BecauseWeCAN Vol.1

Let's face it, there's a lot of weird beer out there these days. You don't have to head back that far to find a time when the mere act of having a pale or amber ale in your hand would have you instantly marked down as an effete hipster to be avoided at all costs by "real" beer drinkers; now we live in a time of imperial DDH pastry fruit sour IPAs.

One need only take a look at the New Beers page on The Crafty Pint to realise just how far the beer world has moved in the past decade, and just how fast the new releases keep on coming. Such beers can be considered a novelty, but speak to the people behind them and careful consideration and recipe development tends to play as important a role as unusual adjuncts. 

Now, celebrating this brave / daft new world comes BecauseWeCAN, a new series featuring some of the most eye-catching of envelope-pushing beers brewed by Australian breweries.

We'll pick three new releases each month, invite the people behind them to tell us the hows and whys that brought them into existence, then run the rule over them, but not in the usual Crafty beer reviewing manner. Instead, they'll be assessed (with a score out of five) for their novelty factor – AKA We're not in Kansas anymore – as well as whether they hit their idiosyncratic brief – for which we'll use the world accredited Ronseal rating, eg "It does exactly what it says on the tin.

We'll also suggest the situation to which they're most suited, from GABS Taster through Shared Can and Tallboy Tinnie to Four-Pack and BBQ's Sorted.

Right then, into beer's weird frontier we head...


Beer 1: Bad Shepherd Brew Crew Series 13: Lychee & Green Tea Lager

Gimme those chicken wings. NOW!

 

Brewer's notes

The beer was created as part of our long-running Brew Crew Series, in which a member of staff has the opportunity to create a beer of their choice. This one was the brainchild of Jamie, one of our chefs, who wanted to create a beer that combined flavours of lychee and green tea – ingredients native to her home of Taiwan.

We started by conducting bench trials to work out what style of beer would work best and in what format the ingredients would be used to best effect. We tried everything from IPAs to Belgian blondes and Hefeweizens, settling on a simple lager base as the most suitable style. We decided to use a natural lychee extract for the fruit addition and Matcha powder for the green tea addition, both of which were added to the beer post-fermentation.

Firstly, we wanted to make a beer that Jamie would be happy with – she’s not much of a beer drinker, this was the first hurdle – that’s also appealing to a broad audience of beer drinkers. Finding the right balance of flavours was the biggest challenge as the green tea character was very overpowering and detracted heavily from all the other flavours if overused. In the end, we found harmony by using only a very small amount of Matcha powder, creating a very subtle and delicate flavour profile, while still being recognisable and delivering on the promise. The beer is very approachable, even for the most mild-mannered of beer aficionados. 

Enjoying one or two of these in the sun with some friends and family is where this beer shines brightest. A responsible ABV and restrained use of ingredients makes it very enjoyable and accessible.


We’re not in Kansas anymore, or are we?

Although the eponymous flavour pairing is not groundbreaking, when put in a beer it feels a lot like an “updated lager” – like a XXXX or Corona finally got down to upgrading its OS for craft beer drinkers. This is the sort of pink lemonadey number you’d start a session with and everyone else would do the same because it’s a great idea, leaving you feeling very popular.

3 Totos


Does exactly what it says on the tin

Sure does. The immediate effect of this sweet & earthy lager is refreshment followed by a rampant urge to cry out: “Hey! I can actually taste the green tea and lychee!” What’s brilliant about this flavour pairing is the marvellous harmony between the lychee and green tea – neither dominating – creating a low bitterness beer that reminds you of a day of fun in the resort pool. That, or those healthy fizzy drinks that nana thought were as much fun as Coke. 

5 Ronseals


Final Thoughts

Overall, they achieved exactly what they were going for: the perfect drink to complement the sort of crunchy, salty chicken wings Jamie serves up at Bad Shepherd.

GABS TASTER – SHARED CAN – TALLBOY – FOUR-PACK – BBQ'S SORTED

Read The Crafty Pint's review of the beer here.


Beer 2: Moo Brew & Forty Spotted Boilermaker – Pilsner X Pink Gin

Why aren't you pink? I was promised pink!

 

Brewer's notes

The Boilermaker releases are the brainchild of Moo Brew, Lark Distilling Co and Forty Spotted. We all got together around 12 months ago and had a brainstorming and sensory session that resulted in two boilermaker products that could showcase our separate drinks in a unique way. 

The challenge for us was first finding the best flavour matches, while doing justice to both the beer and the spirit involved. We also wanted to move away from the traditional blends, which could have involved our Dark Ale or Stout with a whisky. Instead we developed an IPA X Single Malt Whisky blend, and more recently the Pink Gin X Pilsner. I think both releases probably challenged or surprised drinkers, as they aren't blends that immediately come to mind for flavour matching. 

