Death at a Brewery


Over the last few years a few beers have come and gone, died a natural if not a slow painful death.

Amongst the myriad of beers to have slowly gone the way of the Dodo, have been a couple of big names, Blue Sky Brewery, VB Raw and Crown Gold (not to be confused with Crown Golden Ale) are three that spring to mind.

I never personally knew whether to be overcome by grief or extreme happiness as some of these have been dropped off the brewer’s chalkboard, especially those brews that were card carrying members of The Order of the Low Carb Society, a secretive and highly dangerous society, whose sole aim is to destroy the pleasure of beer.

And while I still haven’t crunched the numbers, I’m already thinking that 2015 was the year that saw the most number of labels become casualty of brewery rationalisation in the increasingly cut-throat world of beer marketing, falling out of favour while other in fashion labels, styles and tastes take the fore.

Matilda Bay for example has deleted 4 beers from their lines, with Bohemian Pilsner and Big Helga being the two biggest names. CUB, of which Matilda Bay is a part, also deleted out the Cascade Bright Ale and Blonde Ale and the Sun Chaser Lager. Mountain Goat decided to drop out their IPA, while over the ditch Moa has decided not to keep producing their fabulous SKW 99 Not Out saying that it “simply didn’t sell”, and the legendary Darwin Stubby got the flick, although the last two still have the door open for a possible return.

But to my way of thinking, the most disturbing death was that of Lion Nathan’s Tap King, dying slowly by the hands of overzealous beer executives and over-excited marketing departments.

To be honest the writing was probably on the wall here since, well, the beginning really. While the beers from the Tap King definitely tasted fresher than their bottled cousins, it was always slightly more expensive than buying said bottled cousins, and you had to stump up for the dispenser too. Personally, I always found that the fresher taste coming from the Tap King made me willing to part with the little bit extra of my hard earned. When I grabbed a carton of my favourite weapon of mass distraction, I would often grab one of the 3.2L keg too.

But the thing that concerns me the most about the loss of all of these beers, is that as consumers, we are in danger of having bland and boring beers served up to us more often, and we will think that these beers are good, because the over-excited marketing department tells us they are, before they flit to the “next big thing in booze” and flooding the market with the new drop. If we aren’t there to support the innovation, support the brewers who can bring back taste, then this is where we will end up.

Of the beers that were deleted last year, with the exception of Sun Chaser Lager and the Darwin Stubby, all were good beers. In fact CUB/Matilda Bay’s Bohemian Pilsner was a former Champion Lager winner at the Australian International Beer Awards, and CUB/Cascade Bright Ale had a great start at its launch in 2014, both were very good beers.

I’m not saying we need to change our favourite beers to stop those quality, but low selling lines falling away, I’m realistic enough to know that won’t happen. But when you grab your next carton, grab a pack or just a couple of something new to try as well.

You’ll never know what you’re missing out on till you try it, and you never know, it might just change your buying habits.

A couple of smaller brewers to try:

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 you will try, subtle with just enough complexity to make you come back for more.

Mildura Brewery Mallee Bull – The heaviest beer in the Mildura range, a 5.6% ale, with a deep amber colour with a nice fresh and subtle aroma. On the tongue it’s got biscuit and toffee notes with a touch of nuttiness. It’s a beer that is designed to show off what British malts can do, but because there is a late addition of hops, it does have a moderate bitterness. Low carbonation and light subtle flavours means that it works well with meat dishes.

Feral Brewing Hop Hog – boy oh boy, what a smell. Best out of the glass, where you can enjoy the aromas of pine and citrus, which come from a huge dose of hops during the boil and late in the fermenting stage. The taste is clean and crisp, earthy hoppiness and light citrus to it, a brisk bitter and dry finish that makes it hugely refreshing and sessionable.

Burliegh Brewing HEF – Wheat beers can be one of the most refreshing beers to try, the German’s do it the best, but Australia is coming along. This is a particularly good Australian Hef. The 5% beer shows banana and clove aromas and has a citrusy tang to it. This went incredibly well with some of our mate’s spicy homemade snags over the New Years period

NB. Funerals for the deceased lines already been held, but viewings are still possible in bottleshops that have been unable to move stock from the shelves. In lieu of flowers, I’m sure the breweries would prefer that you consider donations to their various companies via the purchase of other brands available in their range. Any donation will help make this difficult time much more bearable for the company.

#matildabay #Feralbrewing #burleighbrewing #blueskybrewery

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