Over the years, the 4 Pines Keller Door has released some beers with some weird and wonderful ingredients. Chocolate Seaweed Porter, Porky Pig and Fig, Banana Bread and Espresso, Apple and Blackcurrant Crumble, Black Forest (cake) Imperial Stout and Cherry Pie Beer are some examples of the concoctions that have flowed from the taps both at the Manly base and around the country. It looks like they’ve let their imagination go beserk lately and they’ve promised a “series of ten cask ales each individually hopped to cocktail inspired ingredients”. The series is called the Spice Rack Cask Ales.
They’ve kept this pretty quiet and it was by accident that this correspondent pulled in last Thursday for a quick one and was able to partake in a pint of the first in the series. Now I’ve always ordered pints (unless someone can come up with a way to fit 568ml in a half-pint glass). I think, though with the challenging concoctions that the Spice Rack Cask Ales series will deliver, a half pint is the way to go. Number one in the series is Raspberry & Kafir (sic) Lime. From the first mouthful I was put off. Not sure if this was meant to be sweet or tart – I just found it in a no-mans-land and it was a struggle. A pint was just too much.
On my next visit, number two in the series had been tapped. I went for a half of Strawberries & Cream, which promised to be “just like the lolly”. I sipped with some trepidation – but this was a really pleasant surprise. There was a creamy sweetness – partly delivered by the smoothness of the hand-pull and partly by the essence of strawberry. There’s nothing cloying about this beer and it is extremely sessionable. One to get in for, as it looks like there’s only one keg of each variety. The kegs are lying in wait in a fridge at the 4 Pines and some of the names are intriguing (but I won’t spoil the surprise). Releasing ten hand pulled casks is a gutsy call by 4 Pines and good on them for challenging us. Looking forward to some more surprises.
In other Manly news, the Rubber Duckie Taphouse will be changing its name tomorrow night. From Thursday 28th, Murrays at Manly, which became the Rubber Duckie Taphouse, will become the Yardarm Taphouse. Unlike the previous owners of this venue, the new proprietors, Kevin and Jules, actually give a sh1t about their customers. They’ll give this a real crack, I reckon, and Manly will be the better for it. Would love to be there for the launch, but I’ll rustle up a couple of other correspondents to see if they can’t be there. One correspondent that won’t be there at the launch night did do a rather prescient write up a couple of months ago. Sandy – was this intentional?
There’s been plenty of articles written about the furore created by the label of Brookvale Union’s Ginger Beer, so there’s no need to go into much detail about that here. The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Brews News and even the good folk at Food Magazine have it all covered. Long story short, Brookvale Union (aka 4 Pines) have absorbed the feedback of the worldwide Hindu community and swiftly undertaken to change the offending label. No sooner that news was out, I bolted up to the local bottlo and snaffled a bottle. Whilst I doubt that a stubbie of Brookvale Union Ginger Beer (Label 1) will ever command the same price as an unopened stubbie of Lion Nathan’s ill-fated Duff Beer – it is definitely a collector’s item and there’s still a few out there. Be quick.
By the way, it is a pretty good drop. Whether off the tap or out of the bottle, this is a refreshing ginger beer. It’s become my daughter’s tipple of choice when we visit the 4 Pines at Manly together. It’s a summer special and I imagine will remain a permanent fixture on the 4 Pines tap rack.
Euphoria abounded in Sydney town last night, and Back of the Ferry got a double helping. The first part of the evening was spent in a brewery with the good folk from 4 Pines and a couple of hundred of their closest friends celebrating 4 Pines 5th birthday. It’s a sensational achievement and it is great to see them going from strength to strength. They’ve been celebrating hard all week at the pub – and the $5 pints on Sunday night were extremely popular. 4 Pines has become the spiritual home of Back of the Ferry both immediately after a voyage and for general bevvy and we wish them many happy returns and hope for many more birthdays to come.
I was lucky enough to bend the ear of 4 Pines brewing legend, Andrew Tweddell for awhile over his latest concoction – 4 Pines El Dorado IPA. I asked him what his favourite has been of all the beers he’s put out over the years. He really struggled, but ultimately settled on the Mosaic Amber (which was a ripper). I guess it’s a hard call to make you’ve pumped out over 50 varieties in 5 years. The brewing team has grown at 4 Pines and they’ve got some new bevvies on the way for Canada Day and July 4. El Dorado IPA will be front and centre and this is worth getting all red, white and blue for. Great colour, finely bittered with a lip smacking aftertaste. Eminently sessionable – could this be contender for another in 4 Pines’ permanent line-up?
It takes plenty to drag me out of a brewery, but whilst 4 Pines’ birthday comes around only once a year, a do or die match for World Cup qualification comes around only once every 4 years if that. So I freed myself from the powerful clutches of El Dorado and hot footed it to a pub in Manly to cheer the Socceroos on. The boys laboured under the combined effect of home expectations, rain and a tenacious opposition, but we got there. Man of the match (other than Marco Bresciano) was Holger Osieck. How ballsy was the call to replace the rightly popular Tim Cahill and wunderkind Robbie Kruse? But in the end how right was it? Holger’s a terrific bloke. I met him at the 4 Pines, funnily enough, and he was incredibly humble. I hope they stick with him. He loves a good beer and backs himself. BTW, I know Aussies expect to qualify for the World Cup, but I reckon each time we qualify should be cherished. We have 22 million people, but play 4 football codes and have an average domestic league at best. Our players generally have to introduce themselves to each other before each game given how far flung they are. Any qualification is a monumental achievement – 3 in a row is taking it to a new level.
I’ve been dreaming about the 6.2% Dunkel Monkey for a week now, and understandably so. Have you ever had a banana With dark chocolate roasted on the barbecue? That’s what this precious autumnal ale tasted like – smoked wood, a hint of chocolate, with a dose of healthy banana. The ideal mate to wash down the Sunday roast of lamb, accentuating the gamy flavours almost to the extent of giving a little offal – quite extraordinary.
Naturally I had to wash it down with desert – this came in the form if a half-filled tasting glass of 9.2% Aged Wee Scot, an ice-creamy coffee liqueur. It was rich beyond belief.
Since my last posting, I should point out that I failed to pop into Murray’s on Thursday evening, but instead had a swift three pints of the 4 Pines 5.5% Old Ranga – an amber ale with plenty of ginger and a hint of Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Being on tap and therefore not too fizzy, this went down a dream. I really can’t imagine that these three beers lasting long.
They’ve got a 5 year anniversary on 16 June where a beer will cost you $5 and a roast will set you back $5 too, even for non-club members. As a Scot, I for one won’t be missing that occasion.
Oh, and by the way, I thought the sun exploding outside of the Nine Tails near the Harbour Bridge this evening was also a photo worth sharing, as well as, of course, the Dunkel Monkey
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.