Tag Archives: NSW

The Gatherer – Stone & Wood Limited Release (AUS)

It’s been a long time between drinks but it’s not as if I haven’t been doing my research. In fact, for this beer, I went straight to the source and toured the Stone & Wood Brewery in nearby Byron Bay. Why it took me so long to make this pilgrimage to the birthplace of Pacific Ale (surely one of Australia’s top beers), I’ll never know.

A good place to gather is at Stone & Wood Brewery in Byron Bay

Both of my regular readers will know that I’m not a huge fan of wheat beers but The Gatherer may just be an exception. Light and fruity, it has elements honey-dew melon and floral flavours. It would make a nice cooling summer drink or a great accompaniment to a hot curry. Not Stone & Wood’s finest but worth a try. In fact, worth a try every year, as the recipe changes with each seasonal brew.

In truth, having ‘done’ the Stone & Wood Brewery tour,  I would say that my judgement has been so clouded that future reviews may be unreliable. What I can say is, if you’re in or near Byron Bay and your remotely interested in the art of brewing, how to run a community business and/or have a good time, then book your place at S&W. Our tour guide was a legend, we learnt plenty about beer and we were having such a good time that the tour over-ran by 45 mins.

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From the Kings of Australia craft brewing we go the Queens of The Stoneage and the aptly named “Feelgood Hit Of The Summer  (even though it’s Autumn)………..




Fixation IPA – Fixation Brewing (AUS)

Fixation IPA - Jim'll fix it for you!
Fixation IPA – Jim’ll fix it for you!

OK, let’s get this straight. When I do a tasting, I taste first, write my notes (or direct to the blog) and then check out the website of the brewery. That way I’m not swayed by what the brewery writes and no one is putting words in my mouth. If I want anything out in my mouth it’s beer.

With Fixation IPA, my notes could have been copied straight off the website:


Actually, that was copied straight off the website.

To be honest, I could only taste 3 different hop varieties but who’s counting?

So what’s to add? Well, only that this little brew has probably got less carbon miles (for me at any rate) than most I taste. It’s brewed just down the road in Byron Bay. At 6.5% it’s has that American IPA punch that we all love and I’m beginning to regret I bought just the one. Believe the hype!

After a few of these I’d be a right Dizzee Rascal. Here’s “Fix Up Look Sharp” (warning: contains bad f$*kin’ language)…….

Former Tenant Red IPA – Modus Operandi Brewing (AUS)

First up, apologies for the photo. This looks like I used a Saint Vitus Dance chromatic aberration filter. If only I had a camera.

Worst photo ever!
Worst photo ever!

Here’s what it should look like:

Pic of a can
Former Tenant Red IPA – why the hell did they move out?


You’ve got the love this beer’s MO. Marmalade orange in colour, it has an inviting aroma of tropical fruit. Coming in at 7.8%, you’d expect this IPA to slap you round the face a bit but it’s surprisingly soft and complex, with undertones of candied orange and Christmas crystallised fruits. It’s a sure-fire winner and the crew at Modus Operandi on Sydney’s Northern Beaches should hold their head high. I’ll be looking out for more of their MO!

Best drunk by a river.

Here’s the a suitable lo-fi Siouxsie and the Banshees with, ‘Tenant’….

And no, that’s not what you think it is ……..


Yenda Pale Ale – The “Australian Beer Co” (AUS)

According to the Wicked Pedia, “Yenda is a town in the Riverina district of New South Wales, Australia. The town is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) east of Griffith, 45 kilometres (28 mi) of Narrandera, and 550 kilometres (340 mi) west of Sydney in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area of southern New South Wales. Although most of the original 15-acre farms have been consolidated into large vineyards and most farmhouses have disappeared, farm roads are named after the original settlers. In 1940 Yenda had two clothing stores, two bakers, two butchers, two grocery stores, two barbers, one newsagency, one pharmacy, one cinema, one Greek restaurant and one bank but residents now do their shopping in nearby Griffith. At the 2011 census, Yenda had a population of 1,503.” Strangely there is no mention of a craft brewery?

