The 2012 vintage Crown Ambassador Reserve Lager arrives on retail shelves and restaurant tables today, following the lavish launch event at Melbourne’s Luminare restaurant last month.
The release is accompanied with a habitual media release laying claim to the beer as a benchmark and a pioneer. The qualification of that benchmark is unclear, with the text that immediately follows only noting the packaging and presentation of the individually numbered 750ml bottles, rather than the quality of the beer. Ambassador is a welcome and exciting product for Australia’s beer market, lacking any locally produced peers from other multinational brewers. However, high-end beers from the likes of Nail Brewing, Hargreaves Hill, Murray’s Brewing and Holgate Brewhouse could all equally spin out a carbon-copy media release with merit.
Today’s local beer market in full of limited and individually numbered specialty beers packaged in 750ml bottles. Some are hand sealed by wax, many are barrel aged and most are presented in a way that will provide an ideal gift item or special occasion drink. Whilst Crown Ambassador is a finely crafted luxury beer, claiming benchmark status is very superficial or merely a result of the debatably nominal $100 price tag, a $10 increase on the cost of the previous two years’ vintages.
Several local craft brewers will also readily rebut the pioneering claim, as I noted in my August article – Mixing it with the Ambassador.
Where Ambassador does stand up so far is its ability to age, at least over 3 to 5 years. The beer has shown to develop delicate complexities with a rich and silky body that any beer connoisseur will find very easy to drink. [JD]
Australia’s most luxurious beer continues to set the benchmark with Vintage Number Five
One of Australia’s finest luxury beers, Crown Ambassador releases its fifth consecutive vintage today.
Crown Ambassador continues to set the benchmark in so many areas of Australian beer with this year’s vintage again featuring just 7,000 individually-numbered 750ml bottles, exquisitely packaged and presented – with amber gold on the inside.
The 2012 Crown Ambassador began its journey, as it always does, in the Galaxy hop fields of the Ovens Valley in north-east Victoria. On Monday, 19 March, a team led by head brewer Tully Hadley hand-picked fresh galaxy hops, at their perfect ripeness, and drove them directly to the brewery where they were added fresh to the kettle the very next morning.
Fresh hops are a tremendous indulgence these days – used only sparingly they bring aroma and style to a lager that is like no other. You only have to smell the aromas and taste the complexity of Crown Ambassador on the palate to appreciate this.
After its initial fermentation around 20 per cent of the brew was transferred using gentle pumping methods into both brand new and one-year-old Dargaud et Jaeglé (D&J) barrels exclusively crafted by one of France’s most esteemed cooperages. The remainder of the brew was transferred to traditional brewing tanks.
In August, Hadley had three distinctly different brews at his disposal to blend – the rich oaky component, with hints of vanilla that had matured for four months in brand new oak, the toasty component that had rested in the seasoned oak barrels and the rich and malty component, with far more aromatic hop character, that had been resting in the traditional tanks.
The blend was undertaken under the watchful eyes, ears and palates of some of the nation’s best and the result, according to Hadley might just be the finest Crown Ambassador of them all… but he would say that, it’s his first.
“It’s probably the most intimidating role in Australian brewing to take over this beer from John Cozens, “ Hadley said.
“In just four years we have established an incredible heritage and sense of tradition – with a tailored Riedel glass and our use of the French oak barrels – really it is a brewing and drinking experience like no other.
“This year the extra oak component is really quite evident as we had twice the number of barrels we did in 2011 – the result is an even more complex, mouthfilling, rich beer that also finishes crisp and dry. It’s an incredible beer by any measure.”
First released in 2008, Crown Ambassador has pioneered luxury beer in Australia.
The beer is designed to be cellared, and patience will be rewarded, as the beer will mature and flavours will develop with age. In 2010, an elite panel, led by Georg Riedel selected a specific glass as the ideal partner to the beer – the Riedel Shiraz glass.
The 2012 Crown Ambassador will be available at selected quality retailers, restaurants and bars for a limited time only from November 5.