One of the best brown ales that I've tasted this year was the Big Brown Beaver from The Wig & Pen.
Richard Watkins, the brewer and heart & soul of Canberra's Wig & Pen, is a master brewer of the highest order. He is revered among the brewing community, an expert in science of cask conditioned real ales and the art of the Randall hop infuser.
We visited the Wig & Pen brewpub in April this year, on an Easter road-trip planned for for the specific purpose of drinking a Saturday night away at Wig & Pen. It was a brilliant night indeed. We were joined by Ian Morgan, the senior brewer from Holgate Brewhouse, and his brother-in-law, along with the best tasting paddle in Australia...
|Now...tha'ts a generous tasting paddle of quality beer!|
That night the Wig & Pen was also pouring a brown ale named Big Brown Beaver (Richard loves cheeky names for his beers!) through the NZ Hallertau hop filled Randall.
The brewer's tasting notes say of this 5.9% unfiltered brown ale: "Big Brown Beaver is a malt driven brown ale for the hop lover. Beaver has a strong malt flavour and leaves a satisfying bitterness on the back of the palate. As it is dry hopped through 'modus hoperandus' it has different aroma each week depending on the wims of the brewer, which creates an evolving and easily savourable ale."
It was a delightful drinking experience - full, balanced, long and complex. Caramel sweetness to start then a long hoppy finish of bitterness. This was one of those beers that could turn a non brown ale lover into a true brown ale believer!
When it comes to crafting beer, Richard Watkins is conventional yet punk. Brilliant browness.