Image of a bottle of Yenda Pale Ale
Yenda Pale Ale – A sheep in wolf’s clothing.


Now, there obviously is a brewery in Yenda, ‘cos that’s where they make ‘Yenda Pale Ale’, an Australian-style pale with a ‘3 out of 5 malt intensity and 3 out of 5  hop intensity’. Why am telling you all this? You can read it in the bottle! In fact, The Australian Beer Co has done all it can to help you in your craft beer experience. What the label doesn’t tell you is that the Aus Beer Co is owned by Coca Cola Amatil, therefore it isn’ a craft beer. What it is is a multi-national soft drinks company masquerading as rural brewer, trying to cash in on the craft beer revival.

It tastes alright, but is not as nice as full fat coke.

Here’s the Skids with ‘Masquerade’ ………. check out Jobson’s dancing!


Three Sheets Pale Ale – Lord Nelson Brewery (AUS)

England expects …………… On the eve of the first Ashes test, I thought it only appropriate that I try an Anglo-Australian ale. As mentioned in my review of the ‘Old Admiral‘ dark ale, I’m a bit of a fan of the Lord Nelson pub in Sydney’s Rocks district. Their ales never fail to impress and ‘Three Sheets’ is no exception.

Lord Nelson Brewery's  'Three Sheets', another admirable ale.
Lord Nelson Brewery’s ‘Three Sheets’, another admirable ale.


Antique pine in colour, it has a fresh citrus aroma. Photographed here on what will be my new deck (see what I did there?), Three Sheets is as fresh as Mistral wind. Mouth-watering, with undertones of honey and apple crumble, it goes down a treat …… much like Napoleon’s fleet at Trafalgar.

Here’s to the Admiral, here’s the Ashes! May the best team win …… as long as it’s England.

Here’s the Thin White Duke, with ‘Ashes To Ashes’ …………

4 Pines Brewing Company – Stout (AUS)

Billed as the ‘the world’s first certified Space Beer’, I was looking forward to putting my feet up in front of the fire and trying Manly-based, 4 Pines‘ handcrafted stout, to boldly go, etc.

Image of a bottle of 4 Pines stout in front of a roaring fire.
Space Beer ……. it’s stout Jim, but not as we know it


Well it certainly looks like a stout when poured into a glass, ebony black with a frothy nicotine head. It smells like a stout when lifted to the nose, slightly sweet with hints of molasses and burnt rubber. I was therefore slightly disappointed to find the taste somewhat underwhelming. A little too sweet for my liking and lacking in body. I like to drink my stouts with a knife and fork whereas this would be better suited to a spoon. There are hints of coffee and chocolate but ultimately there just too much ……………. well, space.

Here’s Spizz Energi with, “Where’s Captain Kirk?”



Two Heads Bright Lager – Australian Beer Co (AUS)

Two heads are better than one, but if you’re driving, then one Two Heads is better than two. Two Heads Bright Lager is a conundrum too. Extensive research via Dr Google revealed only that the Australian Beer Co, its brewers, had recently received massive investment from Coca-Cola Amatil, thus negating its craft beer credentials. But hey, I’m not here to talk about brewing politics, I’m here to review beer and this one’s pretty good.

Two Heads Bright Lager - it's the real thing!
Two Heads Bright Lager – it’s the real thing!

I sampled mine in the Black Sombrero, a funky new “Taqueria & Tequileria” in Lismore, NSW.  The Black Sombrero is a pleasant surprise in Keen St, it’s decor colourful and authentic, its menu, simply mouth-watering and its staff welcoming and informative (note to self, must do more research on tequila) .

The Black Sombrero - fish tacos & vintage tequila ....
The Black Sombrero – fish tacos & vintage tequila ….

