Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beer - Slowbeer Growlers and Mikkeller Y Pale Ale

Last weekend saw the long-awaited introduction of growlers at my favourite local beer shop, Slowbeer. This is a very welcome development for the craft beer lovers of Melbourne, Australia.

I believe a number of microbreweries around the country have been offering growler services via their brewery "cellar doors" for sometime. However, the slowbeer2go growler concept seems to be a first for beer retailers in Australia...certainly the first I have come across...and what an exciting concept it is!

The key purpose of the growler is to allow the shop purchase of beers that are primarily "keg only" brews, where the brewer has created a beer for pubs and bars only and/or as a limited small-batch and therefore not bottled it for retail sale. This can mean that a number of exciting and worth-trying beers and being produced around the world but are out-of-reach to those who are not local to the brewer or unable to travel for whatever reason. A growler service, where the beer is provided to the retailer in a keg, certainly changes that scenario...opening a whole new door in accessibility to awesome beer.

Further benefits of the concept, which I greatly value, are the environmental and economic savings provided by growlers. With no packaging costs or waste, all you are paying for is the beer (after the initial fee to buy the physical growler) and no extra glass and labeling is being produced and discarded.

To learn more about slowbeer2go, check out the Slowbeer blog post at: http://slowbeer.blogspot.com/2010/07/slowbeer2go-is-go-growlers-filling-as.html

The best part about Slowbeer providing growlers is their determination to do it right. Not satisfied by simply filling up the growlers via the tapped keg, Chris has been careful to establish and test a process for providing the freshest and most true-to-form draught experience possible (especially in terms of sustaining carbonation) for us, the passionate beer drinking customers. As noted in the Slowbeer blog, they have acquired a "beer gun" to allow the empty growler to be first purged of oxygen via a burst of carbon dioxide before and after filling.

The beer gun also ensures a smooth and steady filling of the growler, avoiding any overflow and allowing it to be filled the appropriate capacity, rather quickly.

Unopened, the growler should keep acceptably in your fridge for 3-5 days. Once opened, the growler will give your beer a life of about 24-48 hours storage, which is surely more than enough time to succumb to the temptation of drinking and sharing excellent beer. When ready to refill the growler, all you need to do is return to the Slowbeer shop, where they will swap you with a clean and cold growler, filled on the spot with the latest supply. Too easy!

The first offering of slowbeer2go was the Mikkeller Y Pale Ale - a 5.9% abv American Pale Ale, produced by the Danish brewer as they work their way through a series of Pale Ale varieties.

Poured into a stein glass, the Mikkeller Y looked very appealing, cloudy red-brown in appearance, with a small but thick and creamy off-white head.

The aroma was very strong, providing a robust fruity floral hit with some sweetness, maybe hints of pine too.

The Mikeller Y has a very big taste, lead by a lovely big hoppy flavour, which balances nicely into a well-rounded palate of hops, malt and various fruit tones after a few mouthfuls. Quality drinking.

Whilst I agree with the Slowbeer notes - that this beer is tending more towards an IPA (certainly in appearance and taste) - it still possesses the light-to-medium body and carbonation of a Pale Ale and was also wonderfully smooth and balanced in the mouth.

To me, this is a very sessional beer. Even with such a big flavour...it is easy drinking, consistent and full of flavour. I really enjoyed it!

A brilliant start to my growler experience, which left me in a very happy and satisfied place. I'm very thankful to Slowbeer for bringing this new beer adventure to us.

Now, I wait in anticipation to hear what will be pouring next at Slowbeer!

One shiny new and full Slowbeer growler.

A stein of Mikkeller Y Pale Ale ready to drink whilst watching the footy.

How not to drink your growler!