thesipthesip Sip's Top Dozen Australian Beers of 2019]]>Ross Lewis, 01 Jan 2020 07:05:52 +0000
Our team hates listicles. They’re cheap and lazy forms of journalism. And the beer media is full of them.
But we’re going to be hypocrites and put one together for the end of 2019. After all, it is the season for giving – and forgiving.
The House of The Sip is fortunate (we won’t use the ‘we’re so lucky’ line overused by bloggers) to try a wide range of brews either at home, at pubs, on interstate business travels each year.
Some are fresh releases, a few are small one-off batches and several become favourites.
Unlike the alleged social media influencers our team doesn’t automatically consider every new brew supplied by sample is the best beer in the world.
Indeed, one of the occupational hazards of being a beer connoisseur is that some beers thrust at you just aren’t up to scratch. It is mischievous to think there is a brewing utopia where there aren’t any bad examples.
However, there are plenty of drops that are sensational. They are the ones we cherish and want to go back to. And that has been a policy for The Sip during the Year of the Pig. We’ve preferred to return to the troughs with the good tastes and flavours.
And we’ve kept a comprehensive list (sorry, but it is unavoidable) of those beers. Our favourites are contained in the 12 mentioned in this report.
There are a few guidelines in displaying The Sip’s Top Dozen Beers of 2019.
A brewery can only get one mention to share the love around.We weren’t compelled to mention any breweries with which we brew, holiday with or with whom we have commercial arrangements (easy to do when there aren’t any).The beers don’t have had to be new releases in 2019. Why discount established brews if they were enjoyed during the year?We weren’t searching for “woke” beers. Indeed, many on the list (there it is again) are available in – dare we say it – Dan Murphy’s and First Choice Liquor. Some did come via our good friends at the ever reliable Copper and Oak.There is no order. Since not all beers were consumed at the same session it would be unfair to try to rank them.And we waited until 2019 was over before revealing the list to allow for any latecomers from the dozens of beers The Sip was offered at the annual family caravan park visit for Christmas.
White Lakes – Dark Lager (4.8%)
Our team has been enamoured with this beer from the first sip. Indeed, we have been known to drop everything and head straight to the respective establishment on hearing the announcement Dark Lager was on tap. The style isn’t everyone’s first preference – there is something about the shade that raises eyebrows. This Schwarzbier uses eight malts and while it gives a choc taste there is a light mouthfeel. We consider this an adventure beer because it takes the drinkers outside their comfort zone. And it is well worth the risk.
Wayward - Wayward Son Lupulin IPA (7.3%)
This returned in July after a two-year hiatus but and over that period we were missing out on almost perfect IPA, in our humble opinion. The Citra LupuLN2 powder is packed full of fruity sensations that help underpin this brew. It isn’t an IPA if it isn’t piney. This one is. Almost like licking one of those car fresheners shaped in a tree. At 7.3% it also packed a punch on the ABV scale. Our only regret was that we should have bought a carton, not just a four-pack. We’re hoping Wayward, which has been producing some enticing beers in recent times, brings back the Wayward Son Lupulin IPA in 2020.
4 Pines – Draught (4.6%)
One of the benefits of being part of a Big Beer stable is that 4 Pines brews have been appearing at more regular pubs and hotels around the suburbs. The Draught has been popping up with regularity, which is a great sight for those who like craft beers but are required to drink with mates at the more conservative beer establishments they have frequented for decades. The Draught, aka Kolsch, is so accessible that even if it is The Sip’s round and they return with this golden ale there isn’t up-turned noses from the seasoned macro lager drinkers. A bit of lemon and a malty base. Perfect by the pint or schooner.
Northbridge Brewing Company – Kolsch (5%)
There is a bit of a theme here. The Sip likes a Kolsch. Our team finds them so accessible. So, too, is the Northbridge Brewing Company. The Sip has the good fortune of working and living close by the inner city venue and needs very little encouragement to pop in for the Beerland hospitality. It is now mandatory to start any session at the NBC with what we have dubbed ‘Ken’s Kolsch’ out of respect to head brewer Ken Arrowsmith. Noble hops keep this beer within the traditional guidelines. We reckon it is the ale that reminds us of a lager.
Nail – Super VPA (8.5%)
We had to treat this beer with respect, not just because it was made by a brewing team that has had such a wonderful success rate over two decades. But at 8.5% a four-pack can leave a nasty consequence. El Dorado hops make this drop so juicy. The pineapple isn’t as strong as in the regular VPA but it is enough to keep the drinker interested and appeased. More lemon and peel than a corner shop grocery but those ingredients are rounded out by a bitterness that demands another taste.
