your opinions on the state of Australian beer and a the scene over all

Discussion in 'Australia & New Zealand' started by mulder1010, Apr 21, 2012.

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  1. mulder1010

    mulder1010 Meyvn (1,019) Aug 29, 2008 Australia

    Hey everybody,

    As the title states I am looking for your feedback on the state of Australian beer and what you perceive the beer scene to be. Discussion is more than welcome and appreciated.

    Try to be positive and stay on target. I think there is more good than bad things going on here on the whole and will chime in with my thoughts, or opinions soon.

    Thanks again
  2. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    There is a lot happening in the scene, and a lot of that is good. The breweries run by people who don't actually know anything about beer are being left behind, while the breweries and brewers who know what they are doing and are passionate about beer, are producing some really interesting stuff.

    Can't wait for Feral to kick their sour brewery into gear!
  3. foles

    foles Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2007 Australia

    The good: The Growler thing happening at beer shops is huge! Just gotta get more local breweries in on that, as fresh is best! Also the fresh, well priced sierra nevada beers are opening a lot of people's eyes. Breweries here in WA are also stepping up their game and bordering on world class. Think: Feral. I also have a lot of time for Monk and Mash. Note the best here are also well priced per pint at the brewery.

    Room for improvement: Talking from a Perth pov, I think some more real beer bars are needed. And more of a focus on fresh beer and beer transport is needed, especially during the hot summer. And would be great to see more urban / suburban breweries, that serve local communities. Country breweries can be very hit and miss in quality and microbiological consistency. I suspect this comes down to lack of brewing education/qualification. Lastly, the excise laws are obviously slowing growth.
  4. spicelab

    spicelab Crusader (773) Nov 6, 2009 Australia
    Beer Trader

    I was saying to someone the other night that it's hard to arrive at an overall view of the state of the Oz craft scene because there are so many conflicting indicators. It depends where you're looking.

    The most promising metric is the growth in the number of micros, which is really exciting. However I don't think there has been a corresponding raising of the bar in terms of quality or innovation. Of the relatively new entrants, notable exceptions that spring to mind are HopDog and MoonDog (what is it about brewers and dogs?). But most are neither doing established things better (e.g. Pale Ales between 4 -5.5%) or breaking new territory. Seems like a "don't frighten the horses" mentality still dominates. Still find it inexplicable that there are so few hoppy beers above 6%. New Zealand obviosuly gets it, so why the timidity here? The notable exception here are the one-off releases and collabs, which are generally awesome.

    In my mind venues are the main laggard at this point in time. In Sydney you can count the craft venues on one hand (okay, there's a few more that are borderline) It's inconceivable that a market the size of Sydney can't support twice that number. Also, it's disappointing not to see more random craft taps appearing in conventional pubs/bistros.

    Finally, I think it's fair to say we're underperforming in a relative sense compared with other relative newcomers to craft such as New Zealand, Scandinavia, Denmark. Last Sunday's paper included a Wellington insert - page 3 was dedicated to craft beer venues. This is just one illustration of the health of the NZ scene, which the more I look into it, seems to be powering ahead.

    Might add some more later..
  5. heygeebee

    heygeebee Poo-Bah (1,540) Aug 6, 2010 Australia

    Some thoughts


    • Bigger and Broader styles in the recent limited releases from Mad brewers and Little Creatures.
    • Amount of fresh(ish) US imports. Seeing them in cans.
    • New Mikkeller pricing.
    • Beer Cartel growing
    • Getting service with knowledge and a smile at Warners at the Bay. Oh apart from that one bloke, you know the one if you have been there.
    • The Pumphouse vibe


    • Lack of excitement around the Craft Bars. Been said a lot but Sydney could support a lot more bars than it has.
    • Lack of new well-received session ales. Getting fed up of having 3-4 beers at home at night and then thinking time to call it quits because they were around the 7% mark. Lets gets some flavour into low ABVs shall we? Where are the English influences?
    • James Squire going down the pan. Seriously. Their beer is now widely available - and was my usual choice when no other was available - so why has it turned to cheap-tasting shite?
    • Murrays going off the boil. Looking forward to some new bottled releases to raise their profile again.
  6. dgilks

    dgilks Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2008 Australia

    Hopdog Midgee is your friend. That has got to be Australia's best low alcohol beer and it holds up well against a ton of mid-strengths.
  7. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    Feral are releasing their 2.9% watermelon Berliner-Weisse.

