You know it’s funny, when I go to a wine tasting I always try to take someone along with me. I want to see what the average person on the street thinks of a wine. I might think they are fantastic wines, but I’m a cork dork, while my mate might say they are average at best and that the $10bottle we had last night was better. I think it’s about ageing, they think it’s about drink now and so on, it’s good for me to hear it.
It also means that I have someone beside me, whispering into my wine addled brain, reminding me not to buy into the marketing press/hype/spin/bullshit.
And it’s the same when I try a beer at home. I will grab a few of the same beers, and try them. If I don’t like them I will try them again with friends, see what they think…because as I said I realise I’m a bit of a tosser when it comes to this stuff.
So when I came across the range of beers named after sailing knots I thought “goodo a new craft beer” and then I thought ”oh look they are all named after knots”, and….. ”ohhh look it’s from the old Sail and Anchor pub in WA!”
Sadly I didn’t have someone with me to stop me from buying into marketing spin/hype/bullshit as these beers aren’t made by that wonderful old Sail and Anchor pub at all. The telltale was the back label ‘Beer brewed and bottled in Australia for or under license from ALH Group Limited trading as the Sail & Anchor Brewing Co, Fremantle. 789 Heidelberg Road, Alphington Vic 3078′.
Now I’m the first person to admit I need to look at a map when someone mentions Libya, or Albuquerque, but I paid enough attention at school to know that Fremantle is not in Victoria, besides they have a national sporting team and that’s enough for me to notice them.
That address is actually for a Dan Murphy’s, and these beers are actually made by Gage Road Brewing company (which Woolworths has a large stake in), and distributed solely through the Woolworths outlets – BWS, Dan Murphy’s etc, and at Woolworths owned ALH Group hotels, such as The Sail and Anchor.
All of this is perfectly legit, and to be honest it’s probably good for competition. But ultimately it’s just a clever marketing spin, using a strong pub name and presence (Sail and anchor was a pivotal scene in the craft beer industry, and was once the Matilda Bay brewery). There is a well known brewer and brewery creating these beers.
But what really disappoints is that all this marketing, all this focus on using a good brewer, all this money is, well, wasted on what are simply very ordinary beers.
So ordinary that my fellow tasters couldn’t even finish a couple of theirs.
In the end I used my BBQ rule to rate these beers.
Would I take a six pack to a bbq with me? No. Would I be annoyed if someone drank my beer and left me with a six-pack of these? Yes.
These beers have everything in their corner, but need to step up to be great, even good, beers. Until then they will be the Anthony Mundine of the beer world, showing promise, knowing that the ability and talent is there, but often leaving a bad taste in your mouth.
Monkeys Fist Pale Ale – My neighbour, worked his way through to become a Queen’s Scout, and one of our tasting companions on the night. He explained what all these names and knots were about. He talked about how the knot is tied and made, that it’s used to make a ball on the end of a rope and then that weighted ball is used for throwing the rope. That conversation was pretty much the highlight of trying this beer. Its sweet, little hop character to it, it’s more of a malty drink with a little apricot to it. Had to force it down
Larks Foot Golden Ale – This one actually smells like a beer, malts and hops to it on the nose. On the tongue it shows those hops and just enough bitterness to keep it interesting. Not huge in the flavour stakes though, and that’s what lets it down, but it’s ok. Couldn’t do a session of it, and probably wouldn’t part with my hard earned on it again though.
Cats Shank Kolsch – Citrus and sour grains on the nose. Those citrus show up on the tongue too, crisp, mildly bitter. I can see this being an easy one to swallow during summer, and might find its niche there, I’m not sure whether the first two will find their groove. It’s an ok beer at a reasonable price. And might even be subject to discount at the Woolies outlets.
Boas Bind Amber Ale – what struck me with this was that it seemed to be a mimic of James Squire Amber Ale, with less promise of a good time. Its smells light, with a little toasty grains there. Heavy malt based beer, with a slight toastiness on the tongue, and with enough hop bitterness to keep you satisfied, but finishes slightly washed out. Not long, lingering and dry like you would expect it to.