Talk about marching into the den of the dragon and whacking it on the nose! Mind you, the dragon might not have noticed, but it is still a brave effort.
Words by drinks writer, Ken Gargett
Newstead Brewing Co. has established its new production HQ, and pub, in Castlemaine Street, Milton. Now that might not mean much to those who aren’t so fortunate as to call Brisbane home, but the street name might be a clue. Castlemaine. Yes, that Castlemaine. They have set up bang smack next to that Queensland icon, XXXX (you can check it on Google Maps). The massive Castlemaine XXXX brewery on the hill at Milton, a landmark known to everyone.
And of course, just a two-minute walk from the famous Cauldron, the site of so many glorious Origin victories. But it is beer, not ball, of which we speak today.
As a craft brewer, Newstead Brewing, which is run by well-known local restaurateur, Michael Conrad and associates, is targeting a different market to that of the behemoth.
Newstead has made another ‘brave’ decision, one which I have discussed at length with Michael. I am not a fan of beer from cans. I really hate it. Subconscious or not (not, I would insist), beer from cans inevitably has a tinny, metallic taste I really detest. Hence, I was more than stunned to learn that Newstead had moved from bottles to all cans.
Michael assures me that technology has advanced to the extent that no longer is any ‘tinniness’ evident. He does, however, strongly recommend that the beer is poured from the can into a good quality glass. Think a Riedel shiraz glass, as an example.
Distribution is through outlets big and small in Queensland or on Newstead’s website. There is a limited distribution in New South Wales and Victoria, which should increase later in the year. The cans all tell terrific local stories for a bonus.
MY TOP FIVE – NEWSTEAD BREWING
First, a tough one as they produce six, plus a cider. The odd man out, given we are in summer, was the porter. And yes, I went to a Riedel shiraz glass. I’m not completely convinced that there is still not a hint of the tinny taste, but perhaps that might be my imagination. And to be honest, by the end of the tasting, I was seeing not the slightest hint of it.
GOLDEN ALE 4.7%
Lives up to its name as a sunlit golden beer. Lots of flavour here. Quite fruity. It is clean and crisp. Mid-length. It looks, feels and tastes like you are standing in a sunny field, shafts of wheat waving in a gentle breeze. There is a pleasing hoppy note on the finish. This is an ideal summer beer and one that would work with a plate of prawns or another richly flavoured seafood.
SESSION ALE 3.4%
Well, if there is any hint of tinniness here, I could not find it. This has a rustic, slight mushroom/truffle note. The flavours are more front and centre than any grandstanding finish, but it is crisp and clean. Some citrus, orange rind notes sneak in. A pleasingly flavoured effort that will prove perfect for thirst-quenching-seekers.
INDIA PALE ALE 6.4%
A deep, opaque bronze colour here. A serious, take-no-prisoners style with a lengthy, pleasing, but quite bitter finish. There is a slight caramel undertow, wrapped around a citrus/orange rind mid-palate. Nice persistence. A fine example of the style but one to be aware of, lest it sneaks up on you.
AMBER ALE 5.2%
Our friends at Newstead must have a different perspective on colours than myself. To call it a Dark Chocolatey Brown Ale might be closer to reality, but what would you want – a glass of amber ale or some of that chocolatey brown stuff? Whatever its colour, this is a cracker ale. Richly flavoured, very persistent, good depth of flavour. Lots to like here. Toasty fruit notes. Hints of caramel sneak in near the end. This is the complete all-rounder.
PALE ALE 5.2%
My new favourite beer. Full of flavour. Clean. Lingering, fresh, lovely hoppy finish. Nice citrus notes. A summer beer with more than enough richness, taste and complexity to drink anytime. Newstead describes this as having a tropical hop finish. I can’t think of a better way. This is a good beer.