Brewery is for swingers

One of the problems of loving craft beer and living in Wollongong is that the stuff can be hard to get on tap.
You can get the bottled stuff easy enough but the only stuff on tap here was the beers from the Five Islands Brewing Company – later to be replaced by the Illawarra Brewing Company. And more recently the growler fills at HopDog down in Nowra. There is also the Little Prince bar with its two taps devoted to craft beer, but that’s about it.
If you were after craft beer on tap regular trips to Sydney would be in order. That’s fine for a whippersnapper with oodles of disposable income but not so much for someone with a mortgage and a child. When you’ve got a kid, a trip to Sydney to visit a bar or brewery is a treat usually saved for special occasions (so you whippersnappers should appreciate how lucky you are).
So the news last Friday that the Illawarra Brewery has introduced swinging taps is awesome. It means the chance to try beers I thought would come and go in Sydney without me ever getting a schooner or pint thereof. And it’s at a place that is on the bus line to my house. So if I can’t convince the wife to come down to the brewery with me (well, someone has to drive) then I can get there on my own.
And it was a bus I had to take on Saturday to try the three new taps (yep, I waited a whole day after hearing about the swinging taps to get down there). And the news was very good – of the three taps one of them was a beer I doubted my chances of ever trying and I’d already given up on.
The former was the new IPA from The Rocks Brewing Company and the latter was the Fresh Six from Young Henrys.
For the record, the third beer was Children of Darkness, the GABS beer from HopDog. Of the three the Fresh Six was the standout for me, because it made what seemed like a gimmick to work very well. That gimmick was the addition of agave syrup, an ingredient in tequila (I think. I’m not a tequila fan).
It was a beer made by Richard Adamson of Young Henry’s in conjunction with Sydney band Front End Loader – it even comes in at a rock and roll 6.66 per cent. Sure, they probably fudged that a bit but who cares?
Flavourwise it really works, with the agave giving the pale ale a slightly sweet note. The idea of adding agave sounds like a gimmick – like it’s a beer you drink so you can say “hey, I had an agave beer last night” – but Fresh Six surpasses that.
It’s a really nice beer. Which is why I had two of them. And at 6.66 per cent, I’m glad I caught the bus.

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