Octo X Ale:
Vanilla New England IPA

The monotony of being on holiday…the pure boredom of sipping on your 50th Bintang or applying another layer of suntan lotion so as not to wake up in a bed of flakes. How about the utter tedium of seeing another perfect wave breaking across a picturesque bay? Really, there is only so much that can be done on the Island of Nusa Lembongang, Bali, before becoming a vacant shell crisping up under the bloody perfect sun!

Thankfully Rai resides on said island, a shaggy, smiling soul who has the ability to break the tedious nature of island life. His abstract art entangles you, shattering this monotony. I had the privilege of not only meeting him but also being invited to his home/studio. I must just say that this was after only a short conversation and next thing I was on the back of his scooter before walking his gallery halls. My South African-bred warning bells should have been going off but, his wholesome nature diffused that.

It was here that we discussed creating a label together, taking his lively and abstract artistic style and putting it onto a medium he has yet to use…Beer. I believe the label speaks for itself and is a true representation of his style that I wanted to showcase with a beer.

This all happened some time ago and the delays in releasing the label were primarily due to me not being able to find a beer that would live up to Rai’s beautiful octopus. But at last! An in your face, heavily dry hopped New England IPA with Madagascar vanilla was born. A beer I feel that would live up to the Octo X Ale. Well, that’s what I thought.

Attempt #1, Thankfully only a test batch but half of it still ended up all over the brewery floor as “someone” (read into that what you wish) kicked the fermenter valve open releasing the delicious nectar to the drain. The result of what was left was a lovely oxidized 10 litres of sadness but, there was definitely still potential there!

Attempt #2, This time on the big system, we got the biggest stuck mash of our lives! It basically resulted in adding an extra 5 hours to our brew time and a very unhappy brew team! None the less, the brew god smiled down upon us and the beer was good! We kegged all of it and still have a few kegs lurking at the taproom.

Attempt #3, We nailed it! Swopped some hops out giving it more of a tropical punch, the vanilla coming through well to round out the full mouth feel, a beer that can definitely stand up to the label. We canned all of it and there are still a few cans sitting tight in the coldroom during this COVID-19 lockdown, waiting to be released out into the world. Keep an eye on the webstore because when this all blows over, you might still be able to get your hands on the last few cans. If not, don’t fret too much as I plan to brew it again with a different yeast to help accentuate the hazy nature of the style.

This label has been a journey of note! It has been on the back burner waiting for the right beer to come along for some time and was to be released just before the lockdown. Frustrating to say the least but, when we all finally get through this, at least there is a punchy NEPA waiting behind those coldroom doors.