Standing out in the increasingly esoteric world of beer can be difficult. Is that why brewers have recently turned to harvesting yeast off a shipwreck, adding exotic spice to Belgian classics, or bolstering beer with beetroot? Who knows. What we can be sure of is their inventiveness being a boon to curious beer-lovers the nation over.
We decided to cast a quick eye over some of the latest boundary-pushing small batch beers to hit the market and see what’s out there. Tip: if anything below tingles your tastebuds, you will need to get in quick.
James Squire - The Wreck Preservation Ale
The yeast in this unique brew was salvaged from beer discovered in the wreck of Sydney Cove, one of Australia’s oldest merchant ships sunk off the waters of Tasmania’s Preservation Island in 1977.
To create The Wreck, the team at James Squire partnered with the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery in Launceston, as well as scientists from the Australian Wine Research Institute to tame the newly-discovered bottle’s 220 year-old yeast to create The Wreck Preserrvation Ale, a limited edition James Squire porter.
“It’s not often you get to play around with yeast more than 220 years-old,” says Malt Shovel Head Brewer Haydon Morgan, who along with scientists from the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery in Launceston, was tasked with creating a beer from the yeast. “We like to think it's the world's oldest surviving beer, made new. So it was important for us to keep the yeast’s integrity while using modern-day brewing techniques. This particular yeast was very temperamental so it took a lot of trial and error to find the right balance."
The brewers settled on a porter-style beer that combines the yeast with traditional English hops. “It has a slight phenolic [hint] and a splash of funk with hints of blackcurrant and spices giving it a rich and smooth taste,” says Morgan.
The Wreck will officially launch at the Great Australian Beer Spectacular in Melbourne (May 18-21) before making its way to Sydney for James Squire’s new flagship brewhouse on circular quay, The Squire’s Landing, which open its doors on May 24. It will also be available at Sydney GABS and on-tap at James Squire brewhouses nationally across Australia from June.
Little Creatures - Dawn Til D’Husk
This new beer from Little Creatures is a Schwarzbier, which translates literally from German to “black beer”, so no prizes for guessing the colour.
Little Creatures have achieved this by joining forces with Perth chocolatier Sue Lewis to turn cocoa husks - a byproduct of chocolate making - into a beer ingredient. The result is a decadent edge featuring touches of roasted malt flavour, which doesn’t linger too long before a clean finish. Still very much a beer, with just a hint of chocolate loveliness.
Capital Brewery Co - The Darryl Strawberry
One of the bartenders at Capital Brewing Co. in Canberra is renowned for his strawberry, rosemary and vodka cocktail. With a brewery in eyesight, he wondered how it would work in a beer.
Capital Brewing solved the question with this American Wheat-style beer. Dosed with local rosemary and large amounts of strawberries, the Darrly Strawberry is soft on the palate, with a unique herbal edge and gentle strawberry tartness.
White Rabbit - Yuzu Sansho
White Rabbit loves Belgian styles and regularly look to the country for inspiration before adding unique twists. The Yuzu Sansho is an 8.5% Belgian Triple style (golden, sweetish, with a banana and clove aroma), with added sesame seeds, yuzu peel and sansho peppers in the mix. The latter two ingredients bring a citrus tart and herbaceous sweet flavour. It’s also sometimes served using nitrogen gas (think creamy Guinness) for an extra level of texture.
Mornington Peninsula - Beetroot NEIPA
New England India Pale Ale is currently one of the most in-demand styles in the beer world and Mornington Peninsula make some of the best. The style is known for its low bitterness, soft texture, hazy appearance and ‘juicy’ hop flavours, and one you’ll see at craft beer bars for years to come.
For this take Mornington has added beetroot juice, making it a hazy purple hue housing a cocktail of earthy sweet beetroot and tropical fruit flavours.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with James Squire.