Coopers – XPA (5.2%) A highly significant beer for the 158-year-old South Australian brewery. While its fare has been widely appreciated – even when it stood out from the macro lagers that dominated the market 35 years ago – Coopers needed a brew that would take them into the craft beer space. There was immediate success with XPA. Simcoe and Lemondrop hops give XPA its edge. The yeasty backbone ensures this beer can’t be anything else but from the Coopers operation. At 5.2% this is also strong enough to keep craft beer types intrigued. This was definitely a brew to be purchased by the carton to ensure it was always on offer in the beer fridge.
Feral – Biggie Juice (6%)
We’re happy to put this on the record. The Sip reckons NEIPA’s are the most overrated beer style on the planet. Give us a regular IPA any day. One of the biggest problems is only a few do NEIPAs well. So to make our list the beer had to be good. Just as Feral gave us a wonderful version of American Pale Ale with Hop Hog 10 years ago, the crew has provided the perfect template for New England India Pale Ale with Biggie Juice – even if the brewery refers to it as an East Coast IPA. Peaches and apricot are wonderful foundations and, dare we say it, the beer is just cloudy enough to befit the style. We drank this to fit in with the cool beer kids of 2019.
Philter – Caribbean Stout (7%)
One of the benefits of monthly beer boxes from internet retailers is the pleasant surprises you would normally haven’t previously got your hands around. Naturally on the west coast we have come across Philter. But we hadn’t tasted the Caribbean Stout until it came in a Craft Cartel Liquor pack midway through the year. What a classic export stout. The key to this example is the use of lager yeast which combined brilliantly with a stash of hops, making this a fruiting example of the dark brewing arts. Chocolate, coffee and a full-bodied mouthfeel make this incarnation almost a meal on its own. We’d like to imbibe on this 12 months of the year.
Gage Roads – Lager (4.7%)
As much as this column is a recognition of 2019, the Gage Roads (celebration) Lager commemorated 15 years of operation from WA’s biggest craft brewery. The one aspect of all Gage Roads beers is that they are very accessible. Nothing complex (and that should be a compliment to the production team), generally not over to top in ABV and easy on the palate. Sure they have deviated from that rule on occasions but the Palmyra crew has built a level of trust with its core belief. It was clearly evident in the Lager, released in time for the birthday. Malty with slight lemony hop notes and a bitter finish. Can’t argue with that from a European-style lager. Here’s hoping it reappears on future birthdays.
Little Creatures – Stout (5.8%)
For a company renowned for its fruity American Pale Ale, Little Creatures has a illustrious dark history. The Dreadnought, Return of the Dread and The Fuggles is Real have been warmly received over the past decade. In 2019 Little Creatures went a bit more downmarket in packaging by simply calling the bottled beer Stout. But it tasted like it suggested in the name. Rich and earthy the label featured the ubiquitous white cherub on black background, making the bottle look like a delivery from heaven. The Fuggle hops make a reappearance to combine with the malts to provide a dark fruity delight.
Two Birds – Sundaze Sippah (5%)
Of the three beers in the enticing Brew Tang Can series we found the Sundaze Sippah the favourite. It hit The Sip’s Beer Laboratory in September just as the joint got a little warmer and became a solid fridge staple. As a Summer Ale our team found this eminently smashable – albeit a word we hate using for its poor adherence to responsible alcohol consumption. But we have to tell the truth. Mosaic and Simcoe give the Sippah a fruity punch but don’t under-estimate the ability of this beer to be a refreshing addition to the Esky for any Sunday barbecue.
Blasta Brewing – List.Loud.React (8.488%)
Firstly, the ABV isn’t a typo. It relates to the address of Blasta Brewing, which knocked heads with US Pale Ale geniuses Stone Brewing to produce what was supposed to be an homage to an Australian tour by Metallica that never happened. Thankfully, the beer came to life. List.Loud.React is amplified by a stack of Citra, Amarillo and Vic Secret hops that sing resin. If we had to rank our top dozen this would have been very high on the betting for number one. We’re not sure if Mettalica is planning on fulfilling its promise to tour downunder but we hope Blasta can ensure this West Coast IPA isn’t just a cameo appearance and consigned to the 2019 archives.
Plenty of zesty zip in Zytho Brewing debut beers]]>Ross Lewis, 24 Nov 2019 13:51:14 +0000
The first two beers from a new yet strongly backed Australian brewing group prompted a reach for a variety of dictionaries.
Zytho Brewing has released a Zesty Pale Ale (4.6%) and an India Pale Ale (5.4%) in colourful yellow and blue cans as its debut products.
While the name might be fresh on the beer scene, the team behind the label certainly has plenty of experience.
Tribe Breweries in NSW produces the beer for Pinnacle Drinks, which is an arm of the Woolworths group.
Now there will be plenty of turned up noses and accusations that Zytho is just a name brand for a big supermarket and liquor chain.
