Coopers of Adelaide is one of my favorite Aussie breweries. It is also possibly the only surviving 19th century brewery to remain in the hands of the original family. While the Malt Shovel Brewery tries to reinvent the brews of James Squire, Coopers has maintained many of its own original recipes and yeast strains. Here in Singapore, three of its brews are readily available: a stout ale, a sparkling ale and a pale ale.
The Best Extra Stout (ABV 6.8%) is the most exceptional, and has been noted as Australia's best beer on several occasions. It’s very thin for a stout, with negligible head, but offers a wide range of flavors in every sip. It typically starts with a burnt or toasted taste followed by notes of chocolate, coffee, toffee and black cheery. It’s marvelously complex. Although bottle-conditioned, it does not have an overwhelming yeasty taste. This comes in second for my favorite dark beer, right after MacAusland’s Oatmeal Stout from Montreal. It’s also my second-favorite Aussie beer.
The pale and sparkling ales are similar in make and taste – but the latter is more impressive, and has found praise from world-renowned beer hunter Michael Jackson. Cooper's claims that its Sparkling Ale (ABV 5.8%) is made according to the same recipe that it developed in 1862. Given that it is nothing like the filtered, pasteurized and homogenized brews that dominate the planet... I imagine that there is a great deal of truth in that claim. Whether it is cloudy or sparkling depends on the pour. For me, it is a cloudy. I tend to pour two-thirds of the beer, swirl the sediment in the bottle and pour the remainder. The result is a swirl of cloud with touches of dark yeast that settle in the glass like as if it were a negative-image snowglobe. The taste has been better described elsewhere:
Coopers Sparkling Ale pours to a very cloudy, opaque, pale blond color, with a dense white head, and a very vibrant and lively carbonation. Like with a good German hefeweizen, you want to roust the yeast and pour it in this beer. The nose on this beer is very inviting with zesty, lemony, sherbet like hops aromas, paired with fresh bready and yeasty aromas. The palate is firm with lots of crisp, tart, malt flavors, and flavors of fresh bread, that dance with some estery fruit on the tongue. Coopers Sparkling Ale finishes with more crisp and tart flavors up front, then ends with some nice grapefruit/lemony hop bitterness, that buzz on the tongue with a sting of carbonation.The Pale Ale (ABV 4.5%) is less impressive, and with good reason. I spoke with one of the brewery representatives who was in Singapore for a promotional tour. He said, essentially, that the Pale Ale was an attempt to lure drinkers of lower-alochol beers and lagers. It's decent, but compared with the brewery's other fare it is wanting. There's more to come for Australia week, and if any Australia-based bloggers care to contribute, do contact Alan.