It’s lucky that Brewdog is the International Guest Brewer at this year’s Beer & BBQ Festival. With an Australian brewery opening next year it’s the last time it’ll be eligible. To celebrate, the iconoclastic brewery sent its longest-standing brewer, Franz Horak, around the country recently to create a crop of collaboration beers with Australian craft brewers. The beers will be sold exclusively at the festival.
Originally, Horak intended to return for this weekend’s event but “peak baby season” at Brewdog’s Scottish headquarters has kept him busy. Zarah Prior jokes that she could “put on a German accent and find a fake beard,” but as the newly appointed head of Brewdog Australia she’s more than capable of filling his shoes. As well as appearing on a panel to talk about the state of independent brewing, Prior will meet with local brewers and sample some of the brews on offer. Here are some of her favourites from the “vigorous taste-testing” at the debut Sydney Beer & BBQ Festival.
Smoked Pineapple and Jalapeño Gose – Capital Brewing Co & Brewdog
Starting the day on the right foot is vital, and with so many options it can be a challenge picking the first beer. For Prior, Capital Brewing Co and Brewdog’s collaboration is the perfect place to begin. Gose is an unusual style most notable for including salt and coriander. This one also contains smoked pineapple and jalapeno. Prior overheard one friend saying the result tastes “just like a taco.” Her own review is only slightly more technical: “It’s perfectly balanced with a really nice tartness and the perfect way to start the day is drinking it in the full sun.”
Barrel-Aged Shirazzaweisse – Beer Farm
A WA collaboration between Beer Farm and winery LS Merchants, this brew comes from the middle of the Margaret River wine region. “I love my sour beers and I was really impressed with this one,” Prior says of the limited-edition release, which is also at the lighter end of the spectrum. “It uses shiraz grapes in the brew and it’s also aged in shiraz barrels, so there’s a real complexity to the flavour.” Beginning with a kettle-aged Berliner weisse, Beer Farm blends in local grapes to create a beer that has a striking deep-pink hue and a complex flavour profile.
Native Pils – Mismatch Brewing Co & Brewdog
With native botanicals like lemon myrtle, strawberry gum and even green ants, this is far from your average pilsner. “It’s a really herbaceous, interesting beer and it’s just so unexpected,” says Prior. “With some styles you really know what to expect, but this one just stopped me in my tracks, it’s very unusual and the aroma is really layered.”
Red Session Ale – Philter
Despite only launching last year, Philter has quickly made a reputation as a purveyor of high-quality, no-nonsense beer. This one is “beautifully balanced and has a real creaminess – I would love to try it on nitro, actually,” says Prior. “There’s a lovely hop aroma but it’s more malt-forward, and if you’re looking to shift gear and relax after the heavy IPAs, this is the perfect place to go.”
Golden Stout Time – Big Shed Brewing Co.
Despite hearing about this South Australian creation for years, Sydney Beer & BBQ Fest was the first time Prior had a chance to try it out. The sweet stout uses cacao, rice and lactose to recreate the flavour of the iconic Golden Gaytime ice cream, and it didn’t take long for Prior to be converted. “Late in the night, drinking Golden Stout Time with my back to the brazier was a very happy place to be.”
Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival is on Friday July 6 to Sunday July 8 at the Historic Brick Dairy Pavilion in the Adelaide Showground. Tickets are available online.