Half a century from Mudgee mud to true brew

It may seem hard to believe now but in post world-war-two Australia beer was rationed. My father still recalls ‘Mudgee mud’, a brew that he and other returned Sydney diggers tolerated during the shortage.

According to mudgeebrewery.com.au, the Federal Brewing Company’s beer deteriorated – earning the ‘Mudgee mud’ tag – after switching from well water to town water. But the name lives on fifty-one years after the brewery closed.

These days Mudgee’s a prosperous looking town with dozens of wineries plus the Mudgee Brewing Co founded recently by two locals, Peter Shiells and Gary Leonard.

You can visit the brewery on Saturdays in the century-old wool store in Church Street. But there’s no reason to go dry from Sunday to Friday as the beers enjoy strong support from local pubs, motels and restaurants.

Indeed, we discovered the excellent Mudgee Brewing Company Pale Ale over pizza at Elton’s Restaurant. What could be better after the five-hour drive from Canberra?

This was no Mudgee mud — just top-notch beer, pale coloured, tremendously fresh and with the wonderful interplay of floral/citrus Saaz hops and rich malt flavours. Alas, we missed the brewery’s opening hours but ordered a few samples for review here in the next few weeks.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007

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