Well, the latter is correct. But that shouldn't detract from the accessibility of the fluid in the can. Indeed, the Zesty Pale Ale and IPA will be easy to get through BWS stores - and there are plenty around the country.
Tribe also knows beer. It has already scored major wins through its Stockade, Mornington Peninsula and Chao Siam range. And then there is the millions of litres it has done as a contract beer maker.
So Zytho is a well-made, easy drinking beer range.
On sampling the Zesty Pale Ale and IPA, The Sip’s team was immediately taken by how accessible the beers were on first taste.
There is nothing over the top, yet certainly very little understated in either product.
We don’t like the word sessionable at The Sip HQ. But after flicking through the Macquarie book of words we couldn’t find another set of letters that better described the easy drinking nature of the Zytho duo.
The Pale Ale has the right level of citrus without the drinker feeling he has sucked a lemon. The IPA was piney but at no stage does the taster consider they have licked the bottom of a coniferous cone.
These are definitely six-pack buys because the consumer can certainly handle more than one without experiencing the legacy of taste bud gymnastics.
But the IPA certainly has plenty of mouthfeel.
So what is Zytho? Well, it creates a great logo that is striking on the cans.
However, according to the multi-language dictionary Zythos is Greek for beer. And we recall that Age of Pericles physician Hippocrates, the father of medicine, subscribed to the theory beer to have medicinal properties.
It might not be true for Zytho Brewing. But a session with either the Zesty Pale Ale or IPA can quickly take away the stress of a working week.
Zytho Zesty Pale Ale ($24/six-pack) and Zytho IPA ($26/six-pack) are available from BWS stores nationwide.
Breakthrough in WA brewery keg theft case]]>Ross Lewis, 13 Nov 2019 11:28:15 +0000
WA Police believe they have cracked a syndicate that is dealing in stolen kegs after a series of raids this month.
Three men have been arrested and almost 100 kegs recovered after an operation to investigate stolen brewery equipment.
The Sip has been maintaining updates on the kegs theft for several weeks and confirmed with the State’s police force today that it had made a breakthrough in the case.
One of the key elements behind the raids was the discovery of kegs from a range of breweries at a scrap metal dealer yard in Bayswater two weeks ago.
It followed the theft of almost 80 of the vessels from Blasta Brewing in Burswood last month – all taken in overnight incidents.
The police investigation revealed the kegs were being sold for scrap metal.
Several businesses have reported the practice in recent years and the situation got so dire for Mash Brewing in 2017 that for a month it offered a pint of its product to anyone who returned one of its marked kegs to its Swan Valley venue.
Many breweries have spotted their kegs being sold through Gumtree.
The keg theft is having a major impact on the bottom line of the 70-plus breweries across the State.
One local operation conducted an audit of its kegs this month and determined more than $25,000 worth of the vessels had gone missing.
The WA Brewers Association is hoping to forge stronger links with WA Police and devise a strategy that can reduce the number of stolen kegs.
WABA will also work on a public education campaign to highlight that kegs theft is a major impost for breweries and affects the price of beer.
Plenty of WA support for Coopers' brews]]>Ross Lewis, 10 Nov 2019 12:00:08 +0000
WA beer drinkers are liking the additions to the Coopers brewery stable.
Sales of the Adelaide-based operation’s wares on the west coast jumped by 3% over the past year.
The State has become a strong market for Coopers with Sandgropers relishing the stronger push into cans, particularly with the Original Pale Ale.
There has also been a strong backing for the XPA although the purple cans’ figures aren’t included the latest report as the vessels were only released in August.
The increase in WA sales is a significant achievement in Coopers considering the spike in local breweries across the State. There are now 80 recognised beer producers from Broome to Esperance.
Overall, Coopers sales increased 2 per cent nationally with the company now producing just shy of 77 million litres of beer a year.
The lift follows a 9% slump in sales over the 2017-18 year so the turnaround is significant and a sign its new products and change in marketing is having an effect.
Apart from the push of Pale Ale into cans, Coopers also released Coopers Dry to replace Coopers Clear. And Session Ale had also had an impact on the brand.
Across Australia, Queensland led the way with sales volumes rising by 6.1%. In Western Australia sales rose by 3.1%, Victoria by 2.9% and South Australia by 2%. Sales in NSW were steady.
Malt sales for the year rose by 132% to 44,300 tonnes, although this came from a low base.
“The maltings is now running close to full capacity, providing significant improvements in malt quality and cost savings on one of our key raw ingredients,” said Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper.
Dr Cooper said that while beer sales volumes had increased, profit before tax had declined to $23.1 million, compared with $34.3 million the previous year.
“The reduced profit was attributable to a changing sales mix, higher barley prices and more competitive market conditions with some segments showing declines in retail pricing,” he said.
“The latter renders difficult our ability to recover higher excise duties and costs arising from the imposition of container deposit schemes.
