Grape and grain seem to cohabit peacefully in many of our wine regions, with small breweries popping up, in recent years, in the Hunter, Mudgee, Yarra, Beechworth, Gippsland, Bright, Macedon, Rutherglen, Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania, Mildura, Clare and the Barossa.
These are probably many more. And some that’ve made this column to date have direct wine industry connections. At Rutherglen’s Bintara Brewery, for example, grape grower Michael Murtagh, doubles as brewer. And Tasmania’s Moorilla Estate Brewery sits alongside the winery of the same name.
And one that’s recently hit our radar, the Barossa Brewing Company, is connected to the Trinne family, suppliers of stainless steel equipment to the wine industry since the 1970s.
Darryl Trinne operates the business from an old wheat store in Greenock, a quiet little village on the western side of the Barossa. It’s a little off the main tourist trail, but very close to some of the very best vineyards.
I’ve enjoyed the beers on tap at the Greenock Pub (a must-try if you’re in the Barossa). But the bottled versions scrub up well, too, and might eventually reach the east.
Like the best small-maker wines, these are hand-made, small-quantity, highly individual products that give real drinking satisfaction.
Natural beers like these add welcome colour and depth to regional tourism and can even put a smile on our faces here in Canberra. See www.barossabrewingcompany.com for interesting details or to order The Miller’s Lager reviewed last week or the two brews below.
The Barossa Brewing Company Wheat Store Ale 330ml 6-pack $20
This is modelled on the southern German wheat beer style and starts well with distinctive banana-like esters. The palate appears a little fuller and rounder than the German style. While it seems lower in acidity, it’s still a tasty, characterful and refreshing drop. It’s a 50:50 blend of floor-malted wheat and barley.
The Barossa Brewing Company Greenock Dark Ale 330ml 6-pack $20
Greenock Dark Ale packs huge flavour without the high alcohol that often accompanies it. It’s 4.4 per cent alcohol and in the English porter mould: dark and attractively aromatic with a flavour sitting somewhere between dark chocolate and coffee. English Fuggles hops balance the malt richness with a refreshing bitterness.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007