Death From Above
May 20 2013
This has been one of the most challenging Garage brews to date. At its heart was the idea of combining aggressive, high citrus character of American hops with the heat and sweetness of Indochine flavours. Have you ever tried a Vietnamese mango and chili salad? If you haven’t you should. It could be life changing. It’s an idea that has been rattling around the Garage consciousness for a while and the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular seemed like a fitting opportunity to give it an outing.
It was always going to be a challenging brew to pull off – mango, chili, Vietnamese mint and lime juice aren’t exactly conventional ingredients. Don’t bother checking, they aren’t listed in the Reinheitsgebot. Add a lavish addition of Chinook, Centennial, Citra and Amarillo hops, a deadline launch for an international beer festival and take it straight to a 2000 litre batch without any chance for small scale testing and you get what could have been a recipe for spectacular, monumental disaster. The idea of trying to bring all these flavours together in a coherent way given the pressure of time and prospect of public humiliation was, frankly, shit scary.
Mango and Birdseye Chili straight out of the conditioning tank
It is therefore somewhat ironic that the actual brewing of this beer was perhaps one of the least problematic parts of its launch. Death from Above was not the name on the brewsheet. The beer was originally going to be called Hopocalypse Now, a hoppy pun pop reference to the cult movie by Francis Ford Coppola. The only problem was that there are 12 other Hopocalypse beers in the world. Perhaps one more wouldn’t have mattered - but not everyone agreed with us. So we made the decision to change the name to Death from Above, the motto of the US Airborne Division, a lateral reference to the famous Ride of the Valkyries scene from Apocalypse Now… and the name of a jolly good band into the bargain. The name also seemed particularly suitable as we dumped whole bag loads of dry hops through the top of our fermenter into the conditioning beer.
This was a beer concept fraught with danger. It could have all gone so wrong but we’re quietly happy with the finished product. It’s a complex beer which seems to reveal another aspect to its character every time I try it. It was never meant to be a controversial brew. It is just meant to be a good beer.
The beer will debut at the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular in Melbourne 24 – 26 May, and then a limited supply will be available in bottle and keg in New Zealand and Australia. Don’t try it because of controversy. Try it because it’s a unique, complex and interesting beer.
Note - a video on the making of the beer can be watched here.