If you haven’t been keeping up with these GABS beer interviews, they can all be found here. Also, I put together a little planner to help people organise their Good Beer Week events which you can find here. Some events are selling out fast so make plans now. In the meantime, I only have a handful more of these left. Reception has been great and I’m a little annoyed I didn’t have more time to get more interviews. Reading the brewers comments on their beers and beer as a whole is always fascinating.
Next up we have Bridge Road Brewers, who have brewed an Imperial Pilsner (Imperial basically meaning a bigger version of a Pilsner,) coming in at 7.5% called “God Save the Lager”(fascist beer Father?… ok terrible sorry.) They also played hosted to Australian Amateur Brewing Champion, Barry Cranston, who has made his brown ale called “Brown Dog”.
Answers are from both Ben (Owner and Head Brewer) and Steve (in his words “the man slightly adjacent to the man at the centre of Bridge Road Brewers), as indicated.
Most events such as this are a showcase of a range of beers, usually basic styles with the brewery staff selling their wares behind a small table. What do you think the benefits of an event like GABS are in winning people over to craft beer?
Ben: To answer the first part of question (not really a question) when we go to events, we always try to bring something new to the table, and avoid showcasing ‘basic styles’. The main benefit of GABS is the ability to present a range of interesting products to a broader audience and win over a large number of consumers to craft beer in one foul swoop.
With so many other potentially amazing beers all on the bill do you feel any pressure on you and your beer? or are you just like a punter and are happy to be involved?
Ben: I handed the direction of our Gabs brew over to Steve Matthews, it is his first crack at brewing something that he has entire control over, without me even getting to put in my 2 cents worth. I’m sure he was/is feeling the pressure, but he has done a cracking job and has nothing to worry about.
Steve: At first, the suggestion from Ben seemed like nothing but good fun and constructing the recipe was certainly all that, once it came to brew day and ferment I did start to feel the nerves. We don’t have the facilities or capacity to run trial brews so everything was put together through experience and calculations to try and achieve the target I was after. For my first beer to be launched at GABS is great, it will no doubt be sitting among a number of awesome beers, we’re confident in the finished product and hope the punters enjoy it too.
Are you attending, and if so, what beers are you most looking forward to trying?
Ben: I will be attending, and I look forward to trying Steve’s beer first, it’s always interesting to taste our own beers away from their home environment. And after that who knows?
Steve: I’ll be there, you’ll catch me close to our tap point doing my best to eavesdrop on the opinions of those tasting it. I’ll probably only make it to one session so I”ll just be trying to sample a decent cross-section of what’s on offer.
Why Imperial Pilsner?
Steve: An Imperial Pilsner was a style I’ve wanted to brew for quite a while. Like many of us, the first beer I drank would have been a lager but since discovering real ale and craft beer, the noble lager will only take up a small percentage of my fridge space. Given the fact that I would be making a beer for GABS I wanted to make a big beer and hopefully one that not only gives people something to talk about but something that they’ll be keen to sample again.
I first got into beer whilst working as a cellar hand in a real ale pub in the UK, I first starting brewing in New Zealand and have of course since moved to Australia. I’ve taken the Imperial idea a little more literally by only using hops from these three countries (who still stick the Queen’s head on their money!). Overall its a bit of a tip of my hat to what I’ve (hopefully) learnt through working in beer in these 3 nations.
Being close to a hop farm, you seem to get your hands on some new varieties of hops, and I know there are some exciting ones yet to be released commercially, are we going to see any in your beer… or is that all top secret?
Ben: We do have special access to research hop varieties and have been making Wet hop beers from research varieties for the past four years. This year we have released 2, The Dark Harvest ( A Mikkeller collaboration) and our standard wet hop The Harvest. To do 3 wet hop beers would be one too many. So NO.
You also had a visit from Australian Homebrewer of the year Barry Cranston to brew an Australian Brown Ale, how was that and what can we expect from the beer?
Ben: Barry was a wealth of knowledge and a great guy. He provided us with his recipe for the Brown Dog, and we tweaked it a little for our system. The beer doesn’t hold back any punches, and is a rich and malty, yet extremely bitter Brown Ale. Dominated by Galaxy aroma, and loads of bitterness.
Is there anything else you want to add about your beer, GABS or craft beer in general?
Steve: The size and scale of GABS this year is fantastic and the event should be enough to single handily show how rapidly the craft beer sector is growing of course the huge range and diversity of styles and favours that can be achieved by brewers.
I thing that its fantastic of Steve (Jeffares) and his colleagues at The Local Taphouse to stick their neck out and put together an event like this, and of course it’s great to see how many breweries are ready and willing to get behind it too.
Thanks guys! Looking forward to the pilsner and the brown from Barry. Also, if I get time, I hope to put a few words up about the Bridge Road/Mikkeller collaboration mentioned earlier. I may have snared a few bottles and if you haven’t done so yet, you should really hurry up. They are selling out fairly quickly and if the tap version is anything to go by, it is fantastic.
Anyway – next interview will be with Scott from the Stone side-project “Mash Collective”. It’s promising to be an interesting insight into an exciting new concept, so stay tuned.