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The often-goofy, ever-flightless Australian emu is greatly misunderstood. Even more of a mystery is Australian sparkling ale; its style, characterized by a crisp, effervescent body, also offers a slightly bittersweet finish, courtesy of hops sourced far south of the equator. In March, Chris Cuzme and Mary Izett — the husband and wife gypsy brewers behind Cuzett Libations — embarked on a reconnaissance mission to the land down under. They encountered native hops, enjoyed local pubs, and sipped tirelessly on the suds of Oz. That exhaustive research informed their most recent release, an ode both to the country’s unique style of beer and its most unique brand of bird. Revenge of the Emu, it’s Australian for beer of the week.
In the early parts of the twentieth century, emus were considered such a scourge to the farmers of Western Australia that the military, armed with machine guns, was deployed to help thin their swollen ranks. The resulting “Great Emu War of 1932” has been historically derided as epic overkill. The beer it helped inspire, on the other hand, is all about subtlety. “Mary and I really love the character of many Southern Hemisphere hops,” explains Cuzme, “our favorites being Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin.” Both varieties are known for imparting fruit-forward flavors, not unlike grape, peach, and passionfruit. Cuzme sourced his from Tasmania, the small island off the southeastern coast of the continent.
To balance out the generous use of sweeter hops, Cuzett’s summertime release was built around a kölsch yeast and pilsner malt. This lends the Emu a comforting blanket of dryness, making it super easy-drinking for warm weather. The first batch, brewed at Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Beer Works in conjunction with Kelly Taylor (Kelso brewmaster, not the blonde bombshell from 90210), is now pouring at Pine Box Rock Shop and the Arrogant Swine in East Williamsburg; Jimmy’s No. 43 and The Jeffrey in Manhattan; and Alewife in Long Island City.
When it comes to Australian beer, the commercial success of Foster’s guided American drinkers into a bland Outback; a desert devoid of flavor. It’s an injustice rivaled only by the senseless slaughter of innocent emus in this same part of the world. A pint of Revenge of the Emu not only rights these wrongs, it also quenches your thirst on a hot summer’s day. Hit two birds with one stone, so to speak.