Matilda Bay Brewing Company
Fat Yak Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
330ml 4.7% abv
At close to 50 IBUs Alpha is a big, ballsy beer, one that many microbrewers list amongst their favourite Australian beers. However, a beer like Alpha is always going to have a limited market in Australia, at least until craft beers penetrate the mainstream to the extent that we see in the United States.
With its well-defined but less assertive hop character, the term ‘gateway beer’ is often used to describe a beer like Fat Yak.
This suggests that it can act as a portal from the world of mainstream quaffers into the more flavoursome world of craft beer.
This is true, though at the rate at which the flavour profile of the mainstream market is plummeting courtesy of the explosion in low-carb beers, it may not be too long until current mainstream beers such as XXXX and VB may themselves represent a step up in flavour terms .
Fat Yak is definitely a step up in both flavour and bitterness from the common domestic or Euro lager. At 25 IBUs it it around 7-8 IBUs more bitter than the average lawnmower beer. Once poured it sits a golden orange under a dense foam which releases a readily apparent aroma of citrus and passionfruit.
A sweet malt balances the American Cascade and New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops, with a trace of caramel being revealed depending on what you eat with the beer or drink before it.
This is a good beer in its own right and one to be enjoyed without qualification. But—from experience—it’s also one that can indeed serve the purpose of bringing your mainstream mates closer to the cause of better beer.
Matilda Bay, Foster’s boutique arm, should be congratulated for building a step up to a beer like Alpha rather than lowering the bar in the quest for bigger market share.