4 Pines Brewing are certainly making maximum use of their new brewing facilities at Brookvale. Since the start of the year, I reckon they’ve released 7 beers in their Keller Door series. In fact they’ve released so many beers since they opened that it is getting blody hard to find the latest beer on Untappd, because the list is so long. In keeping with tradition, 4 Pines is again marking St.Patrick’s day with a couple of new stouts to go along with their award-winning regular stout (renamed Dry Irish Stout for the occasion, and occasionally known as Space Beer).
Their two new stouts are both crackers. The first is a Milk Stout, which is very British in that it is mild in alcohol, but I reckon it tastes quite Australian in that it was quite dry and roasty. I didn’t get the “sweet lactose” finish, but thought it ended with a pleasant crisp bitterness. The coffee aroma makes it a pleasure to smell, whilst drinking. It’s been some time since I gave a beer 5 on Untappd, but the Black Forest Imperial Stout was a worthy recipient. From sniff to sip to swallow, this is an end to end winner. The aroma is spirituous and head-spinning, the sip is complex, rich and unctuous (a good way, not a Christopher Pyne way) and the after taste delivers the promised cherry effect. Not sure how many pubs around town will get a crack at this, but if you can to Manly to try this – it will be worth your while. Truly a Black Forest cake in a glass. Hides its high alcohol content well.
As has previously been mentioned on this blog, 4 Pines love celebrating National Days and this year has already seen Waitangi Day and St. David’s Day marked with a special beer. The NZ Pale Ale that was made for that day was probably my favourite 4 Pines one-off this year (until the Black Forest Imperial Porter that is). The Welsh Ale was also very enjoyable. It’d fair to say that the day that 4 Pines staff goes off on more than any other is St Patrick’s Day and this year they’ve decided to party for 4 days from today to St. Patrick’s Day itself on Sunday. I’m looking forward to see all and sundry in green on Sunday (wear something Irish and get a free pint!).
In addition to the National Series, 4 Pines also did their second(?) series of single hop beers. This is a great initiative, though not unique, and enables drinkers to try different hop varieties. illiards and I tried the set on launch and ranked the three in a completely different order. Beer preference is truly a personal thing. The thing about the Keller Door series is that they generally don’t last very long – so if you want to have a crack at the special stouts – get your skates on.
|You know all the ducks have lined up in your life when one of your favourite craft brewers opens a brewery just three blocks from your house. Even better if said brewer is kind enough to ask you along to help celebrate the opening with a few beers. And so it was that three of the boys from botf sauntered down to the new 4 Pines Brewing HQ last Saturday afternoon.
I am pretty sure myself and bladdamasta may have breached several of those unsaid brewery opening rules of etiquette by arriving with empty growlers in hand.
|Anyway, the weather was perfect for a brewery opening, bands were playing and the vibe was fantastic. First things first and we got a quick tour of all the new kit from Head Brewer, Andrew (@tweeds79).
I won’t tell you that I understood everything he explained, as he gesticulated excitedly at all the gleaming metal, but it was all pretty impressive and he is obviously very passionate about his profession and his product. He’s doing something right, I for one enjoy the output as if it’s the last beer I’ll ever have.
|By mid afternoon the crowd had swelled with hipster types from Manly and the who’s who of craft brewing. Mrs and Mr Beer Diva suddenly appeared at the bar, lobbing in from their upper peninsula eyrie.
While there were none of the famous 4 Pines Keller Door Series on tap, the 4 Pines stable tryptch of the Pale Ale, Kolsch and Hefeweizen were and these were more than adequate to ensure the fledgeling brewery was given the best of christenings.
|Come mid afternoon and there was a taint of formality as Mike Baird, the NSW Treasurer and State Member for Manly, opened the brewery by chewing through the hessian ribbon.
Now Mike seems like a decent bloke on the occasions I have seen or heard from him. For a politician. But jeez I wish I wish he’d do something about public transport on the peninsula. Being a brewery opening though I thought I’d park the ear bashing until another time (and less free 4 Pines).
|By 6pm the brewery was well and truly opened and Jaron was doing the rounds calling for last drinks.
It was then that I witnessed an Indiana Jones moment as the shutter of the brewery was brought down like a portcullis and the cry of ‘lock in’ was heard. But only for all those who could scuttle under the descending blade before it clanged on the cement. Alas, we were too slow. Also have too many kids. Otherwise we’d still be there now.
|4 Pines is one of the things we love about Manly. The 4 Pines venue at Manly has set the tone for other bars and restaurants, let alone other craft brewers. 4 Pines also embodies what is best about the more successful craft brewers in Australia. These make the beer and its brewing more accessible for your average Joe on the street, not just your aficianado. They are passionate and love sharing the process with you.
