Willie the Boatmen Homebrew Heroes

Every now and then people are paid


back for their efforts ! Willie The Boatman is a fledgling little brewery put together with love and care from local homebrewers. Nick Newey and Pat McInerney. They are most definitely “the little brewery that could ” Their Tempe located brewery is a hodge podge of used dairy equipment and repurposed cylinders as fermenters.  They’re self made and self named “Ebay Brewery” is a testament to thriftness and using whats available to lower start up costs.  Their hard work is paying dividends in craft beer fans seeking their beers out in many local inner west pubs and hotels.  Pat is the beer stylist and Nick is the can do brewer that grunts out the beers.  They already have a very robust line of beers despite only being in full production since


mid May of last year.   My favorite being Crazy Ivan IPA.  This IPA is no US styled one but one more traditionally found in the UK. It is more malt foward and balanced and has a lovely finish. Its refreshing to find a more traditional IPA with all the hop bomb ones that are thrown about these days.


It is a lovely drop and along with Foo Brew their famous line beer they are off to a roaring start. I couldnt be more happy for a couple of longtime homebrewers that have gone pro. Just like all us lazy wannabes dream of. 
   So what are you waiting for people !? The taproom is open in Tempe and its a lovely spot to sit and talk beer, brewing, and dealing with trying to have more time for both ! 


A wingful Modus Operandi !

 wpid-wp-1415865011150.jpegCraft Beer-will draw you out of the house on many an adventure.   However Craft Beer AND hot spicy chicken wings will motivate you like no other thing I know! Living in Australia for a decade you find many great things, lovely beaches, great adventures in the bush, and great fresh produce and seafood.  However being a North American one thing you miss is spicy foods such as mexican and pub food us Yanks crave like hot wings!   Now I have been to upteenmillion places that celebrate that they do mexican or spicy foods like no other in this country but I have been disappointed more times than I can count on both my hands and feet combined!

    Modus Operandi Brewery in Mona Vale has won more awards than any new bwpid-wp-1415861113076.jpegrewery in Sydney in recent memory.  They took home Best Beer ( Tenant Red ) Best IPA ( Zoo Feeder ), and best small Craft Brewery in Australia!  Not to shabby for a brewery that has only been open for just over 4 months now!  Head brewer DJ McCready has brought a lot of craft to the brewery and it shows with a line of beers that really shine for a brewery so young.  He also introduced Cream Ale to the masses in Mona Vale with his Kite Flyer Cream Ale.  A lovely light and sessionable ale made for hot summer days.  Another thing DJ really laid his expertise to was the kitchen.  Jaz Wearin ( co-owner with husband Grant ) says that DJ leaned hard on the kitchen to come up with hot wings worthy of his native US.   Something I am very personally happy that he did!  Their wings are the best in Sydney I can attest !  Now it’s not every day I drive an hour north for a lunch of hot wings and craft beer but when both are done right I consider it a trip worth its while!

    I talked beer with Jaz and DJ as the local craft beer loving  crowd meandered in and out of the brewery. Both Jaz and Grant got their inspiration from a long pub crawl lasting months down the Pacific coast of the US.  Along the way they manwpid-wp-1415861106075.jpegaged to poach a head brewer with DJ!  If only all my holidays would be so fruitful, a new brewery and an award wining head brewer to boot in the process!   DJ brewed for the US renowned Oskar Blues Brewery and Brew Pub that has expanded into North Carolina from Colorado.  He brought many tricks from his former brewery to Operandi including the Beer Canning of any of the craft beers Modus has on tap for takeaway!  Something not seen in Australia for sure.

    The Modus beer line is very formidable with two saisons, the fore mentioned cream ale, two hopped up IPAs, the award-winning red and a nice dark porter too, They also have some decent experimental brews such as a white ale infused with green tea.  All and all a very sturdy start for this fledgling brewery on the very wpid-wp-1415865003424.jpegnorthern edge of Sydney!  I would have to say even with a hour drive it is well worth the trip not only for the great craft beer and lovely location but the kitchen is a big draw as well.  All us Hot Wing deficient Yanks will be making the pilgrimage north as much as possible to get our endorphin rush fix of hot sauce and have a go at their hot wing challenge ( with special Carolina extreme hot sauce ) to get our names up on the wall!  With plenty of cold craft beer to put out the fire afterwards there is no better way to enjoy a new craft brewery!