  8. dgilks

    dgilks Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2008 Australia

    That will make an interesting battle up against the Moondog Melon Gibson.
  9. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    I'm going to tell everyone to drink it really quickly, in support of Feral's sour brewery!
  10. mulder1010

    mulder1010 Meyvn (1,019) Aug 29, 2008 Australia

    Time to post I suppose.
    The good. The quality of beers from Murray's, Mountain Goat, Bridge Roads and Moon Dog.
    The Bad. The even better quality of beers coming from abroad and at prices that crush the local competition.
    At this point why would I even bother buying a domestic product when Sierra Nevada, Green Flash, Epic, Mikkeller and others make far superior products across the board at a better price. Good old taxation at work.
    The good. The partnership of Feral and Nail to create a sour leg of the brewery.
    The bad. Still nowhere near the creativity of the Eastern Australian brewers. Murray's bottles. Feral does not. Mountain Goat and Bridge Roads get Mikkeller for Collaboration beers. Murray's has 3 Imperial stouts about to be bottled and bottle dates. Feral? Good Question.
    The Good. The emergence of Sydney in a big way. Find me two places better than 4 pines and Murray's? And in that close a proximity to each other and that good a range of beers in bottle. Not tap. Will go as far to say NSW has a better range of breweries and creativity than the rest of the country. Stone and Wood anybody?? I will go as far to say NSW is the dominant state in Australia but gets left out in the import side of things.
    The bad. after 4 Pines, Murray's, Mountain Goat, Bridge Roads and Stone and Wood there is not much to go after. Hop dog, Moo Brew and Moon Dog are next in bottles but after than a huge gap. Feral is no more than a nice local brewery with one good beer. Nothing more, nothing else
  11. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    One good beer?

    Pat, you are crazzzzaaayyyy!
    dansmcd likes this.
  12. mulder1010

    mulder1010 Meyvn (1,019) Aug 29, 2008 Australia

  13. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    Because they keep them close to home ;)
  14. perthbelgianbeer

    perthbelgianbeer Initiate (0) Jan 4, 2011 Australia

    Woah nelly! Ferals has only one good beer?
    Pat I really like all the posts you make, allows me to hear about a lot of beers I've never heard of, and all the survey posts recently were a great read. Which is why I'm certain you're not trolling with these feral comments.

    But for a chauvinistic WA person like me (or lukie), I can't agree with you about ferals. I would only say that if you haven't visited the brewery nor last years TapTakeover (or was this in melbourne?), its a very big call to say they have only 1 good beer. Boris RIS, fantapants imperial red IPA, karma citra BIPA and Rye IPA I think are top-class amongst aussie beers. and other really good ones like barrel aged hop hog and raging flem belgian IPA. i'm guessing that lukie, like myself, wouldn't touch a drop of hop hog/golden ace/feral white when visiting ferals -- these beers are only the tip of ferals iceberg of goodness : )

    i agree that they don't distribute/bottle as much as some ppl (myself included) would like. but i wouldn't say that russian river are only a local brewer with one good beer just cos i don't have easy access to pliny the younger or something-acation.

    as for the first comment -- i agree, its a big call to support local when imports are generally better and sometimes cheaper. the reason to support local then? for the sake of it. sure, much of the $ is going to govt... i'm lucky enough to be able to afford to be able to drink local in spite of this, so quite often i do -- the 2nd most expensive stubby i've ever bought was from marg river

    not everyone is in this position though which is fair enough.
    dansmcd likes this.
  15. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    Pat's just jealous because we get the sweet sweet sweet Feral sour nectar, whilst the closest thing to that is Redoak.

  16. perthbelgianbeer

    perthbelgianbeer Initiate (0) Jan 4, 2011 Australia

    (more biased feral praising from me)

    and weren't ferals one of the first aussie brewers (i can't say this with any certainty) to make a DIPA about 8 yrs about -- the "Tusk" thats on the (st) site?

    also i forgot about razorback sweet hoppy barleywine is quite good in my opinion, and the funky junky sour was really good (but haven't seen it brewed for over a year)
  17. danieelol

    danieelol Savant (955) Jun 15, 2010 Australia

    maybe the taphouse could put some fucking feral kegs on again
  18. dansmcd

    dansmcd Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2010 Australia

    Feral one good beer? ha. And the Wig and Pen has zero good beers because Ive never been to Canberra?
  19. dgilks

    dgilks Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2008 Australia

    That is correct. The Wig & Pen has no good beers and you should keep well away from my Wig & Pen beer. ;)
  20. MrKennedy

