Fosters released its fourth Crown Ambassador Reserve Lager in mid November. At $89.99 a 750ml bottle, it’s surely Australia’s most expensive beer. But then it’s an extraordinary brew, built for cellaring, Fosters makes only five to seven thousand bottles of it, and it’s positioned to market the Crown Lager brand, not slake a hard-earned thirst.
For the first time in 2011 vintage, brewer John Cozens matured a small portion of the beer in new French oak barrels from one of France’s great cooperages, Dargaud et Jaegle.
The oxidative environment of the barrels and direct flavour inputs from the new oak are certain to influence this year’s beer, despite making up just a few per cent of the final blend.
Like the earlier vintages, it’s high in alcohol (10.2 per cent) and contains fresh-picked galaxy hops from Myrtleford, Victoria. The latter adds distinctive aromas and flavours, and the former boosts the beer’s body and long-term cellaring prospects.
It’s likely to be served in upmarket restaurants and available in some retailers. Past vintages have been outstanding. We’ll report on the 2011 next week.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 7 December 2011 in The Canberra Times