A Bitter of the Old English

wpid-wp-1412422879103.jpeg     A nice sunny spring day in Sydney at the Rocks and I finally wandered my way down to the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel.  Years of wandering the Rocks as a tourist and now living in Sydney for 8 years and I am now only just making it to this historic brew pub!  Not only is it the oldest licensed hotel in Australia, it’s also has to be one of the first brew pubs in Sydney too.  Coming into here on a Saturday of a long weekend may not have been the best idea for tasting beers but hey I have to get in a brewery stop when I have the chance says a father with two tikes in tow!  This place just lives and breathes old world English Pub before you even enter the door!  The raucous crowd inside was more typically Australian for sure and I snaked my way to the pub to talk to the overburdened and tired looking bar staff.  I got out of few small tidbits of how the beers were brewed on premises as we shouted back and forth through the din.  I decided on the Trafalgar Pale Ale as it read as a true British Bitter ale even though listed as a pale ale.  Plus how more historic can you get at the Lord Nelson pub then having a Trafalgar!  The place Admiral Nelson is known for, yep history lesson is over!

The Trafalgar Pale Ale is a bit of a mystery as in the name it should be Pale Ale.  The Lord Nelson Pub listing in their menu they are calling it an English Bitter.  So I am a bit perplexed where they are going with this one. However it is a line beer so they must be selling it well and this place has been brewing it for over 25 years so its got that going for it.  One sip and I get the maltyness and some of the essence of the a classic English bitter.  The hop note although muted is not that of a true Pale Ale ( as we think of craft pale ale ) but somewhere in-between even though that same note continues through to the end of each mouthful.  It is a very spirited brew at around 4.9 ABV and yes I can see it being quite sessionable.  I do love the color and unfiltered look of the brew in the light and the lacing is nice too.  I would not however put it up with the other brews that the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel does quite well such as the Vicitory Bitter and Old Admiral, the later being an award winning beer.

wpid-wp-1412422887549.jpegThe Lord Nelson Brewery is a lovely spot and I think it will deserve another visit at a less chaotic time. The history and the brews of this place will bring me back.  I do love a good old English style pub and this one is a special and historic one for Sydney.  Why Lord Admiral Nelson himself would have loved to have parked Victory at Circular Quay and bellied up the bar and blew the foam off a few cold ones after a  battle and since this place opened in 1841 he could have if he wanted too!  Ok enough history lessons lets just drink our bitters in peace!


A memorable “Batch” of Mosaic

Hop Heads please rejoice!  A new hop-centric brew has arrived!


Batch Brewing Company of Marrickville has concocted a lovely new libation called Mosaic.  Which funny enough is stuffed to the gills with the spirited new beer hop also called Mosaic!  All sarcasm aside this IPA is a powerful example of what this hop can really do in a beer.  Mosaic hops are from the celebrated Hop Breeding Co. of WA state USA.  These are the same people who have graced us with Simcoe, Citra, and the brand spanking new Equinox.  They are the heavy hitters of the hop breeding world for craft beer.  So make no mistake they don’t mess around.  Mosaic is actually the daughter of Simcoe and Nugget hop breeds.  Its citrus floral note on the nose is very distinctive.  I would love it if I could smell it all day, perhaps even make a Mosaic body wash?  Ahem.

Back to the beer in hand or more correctly “my hands”, this brew is generously hopped through and through and at the end with dry hopping also.  I would say to the apprentice hop head that one should work up to this bad boy.  This is a Hop Head journeyman’s brew!  Which as i must admit has me very happy to be sure.   I think anyone that loves a true IPA in the craft beer tradition also would very much appreciate the effort Batch put into this one as well. ???????????????????????????????

I dropped on down to Batch Brewing on a rainy Sat afternoon with many a hipster to wade through as I got to the counter to talk beer to the brewers.  I got the low down on the bomber loads of hops poured into this batch.   One sip of the sampler jar and I was hooked.  I have spent the better part of three decades drinking craft beers around the world and I can say that it does take some doing to get me excited to have another round of a particular beer.  The boys at Batch do like to keep you excited with a new concoction coming out every week or fortnight.  Never a dull moment for the beer connoisseur while at Batch.   This beer is a keeper and I would like it to be staple here!   That first note on this beer smacks you upside your head with hops!  It does not over linger though and the brew has a very clean finish, this one being a mid range IPA in gravity so its does feel like it can be very sessionable.  I would suggest perhaps surrounded by your favorite Hop Head brethren !  As then one can truly celebrate its hoppy goodness together amongst minds of similar love for the heavy hops!  This is one of my favorite new drops and in a very busy Sydney Craft brew scene that’s saying something! Get you some before Batch moves on to another new creation.  Petition for it to become a standard as it can stand with the best of the craft beers in this very new crafty era in Sydney.


