“A smooth creamy ale with a delicate vanilla aroma, rich coconut flavour and a soft biscuit mouthfeel from the oats.” This is a beer with a very Australian signature. This is Fanny Gertrude’s Bickie Beer from Burleigh Brewing Company.
It was first produced in draught form by the Gold Coast based brewery for the Local Taphouse Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular held back in February. Now Fanny Gertrude’s Bickie Beer is in bottles and hitting the shelves of good beer shops, pubs and bars across Australia’s eastern seaboard.
Packaged in screen-printed 650ml bottles, it is the third release under Burleigh Brewing’s “Bit on the Side Department” project, following the successful My Wife’s Bitter English bitter and Black Giraffe coffee lager.
Fanny Gertrude’s Bickie Beer was inspired by the baking of Fanny Gertrude Nicholson, grandmother of Burleigh Brewing’s Co-Founder, CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer) and brewer’s wife, Peta Fielding. Gert, as she preferred to be called because it “cuts out the ‘rude’ part”, had baked a batch of traditional ANAZC biscuits that were so good Peta and Brennan Fielding decided to turn them into a beer.
“The concept was the easy part”, Peta told Australian Brews News. “Then we had to track down appropriate ingredients. We learned that white coconut (other than the fresh stuff) maintains its white colour through the use of sulphites (i.e. preservatives). We didn’t want any of that in our beer.”
In creating a beer to replicate the classic Aussie biscuit flavours, the greatest challenge was the coconut ingredient. First, they needed to find coconut without sulphites and then find a way to get the massive amount of coconut into the kettle and out again.
Peta explained that a “world-wide search for preservative-free coconut was launched. Many phone calls and frustrations later we found it next door, in Burleigh Heads, five minutes drive from the brewery.”
The company, Nature Pacific, picks coconuts in the early hours of the morning at its family coconut farm in Fiji, then chips and air-dries them within hours of harvest resulting in more taste with minimal processing and a naturally preserved product that maintains a stable and long lasting shelf life.
“No chemicals are used in the growing or processing of the coconuts,” Peta assures.
Nature Pacific’s Banaban Organic Coconut Crunch was therefore seen as a perfect match for the beer, both as a natural ingredient and as an ethical choice.
“The coconut farm is located on a pristine northern island of the Fiji group. No electricity or fossil fuels are used to run the processing plant. Coconut shells and husks provide the bio-fuel to run the plant. The farm only employs local Fijian workers and operates through a joint venture with the Burleigh-based family members to market the products produced.”
Along with this organic coconut, Fanny Gertrude’s Bickie Beer has been brewed with oats and a blend of three specialty ‘biscuit’ malts to provide the bickie colour and complement the speciality Anzac biscuit ingredients. However, the other key ingredient of classic Anzac biscuits is golden syrup, which is not an ideal source of fermentable sugars. Instead, brewer Brennan Fielding used a 100% pure vanilla addition in the brew to give it a ‘fresh-baked bickie’ character.
This limited release beer is now available in bottles and on tap at selected good beer outlets. Click here for a list of stockists.
Burleigh Brewing Co.
Fanny Gertrudes’s Bickie Beer
Style: smooth, cream ale
IBU: 15 (mildly hopped)
650ml 5% abv
Editor’s note: Burleigh Brewing are highly regarded for producing very solid interpretations of a number of classic ale and lager styles. Last year’s Black Giraffe, made with locally grown coffee, was widely acclaimed. I have recently featured Fanny Gertrude’s at a beer tasting and it was also featured at the Milking the Cow festival. On both occasions it strongly divided opinions due it it’s distinctive flavours. It certainly wasn’t a beer that attracted fence sitting. As always, we encourage readers to try it and make up their own minds – and we’d love to hear your thoughts! MK