On May 8:th 2014 the Australian Embassy in Stockholm teamed up with the Australian Craft Beer Association and hosted a tasting of Australian craft beers. Attendees had a selection of some twenty different beers, along with information on what’s going on in the craft beer industry ”down under”. Ambassador Gerald Thompson and Joel Marks made sure guests were well fed both with information and beer. We enjoyed the arrangement tremendously,
The following breweries were represented:
- Matso’s brewery & Curry House, Broome
- Bridge Road Brewers, Beechworth
- Boatrocker Brewing Company, Melbourne
- Hawthorn Brewing Company, Melbourne
- Two Birds Brewing Company, Melbourne
- Holgate Brewhouse, Woodend
- Coopers Brewery which strictly speaking is a bit more than a craft brewery, Adelaide,
The brewery business in Australia have picked up after what was described as a bit of a slump and at the time of the tasting there are more than 200 craft brewers active in Australia and the trend is increasing. Unfortunately few of those beers are exported, so this was a rare and exciting opportunity to sample some otherwise hard-to-get beers.
Matso’s brewery is in the tropical zone in northern Australia and the beers we were sampling were all fruit beers made from mango, lychee and ginger. All of them were quaffable, quite sweet and tasted more of the fruits they were made from than ”traditional” beer. With and ABV around 4% they’d be perfect for warm and sunny days, but might be a bit too sweet for the nordic taste buds.
The other beers available on the event were all from the southern part of Australia, and going clockwise our first stop was Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth with their ”Bling IPA” at 5.8%, a decent IPA with good bitterness.
Next is the first of the Melbourne-based breweries – Boatrocker Brewing Company, with the following lineup:
- Alpha Queen, 5.0%, a hybrid beer based on American Pale Ale but using british malt and lager yeast. IBU 35.
- Hop Bomb, 6.5%, inspired by American West Coast IPA, bringing the IBU up to 60.
- Ramjet Whiskey Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, 10.2% aged 4 months on whiskey barrels.
- Mitte – Berlin Weiße-klon lagrad på chardonnayfat, 3.5%. Barrel aged with lactic acid culture and brettanomyces. I liked it but got the impression I was in the minority.
Next from Melbourne was Hawthorne Brewing Company with:
- Premium Pale Ale, 4.7%,a solid and decent Pale Ale.
- Australian IPA, 5.8%. Made with local malt and four tasmanian hops varieties. Very, very nice bitterness and taste. I really hope to see this one available here.
- Amber Ale, 4.7%, rich in flavor, well balanced with malty caramel and hops.
Last from Melbourne, Two Birds Brewing Company, run by two female brewers.
- Sunset Ale, 4.6% and Golden Ale, 4.4%, both very good ales with bold hops giving distinct citrus and tropical fruit tones.
Continuing clockwise we find Holgate from Woodend, which has the distinction of together with Coopers being the only beer available here in Sweden.
- Mt Macedon Ale, 4.5% a Pale Ale, distinct citrus notes and resiny hops.
- Road Trip, 6.0%, again an IPA inspired by the American version, loads of citrusy and resiny hops.
- Hopinator, 7.5% is an IPA loaded with American and Australian hops, that packa a punch and stays with you for a long time. Available in Sweden although a bit pricey.
Finally, but not least, Coopers from Adelaide is best described as one of the large players in the market, distinguished among other things by surviving a slump that closed many smaller breweries all over Australia.They are now back and expanding. Here in Sweden many know them as the producers of extract brewing kits, but they also make very good beer. We had a selection of:
- Pale Ale, 4.5%, quaffable Pale Ale, available in Sweden.
- Sparkling Ale, 5.8%, a very flavorful ale, bottle conditioned with a fair amount of sediment. We were told there are two schools in Australia, tip the bottle and pour with the sediment or decant and let the yeast settle. We got the first alternative and I’mhooked. Available in Sweden.
- Extra Stout, 6.3%, a good and tasty stout. Available in Sweden.
Most of the beers match sunny weather, but we found a distinct difference in that a beer from Australia that was well hopped still felt a bit tame compared to some of the American or European beers. Even taking Hopinator and Hop Bomb into consideration I feel that given the interesting flavors given by Australian hop varieties could be dialled up considerably.
To sum things up: it was an eye opener to hear first hand what is happening in Australia and how the breweries are profiling themselves to both domestic and foreign markets. There are several of the beers I’d like to see available here, mainly because of the new flavors in Australian hops, and I suspect local brewers here will experiment with them as well. The only downside I can think of is that most Australian beers are made for a warmer climate making them typical summer beers for us (as if that is any real downside…)
Some of the beers are already available here in Sweden, but they tend to be expensive and can not be bought by the bottle.