19, 20. James Squire Amber Ale and Matilda Bay Fat Yak Ale

The real "Amber Nectar"

Recognise that picture? It’s the full version of this blog’s header.

I took the picture in October 2008 at the James Squire Brewhouse, on one of my first forays into Sydney on my own. The first Amber Ale I drank in 2010, however, was in company as our friend Beccy was visiting from London and we met up with her in the Albion Place Hotel on George Street, a handily-placed pub for meeting folk in. A bit trendier than I usually like, it nevertheless scores high in two categories – (a) a short but good selection of local and international beers, and (b) it’s right next to the main cinema drag. Food’s not bad either.

Getting there early, I plumped for the old Amber to wet my whistle.  The picture up above shows you its beautiful colour. The taste is malty, pleasantly hoppy, has a touch of nutty spice and a slight metallic/fruity finish. Very drinkable. Heavier than the Golden Ale, and boozier – 5% against 4.5% abv. One that English people looking for a beer that’s similar to a Bitter back home might like.

I was then distracted by the foreign lagers on display, the best of which being 19a Budweiser Budvar, which was served in a proper 500ml glass and, as usual, was about a million times nicer than that dreadful American pretender (King of Beers my arse).

A quick one before we headed off for food was required. I plumped for Matilda Bay‘s Fat Yak Ale, a brew that’s only been on the market for a year or so and one that’s aimed fairly and squarely at the American Pale Ale lover. Cascade and Sauvin hops smack you around the head. You get the picture.  It makes me feel hungry, somehow, so our trip to Capitan Torres immediately afterwards was most welcome.

Matilda Bay started off as a  microbrewer out of the excellent Sail and Anchor pub in Fremantle, WA before setting up in their own right in 1989. Alas, it wasn’t long before Carlton United Brewers (i.e. Fosters) bought them out, so like James Squire, Matilda Bay is, despite what they’d like you to think, merely a boutique arm of one of the big two. They also brew Dogbolter (good but alas not the skullsplitter of the same name beloved of those who drank in Firkin pubs in the 1990s), Beez Neez (honey beer – never a good idea imho), Alpha Ale (even hoppier than the Yak)  and a Bohemian Lager, some, all or none of which may turn up on this page at some point.

The original brewers at Matilda Bay set up Little Creatures in Fremantle in 2000, still independent today and, without a doubt, the subject of an upcoming post here.


2 Responses to 19, 20. James Squire Amber Ale and Matilda Bay Fat Yak Ale

  1. robert says:

    You always make me thirsty Al, never a good thing when its still morning here! I’ve not had too much of interest since getting back from NYC (where I ended up drinking a lot of Brooklyn lager, which was quite good, and I’m not even much of a lager guy) but earlier this week I had Deschutes Jubel 2010. Deschutes is, I think, the best brewery in American (they make hands down the best porter, a top three stout, a top three pale, plus easily the best winter warmer. If you ever see any of these give them a try) and they’ve been producing a very interesting series of limited edition beers in the last few years. So this Jubel 2010 is a kicked up version of the fantastic Jubelale, which combines that beers complexity with the tang of a barleywine. I think I prefer the balance of the original but still a interesting strong beer.

  2. Andy says:

    cheers to this post

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