A lot of noise has been made latelyl about the kaleidoscopic world of beers brewed with everything from gun powder to ghost chillies and everything else in between. This brave new world of “novelty beers” has seen a number of observers scratching their heads, myself included, asking “where have all the ‘beers that taste like beer’ gone?”
To that end I put six of the best examples of beers straight out of leftfield to the test. Turns out, there is no reason why these weird and wonderful concoctions cannot or should not co-exist with the saisons and pale ales of this world.
When you embrace and release your inner child you’ll find, as I have, beer to be exciting again in the way it once was in the first place.
So won’t you join me as we go diving most deeply into full throttled sensory overload. You’ll find it’s an exciting world full of concave and convex mirrors, upside down cakes and alien landscapes...
1. Boatrocker Brewers & Distillers: Braeside Crown Cola (Bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale).
Boatrocker, based out of south-east Melbourne, is known for carefully crafted barrel-aged stouts, wild ales and saisons. The beers present such they immediately command respect, that they are to be taken somewhat seriously, like a perfectly proportioned Saint Bernard on the stack or a fine chef’s knife. You wouldn’t expect them to have a sense of fun, but they do. And they have gone and created a beer that mirrors what for some marked the beginning of a distinguished drinking career: the premix Bourbon & cola.
Royal Crown (RC) Bourbon & cola, to be exact. Rather a lot like Real McCoy and Old Crow, these premixes were downed en masse by pub folk, backyard barbecuers and partygoers across the land. Today, Woodstock is the premix of choice, but for those of us who have grown up a little can deviate away from beer that tastes like beer for a while. Braeside Crown Cola tastes, rather surprisingly, of premixed whiskey and Coke with a chewy scotch ale base.
Boatrocker has recently relainched Braeside Crown Cola, but it’s selling fast!
|Boatrocker's Braeside Crown Cola is a nifty take on the scotch ale style. Image - supplied.|
Image shows a glass of dark beer with two matching cans to its right with an artistic background.
2. Epic (NZ): Thirteen (Quadruple brut IPA)
Some things are awesome, but just shouldn’t be. Black Sabbath’s 13 - how is that band still going?! Friday the 13th. Oceans Thirteen for crying out loud! And so it is we arrive at Epic’s 13th Birthday celebration ale, a massive 15% brut IPA that is so wrong, but oh so right.
Sure it might be the beeriest beer on this list, a relatively normal triple IPA with the only distinction being it was brewed with highly efficient Champagne yeast. However this is where normality reaches the end of the road. On the nose, Thirteen strikes as ominously as the number itself with warm, boozy apple brandy that transposes straight to the palate. Is it beer or is it a thing all its own? The specs speak of the former, the impression suggests otherwise.
Though somewhat aged now, you might be able to find Epic Thirteen floating around Australia and New Zealand at the time of writing.
3. Omnipollo: Anagram (Blueberry Cheesecake Stout)
Pastry stouts are a dime a dozen these days. It takes a particularly special one to capture the imagination, and the only thing that captures my imagination more than anagrams is blueberry cheesecake. A stout brewed with the intention of emulating one of my favourite desserts and named after one of my favourite things... There’s a word for that: Overdrive! (An anagram of which is drive over...)
What is even more peculiar i the lingering aftertaste from this Swedish enigma of a beer resembles my own mum’s homemade blueberry cheesecake, replete with scorched Digestive biscuit base. Yes some imagination is needed to make the connection, but as the flavour induced endorphin rush comes barreling in, it shouldn’t be too hard.
Omnipollo has recently released another batch of Anagram. Watch out!
4. Against the Grain Brewing: Maple Bockin’ Pastries (Bourbon BA doppelbock)
Doppelbocks are about as beery as it gets. A beer’s beer. Malt forward, astutely Bavarian and the sort of beer that when gazed upon through the glass immediately reminds you that the history of beer is as rich as that of mankind itself. The two go hand in hand.
Enter Louisville, Kentucky’s Against the Grain. These US craft beer stalwarts took this most historic of German beer styles and gave it an all-American twist. We’re talking 200 pounds of maple syrup and ageing in Bourbon barrels here. It’s like a maple twist dressed in drindl, singing Appalachian folk songs, while smoking a tobacco pipe in your mouth, and everyone’s ignited.
Maple Bockin’ Pastries was a one-off batch release brewed by Against the Grain as part of its Stave It For Later barrel-aged series. We can only hope we may see it brewed once more.
5. Two Roads X Evil Twin: Two Evil Geyser Gose
The land that only lifted its ban on beer merely 30 years ago has since risen to become a brewing powerhouse thanks to Two Roads. When Jeppe Bjergso of Evil Twin fame joined in and picked up a mash paddle, the end result was always going to be otherworldly.
The two brewers set about brewing up a beer loaded with native Icelandic ingredients including kelp, skyr, herbs, Icelandic, rye and moss. The experience is akin to dipping into Iceland’s Myvatn Nature Baths, alien, but entirely comforting. Better yet, it affords you, the drinker, a scenic tour of Iceland’s native flavours without having to leave your armchair.
Cans of Geyser are still floating around Australian bottleshops. Knowing Evil Twin and Two Roads you can be assured something bizarre is in the works!
|Two Roads and Evil Twin collaborated to create something incredibly unique. Image shows a low-light photo of a glass of pale coloured beer with its matching can to the right.|
6. Dainton Beer: Caramel Creme White Chocolate NEIPA
In terms of “novelty beers” this milkshake IPA
(with apparently no lactose) [Edit: Dainton Beer has confirmed that Caramel Creme does in fact contain lactose] is the creme de la creme. Upon tasting it, the only slightest hint that this is a beer arrives at the front of the palate with a touch of bitterness, before the middle of a Cadbury Creme Egg bursts into the room like the NYPD performing a drug bust.
But before you go thinking the team at Dainton, one of Melbourne’s newer players, was high while concocting this intriguing beverage, consider how amazing this beer is with a Creme Egg. Or any chocolate dessert for that matter. This is a culinary beer that comes into its own when doubled down with similarly extreme culinary creations.
Cans and kegs are currently in circulation across Australia. Dainton Beer has seriously upped the ante with its experimental brews. Keep your eye on their socials for upcoming releases.
|Dainton Beer has made a name for itself creating out of this world conceptual beers. Oh, and this can was not consumed on the bus! Image shows a can of unopened beer held in one hand.|
Want more beers that taste like the white knight is talking backwards? Get yourself to GABS Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland, where you will find all manner off one-off beers just like these.
Tickets to each city and session can be found here.