Australian Independent beers have come a very long way recently. When I moved to the US and was living in San Diego there were only a handful of Independent Breweries, now it seems like it is everywhere. The good new is that we have some incredible breweries making some fantastic beers. There is also a big support network developing along side the Independent Breweries.
What is happening is a lot of groups are working to make our experience as beer drinkers, from sites like The Crafty Pint, to the GABS beer festivals. Bars that serve only independent craft beer, and bottle shops that have expensive ranges, the user experience is getting better daily.
The key to all this is the beer. I think I was spoiled while living in the San Diego, I could walk from my house just a few hundred meters to Green Flash Brewing Co, just a few kilometers away was Ballast Point and Karl Strauss Breweries. Right next to Petco Park is Mission Bay Brewery, then in North County San Diego less than 20 minutes from my house was Stone Brewery.
In a five kilometers from my house towards Mira-mar, I could and did get to some great breweries like Mike Hess, Intergalactic Brewing, Duck foot, Ale Smith, Saint Archer, 32 North Brewing, Rough Draft and the list really does just keep going.
They all make some fantastic beers and that is where I found some real enjoyment for big resinous hopped IPA’s otherwise known as Hop Bombs, this is what I think of when I see the words West Coast IPA. Which is really not fair because the west coast is so much bigger than one small area I called home for a while. The beer’s do change as you go further north as they do when you travel east, but this is what I really liked and so my West Coast IPA is very much based on what I had in San Diego.
I really got into the IPA’s that range between 75 and 100+ IBU’s. The more I had them the more they grew on me. My wife couldn’t get into it, the Hops just didn’t sit well with her at all. So the big IPA’s she would steer clear of and I would get all to my self.
Upon moving back to Melbourne and discovering all the breweries that had appeared in my time away seeing the work that a community of people have put in I was pretty excited, to dive right in, I try to get as many beers as I can, my Untapped profile I use to remind me what I have had and what I have thought about those beers.
This weekend past I finally got hold some Exit Brewing IPA. My biggest problem with getting hold some beers is that it is a long way for me to go to find a bottle shop that has them, thankfully Richmond has a lot of bottle shops that have a lot of fantastic beers.
I said on Untapped that I was a little disappointed in the beer, and I was because I had heard all about this beer, and was looking forward to the aforementioned West Coast IPA. What I tasted didn’t have that resinous Hop bomb flavor that I am hanging for in an IPA. The Fruity flavors of the hops came through loud and clear the malt really does give away to the big Hops, just not the same hops I was looking for. It is an IPA with big hops in every way and it is a really good beer. I am really looking forward to now getting hold of Exits Double IPA when and if I see them again and their Saison’s I have a real soft spot for a farm house ale.
I am really hoping to find a local beer with those Hop bomb flavors like those from San Diego, I am yet to find that, and that is where Australian beers and the west coast beers I have had diverge, nearly all the IPA’s I have tasted have some floral or fruity type flavors, they all have a fantastic nose about them, and all are really easy to drink. I really like how here in Australia the brewers are not afraid to use different hops and make something they really should be very proud of. Here in Victoria we have some great hops grown, and we have some unique hop varieties like Ella coming out and brewers are making awesome beers with them.
It is really unfair for me to think San Diego every time I read West Coast IPA however I like in hope that one day I get that surprise and get a beer locally that makes me stop longing for those beers from San Diego and puts the focus right where it should be right here in Melbourne.
Breweries like Exit Brewing, Dainton Family Brewery, La Siren, Cavalier Brewing, Bridge Road Brewery always seem to have something coming and I really look forward to seeing what happens. I could of course keep naming breweries but that list would get far too big, I really think that Victoria is going to rival San Diego with the quality of beers and breweries we have. I really look forward to seeing what happens next.