This may be difficult for you to believe but I'm not a man that knows his grape wine, crazy I know! For all my refined class and subtleties you'd think I was some kind of french sommelier, but nope, I leave all the crab-savs and what-not to the rich dudes and the Merewether mummies.
One thing I do know is a good beer, and lemme tell you there's a good one on tap right now at the Blind Monk! Endeavour Reserve Red 2014 Sounds like a damn wine because was brewed by experienced wine makers and they design thier ales like they would a good wine, choosing hops and malt from a specific season, this is a pretty innovative approach to brewing, and it gives each beer a unique flavour that differs depending on the annum.
The Red ale is full bodied with deep red colour, light earthy and spicy hops with lovely sweet toasty malt flavours. This really is a super winter beer, perfect for washing down $1 oysters at TBM on a sunday.
I'm not sure if Endevour factor-in number one hits when selecting their ingredients, but guys if you're reading this I'd love a late 90s Limp Bizkit inspired beer with subtle Shania Twain notes. Actually that would probably be a malt liquor so forget it.
We caught up with Andy Stewart, the brewer at Endeavour, and grilled him on his brewing philosophy.
BM: What made you decide to start jump in and start a brewery.. in other words are you mad?
AS: The short answer is yes…. The three of us that started the business all have a passion for beer and the more we learnt of the industry the more we wanted to be involved in it. There are very good people in craft beer in Australia.
BM: When you started brewing the Red Ale, did you stumble across this amazing recipe or did you start with an end taste in mind?
AS: I always start with the end point, and it is not built on specs. I never say I want to brew a 6%, 55 IBU, 70EBC beer. I always start with malt and build the recipe from there. I know if I use X amount of malt I need to balance it with X amount of bitterness and then have to factor in alcohol sweetness. Aromatic hops are the greatest challenge - how do you use them without making the beer one dimensional. For me its all about balancing all the elements so that the final beer is complex and complete, but at the same time a pleasure to drink. The Red Ale
didn’t take too many tweaks from my original pilot brew to the final result but the changes I made were important.
BM: Are you like most of us, a functioning alcoholic or do you manage to keep yourself under control even tho you are surrounded by beer daily?
AS: I do “try” to keep myself under control. 2 kids under 3 are a pretty good reminder of how painful a hangover can be the morning after!
BM: What has been the biggest challenge with your brewing?
AS: Excise! Its amazing that you can be taxed on something before you have sold it. Its a common theme in our industry and forces a lot of good breweries to close the doors. It would be nice to get some assistance as an industry to help us grow and be more competitive against the 2 behemoths.
BM: Where do you see the craft beer industry going?
AS: Onwards and upwards. There is so much potential in Australia and the beer, food and wine revolution is only just beginning. The public are demanding better quality and better flavour. They want to know what goes into their beer and where its from. I think its moving away from just being a beverage to being an experience.
BM: Do you mainly drink beer or do other beverages really get you going as well?
AS: My background is in winemaking so I do drink my fair share of wine as well. I am also fond of cider, more the Normandy style than the sweet expressions that are gracing the Aussie market at the moment. I am also fond of good whisky - there are some pretty exciting Tassie whiskys on the market now. I would say that it is important to look across all these different categories as it gives you a good insight into balance and complexity. It is amazing how complex a cider at 3% alcohol can be. One common theme across them all is the ingredients are the most important element - whether it is grain, grape or apples. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear.
BM: You are consistently brewing the same beers now, Do you still love to get in and invent a new one?
AS: We only brew consistently throughout the year, our recipes change every year depending on the harvest. We work closely with our hop and grain growers to gain insight into the performance of our ingredients and how best they can be expressed within the house styles that we make. I get to do 2 seasonals each year which gives me an opportunity to work outside those house styles and be creative.
BM: There is talk of cans coming back in... your thoughts - bottles or cans??
AS: I like the idea of cans but they are challenging on the canning line. I have seen some disasters with cans. From a consumer perspective I think we have a way to go to convince them but it is growing.
BM: Favourite beer you have brewed?
AS: No doubt - The Red Ale 2014.
BM: Finally, When can we get you into The Blind Monk for a session?
AS: I am free now……?
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