It became clear during Sydney Craft Beer Week that many people missed out on the fourth edition of The Critics’ Choice – Australia’s Best Beers which was released earlier this year. As a way of ‘sharing the love’ (and of giving myself the discipline to write more regularly) it has been decided that I will post a Beer of the Week kind of piece each Thursday.
Thursday has been chosen so that readers will have the time to seek out the weekly recommendation before the weekend and also so as to give some ‘clear air’ to other reputable craft beer websites who deliver a crackingly good newsletter on a Friday. So here it is – Try-It Thursdays.
By way of making the first edition topical and relevant and as a ‘hats off’ to a thoroughly nice bloke in the beer world, allow me to introduce to you;
Riverside Brewing, Parramatta, NSW
7.7% American India Pale Ale
If you believe the marketing material created by one of the country’s larger breweries, it was on the banks of the Parramatta River, somewhere near Kissing Point or the site of the current hospital, that a certain Mr Squire founded Australia’s first brewery. Fast forward a couple of centuries and the area finally has another brewery – one of which it can be justifiably proud.
Dave Padden had a dream; get out from behind a desk, build a brewery, brew some beer and ‘don’t go broke’. The first three boxes have been ticked and there’s little doubt the last piece of the puzzle is fitting into the Big Picture as we speak. Passionate and dedicated to brewing beers full of flavour and character, Dave now boasts a crew of brewers to keep up with increasing demand.
So, to the beer itself.
The brewers’ notes describe the beer thusly;
“Seventy Seven is a big American style IPA and a celebration of hops utilising four different hops throughout the brewing process. Seventy Seven starts big then finishes clean leaving you wanting more. But be careful, as this one’s a real heavyweight! Seventy Seven IPA is unfiltered and bottle conditioned for maximum taste and enjoyment.”
Craft Beer champion, curator of The Crafty Pint and elegant wordsmith (you see what I did there!?) James Smith summed it up beautifully;
“From the elephant on the label to the 7.7 per cent ABV which gives its name, simply looking at the Riverside ’77’ IPA gives you the impression of this being a big beer. And it is big; just put your nose in the glass and see if you can avoid being hit with the hefty punch of tropical hop aromas. But where the full-on hop aroma might seem to be preparing you for a beer of lip-puckering bitterness, some loving restraint in the hopping regime means the bitterness has been pared back enough to maintain the all-important balance and a remarkably clean finish. The Riverside IPA is a beer that gets up in your face to make a point, but also knows when to hold back enough that you’ll be coming back for more.”
From Dan Hampton in the third edition of The Critics’ Choice;
“As is their style, this IPA is a flavour junky’s beer. 7.7% means you shouldn’t drink too many of them….but who has that kind of self-restraint. It is well balanced, however, with enough body to deal with the shirt load of aromatic and bittering hops which are added at various stages of the brew.”
The Taphouses’ Justin Joiner followed this year with;
“I love a brewery that’s clear about what they stand for – West Coast, hop-forward beers are what Riverside prides themselves on, and this one doesn’t mess around. With 4 different hops and 7.7ABV it’s definitely big, but with a perfect balance and a clean finish, the 77 is definitely moreish.”
A consistent performer in public and critical reviews, 77 IPA has also been a consistent improver. In its release year it debuted at #33 in The Local Taphouse Hottest 100 and at #46 in The Critics’ Choice jumping the next year to #12 and #27 respectively. This past week it scooped the ‘Public Double’ with a ‘People’s Choice Award’ for best festival beer at The Australia Hotel beer festival and again, seven days later at the ‘Sip & Savour’ festival at Carriageworks – a neat pair of book-end trophies from Sydney Craft Beer Week and a worthy first entrant in Brews News ‘Try-it Thursdays’.
Fun Fact! Dave brews all of the Riverside beers at the brewery in Parramatta on Mountain Goat’s old brewhouse where it was also used by a Dave. Before that, the same brewhouse pumped out some of Melbourne’s first craft brews at The Geebung Polo Club where the brewer was – you’ll never guess – Warren Pawsey. But I remember drinking there with a guy called Dave.