Train route checked. AFL season seat found. Toilets located. Now it was time to taste test the beer offerings at Perth’s new stadium.
The open day to mark the readiness of the ‘Craypot’ for duty gave spectators the first chance to try two of three brews that will be on offer to drinkers at AFL and cricket matches. The sports will be the two main tenants of the venue.
Because stadium management, despite having a restricted tavern licence, opted to serve only 3.5% beer, the brewing provider, Gage Roads, had to think a little outside the square.
It introduced the Alby mid-strength lager, which has been available around town for a couple of months.
But in providing two more beers Gage Roads went to two existing items in its stable, Single Fin and Atomic Pale Ale, gave their recipes a tweak and turned them into lighter versions of their former selves.
And what was the result?
Our congratulations to the chef.
The Sip isn’t a major mid-strength drinker because most in the category lack the flavour to hold up anything more than a pony-sized serving.
But the Gage Roads team have managed to generate a great malty mouthfeel in the Atomic 3.5%. There is also a lingering bitterness that gave the brew an edge over many rivals. And we detected the crew got the dry hopping just right because that characteristic was in balance with the brew.
The original Single Fin was also underpinned by its hoppiness. The feature remains in the reduced alcohol version but understandably not as much. However, it is a far better beer than the 3.5% brews that had been on offer at the WACA Ground and Domain Stadium.
However, and this isn’t a slight on any brewer, it is just fact that mid-strength beers quickly lose their flavour in a 425ml plastic cup. That is beer life.
So, considering the tough parameters presented to the Gage Roads team, which makes top quality higher ABV beers, the Single Fin 2.0 and Atomic Light were outstanding successes.
If only the shortsighted decision to not serve full-strength beverages could be overturned.
But that is a stadium management decision. As was the increase in price of the two new beers after it was declared last week that they would be available for $8.50.
Both the Single Fin and Atomic attracted a $9.50 for a schooner at the open day. The Alby was, indeed, at $8.50.
The Hello Sunshine Cider, also 3.5%, came in at $9.
The pricing has, again, not done Gage Roads too many favours.
Yet, there is a choice of styles and tastes – albeit at 3.5% - that we have never had before at a major stadium.
At least we can drink to that.
*The Sip did come out in support of Gage Roads winning the stadium beer contract month before the contract was awarded.