A Good Beer Advocate frequently finds himself in interesting locations, surrounded by familiar faces, convivial company and free flowing beer whenever a new brand or brewery is launched. Most have a comfortable ‘sameness’ to them with the usual suspects present and the format similar if not identical.
It was something of a tentative stroll, then, that led this writer down a darkened cobblestone lane in Melbourne’s ‘unfashionable’ legal end of town, up a checker-plate steel ramp lined with red carpet and into a cafe/art gallery/cinema/art space which, at one time, must once have been a warehouse or perhaps (with a little squinting) a cold concrete space for processing juvenile offenders.
But, on this night it was something different altogether. You’ve heard of crochet – that’s the stuff your Gran did sat in a wing-chair with some wool and little hooks that look like they could be used to remove the innards from frogs. You’ve heard of extreme sports – that’s sport that is advertised by yelling stuff very, very loudly while a camera zooms in and out furiously on people riding snowboards, skateboards, skis or BMX bikes.
It was really only a matter of time before someone had the brilliant idea of bringing the two together.
That someone was Matilda Bay Brewing Company. What a gasp of “How fortunate is THAT?!” must have come from the marketing department at Matilda Bay when they realised that not only was the 11th round of the World Extreme Crochet Championships to be held in Melbourne, but that the event coincided with the intended release of Matilda Bay’s first mature apple cider!? Who’d a thunk it?
Dirty Granny might sound like a website you wouldn’t want your kids to see (definitely don’t Google it with the kids around. Ed) but it is also the name given to this latest entrant into the adult drink market. Matilda Bay chief ‘ideas guy’, Jamie Fox, claims credit for coming up with the moniker when he and the brewing team first saw how naturally cloudy the cider poured, complete with a very eye-pleasing beer-like foam atop its nicely balanced sweet/acidic body.
The space, 1,000 Pound Bend, soon filled to bursting with punters eager to try the first craft cider from Australia’s oldest craft brewer. Head Brewer (and possibly now Head Ciderist) Scott Vincent put it well when asked what makes Dirty Granny different. “With a bit of advice from a cider maker, we were able to tweak our own craft brewing style to create a darker, drier cider with real apple intensity and that’s what we’ve got. It’s just brilliant that we are allowed to play around with this stuff.”
A few ciders (and perhaps just a couple of Fat Yaks) later and Scott may have let slip that veteran brewer and Matilda Bay icon, Neil Whittorn, may have had just a little bit to do with Dirty Granny’s development.
But it wasn’t just the drink that was a bit different. A cursory glance around the room revealed a crowd quite different in make-up from that usually found at new beer launches. A noticeable ‘sameness’ appeared to have enveloped the assembled mass and, apart from the brewing team, familiar Matilda Bay support staff faces and fellow
beer writer, sorry beer journalist, Chris McNamara, the rest of the hundreds were strangers. They were not just strangers – they were ‘hipsters’. Apparently.
Soon realising that hipsters were not just a style of undies, further enquiries were made. Hipsters are so cool they don’t care about anything*, they ride ‘fixies’** and sport ironic moustaches***. Well, the boy ones do. They wear my Nana’s coat and even her hat and they make approximately 80% of the coffees sold in Melbourne. They also, it seems, love cider. A few of them were also seen following our lead and trying out the Fat Yaks.
Dirty Granny has been sneakily pouring from selected taps for a month now and its acceptance (by lots of different people, not just hipsters) has led the crew at Matilda Bay to release the cider in a funky ‘crochet motif’d’ labelled bottle.
This Dirty Granny is well worth a visit. You won’t have to endure a bristly kiss and you might even learn something about what the kids are up to nowadays. I certainly did.
*They only seem to not care about anything. Being seen to care too much about anything is not very hipster. I think this includes being on mailing lists, but all the hipsters I spoke to said they heard about the launch from mailing lists. Maybe that’s something else they don’t care about?
**a Fixie is a bike. It’s not broken it just has no gears. I’d soon ‘fix’ that.
***I have no idea what an ironic moustache is.
Dirty Granny is available from late July. RRP $19.50 per six-pack. ABV is 5.5% / 1.5 standard drinks.