Ben Kraus has expanded his newfound love for collaboration brewing with the launch of the Bridge Road Brewers Bar Series. Following his highly successful international brewery collaborations with Nøgne Ø and Mikkeller, Kraus has invited bar staff from Australia’s best craft beer venues to brew their own beer creation with him at his Beechworth brewery.
So far eleven bars have signed up to the collaboration that seeks to build stronger relationships between the brewery and bar businesses, as well as empowering and educating all the employees in the pursuit of a better beer market.
Each bar will create their own venue/staff-focused beer style, develop a recipe, name the beer and then brew it with Ben and the Bridge Road Brewers. The beer will then be kegged and tapped at the collaborating bars under a special Bar Series label.
“The real challenge for each venue will be deciding on a beer that not only reflects its venue but also one that will appeal to its clientele,” Ben explained.
Once the beer is ready to be tapped, the majority of it will be sent to the venue that brewed it. The remaining kegs of the batch will go to all the other venues participating in the Bar Series project. This means that every venue will have the chance to sample and promote the creations of the different bars as each beer rolls out.
Is it a smart promotion for craft beer or a clever ploy to secure a Bridge Road Brewers tap at each venue? Either way, beer drinkers can rejoice at the opportunity to experience eleven new and unique beers crafted by those who serve you at the bar.
Ben has high hopes that the Bar Series beers will become the participating venues’ fastest moving beer, as the bar staff take pride and ownership in selling their own brew. Hence, the Bar Series brief only asked the invited bars to brew a beer that represents venue and its staff.
“We kept the proposal simple to allow flexibility with what they brew,” explained Ben.
“The requirement to tap bar series beers from other venues was really the only condition of the agreement but it’s been really well received, especially from the Brisbane bars who were really excited by the opportunity to tap beers from the likes of The Wheaty and Josie Bones.”
Ben noted that the concept will also provide equal promotion for other good beer bars that regular customers may not be aware of, helping to grow the craft beer community. Bridge Road will retain the ownership of the recipe and rights to the beer production, so if any of the beers prove particularly popular, a bar-staff-created brew may be given additional attention.
“The opportunity will definitely be there to revisit the beers at another time and maybe even bottle some later down the track,” noted Ben.
The first Bar Series beer was created by Chris Badendoch’s team at Josie Bones. The restaurant’s chief beer guru, master home brewer and beer judge Brendan O’Sullivan made the trip to Beechworth in July and brewed a 5.1% Australian Pilsner, a style that has been rarely seen on the commercial beer market. Brendan is also now the head brewer at Josie Bones’ other brewing project, Boneyard Brewing, which is producing small batch beers for their venue and select retail outlets, starting with a Golden Ale.
For the Josie Bones Australian Pilsner, named “Revolution”, Brendan was inspired by North German Pilsners (such as Jever) and crafted a local version by using the modern Australian hop varieties of Summer, Stella and Topaz.
With 1.5kg of Summer hop added at start boil and then another large addition 20 minutes in, the Bridge Road team were impressed by Brendan’s bold use of hops in the whirlpool stage of the brew, yet they were more than happy to take a step back and leave the bar brewer in charge.
Ben remarked, “I’ve been really surprised by the expertise that some of the bar staff have brought to their brew days, like Brendan. We could have left him alone at the brewery and he would’ve been fine.”
Wilson Hede, who lead the Bar Series brew for Melbourne’s Beer DeLuxe, was another aspiring brewer who impressed Ben Kraus with his recipe development of a Red Rye Saison, which has been named “Red Star” after the Beer DeLuxe logo.
For those who don’t have technical brewing knowledge to provide a detailed recipe, Ben hopes that the experience of developing a beer style and being involved in the hands-on brewing will open up a new understanding and appreciation of what goes into making beer, forging better advocates for craft beer.
Last week Matt from the Norfolk Hotel in Fremantle brewed up the only Bar Series offering from Western Australia, a Red IPA, and next to journey to Beechworth for brew days will be the Brisbane bars of Archive and The Scratch. Recipes are still under wraps at the moment, but one of those bars may be incorporating some bourbon barrel oaking in their brew.
The hop loving crew from The Wheaty are yet to finalise their brew day, but Ben indicated his excitement at the potential of a sour beer providing a new direction for both his brewery and the popular Adelaide pub.
The shipment of the first two Bar Series beers, the Josie Bones Revolution and the Beer DeLuxe Red Star, will begin this week. Drinkers should be able to head to their local Bar Series venue this weekend to taste these news beers that represent the craft beer bars of Australia.
The Bar Series venues are:
- Josie Bones (Melbourne)
- Beer Deluxe (Melbourne)
- The Norfolk Hotel (Fremantle)
- Scratch Bar (Brisbane)
- Archive (Brisbane)
- New Sydney Hotel (Hobart)
- The Wheatsheaf Hotel (Adelaide)
- The Local Taphouse (Sydney & Melbourne)
- Cookie Beer Hall (Melbourne)
- Albion Hotel (Newcastle)
- The Junction Hotel (Melbourne)
Allowing for Bridge Road’s regular brewing schedule, which is currently working around a major upgrade to their brewery, it is expected that the full range of eleven Bar Series beers will take almost a year to roll out.
Download the full details of the first two Bar Series beers below: