I have to explain to people sometimes, at work, that if I compare something to Little Creatures Pale Ale, then I think that thing is a very good thing indeed. So I was curious to try something from White Rabbit, a new-ish operation outside of my beloved Melbourne, and sort of East Coast Cousin to the famous Creatures.
But when we had this at our stand at Beervana in August, I was a little meh about it. It was something of a misunderstood orphan, really. Unlike the Stone & Wood, Bridge Road and Coopers beers we had, the Rabbit didn’t have anyone from the brewery over to talk about it — and the name threw us locals a bit, too; by “Dark Ale”, they mean Brown Ale rather than anything Portery, or further South.1
In between having it at Beervana and having it on tap at work, my friend Glenn (a former colleague at the College of Surgeons in Melbourne) was in town and muled over a few interesting-looking bottles of beer for me, in what is becoming a neat little tradition (he’s repaid in Tour Guidery around Wellington’s Interesting Little Places). One of these was included, so I gave it another go. And was glad I did.
Especially once you’re not expecting anything dark-dark (expectations can really do funny things to how you taste a beer), it presents itself as pleasantly rich but still nicely easy-drinking. Lots of malt character, and a interesting little sideline of a certain sort of mustiness and a subtle fruity wineyness. This bottle was almost-alarmingly sedimented, which also leant a nice big smooth layer of foam. It was interestingly-divisive, on tap at work; much of the Beer Nerdy crowd didn’t really go for it, but it was surprisingly good (given their usual prejudices against Australian beer and things darker than gold) at winning over more ‘mainstream’ drinkers. I do always enjoy stumbling upon effective ‘evangelism’ beers; seeing people have that ‘wow, this is tasty’ moment when you give them something that goes against their preconceptions is a very rewarding thing, as a bartending Beer Nerd.
Verbatim: White Rabbit ‘Dark Ale’ 30/9/10 muled over by Glenn 4.9% 330ml From memory, this is Little Creatures’ baby brother in Healesville, outside the beloved Melb. We had it at our stand at the Beer Festival, but it was a bit of a misunderstood orphan, as none of its people were over. I was a little meh about it, but I think the name threw my expectations — it’s really a brown ale, and as one, is rather good. Quite rich but still very easy, a little musty and a little winey. Seems to be a national thing; Moo Brew’s ‘Dark Ale’ was also a Brown. Not a lot of Aussie Porter… maybe it’s just usually too fucking hot. I should’ve said MOO BREW ‘DARK ALE’. I’m not good at making new habits.2 This is definitely growing on me. The head is particularly impressive — big + smooth + resurrectable. (There was an almost-worrying amount of sediment in the bottle; that’ll help.)
1: This might be (or might be beginning to be) an Australian Thing; Moo Brew do it too with their ‘Dark Ale’. Maybe it’s just almost always Too Damn Hot for anything blacker and heavier — though of course, the delectable Coopers ‘Best Extra Stout’ is an obvious counter-example.
2: Perhaps I should explain why I chastise myself for not writing in capitals (here, as once before). They’re kind of like little visual hyperlinks, so that I can more-readily see what entries talk about other entries, basically. Things got quite hard to navigate with 300+ entries in Diary I — though I was still capable of occasional Rain Man-esque feats of spookiness like turning instantly to the page that contained the more-than-a-year-ago diary entry for Stone & Wood’s (delicious) ‘Draught Ale’ when Brad from the brewery saw my book and asked if his beer was in there…