The much-anticipated Sydney Craft Beer & Cider Fair returned for 2014, this time moving to the Australian Hall, a more spacious location that is conveniently adjacent to The Oak Barrel premises.
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Packing a full house from a sold-out event, craft beer and cider fans made their way up the stairs to the comfortable venue with high ceilings and a stage. A live band, Johann the Tourist and the Vacationists provided entertainment while people made their way around the exhibitors, tasting and discovering new brews. Water bottles were provided and food was available to purchase and enjoy with a favourite brew.
The Oak Barrel has been instrumental in bringing to the annual show a new and varied range of ciders and craft beers and this year was no exception.
From Orange in NSW comes Small Acres Cyder Sparkling 8.5%, a crisp dry style of cider with a biscuity and dry finish. The cider spends 18 months on lees and isn’t released for another 6 months. This is a good aperitif style cider that is light with a gentle fizz on the palate.
Hailing from Tasmania, Two Metre Tall Farm House Dry Pear Cider 6.5% is produced by Ashley Huntington who describes himself as “a winemaker who got a bit distracted”. Easy drinking, the cider is cloudy, unfiltered and bottle fermented using only pears and yeast.
Bearing no reference to a prime Minister, TLBC Mad Abbot Christmas Ale 11.3% 2013 is a Trapper style brew made in Port Macquarie. It’s a dark Belgian style with lots of spice, raisin, chocolate and toffee with a noticeable effervescence on the tongue.
Brewed with wood fired stones as was once an ancient technique, Stone & Wood L/R Stone Beer 6.9% 2014 is a seasonal brew made in the dark stone beer style. The Arbor Oyster Stout 4.6% is brewed with nine types of grain and fresh oysters. The oatmeal stout has the aroma of strong coffee and a flavour of coffee, chocolate and roasted malts with a salty finish from the oysters.
It’s always about good fun and good beer at Dennis Rocket Science. Their Obi Wan Shinobi 5.5% is a German style dry beer made with Japanese hops. It’s spicy and has hints of lemon grass. But their Seven Hops from Seven Continents is mind-blowing and tasty at the same time. The 11.9% brew has an IBU of 119 (bitterness scale) and best likened as “Mad Hatter on steroids”.
From the Netherlands comes Emelisse Smoked Rye IPA 6.2% made with 20% rye and 10 % smoked malt using Simcoe and Cascade hops. Not as smoky as expected, it has a fine balance of hops, rye malt and smoke. Emelisse Crème Brulee Stout 8% is true to its name. It has the sweet aroma of crème brulee and tastes like it. It’s sweet yet it has a good balance of bitterness on the finish. If you like to drink your dessert, this beer hits the right spot.
The Fuller’s range was worth the taste in particular Fuller’s ESB (Extra Special Bitter) 5.9% ABV with a grassy hops flavour profile and Fuller’s 1845 Celebration Strong Ale 6.3% with its rich, full body and slightly peaty profile.
The Harvest Brown Ale from Batch Brewing Company in Sydney is a spicy Christmas ale made with fresh roasted pumpkins added to the mash. A delicious brew, it has pumpkin spice, nutmeg, ginger, clove and cinnamon on the palate
It was time for shenanigans with Shenanigans Brewing and three experimental brews: the floral American style Indian pale Ale, Red Skye IPA 6.9% infused with jasmine and hibiscus flowers, the Black Secret 9%, an imperial black IPA redolent with hops and the sensational Sabotage 6.2%, an oatmeal stout with dark muscovado sugar, single origin Burundi coffee and chocolate jolokia chilli. The beer has a coffee aroma and a malty character with a strong chilli kick that lingers long on the palate.
The Sydney Craft Beer & Cider Fair was held on Saturday 14 June 2014.
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