Sometimes I dream about starting a brewery… then I remember that I have no money and my homebrewing skills are mediocre at best. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming. And I imagine if I did have a brewery, what beers would I have in the lineup.
For the purposes of this article, let’s pretend that I was flush with cash and could buy the unconditional rights to any beer I wanted to in Australia to start my brewery with. So rather than simply buying craft breweries like AB InBev, I’m buying up individual beers and repackaging them under my own label. Now I sound like some kind of evil corporate beer company but ignore that, the question to focus on is, if I had this choice, what beers would I choose?
I’m going to pick a range of 4 core beers and 4 seasonal beers from among Australia’s best, to start this hypothetical brewery up in style.
Core beer 1 – A sessionable sour
The last few years has seen the revival of niche historical styles like Gose and Berliner Weisse. These sessionable sours are a great crossover beer, appealing to a broad spectrum of drinkers as approachable and refreshing, while being different and interesting enough to appease the beer geeks too.
Nomad has been one of the best examples of this in Australia with their Freshie salt and pepper gose widely available and other variations on offer including the excellent Saltpan Desert gose with desert limes.
Then there’s the 2017 AIBA Gold Medal winners from NSW, Wayward’s Sourpuss raspberry berliner weisse, and Stockade’s Plum Perfect plum berliner weisse. A bit fruity, a bit a tart, and a lot refreshing, either of these beers would be a great addition to the lineup, and I’m going to go with:
Core beer 2 – A malty ale
I like malt-forward beers. There’s a heap of hoppy pale ales out there and I really appreciate a nice malty ale with caramel and toffee in there. I think there’s still heaps of potential for a really great Scotch ale in Australia, or a cracking traditional ESB to be done as a regular beer but as seen at the recent Crafty Pint blind tasting for red/amber ales there are a lot of great malt-driven beers already too.
Dainton’s Red Eye Rye has some spice and some fruity hops, Wayward’s Charmer is another top hoppy red, and don’t sleep on Mountain Goat’s Fancy Pants. If I was to go for a bigger red ale then Fortitude’s Admiral Ackbar or Modus Operandi’s Former Tenant would be some of my favourite beers that I never tire of. But instead I’m going to keep it low key with an understated but ever reliable English-style ale.
Young Henry’s Real Ale
Core beer 3 – A hoppy pale ale
I need a beer that can satisfy that guy or gal who walks in off the street to my brewery after a long day and just asks for a “pale ale”. I need a beer that I can rely on in summer when I’ve had my fill of tart sours and I just need a beer with some subtle malt, a heap of good hops and a taste I won’t tire of. I need a moneymaker.
And I could pick any number of great award-winning pale ales from such respected craft beer luminaries as Feral, Bridge Road and Pirate Life. But for my brewery the go-to session-friendly pale ale I pick is…
Core beer 4 – Porter/Stout
I love dark beers. I love them all year round and still think they’re under-represented in bottle shops and outside of the winter season. Not everyone likes dark beers but I always feel like they just haven’t had the right one yet. I want this beer to be that right one. The one that converts those pale drinkers to the dark side and makes them fanatic dark beer fans just like me. So I’m aiming high.
I love the full-bodied creamy and chocolate-y Batch’s Elsie Milk Stout on nitro, or the coffee hit in the Co-Conspirator’s The Beancounter coffee porter, or the sweet vanilla and chocolate classic Holgate Temptress porter. But the beer I would choose put a whole town on a good beer hunter’s map and I think has the potential to sway the dark ale holdouts like no other, that beer is:
Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout
Seasonal winter beer – Imperial Stout
When winter comes around, the urge arises in me to drink a big dark beer. And my brewery will have to satisfy this thirst. Red Hill’s Imperial Stout has been a wintertime winner every year and Feral’s Boris has always hits the spot. And there are plenty of other good imperial stouts to track down around the traps and I suspect most drinkers will have their own allegiances as to which they go to. For me though I can’t go past, the long-revered classic…
Murrays Wild Thing
Seasonal Spring – Saison
Saisons provide a great mix of complexity and approachability. The style seems to have gone a little quiet at the moment, perhaps the sours are taking some of the spotlight away from this more understated style but obviously there’s still some great examples to be found.
Hawkers Saison is a solid core beer, while La Sirene built their reputation and initial range brewing great variations of this style. Boatrocker have also done some amazing ones, highlighted by their complex barrel-aged beauty, Gaston. But I’m going to go with the very first one I ever tried and that still stacks up as one of the best,
Bridge Road Saison
Seasonal Summer – Big IPA
I’m not exactly a pale ale kind of guy. But I do appreciate well-made hoppy beers as much as the next guy. And I also understand that hops sell. So I feel the need to have a big hoppy IPA in my lineup. Now there’s a number of breweries that do hops and do hops well and whose beers I would love, Hop Nation’s The Chop, Modus Operandi’s Sonic Prayer, Pirate Life’s infamous IIPA. And then there’s the NEIPA-style beers that are certainly trending at the moment, like Feral’s Biggie Juice or 3 Ravens’ Juicy.
For me, a good beer is timeless. Certainly I want the beer to reflect the times but not just follow trends. I feel like the IPA I’ve chosen hits that middle ground, at a time where we’re seeing somewhat of a seismic shift in the IPAs being brewed. It’s big but doesn’t burn, bitter but not off-putting, anda the hop profile leans more towards the juicy citrus aromas rather than the piney West Coast ones. I’m hankering for more of it just thinking about it:
Seasonal Autumn – Sour
For my last seasonal, I want something a bit different, a bit unique. My barrel ageing program is going to take a bit more time to develop (it will be ready perhaps for next year’s hypothetical seasonals) so for the time being I’m going to go with a hoppy kettle soured beer that really stood out from the crowd when I tried at the GABS stand with bright and lively flavours that really blew me away –
Mornington Peninsula Brain Squeeze
Well that was a whole lot of fun. What beers would you choose to start your brewery off with?