“Interest and borrowing costs increased by $1.7 million during the year reflecting the debt incurred by the malting project and previous share buybacks.
“Sales of manufactured partner brands also fell 11.4%, partly attributable to the conclusion of Coopers’ agreement with Brooklyn Brewery in December 2018. On the other hand, volumes of our naturally conditioned ales and stout increased by 3.1% to represent 81% of total volume.”
Travelling to Fremantle BeerFest as easy as DiDi]]>Ross Lewis, 04 Nov 2019 12:33:07 +0000
Devising a plan for the Fremantle BeerFest is essential to ensure you get to taste your favoured brews.
Having a plan to get to and from the Esplanade is equally important. There has to be a formula to make sure you get there on time – and home safely.
There is a new player in the transport game that will make sure you make the most of WA’s premier beer festival.
DiDi has created a new buzz in the local rideshare space.
The new rideshare operation got off the mark in November 4 – just in time to be in top gear by the start of Fremantle BeerFest four days later.
DiDi offers a different edge to the rideshare system, providing riders with a cheaper fare and drivers with a better take-home rate.
One of the great elements to the rise of the WA craft beer industry has been the variety of beverages on offer.
Some of the best have a high alcohol content. Let’s be honest, if often befits the style. You can’t have a Russian Imperial Stout unless it is close to 10%.
So it is imperative that beer aficionados remember that if they imbibe too hard, the car keys stay in the pocket – or even better, in the draw at home.
It then makes sense to use DiDi. Their legion of drivers can get you from A to B safely and at a lower cost than others in the sector.
DiDi works seamlessly on your iPhone or Android device and after you sign up – and get others to join – there are opportunities to get ride discounts.
The DiDi crew is also getting behind Movember with 10 cents from every ride going to the important cause.
You can download the DiDi app via the App Store of Google Play.
DiDi has already made inroads into the transport systems in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast. Now it is Perth’s turn to enjoy the service.
For more information on DiDi and how it can work for you – particularly when out at a great brew event such as the Fremantle BeerFest – click here.
And if you sign up to DiDi use this code – HGCXL5S5 – to get some cool discounts.
WA breweries track down stash of stolen kegs]]>Ross Lewis, 01 Nov 2019 05:12:57 +0000
Local breweries have made a breakthrough in the spate of keg thefts in WA, finding a cache of stolen equipment in Bayswater.
WA beer makers have been stung by disappearing kegs recently, particularly Blasta Brewing in Burswood which has reported 80 stolen kegs over the past couple of months.
Blasta had closed-circuit TV footage of two incidents in which utes have driven up in the middle of the night and been loaded with kegs positioned outside the brewpub.
However, after a tip-off today several WA breweries and beer-loving sleuths have found a stash of kegs and couplers in mini skip bins in the Bayswater light industrial area.
WA Police have been alerted and are making enquiries.
The kegs are clearly labelled with brewery logos and include those from Blasta, Little Creatures, Gage Roads, Feral and Nail.
Many had been already cut suggesting they were destined to be sold as makeshift barbecues or for scrap metal.
It is believed the kegs were located near a scrap metal dealer.
Stolen kegs have become a major issue amongst WA’s growing band of breweries.
Several businesses have reported the practice and the situation got so dire for Mash Brewing in 2017 that for a month it offered a pint of its product to anyone who returned one of its marked kegsto its Swan Valley venue.
Many breweries have spotted their kegs being sold through Gumtree.
The keg theft is having a major impact on the bottom line of the 70-plus breweries across the State.
One local operation conducted an audit of its kegs this month and determined more than $25,000 worth of the vessels had gone missing.
It is hoped the find in Bayswater today will help break the back of a syndicate that is stealing kegs and selling them online or through the black market.
The WA Brewers Association is hoping to forge stronger links with WA Police and devise a strategy that can reduce the number of stolen kegs.
The matter was discussed at length at a meeting of WABA members on Wednesday night.
Fresh winds blow through Indian Ocean brewhouse]]>Ross Lewis, 22 Oct 2019 12:55:57 +0000
There is a bit of old and a splash of new at a long-standing Perth craft brewery this week.
Firstly, Indian Ocean Brewing Co. will debut its recently arrived beer maestro - albeit one with form in the game.
Then the Mindarie operation will conduct a brewing arm-wrestle with another veteran of the caper.
And to top it off Indian Ocean will be the star of a popular northern suburbs festival.
Former Whitfords Brewing Company maestro Tom Fleay has joined the team to nurture the nectar and oversee a revamp of the beer menu.
He will be in the spotlight on Thursday and will sharing his fresh approach to brewing and plans for upcoming Small Batch releases.
He will also be making an excitingly fruity announcement regarding the brewery's new core range.
On the same night the full team will be going brew to brew with the hopheads at Little Creatures.