    MrKennedy Champion (893) Dec 29, 2006 Australia
    Beer Trader

    A lot of good points already covered. What stands out to me is:

    -Some very good/excellent beers of various beer styles/abv's (Rocks IPA, Wild Thing, LCPA etc).​
    -Plenty of gimmicky brands trying to cash in on what they see as a growth market, but hey that's capitalism, but i still won't buy adjunct lagers with kangaroos on the label regardless of whether it is made here or not.​
    -Price of quality imports is hard to resist with stuff like Rasputin at sub $30 a 4 pack, or Bigfoot at sub $40 a 6 pack;​
    -Liking the experimental things happening with HopDog and MoonDog, some are good, some i think miss, but hey that's experimentation.​
    -Scary to see large format bottles sitting on shelves at north of $70. Who benefits when you see 7 Beelzebub Jewels sitting around at a bottleshop on the northern beaches, retailer, brewer, consumer??? ATO i guess.​

    -Amazed at how well the growlers have gone over in Perth, well done to shops for investing in the technology and working with the breweries/importers on making it happen.​
    -Countering that, strong dislike for the insistence of breweries/stores, particularly in NSW, who insist on only filling their own branded growlers. I have enough beer at home, let alone needing to have growlers from most fillers on hand.​
    -I like seeing some good venues that promote craft and seemingly fly under the radar like the Riverview in Balmain, Union in Newtown.​
    -Continually impressed by what the Wheatsheaf does, i really need to get there some time.​
    -Service, some places really excel like IBS, Carlisle at getting boxes out quickly, others really drop the ball. E.g. I cannot understand why it takes 13 days to recieve an order of beer from a place only 1,000km away, yet a place 3-4 times the distance does it in well under half the time. Appreciate the places that do well in this area and cannot understand the seeming attitude of others that this retail/hospitality thing would be so much easier without all these customers getting in the way.​
    -On my wishlist is more breweries selling glassware like tulips. Surely it is either profitable or runs cashflow-neutral and provides free advertising?​

    So some things are impressive, others can be improved on.

  21. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    > Countering that, strong dislike for the insistence of breweries/stores, particularly in NSW, who insist on only filling their own branded growlers. I have enough beer at home, let alone needing to have growlers from most fillers on hand. <

    Not to say this is the case with the guys over there, but over here, we don't have a choice. A part of our license with our council to be able to pour growlers is to do a swap system to ensure that they are fully clean and sanitised by us on premise. It has upset a few people, but it's either we do it that way, or don't do it at all.
  22. MrKennedy

    MrKennedy Champion (893) Dec 29, 2006 Australia
    Beer Trader

    Fair enough, i was told from one place here it was "for the experience" rather than any regulatory reason.
  23. lbour

    lbour Initiate (185) Jul 17, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    For what it's worth, I just moved to Melbourne from Austin, TX... which has a booming craft beer scene... and also just off a 7 day walk about (is that the correct local lingo... just trying to fit in) thru the San Diego beer scene drinking Alesmith, Lost Abbey, Port Brewing, Russian River, Firestone Walker, etc. (you get the picture... really nice, big craft beers.)

    I gotta tell you, I've been really impressed with the many beers I've had the past 2 weeks. IMHO, Mountain Goat Pepperberry colab with Mikkeller is a really good, interesting beer. Holgate Temptress (a bit sweet) is something I'll drink for as long as I can get it (would like to see this Whiskey-Barrel aged). Bridge Road Robust Porter is a damn fine beer. Little Creatures The Quiet American is a really nice triple and I'm more than happy to drink that regularly. The Choco Hops from Milldura is a good beer. The fridge is stocked with bottles I'm ready to crack open from Moa, a Coffee Fig from Epic, and the list goes on.

    So the goods to me include really nice, drinkable beers and growlers (really popular in Austin). But to me, the "best" of the goods is the attitude in this craft beer scene. I've literally met a dozen plus folks who are incredibly enthusiastic about the scene, and that's what will drive the evolution. Classic corny statement, but 1 pioneer person with genuine interest = 99 who are only mildly interested. And I've met way more than 1!

    My only bad is the price! Yikes!! I can get a 750ml of Alesmith Speedway Stout for the cost of a pint of high-end craft beer in a pub. How in the world do you keep a roof over your head and drink great beer? Thank goodness I don't mind sleeping in a cardboard box! At least I'll fall asleep with a smile!

