I’ve got this friend called Marco. He likes to try a new beer every now and then, but he’s not entirely sure which ones to try. He knows I write a beer column for the local paper so I’ve let him know if he needs some advice to get in touch.
But it got me to thinking that he’d be far from alone on that score. There are surely loads of people looking to try something different in the world of beer but are somewhat overwhelmed by what’s available and don’t know where to start.
So I figured that made the perfect topic for a regular blog entry. So every Friday (unless I forget) I’ll aim to post a short recommendation on a beer. For the most part, they won’t be crazy, fancy hard-to-get beers, opting instead for those that are easy to find – either in bottle shops or on tap somewhere – on the way home from work (note: that’s if you work in Wollongong and not Sydney or the good beer Mecca that is Melbourne. Man, seems like you can’t walk five metres in that city without tripping over beer. And I mean that literally, Okay, so maybe not literally, but something pretty close anyway).
The first Friday Drinks recommendation is the Illawarra Brewing Company’s Belgian Pale, and my guess is that it’s a BPA, which is like an IPA but from Belgium and not India (yes, I know IPA actually came from Britain, so shut up). I think it’s
a BPA because the beer includes lots of the strangely named Zythos hop (you ask me, that’s the name of the home planet of a villain in a crappy sci-fi novel, not a hop).
Those hops were created to fill a hole when all the big C hops ran out (that would be Citra and umm….some others that also start with C). So the result in this case is that you get some interesting piney flavours but also some notes of tangerine/mandarin as well. Is that from the hops from planet Zythos? Dunno, never had them before. Nor am I sure that those suckers are responsible for the undercurrent of bitterness that runs through the beer. But if I had to place a bet on it I’d say yes.
But there’s also some Belgianness here, thanks to the use of a traditional Belgian malt bill (I got that from the Illawarra Brewing Company Facebook site – I don’t have much of a clue about the malt that goes into Belgian beer). It does have the clove and banana notes underlying the beer, which works well with the presence of the hops (which aren’t overstated).
It’s an interesting mix of Europe and the United States and I for one reckon it’s well worth a try. And you can have a few of the IBC’s other beers while you’re down there tonight as well.