Why Australian IPA?
Just one year removed from baring her soul in introducing “Laughing Water” Australian Sparking Ale, Eilise Lane is at it again. This time she is doing a brewer’s Full Monty in bringing out “Asteria” Australian IPA, on Saturday, April 29th, for Scarlet Lane Brewing’s third anniversary party. But she is not feeling well about it.
Lane, Scarlet Lane owner and Head Brewer, said, “Our first beer being Dorian Coconut (Stout), it started in our kitchen, which was terrifying. You have Laughing Water, that’s horrifying. And you have now Asteria, which is even scarier because there are fewer and fewer Australian IPA’s that you can find.”
“I know what I’m expecting”, Lane says. “It’s what we went through last year. People are like, ‘Well, what’s an Australian Sparkling? Is that champagne? What does that mean? What does sparkling mean? Well, what style is it?’ So, I’m putting Scarlet Lane through this again.” Lane languished several months in conceptualizing Asteria, taking into account the population, growth patterns and agriculture of 1870’s Australia. She wanted Asteria to be very true to Australia, similar to Laughing Water but with a modern twist. Three different varieties of the increasingly popular Australian hops are used, with very true-to-style water, yeast and malt profiles of 1870.
Like siblings, there are unique differences in the two beers that go beyond style. Eilise says, “I guess I’m a hair more confident. Asteria is a real big jump because she goes somewhere that Laughing Water doesn’t. A lot of people, if they see IPA, they automatically know, ‘This is what I expect.’ However, with Australian IPA, it’s not the same as what you expect. There are a lot of flavors playing for your taste buds.”
What you’ll notice with Asteria, Lane said, is a really nice base malt – baked bread, lightly toasted – that marries “a hint of bitterness from the earth, then it’s going to have that nose of those really wonderful, tropical fruits that people think of when they think of Australian hops.” Many people think of Galaxy when they hear Australian hops, she said, “But I like to play with things that are a little bit different, offbeat.”
This process of putting herself in a vulnerable position makes her skin crawl, so the question begs to Eilise – why do it? This is what she told me: “I need challenge, I need scared. I need to be pushed to do something new. This one is continuing to push those boundaries and making myself feel nervous again. And that’s what I needed.” Then she softened. “But then if I see somebody that smiles, it’s that much more of a reward when you work so hard for something that you don’t know if it’s ever going to work.”
Not only will this new beer be introduced for their anniversary, but like the passing fog over an Oregon forest, Scarlet Lane’s image becomes clearer and more focused. Nick Servies, Marketing and Branding Guy at Scarlet Lane, said that stouts, Pacific Northwest pales and IPA’s, and Australian ales will become their niche.
This triangular mission seems to build off of Eilise’s personal relationship with her beer. First, the brewery mainstay is the market-driven Dorian Stout, the beer that “built” Scarlet Lane. Second, there’s the passion from the northwest where Eilise first brewed and fell in love with beer, and last, where Eilise assumes full control of the brewery with an added Australian influence.
Of this new Australian connection of Laughing Water and Asteria, Servies says, “Laughing Water worked out well. She (Eilise) studied there, their hops are pretty amazing. A lot of it’s being genuine to what you do.”
Servies summed up, “And there’s this tiny, little brewery in McCordsville, Indiana doing Australian beers…which makes no sense. It makes no sense!” Eilise laughs and says, “I’ve never thought of it like that!”
Scarlet Lane’s anniversary party is where you’ll want to come, and trust me when I say that Asteria, like Laughing Water, will put a smile on your face. And maybe Eilise Lane will breathe a whole lot easier.