The sleeves are rolled up, the pint glasses are out, and the battle is on.
Everyone is welcome to witness the war and show your support (and drink $7 pints) for this major event.
And then on Saturday the Boardwalk Beer Festival will return to The Marina.
It might be worth staying locally to enjoy the triple beer treat.
A new taste for the great Fremantle BeerFest]]>Ross Lewis, 15 Oct 2019 13:37:46 +0000
It is back as usual but there is a new twist to WA’s premier beer festival this year.
For the 11th spring in a row the Fremantle BeerFest will be staged in the port, showcasing the best brews from across the State.
As per the previous events, only WA operations are able to take stalls at BeerFest. And in 2019 there will be 59 breweries, cideries and distillers supplying their wares.
But there will a new feature in the November 8 to 10 at Esplanade Park.
The ‘Paddle Bar’ a project beer section hosting a collection of 40 out-of-the-box craft beers and cideries will make its debut.
Brewers are invited to get experimental with a keg of their choice to show off their creativity with a one-off beer.
Otherside Brewing Co has already forecast and Ginger and Lemongrass Sour with Impi Brewers offering a Smoked New England IPA called ‘Smoke Hazy’.
Even the headline band, Art vs Science, is getting into the beer act with the ARIA-award winners doing a collaborative brew with the festival organisers.
While the taste buds get a work-out so does the brain with festival attendees able to learn about beer and food pairings and the WA craft beer industry at a range of masterclasses and tastings lead by industry leaders. The program includes sessions on ‘Distilling 101’, ‘Exploring Beer and Smoked Meats’, ‘Beer and Chocolate’, ‘From Paddock to Pint to Mouth - The Sustainability of Brewing’, and ‘Future of WA Craft Beer’.
There are many beer festivals on the calendar. But the WA-only brewery line-up, the location and the ease at getting around make Fremantle BeerFest the best event for lovers of the wonder nectar.
The list of breweries and distilleries can be found here – WHO'S THERE.
Tickets are now available here – BUY YOURS.
General admission tickets start from $15 for Friday 8 November; from $25 for Saturday 9 November; and $20 for Sunday 10 November. Tickets includes access to event and all entertainment. Beer, food and other drinks available for purchase.
Veteran craft beer venue Bootleg Brewery up for sale]]>, 21 Aug 2019 06:55:10 +0000
It is one of the original break-out small breweries in Australia but the future for a beer icon in WA’s South West is uncertain.
An advertisement in a Busselton real estate publication has confirmed that Bootleg Brewery is up for sale. And it is hoped the brewery can continue as a going concern for the right operator.
It is the second WA brewery in as many months to be put on the market. Hopped Up Brewing in Wangara was accepting offers from late June. A deal with a buyer is believed to be imminent.
Bootleg was established in Wilyabrup near Margaret River in 1994 by Tom Reynolds and quickly became an “oasis of beer in a desert of wine”.
Releases such as Raging Bull, Sou’ West Wheat and Wils Pils became popular amongst the first wave of the modern independent beer drinker. The brewpub was also a well-visited venue for tourists.
But there had been rumours for 12 months that Bootleg was entertaining the possibility of a buy-out. Long-time brewer Ryan Nilsson-Linne departed the operation a couple of months ago and has since joined Brewhouse Margaret River.
In the advertisement for First National Real Estate in Busselton, Bootleg is being offered as a “walk-in, walk-out transaction”.
“The sale of the property includes an expansive 30.0105 hectare landholding, significant buildings and improvements along with an award winning product with established, recognisable brand.
“Bootleg brewery has been established for over 25 years with the purpose-built building which is in excess of 1,000 square metres in size.
“The business is currently run under management and has wholesale supplies to national retailers including Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Woolworths, Cellarbrations along with local retailers and restaurants across the State.
“Great potential also exists for expansion of brewery operations and sales as well as potential to increase from of house revenue. Current brewery production is 100,800 litres with a forecast target production of 140,000 litres.”
Several prominent members of the WA craft beer industry had recently shown interest in Bootleg.
The South West region has become a haven for the State’s beer market. There are 15 breweries situated between Busselton and Margaret River.
The opportunity to tender of the property closes on September 6.
WA's Nail Brewing offers chance to get on board]]>Ross Lewis, 12 Aug 2019 11:53:37 +0000
One of Australia's leading independent beer producers, Nail Brewing, is seeking a Perth Sales Representative.
Nail Brewing is a family owned brewery in the Perth suburb of Bassendean that started in 2000. We are proud to brew local craft beer that has been awarded by judges and loved by locals for many years.
Nail is behind successful beers VPA, Red, Stout and MVP. The team is seeking a full-time sales representative in Perth to grow its brand and provide dedicated support to an existing account base whilst developing new business relationships South of the Swan River.
