Champion Beer something to shout about during Sydney Craft Beer Week 2013

Imagine my delight on entering the Red Oak this afternoon to find that I’ll just still be in Sydney for the Sydney Craft Beer Week 2013, starting this week 19 October (going on till 26 Oct… err, that’s actually 8 not 7 days). The Red Oak in Clarence Street are one of the participants of the 60+ events with BeerGustation involving 5 courses matched with 6 beers (tickets are limited, but selling out fast). The brewer comes on for a chat, and they’ll be featuring some guest beers during the event too – it’s on 26 October at 6.30pm for a mere $85 – if I wasn’t in the UK, I’d definitely be there, so am relying on fellow bloggers to cover this.

David took out two gold medals at the recent European Beer Star “International Breweries’ Competition” awards in Munich – Schwarz (category of ‘Bohemian Style Schwarz Bier’), and a Bock beer (category of ‘Bottom Fermented Beer with Alternative Cereals’). The latter is a deep red clear colour with rye and berry overtones, and really creamy on the palette, coming in at 6.9 ABV, it obviously held up very well to the trip to Munich. The former Schwarz is, by definition, black – there are threads of chocolate and coconut running through the mild malty but burnt nutty flavours, almost floral on the nose, but at around 5 ABV it sits well on the lunchtime stakes. Both definitely deserve their accolades.

Prior to that in the International Beer Challenge in London on 9 September, the Red Oak Special Reserve scooped both ‘Best Speciality Beer’ as well as ‘Supreme Champion’, competing against 38 beers from 15 countries. This is actually a barley wine, at 12.5 ABV, and presents well as a wine, having sat on various oaks for 3 around years. I believe it is an evolving brew, founded on the dregs of previous fermentations, so it’s totally unique in the use of various aged beers… it weighs in at $75 per 250ml bottle, so you’ve got to be a serious beer drinker to take it on. I am, and I did.

You have to let it rise slowly to rom temperature, supping it slowly like a cognac. To begin with the nose is that familiar pure black treacle and rubber – almost a condom – you get the idea that it has almost gone rancid. It’s a perfect day for it too – like the beer, it’s warm, cloudy, smokey, and the sun is shining through in Japanese-flag red. The overdose of burnt molasses is countered by Christmas raisin spices. There’s a strong dose of wood from the French oak, whilst it gets its nuttiness from having also been laid in American oak. The photo shown is one of the best beers in the world!

More information on the Craft Beer Week is available from and the Red Oak website is unsurprisingly