The beer industry is in a funny sort of spot lately. The average consumption of beer is decreasing, but yet the growth in craft beer has never been more active than it is now. There has been more craft breweries pop up over the course of the last few years than there are pimples on a teenage school boy.
One of my mates recently said it was kind of like the music scene during the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was full of bland pop bands, over-produced and over worked bands that became almost a parody of themselves within weeks, or it was the country rock scene with the likes of Garth Brooks hitting the screens on Rage. Then came the garage band movement that reinvented the music scene, bands came back out of the woodwork, Nirvana, Metallica and REM hit the mainstream. Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden came along, still with old faithfuls like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Kiss, The Eagles and even John Fogerty hitting the charts.
And his point was that beer (music) has always been there, it’s evolved and ebbed and flowed. Craft beer is simply the garage music of its generation, people see it, a lot love it, but most people are still listening to their rock classics.
Now days interesting beers are as easy to find as REM’s back catalogue is on iTunes. Even at outback pubs you can find really interesting craft beers, hidden amongst the XXXX Gold, VB or Carlton Mid tins. My mate also pointed out to me that much like music, there are now beers for every occasion.
In my opinion, one of the best things to emerge from our garage craft brewing scene is brewers testing themselves and their limits has been the creation of what their marketing departments have termed “summer” beers. From Mountain Goat’s Summer Ale through to James Squire Sundowner, there are all these very tasty beers that are not only perfect for the hot summer day, but are also the perfect tonic for that palate that is rebelling at the mainstream lagers that are choking up most of the beer fridges.
And while there is nothing wrong with turning the radio up and singing along with Procol Harem or ABBA I still find myself reaching for the dial after the song has finished.
Here’s a few top craft “summer” beers to try over this Australia Day long weekend.
Mountain Goat Summer Ale – nothing screams summer more than a can of beer and an esky. Mountain Goat have solved half of that equation by releasing their Summer Ale in cans, you just need to find the esky. It’s a light bodied, super easy to drink beer, chook full of citrus fruits from the hops, which don’t give it too much bitterness either. A great superb dry finish that makes you reach for more.
Stone and Wood Pacific Ale: the team have used Galaxy hops here which give the beer a lift and a unique aroma, almost gelati like. A little mango, passionfruit and citrus on the tongue. A little bitterness which trickles off and leaves the fruity tastes there. This is one of the most sessionable beers I’ve tried in ages. In fact all of the Stone and Wood beers are good, and purely Australian!
Feral Brewing Co, Hop Hog IPA – what should a good IPA taste like? Grab a bottle of this stuff and sit down for a lesson. It’s a beer that packs in hops by the truck load, great aromatic and bittering hops. A beer that I want to spend a lot of time getting to know.
Coopers Pale Ale – what would an Australia Day be without settling down to Australia’s last family owned and operated large scale breweries? Coopers Pale is my fall back, much in the same way that kids have their security blanket or teddy bears, I have Pale. Its hazy, has lashings of fruity maltiness about it. I realise it’s not to everyone’s taste, but neither is The Bee Gees.
James Squire Sundown Lager – Originally one of James Squires’ limited edition beers, it became so popular the Malt Shovel Brewery were forced to continue production! It’s a crisp, clean beer with a touch of citrus, and hop driven flavours that make this perfect for summer. Sit back put the feet up and just watch the world go by.