So good luck with the new brewery and many thanks for thinking of us. Looking forward to the Xmas Saison!
So Monday night was a terrific night for BotF inductions. The Back of the Ferry was in pretty full swing for a Monday evening. There was probably 20 or so folk enjoying an overcast but balmy evening with a soothing beverage. The journey was also one of the smoothest, with the harbour barely moving. So, it was a wonderful evening to introduce another overseas guest to the delights of the stern of the Queenscliff. Like his fellow inductee, Ana-Marie, David is from Auckland – so knows a good harbour when he sees one. Knows a good bar or two as well and he introduced this correspondent to a couple of good places in Auckland recently. The least I could do was return the favour, the induction ceremony was followed by some beers at 4 Pines and Murrays at Manly. The latest new menu at Murrays is actually quite good.
So to the all important questions
Favourite beverage: Heineken
Favourite sport to spectate: Rugby Union (probably superfluous use of the word Union, given we are talking to a Kiwi)
Area of Trivial Expertise: Indie music
Induction ceremony witnessed by Bladdamasta and Rob
At the 4 Pines, I tried a beer with an ingredient I haven’t had in a beer before. The Choc Seaweed Porter was very smooth, but quite unusual. The promised “strong seaweed aroma” was as prevalent as I’d imagined. In fact it was like the chocolate and seaweed had cancelled eachother out. It’s definitely an odd combination, and far mine – it didn’t work. Not unpotable, but I think I’ll stick to the humble hand-pulled Choc Porter, which is a ripper.
There’s nothing your botf members like more than showing off their fair city from the botf. This correspondent works for an enterprise with a corporate head office in Melbourne so it’s with pleasure that I inducted a few colleagues from Mexico. We followed up with a visit to 4 Pines for their Oktoberfest kickoff. Spectacular.
Firstly, can I introduce Graham.
Favourite beverage: Flowers IPA
May I also introduce Grainne.
Favourite beverage: Budvar
Last but not least, Peter.
Favourite beverage: Margaritas
Back of the Ferry has now been going for a sufficient amount of time that it now can safely say that it has annual traditions. To qualify as an annual tradition, a event must be re-visited or repeated at least three times. Traditions include celebrating the first day of daylight saving, the last day of daylight saving, the winter solstice, the darts team’s GF appearance and, in the latest event to become a tradition, 4 Pines Canada celebrations. This correspondent and our latest member got to partake in the 4 Pines Canada celebration, but not before we had visited Harts Pub to celebrate (a little early) 4th of July.
Harts Pub‘s celebration of 4th July will become a tradition if we get along there again next year. Like last year’s celebration a special menu of US culinary classics is put on for the day. Chili cheese fries, chili cheese dogs, pulled pork rolls are the go. The bucket of 20 buffalo wings for $12 is a particularly good deal. Last year, Rocks Brewing did a Red, white and blueberry Ale for the day. This year the beer choice was quite different. Seven top line US beers from 3 of the best craft brewers (Sierra Nevada, Green Flash and Bear Republic) were available in bottles.
Having sampled a Sierra Nevada and a Bear Republic in the past, I opted to open proceedings with a stubbie of Green Flash West Coast IPA. This beer is simply packaged and is distinguished by a complete lack of beer label hyperbole – with the exception of the words “Extravagantly Hopped”. That really is an understatement. This beer is as sharp as a Chinese chef’s cleaver. Just breathing in the aroma gives you head spins. An amalgagum of pine forest and lemon zest – it is full, full tasting beer, and an absolute pleasure to drink. Let it linger to really enjoy it. Not that you need a reason to get to San Diego – but these guys will get a visit.
We’ve already talked about Bear Republic on these pages, and it was the flagship Racer 5 that we tried. The Red Rocket Ale is self proclaimed as a “bastardized Scottish style red ale…and breaks all style molds”. It is another ripper. Better suited to the cold weather we are tolerating here in Sydney, it is less hoppy than the West Coast IPA – but there is still plenty of conical action. The colour is beautiful and indicates plenty of malts that also provide the toffee like flavours. An outstanding bevvy.
We could have stayed at Harts all arvo, but the kids were getting antsy, so it was back onto the ferry for the traditional Canada Day fare at 4 Pines – pancakes, bacon, maple syrup and the one-off Canadian Ale. This year, the brewer (who is apparently of Canadian heritage) has changed the recipe markedly. Whereas the 2010 and 2011 Canadian Ales was quite red in hue, this year’s version was as dark as a dark ale can get without being black. This was a fine winter ale and one with which I’d love to fill my growler. Described as “malty and sweet”, it isn’t cloying, but rather warming and rich. Unfortunately I’ll miss the annual 4th of July celebrations, but hopefully there’ll be plenty left of the 4 new varieties for weeks to come.