Craft Beer Poll

The Rocks Brewing Co. Conviction IPA


wpid-wp-1406693754476.jpeg  I have been meaning to get to the Rocks Brewing Company brew pub for some time now. The Alexandria spot is in the middle of offices and warehouses and a long way from The Rocks ! From the outside it looks like a very ordinary executive lunch spot.  The brewery section is no brew pub prop though as a long line of bright beer tanks and large capacity DME brew system is in plain sight.  A small bar to the right of the brewery shows the line beers plus what must be experimental beers labeled under the Conviction label.  Being a true hop head and picking the style I personally find is the best judge of a brewer’s skill I zeroed in on the Conviction IPA. Since it states on the board the ABV is 7 percent I’d say this ale is leaning toward Double IPA territory !  There is lack of literature on the style and composition on the Conviction Ales. I finally managed to find someone in the wait staff that could tell me how it was hopped. They used Centennial, Cascade, and Nelson Sauvin in this IPA.
My first sip and yep there was the Cascade. The Nelson Sauvin hop is heady on the nose but in a very floral pleasing way.  It is very much styled on American IPA. It a very punchy lovely highly hopped beer. I am throughly impressed. I was all ready to slag the place as a stuffed shirt poser brew pub. But then they knocked it out of the park on the Conviction IPA.  This place had surely earned a revisit and perhaps an extended sampling session very soon !

Young Henry’s Hop Ale


When is a hop ale an IPA ?wpid-wp-1406199934517.jpeg
Hop Ale has to be one of those names most brewers throw in the ring when the hoppiness ( a real word ) of one of their said creations is defined by its hoppy nature and they just ran out of ideas of what to call it !   Well that’s the only excuse I can come up with for why in this day and age a brewery comes to call a beer a Hop Ale.  As most beers in the world all use hops for flavor and aroma and it’s just as silly to call it “Hop Ale”as saying “Malt Ale” as almost all beers use some large portions of malt too.  Just as in the 1516 German Beer purity law states the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water!
Did I come to Young Henry’s today to argue over beer names ? Nope. I came here to sample their awesome Hop Ale. Young Henry’s has a very rabid following in Sydney and its warranted with their brilliant line beers and an unending plethora of one time experimental beers mostly dedicated to local music artists and special  causes!  All of their creative efforts have made them a name in Australia as one of Sydney’s best craft brewers.  Tucked in Enmore just below Newtown Sydneys kitsch hipster epicenter their backstreet taproom is overflowing on weekends and a friendly place to talk beer on quieter weekdays.  Its a very beer friendly environment.   Lots of locals willing to speak proper Beer Nerd!wpid-wp-1406199926613.jpeg
I order a Hop Ale up and discuss with the brewers its hoppy nature derived from a very healthy heap of Galaxy and Sterling hops and aroma-ed by lovely reliable Cascade hops.  This is bursting with hoppy goodness and the first thing that hits you in the kisser are the Galaxy!  Then you realize the Sterling as the middle taste hit,  with the Cascade for the aroma. The color is almost Amber and being that most are of their beers are extremely fresh most are cloudy as they haven’t had enough time to clarify.  This is one mighty good drop for sure although.  Henry’s has done well with this ale and it is one of their best line beers along with the “Newtowner”, and “Real Ale”.  No matter what you call it IPA or Hop Ale its bloody good! This is one of Sydney’s best breweries and we look for plenty like it from the talented brewers at Young Henry’s.

This is the dawning of the Age of Equinox

wpid-wp-1404561328788.jpeg     There is a new beer hop in town and it will be spreading like a bushfire through the Australian scrub.  While the last few years have been all the rage with new lovely hops such as Citra , Mosaic, and closer to our shores Nelson Sauvin.  The Hop Breeding Company out of Yakima, Washington USA  ( also the breeders of Citra ) have recently released Equinox in the past months.  As described in the release literature ” A pronounced aroma profile with citrus, tropical fruit, floral and herbal characteristics. Specific descriptors include lemon, lime, papaya, apple, and green pepper”.  Also just like Citra this is a traditional Aroma hop as well.  Hop Heads are popping to get their hands on beers brewed with these hops!

