Here at The Blind Monk we are big supporters of local breweries, especially ones built on the great Aussie foundation of a few mates getting together to make something special, and Balmain Brewing are exactly that. They ply their trade just a couple hundred clicks south of sunny Newcastle in a town almost as iconic, named Sydney (they may have the Opera House and the bridge, but did a cargo ship wash up on one of their beaches once? Actually that might have happened, i’ll have to check).
Anyway, as the saying goes, a brewery should be judged by its Pale Ale, and by this rule alone Balmain are going to go a long way. The first thing that strikes you is the deep orange colour, it’s certainly brighter and deeper than most of the mass market anaemic pales you see. The Balmain boys have also put a lot of thought and time into the flavour and hop profile here, theres a solid maltiness up front offering decent body, then the spicy hops add a small kick to the caboose, Its going down a treat with our Wagyu burgers on this chilly winters night, but it would be equally perfect straight from the esky in mid-summer at Nobbys beach (or Bondi I suppose).
We caught up with the CEO Glenn Cary at Balmain to find out exactly how they keep it fresh down in Old Sydney Town.
BM: What made you decide to start jump in and start a brewery.. in other words are you mad?
BB: Yes, I guess in some ways you could say that. However isn’t it every man’s dream to run a beer company? In that case I’m just living the dream.
BM: When you started brewing the English style Pale Ale, did you stumble across this amazing recipe or did you start with an end taste in mind?
BB: No, we knew what we wanted right from the start. Our style of Pale Ale is different to other Pale Ales and we feel it has a great balance and appeals to a very wide audience.
BM: Are you like most of us, a functioning alcoholic or do you manage to keep yourself under control even though you are surrounded by beer daily?
BB: It’s funny you should ask that, I’m asked that a lot. It’s a little like working in a chocolate factory at first, you over indulge for a while but as time goes on you settle down. I have a plenty of craft beer available to me all the time but I choose to enjoy a couple of beers every day rather than go hard all the time. That’s what drinking craft beer is all about, savouring the unique taste, quality not quantity!!
BM: What has been the biggest challenge with your brewing?
BB: Product Consistency. Making sure we get it right and keep it there. It’s very important when you get it right to be consistent.
BM: Where do you see the craft beer industry going?
BB: In Australia the craft beer movement has moved ahead in leaps and bounds, in particular the last few years have seen more and more consumers wanting to know more and about our brands understand what is true craft. Today’s consumers are more discerning and continue to ask more questions about craft beers. It’s a very exciting time for all of the fantastic Australian craft beer brands we have to offer.
BM: Do you mainly drink beer or do other beverages really get you going as well?
BB: Only craft beer and some wonderful Aussie wines occasionally.
BM: You are consistently brewing the same beers now, Do you still love to get in and invent a new one?
BB: We are always looking towards the next special brew whatever that might be, so stay tuned!
BM: There is talk of cans coming back in... your thoughts - bottles or cans?
BB: Glass for me, however there is no doubt a place for cans for certain events.
BM: Favourite beer you have brewed?
BB: Balmain Bock (Tradition Revived)
BM: Finally, When can we get you into The Blind Monk for a session?
BB: You name the date!! No doubt I will need a driver to bring me back safely.
For more craft beer nonsense, follow Jimmys Instagram @a_craft_beer_ideot