A Story about a Wild Ale Series

This weekend at the Barrel Room, we are holding a rather special event, celebrating the wood! All things barrel aged, from spirits to beers, will be making an appearance. There will be special cocktails, awesome food. Rumour has it that there will be some yet to be released rum for tasting as well. We’re doing some boilermakers with Starward Distillery Ginger Whisky and Fred Ginger Ale, having a masterclass with our founder, and some awesome barrel aged spirits such as our BA gin and Forget Me Not Beer Whisky. We are also releasing three new beers in bottle (they’ll also be on tap); K is for Kingsley, an Australian Wild Ale with fresh local morello cherries; G is for George, an Australian Wild Ale with fresh local raspberries; and W is for Wildecherry, an Australian Wild Red Ale, showcasing fresh morello cherries in a maltier base beer. We are extremely excited to be releasing these beers as they not only taste incredible, but also have personal connection to the influences that helped create Boatrocker. I guess the older you get, the more you realise how much your early life has influenced where you are now; the decisions you make and your outlook on life.

Looking back at when I was young, the family influences were simply amazing. Grandparents on both Mum and Dad’s side were from country towns (Ballarat & Shepparton respectively). I always remember driving to see the grandparents around Christmas, or any big family event such as birthdays, or sadly, funerals. The drive itself was always long (are we there yet?) and Dad liked to ask mathematical quizzes (i often closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep so I didn’t have to try and answer the questions… mathematics was never my strong point!). The Shepparton crew, originally from London as 10 pound poms although with French and English heritage, were different to the Ballarat crew, whose heritage lay in Ireland and England. Both lovely and loving. You may have had a number of years back, our barrel aged saison Yvonne, named after Dad’s mum. I felt it a fitting tribute to a lady who had lived through WWII, packed her bags with young family and made her way to Oz. Further to Yvonne, you may have also had Gaston, named in honour of Yvonne’s brother. A cheeky man, and every bit as adventurous as Yvonne.

Only recently I was reflecting on Mum’s parents, Kingsley and Sheila Sutton. They had the most amazing double storey house on Gillies Street in Ballarat set on an acre block, with oak trees, a chook shed, and a bannister on the staircase which I loved to slide down as a child. A beer in Sheila’s name is in the works, but as she loved drinking whiskey and smoking cigarillo’s, I thought it more befitting to name a couple of the new beers this weekend after Kingsley. His full name was George Kingsley Sutton, a solicitor by trade, but was an avid art and book collector, amateur archaeologist, gastronomist, and patron to the arts in his spare time. Spending time at mum’s parents house was always a treat, and reflecting, such an inspiration to the imagination of a little boy. Every corner of their house contained something that was fascinating to me, and combined with the personalities of Kingsley & Sheila who lived there, had a profound effect on how Boatrocker came about. Truly wonderful memories of Christmas’ with cousins and in-laws, incredible food, cricket in the back yard, and ghost stories late at night help round out the influences. I feel it only right that Kingsley has two beers named in his honour (K is for Kingsley and G is for George). Knowing his adventurous spirit, I’m sure he would have liked the beers and be proud as punch.

The final wild ale we’re releasing this weekend is W is for Wildecherry. We released a Wildecherry a couple of years back, and this is the latest version, a truly Australian product, using lovingly grown and handpicked morello cherries from Wandin. We’ve been buying cherries for our beers from Geoff & Evelyn Rak’s farm (Cobradah Christmas Tree & Cherry Farm) since 2015, and every year we bump up our order, the cherries are a unique strain from Germany brought out by Evelyn’s parents in 1950. Each year, Evelyn hand picks hundreds of kilos of cherries without stems for us. Her hand is stained red throughout most of December & January as the crop has a very short picking window (mid-December to mid-January). Aside from the cherries being delicious, and being picked de-stemmed, another reason we love their cherries is that have the pip inside. This is a unique flavouring component of our beers, and we feel essential. 

Drinking these three beers, we hope you get a true sense of full circle production, from paddock to glass with minimal intervention, and showcasing not only the skill of our brewers, but of the farmers who grow the produce, and the hard work that goes into making these uniquely Australian beers.

Matt Houghton