When I started out on this beer loving caper, I never understood why some breweries chose to put their stuff into kegs and didn’t bother with bottling it.
To me, they seemed all kinds of crazy because if it is in bottles you can sell it at heaps more places and make loads more money than if you’ve only got it in kegs. Now I’m older and less stupid and I totally get why these breweries do it – it’s much less of an all-round pain in the arse.
You have to buy a bottling line and the bottles and get them labelled. You’ve got to hassle bottle shops here, there and everywhere to get them to put your beer in their fridges. Then you’ve got the hassle of trying to get the bottled beer to them. And there’s also the dread of working out the excise.
So these days, I’m always a little surprised when I hear of a keg-only brewery that has decided to start bottling. The latest is Rocks Brewing Company, who make the beers for Harts Pub. Their beers have been available at quite a few places, including the Illawarra Brewery bar and things seemed to be going okay.
But after five years, they’ve decided to put their beers into bottles. Unfortunately for me, that first beer is not the delicious porter known as The Butcher – I love that beer. Instead it’s the Hangman Pale Ale – it makes perfect sense to release that as the debut; after all more people are going to want to drink a pale than a porter. But part of me still wanted it to be the porter, dammit.
The pale is classed as a US pale ale with three American hops but, to me, it resembles a combination of the US and English styles. There’s the definite citrus and grassy flavours you’d expect from a US pale but then there’s the biscuity malt that made think of England a little bit.
That cross-continent mixing is fine by me – the beer tastes quite good. I especially like the way the hop bitterness isn’t overwhelming but also lingers for a fair while after you swallow the beer.
It might not be the porter, but I reckon I can handle the pale ale.