Have you met Stuart Kirk from SK Beverages? There is a big possibility you haven’t quite crossed paths with Stu, as he released his first beer and label just this week. He launched with ‘Black Top’ Blonde Ale, a beer designed for long hot days on the road. An easy drinking beer with enough flavour to encourage you to come back for more than one; or two. It registers at a restrained 4.2 percent ABV and contains a selection of Australian malts and hops. If you want to read more about SK Beverages, visit his website here, however, if you want to learn more about Stu himself, read on.
Q1. Who are you and how are you involved in the SA beer industry?
I’m Stuart Kirk, I own and operate SK Beverages a small batch gypsy brewing company and I have just launched my first release, Black Top Blonde Ale.
Q2. What are some of the great moments you have had whilst being involved in this industry?
My most recent highlight would be the opportunity I had to produce my first full scale batch at the Regency TAFE Campus Brewery. I had a fantastic time working with Stephen Nelsen and the Cert 3 Course Students. I really enjoyed being able to use my first run as a learning experience for the students as well as myself.
Q3. How have you seen the industry grow and what do you think are some trends for the future?
I’ve been tuned into the craft beer scene for around 5 years now and have seen it grow exponentially. I think it is still early days for Australia and I think we will see more breweries and venues established as we head towards 2020-21. I’m keen to see what the future holds style wise as we seem to have had trends of sour beers, IPA’s/IIPA’s and more recently the NEIPA craze. For me though I think we will see a move towards reinvigorating some of the more classic styles brewed exceptionally well.
Q4. Beer contains a ton of calories, what do you do to keep the beer gut at bay?
At the moment, I seem to have the beer belly/dad bod combo in full effect but thankfully my day job, at times can be quite physical so that helps but if anyone has any hacks I’d love to hear them.
Q5. What was your epiphany beer that set you on your crafty way?
This was a toss up between two awesome beers that got me off ‘Imported Lager’. The first being CVBC Ranga Tang Red Ale, I think at first I bought it for the amusing name, but it turned out to be an eye opener into the local beer market. The second being Mismatch’s Archie’s Red Ale, at the time it just trumped everything in terms of flavour and style. It also switched me onto the idea of gypsy brewing, a concept that to me at least was unheard of five or so years ago.
Q6. Do you have any exciting news you can share with me? Maybe about future plans, collaborations or anything new?
Well my first release, Black Top Blonde Ale, is now available. Future plans, all going well I am expecting to have a follow up release in Autumn 2019 and I also want to start working on a small batch of cider.
Q7. We are all friends here in South Australia, so who would you like to collaborate with next and what would you make?
Well we are so lucky in SA to have so many established and up and coming brewers/breweries I am really spoilt for choice. But in no order I’d love to do a unique limited beer with the guys from Western Ridge Brewing Co something old world with a new world twist. I’d love to work with the guys at Big Shed because I love their style and food pairings. I’d want to brew something that pushed some boundaries, maybe a Chilli Ale or something unusual. Working with Pikes Beer Company would also be cool as I have a family connection with the Clare region possibly sticking with a more classic style. Sweet Amber also makes the list as it’s been great seeing them grow, I think maybe a lower ABV beer that would suit the Semaphore vibe. I could keep going … CVBC, Little Bang, ForkTree, Shifty Lizard, Mismatch …
Q8. Some brewers stick religiously to the style guide lines when brewing a beer, others throw that book out the window. If you were to create your own style, what would it be like?
Great question. I think I’d make an Australian Amber Ale.
Aroma: Moderate hop aroma derived from Australian Varieties. Moderate to High malt aroma of toffee/caramel.
Appearance: Amber to Dark Red with a lasting off white head.
Flavour: Moderate hop flavour derived from Australian Varieties – with a supporting malt profile of toffee & caramel.
Overall Impression: A hoppy amber ale that showcases Australian varieties of hops and malt.
Q9. What is your favourite season for beer drinking? Why?
Hmm my first thought was cricket season, because nothing beats finishing work and having a few while watching a test or 20/20. In saying that however I’d have to pick winter, there’s something about cold weather that makes me appreciate things more like a great stout or dark ale. Also, it’s a great time to get the Weber going with a few pale or amber ales.
Q10. If you could choose any profession, what would it be? Why?
Race car driver! Just joking, I think I missed the enrolment.
I suppose I’m working towards my ultimate profession, Brewer/Chef/Business Owner. In time I’m aiming to establish my own brewery and kitchen, so I think when it all comes together that will hopefully be the right balance of physical, mental, creative and purposeful work. Cheers Stu
One of my first experiences with good beer in Adelaide was Clare Valley’s red and also Mismatch’s Archies red, just cracking beers. Bring on summer where we will have all these new companies out and about showcasing their new beers at small little festivals and events. Something Stu didn’t mention was his recent success at the state home brew championships where he picked up a couple of medals, definitely no easy task. Thanks Stu, it has been great to see that so many bottle shops and drinkers supporting your first release this week and I look forward to your future products. Cheers.