January 29, 2014 by 250 Beers
I caught a whiff of something fishy a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the dead whiting that I’d hidden in my boss’s office. No, it was The Beer Pilgrim.
I was driving home from the train station one evening and found myself channel hopping through the radio stations seeking a news bulletin. I’m at that age where news rather than doof-doof music appeals to me on the short drive home from my nearest Queensland
Rail Fail facility. It was then that I heard an advertisement for The Beer Pilgrim on commercial station, Nova.
Prior to hearing that ad I’d stumbled upon Mr Pilgrim’s Facebook page by accident. I’d seen that he’d uploaded a photograph of a carton on XXXX Summer Bright under a Christmas tree and, being the smart-arse that I am, I couldn’t resist smugly commenting on it.
If this was a passionate, crazed beer geek on some sort of genuine pilgrimage would he a) be showing off a carton of Summer Bright and b) really be able to afford to market himself on commercial radio? The answer is no in both cases…unless…he was backed by a large brewing organisation such as Lion perhaps?
My suspicions were proved correct when all of my loose-ends and incomplete detective work were confirmed on Brews News last week. Matt had obviously bothered to dig a little deeper than I.
I’m a little confused as to why Lion has gone through the rigmarole of employing somebody to promote beer and its roots. Glen over at Beer Is Your Friend has a similar opinion.
Anyhow, I received the same media release as the one published on Brews News and immediately tipped my hat¹ in admiration for what Lion has done in terms of brewing a commemorative beer in tribute to the toasting of success to the new colony in 1788 by Captain/Governor/Admiral Arthur Phillip. A marketing gimmick? Maybe. Probably.
According to the history books, Phillip quaffed four glasses of porter that day – forever to be known as Australia Day. Therefore, it must have been a no-brainer when it came to a boardroom meeting at Lion HQ a few months ago. I imagine the 20 second conversation between Lion Chairman, Sir Rod Eddington, and his CEO, Stuart Irvine, went something like this…
Sir Rod: “Ah, the next item on the agenda is ‘Any Other Business’. Does anybody have any other business?”
Stu: “Yes, Sir. I have a question to put to the board. What type of beer shall we make to commemorate Australia Day?”
Sir Rod: “Well, what did that Arthur Phillip chap drink in 1788? Kronenbourg 1664 had been around for 124 years by then. Maybe something similar to that?”
Stu: “Well, actually, Sir, he was from London, Sir, and porter was very fashionable at the time so probably a porter, Sir.”
Sir Rod: “Then a porter it is. Any objections? No? Good. That’s decided then. Motion carried.”
The one-off, limited edition porter is titled The First Brew and was produced at Lion’s Knappstein brewery in Clare Valley, South Australia. Only 1,000 litres of the dark stuff was brewed and with a ‘special’ tapping that took place on Australia Day at Sydney’s Bar 100 (it was on again last night too) it’s a mystery as to how many bottles are floating around. Not many I would assume.
I can account for one of them. It arrived at 250 Beers HQ last week packaged rather ornately in a brass-clamped wooden box. Complimenting the rare 500ml bottle were two, stemmed The First Brew glasses – sadly, one was chipped and subsequently had to be discarded.
The tag that came tied around the neck of the bottle suggested consumption within 14 days as the beer hadn’t been pasteurised. So, feeling the pressure, I cracked it open last night.
Collaboratively brewed by Lion Head Brewer, Peter David, and The Beer Pilgrim himself, Tim Charody, the 5.2% porter is actually quite intriguing. Other than the recent couple of Little Creatures Single Batch releases, I have never had a Lion beer that made me say “Ooooh…” which is what I muttered last night.
The inclusion of Citra hops gives this beer an overwhelming (but not shit) citrus aroma which I’d never experienced in a porter before. The acidity on the palate made me immediately liken my first few mouthfuls to Brew Cult’s second release, Acid Freaks, which included balsamic vinegar.
If anybody is interested The First Brew gained a 2.5 rating from me on Untappd. It wasn’t sink-worthy but it didn’t knock me off of my feet either. It was a little flat and watery if anything but it did gain some respect for effort.
Everybody has an opinion about the dominance of Simba (which is my pet name for the combined efforts of Lion and CUB) and the oceans of macro lager that gets guzzled by the majority of un(beer)educated Aussies BUT if a decent, flavoursome, thought-about beer gets brewed by them then I shall at least try it.
I am an unofficial ambassador for small, craft breweries because of the amazing flavours that I know will lap-dance my taste buds into a euphoric state but I’ll happily drink tasty beers brewed by whoever.