  24. foles

    foles Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2007 Australia

    Nothing wrong with places that dont bottle everything. Drinking local is freshest and best and I think reputations are built on the quality (of which freshness is a big part) of beer. I just wish the breweries would do growlers. Would be much easier to justify the drive out to say...Feral if I can have a couple of pints, then return home with 2L of something.
  25. foles

    foles Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2007 Australia

    Its the "grass is always greener" concept......Although prices here are high. However, consider that the long term average exchange rate $1AUD is about US$0.70. Not the 1:1 we are experiencing at present.

    So that $5 brewpub US pint (473ml) is roughly equivalent to about AUD$7.15. And an Aussie pint = 568ml, so thats AUD$8.60. Then factor in the higher average incomes here in Australia compared to the US and the AUD$9-11 a pint isnt too bad.

    And we dont tip here :)
  26. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    Ibour, does it make you happy that you no longer have to see Pilsener-style Ale on labels?
  27. joecast

    joecast Meyvn (1,115) Jun 30, 2003 Australia

    Good: waked into the pub and before I can take a seat the publican says "You gotta try this" and walks up with a pint of Mikkeller Simcoe ipa. After something like that, all the insignificant complaints just melt away.
  28. eric5bellies

    eric5bellies Meyvn (1,266) Jun 9, 2006 Australia

    To me craft beer is just a word for countries other than Belgium, Germany and UK that brew beer of an equal standard. Sometimes I think we get a bit hung up on this phrase and it has become a bit of a label that beer lovers (not beer geeks) use to distance themselves from mass produced beer. Why do we call a Belgian beer brewed in Australia craft beer ? I have no idea. I know that my friends in Belgium find this all a bit strange.

    Anyway, I think Australia has come a long way in 12 months, as I don't remember enjoying so many Australian brews as I did over the last 12 months. NZ clearly is doing it a whole lot better, but we are making great strides. Word of mouth is a great thing and I have introduced at least 2 dozen people to better beer over the last 2 years or so, who say " I can't believe I ever drank Corona" that is proof that we are heading in the right direction. The number of bottle shops that stock a good selection of beers around Perth has also increased significantly over the last two years or so.
  29. MordeciaFunk

    MordeciaFunk Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2012 Australia

    Good: The increase in the interest and consumption of craft beer.
    Feral (boo! Mr Mulder, come to the brewery and then you can make your {outrageous} claims).
    The increased 'opening up' of Eastern States craft breweries products to us poor westerners.
    The introduction of growlers (kudos Lukie and the boys).
    International brewers coming over for a looksie and collabarations.
    The fact that every single brewer I got in contact with to raise money for breast cancer helped out.
    Being able to use the pub that I work at's influence to get more craft on at other pubs in the company.
    The fact, that in 48hrs, I will be drinking pints of Old Rasputin off of nitro until I fall over.
    EDIT: Good: Mr K for opening up my Heart of Darkness.

    Bad: No excise relief. When you include shipping, it cost me, on average, $450 a keg, or roughly $5.30 a pint, wholesale to get Murray's on tap. That doesn't seem right. It's not Murray's fault though...although if they had a national distributor it would be easier...just saying Murray's
    Our 'cultural cringe' to international beers. I do believe we put out some world class beers, but, much like our deference to anything english in earlier times, we seem in thrall to the idea that overseas is better. I think we need to give ourselves more credit and to buy local.
    Mr Eric5bellies' lies. There are clearly only 4 bellies in that photo
  30. Lukie

    Lukie Initiate (0) Jun 16, 2007 Australia

    And when you see Eric5bellies in real life, he only has one slim belly.

    So much lying!

    I think I can sum up the Aussie beer scene in two delicious words:

    Sour brewery.
  31. EazyR

    EazyR Initiate (0) Nov 10, 2010 Australia

    Good: Many, many excellent breweries, crafting both excellent examples of established styles and weird shit. More breweries are opening than closing while good beer is increasingly available at mainstream bottle shops.

    Bad: EXCISE TAX. Nothing else really compares to this major hurdle that must be overcome. Still a lot of ignorance in the cultural consciousness. Was gonna bitch about people who regularly bypass Aussie craft for foreign stuff and then complain about the local scene until I realized I'm currently drinking a Nogne O...
  32. scmorgan

    scmorgan Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2005 Australia

    Feeling very seedy from my hotel room in San Diego (thanks to Iron Fist IPA ...), the Aussie Beer scene is in a good place I reckon ...