Melbourne is the Australian city that claims title to “Four Seasons in One Day”. Sydney’s being giving that a run lately. After a picturesque Saturday, where the sun was shining, the water was beckoning and you could even get a touch of sun burn, the last two days of the long weekend have you searching in the garage for some ark building material. This correspondent got down to Manly Beach on Sunday to have a squiz at the Snowy McAlister Longboarding tournament and was confronted with a cylinder of dark grey cloud backed by a darker grey curtain that screamed storm. After watching a couple of well caught waves,we sought refuge at Maurray’s.
The weather became suitable only for ducks. With great prescience, one of Murray’s guest taps was being occupied by a small NSW brewer – Black Duck Brewery. Currently, Black Duck Brewery is located in the small village of Herons Creek, which is about 5 clicks north of Kew on the Pacific Highway. Baz Luhrmann spent formative years here. It is soon (September)to be moving to the big smoke of Port Macquarie where they’ll do the whole cellar door, tasting, food matching thing. Excellent – another spot on the drive north from Sydney to the Goldie. They’ve got 5 beers on offer and the latest is their spin on an India Pale Ale – Indian Runner. Indian Runner is a type of duck and according to Wikipedia – is the type upon which the duck in the movie Babe is based. There’s an amusing excuse on Black Duck’s website for the high alcohol content, which is to ensure the beer survives the long trip from Herons Creek to wherever. It’s a fine beer – cloudy amber in appearance and richer than most IPAs, whilst still being sharp. The 6% is noticeable and it did the trick as the cold weather set in on Murray’s deck. A brewer to keep an eye out for.
Today, I snuck into 4 Pines to see if any of their EuroTrash Keller Door series was still on. There were 4 varieties, as per the sign and luckily the best of the four was still on. The Belgian Strong Ale is a whopping 7.9% and correspondingly big – but not spiritously so. Another rich beer with more malt than hops. It’s been a great month for 4 Pines and it is hard to believe that they’ll only be turning 4 soon. They won best stout at the AIBA awards recently, which is a remarkable achievement.
I’m sure that there was plenty of stout action around the world in the last 48 hours. On the insular peninsula of Sydney, there were 4 new stouts tapped over the weekend – and BotF was able to get there within hours of each of them hitting taste buds for the first time. We covered off two of them on Friday night (4 Pines Chocoalte Orange and Russian Imperial Stouts), but yesterday – the actual St. Patrick’s Day – saw us try the remaining two. The first was the beautifully presented Tinker’s Curse Dry Irish Stout from Murray’s Craft Brewing . The labelling and naming of all Murray’s beers is always first rate. “It’s no sham – and it rocks” could be corny, but isn’t. The beer itself was pretty solid also. Another example of a fine Murray’s beer that doesn’t have to have a high ABV to be good. Paper dry, longly bittered and well toasted – this is a fine sessionable stout. We also tried the third of the new 4 Pines Stouts – the Oatmeal Stout. Nothing wrong with this drop either. A coarse, old fashioned bevvy that poured thick black with a medium brown head – this was a perfect winter beer. The wind was up on the 4 Pines balcony and the stout blanket did the trick. No dud stouts this weekend.
Occasionally, Back of the Ferry comments on contemporaneous issues. Back in February 2011, Ian Thorpe’s recently announced comeback was the topic of much discussion on the stern. There was quite a difference of opinion about the merits and the outcome of the discussion. In the end it was settled in the most Australian of ways – put your money where your mouth is. So pommy_ch will be handing a nice lobster (aka a $20 note) to bladdamasta in the next week as Ian Thorpe was unsuccessful in his attempt to make the Australian Olympic team. Fortunately, the existence of the bet was declared to the bloggerverse in the The Thorpey prediction.
There are literally hundreds of saints Days, but none are celebrated with the gusto of Saint Patrick’s Day. Held on the 17th of March, which is the date of his death, St. Patricks actually becomes a long weekend of all things Irish when it is on a weekend. It is an opportunity to wear ridiculous items of green clothing without a tinge of embarrassment. In Sydney there’ll be a big parade tomorrow and there’s plenty of pubs (not even Irish pubs) putting on Irish themed functions. After gobbling a Guinness at PJ O’Briens in town, this correspondent met illiards on the Back of the Ferry, and we were eagerly anticipating the tapping of 4 new stouts at 4 Pines Brewery at Manly.
