We had “fun” doing this last year, so why not do it all over again? It definitely beats having to come up with proper articles.
BCB has gone through some fairly tremendous changes since we wrote our top 5s this time last year. Judd has continued his increasingly rapid descent into a beer addled hermit-weirdo Lord albeit in the desolate, far away city of Sydney. Brad adhered to the former Australian Treasurer’s advice and got a good job with which to purchase a house. He then subsequently left the harsh Brisbane sun for the ever so cheerful drizzle and crippling poverty of London. As baffling as it is sexy.
Judd's Top 5 Beers of 2015
Last year I had trouble deciding on five beers because there had actually been hundreds of beers I rather enjoyed and faithfully checked in on Untappd. I stopped checking beers in on Untappd early this year mostly because I couldn’t be arsed but also because the number of check ins was becoming dangerously high. Now when I’m asked how many beers I’ve had I don’t have to lie because I’m ashamed, I just genuinely don’t know. It’s better for everyone.
Five. 4 Pines Brewing Company – ANZ IPA
I was lucky enough to drink this beer at the 4 Pines brewpub less than two days after it was kegged. A wonderfully balanced IPA with some of my favourite Australian and Kiwi hops that couldn’t have been fresher. I know I wrote about it previously but drinking this beer was probably the biggest “Sydney” moment I’ve had since the move.
Four. Mornington Peninsula Brewery – Imperial Amber Ale
After about 3 mouthfuls I knew this beer was going to be in my top 5 for 2015 and it was still only May. There’s nothing flashy and no secret ingredients, it’s just a superbly balanced beer with a big malt backbone and no shortage of juicy American hops. This is a beer from a brewery that just knows how to continually pump out excellent, no nonsense beers. I'm trying not to be too effusive here but if this was available regularly, I would buy it over almost everything else.
Three. Batch Brewing Company – Dank DIPA
This 7% resinous monster was brewed as the official beer for Sydney Craft Beer Week 2015 and tasted like you were chewing on Chinook hop pellets. I managed to have some of the test batch at the program launch in August and then on tap during the week itself. In contrast, the official Brewsvegas 2015 beer was a 35IBU pale ale… Make of that what you will. Truly, a beer worthy of some dank memes.
Two. Big Shed Brewing Company – Golden Stout Time
Brewed for GABS 2015 and coming 3rd in the people’s choice vote is this beer inspired by everyone’s favourite summer double entendre, the Golden Gaytime. Big Shed not only expertly crafted a stout that tastes remarkably like an ice cream, but it's not so over the top that it’s too much to drink a pint of. Take a bow you magnificent bastards.
One. Newstead Brewing Company – Phase 4
A 10.5% Belgian Quadrupel with 7kg of caramelised watermelons. This is a joke surely. It’s exactly the kind of beer some fuckwit would make up if they were writing a “witty” article about how craft beer drinkers are bearded, hipster scum with no concept of reality. I was actually almost angry that I loved it so much.
For starters, I’m not massively keen on big Belgian beers. They’re usually very sweet and the classic Belgian yeasts don’t really float my boat. I’m also not that keen on watermelon in general. Yes I know the Watermelon Warhead was one of my top five from last year and yes, I know I won a watermelon carving contest and yes, I did manage to eat 4 large pieces of watermelon soaked in beer the fastest that one time and yes, Watermelon Collie and the Infinite Radness was my favourite beer during Brewsvegas but apart from all that, watermelon is the worst.
This beer surprised me utterly and was without a doubt, the beer I enjoyed the most in 2015. Massive dark raisiny fruit and spicy yeast gave way to a sweet watermelon aroma, flavour and a long warming boozy finish. The perfect beer to end a night and all pretense of being able to talk coherently or walk without stumbling into walls. A new favourite beer from one of my favourite places in the world. Which brings me to my special mention for 2015…
Crude and Bitter Brewing – Lock, Stock and Two Mongrel Pigs
The best Anglo-Australian Pig Ale to have ever been served commercially. And didn’t it have some illustrious company on tap at the Hoo Ha Bar? Seeing this little battler through to fruition was the culmination of about 18 months of weaselling our way into the hearts and seedy underbelly of the Brisbane beer community. I asked Mark from Newstead if we could compromise his professional integrity (lol) by brewing a one off keg at Newstead and he was drunk enough to say yes. Having the ability to watch friends, family and Rachel’s 21st birthday party guests suck down schooners of something that I’d designed myself was one of the most satisfying feelings I can remember. Although I could never say this to his stupid, ugly geek-face, Mark and the rest of the Newstead people are wonderful and the main reason why I miss drinking beer in Brisbane.
Brad’s Top 5 things of 2015
No one can deny 2015 was a year of things.
Five. Suburban bars
Growing up in the ultra-suburban Redlands, if I’d known my drinking options as an adult wouldn’t be restricted to sports clubs and pubs with an even chance of being glassed on any one night, I might have developed into a more optimistic person. So, with ol’ Brisbane’s list of decent bars and pubs expanding, it’s with very special pleasure that I declare 2015 the year I fell in love with the suburban bar. New arrivals – namely Death Valley in Morningside, Fitz and Potts in Nundah and The Bench in Cleveland – now dot the map, like beacons of tasteful insobriety in a land of Coffee Clubs and broken dreams. I hope one day, when the fiscal cliff of rising house prices and wage stagnation pushes me out to some nondescript suburban hell-hole, there will still be one of those places where I can drink to the sound of something other than poker machines.
Brewsvegas is pretty much the most and best Brisbane thing going around. It’s what the city would look like if it took on a human form and developed a thirst. Sweaty, friendly, at times hideously ugly, a flip little shit – a beer in one hand, the other ordering another.
After what can only be described as a dick-down, bang-up week in 2014, I was worried BV would fail to live up to its expectations in 2015. When Judd and I (probably mistakenly) were invited to the pre-launch at Brisbane Brewhouse we caught a glimpse of something bigger, grander and meatier. When that beast descended it wrecked the whole place – me included – and I couldn’t be happier.
Three. Brisbane bottleshops
Sometimes I like to imagine a world where beer consumption is a religious affair. People would have great admiration for those that smashed tinnies on their veranda. Brewers would be high priests. The bottle shop: your local temple. You could literally drink your way to salvation. For me, I’d go to the Hawthorn and Greenslopes Cellars to receive spiritual nourishment and drink the blood of Christ (Brew Cult). Pray for those courageous bottle shops selling the good stuff.
Two. Homebrewing through adversity
When at first you fail, never try again. Though technically not my first attempt – 2013/14 was awash with failure – the age old adage was my homebrewing mantra in 2015. The old hag (Judd) and I – the dreamers that we are – decided to enter a pair of ales into the Brisbane Amateur Brewers monthly homebrewing competition. This is where we should have been politely stopped. English mild and an ESB – how bad could it be? My mild – accidently brewed with far less malt than needed but somehow so over-carbonated it must have spurted right in the face of the BABBs volunteer. I can’t remember what went wrong with Judd’s but if we brewed it together, you can rest assured it was thoroughly minced. The feedback was harsh. Entirely accurate but harsh. Judd has since recovered and has gone on to attempt some very tricky brews, but I haven’t even come close.
One. Lock, Stock and Two Mongrel Pigs
How many mongrel pigs does it take to rule this city? Two.
We came, we fouled ourselves on the social fabric, we left unceremoniously.
We’ll be back one day, to roll in all the putrescent detritus Brisbane has to offer.