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Try-It Thursday Jan 29, 2015

January 29, 2015

Little Creatures Pale AleQ mark

5.2% American style pale ale

This week saw Australians gather to celebrate our own national day and to reveal the results of craft beer’s biggest public opinion poll in The Local Taphouse Hottest 100. With few surprises at the top end of the list it’s appropriate that we shine a light on one of Australia’s most well-loved beers – one which seems to be able to keep itself in the hearts and minds of many drinkers country-wide.

Before we look at what others have said about this beer, let’s pose the 3.5 billion dollar question; did you, or someone you know, ‘down grade’ this beer when the previously independent Little World Beverages sold to multi-national brewing behemoth Lionco?

It matters not that some choose to think that the ‘beer has changed’ or that ‘The Big House’ has cut costs and dumbed the beer down’, it deserves its place in the Australian Craft Beer Hall of Fame for so many reasons. If Helen of Troy had a face that launched a thousand ships, then Little Creatures Pale Ale is surely the beer that launched a thousand imitators and paved the way for beer with a more prominent flavour level.

The LC website says of its iconic flagship beer;LC pale ale

“We love our Pale Ale and throw bag loads of whole hop flowers into it throughout the brewing process. These hops, which we source from all over the world, provide intense citrus and stone fruit characters carefully balanced with speciality malts and a local pale malt. It’s a beer that’s ultimately refreshing with a distinct bitterness that leaves the palate craving for more. Preservative and additive free, our Pale Ale is live-yeast conditioned for unmatched freshness and character.”

The Crafty Pint;

“Can anything be said about this beer that hasn’t already been said? When it first appeared as Little Creatures “Live” on the day the brewery opened, it shocked even the bar staff who were about to serve it to the public with its punchy interpretation of big, hoppy American style pales. And while many have imitated since, it remains a standout on the Aussie beer scene. Possessing everything you would want in the style – pungent hop aromas, softly layered malts and a satisfyingly big and lingering bitterness – it’s a beer that has done as much to change Aussie palates as much as any. And, while some beers have since gone much bigger and hoppier, we challenge you to sit any craft beer fiend down with one and tell you they don’t love it. As for the facts, it contains a load of whole Chinook and Cascade hop flowers sourced from Washington and Oregon in the US as well as Tasmania are thrown at this beer. These create an intense citrus and grapefruit aroma and flavour balanced with a careful selection of specialty malts and a local pale malt. It is live-yeast conditioned in bottles and kegs for freshness and character and is best enjoyed from a glass.”

Craig Bilski on the blog Wild Heart Media hits the nail on the head when it comes to this beers’ longevity;

“Not often does a beer come along that not only changes your whole perspective on beer, but impacts the beer industry of a whole nation. Many people, including myself, were happy with the typical Australian bitter lagers and the watery international sessionables but as micro breweries popped up across the country a nations eyes were opened up to the vast range of craft beers.

Inspired by the aromatic American style, this local pale ale is regarded as one Australia’s best and certainly hits the top of my list. Using whole hop flowers from the Pacific Northwest, one can’t help but feel this is a perfect blend of fruity sweetness, speciality malts and a thirst quenching bitterness. From the moment you pour it into the glass you are hit with a beautiful aroma, a nice white head and a yellow-amber colouring.”

All four editions of The Critics’ Choice – Australia’s Best Beers have found LC Pale Ale in the top 10 with a track record of #2, #3, #7 and #5.

Matt Kirkegaard said back in 2011;

“The beer that popularised the American pale ale style and wildly aromatic hops in Australia when it launched in 2000.”

The Beer Diva, Kirrily Waldhorn said a year later;

“The quintessential Australian American pale ale from one of the coolest breweries in Australia.”

In 2013 Matt again touched on the power of this beer as an inspiration to brewers and as an awakening to drinkers;

“…this is one beer that has staked its place in Australian beer history. I have heard more of the newer crop of craft brewers cite this as their ‘epiphany’ beer than any other. A classic and still a class act.”

Last year, the struggle for Little Creatures to even exist was highlighted;

“If beer were Little Golden Books, this would be ‘The Little Engine that could’. For a while back in the early 2000’s, this beer couldn’t buy a mate. Trophies for Champion Ale and Champion Brewery in 2002 then set the beer on a rocket-driven ride to the Top of the Hops for fans of big, bold flavour. A new address in Geelong … should mean that those who have ‘moved on’ from this US-inspired classic can return to taste it as they once remembered it.” [Pete Mitcham]

Fun Fact! LC Pale Ale receives a bottle conditioning from the addition of a sneaky lager yeast. For fast effect? For that distinctive taste profile? Or might it be to prevent anyone from ‘cloning’ the original ale yeast that makes this beer so unique?

Little Creatures website

The Crafty Pint

Wild Heart Media




3 Responses to Try-It Thursday Jan 29, 2015

  1. Matt on January 31, 2015 at 6:27 am

    I think it is fairly loosely dubbed an APA, more along the heavier lines of an IPA and unfortunately it did change dramatically with the ownership. It may still taste quiet similar but the Alc. Vol dropped dramatically, not that this point alone sparked my interest, I like to support independents in the boutique scene more so than corporate giants so I tend to leave this former favourite on the shelf these days.

    • Pete Mitcham on February 1, 2015 at 10:29 am

      Not sure where you got this information, Matt. Since 2000, LC has had a rigorous tasting/testing regime for the Pale Ale. Every Tuesday the brew team gather to taste samples and adjust the boil, whirlpool and dry-hopping hop levels as required to ensure a quality end result.

      I’ve also looked back through various sources (and am waiting on an official reply from Creatures) and can’t find a time when the pale dropped below 5.2% ABV.

      I know some people have changed their love for the beer with the change of ownership which is justifiable but let’s not let misinformation cloud the issue.

  2. David Park on January 29, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I agree with all the above concerning taste. However LC was, from the get-go, a stand-out in terms of design. They nailed that. See http://www.beerlines.me/craft-beer-design-big-lessons-from-little-creatures/

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