A crafty schooner revealed and fresh, golden lager, aptly the colour of tequila. Despite its name, it only had one head, but it was a good one that lasted till the bottom of the glass. It’s a real palate cleanser with a double fizz that stimulates both the back and the front of your mouth. The flavour is crisp and summery with a vague hint of apple or wax jambu.

All in all, a refreshing lager that easily hold its own among the commercial brews. Craft beer? Probably not. Quaffable lager? definitely.

Two heads need two hearts, here’s The U2s in their pomp, mullets ‘n’ all   ……………………

William’s Organic Pale Ale – William Bull Brewery (AUS)

The William Bull Brewery is unsurprisingly named after a chap called “William Bull” (Billy B to his mates) and was founded by the De Bortoli family. The renowned wine makers originally brewed ale for consumption by the vineyard workers and branched out in to craft brewing about 10 years ago. The Bilbul-based Bull Brewey (try saying that after a 6-pack or 2) produces a range of ales but the Organic Pale is the first I’ve come across.

William's Organic Pale Ale .... it's organic, no bull!
William’s Organic Pale Ale …. it’s organic, no bull!


Now, before all you photo-nazis start pointing out that the picture isn’t straight, it’s the post that not straight. so just tilt your head to the left or your screen to right.

This organic pale is pale indeed, pouring a very clear white gold into the glass. There’s a mild aroma of rock melon and light carbonation. It’s a refreshing ale, more reminiscent of an English pale than an American one, I think this would be great on draught.  There’s malt mixed with a subtle citrus bitterness. A great quaffing ale, and being organic, it’s good for the environment too. What’s not to like?

Here’s the environmentally friendly, vegetarian and organically brilliant Smiths with “William It Was Really Nothing” …. great TOTP countdown too ……

Garden De Paradisi by The Mad Brewers (AUS)

You need good glasses to drink beer. It was a good job that I’d left mine in my room when I bought this one. If I had been able to read the label, I would have noticed that this intriguing looking beer was in fact a ‘Witbier’ or white beer and I’d never have chosen it. Well, that would have been my loss because this is not you average white beer.

Forget the garden salad, try fish and chips with Garden de Paradis
Forget the garden salad, try fish and chips with Garden de Paradis

Not exactly white, it has the colour of a battered cod fillet (see above), this rather spicy brew had enough citrus tang to cut through the grease and go perfectly with fish and chips. A little research reveals that the Mad Brewers are an offshoot of James Squire. This experimental brew is laced with a special ingredient, the “grain of paradise’ , a close relation of cardamom. It’s this grain that gives this witbier it’s x-factor ………. go mad for it!

Here’s Mad Manc, Ian Brown sounding like he’s been jamming with Queens of the Stone Age in a Moroccan souk ………. with, ‘One Way Ticket To Paradise’

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Wicked Elf Pale Ale (AUS)

It’s been a while,  I know, but I’ve had a good excuse, having been away on deployment in the Philippines with disaster relief charity, ShelterBox. And whilst I did get the chance to sample a few Philippine ales, I didn’t have time to blog about them.

So here’s one from just before I went away. A rare evening out with my gorgeous wife, a quick Thai meal and a thought-provoking movie (Calvary).  To accompany my spicy pork I chose a cheeky little pale ale in the shape of Wicked Elf.

The Little Brewery's 'Wicked Elf', part of an elfy diet as one of your 5-a-day
The Little Brewery’s ‘Wicked Elf’, part of an elfy diet as one of your 5-a-day


Made by Port Macquarie’s Little Brewing Company, ‘Wicked Elf lives up to its billing. Packing a 5.4% punch, this little fella is more than a match for pork in chilli and coconut milk. The colour of Lyles Golden Syrup, it has the aroma of toffee apples and molasses. The taste is classic American-style pale with the real bite of citrus rind. Its my kind of beer and I’ll be keeping my eye out for it on tap.  Elfy livin’ at its best.

Here’s Cage The Elephant with, ‘There Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’ ………. money don’t grow on trees!

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