St Thomas 2021 will be available online and for take-away/collection from 12pm (Sydney time) on Friday 6 August 2021.
St Thomas is an Australian Wild Ale made with cherries. It is named for Chris and Emily’s first son. Saint Thomas Aquinas was an immensely influential 13th century philosopher and theologian. In 2021, St Thomas was made by blending barrel aged amber mixed culture fermentation ale with 782kg of fresh, whole, tree ripened stemmed and destemmed Morello sour cherries from Thornbrook Orchard in Nashdale, NSW.
2021 sees a marked change for St Thomas, as well as all the fruit beers to come. We have made the decision internally to stop bottling beers in 375ml format across the board and instead bottle into 750ml bottles from here on out. This decision was made as the combination of multiple factors and we are looking forward to the change it will bring to our beers. Firstly and I would largely say primarily, we switched bottle size in order to make these bottling days a bit smoother for ourselves. I can't lie, working with the small bottles is a pain... its twice the amount of caps, labels, boxes and handling. We have a small team and even with the aid of the bottling line, the 'St' bottling days were dreaded across the board. Additionally, we have moved format in order to deliver these beers at a better price to the customer by volume. With labels, caps, bottles, boxes and shipping rates being equal or near to equal between 375ml and 750ml bottles, we believe this is better. Third, we just like 750ml bottles more... there's more to share, they fit in our cellar better etc. Lastly, we believe that this change in format does not make these beers excessively rare. In 2018 when we released St Thomas, we had less than 1,000 bottles and none were offered to our wholesale accounts. In 2020, that number had risen to close to 3,200 bottles. One of the initial reasons for the smaller format was exactly this, to be able to share these beers wider with a limited amount of fruit, and thus beer. In 2021 we have just over 1,500 x 750ml bottles and with our current retail sales online and at cellar door combined with our wholesale stockists across Australia, this will mean we have enough bottles for anyone who chooses to stock us to be able to carry it. I am on record saying that I like our beer to be firstly, available, it is not a prize for the vanguard, its an agrarian product that is made to be shared. This idea drives our beer's process, bottling format, pricing and distribution spread. If you are keen to taste this beer, I believe you should have that opportunity without sourcing it through a secondary market for a silly price. This works against our beer's perceived value in the online trading world, but it is not those patrons we are attempting to impress with perceived rarity.
Its a lovely beer this year, opening with aromas of cherries, cola and chocolate, very perfumed and heady. Cherry liqueur, sweet baking spices and faint minty stemminess at the end. The palate shows fresh cherry characteristics, sweet and tart with an explosive mid palate. After dinner mint and cherry lead to a long palate finishing biscuity and spicy. A lovely vintage.
We macerated and co-fermeted the fruit separately this year to make St Thomas with one tank containing wholly de-stemmed cherries and another with wholly stemmed ones. After their four and a half month maceration, we were able to asses these components individually and blend them to taste in order to make the final blend. We found that each of the two elements needed the other to bring out their best. This test this year will influence future decisions on what percentage of the fruit gets destemmed vs stemmed. I'll leave those findings to a later time.
The base beer is brewed entirely with Organic cereals from Chris and Sam Greenwood's farm in Coleambally NSW. Organic raw Red wheat with Organic Schooner barley malted to Munich, Vienna and chocolate roasts by Voyager Craft Malt. It is made with filtered Sydney water and Saaz (CZ) hops. Finally, it was fermented with our house culture: brewers yeast, foraged wild yeast and naturally occurring souring bacteria native to New South Wales. It was bottled on 20 May 2021 and naturally conditioned through refermentation for 11 weeks. At bottling it was 6.7% ABV, 18 IBU and 2.3°P (FG = 1.009 SG).
We will have 300 bottles available online and 120 at cellar door. We will also be offering a handful of cases to our lovely stockists across Australia you can find here.
Like all our beers, St Thomas 2021 is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).