Cricketers Arms


Ahh the Test Cricket has returned to our TV screens.

As enjoyable as watching the Matador Cup and the International One Day matches have been, it’s just not the same as watching an International Test. Especially when we are playing the Poms.

Yes, I’m one of those tragics that can spend five days at a field watching grown men chase a little red ball around a field, throw it back to another bloke who then throws that ball at a guy with a bat, who then smashes that ball around the field for the other blokes to chase the ball around again.

Ok so it all sounds simple, I know, but then again so does welding and I can’t do that well either.

But what better to wash down all that excitement than something from the very aptly named Cricketers Arms. A range that has been around since 2005, primarily it was a range that flourished in Melbourne, and has managed to gain a spot in most of the major bottleshop beer fridges up this way, thanks to a hands on approach and solid relationship building. It wasn’t unusual to see creator, and now Craft Beer Ambassador Paul Scott personally delivering cartons and kegs as part of that hands on and relationship building.

Mid 2013 saw Cricketers Arms bought out by Asahi Premium Beverages, a move that has seen the brand go from strength to strength. This is, in part, thanks to Asahi’s market leverage, the draught network distribution that Cricketers Arms now has access to, and an increase in production capacity at Asahi’s re-developed Victorian plant. Cricketer’s now has the ability to finally knock out enough of the beer to satisfy demand, and that demand is climbing, due to the hard work put in at building solid relationships.

That market leverage is complemented by Master Brewer Dermot O’Donnell, the former head brewer at CUB, world renowned beer expert and international beer judge, a bloke that has forgotten more on how to make all types of bottled, beery goodness than most of us will ever know.

O’Donnell has grown the craft beer range adding a mid-strength lager, a Pale Ale and an Indian Pale Ale (IPA) to their flagship Keepers Lager, with the IPA having its recipe tweaked and being relaunched in December 2013.

With a passionate craft brewer at the helm, one who is obviously not willing to see beers go out that when it can still be refined or polished, and access to a modern brewing plant, it will be interesting to see what beers comes out of the Cricketers Arms over the next few years. This could well be a brewery worth keeping your eye on.

One eye at least, the other is firmly planted on watching the Test matches.

The range:

Journeyman Mid Strength Lager – quite a pale colour, faint white head that laced away quite quickly. Carbonation was good, and importantly it kept that carbonation till the end of the glass. Aromas of grain and light malt are there, not a lot of hop action happening. On the tongue it’s got a slight sweetness to it that makes it a bit more refreshing, with a faint bitterness from the hops. We found that it tended to become a little watery as it warmed in the glass, so it’s one to enjoy quickly without letting that summer heat destroy it.

Keeper’s Lager – not a beer that you will like if you are a yeast-geek, you will be a bit underwhelmed. But it doesn’t strike me as the type of beer that’s meant for that, this is meant for sitting around, having a few over the space of a few hours and not getting bloated. It won’t offend anyone, and is a little better than the run of the mill Aussie lagers out there. Slight citrus aromas, light sweetness on the tongue, with light bitterness and soft bubbles. Nice dry and slightly sweet aftertaste.

Spearhead Pale Ale – an Aussie take on the American styled pale ale. The addition of dry, New Zealand, Nelson Suavin hops late in the brewing process gives it a tropical profile and floral notes. Faint notes of caramel and toffee on the tongue with touches of citrus and malt. Again it’s not a beer that you can sit back and solve the problems of the world on, but it’s definitely quaffable, and can still be enjoyed as it warms.

Captains IPA – The old Captains IPA was about as reliable as Michael Clarks hamstring, but this new tweaked recipe is Michael Clarke from his Lara Bingle days. Light on its feet, lovely to watch with a zippiness and determination to it. Aromas of malt and citrus come from the use of four hops.  I still wouldn’t call it a proper IPA, more a crisp, hoppy summer ale. But much like Clark, it’s still enjoyable when it gets going.

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