A brewer’s guide to
winter’s best beers
But for Melbourne brothers Nat and Callum Reeves (pictured right with Callum’s wife Clara), it only took six months to brew an award-winning beer. Their KAIJU! Hopped Out Red won the trophy for the best amber/dark ale at the Australian International Beer Awards.
The trio was already enjoying success with their fledgling apple cider Golden Axe when they decided to give beer a crack. They were also named the People’s Pint Best Brewery at Melbourne’s Good Beer Week.
For chief brewer Callum, tasting other beers is all part of the creative process.
These are the five beers Callum is enjoying the most this winter.
It’s no secret that we like West-Coast American beers, and Green Flash is among the best in my opinion. This stout is more hop-driven than most versions, which provides a kick of bitterness that really balances the beer’s considerable weight, roastiness and silky mouth feel. This brewery has so much trouble keeping up with demand just within California that they have recently stopped exporting, but there are still a few bottles floating around.
This Russian Imperial Stout is a revelation and one of the most decadent beers I’ve ever had. I’ve seen others at this level of alcohol (12.5%), sweetness and viscosity that are sickly and overbearing. These guys have pulled off a magic trick folding all of those elements into a really well-balanced and unforgettable experience.
Hendo from Brewcult makes whacky beers at the best of times, so we knew his GABS beer would be pretty off-the-wall. He’s found another level of bizarre with this one, but it actually works. We should never have doubted. This actually tastes like a pepper steak, and thankfully also like a beer. It’s the best vegan pepper steak going round.
The only non-dark beer on this list, but it still packs an alcohol punch at 9.1%. The beer’s history is as wild as the beer itself. Brewed in an Abbey Tripel style by Nogne Ø in Norway and then shipped in unrefrigerated Cognac barrels to Australia to be finished and packaged by Bridge Road in Beechworth, I admit this is not a style I thought I’d like. However, it is just so malty, yeasty complex that even a committed hop-head like myself can’t resist it.
If you can find a bottle of this beer, snap it up, as it’s one of the best Australian stouts I’ve ever tasted. It’s an Imperial Stout that’s been aged in whisky barrels, and it is absolutely packed with vanilla, chocolatey characters and a hint of port. It’s very complex and intense and I really hope they can make this one on a regular basis.