While I'm not suggesting you should take up smashing eggs over a mates head to get him talking (although it might be funny!!), cracking this tinnie with him might be just the trick to get a conversation started.
Origin – Hurlstone Park, New South Wales
ABV – 4.4%
Size – 375mL can
Style – Brown Ale
It was the wonderful, thirst-quenching, conversation-inducing beer that you can drink a few of almost without noticing. Yet in the current beer culture now revolving around sours, hazys and IPAs, the brown ale, that dominated the market for so long, has seemingly fallen out of fashion. In a beer scene awash in more au courant styles, brown ale has become little more than an afterthought, reduced to the brown cardigan of the craft beer world!
While the term may be synonymous with England’s Newcastle Brown and instantly bring up visions of cloth-capped, coal-blackened miners pouring from pit to pub in a rush to quench a dusty throat, today’s contemporary brown ales are in general terms, full-flavoured, malty ales that are both subtly delicious and refreshing. Fortunately, there’s still a handful of brewers who have taken the brown baton and produced a variety of great examples. Two of them are Ben Hamilton and Nathan Eason, the owners and founders of Cooks River Brewing.
Having started out in a fibro shed with some gear and a few ideas, in 2019 the duo tried their hand at the Brewers Got Talent competition. At arguably the biggest celebration of new brewers where the amateurs vie to impress, they entered an American brown ale recipe that the novices had been painstakingly working on for years. The public voted. The judges concurred. They won! The major prize was a chance to brew their winning beer on a commercial scale at Frenchies. With some guidance from head brewer Vincent De Soyres, the brown was kegged, canned and sent to some of the best bars across the city. Less than three months later it ended up in beer critic Peter Lalor’s Top 20 Craft Beers of 2019, published in The Weekend Australian… and Cooks River brewing was born!
Although it's been a whirlwind since then, juggling their newly found professional brewing careers with day jobs that actually pay the bills, the duo has managed to continue to tweak and improve each batch. True to the style, this American brown is bigger, bolder and maltier than its British counterparts. The use of Willamette and Mosaic hops combine to produce floral, spicy and fruity aromas that are offset perfectly in the mouth with malt sweetness and a late dry bitterness.
Fashionable or not, this is a perfect year-round quaffer - cloth cloths caps, coal dust and cardigan are optional!