To be successful in this role you must be a highly motivated, results driven individual who can work independently. Owner John Stallwood is looking for someone who is passionate about craft beer.
The successful candidate will be expected to establish and maintain positive trade relationships and achieve sales results which will be a key measure of performance. Strong communication and organisational skills are a necessity, experience in liquor and/or the hospitality is highly desirable.
Key Responsibilities:
Represent Nail Brewing to existing and potential customers, on and off premiseIncrease distribution points and sales volumesBuild and maintain effective relationships with account baseIncrease brand awareness, consistent with brand valuesOn and off premise tastings, including setting up and staffing events when neededWeekly reporting including planned calls and sales resultsOther ad hoc duties as required from time to time
Relevant Experience and Attributes:
An understanding and passion for craft beerSelf-motivatedResults drivenMust have a high level of communication and organisation skillsMust be flexible with hours as some weekend, night or public holiday work will be requiredExperience in the liquor and/or hospitality industry is highly desirable
If you love craft beer and believe you have the personality and skills to represent Nail Brewing successfully the team is keen to talk to you.
Apply now with your CV and cover letter to
Applications close on August 16th, 2019.
Vintage Ale a bridge in Coopers brewing history]]>Ross Lewis, 07 Aug 2019 06:54:14 +0000
A once-a-year beer has become the link between Coopers past, present and future.
The annual release of Vintage Ale is normally a trip in a brewing time travel machine. While enjoyable immediately, the concoction that was first developed 20 autumns ago, can also be stored for tasting in subsequent years.
But the 2019 Vintage Ale emerges at a time when Coopers has made two other significant developments.
One concentrates on its 157-year-old flagship brew – the other the family-owned company hopes will continue to give it relevance and attraction in a modern beer market.
Coopers Sparkling Ale, the recipe and method devised by Thomas Cooper in 1862 and which has since been the star of the operation, will next week be available in cans. So, too, will a brand new beer, XPA, a hoppy ale designed for the current generation that prefers bucketloads of hops generating high fruity flavours that were never in the old patriarch’s thinking.
Thus Vintage Ale reappears at a point where Australia’s oldest family-owned brewery marks a new direction – but one that doesn’t forget its roots.
“We have become a little bit more marketing-driven than perhaps what we had been,” said managing director Dr Tim Cooper, a fifth generation descendant of Thomas Cooper, at the Vintage Ale launch in Sydney.
“I think that is a function of 157 years and Sparkling Ale which has been there from the beginning and still amazingly continues to grow. It is only slight growth but for most of its history last century it was sitting at a few million litres a year yet last year it went over 10 million litres.
“We think as brewers about our Pale Ale and Sparkling Ale but then we need to think about the market and think about the opportunities that present themselves with these additional projects.”
The new ideas were somewhat forced on Coopers. The company’s sales fell 9 per cent in the 2017-18 financial year. Only the impressive growth of its fledgling malting business ensured a profit for the company.
It seemed Coopers was caught in a time warp for which it wasn’t prepared.
With 5 per cent of the Australian beer market, Coopers wasn’t big enough to be a major player like CUB and Lion, which combined account for 88 per cent of national sales, nor, at 85 million litres of production a year, was it small enough to be a part of the independent brewing movement that ironically only has slightly more of the market despite having around 500 operators in the sector.
As a result of the decline Coopers instigated a 20 per cent increase in advertising spend and put $3 million into the development of new products.
“When (Marketing and Innovation Director) Cam (Pearce) says what’s next, it tests us,” Dr Cooper said. “But we do want them (new beers) to be in their own space.
“We have some very good products now with Pale Ale easy to drink; a mainstay representing over half our volume, Sparkling is the flagship, Stout has been there since the 1870s and in the last 20-odd years we’ve added Dark, Mild, Session and now XPA to our core range.
“We don’t know what is going to be next but it is exciting to think about the prospects.”
Significantly, Coopers is still using a century-old yeast although 20 years ago the brewery selected a single strain for use in all its beers.
And that that strain has provided a key flavour profile across the product range.
It is prevalent in all Vintage Ales. So, too, is the single origin malt produced from Compass barley grown in the Murray Mallee of South Australia that was specifically used for the 2019 edition.
The new iteration, the 19th in the Vintage Ale series, also features the American hop Mosaic. It was selected after a comprehensive testing process that also included an internal session called “Hop Idol” where staff rated their preferences.
“Compass barley is hardy and high yielding, allowing the brew to deliver a hefty alcohol content, yet still retain a fine malt sweetness,” Dr Cooper said.
Like all Coopers ales, the 2019 Vintage undergoes secondary fermentation and natural conditioning.
In one way, Coopers likes to think it was ahead of the game in terms of breweries producing special batches.
“Seasonal releases of beer have become popular in recent years with the craft movement,” Pearce said.
