the go. Just like the botanical pest it’s named after, this IPA doesn’t waste any time taking over. It invades the senses with rapidity - grapefruit and pineapple and passionfruit and gooseberry aroma rush into the nose, smelling sticky and sweet. I don’t know how much Motueka, Riwaka and Nelson Sauvin the brewers shovelled in, but there’s plenty going on.
On the palate it’s quite dry, allowing a big whack of pine to join in the fruit flavours, and there’s enough malt body to carry it all superbly. A balancing bitterness shows up, but stands politely to the side rather than getting in the way.
This beer tastes like everything is right with the world (or at least, everything is right with a Sunday afternoon resting on the couch). An absolute delight of an IPA.
If you think you’ve seen Checkmate before, you’re correct… but don’t expect to see all the same moves. This American-style IPA changes according to what American hops are readily available to Five Barrel at the time, with the current iteration using Mosaic, Cascade, Amarillo, CTZ, Chinook and Talus.
Compared to the previous version, this Checkmate is surprisingly pale and surprisingly bitter. It pours a light straw yellow; if you didn’t know any better, you might expect an easy-drinking lager. But the opening gambit of powerful zesty notes does away with that expectation. The citrus aroma is intermingled with the smell of the Bunnings timber section, where they’re sawing through planks of pine all the livelong day. While these flavours do kick on in the mouth, they’re not all this beer is about; the body is relatively light and dry as all get-out, which paves the way for the lingering, aggressive bitterness of a San Diego IPA. It doesn’t go easy on you. It’s your job to stand up to it. There’s a kick of acidity and a herbal note in there as well, but it’s the bitterness that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.
Did I mention it’s bitter?
Published April 4, 2023 2023-04-04 00:00:00