     Four Pines Brewing Company in Manly, NSW happens to have one of the first Australian Equinox brews on tap!  Smartly using the hop to sell the beer it is called – Equinox Golden Ale!  As I slipped into the crowded brewpub on a Saturday afternoon and I squeezed past many face painted spandex clad World Cup fans packed into the pub to watch a match or two while quaffing a crafty brew.  I saw Equinox still on the bill and prayed to the zymurgy gods that they were not tapped out!   I screamed over the din to the Beer-tender my order and failed in any efforts to get a inkling of info on how this brew got made!  Hey it’s not they’re fault they are doing bang up business on a Sat afternoon!  I got my pint and tried my best to find a quiet corner to inhale hop aroma and sip for taste and get all “Beer Nerdy” in private!

 wpid-wp-1404561483599.jpeg     Most Golden Ale’s are not this low in ABV (4.6).  The average being around mid 5 percent or so.  This Golden Ale is no Belgian Golden Ale for sure!  I could sense the lightly hopped taste but this being a low gravity beer it was extremely subtle.  I could get some of the apple and lemon lime in the taste of this beer along with the aroma.  This is no flowery Citra brew!  I like this beer but would love more of an IPA using Equinox to really get punched in the face with this new hop!  Perhaps Equinox being scarce this is all they could scrape together to make a lightly hopped Golden Ale?

       This ale is one of Four Pines designated “Keller Door” small batch brews and will be here for a limited time only.  They single hopped this Golden Ale and it was made with care in their small brewery on the premises.  However as I slipped back through the World Cup crazies and out the door I couldn’t help but hold out hope I will see this new hop again very soon and in much greater quantities too please!!wpid-wp-1404561493091.jpeg


Batch Brewing American Pale Ale


Batch Brewing Companies premiere American Pale Ale! I remember the first time I tried it back in Feb of this year at the Henson in Marrickville. I didn’t know who Batch Brewing was, when they started or where they fit in the local brewing scene of craft beer.wpid-wp-1403216423946.jpeg I took one good drought and immediately it took me back 8000 miles NE of Sydney. This is a beer readily recognizable on the West Coast of the US. Sierra Nevada of Cali, and Deschutes Brewing of Oregon both do a Pale Ale in this style. It just warms the brewing cockles of my heart to see it over here in AUS!

So here I am walking into Batch’s tap room to get the full skinny on this ground breaking brew in Marrickville.  I sit down in the rustic seating at the bar and Andrew one of the Co-owners and Brewer at Batch pours me a jar. The jar is also a nice touch. Bringing me back to drinking out of “Mason” jars back in the States but which usually contained Moonshine ! Andrew informs me that the APA is brewed with Cascade thru and thru as in bittering and aroma hops. Plus that they styled the beer towards something with the taste profile like Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. Cascade hops are such a lovely smelling hop, you could use it as air freshener around my house and I would love it ! I take a sip and there is a sweet middle ground between the first taste note, after the well carbonated bite subsides, and then at the end with the light airy foam and then you catch that cascade loveliness in all it’s glory! This my friends is a fabulous drop! Plus it tends to be quite moorish as the jars stack up as more craft beer lovers pour into Batch’s taproom. I look forward to many more beer epiphanies here at Batch Brewing in Marrickville !

Australian Brewery – Lockout “Indian Belgian Ale”


The Australian Hotel Brewery Indian Belgian Ale called Lockout.

I was looking forward greedily to this ale as soon as  I saw it on the Brew menu after we stepped through the doors of the vast Australia Hotel Brewery in Rouse Hill.   After being in most of craft beer establishments in the Sydney area I was prepared to be disappointed from such a place that has such a industrial look to its brew pub.  I myself seek out small cozy little brewpubs by choice where I can sit and talk beer quietly with the staff till the co2 is fully dissispated from my beer glass.  However having heard good things I walked through gingerly.  Kids rooms so vast and long tables out of an Munich Octoberfest beer tent all around me I was not daunted.  I saw the nine, count them NINE,  beers available ontap and brewed in house!

The Australian Brewery literature calls the Indian Belgian Ale Lockout. Probably due to the 7.1 % ABV.  They claim Indian spices are infused into the beer although I could not detect them.   This beer has great mouth feel with a generous kick of C02.  Great malty notes and taste of a substantial gravity beer.  It is not heavy hopped as I hoped but it is very clean in aftertaste.   Styled as a Belgian Strong Ale which are known to be heavy beers nearing 8% abv this was a bit on the Belgian Strong- Light side.  However I have to say it is a very sessionable beer!  It was well worth the anticipation.  The hugeness of the place receded back into a haze of great beer enjoyment as I quaffed away happily with  pokey machines blinking off somewhere in the distance.  I love the Beer, the place I will need some time with, but I am ready to come back and have another go from the Australian Brewery.