The three main points we were looking for were: for the product to still be true to the original offering; the blends to bring out qualities that complemented each other; and, finally, it had to have a strong drinkability factor – was this something that a person would have one sip of and then go back for more?

We wanted this to still be recognisable as our normal core range Pilsner, which I think any dedicated Moo Pils drinker would agree we achieved. It then came down to the gin itself and the blending process. We loved the flavour and aroma profile of the Forty Spotted Pink Gin and how well it paired with the Pils, but we were keen to bring the ABV back down to a more user-friendly range without losing the qualities of the spirit. So the guys came up with a slightly lower ABV batch and tweaked the botanicals a little to help us get that balance bang on.

I think the big thing that screamed out to us when we were doing the matching work was how refreshing and summer-oriented it felt – the ideal drink for a warm summer's day without being too "beery". We all agreed it would appeal to drinkers that maybe wouldn't order a beer as their first drink. Given this, we wanted to get it into the hands of non-core craft beer drinkers, both so they could try our Boilermakers but also to possible pique their interest in the original standalone products too.


We’re not in Kansas anymore, or are we?

Humans have been mixing beer and spirits since we invented beer and spirits but, forgoing the traditional whisky and ale approach, here we have pink gin and pilsner. Just looking at the label, I know my mum is going to see this and go: “Ooooh! We should get that sometime!” 

2 Totos


Does exactly what it says on the tin

Because it's brewed with pink gin I assumed it would be pink (not the sort of straw colour you'd expect of a straight pilsner). Surely that’s not naïve of me to think it would actually be pink?

Unless I’m in the mood to relieve gin hangover flashbacks, I can’t say this beer is for me, but if you want a pilsner with a bit of botanical gin complexity lurking beneath, give it a go.

4 Ronseals


Final Thoughts

Can’t wait to see what the dozens of other breweries and distilleries who will definitely try the same thing in summer 2022 come up with!

GABS TASTER – SHARED CAN – TALLBOY – FOUR-PACK – BBQ'S SORTED

Read The Crafty Pint's review of the beer here.


Beer 3: Dainton Vienneipa

Long-banished memories of Aunty Helen, the Viennetta Snatcher, come flooding back...

 

Brewer's notes

The concept really just flowed on from some previous releases we have done in a similar vein: Cookies and Cream, Wonderland and so on. We love giving the sweet tooth a work out every now and then.

We get a bit nostalgic here from time to time and love to stroll down Memory Lane with things we remember from growing up. You can see that "dip of the hat" in a lot of our releases, actually. It helps to remind us of the old days when magic was real and the simple things excited us; as adults, it is sometimes good to remind ourselves of those times and not take ourselves too seriously.

When making this beer, we broke it down to its core components: ice cream and chocolate. The ice cream component consists of a NEIPA style beer with pale malt, oats and wheat to keep it light in colour; it also has a chunk of lactose for that milky sweetness, and vanilla to complete the ice cream components. The chocolate was pretty easy: we soaked 60kg of nibs from local chocolatiers Ratio in Brunswick. They provided expertly-roasted Columbian choc beans to give that rich chocolate flavour that's so much the hero of the ice cream. The hop component, although in the background, was very necessary to make the haze created by Nelson Sauvin, which adds a beautiful light freshness to the brew.

The beer was brewed for the kid inside all of us. As mentioned above, as adults, a little reminder of simpler times is never a bad thing. Just sit back, throw on some old skool tunes and enjoy.


We’re not in Kansas anymore, or are we?

If you had told five-year-old me that one day I could have a beer that tastes like my favourite ice cream cake I would never have believed you.

Viennetta was my favourite, yet sometimes I didn’t even get any because Aunty Helen said the adults had to have some first. Well, this time I’m having my cake AND drinking it. Things are changing round here, Aunty Helen.

5 Totos


Does exactly what it says on the tin

But, alas, I am not a child anymore...

As a kid, I thought Viennetta was so fancy and, like this beer by Dainton, was drawn in by the premium branding. Yep, chocolate and cream are there – very sweet and, dare I say it, a little cheap tasting, sort of like those unbranded Easter eggs. Is that the point Dainton are making? Viennetta was never fancy? Was it just the 90s [Or 80s in my case... Editor] and we were simply too innocent to know better?

3 Ronseals


Final Thoughts

Maybe nothing that claims it’s fancy is really fancy and that’s the point, and thus Dainton are the Marcel Duchamp of brewers...

GABS TASTER – SHARED CAN – TALLBOY – FOUR-PACK – BBQ'S SORTED

Read The Crafty Pint's review of the beer here.


Next up, if we can get the planets to align, it'll be a GABS Festival Beer special featuring three of the most eye-watering beers from the 2021 lineup before the event hits Sydney on May 7.

Photos of Benny (c) Katie Anne Morfoot.

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