A succession of creative collaborations between brewers and distillers continues to blur the lines between spirits and beer.
Melbourne brewery Boatrocker unconventionally merged with WA-based distiller Hippocampus in July 2017, becoming Boatrocker Brewers and Distillers.
But the brand’s latest spirit release was actually conceived long before the distillery and brewery were under the same roof.
Forget Me Not Beer Whisky
More than four years ago Boatrocker founder and head brewer, Matt Houghton, had the vision to distill the brewery’s first ever beer, Alpha Queen; a heavily dry hopped American pale ale.
He took it to Melbourne whisky distillery Starward, where it was distilled before being rested in a first fill Bourbon cask.
Released in April 2018, the result is Forget Me Not ‘Beer Whisky’. Boatrocker describes it as a soft, golden hued whisky with a delicate floral note courtesy of the hops, complemented by a nice rounded oak profile.
“The classic Alpha Queen hop aroma is very citrusy and fruity and a little bit floral, whereas the distilled version is more floral, like elderflower. It’s a really unique aromatic profile,” Houghton told Brews News.
Behemoth Aged Spirit
Meanwhile, distiller Archie Rose and Kaiju! Beer have recently released the ‘Behemoth Aged Spirit’.
The unique dram was made by distilling and ageing Kaiju’s Double India Black Ale, ‘Where Strides the Behemoth’.
It was distilled two and a half times in Archie Rose’s 300L copper pot gin still, with the resulting spirit aged in 50L and 20L ex-bourbon barrels.
“To drink, sip it neat to fully appreciate its vibrant notes of pineapple, lychees, aged rum and soy sauce,” Archie Rose says.
Also new is Lupulin Gin, created for the High Country Hops Festival by Reed & Co Distillery in collaboration with Bridge Road Brewers.
“I invited them to have a stall at this year’s festival to showcase their gin Remedy,” Bridge Road’s Ben Kraus told Brews News.
“We began discussion on using hops in a gin, namely the infamous Galaxy, as it is grown between their distillery and our brewery.”
The resulting Lupulin Gin has juniper notes followed by spicy citrus with a floral finish of Galaxy hop, according to Reed & Co.
“Two hundred bottles were produced in the first batch. As we have had a great response to the gin we have distilled a second run for release in the near future,” the distiller says.
Crosby, Stills & Mash gin-infused DIPA
For its hybrid release ‘Crosby, Stills & Mash’, a gin-infused double IPA, Colonial Brewing Co has also collaborated with Starward Distillery, its neighbour in Port Melbourne.
“It crosses over the worlds of hop growing, distilling and brewing to create something unique,” Colonial says.
“Idaho 7, a proprietary hop from Oregon’s Crosby Hop Farm’s hall of fame imparts a district tropical and stone fruit aroma typical of a U.S. West Coast I.P.A., built over the clean bitterness of the classic variety Willamette.
“Adding a collaborative gin out of Starward’s stills throws in a harmony of botanicals which contrast the sweet hops and malt with their savoury dryness. This is all layered onto a smooth malt backbone, with bready and biscuity notes from the Munich and Crystal malts featured in the mash.”
And while it may not be beer, Willie Smiths Cider has collaborated with fellow Tasmanian producer Sullivans Cove to produce a cider aged in some of the distiller’s American oak, ex-bourbon casks.
“We aged the best of our dry cider in their whisky casks for 16 months. And what that did was combine the flavour of Sullivan’s Cove whisky with that of our cider, producing a very complex and very unique product,” said Willie Smith’s head cider maker Dr Tim Jones.
“After careful maturation of the cider in the casks, we have produced a cider that reflects meticulous integration of distinctive whisky notes and dry cider complexity – it is rich and arming with spicy vanilla and fruit aromas and has a soft and textural palate.”