    In comparison staff knowledge at venues has been great and us Aussie could take a note of that. The brewery tasting rooms are great, esp Green Flash and Alesmith. Also good is the lack of crappy 'craft lagers' ... only seen 2 lagers so far, both far from crappy.

    The bad is the alcohol levels. With so much beer to try and so many above 6%, makes it tough to have a few cos' you end up pretty F*cked pretty quickly. The pricing is also ridicules, $7.99 a 6 pack of SNPA here, $24 in Aus.

    There is a difference on beer, but overall us Aussie are doing well.
  33. foles

    foles Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2007 Australia

    I loooooove the tasting rooms in the USA. So casual and awesome, many dont even have any/many seats, you just stand around in a warehouse/brewery with like minded beer people and chat. Very old fashioned / blended with modern, and unpretentious. I remember the Bruery in Anaheim - an awesome food van pulled up outside offering beer cuisine.

    Closest I've seen to that here in Australia is the Mountain Goat tasting room.
  34. scmorgan

    scmorgan Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2005 Australia

    Spent most of the day at Stone today with Barrett one of our old bartenders at Harts, great way to spend a day. That place is a monster though, they are just about to dulicate the brewhouse plus build a hotel across the road plus uild down town plus ... plus

    Ballast Point, Greenflash and Hess were real simple, and it works. One thing, even at Stone with is world gardens is they do not serve liquor, and Stone was the first (i guess with the full restaurant they have to) to offer any wine. Cider is also a dirty word it seems, Crispins is about the only main local one, and only on at one place I went to.

    Seems the other norm is have at least 20 taps, have only seen light lager on at 2 places (and been to about 20 in the last 3 days) with mostly local beers. Its reassuring to see the all round support for the brewers work.

    One good thing about all the folks I have met is their willingness to point you into the direction of another brewer, which is very much like the brethren at home. One of those brewers I was pointed to is a Nano brewer called Hess. Best BIPA I've had, 1.5 (200l) at brew length and he had Growler customer lining up on a thursday mid afternoon ... as you do.

    Anyway, funny times,
    spicelab and MrKennedy like this.
  35. mulder1010

    mulder1010 Meyvn (1,019) Aug 29, 2008 Australia

    Scotty----- Go visit Alpine!!!!! . Or ask for the new location of South Beach Liquors and get some of their stuff
  36. InVinoVeritas

    InVinoVeritas Zealot (565) Apr 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader Subscriber

    Well I'm a yank who fortunate to visit your great country, and I'm not just blowing smoke; truly one of the greatest experiences of a life time. I spent 8 weeks total, 6 weeks working about 200km west of Mackey and then 2 weeks holiday (4 days Sydney and 10 days along the Great Ocean Rd along with time in Melbourne). I will say this, I found it very challenging to find a satisfying beer, both domestic and international. In fact, I'd say even with Miller and Bud being everywhere state side, I've never visited a place with more homogeneous of beer taste. Melbourne was the only place which I had success, which I've attached a couple of triumph (Can't get the picture to load, get them once I'm home from work)!!!

    Well this f-ing yank to sum it up loved the people and great outdoors, however, for price, section and quality, you still have a very long way to go. Now regarding wine, none that is true as the wine in the Yarra Valley was simply OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    mulder1010 likes this.
  37. scmorgan

    scmorgan Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2005 Australia

    Sorry to open this old chestnut, but interesting chat with Chuck @ Greenflash. $13 per barrel excise for the 7% West Coast IPA. I payed the equivalent of just over $300 for my 7%-er. Yes old chest nut I know, but sure kills the creativity and affects the price.
  38. InVinoVeritas

    InVinoVeritas Zealot (565) Apr 16, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader Subscriber

    Here we go . . . may you Aussies can fill in the blanks on where I was, was just a little drunk.


    Hope this wasn't a thread hijack mulder1010
  39. mulder1010

    mulder1010 Meyvn (1,019) Aug 29, 2008 Australia
    Do you pay more than Norway or Denmark brewers do?? Sure kills their creativity. Nope, no Imperial Stouts, barleywines, or DIPA's coming from Nogne or Mikkeller or that part of the world. I thought Nogne was champion brewery at AIBA in 2010? They must be the stale European beers you are talking about?
    Yes excise is high here but creativity is a choice, not a factor of cost. What the hell is Moondog doing then? So what are ciders? Creativity, or an escape clause to make more money with less tax?
    Deal with it. Excise is not going any place for a while.
    Am done. See you all in a year
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