Eagle Bay Brewery

The Cocoa Stout and a hint of the view

When you tell people you are going on holiday to Margaret River they will immediately start banging on about wineries. As both you and I are enlightened (and possibly bearded) beery folk we know that the wineries are all well and good but what is really interesting is the breweries.

Before I took the Pet Shop Boy’s advice or alternatively the Village People’s advice and went west I did a little bit of research. Now I know, as I’m sure you know about the big boys of the WA craft brewing scene, names like Feral, Bootleg, Mash and Colonial, but after a quick trip around the interwebs I discovered that there were more than a few breweries that I’d never heard of.

One of these was Eagle Bay Brewing, in the town of, you guessed it Eagle Bay. I realised quickly that this was not far from where we were staying in a town called Dunsborough which by the way is home to two excellent bars, a Clancy’s Fish Pub and the Pourhouse, which I’m putting just behind the Wheaty as my favourite non-Victorian pub. Given its proximity it’s not surprising that we made it there on our first day in Margaret River.

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Colonial Kolsch

Prologue:  I only ever drink Colonial beers when I’m at Lamaro’s, I only ever go to Lamaro’s when I’m not paying.

My first boss explained to me many years ago “Leon, you work in media now, you don’t pay for anything anymore.” This was possibly the most important thing he ever taught me. Of course he should have added “but you will have to eat lunch with complete douche bags all the fucking time.”

As I’ve matured in the industry I managed to determine which sales reps are douche bags and which are actual decent human beings. Now I have mastered the art of only lunching with people I actually like. Sure it means there are only about ten reps, out of a few hundred that are trying to sell me things whom I will have lunch with, and it does limit the free lunches I can partake in, but it does make them a lot more enjoyable.

So this is how I found myself at Lamaro’s, sipping a Colonial Kolsch waiting for two of the aforementioned decent human beings to join me for what turned out to be a cracking lunch. It included such conversation topics as the downfall of Communism in China, the flaws of the American political system, if Melbourne Bitter was Australia’s most underrated beer, and a raging argument about whether you could tell the difference between on tap VB and on tap Carlton Draught in a blind taste test (unfortunately Lamaro’s lacked VB on tap so we still don’t know the answer). 

Packaging:  I don’t think any Colonial beers are packaged; they are all on tap beers served at Colonial owned pubs (Which include Lamaro’s, Bimbo Deluxe, Lucky Coq, Skinny Dog and a few others).

Smell: A light smell which isn’t surprising, a hint of lemon and grass in there too.  

Appearance:  It’s a very light beer, with a frothy white head and streaming tiny bubbles, really a very attractive looking brew.  

Taste:  Again it’s all very light. It has a light body and is nicely balanced with a slight lingering hop taste, with the grass and lemons back again this is a beer made for quaffing on a warm Sunday afternoon rather than studying and analysing.  

In conclusion: Kolsch is a style that I struggle to get excited about. If you are making a good kolsch then you are making an easy to drink, light style beer, and this beer is exactly that, but still hard to get excited about. 

Ranking:  I’ll have a Schooner.

Long Bow Youtube Clip: You might have noticed earlier that I mentioned that Colonial own Bimbo Deluxe, which actually makes me hate them a little. The reason? Bimbo Deluxe killed The Punters Club which was one of the best band venues in town and a place I spent many a night back in the day. So as a tribute to The Punter’s Club here is TISM, I should warn this video involves balaclavas and a cock so you know, probably don’t watch it at work or on a tram or anything.

Springtime for Beers

Down here in Melbourne town the weather is starting to turn. Gone are the grey overcast skies that grace the seemingly endless winter in this town. Now we are starting to see some blue peak through the clouds, occasionally I can leave the house in a t-shirt. And if you can find a place inside but near a window you can be toasty warm in the sun and pretend it’s hotter than it really is.

That’s right spring is almost upon us, and we all know what spring means. It means beer (So does Winter, Autumn and Summer for me but let’s just go with it okay), specifically it means beers in beer gardens.

But what to drink? I’ve spent the last three months devouring stouts and porters being warmed by their big alcohol, full bodied goodness, but if you want to fully embrace the T-shirt weather, and drinking in a beer gardens you are going to need a lighter bodied, more sessionable, perhaps even fruity beer. And because I care about you, my readers I’ve gone out and tested three of them to help you with your selection.

