The Local Taphouse has established a well-earned reputation for innovation and a trail-blazing attitude to beer and its delivery. Tomorrow the St Kilda establishment celebrates its fifth birthday and it provides a good opportunity to look at one particular initiative which has become a popular regular feature at the venue.
Ale Stars was launched in July four years ago with a meeting of some 8 or so interested souls huddled around a single table looking to further their knowledge of all things beery. It now boasts a membership list of around 80 regulars (in St Kilda and Darlinghurst in Sydney) and a guest list which includes such brewing luminaries as Brad Rogers, Brewdog’s James Watt, Nogne O’s Kjetil Jikiun and a list of local and overseas brewers too long to mention. Meetings now regularly attract up to 60 on the third Tuesday of each month.
Ale Stars is essentially a gathering of like-minded folk meeting to drink and discuss a range of beers linked by a common theme. In the same way that television’s ‘QI’ is not merely a quiz show, nor is it a comedy program or a team-based version of ‘It’s Academic’, Ale Stars is not simply a beer appreciation club. Every session is different depending on the numbers, the weather, the guests or the topic. All conventional beer styles have been explored (as well as a few non-conventional ones) as well as blending and beer cocktails.
Ale Stars has taken the next step and, under the expert guidance of Andrew ‘AG’ Gow have designed, developed and brewed their own signature beer down at Mornington Peninsula Brewery. After months of brain-storming and consensus recipe development, a Belgian IPA was set in motion. Special yeast, a complex blend of grains, careful hopping, a fair quantity of Canadian forehead sweat and the blessing of a handful of amateur onlookers should see the brew develop a distinctive ‘Ale Star’ character.
This next chapter in the story of Ale Stars also shines a light on the all-embracing nature of the craft beer community. Like the Bridge Road Brewers Bar Series, this brew shows how nurturing of the community and building relationships between brewer and venue and drinker is the hallmark of today’s industry. To be involved hands-on with the process of brewing, then having a beer to call ‘your own’ is a concept only dreamt about five years ago. It shows a maturity and trust that has become the bonding agent in a growing and flourishing scene.
The brew will be ready for tasting at next month’s Ale Star session. Ale Stars is just $40 for beers, food, trivia and great beer company. Book through the Taphouse blog.