Some of these dark brews made their debut at last weekend’s Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival, some are established favourites which were recognised at the Royal Adelaide Beer and Cider Awards on Friday night, and one is the result of an artful collaboration aimed firmly at the theatre crowd.
Sparkke Change Beverage Co – Dirty Floozy (5.3 per cent ABV)
The all-female brewery with social activism at its core released its seasonal dirty chai stout at the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival following a collaboration with Newcastle’s Floozy Coffee Roasters.
Brewed at Barossa Valley Brewing in Tanunda, the base recipe is a rich and robust stout using seven different malts including roast barley and chocolate malt.
About 36 litres of cold-brew coffee and 1.4 litres of chai concentrate were added to the tanks just before the 2000-litre brew was put into 36 kegs last week.
Sparkke head brewer Agi Gajic said the addition of lactose sugar helped balance out the beer’s natural bitterness.
“It’s very early days but people have really liked it so far – it‘s balanced and rich,” she says.
“We talked about the beer together with our friends at Floozy Coffee in Newcastle and they chose a particular coffee bean and also the chai blend.”
The limited-release Dirty Floozy is expected to be available at a select number of pubs in South Australia, NSW and WA.
“It’s just a specialty for now. We’ll be selling the kegs and I dare say the Wheaty will buy one, the Kings Head and maybe The Gilbert,” Gajic says.
As with all Sparkke beverages, a percentage of sales is donated to a cause. Four per cent of Dirty Floozy sales will be put towards a scholarship fund to help young female brewers build skills and confidence in the industry.
Lobethal Bierhaus – Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (5.8 per cent)
Far from being a seasonal, this warming stout is a permanent fixture in the Lobethal Bierhaus range and was awarded Champion Stout at the Royal Adelaide Beer and Cider Awards on Friday night.
Brewed using golden rolled oats, malted and roasted barley, English hops and yeast, the full-bodied stout shows hints of chocolate and roasted coffee flavours.
Co-owner Rose Turnbull says the popularity of dark beers has grown significantly since she opened the brewery with husband Alistair in 2007.
“It’s probably our biggest seller during winter and one of our most popular all year round – even in summer. The amount of people drinking dark beers now is quite high,” Rose says.
“It’s hearty and it seems warming – a bit like how port warms you, a good stout can warm you up in the winter as well.”
Little Bang Brewing Co – Dark Arts (7.5 per cent)
Released late last month at the Stepney brewery’s cellar door, this dark chocolate stout is a collaboration between Little Bang and the State Theatre Company ahead of the Space Theatre season of Creditors, which plays from July 20 – August 5.
“They wanted a beer for the show and we were talking about a pineapple dark for a while but we settled on chocolate because we thought the theatre crowd might not be 100 per cent flat-out craft lunatics,” says Little Bang sales and marketing director Ryan Davidson.
Dark Arts, which will be served at the show, follows in the footsteps of the brewery’s other seasonal stout, Breakfast at Stepney’s, which is blended with cold-drip coffee sourced from fellow Stepney business Rio Coffee.
“This is the same base beer but we fermented it longer and we added a tincture of cocoa nibs and it actually delivered more than we’d hoped – the aroma is majestic but you also get this beautiful nice dark chocolate finish and a bitterness to it that really speaks to that high-quality, high-cocoa chocolate,” Davidson says.
“We all toasted them at home in our ovens and all of our houses and cars smelt like a chocolate muffin for three days – it was beautiful.”
Those wanting a taste of the Dark Arts need to head to the cellar door, Creditors or the King’s Head as the 1000-litre brew is almost all spoken for.
Breakfast at Stepney is also in very short supply but Davidson says another batch of both is expected to be ready before the end of winter.
“We’re actually staring down the barrel of a dark beer shortage – we’ve got a few kegs of Panther left, our chocolate porter (May Contain Traces of Panther), so that’s hopefully going to help fill the gap until we can make more of this.”
Read more about the State Theatre and Little Bang collaboration in this CityMag story.
Clare Valley Brewing Company – Extra Stout (6 per cent)
The winner of the Champion Stout trophy at the 2017 Royal Adelaide Beer & Cider Awards, this extra stout relies on roasted barley and chocolate malts to drive the roasted chocolate coffee flavours which are balanced with the addition of cara and crystal malts. A sprinkling of UK hops EKG and fuggles are added to create a traditional stout.
The stout, which is widely available at bottleshops and brewpubs in South Australia, was first released about five years ago under the name King Kong Stout.
CVBC brand manager Ben Stevens says the extra stout, in particular, developed a strong following at the brewery’s Sevenhill cellar door and at pubs and restaurants in the Clare Valley.
“When we went through our rebrand (in 2016), we effectively changed every one of our recipes except for the stout because it had a lot of goodwill in the market and people really enjoyed it,” he says.
“Our water is horribly hard up in Clare, which makes it perfect for dark beers and stouts.
“It’s very dark, rich and chocolaty but it’s pretty mild, low bitterness and easy drinking.
“For a product that really only goes six months of the year it’s definitely a product that drives volume for us.”
CVBC has also released Chocolate Cherry Coconut Stout, in collaboration with Dainton Beer from Victoria, and a small-batch Coffee Schwarz. It is working in collaboration with WA’s Boston Brewing Co on a Russian Imperial Stout.
The Libation Army – The Infidel (5 per cent)
Launched at the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival on the weekend, The Infidel is the latest release from Marco Bona at The Libation Army Brewing Ops and is inspired by Guinness.
“During my time in England I was a Guinness drinker and I enjoyed a few sessions of multiple pints so I wanted my stout to be light on the alcohol but fully flavoured,” Bona says.
“It’s got plenty of malts, dark chocolate, medium chocolate and a bit of crystal, roast barley and it’s brewed with an English yeast, which gives a bit of a herbal finish to it and ferments it very dry.”
Only available in kegs at selected Adelaide venues, The Infidel follows the recent release of another dark beer, Love Train, Soulful Porter.
Bona, an Italian sommelier turned gypsy brewer, released his first beers under The Libation Army label at the start of the year and is looking to steadily grow his volume.
The dark beers join core range beers Fluffy Jeff White IPA, Gentle Upheaval Session Ale and Tropical Riot Belgian Pale Ale.
Mismatch Brewing Co – Chocolate Stout (5.6 per cent)
The popular Adelaide Hills brewery, which won the Champion Trophy with its lager at the recent Australian Independent Brewers Association Awards, has released the 2018 iteration of its seasonal stout.
Available in 375ml cans at bottleshops or on tap at selected pubs, the Mismatch stout is infused with organic cacao nibs sourced from local Adelaide Hills chocolatier Red Cacao Chocolatier. The cacao nibs are roasted and steeped in 40 per cent neutral spirit to draw out the chocolate flavours and aromas. They are then added post fermentation for six days before the stout is canned or kegged.
Word is that this seasonal beer is being snapped up fast so you’ll need to get in quick.
Big Shed Brewing Concern – Golden Stout Time (5.4 per cent)
What started out as an experimental beer for the 2015 GABS (Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular) Melbourne festival has developed a cult following and become part of the core range at western suburbs brewery Big Shed. As its name suggests, the sweet dessert stout pays homage to the classic Aussie ice cream the Golden Gaytime and the similarity in aroma is uncanny.
The flavours of honeycomb, toffee and vanilla are thanks to the addition of cacao nuts, rice and specialty grain followed by some additional lactose sugar for sweetness.
The beer has also inspired a Golden Stout Time Vodka at Big Shed and another beer take on a classic Aussie ice cream, the Frosty Fruit.
Golden Stout Time is widely available in stubbies at bottle shops where craft beer is sold.
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