“Coopers has been bringing an annual seasonal release to market for the past 20 years and we are proud to continue this with a greater focus on the seasonal aspect and the origins of the ingredients.”
The result of the ingredients in this year's Vintage Ale is a beer that is far more enjoyable to drink now - not that previous versions weren't. But past efforts seemed to be better after at least six months of storing. So it will be a great exercise to determine how 2019 changes given a little time to develop.
Coopers to put foundation beer into cans]]>Ross Lewis, 01 Aug 2019 12:39:13 +0000
One of Australia’s oldest beers is getting a new twist.
Coopers has listened to the modern consumer and has put another one of its brews into cans. But this isn’t any ordinary beverage.
Sparkling Ale has come to define the South Australian-based brewery. After all, it was one of the first recipes Thomas Cooper devised 157 years ago when he created the brand.
Little has changed with the famous red label – until now.
Within weeks Sparkling Ale 375ml cans will hit the shelves, joining Coopers Original Pale Ale, Session Ale and Mild Ale in the brewery’s aluminium package portfolio.
And while the oldest beer in the company stable has a fresh look, the youngest Coopers’ brew, XPA, will also be released in its distinct purple branding at the same time.
Cans are definitely the vessel of choice for contemporary drinkers.
The annual GABS Hottest 100 beers list provides comprehensive evidence of the change in preference.
In 2013 none of the beers in the survey were in cans. By last year’s count 77 were in the “tinnies”.
Coopers Marketing and Innovation Director, Mr Cam Pearce, said it was significant Original Pale Ale, Session Ale and Sparkling Ale all made the GABS Top 100 revealed in January.
“Can preference is no longer driven by occasion only, as we see that cans are now a preferred format for many beer drinkers, particularly within the crafted segment,” Pearce said.
“Since we launched Coopers Original Pale Ale in cans, there has been a groundswell from consumers for the release of Sparkling Ale in cans as well.
“We listened to the calls and have responded accordingly.”
Sparkling Ale (5.8%) will be available nationwide.
It is a big month for Coopers, which will also unveil its annual Vintage Ale with a special function in Sydney next week.
Team beers to shine at Perth Craft Beer Festival]]>Ross Lewis, 31 Jul 2019 13:38:04 +0000
There is a fair bit of teamwork going into one of WA's most popular beer events.
Not only are the organisers of the Perth Craft Beer Festival doing some heavy lifting to get the three-day brews odyssey ready for its opening in two weeks, they have also been wielding the mash paddle to partner with some of the exhibitors.
While some beer feasts either invite collaborations between breweries or entice them to make one-off unique tasters, the PCBF crew have done more than just encourage their exhibitors in that direction – they have literally had a hand in the special releases that will be offer to the attendees.
The sixth annual Perth Craft Beer Festival will run at the old Ice Cream Factory in Northbridge from August 16-18.
And a growing band of breweries have marked the series by luring members of Bar Pop management, the company behind the extravaganza, help make a new fresh beer.
It is just another enticement for an event that is bucking the trend of many similar festivals around the country that aren’t as appealing in the maturing craft beer market as they were just a few years ago.
Breweries such as Feral and 3 Ravens are among the producers involved in the eight special event beers – but we won’t spoil the fun of the steady announcement of the others in the range over the next fortnight.
However, as festival co-founder Chris Bausor told The Sip this week the festival beers will also live on after time is called on service on the Sunday.
“Last year we did a couple of collaborative brews and it something we wanted to expand,” Bausor said.
“It is a different model to the GABS-specific beers in Melbourne in that our festival brews aren’t totally unique. The idea is that we picked some breweries that were interested in collaborating with us and then we came up with a concept together.
“We looked at the idea of combining beers that are currently on trend and interesting and what types of beers are of significance to the origin of that particular brewery.
“Then we let the designers go nuts with the look of the cans. We will then put those eight beers in venues that are supportive of craft beer such as Freo Doctor, Cellarbrations Carlisle and Mane Liquor after the festival.”
The event is guaranteed to be bigger in 2019 as organisers have been given permission to close part of Lake Street so the festival can spill beyond the Ice Cream Factory site fence.
The 2019 brewery line-up is arguably the best in the festival’s history.
Founders, New Belgium and Goose Island represent the overseas contingent, 4 Pines, Balter, Boatrocker, Coopers, Green Beacon and Hawkers are travelling west from interstate while local outfits from Artisan in Denmark to Mandurah’s Thorny Devil are flying the WA flag. And there are plenty of others in between.
While pleased with this year’s list, Bausor promised an even more impressive billing in the future.
“We’re looking at recruiting some more international labels and have had good contact with breweries from Eastern Europe,” Bausor said.
The festival is still restricted in the crowd sizes it can have over the four sessions and such has been the support for PCBF in recent years that there has already been a healthy rate of ticket sales in recent weeks.
