Grape and grain together — Saltram Pepperjack Ale

A few years back Saltram Barossa Valley winemaker Nigel Dolan rang his brewing mate Brad Rogers. Could they get together on a brewing project, Nigel wondered?

By mid 2006 they’d commenced trial brews at Matilda Bay’s Dandenong brewery. But there were some tricks to incorporating shiraz into beer making. And, admits Brad, ‘we buggered a few up of them up’ before hitting on the right formula.

In February this year the pair completed the first commercial batch of Saltram Pepperjack Ale – a fruity, pungently hoppy beer containing a good dollop of 2007 vintage Barossa shiraz juice, added as concentrate towards the end of the boil.

The concentrate accounted for about one third of the brew’s fermentable sugars and contributed subtly to its colour and crisp acidity.

Nigel believes that the natural grape acids account, in part, for the beer’s crispness and lifts the fruity notes contributed by Amarillo hops – an assertive component of the ale.

Saltram Pepperjack Handcrafted Ale 330ml 6-pack $17.99
There’s Barossa shiraz in the brew, but does it look or taste like wine? Apart from a faint redness to the hue and a slight acid tang on the palate, the answer’s no. But it’s a wonderfully fruity ale with a keynote of resinous, bitter, Amarillo hops and a truly dry, refreshing finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007