Over the last few months I’ve noticed a trend on a few of the social media sites I use and read. Generally the sites are polite, they are all about beer and sharing what’s good and what you can taste against what others taste. Yes I know that sounds all nerdy, but some people look at car or AFL websites, I look at beer and wine.
The trend that has me confused is the sledging of the Yenda beer range, a range that is brewed by Australian Beer Company, a joint venture between Casella Family Wines and Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA). The brewery is based in Yenda (hence the name), near Griffith in the Riverina region of NSW, with the range including Pale, Indian Pale and Golden Ales, along with a Crisp and Session Lager. They are also making the Pressman’s Original Cider and Mid Cider, both made from 100% Goulburn Valley apples. The domestic brews complement CCA’s imported craft beer, Blue Moon, which is made in the US by Coors and Samuel Adams.
The Yenda range has won some serious awards since its release in 2012, took four awards at this year’s 2018 Australian International Beer Awards and made one of the most interesting stouts I’ve ever tried with their Twist and Stout, so I’m at a loss to explain the sledging directed toward them.
Perhaps it’s that link to CCA that is causing the grief, and they are no longer seen as a craft brewer but a large macro scale brewery. Having said that CCA also owns Feral Brewing, a range that still receives a fair bit of support, as do Pirate Life and 4 Pines which are now part of the global giant AB InBev (more commonly referred to here as CUB).
So with all this push back in mind, I thought I’d go back and look at the range, thinking that perhaps with the explosion of craft beers and brewing in Australia that this range had been left behind. We grabbed a few of the Yenda’s from my local bottleo, and at the same time grabbed a couple of beers that were in the same price range to be tried blind beside the Yenda’s, a couple of James Squire beers, Sail and Anchor, John Boston and Great Northern.
All the beers were poured blind in another room, all using the same nucleated beer glasses, and brought out in flights the Pale against the Pale, Lager against Lager, Mid-strength against Mid-strength and so on.
And here’s the rub, not only were they better, but they were significantly better.
And I do mean significantly. It made me wonder if all the detractors had bothered to do the same or just labelled the beers as average as they come from CCA, or the people that have tried them haven’t had that commercial price point in mind.
And that’s where Yenda really gets their runs on the board – at the price point the Yenda beers come in at, they give their opposition a serious run for their money. They carry enough flavour and have used just the right amount of the right malt to make the beers a tad more interesting than their peers. They probably won’t work for the craft beer nerd or someone that’s looking for a boatload of flavour in their beers, but those type of beers are significantly more expensive for a start, however for those that are moving from VB or Hahn Superdry or have decided to ramp up from the thin light flavours in their Great Northern, then Yenda are definitely worth grabbing.
Yenda Pale Ale – I like the Squire Pale Ale so I was surprised when the Yenda trumped it on the day, surprised more than one of us. There are mild malt aromas, not hugely aromatic but it’s there, on the tongue the sweet malts are dominate with a slight vegetable funk complimenting the late light lemon and orange notes, those sweet malt notes linger for a long time.
Yenda Golden Ale – head and shoulders above the beers in the same flight on the day. Crystal clear amber in colour, aromas of hay and light malt and a touch of grains. Slight acidic earthy notes on the tongue, sweet malts and light fruity notes. Crisp, smooth and surprisingly refreshing.
Yenda Crisp Lager – clear yellow with a white head, good carbonation. Malty and grainy on the nose with cardboard notes. Light bodied and plenty of carbonation, good balance of light malt, light citrus and a tiny bit of bitterness. It’s refreshing and easy drinking.
Yenda Session Lager – an interesting take on the mid-strength beer, loads more flavour than the other mid’s were looked at, and significantly cheaper too. There’s some interesting citrus notes, light sweet malt touches and a late bite from the hops. It’s the lightest in bitterness across the range, but that will make it a very enjoyable drop come summer.