As Good Beer Week keeps rolling along like a strangely un-delayed 6:31am ex-Cranbourne service, so too do the Lazy Brewer Lunch Sessions at Carwyn Cellars. Thursday's instalment proved as engaging and flavourful as those it succeeded - this time featuring Callum Reeves of Kaiju! Beer and Exit Brewing's Fraser Rettie and Grum Knight.
Carwyn's very own Ben Duval handed the 27 guests (a sell-out event) the first beer: Exit's new core range Saison (so new in fact few others had sampled it prior to this event). Exit brewers Frase and Grum Knight thought they may not get the core range Milk
stout out in time for GBW, leave alone the saison. But the yeast strain on hand worked so quickly on both brews the former is already in circulation while the latter will be at a local crafty establishment quicker than you can say: "566 - The Number of the Yeast."
Much like #001 and #006 saisons, the core range version takes its cues from Saison du Pont. With parts Pilsner, pale malt and new world hops like Sorachi (early addition), Nelson (late addition). And speaking of the yeast, White labs Belgian 2 yeast (#556) was used in fermentation. The end result is a brew that dances with tradition while simultaneously flouting it. Clove, pepper and citrus give way to a new world hop presence that is impeccably well weighted. If this beer were imbalanced in its hoppiness it would surely show.
Kaiju! Beer, or Monster Mash as they were once known, were told they were mad to go to market with a 9% hop bomb. Undeterred, Callum (Kaiju) took to regional farmers markets (thanks to possessing a vigneron's licence) and specialty bottleshops where it sold exceedingly well alongside Kaiju's Golden Axe cider. So it was Aftermath Double IPA was distributed among the audience.
Aftermath is indeed a hop bomb but like all Kaiju's beers it is clear as much emphasis was placed on the malt bill as the hop addition. Callum went on to explain Kaiju! Beer is particularly emphatic about crystal malt, which can be found in each of its beers with the exception of Robohop IPA. Aftermath, meanwhile, stands alone in its own way too. Where its equally hoppy, top heavy ABV brothers Double IPA and Betelgeuse showcase much rounder flavours, Aftermath has a certain tang to it. I should have asked if it had been fermented with a Belgian yeast strain, for it carried the characters it imparts - predominantly in terms of mouthfeel.
From spritzy to smoother than a crooner, up next came Kaiju's port barrel-aged Chtulu on the Moon. This is truly a brew worth hunting down while you still can - its flavour profile and particularly aroma are noteworthy to say the very least. As the oak barrels were fresh, oak and tannin qualities dominated, but not in such a way balance is compromised. A touch of booze and vinous notes round out ina superb finish.
The fourth and final beer for the afternoon was a bit special. They are all special, but this one was limited edition, in numbered bottles (1-18) special. (This lucky tomcat was lucky enough to take an empty one home for a friend's collection). Exit's "Russion" imperial stout. One year old, a beer brewed for Good Beer Week 2015 and blacker than the darkest recesses of Stanley Kubrick's mind, Russion imperial stout proved as big as they come. Complex notes of roasted coffee, cacao danced harmoniously, before finishing with notes of espresso and fine tobacco.
What's next for Exit themselves? Perhaps a fifth pale ale. The idea being pale ales provide the perfect bridge for as yet unconverted typical lager drinkers.
With five tanks currently in place (25,000L), a few more on the way and a little bit of contract brewing Kaiju and Exit are happy to continue growing organically. There is room to expand at the brewhouse too. For now though the focus is on brewing great beer, pure and simple.
Once again Them Bones served up the perfect matching lunch - this time crumbed sardine rolls with potato crisps and honey joy panacotta for dessert. If this pop-up were a permanent fixture in the Thornbury area I'd have little want for anything else when lunch-time cravings strike with the sudden shock of a Metro trains delay. The sardine roll burst with umami flavour and texture with the most minimalist addition of pickles for perfect harmony. Kaiju's barrel-aged Chtulu went surprisingly well with the pudding too, as it cut through the
dense creaminess while adding a delectable, subtle hint of dark berry.
Once again a massive cheers and shout out must go to Exit, Kaiju, Them Bones and hosts Carwyn Cellars. If you have tomorrow off (and why wouldn't you for Good Beer Week?) you really must attend 3 Ravens' lunch session tomorrow. What else can I say except these events are what Good Beer Week is all about! Meet the brewer, pick their brains, enjoy the fruits of their labour while they get to do something besides paperwork... Tickets can be had by heading here: