Beer barons — old world styles; Aussie flavours

Richard Adamson of Sydney’s Barons Brewing says that he and partner Scott Garnett wanted to “have a serious go” at the premium beer market by offering something unique.

And they kicked off in November 2005 with the release of an excellent high-alcohol (5.8 per cent) brew – Black Wattle Superior Wattle Seed Ale, seasoned with roasted wattle seed.

At the time, Adamson’s planned to add more brews featuring native Aussie ingredients. And since we first reviewed Barons two years back, he’s added a bottle conditioned Belgian-style wheat beer (reviewed below). It’s seasoned with lemon myrtle, rather than the orange peel and coriander favoured by Belgium’s benchmark, Hoegaarden.

Baron’s initial release, though, was an English-inspired ale, Extra Special Bitter, that evolved from extensive sampling and a taste-off between a couple of Richard’s recipes and four English favourites: London Pride, Old Speckled Hen, Old Hookey and Adnums SSB.

Adamson released the beer that emerged after the tasting as Barons Extra Special Bitter, but later shortened the name to ESB. They made it originally in 2006 from four hops varieties, Golden Promise malt and a London Ale yeast imported from England.

The back label’s not so specific these days, but it’s true to the original style – a pleasing Aussie interpretation of a classic English bitter.

Barons Black Wattle Ale & Witbier 330ml 6-pack $16.99
These two brews from Barons ‘native’ range include roasted wattle seed and lemon myrtle respectively. They’re subtle inputs and compatible with the smooth, toffee-like malt flavours of the dark Black Wattle Ale and the zesty, lemon-and-clove briskness of the pale wheat-based wheat beer. Available at Plonk, Canberra Cellars and Debacle bar.

Barons Pale Ale & ESB 330ml 6-pack $14.99
Pale Ale is a gold/amber-coloured mild beer that’s creamy textured, fruity and soft with just the right amount of bitterness offsetting sweet malt. ESB (extra special bitter) draws inspiration from classic English ales like London Pride. It has aromatic hops and a brisk, malty palate cut with assertive hops flavour and bitterness.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008