For their 2nd Keller Door Series, 4 Pines has developed 4 types of stout. A Dry Irish Stout, an Oatmeal Stout, a Russian Imperial Stout and a Chocolate Orange Stout make up the range. This time you don’t have to be in Manly to enjoy this release as 4 Pines have been able to get to bars in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and WA with some kegs. I was particularly keen to try the Chocolate Orange. My favourite confectionary item is the Jaffa – the uniquely Australian and New Zealand lolly. That said, I was hoping the stout wasn’t as sweet as that. I needn’t have worried. It’s beautiful looking – sleek and silky black. THere’s plenty of orange on the nose, but the orange flavour (not jaffa) is far less pronounced that the aroma would suggest. It’s subtle, distinctive and just really, really pleasant. illiards and I had a chat to Jaron the GM and he told us that during the planning for the Chocolate Orange the brewers sampled a few orange flavoured dark chocolates – and that’s what they aimed for. Mission accomplished. We also tried the Russian Imperial Stout, which was a real sipper. I might be taking my growler down this arvo to get a top-up. Very rich, quite alcoholic and really suited to an after dinner plate of cheese.
Back of the Ferry is a big user of @Untappd . For the uninitiated it is like 4 Square for pissheads, but plenty of fun. As you check-in beers, badges are awarded. BotF was getting pretty excited recently when it was approaching the 500th unique bevvy and was hoping to mark the moment with something quite different. Unfortunately one the lads forgot and checked in something that didn’t match the occasion. Aah well, we didn’t get a badge for the 600th check-in – but a Chocolate Orange stout is a far better milestone beer. Off to Murray’s today to try his one-off Tinker’s Curse Dry Irish Stout.
The blokes at the Balgowlah Porters on Sydney Road can be guaranteed to pretty much always have something weird on the shelves. They’ve outdone themselves with this little effort. At the outset, I’d have to say that this drop is better off suited in the UDL/Cruiser section of the fridges, but it is a beer based beverage. I’ve never actually had Absinthe, but it’s had an amazing history as an alcoholic drink. It was pretty much banned around the world for much of the 20th century because it was believed to bring on psychosis and halluciations. There’s some pretty cool art of absinthe drinkers with a hazy fairy sitting next to them. Of with the fairies anyone?
This beer pours like a soft drink. The head lasts about 2 seconds, but retains its fizz. The aroma is quite potent, but generically sweet. The beer base is there – just – and the high alcohol content (5.9%) gives it a real kick. It starts off being easy to drink, but the sweetness kills it. It’s apparently made with the herbs that go into absinthe and the pure water from Mont Blanc, where the brewer – Brasserie du Mont Blanc is located. They also make a beer flavoured with violet. Good luck to them for trying something different – but not for me.
There were no absinthe flavoured beers in the Local Taphouse’s Hottest 100 Beers for 2011. The full list is contained in the link and what’s noticeable is the number of brewers with multiple entries. 5 out of the top 20 came from 4 Pines Brewing which is remarkable. Most of the top 10 were beers that are always available – but it was great to see one of the greatest hits of the year – Little Creatures Big Dipper – make the top 10. I must admit I voted for Stone & Wood’s Stone Beer over the Big Dipper, but I think I was one of the lucky few that got my hands on one (thanks Balgowlah Porters), as opposed to the Big Dipper which was available by the case. I really hope HopDog makes it on the list next year, but other start-ups like Two Birds and Pinchgut showed that it can be done. The list is well worth a read.
Just before Christmas 4 Pines announced their intention to develop 4 beers that enables imbibers to experience and compare different hop varities. On the 9th of January, all 4 beers were launched. The beers had the same base ingredients with the exception of a single hop variety being used in each one. 4 continents contributed with Amarillo from the US, Galaxy from Australia, Aramis from France and Sorachi Ace from Japan. The drinkers have fun, learn a little and the brewers get to understand what the customers prefer.
On the evening I visited 4 Pines, I was delighted to see the Socceroos coach Holger Osieck blowing the froth off a couple with his Frau. I think Holger’s been an awesome selection by the FFA. The team plays exciting footy, he gets results and the Socceroos have made a great start on the road to Brazil in 2014. I told him so, and his reaction was humourous and modest. Seems like a genuinely nice guy and I hope he continues to get the results. That’s him behind the Amarillo.
The 4 beers were all distinctly different. The Amarillo had a really unique cloudy appearance, the Galaxy was quite coppery, whilst the Aramis was quite light. From a personal perspective (and I’ve discussed this with Illiards), I ranked the Amarillo first, then Aramis, Galaxy, and Sorachi Ace. None were bad by any stretch – but the combination of the visual beauty and Pale Ale flavours made the Amarillo the winner for me. The Sorachi Ace travelled well in the 4 Pines Growler (gees that’s a good invention) and all 4 could make a re-appearance and I wouldn’t be unhappy.
Hats off the 4 Pines for this innovation, but it looks like this is an emerging trend. The Marstons Beer Company of the UK is introducing one new single hop beer each month. The Galaxy hop from Australia features in February, but the Kiwis have 3 varieties represented.