Just some guy drinking beer in Wollongong
The Australian craft beer community went a bit nuts recently when a few cartons of Southern Tier’s Creme Brûlée stout made it to our shores. I’d heard that the stocks ordered by leading craft beer store Slowbeer in Melbourne were all accounted for before they even arrived in the store.
I’d been wishing for quite some time that this beer would be seen again in this country. I’d been lucky enough to try some during an event at the Albion Hotel for Newcastle Craft Beer Week about two years ago. Well, after an event, actually. It was the first craft beer event I’d been to since I started writing a beer column and I was a little starstruck that the various brewers and distributor knew who I was. So I hung around the cool kids for a while.
That was when the Creme Brûlée Stout (and Rogue’s bacon maple beer) came out. I was amazed at how much like creme brûlée it tasted – so much so that so that Corey from the Albion got some small bowls of ice cream and used the stout as a dessert topping (as I recall it didn’t work too well). Soon afterwards I spoke to the distributor about getting a few bottles of that and found out just how rare it was.
So I was happy it was in the country. And sad, because it seems I’d miss out. Until I found that Justin Lill Wines in Berry – about a 45-minute drive south from my place – got some. Seems it was just him and Slowbeer that got it. Jeez, what are the odds that a beer I wanted to try again would end up in a bottle shop so close to home?
So I went down and bought a bottle and found it was everything I remembered. I was a little worried that my taste buds might have been a bit impaired in Newcastle because I was a bit drunk, but no, it was still great. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so a beer that resembles a creme brûlée is going to work for me. The dominant flavour is of caramel, with a hint of vanilla here and there and an underscoring of coffee.
But it’s not a hugely sweet beer, a feat which is achieved with the help of a hop bitterness that slips in at the back end. It’s that bitterness that makes it a balanced and truly drinkable beer. If I’d have been a rich man I would have bought every single bottle Justin had in stock. Who knows when we’ll see this beer in Australia again.