Birbecks - The Merchant Colonial Pale Ale
With Jimmy from 'A Craft Beer Ideot'
Guys it's summer, it's hot out, I'm sweating in all the bad places, and I'm back to talk to you about my personal lord and saviour: Australian craft beer (and hopefully I'll sink a few in the process)
Some folks - probably children and guys with scullets - hanker for an ice-cold, urine-yellow, beer-style beverage on a hot day like today.
They may even timidly request 'something sessionable' if they have been hitting up the hipster beer blogs and a feeling a little adventurous after a shandy or two. I would scoff loudly and obnoxiously at such requests if I was allowed behind a bar, which I'm not, ever again, because remember kids - there is no such thing as strong beer, only weak men. The same antagonistic and overly macho sentiment rings true for the humble drinking sesh, and the old adage states that actually, ALL beer is made for sessioning, but not all men are made to session it.
it's a devil-may-care mantra to live by, and it also makes my doctor chuckle whenever I bring it up durning my weekly kidney dialysis sessions.
Anyway my rambling has segued nicely into today's subject; big session beer. Jared Birbeck is a wildly successful brewer straight outta the SA brewing scene, and he has popped out of the blocks with a really interesting lineup of crafty beers.
His branding is pretty slick and has a little Viking longboat up on the sticker (so I'm sold) and he exclusively plays scandinavian black metal and Abba during his brew sessions (untrue but would be cool).
The Merchant is an IPA brewed the old fashioned way. In fact the recipe style harks back to the 1800s when literally hundreds of thousands of sailors hilariously plunged to their deaths as a result of operating heavy machinery whilst drinking such ales, so in honour of those sorry souls, we at the Blind Monk are pouring Birbecks The Merchant Colonial Pale right now!
At 7.2% it's a doozy, old school hop forward brew with layers of malt complexity that will really get you thinking about ordering another. The good news is your wife called and she said you're allowed to stick around for the arvo session. Also, you're sleeping on the couch.
We talked to Jared Birbeck about his great new beers, the challenges of contract brewing, nailing a lower ABV beer, and the temptation of getting into the odd test batch!
BM: What made you decide to start jump in and start your own brewery.. in other words are you mad?
JB: I had been home brewing for some time and wanted to be able to share some of those beers with a wider audience. It was also an enticing option to avoid the 9-5 job and do something fun with beer...yes I am mad.
BM: When you first brewed The Merchant did you stumble across this amazing recipe or did you start with an end taste in mind?
JB: When I first brewed the Merchant it was a desire to create an older style beer. I was reading Mitch Steele's IPA Brewing Techniques and it inspired the development of the beer. I wanted to recreate that old style English IPA, full of English hop character and rich malt.
Our other beers I worked hard on the underlying recipe to get the right flavour profile. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve.
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?
JB: I have my moments. definitely have succumbed to the temptation of having beer that I love around me all the time, whether it is a test batch or just quality control. But its also part of the reason for the Captain, a full flavoured great beer at a lower alcohol...enjoy a bit more.
BM: What has been the biggest challenge with your brewing?
JB: The biggest challenge is getting brew slots to meet demand as a contract brewer and getting the right beers done at the right time and into the right spots. I think I have missed more often than not.
BM: Where do you see the craft beer industry going?
JB: Growing, and growing big fast at this stage.
BM:Are you a lover of just beer or do other beverages really get you going as well?
JB: Lover of beer first and foremost. Wine has its place but its place is usually in the back of the fridge (white wine) for a very rare occasion. Special occasions deserve beer.
BM: You are consistently brewing the same beers now, do you still love to get in and invent a new one?
JB: There are a couple of core beers but my passion is for new beers. in 10 years of homebrewing I only brewed the same beer twice. everything else was unique.
BM: There is talk of cans coming back in... your thoughts - bottles or cans?
JB: cans...love cans. Even before I started on the craft beer road it was all cans for me.
BM: Favourite beer other than your own? (I know it's hard)
JB: Different beers for different occasions. Little creatures single batch American Brown ale still ranks among the best beers I've had and an easy drinker and I have always loved Beard & Brau Red Tail. I am a huge fan of a well made IPA but they are a rare breed and its not always IPA time. The Holgate Millennium Falcon is the best I've had in a long time.
BM: Your own favourite beer?
JB: The Captain is far and away my favourite beer. big flavour, lower alcohol. great for any occasion and with young kids around I need that!