Bentspoke Brewing Co launched its new beer, Brewers’ Share, in collaboration with Irish distillers Teeling Irish Whiskey at an intimate tasting held last Wednesday (8 March).
Released to coincide with St Patrick’s Day this Friday (17 March), Brewers’ Share is a whiskey-infused stout inspired by the Irish Coffee.
The beer itself clocks in at a hearty seven per cent ABV, and contains a combination of Teeling barrel aged stout and freshly brewer stout, some of which has been infused with coffee beans.
To complete the beer, a small quantity of Teeling Small Batch Whiskey is added, amping up the whiskey qualities. The Brewers’ Share (the name of which is a pun on the ‘angels’ share’) is also canned and kegged on nitrogen, providing the creamy texture that is synonymous with Irish stouts.
At the launch event, held at Surry Hills’ Royal Albert Hotel, Martin Lynch from Teeling and Bentspoke’s Richard Watkins introduced the beer and provided some background about how the project developed.
“What we’re about with Teeling is really challenging the perceptions of what people have heard about Irish whiskey and expanding the flavour profiles and bringing a little bit more depth back into the Irish whiskey category, which was lost when we had a big decline,” Martin explained.
Richard outlined how Bentspoke has a similar attitude.
“At Bentspoke we do try to challenge people in the perception of flavours of beers,” the brewer said.
“We try and create all different types of flavours. I’ve been brewing now for 27 years, and these are the types of beers – doing collaborations with like-minded companies – that really get you out of bed at five in the morning and [make you] want to keep going to work.”
As part of this approach, the distillery has worked with craft beer producers in Ireland and abroad, using beer casks to produce its whiskey, and providing whiskey casks to brewers – as in the case of Bentspoke. Martin explained what first attracted the distillery to the brewery.
“In the depths of the pandemic, myself and Richard were introduced by a mutual friend that said: ‘hey, you guys have got a lot of synergies – the Bentspoke guys innovating in the Australian craft beer scene, Teeling innovating in Irish craft whiskey.’”
A zoom call then followed, where both parties discussed a partnership – and addressed the obvious challenge of transporting whiskey casks from Ireland to Australia.
“Richard was very dogged in following through, so from that initial conversation… we managed to get 60-odd 200 litre barrels that previously contained our Teeling Small Batch Whiskey down to Australia.
“Richard did all the hard work… to produce an Irish style beer just in time for St. Patrick’s Day,” Martin said.
Richard spoke a little more to the production of the beer itself.
“We wanted to make sure that we got heaps of that charcoal, heaps of those burnt roasty characters into the beer – and with an Irish stout, it needs to be quite bitter, because when you’re using wood, that does take away a lot of the bitterness,” Richard explains.
“We put it into the barrels at five per cent, and after a couple of months it had risen up to seven per cent. We had already done the design by that point, and it was seven per cent on the packaging, so we said, we’ll see how we go… Six months later we pulled it out of the barrel and it was 12 per cent alcohol.
“So we do a lot of barrel aged beers, and I think the secret with barrel aged beers is to add a portion of fresh beer to the blend.
“With our blend, we ended up doing 40 per cent new beer, 45 per cent straight out of the barrels at 12 per cent, a little bit of dilution liquor, but also, 80 bottles of whiskey went in as well.
“Adding that fresh bit of whiskey was all about putting that little bit of fruitcake character back on top,” Richard continued.
“And then to top it all off, we added some liquid nitrogen to the beer. So that was a bit of a challenge in itself, because the scientists out there will know what I’m talking about, when you add liquid nitrogen to a closed space and it warms up, it can very easily just blow up – you have to get the dose perfect.
“The nitrogen really just smooths off that barrel character, that fruitcake character, and that charcoal and charred character from the stout,” the brewer concluded.
There are now rough plans for these barrels to come back into Ireland, and for Teeling to use them to mature some whisky.
“It would be brilliant to take a full circle and release a Teeling whiskey aged in Bentspoke beer barrels as an Aussie exclusive, maybe Paddy’s Day 2025…” Martin commented.
The beer is on tap at select beer venues across Australia.