Bacchus is possibly the best known (admittedly, among beer geeks) brewery from the Brisbane metro area. Their reputation was firmly established at the 2013 Great Australasian Beer Spectapular where their White Chocolate Raspberry Pilsner was the top pick of the punters. This year’s effort – a beery imitation of Rocky Road – was runner-up to La Sirene’s Praline, suggesting the Australian public has a rather sweet tooth for Bacchus’ offerings.
Bacchus Brewing has been run by Ross Kenrick for the last five years. The size of this brewery defines everything about it. There’s five 50L kettles and one 100L kettle. That’s it. Everything goes into plastic fermentors in a large cool room. Bacchus can turn out twelve brand new, completely different beers every work day, assuming Bill, Brendan and Matt don’t mind working a double shift.
While it’s not the most economical model, it offers a great deal of flexibility. This was reinforced at the recent B20 Beer Festival, held on the G20 Summit weekend in mid-November. Twenty beers, never before released and I suspect many will never be made again, including a Russian kvass, a Turkish rosewater saison, a beetroot-coloured Australian pale ale and a smoked German beer, whose name apparently caught the attention of the German delegation (it was called the “Third Rauch” – you can work out the rest).
However, for this post I took a look at a few of the more straightforward offerings from Bacchus. These descriptions date back all the way to when Bacchus first opened their cellar doors in August, which admittedly wasn’t that long ago.
- English pale ale
- Refreshment: A-
- Identity: A-
- Taste: B+
- Ancillaries: B
- SEQBeers Score: 85
This year I’ve picked up some of the subtleties of English cask beer from reading what my British counterparts have to say on the subject. It may be served warmer than I’d like and the lack of carbonation is a bit weird but there’s something in the fruity esters combined with the restrained use of hops and the malt forward character that makes these beers intriguing. It’s something that I’d like to explore more, if only there were more opportunities to do so.*
Fortuitously, Bacchus produce both a Moreton Bay Mild and a Moreton Bay Bitter, both examples of the English pale ale style, with the former being more mid-strength and less malty than the latter. Drinking the Bitter is like drinking a cup of sweet iced tea. It has low carbonation, a deep brown colour (perhaps pushing me more in the tea direction than necessary?) and aroma that is strong with tannins. There’s evidently the characteristic English fruitiness but it’s not especially bitter and goes down a treat.
*Annoyingly, I can’t recall if this is a proper cask beer, which I’m fairly certain Bacchus have access to, or if its a handpull off a keg. I’m sure someone will be along to set me right momentarily.
- Australian pale ale
- Refreshment: B
- Identity: A-
- Taste: B+
- Ancillaries: B
- SEQBeers Score: 81
Queensland Ale is a simple beer. An Australian pale ale, when drinking it I noted a light aroma of fresh cut grass. It presents with a good head (that is retained well, even in a small sample glass), light gold colour and considerable clarity. There’s a light honey taste from the malt with the fresh hops coming in over the top before rounding out with a dry finish.
In this series, you couldn’t possibly go too wrong with an Australian pale ale called “Queensland Ale”. Considering it’s made by one of the region’s better breweries, it was always going to rack up some points. But while Bacchus is known for it’s crazy-out-there beers, there’s an impressive range of more sane beers which tick just as many boxes.
- Dessert beer
- Refreshment: D
- Identity: D
- Taste: A+
- Ancillaries: A
- SEQBeers Score: 56
Have you ever tasted rocky road? That mix of chocolate, marshmallows and jelly that, if left in the sun for a bit, can be deceptively unappetising looking? There’s a bit of dispute whether rocky road should contain nuts but this beer, which mimics the dessert effortlessly, does not suffer for its inclusion.
My notes just read “rocky road”, which is basically a well-balanced melange of the flavours noted above. Sex, Drugs and Rocky Road is relatively low carbonated and sits somewhere on the more viscous side of fluid.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, the score’s low but the beer is pretty excellent. Well, it’s an excellent tasting beer. Whether it’s an excellent beer depends on what you hope to get out of your beer – if it’s hops and bitterness, these are obviously absent from this specimen.