20 April 2009
Black Wattle Original Ale
Brewery: Barons Brewing Company (Sydney, AU)
Seller: Blue Dog Tavern (Chalfont, PA)
When Enjoyed: 17 April 2009
What the hell is a wattle seed? This is bound to be the first question on your mind when you approach this beer in your local cooler. Indeed I was driven to Wikipedia to better understand what I might expect from this peculiar Australian brew. Unfortunately, there is no tasteapedia yet, and I've never had the opportunity to chew on an acacia plant. Nonetheless, I boldly approached Baron's attempt to re-define the Australian word for beer.
The Black Wattle Ale pours smooth with a decent head that is retained poorly. It's got a rich amber color that previews the heavy roasted barley flavor to come. And that is in fact my main beef with this beer, afterward I was left with more questions than I had answers. Not only was I still asking myself 'what is a wattle seed again?' I was also asking 'where was the wattle seed?' (perhaps if I drank this whilst watching Lost I would also be asking, 'when is the wattle seed?). Barons packed this beer with so much powerful barley that it is really the only discernible taste. The hop quotient is almost non-existent and I imagine the barley has overpowered the wattle seed flavor to a significant degree. Now, I'm willing to imagine that since this seed is used to make bush bread that it might taste something like roasted barley. If that is the case, then why add roasted barley at all, why not go full wattle on me and knock me out?
To be fair, this is not all that bad a beer. Its a solid amber ale, and if you like roasted barely the way I do, you'd order this beer frequently. If Barons became Australian for beer, I would be pleased. But false advertising is false advertising and there are penalties for that in my book. On top of that it shows that the Australian microbrew tradition still has a ways to go to catch up with the American one. I can just imagine what Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head could do with an ingredient like wattle seed. For the native continent of this assuredly alluring ingredient to be so timid about its presence in this beer is dissapointing.