Having a go

My late and great mate Len Evans used to talk of ‘studied mediocrity’ – not in beer, but in wine. And it applies just as well to the world of beer – not to our honest, everyday lagers – but to the beers that, in a studied, deliberate way, tone down the very characteristics that make a style distinctive.

We’re talking here of technically pure beers that’ve been focus-grouped to blandness – virtually de-brewed in an effort to offend no one.

But brewers with a fire in the belly – and they exist in both large and small operations – ignite our enthusiasm with countless variations of classic styles that become, over time, new specialties.

One brewer that caught my attention, former winemaker Ben Kraus, set up shop in a back lane off Ford Street, Beechworth a few years back. On a visit there last January, Ben’s ales, served on tap a few metres from the brewing vats was as exciting a range as I’d seen from a small local brewer.

I recently tried bottled versions in Canberra (you can buy them through the website, www.bridgeroadbrewers.com.au). While a couple didn’t have that stunning freshness encountered at the brewery, it was still an adventurous range of a very high standard.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008