I’d suggest that Melbourne brewer Moon Dog think outside the box but that would imply that they were actually inside the box at some stage.
Most of the craft beer breweries here tend to stick to the staples – pale ale, IPA, stout – and perhaps only go a bit weird for their ultra-limited specialty releases.
And I totally understand that – I mean they’ve got to make some money and your best chance of doing that is sticking to the beer styles people like. And I’m one of those people drinking them.
But that’s not Moon Dog’s approach. Maybe they don’t want to make money, maybe they’re bored with the usual styles, but they’re 100 per cent weird all the time.
And I love them for it – they make beer interesting (okay, beer is already interesting. They make it more interesting).
They make weird beers with weird names, like Henry Ford’s Girthsome Fjord (which is a ‘‘Bulgo-American India Brown Ale’’) and Perverse Sexual Amalgam (a black wild ale with cherry plums).
After a recent visit to Plonk bottle shop in Canberra I was able to have myself a little Moon Dog party with a few of their very hard to lay your hands on beers. The trio of weirdness was the Symbiotic Solipsism and two beers from the Magnificent Mullet series, Melon Gibson and Macguava.
I should mention that, when I say they make weird beers, that doesn’t mean they’re bizarre and awful tasting. See, part of the Moon Dog magic is that they can take weird ingredients that perhaps shouldn’t go together and make you want more.
The label of Symbiotic Solipsism defines that phrase as ‘‘two pseudo-metaphysical constructs co-existing in each other’s conscious, unsure of the existence of the other’’. You got that? Good, because I don’t. The beer itself is a coffee raspberry amber ale and I was expecting to be not very good. Coffee and raspberry? Come on, now. But it works. Sure, it’s not for the craft beer newbie who thinks drinking James Squire is adventurous but I liked it. It has an aroma of fresh coffee beans (Costa Rican honey coffee, in fact, according to the label) and the dominant flavour is of that coffee. I couldn’t find any raspberry at all. But then, as the beer warms up, in come the sweetness of the raspberries. Hard to believe it’s almost 8 per cent alcohol too.
Next up were the Magnificent Mullet beers, made with a witbier-Berliner Weisse base but each with a different addition of fruit. With the Melon Gibson, made in tribute to Mel Gibson’s mullet circa Lethal Weapon, it’s watermelon (but you probably guessed that by now). I got some nice banana notes and a bit of lemon on the nose but no watermelon. In terms of flavour the watermelon is there but more understated than expected. It sort of curls around the wit beer rather than aiming to become the dominant flavour.
It’s a slightly different story with Macguava – this time the
inspiration is TV character MacGyver. Like the melon, the guava is added post-fermentation but, here the fruit is much more apparent (Maybe guava is a more pungent fruit?). It’s certainly there on the nose and much more prevalent on the tongue (but stopping well short of being fruit juice sweet).
Of the three my pick is the MacGuava. Now I just need to wait for the third in the mullet series – Billy Ray Citrus. And of course, any other beer the Moon Dog boys throw into a bottle.
Would I drink them again?: The Symbiotic Solipsism, probably not. It tasted nice but it’s not really a sessionable beer, more the sort you drink to say ” hey I drank a weird coffee raspberry amber ale”.
As for the mullet beers, while they may absolutely scream “novelty beer” they’re actually very, very drinkable. I’d drink either of them again but if I had to pick between them I’d go for Macguava.