Northcote is an unusual place. It is the current suburb du jour for the early thirties alternative set. If you are under 30 you probably live in Footscray, late 30’s, well you probably managed to buy a place in Collingwood or Fitzroy before it all got too expensive.
But Northcote is a sweet spot for beard wearing, bike riding, smith journal reading cool inner city types (even if it isn’t actually the inner city) full of awesome music venues, cool shops and most important for a Melbourne cool suburb, it has a tram line.
Why am I telling you this? And what does it have to do with beer? Well this is a story from last week when I was in Northcote (or maybe it was Thornbury, I ain’t that good with geography) and I had a good beer.
Not that remarkable a story right. I went to some pub to see a band or a cool little shopfront bar and they had some nice beer, great story Leon.
Well don’t be such a smartarse, this story is interesting. Why? Because I wasn’t at a bar or a pub, or a restaurant, and I hadn’t wandered into a specialist bottle shop. Nope I was filling in on a friends Indoor Beach Volleyball team, and there in the fridge in what I say be calling the tuckshop, was a full range of Kooinda beers.
That’s right, the craft beer revolution has reached in the Indoor Sports centres, at least in the craft beer loving hamlet of Northcote.
Picture it I’ve just spent a hard half hour on the sand, diving for balls, working up a sweat, we lose (they always seem to lose when I play). We are standing around afterwards brushing sand off our feet when Chris utters the best words in the English language ‘You want a beer?’
Now this is not my usual tasting procedure. There was no glasses in the tuck shop, so I was drinking from the bottle for the first time in a long time (and all beer wankers know drinking beer from the bottle is as disrespectful to good beer and drinking wine from a goon bag tied to a hills hoist is to good wine) and I need a easy to drink refreshing beer.
And this beer is a long lone way from easy to drink. It’s big, punchy and suitable only for beer lovers. I can only assume it was a black brew as I never saw it outside of the bottle. It smelled great, fruity but resinous hop notes (I going to assume Nelson Sauvin Hops from the nickname of this brew).
I thought it was a full bodied beer – malty with some coffee tones coming through, but then ‘bang’ the hops hit and boy do they linger.
This was probably not the best beer if you are thirsty, tired and needing refreshment, It’s a little harsh for that. But it is a very interesting, and certainly pushing the boundaries.
A rating, I’m going to say Pint, I did like it a lot, but I was looking on in envy as Jord and Chris sipped on their much more friendly Kooinda Valhallas, Oh well just like the volleyball game (which we lost 2 sets to 1) there is always next week.
Fast forward 24 hours and I’m back to my more usual pastime of sitting on my couch tasting beers from pristine glasses and taking notes with a pen and paper rather than simply in my mind.
The beer in the glass is another recently released Black IPA which is from Murray’s and is called Shawn’s Fault (after Shaun Sherlock brewer at Murrays). They fully admit that this isn’t a beer for everyone, and if you don’t like it, well it’s Shawn’s Fault. (get what they did there, classic) I would of course argue it’s your fault for not understanding what good beer tastes like.
I did like it, a lot. Now this was in a glass I could see that it was black with a big frothy tea coloured head. It smelled of fruity hops. The taste was a lot more gentle than the Kooinda, it felt a little silkier in the mouth and quite bit smoother. There was still a big hoppy kick there, but it seemed to punch you in a friendly way.
Definitely Pint worthy. If I had to buy one, I’d probably go with the Murrays (and that seems to be a sentence I type a lot later), but really they are both worth a go, so why not buy both and test them head to head, probably not after playing sport.
Made up Reader’s question. Bob from Berwick asks“Hey Leon, you certainly do sound sporty, I’m sure that was the best beach volleyball game since the one in Top Gun. Tell me what is a Black IPA?”
Good question Bob, It is safe to say that I burned up the sand, no one looked better on a faux beach since John Stamos in Kokomo. But back to the beer.
A Black IPA is an Indian Pale Ale made with roasted grains, (And yes I understand something that is Black and Pale at the same time doesn’t make sense) It’s also sometimes called an American Black Ale. The concept is basically that you get big malty flavours (like a stout or porter) as well as big Hop flavours (like an IPA) it’s like a best of both worlds.
How big are the Big Hop flavours? Well both of these beers weigh in at around 70 IBU’s (International Bitterness Units). Means nothing I know, so let’s give you some context. Mainstream beers like Carlton Draught are at most 15 IBU’s. A ‘big’ mainstream beer like Fat Yak is 25 IBU’s (almost twice as bitter as Carlton). So these beers are about four and half times the bitterness of Carlton.
Imagine how tough people who drink them must be.
Long Bow You Tube video: Jord filmed us playing…….