September 16 2010
Recently at a dinner party filled with beer connoisseurs, I felt slightly trepidatious about mentioning my own favourite brew; as detailed talk of hops and malts and rare brews was effortlessly traded across the table, I began to wonder if I was out of my depth, despite having just read a terrific book on the subject (Hops and Glory, by Pete Brown). But I decided to go ahead anyway.
Years ago I discovered a rare pale ale called Little Creatures, a sweet, heavy brew which I adore but have only ever seen for sale at the independent drinks retailer, Luvians, in St Andrews. I mentioned the name, and everyone appeared puzzled; suddenly iPhones were whipped out, and, before I knew it, Little Creatures and its path to creation had become a hot topic.
It’s an Australian ale – brewed in Fremantle on a property that was previously a crocodile farm – and is a gorgeous combination of Washington-sourced chinook and cascade hops mixed with flowers from Tasmania (this gives it a sharp citrus kick), all toned down with a local pale malt. It also uses the “hop back” method, which they describe as “basically something like a giant teabag to infuse the hop flowers into the beer”. It’s a process rarely used by Australian breweries, but gives the beer its distinctive, strong aroma. My fellow diners were keen to try this mysterious brand and we found that, aside from Luvians in St Andrews, wineaux.co.uk stocks it, and delivers (£39.99 for 24 bottles).
It didn’t end there. A couple of nights ago I got a call at 5am. One of my friends from the dinner party was holidaying in Perth, Australia, and had taken the short trip down to Fremantle harbour, where he discovered that not only has Little Creatures created a fantastic boutique brewery (second picture), but a wonderful dining venue as well – where you can eat mussels, drink Little Creatures and take in the beautiful harbour views.