More than 16,000 got a taste of the event last year.
To guarantee your attendance and to check out what’s on offer from August 16 click this link.
Little Creatures spreads beer wings to San Francisco]]>Ross Lewis, 26 Jul 2019 01:44:05 +0000
The Little Creatures juggernaut continues with the WA-founded brewery opening its first United States venue in bustling San Francisco.
The 26-tap hospitality premises in the city's Mission Bay area confirms Little Creature's status as Australia's flagship international beer brand.
It follows the brewery's entry into Hong Kong, Shanghai and most recently London.
But there is a sense of irony about Little Creatures cracking the US market. The brewery's Fremantle base was used as the dock for Kookaburra III during the America's Cup series in 1987. It was beaten by the Californian challenger Stars and Stripes.
More than 30 years later the beer operation that grew from the facility is taking on the craft brewing market in the States.
Little Creatures is now owned by Australian beer giant, Lion.
The San Francisco venue includes a micro-brewery and it will also sell a core range of beers imported from Australia.
Little Creatures Mission Bay is adjacent to Oracle Park (home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team) and near the soon to be opened Chase Center (home of the Golden State Warriors basketball team) and fits into the city's emerging entertainment precinct.
Fresh beer from "tank to tap” is key at the new venue with bright beer tanks connected directly to the beer founts putting guests within arm’s reach of the brewing process.
Luke Higgins, Lion’s Commercial Operations Director, said: “San Francisco has an array of great craft brewers and passionate beer consumers so it’s the perfect launch pad for introducing Little Creatures to the US.
"The craft beer market in the US is showing signs of a very positive future. In 2018, craft beer sales were up 4% by volume and retail sales were up 7% to $27.6bn so it’s a good market to be in.”
“We’re looking forward to seeing Little Creatures Mission Bay become part of the craft beer community on the west coast of the US and we’re excited to see it already creating a buzz. The new venue will be all about introducing the famous Little Creatures beers and hospitality to a new part of the world and ensure the locals over here enjoy it as much as we know the Little Creatures global community does.”
Little Creatures Mission Bay is located at 1000a 3rd Street, San Francisco.
Independent brewing body aims to take over WABA]]>Ross Lewis, 25 Jul 2019 06:14:02 +0000
The Independent Brewers Association has written an open letter to the group representing WA's beer industry suggesting the two bodies amalgamate.
IBA chair Jamie Cook said the national organisation believed it was in the best interests of the WA Brewers Association to come under the one management umbrella.
WABA was created in 2001, under the inspiration of Nail founder John Stallwood and has served as an advocacy and industry development group for the State's breweries. It is believed to have around 55 members.
It recently held its first Brewers Conference which included seminars and group discussions about key issues affecting WA beer.
The IBA emerged from the Craft Beer Industry Association two years ago and worked to enhance breweries not under the ownership of the large entities such as Lion, CUB, Asahi and Coca Cola Amatil.
It holds the annual Brewcon conference and Indies awards. This year it merged with Melbourne's Good Beer Week festival.
The IBA has also devised a seal to be used by independent brewers to push the value of consumer support for small beer operations.
Blade could cut through in Australian beer market]]>Ross Lewis, 23 Jul 2019 13:59:53 +0000
It looks like R2D2’s love child, is a cross between a slushy maker and coffee machine and could be about cut a path through Australia’s draught beer market.
The Blade could also wound the Federal Government’s hopes its recent excise changes could open the café and small restaurant doors for small Australian breweries.
A concept devised by Heineken, Blade is a counter-top beer dispensing system that has attracted considerable popularity in Europe.
And Lion, which has a licence agreement in Australia with Heineken, has been quietly testing the device in smaller venues around country. The Sip understands a unit has been sold in Perth, yet without any fanfare.
Indeed, when contacted about the Blade, Lion’s spokespeople opted not to comment. More on the reason for that stance later.
So how does the Blade work? And why could it be so significant in the local beer industry.
Essentially the unit has two parts – the dispensing unit and the 8-litre one-way plastic kegs that fit into a chamber creating the pronounced dome effect.
At this stage there is only one brand of beer available in the disposal kegs and no surprises it is Heineken. But in Europe, Heineken 0.0 and Birra Moretti have been added to the range. And if there is demand for the Blade expect some of Lion’s labels, such as James Squire and James Boag to squeeze into the cannisters.
The kegs have their own pressurised release module and come with their own tap line. They are locked into the dispenser and simply removed when empty. Another keg that has been chilled in a refrigerator overnight can be a ready-made replacement. There is no risk of contamination because there is a new tap line with each keg. A wipe of the housing chamber is all that is needed to keep the unit clean.
There is no need for chilled lines, gas, kegerators, tap tower or cool rooms – just a regular power point.