Chuck Hahn is one of Australia’s elder statesmen of beer, so the opportunity to meet him again is not one to be lightly missed. When offered the opportunity to have lunch with Chuck and James Squire’s head brewer Tony Jones it was eagerly accepted.
The occasion was to publicize One Fifty Lashes, the new permanent addition to the James Squire range. This Australian style pale ale was introduced, a few months prior, on tap at limited James Squire venues. However, it is now available in stubbies from bottle shops and on tap around Australia.
One Fifty Lashes is a lower alcohol (4.2%), lightly flavoured, cloudy pale ale. It uses three malts; pale, Munich, and wheat. The wheat provides the beer with a slightly drier finish, and improves the mouthfeel and head retention. The hops are the standard Pride of Ringwood for bittering, along with late additions of Willamette, Amarillo, and Nelson Sauvin. Allow the beer to warm slightly and you can catch hints of fruits such as passionfruit.
The beer is cloudy, but apparently not from either the yeast or proteins from the wheat malt, as these are carefully filtered out after fermentation. To minimise the stratification or the settling of the compounds, a yeast-derived additive is used.
The new beer is easy to drink and is not challenging to the palate. So it may help to wean more people off the mega-swill beers that are the still the usual drink of Australians.
The lunch was interesting enough as it showed how the role of modern day brewers has changed in recent years. No longer able to just brew beers, it seems that they now need to be storytellers. Both Chuck and Tony were well versed and eloquent in telling the story of how James Squire had received a punishment of 150 lashes for stealing medicines from the hospital. These medicines included horehound, which could be used as a substitute for hops in brewing beer. The punishment for this crime was at the time considered lenient, but included a requirement to supply two barrels of beer.
A good story will always be helpful in selling a product. We are just not sure how much the story actually relates to the newly released One Fifty Lashes beer. However, the marketing people are putting a lot of effort into the rebranding of the James Squire range of beers and the stories that are associated with the new beer labels. They obviously take to heart the marketing axiom ‘The strongest brands are those with the most attractive personalities.’
There was no food matched with the One Fifty Lashes for the lunch, but it could well be matched with delicate flavoured dishes. The lunch matched three of the rebranded range with three courses. It was a good reminder of how capably beer matches a great variety of foods.
The entrée, Salmon Cerviche, is a dish where the salmon is marinated in lime juice. The acidity of the dish was well matched by the dry character of The Chancer Golden Ale. The full malt Nine Tales Amber Ale went well with the porterhouse steak. Dessert was a chocolate berry tart that was well matched with the Jack Spades Porter. To their credit, the James Squire team have put a lot of effort and money into promoting the matching of beer with food over the last few years. It is something that should be occurring a lot more, especially considering the great range of beers that are now readily available. As the James Squire team have shown, you don’t need to buy top shelf beers to make a good food match.
One Fifty Lashes is another ‘entry-level’ beer from James Squire, the craft arm of Lion. Only time will tell, how many people are going to lash out to buy it and how much impact it will have on craft beer sales.