When it comes to breweries named after early Australian brewers, pretty much everyone can name one of them. But, perhaps, fewer could name the other one. Or even know there is a another one (and I hope there are only two of them, otherwise I’m going to look a bit stupid).
The one everyone knows is James Squire, who has had choice moments in his life plastered all over beer labels for years (which I’ve always been a fan of, love a label with a good story). The lesser known one is John Boston – started by The Wine Society – and perhaps he’s a lesser known early Australian brewer because his name sounds American.
But James and John are actually contenders for the title of “the first brewer in Australia”, though the Squire guys might not let you know that. Seems that there are records of both guys brewing in 1796 but what went on before them is shrouded in mystery.
Squire kept brewing and set up a hotel while Boston went to the South Pacific and got eaten by cannibals (which, if The Wine Society wanted to cash in on John’s history, would make a great inspiration for a “story behind a beer”. Cannibal IPA anyone?).
Given that James Squire and John Boston are pitted against each other in terms of who our first brewer is, I thought I’d put their pale ales up against each other. I would have called this a “prison fight” but Boston didn’t come here as a convict but a free settler.
The James Squire One Fifty Lashes pale ale is still as ordinary and uninspiring as when I first tried it. With a smell of malty wet cardboard, it’s my least-favourite of the JS beers.The flavour is heavy on the malt but not much hoppiness (which is odd for a pale ale).
The John Boston Boston’s Mill Pale Ale (yep, that’s its actual name. Why they didn’t just call it John Boston’s Pale Ale is beyond me) is a better proposition in my book. While there was a slightly odd aroma and flavour in the background that I couldn’t quite define, the overall flavour is of a nice, slight toffee-ness. It also has a darker, more pleasing colour than the JS “look, I could be a lager” pale ale.
Would I drink them again?: While I certainly declare John the winner over James, I’m not in a rush to drink either of them again any time soon.