Towards the back end of last year Lion, the brewery behind names such as James Squire, XXXX and Tooheys, launched their own e-commerce platform, called MoCU, which stands for Modern Curations Gallery, as an external retail channel for single batch/limited release beers from their range of breweries, both here and the beers they import.
I think the move has been long overdue, from any of the Australian breweries, not just the Lion team. It gives FNQ, or any remote regional drinkers for that matter, access to the extremely limited beers which are normally only available at a couple of selected southern bottleshops, at the brewery itself or through third party websites at exorbitant prices. The site has developed a series of collections containing mixed themed beers showcasing limited and seasonal releases from breweries, along with products that consumers already know and love, but have difficulty accessing in regional areas. For example the site allows our northern drinkers to access Furphys, normally only available in Victoria, or Boag’s XXX Ale, which I’ve never seen for sale outside of Tasmania (at least at decent prices).
Craft beer consumption sales are finally starting to slow in Australia, for the last ten years the segment has shown double digit growth, despite the national consumption of beer falling. With that slow down we will see more breweries entering the e-commerce space allowing the consumer who wants to expand their beer experience, not so much as drinking more beer, but drinking more beers, expanding on that experience and knowledge, shifting from quantity to quality.
And that push toward expanding knowledge will see an increase in more “food and beer” matching events popping up around town. I’ve long championed the matching of beer to food, especially beer to cheese, the carbonation and acidity of beer manages to cut through the oiliness and fattiness of cheese significantly better than wine does, and a lager helps to scour the palate clean making it a great choice to match with dishes that have chilli, avoiding that lingering burn. The new interest in wood aged sour beers is pushing brewers toward making beers that just happen to match well with Asian inspired braised dishes; braised duck or braised pork for example.
When craft beer hit its straps a few years back, those salty-sour beers were something from a forgotten past, relics from a bygone era. Brewers are reviving these ancient recipes, re-inventing them into tingly, thirst quenching beers that, depending on the way they are brewed, can match with anything from light seafood and ceviche right through to those Chinese dishes. Australian brewers are labelling the beers as “sour”, bypassing their original name of Gose (“goes-uh”), concerned that consumers may be swayed away from the name, in much the same way that a lot of beers are labelled as session or summer instead of wheat.
Some of the best examples of gose that I’ve been lucky enough to wrap my laughing gear around have been the examples from the local homebrewers, particularly the ones at the TNQ Beer awards at Palm Cove. The competition is always hotly contested, the Cairns region is home to several National Homebrew champions, and the rivalry between the Townsville and Cairns brewers means that the beers are always taken to the next level.
If you think you’ve got what it takes, get your beers up there.
A couple MoCu beers to grab:
Malt Shovel Interceptor Black IPA – dark beers can bring roasted, caramelised notes that wines just can’t, the interplay between a beer like this to grilled meats is a match made in heaven. And then you throw in all the fruity and hoppy goodness of an IPA. Its actually more reddish brown in colour, roasty malty raisin notes on the nose, the hop flavours balanced well by the malts, with light pepper, spices and hop bitter palate and a satisfying long bitter finish.
James Boag’s Wizard Smiths Ale – a superbly enjoyable beer that was once easily available at your local bottleshop, now needs to chased up online. Aromas are fruity and floral, with some crusty bread notes on the tongue its caramels and light spice to the fore. A pretty good commercial English Pale Ale.
Macs Hop Rocker Pilsner – NZ has had the wood on us not only in the rugby, but in the fact that their large, commercially owned breweries can knock out great beers, and not just watery thin lagers. Great citrus and malty notes on the nose, a touch of fresh bread, the flavour profile is driven by that citrus and malt with a generous bitterness, finishes clean and crisp.
Furphy Refreshing Ale – made by the team behind Little Creatures purely for the Victorian market, I’ve seen it sledged quite viciously on social media, but I think it drinks so much better up here in the warmth than it does when I’ve been down there. Its easy drinking, made more in the Australian Pale Ale style with low hop notes, than those big American Pale Ale style, there’s some sweet malt notes, a touch of citrus and spice, a slight dry hop presence in the finish.