First up with the Queenscliff Honey Wheat Ale, a beer that aims to combine all the goodness of wheat and honey, which kind of sounds like a breakfast cereal more than a beer. It pours a honey yellow colour with a white head which is half way between creamy and foamy. It’s a bit of a nothing beer, there are hints of honey in the aftertaste but it’s very subtle, otherwise it’s quite gassy, not particularly hoppy, it’s an okay beer, and there is nothing wrong with it, it’s just not that interesting though – Schooner

Kolsch is traditionally seen as a summer beer. Why? Well it’s a light, bright golden lager from Cologne in Germany, this particular example is not from Cologne though, rather it is from the Sydney brewer 4 Pines, it’s imaginatively called 4 Pines Kolsch. There is a lot to like about 4 Pines, including their clean label design which promises sophisticated brews.

This particular beer was not brilliant however. I have a feeling this might have more to do with my dislike of the style rather than the brewery itself though. I know that this beer is designed to be light, refreshing, pure, clear and all of those words that mainstream brewers use for their beers which are in fact chock full of additives, preservatives and alike, but the issue is this beer tastes too much like a plain commercial lager to really do much for me. I’d happily drink it, particularly if I was sitting in the sun, but I would seek out other 4 Pines brews before this one.Schooner

If you are looking for something a bit different for your Sunday Session, then I would suggest seeking out a bottle of Red Duck White Garden. This is an unusual beer. It’s a fruit witbeir made with Raspberry and Rhubarb jam in it, and this is what dominates the smell, colour and flavour. It’s a cloudy beer with a slight pink tinge to it. It smells of fruit, raspberry more that rhubarb, and tastes of this too. It’s very light, more akin to a spritzer than a beer.

This is an example of a light, highly refreshing, perfect for summer beer which is still interesting. I’m not convinced I’d want to spend my entire Sunday sess drinking this, but as a cleanser, or to mix it up a little then this would be an excellent choice. Pint

The longbow YouTube clip: Another entry, another Lucksmiths tune. The always joyous T-Shirt Weather. Although the chick in it doesn’t like beer, peanuts or football, sounds like she is high maintenance to me.

Mountain Goat Skipping Girl and Mornington Sorachi Kolsch

So many beers, so little time. It’s time to start combining brews into super reviews.

But what do a beer named after a neon sign and a beer that sounds like it’s named after a Japanese magna character have to do with each other?

Nothing except me, and where I drank them.

Now as a self proclaimed beer wanker it is truly shameful that I hadn’t been to ‘The Local Taphouse’ before. Doubly shameful as I’m not immune to spending some time in Balaclava. Okay not anymore, but I did spend time in Balaclava, when it was still called Balclava, before it became a brand extension of St Kilda, and adopted the moniker of St Kilda East.

It was Balaclava when a couple of my friends lived there, and it was Balaclava when we used to wander up to the Inkerman to watch the footy and it was Balaclava to all the random junkies, drunks and ragsmuffins who made Carisle street home.

But now that it’s East St Kilda but it is still the obvious place to go to catch up with the former Balaclava residents. And if you are going to a pub in Balaclava the bar described as ‘The best beer bar in the land’ is a good place to start.

The Local Taphouse is a bar with nineteen beers and a cider on Tap. This is not one of your standard pubs that will have four or five taps of commercial lagers on tap and then sneak in a Mountain Goat or James Squire to seem cutting edge.

Nope this is a bar where the most mainstream beer is James Squire, offered as a safe haven for the overawed. The other 18 taps range from the European masters, favourite brews from craft breweries, all the way through to the special releases, which of course is where Skipping Girl and Sorachi come in.    

Skipping Girl is a summer ale, it’s quite floral and hoppy but with little aftertaste. Jordan was convinced it tasted like passiona, although I think it might have been the passionfruit notes that were tricking her. The beer had small little playful bubbles and a slight head. The taste was amazingly familiar to me, it tasted like something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, I could even picture the bottle that it came in (it had a oval shaped white and green label) but I never did work it out.   

Meanwhile Sorachi Krolsch is a beer is worth drinking simply because it allows you to display your awesome beer wankerness, you get to bang on about the Sorachi Ace Hop, which was developed by Saporro and that this is the first beer in Australia to use it.

After you have amazed your ‘friends’ with this knowledge you will find that you are drinking quite a strange concoction (and probably alone), it’s almost a greeny yellow colour, with a bright white head. It’s not particularly bitter or highly carbonated, but it certainly is unusual, It reminded me of the Baron’s Lemon Myrtle.

So two very interesting beers, and a sign of the how vibrant the Victorian micro brewing scene is at the moment. But I have to say neither of them really knocked my socks off. I found both a little too complex to be a refreshing light summer drink. I’ve mentioned before my leanings towards wheaty and malty beers, and these two both strode a little too close to the fruity side of the spectrum for my personal taste.

Rankings:

Mountain Goat Skipping Girl: Let’s have a Schooner    

Mornington Sorachi Kolsch: Let’s have a Schooner