James Squire is having a second crack at a mid-strength craft beer, a genre that is not without its challenges for brewers.
James Squire Mid River is a full-flavoured pale ale that follows the 2013 launch of The Constable Copper Ale.
The predecessor was brewed in the style of an English Ordinary Bitter, which James Squire’s Martyn Ferguson said had delivered some learnings for the team.
“Although it was a good tasting beer, the darker style Copper Ale beer and navy blue packaging suggested to drinkers that it was a more challenging style, but more Australians want something a bit more crisp and refreshing from their mid-strength beer,” he said.
“We are taking what we know from recent experimentation in our James Squire brewhouses and we are excited about this new beer, which is low in alcohol but high in flavour and refreshment.
“We’ve also looked at price this time. The Constable was line priced with the range as we felt craft drinkers wanted style and flavour above all, with ABV being less of a priority.
“This new beer is accessible in flavour with a price to match, which will reduce the perceived risk for people to try it.”
With nine James Squire beers competing for heavily sought after tap points, Constable was deleted in August last year however the pack still remains in market.
“In Queensland, the country’s largest mid-strength territory, deleting our mid-strength tap offering was a challenge, as the customers at our Brisbane brewhouse were asking for it,” Ferguson said.
“As such we set our with our senior brewer Robert Freshwater (the creator of 150 Lashes) and our Brisbane brewhouse to create a new mid-strength brew dubbed Mid River.”
The name Mid River refers to the location of Squire’s Malting Shovel tavern, which was about halfway between Sydney Cove and Parramatta.
“We brewed it as a lager and a pale ale over the last few months to see what what we preferred and we settled on this particular Pale Ale brew,” Freshwater said.
“There was a desire to move towards a light colour profile and a different malt background while also achieving a balance/harmony with the hopping rates used.
“I think we’ve come up with a really solid beer that will appeal to ‘crafties’ and mid drinkers alike.”
Freshwater said flavoursome mid-strength beers are a challenge for brewers, because alcohol is a driver and enhancer of flavour and also contributes palate mouthfeel in its own right.
“What we have done in this instance is to raise the residual body of the beer to assist with this mouthfeel when the alcohol background is subdued,” he said.
“Lightly roasted malts (Vienna and Munich) were also used in greater amounts to enhance malt character.”
The hop bill pairs German varieties Hallertauer and Spalt with America’s Mosaic, Citra and
“I’ve always liked the German hops for their herbaceous/ spicy characters and have used them in this brew at kettle cast-out,” Freshwater said.
“US hops are well known for their fruit and citrus characters and these have been used in the dry hopping process.
“These different hop attributes merge to add complexity and flavour development.”
A limited release beer, Mid River is now available on tap in James Squire brewhouses and online in packaged format exclusive to MoCU.