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Thus Let Us Drink Beer: Black Arts and St Andrews Beach Brewery

Updated: Jan 13

The emphasis of the last round of instalment of this series has been heavily on breweries that pump out IPAs and brews on the hoppier end of things. While this is certainly one of my favourite aspects in the world of beer, what I ultimately am looking for are flavours that are not restricted to one-dimensionality and breweries that set out to push the envelope beyond what appeases the mainstream palate with the tried and tested offerings of lagers and pale ales.

Enter Black Arts.

With the premise to do anything but the ordinary and their focus set on the creation of Australian wild and sour ales, they take inspiration from as far as the old world, specifically when it comes to taking a page or two off the book of traditional beer-making of Belgium, to then infuse it with their own idiosyncratic twist.

The result of Black Arts’ approach is never not complex, with specifically the blending and fermentation process adding the “je ne sais quoi” as this time-intensive act along with the maturation in oak barrels resulting in elegant and flavourful ales that deliberately blur the line between cider, wine and beer.

Formally established in 2019, Black Arts started with blending the beers that had been ageing since 2016 launching a core line-up of three beers to complement them with smaller runs of single-barrel, dry hopped and fruitier versions.

Black Arts focus is firmly set on drinkability rather than exorbitant sour- and acidicness, however, suffice to say, for the untrained palate a first encounter with a funky sour can be an overwhelming and even off-putting experience. To ease in the uninitiated, Black Arts produces their Bière de Coupage, which acts as a bridge being a beer but already introducing funkier components by blending their mature wild ale with a young saison. The result is a slightly funky, cideresque brew with lemony nuances.

Once you have tasted blood, it is time to venture on to Black Arts’ Golden Wild Ale, an homage to the sour beers of Belgium which leads one down the rabbit hole into funkier, more sour and stewier realms of what experimentation with bacteria and yeast strains can produce. Vinous and dry and nature, this little number grows in complexity with each sip and gives an idea of the cosmos of flavours that can be achieved with fermentation.

My favourite of what I have tried so far is the Red Wild expression. It reminds me of my numerous trips to Belgium, where I enjoyed tarty and full-bodied ales that took me on a nuanced journey with flavours derived from oakyness of the barrels, accentuated by dark chocolatey, vanilla and grape flavours.

St Andrews Beach Brewery

What I have grown to love about Australia’s ever expanding craft beer scene is not merely the variety and quality that breweries produce, but that it has so expansive that brewers confidently set up their operations outside the confines of the tried and tested hotbeds in cities like Melbourne and Sydney, which became the original hotbeds with its industrial areas and warehouses.

The location and evolution of St Andrews Beach Brewery harks back to when its co-founder revisited a property six years ago that he had originally helped to develop around the turn of the millennium: In essence, St Andrews Brewery’s digs are a converted racetrack, with the stables having been converted into one of the more unique brewery outfits Australia has to offer.

Needless to say, the brewery has not only established itself on the forefront of Australian craft beer creators but prides itself on the ways they attention to details and its commitment to diligently handle each facet of their operations themselves, including a hop farm and the cultivation of English cider apples and pears – an approach that pays dividends and one that can be both tasted as well as experienced in both the design of their artwork as well as the carefully curated merchandise, which in terms of detailed features and quality of garments takes things to new heights.

Each of the beers of St Andrews Beach Brewery celebrates the property that is home to their operations, with names and characteristic chosen to pay homage to the racetrack, horses or other idiosyncratic features.

My favourite of the St Andrews Brewery range so far – and I say “so far” as I have missed out on their Double IPA expression – is their The Farrier India Pale Ale.

The Farrier is a brew that will excite both hopheads and craft beer aficionados as well as the uninitiated as it well-balanced approach includes both huge tropical flavours on the orangery and pineappley end of the spectrum, yet with clearly distinguishable nuances on the other.

Weighing in at 6.4%, it packs a bit of a punch and with its mid-range bitterness, you get to taste the hop resin goodness with the grist of the malt rounding things out with a delicate sweetness at the back end, which along with the hop aromas entice you and bring you in.

Time to set a reminder to not miss out on St Andrews Beach’s next DIPA venture.


images from company websites

T • August 23, 2021

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