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Beer reviews: from Boozy Fruit to Magic Carpet

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Beer aficionado John Krüger reviews six South Australian craft brews, including a fresh fruity release from Big Shed, Coopers’ new Session Ale, Prancing Pony’s dessert stout and Little Bang’s moreish Naked Objector.

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Big Shed – Boozy Fruit

One of the biggest craft beer trends sweeping the world is New England IPAs, and luckily we can now find them fresh and local.

Big Shed won acclaim for its new Boozy Fruit when it unveiled it as a special release at Melbourne’s recent GABS, the “Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular”, where it won the people’s choice award with its beery take on Frosty Fruits ice blocks. It was also extremely popular at the recent Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival.

Boozy Fruit is the kind of beer you can smell from a metre away. This style generally uses oats to reinforce the hazy look and is never filtered. The hoppy aroma is strong, and it can best be described as smelling and tasting like Juicy Fruit chewing gum. It’s not too high on bitterness and has a thick and creamy full body.

The beer is available on tap or in 330ml stubbies and sits at a surprising 6.2 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume).

Food match: This fruity explosion does contain added lactose, so why not go the whole hog and pair it with baked strawberry cheesecake? Big Shed co-founder Jason Harris recommends adding crushed pineapple over the top so it isn’t overpowered by the beer.

Prancing Pony – Magic Carpet Midnight Ride Stout

This thick dessert stout pours a deep dark black with some mahogany on the edges of the glass. The head is tan-coloured, with deep aromas of sweet malt, coffee and alcohol.

Coming in a 330ml bottle with 9 per cent ABV, it is about the right size for an after-dinner indulgence instead of a glass of port. It’s rich, thick and fairly sweet with a moderate hit of bitterness in the background.

There are layers of dusty cocoa, ristretto coffee and dark brown sugar, along with a warming hit of alcohol. A good way to warm up in the chilly Adelaide Hills where the beer is brewed.

Food match: The boozy qualities would match well with rum and raisin ice-cream. For a savoury option, try a decent pepper-steak pie. Both are rich, and the pepper would slot in quite nicely as a contrast.

Coopers – Session Ale

The new session ale from Coopers is quite light in body and pours with the usual Coopers Ale yeast haze. A welcome surprise is the splash of tropical fruit-salad hops.

It’s certainly not the hop hit that hop heads will be looking for, but for the average drinker, it’ll be a welcome addition to the Coopers line-up. It’s only 27 IBUs (international bitterness units), so it certainly won’t offend anyone, and at 4.2 per cent ABV, it’s not that much lower in alcohol than the Original Pale Ale (4.5 per cent).

Available on tap and in 375ml stubbies and cans, will this take Pale’s place as the most popular Coopers’ beer? Word is that in its original-release draught format, it’s already been a huge success.

Food match: The light body and tropical aromas would go great with the pineapple pulp and allspice in Jamaican jerk chicken. Knock off a few while you cook the chicken over charcoal.

Clare Valley Brewing Co – Harvest Ale

This American Pale Ale has been brewed with fresh wet hops from Mylor. While not an exceedingly hoppy ale, it still carries spicy and citrus aromas and flavours, with the fresh hops adding a green resinous character. It fits the pale ale profile pretty perfectly.

The beer pours a deep golden colour with a big persistent head from a generous 500ml bottle and, at 5.5 per cent ABV, it sits at 2.2 standard drinks. It’s got a beautiful honey malt flavour and mouthfeel.

A rich beer without being overly sweet and cloying. While it is refreshing, the malt shines through when it’s served at a slightly warmer temperature (around 8-10C instead of 4-6C), making the Harvest Ale a satisfying winter beer.

Food match: The spice and citrus peel characters from the hops, along with the malt, would be wonderful with a Moroccan tagine with fresh parsley, preserved lemon and a dash of honey.

Pirate Life – Hopco

This American-style pale ale isn’t new, but it doesn’t seem to get the recognition or shelf space it deserves. It’s a definite favourite of mine.

The Hopco pours with a light golden colour, with a hint of green and a light hop haze. There’s a nice lingering aromatic head and, wow, does it deliver on aroma. Honeydew melon and lime-zest hop smells leap out of the glass.

The flavour is beautiful light malt, and at 4.8 per cent ABV from a 355ml can, it’s a great everyday beer. The hop flavour is grassy fresh and has a load of melon and lime, thanks to NZ Cascade. There’s also Motueka and Pacifica to back up the fresh hop characters, all of which come from the family-owned hop company, Hopco.

Food match: The prominent lime coming from this beer would go well with a coriander-laden plate of beef nachos with plenty of jalapeños. It’d cut through the sour cream nicely, too.

Little Bang – The Naked Objector

The first of the new canned series of core beers from Little Bang, The Naked Objector is a West Coast IPA. It’s deep orange in colour and a little hazy with big aromas of bitter orange and a herbal background.

It’s only slightly sweet, letting the hops do most of the talking. The flavours are quite high in bitter orange marmalade and some pine and resinous clingy bitterness.

At 6.5 per cent ABV from a 375ml can, it’s a big aggressive IPA that finishes surprisingly easy on the tongue, even for a beer that’s stated to be 90 IBUs. So it’s quite tempting to have another, and another.

The crew at Little Bang is working hard and there’s more news to come soon from arguably the coolest little brewery in the burbs, which is definitely worth a visit.

Food match:  Char-grilled lamb with an orange and fennel salad. The orange flavour from the hops would tie in well and this big brash beer needs to go up against big meaty flavours like lamb.

John Krüger is an Adelaide-based photographer and home brewer with a passion for good beer. He’s on the Royal Adelaide Beer and Cider Awards committee, as well as being a beer judge with the awards.

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