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Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Sauce vs. Valhalla Brewing

What originally started seven years ago as a microbrewery in the inner-west of Sydney smack bang in the epicentre of one of the most esteemed beer trails on terra australis, has evolved to become one of the more prominent representatives on the firmament of the Australian craft beer scene.

Starting out from a gypsy-style stovetop operation, Sauce Brewing is nowadays a full production brewery that distributes widely yet also doubles as a brewpub with an exquisite beer garden that caters to locals, where visitors are proffered tasting paddles and takeaways.

Having made a name for itself for hop forward creations, it should not be further wondrous that specifically Sauce Brewing’s IPAs have registered on our radar.

However, not being a one-trick pony, Sauce Brewing has a strong core range comprised of six beers ranging from pilseners via pale ales to mid-strength brews, which is further complemented by a diverse line-up of seasonal limited edition brews.

Based on a melange of three US hop varieties, Sauce Brewing’s West Coast IPA tickles the nostrils with fulminant aromas of pine and stone fruits flanked by distinctively earthy nuances, which on the palate dance against a backdrop of a well-calibrated bitterness.

I was having a nice dram of Octomore 13.2 when I first cracked a can of Sauce’s Mango & Guava IIPA in a bid to find an appropriate equivalent for a boilermaker on a hot day.

As the hybrid name suggests, this golden hued little number has juiciness dialled up to eleven courtesy of plenty of mango and guava juices added to the fermenter, resulting in a prominent sweetness with delicate pine highlights resting on a solid, alcoholic backbone.

Dry-hopped with Sabro, the finish proves to be an exercise par excellence for a slightly bitter, citrussy finish, backed by distinct tangerine, coconut, tropical and stone fruit aromas, with hints of cedar, mint, and cream.

When it comes to frothy punchy winter brews, things tend to not get better than how Sauce Brewing has channelled its alchemy into the creation of its tautological Infrared Red IPA.

Pouring in hues on the deeper and darker end of the red spectrum, this rich malty IPA wins me over with candy-deep, sensual and rich, creamy buttery lactonic notes, which are accentuated by the faintest hints of roast and spicy rye on the palate. El Dorado hops exhibit tropical fruit flavours reminiscent of pineapple and mango with a resinous back note, while Mosaic hops round things out with natural, floral notes stretching from citrussy to piny realms.

Sauce’s IPAs have yet to underwhelm and I urge anyone remotely into brews to check their range out themselves.

Valhalla Brewing Company

Now, as part of this series we never cease to emphasize how difficult it is to keep track of the ever growing number of new craft breweries, most of which differ only in nuances from one another as far as their genesis story is concerned.

However, every now and then there is one that stands out in every aspect imaginable.

Valhalla Brewing Company is, as the telling name and homage to what is described as a majestic hall located in Asgard and presided over by the god Odin would suggest, an entity heavily inspired by Norse mythology, with their flagship beers not surprisingly being opaque, black coloured ones.

Adorned with Viking-esque logos courtesy of the founders Scott Hunt and Ange Tydd’s design abilities, music in myriad forms exerts a major influence on Valhalla Brewing’s operations, which e.g. manifests in dedicated brews like the ode to Motörhead that is Valhalla’s limited release Ace Of Spades.

Not unlike Valhalla Brewing’s flagship expression, i.e. the Obsidian Black Ale, which is a big black ale in the mould of a black IPA with cola and coffee flavours providing the stage for berry notes to dance on, Ace of Spades harbours unique qualities:

Darkly hued due to the use of Tibetan purple barley from Voyager Craft Malt, what we love about Ace of Spades is that despite its Schwarzbier appearance, it lacks the usual stouty nuances one would aspect from a far and instead scores highly in the chocolate department which, sits firmly on a pronounced bitter backbone, with spicy, herbal highlights delicately rounding things out.

Clocking in at an ABV of 5.2%, Ace of Spades proves to be a borderline ideal sipper for the colder months of the year.

Given its faible for darker creations, what we found interesting about Valhalla Brewing is that our favourite expression is an IPA, i.e. the Freya Moon Tropical India Pale Ale.

Created as a celebration of life’s passions, things are firmly placed on the tropical end of the spectrum courtesy of the grapefruit and passionfruit qualities of the Riwaka hops, the pronounced pine and woodsy aromas Simcoe hops imbue and overflowing citrus, peach and passion fruit flavours that Galaxy hops are appreciated for.

Deep golden in appearance, Valhalla’s Freya Moon Tropical IPA knows to convince with its velvety mouthfeel and caramel sweetness, which leaves on hoping that a DIPA is in the works.


Words by AW.

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