It’s hard to believe it was only a couple of years back that breweries like Mornington Peninsula, Cavalier and Kooinda were just breaking into the craft beer scene. Now these guys seem like veterans and there’s a whole new brigade of microbreweries stepping forward, vying for the the discerning beer drinker’s tastebuds.
In recent months, bottles and kegs from the likes of Dainton brewing, Killer Sprocket, Boatrocker, Monster Mash and BrewCult have made waves in the craft beer scene.
These brewers have announced themselves as the next generation of Aussie craft brewers and I like what I’m seeing.
Where past generations of Australian craft brewers generally built a following around sessionable hoppy pale ales and wheat beers before progressing to more ambitious styles, this generation are coming out with challenging and tasty beers from the get-go. Take for instance, Dainton’s Red Eye Rye, the recent winner of The Crafty Pint’s Amber/Red Ale tasting, it is a lovely mix of malty sweetness, spicy rye and fruity galaxy hops. Runner up in said tasting, was another debut beer, this one from contract brewer Killer Sprocket, a nicely balanced malt-driven amber ale.
BrewCult burst onto the scene at GABS with the crazy genius that was their porter brewed with balsamic vinegar and followed that up recently with Can’t Fight the Funk, a Farmhouse IPA.
Meanwhile Monster Mash have shown they don’t do things by halves kicking off with an Imperial IPA hop-bomb and following that up with a ‘hopped out red’.
And while Boatrocker may be an old name, I’m sticking them here as now with a brewery of their own they have expanded their range to include a Belgian ale with a crisp dry finish from noble hops, a Belgian quad, and Ramjet – the winner of the People’s Pint Award at the recent Good Beer Week showcase and quite possibly the closest thing to a sessionable whiskey barrel aged imperial stout I’ve tasted yet.
And while this post has exclusively focused on breweries in Victoria, there are positive signs for the brewing scene in NSW too (and other states too I’m sure). Specifically, the likes of Grifter, Wayward, Riverside and Young Henrys mean that the Sydney area is not a craft beer scene to be sniffed at. Of particular interest was Young Henrys’ recent collaboration with Toby’s Estate to create a bock that included coffee and cascara, a by-product of the outer skin of the coffee cherries, in what was claimed to be a world first.
Australia may still be playing catch up in many respects to other brewing nations, it continues to progress steadily and gain traction year by year, day by day. If anyone thought that the craft beer freight train was about to slow up, this latest generation of Australian craft brewers are proving that there’s more interesting beers and exciting times ahead for Australian beer drinkers.