Despite the rains a lot of people managed to make it to The Australian Beer Festival, at the Australian Hotel. In fact it seemed that as the rains got heavier the crowds grew thicker. The sometimes sideward flying rains seemed to have little effect. Arriving early we managed to get our hands on a standing table and clung on to it till the late afternoon. Between the three of us we probably sampled about 50 beers and left in a merry mood.
The highlight of the day was my discovery of Red Angus who were serving a nice, hoppy ale and (despite my general dislike of lagers in general) a rather delicious pilsner. The Pilsner actually had a taste reminiscent of a wheat beer. Even more than their beer, I love their tagline: "grain fed beer" and the imagery of the anagus bull. A very beefy effort all 'round.
I also got my first taste of coopers' foray into Pilsner territory with Coopers 62. It has the full mouth-feel that I'm used to tasting in a coopers brew with the addition of that sharp pilsner taste. It was not at all bad.
Other enjoyable brews I sampled were:
- Little Creatures White Rabbit. A dark ale that doesn't even appear on their website yet.
- Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale
- McLaren Vale Brewing Co. Vale Ale
I also got to attend a little talk by a brewer from blue tongue, a somewhat local microbrewery that are in a stage of expansion right now. I want to say that it's hard for me to cricisize a bunch of people who just gave me free beer and four cheese pizza, but I have to say that I disagreed strongly with the speaker's insistence that lagers are the best beer for an Australian climate. I'm a bit of a hippy, and I tend to think that any beer style that requires heavy refrigeration to brew isn't really the best beer for your climate. I also think that the predominance of lagers in australian mainstream beer has led to a vast array of flavourless alcohol water. Not that blue tongue is neccessarily a tasteless beer, but lagers generally don't have the flavour and body of a good ale and that is really what I want in a beer, a bit of personality.
I was hoping to see a few more obscure microbrews, there weren't very many new discoveries, but I was satisfied at least by the lack of any real mainstream beer (with the exception of a small effort by Lion Nathon to serve their 5 seeds cider). I took away a pleasant buzz, wet feet and a growing love of beers that employ finishing hops. I reckon my next brew will have a second fermentation with some quality finishing hops to try and capture that herby flavour.