Gerard Meares from Pinchgut Brewing Company decided to delve into a bit of Danish brewing history for his GABS beer.
What beer are you making for GABS?
We have recently uncovered a style that most have not heard of, a beer that is long forgotten even in its homeland, Denmark. We are reviving the Danish Imperial Red Stout. This particular style dates back to the time when Denmark ruled over both Sweden and Norway, well before Saccharomyces carlsbergensis, the species of yeast responsible for lager fermentation, was isolated at the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen.
Does it have a name yet?
Not yet, and we haven’t devoted any time to finding a name, although we are open to suggestions!
Where did the inspiration come from?
About 20 years ago I spent a bit of time in Copenhagen, and of course a few afternoons were spent in the Carlsberg Brewery’s beer garden. I found the history behind the brewery and the Carlsberg Research Centre fascinating, particularly the strong links between the research centre and the Australian brewing industry. With a number of Danish brewers involved in collaboration brews and brewer exchanges, it seems those links are only growing stronger. Having read up on the history of Carlsberg, I started looking further into the history of brewing in Denmark.
How much effort goes into designing a beer for GABS?
No real effort, it is great fun! All of the test brews are done in my garage at home, as we are too busy in the brewery to stop and brew 25 litres. The first and most important task is of course finding enough clear space in the garage to set up the pilot brewery. Doing small test brews is great fun, as it gets the brewer back to his home-brewing roots. I have three kids under eight years old, so there is always someone ready to help when I have to bring work home with me. There have already been a couple of pilot brews done to make sure we can get our yeast strain to behave the way we need it to. Last year we were going to brew our Beetroot beer, The Stray Root, but there was already a similar beer in the line up. We decided to brew a Red Pilzner instead, and it was a nice beer, but it looked very tame in the line up full of really big beers. This time around we won’t have to worry about chopping up all that beetroot!
Does GABS give you the chance to go a bit crazy and try something you might not normally brew?
Definitely, there is no way we could try to sell a keg of Danish Imperial Red Stout in our usual outlets. GABS gives brewers the chance to throw out the rule book to some extent. There will be all sorts of different beers and each one will have an interesting story behind it, and of course a brewer ready to tell you all about their beer and what they went through to get it on tap.
With most beer festivals, you turn up with your regular line up of beers, talk to punters answering all sorts of questions, and pour beers for about six hours. When you pack everything into the back of the ute, you head home with a bunch of empty kegs and very empty pockets. GABS gives brewers a great opportunity to brew some of the more obscure or out there styles, and even better, they get heaps of people to turn up and try them! Guy and Steve have done an awesome amount of work since they first opened at St.Kilda in 2008. Their success is evident in the way their business and events continue to grow and are being copied by others.
Does the spectapular bring out a competitive streak?
Not really, I am a very competitive person when it comes to most things, but not brewing. I am more concerned with what I am doing to worry about what anybody else is up to. As long as people like our beers and the kegs come back empty then I am happy.
Explanation for the unaware: GABS is Great Australasian Beer Spectapular, a beer festival in Melbourne, Australia, from May 24-26 this year where brewers make a beer they’ve never made before and bring it along so the punters can try it. Cool, huh?