Top 12 Aussie boutique beers
By Louise Johnson
If you thought tasting notes for wine could get a little outrageous, wait until you start on the world of beer. Boutique brewers across Australia are rolling out beers that command as much attention as a hand-crafted wine, and deservedly so.
Here’s our top 12 boutique brews from around the country.
Feral Brewing Company, Western Australia
The Feral Brewing Company's White Beer is produced in the true Belgian style with 50 percent barley and 50 percent wheat and an imported Belgian yeast strain. It is cloudy and unfiltered with coriander and orange peel added during the boil to contribute a spicy citrus flavour.
Mountain Goat Brewery, Victoria
Winner of the 2009 Premier's Trophy for Best Victorian Beer at the Australian International Beer Awards, Rapunzel is a Belgian strong blonde ale in the style of Duvel. Gold coloured with a white, foamy head, it smells spicy, with clovey aromas derived from the yeast, and some spiritiness from the high alcohol content. It’s a medium-bodied beer, with a dry finish, low bitterness and that high alcohol content is balanced with slight sweetness and spicy yeast characters. Unfortunately, Rapunzel is a bit of a rarity. The current batch is nearly wiped out and is only available on tap at the brewery in Richmond and at the Taphouse in St Kilda.
Barons Black Wattle Original Ale
Barons Brewery, NSW
An amber coloured ale brewed with native Australian roasted wattle seeds. Barons Black Wattle Original Ale was the first in this new class of beer - flavoured by native Australian roasted wattle seed. The ale has a rich amber colour and a base malt flavour of toffee and caramel. The roasted wattle seed rounds out the offering with a unique taste that hints of hazelnut, chocolate and mocha. It is a full bodied, full flavoured beer that is surprisingly smooth with an amazingly silky finish.
The Flying Horse Bar and Brewery, Victoria
The Dirty Angel won the 2009 trophy for Champion Porter at the Australian International Beer Awards. A deep mahogany coloured ale with rich malt characters and hints of toffee, the raisiny, blackcurrant dryness in the finish is typical in beers made with dark malts and high alcohol content. English grown Golding’s hops lend a distinctly floral hop flavour in the background.
Red Hill Brewery, Victoria
Light and refreshing aromatics from the Goldings and Hallertau Hops it is brewed from, this is a classic style of beer known as Belgian strong golden ale, and is beyond tempting. Smooth and complex with intense flavours and depth, fermentation starts cool and reaches very high temperatures creating a fruity yeast aroma and lots of hops late in the boils creates spicy aromatics. The alcohol content of 8 percent makes this beer dangerous and tempting, and is well hidden with a crisp dry finish; once you've started there is no turning back. This beer has a high level of carbonation, a beautiful golden colour and luxuriant big white foamy head.
Seven Sheds Raspberry Beer, Tasmania
Available from Seven Sheds Brewery cellar-door, the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Café (Elizabeth Town) and Crown Cellars (Launceston), this delicious raspberry beer pours with a distinctive hazy, pink colour and fluffy white head of foam. Subtle raspberry notes come through in the aroma and the palate; the finish is dry and thirst-quenching. It is brewed with raspberries from Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm (36kg/500L batch), a dash of clover honey and a modicum of Seven Sheds estate-grown Leggett hop flowers.
Stone and Wood Pale Lager
Stone and Wood, NSW
Stone and Wood Pale Lager has a sparkling light colour, and a flavour that strikes a fine balance between its subtle hop aroma and full malt palate with soft clean finish. The brewers say they have taken a slow and careful approach to brewing a delicate but very balanced beer that is fermented slowly at cold temperatures and then given the gift of time to lager so it can develop its complexity.
Hop Thief Ale
James Squire, Victoria
Hop Thief Ale is a smooth, deep amber brew featuring a unique blend of Australian hops to create an enticing floral bouquet. Only 11,000 cases were made available for purchase, so beer lovers should embrace the cooler months and take this opportunity to taste great Australian craft beer at its best. Hop Thief Ale uses the late addition of hops to add a depth of aroma, flavour and complexity to the beer, which allows for a pronounced floral aroma.
Bridge Rd Brewers, Victoria
A unique Australian Lager, brewed in Beechworth from Chestnuts grown locally in the Beechworth and Stanley hills. The Chestnut Lager also uses Galaxy hops from the Rostrevor Hop Garden in the nearby Ovens Valley. This unique lager is very pale and presents a crisp 'pilsner' like profile combined with a distinct nutty character owing to the use of Chestnuts in the mash. The crisp clean profile of this beer lends itself to the summer months.
Hargreaves Hill Pale Ale
Hargreaves Hill Brewing, Victoria
The original brewery, then located in Steels Creek, burnt down in the February 2009 bushfires, however through the generous assistance of other breweries, brewing has continued. Currently, Hargreaves Hill is completing its new brewery in Lilydale. Their first release, Pale is brewed from a blend of specialty malts which add character and complexity to the flavour, and supply a rich cognac hue. Pale is bittered with American grown Cascade hops, and a late addition to the boil provides the citric floral notes which are released immediately after pouring, balanced with the toasty aromas of the crystal malt - a highly roasted malt variety. A marmalade bitterness appears at the end of the palate.
White Rabbit Dark Ale
White Rabbit, Victoria
Proudly part of the Yarra Valley community of fantastic food and wine producers, White Rabbit brews beer that doesn't just follow the others. As their website says: "You have to start with tradition but then you need to expand your mind a little!" The White Rabbit is a dark ale essentially malt driven but with the firm bitterness of whole hops to ensure balance. Subtle yet delicious, with flavour built around yeast that is allowed to go wild, it has complex flavours and handsome character. This is a beer you will love to drink anytime, anywhere.
Moo Brew, Tasmania
From Moorilla Estate just outside Hobart, Moo Brew is dedicated to the art of fine brewing bringing together the highest quality ingredients, state of the art technology, tradition and commitment in the uncompromising pursuit of brewing excellence. Moo Brew contains no preservatives and is not pasteurised. Hefewelzen is a classic German wheat beer, naturally cloudy with a vibrant yellow colour and a strong foam head.
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