Wig & Pen Sequoia

What a pleasure it is to be doing a beer tasting again for the blog, even more so that the beer in question is from an old favourite brewpub of mine, the Wig & Pen in Canberra. This establishment can be characterised as “the Australian Capital Territory’s most enduring brewpub” and moved locations recently from its CBD base to the School of Music on the campus of the Australian National University. I am studying at ANU now , so this suits me just fine. The ability to get consistent, delicious, uniquely brewed beer in a variety of styles on campus is simply unrivalled.

Not to mention the friendly brewers, owner and staff!

I usually drink the Wig & Pen’s Australian Pale Ale (dubbed the “Kool-Aid”) but there was none on tap for this visit, so I went with the Sequoia, an American Amber Ale. It poured a brown-to-maroon caramel colour with a delicate white head that retained minimally, dissipating in about five minutes. Clarity was extreme, clear as glass even at this heavy EBC. The aroma was restrained, but spoke of mango, pineapple and lollies. A bunch of American aroma hops definitely floated for a while in this wort and beer.

A medium-thin mouthfeel was unexpected but refreshing, providing a watery background of mildly crystalesque pancake malt to a bracing, fresh hop bitterness. A distinct bitter bite is pleasurable in the aftertaste. For an American Amber the Sequoia is very accessible and clean – you could be fooled that it is a lager – and I was assured by the bar staff that it is a popular choice with drinkers because of it. Sitting in the sun on a clear day like today, it lulled me in, tempted me for another, but I resisted. Responsibilities, you know.

I bought this draught beer at the Wig & Pen, Canberra

Belgian Smoker Ale

This beer is a bit of a mongrel. I was attempting to use up a bunch of older ingredients. On the whole it has worked well, in that I brewed a reasonable beer, but it doesn’t fit in any recognisable style categories other than a generic “Belgian” designation. This is one of the last beers I brewed in my large brewspace down in Melbourne before relocating in January.

Belgian Smoker Ale
1050 OG, 1008 FG. 5.5% bottle ABV. M27. Melbourne water, dechlorinated.

Fermented at 18°C from:

50% :: Australian Ale Malt
34% :: Vienna Malt
08% :: Smoked Malt
08% :: CaraAroma Malt

60m single infusion mash at 68°C.
60m boil with 25 IBU of Victoria’s Secret hops added at 60m.

This is a highly effervescent, sparkling beer with a lot of head. It pours a nourishing auburn colour, with hundreds of bubbles visible rushing to the headspace. The off-white to beige head itself features a range of bubble size, from 1-6mm. It is an attractive beer; champagne-like but with a peculiar colour. It reminds me of the date wines I’ve brewed or the grape wines I’ve had from Karen State in Myanmar.

The aroma is sweet and raisin-like, with over-ripe plums and crushed sultanas dominating, not at all what I am used to from CaraAroma – I think the yeast gave it a run for its money. A faint hint of wood is in the background, the closest thing to smoke, but in actuality there is nothing in this beer betraying that smoked malt was used in the grist either. Given I brewed the beer three months prior to this tasting, it is possible that all the smoke elements have moved on into the ether by now.

A reasonably thin body delivers medium bitterness with a dry finish over flavours of cherry and neutral, conservative malt. It’s not a particularly complex or interesting flavour profile, masked as it is by the thin body and high carbonation, but it is eminently drinkable. There is something vaguely roasted at the back – though no roast malts were used – this may be due to the conjunction of smoked malt and a dry body?