Before we get to my pick of Australasian brewery of 2012, I need first offer a caveat of sorts, it being that my experience with Asian breweries remains unsatisfyingly limited. Thus far, my Asian travels have been limited to Thailand alone, and while I have sampled a decent amount of beer from that country and also Japan, I am hopeful of greatly expanding my understanding of the region in the months and years to come.
And so it is with respect to breweries like Swan Lake Beer of Japan, Brewerkz of Singapore and the long-enduring Cooper’s of Australia that I return to New Zealand for this year’s Australasian Brewery of the Year, tipping my hat to the contract brewing firm, the Yeastie Boys.
“Audacious” is a word which comes to mind when speaking of the two man team behind the Yeastie Boys. As in, creating a beer brewed entirely from peated malt, Rex Attitude, and then “doubling” it up as Rex, a 10% alcohol version of the same peated-up monster that should be disastrous, but is somehow, almost impossibly even better than its similarly ridiculous but tasty little brother. As in, crafting a strong, Scottish-inspired ale, Hud-a-wa’ Strong, and giving it a tropical fruit backbone through the use of Nelson Sauvin and NZ-grown Cascade hops. As in, well, calling their company Yeastie Boys.
What’s more, when they developed a hoppy black ale, and a rather masterful one, at that, they resisted the temptation to jump on the “black IPA” bandwagon and described Pot Kettle Black instead as a “hoppy porter.” Perhaps not an audacious move, but one which appeals to my anti-style-expansionism self.
True, Yeastie Boys is a contract brewer, but in New Zealand, where a small population base is stretched across a long and isolated land mass, or rather, masses, that is a status without the perception issues that tend to dog it still in North America and parts of Europe. Indeed, contract craft brewing seems at times almost the Kiwi norm rather than the exception.
For beer that is bold and flavourful and deliciously irreverent, the Yeastie Boys are my choice as Australasian Brewery of the Year.
Friday: 2012′s European Brewery of the Year!