If you’re not familiar with the Sail & Anchor Brewery Pub’s history or ownership, suffice it to say it’s been an established hotel in Fremantle since the early part of the twentieth century, changing hands a number of times over its many years of operation. It is even considered by some as the birthplace of craft beer in Australia. In 1990 the Sail & Anchor Hotel was sold to Australian Leisure and Hospitality (ALH) group, a subsidiary of the supermarket giant Woolworths and, since the recommencement of brewing under the Sail & Anchor label, much of the debate around the operation has centred on this fact and the ‘craft’ worthiness of its output.
Now, I’m not one to be hasty and decide a beer’s fate purely based on ownership and where the profits end up. And after trying this specimen from their limited release range, I’m glad I didn’t.
The Bloke is a collaboration brew between Sail & Anchor Pub Brewery and the Karl Strauss Brewing Company hailing from San Diego, California – perhaps better known as the people who brought you Red Trolley Ale, Pintail Pale Ale, and Tower 10 IPA (all available from Dan Murphy’s).
The tasting notes on the bottle offer up the following:
Medium body with well balanced malt and hop characteristics and a slightly roasted malt finish. Pours a bright red hue in the glass, with lingering hoppy, grapefruit and tangerine aromas.
It’s 6.0% ABV and 60 IBUs.
It was a thin head on the pour for me, despite my rough and unsteady hand. Nevertheless, after not much agitation at all, a thin head was retained. With literally zero carbonation coming off the surface of my glass to replace it, it remained a stagnant, delicious sludge layered atop an effecting, clear auburn coloured liquid. It looks good enough to drink!
Aroma-wise I’m not getting a huge amount of malt as I’ve been somewhat preconditioned to expect of a red ale. In fact, it smells much more like a pale ale with an unexpected fresh zestiness. It’s a sweet kind of citrus aroma yet I can’t quite nail it down to a particular citrus fruit, namely the tangerine and grapefruit suggested.
It’s more malt forward on the palate with a smooth mouthfeel and prevalent yet understated roasted malt backbone. As it hits the back vestiges of the palate there’s an added and lingering hop bitterness which hits the tastebuds with equal force as that of the roasted malts. It’s a fine balance that’s been struck with neither flavour dominating and each contrasting with the other. Even as it warms up the hops and malt characteristics continue to stand up to one another equally. The warmth does however build an alcoholic sweetness to the ale, adding another dimension to the aforementioned bitter flavours.
The tasting notes describe it as medium-bodied, but for me it’s a much lighter red than I’m used to. It’s something I’d even be happy to drink in the scorching summer sun. It’s an interesting and very well-made beer and while I’m not gushing over it I was glad I had the whole 640ml bottle to myself and I’d certainly come back to this beer again.
- Website (for the Pub) or Untappd (for what the punters think of the Bloke)
- Genre: Red Ale
- Regionality: Fremantle, WA
- Strength: 6.0%
- Rating: 2.5 / 3 taste + 1 / 2 ancillaries = 3.5 / 5
- Plus: A beer where a fine balance has been struck – equally hoppy and malty
- Minus: Looking at the other Untappd pics, I feel I got a bit duped with my lack of head.