A true phoenix from the ashes tale: Hargreaves Hill is the Victorian craft brewing scene’s great survivor. When bush fires tore across the state on Black Saturday in 2009 this brewery in Steels Creek was destroyed along with most houses in the region.
The following weeks saw an outpouring of support for Hargreaves Hill from the craft beer community. And, just six months later, a new brewery was re-established in Lilydale, with a larger brewlength, greater process control and improved bottling facilities. There, Simon and fellow brewer Glenn Harrison have recommenced making old favourites ESB, Pale and Hefeweizen while experimenting with new styles, from Scotch Ales and Stouts to German Kellerbiers, an unfiltered lager style rarely seen in Australia, and more recently an Imperial Red Ale.
Visitors to the Yarra Valley can sample their full range as well as one-off specials while enjoying fine dining at the Hargreaves Hill restaurant and cellar door in Yarra Glen. Classically-trained pianist Simon and opera singer wife Beth converted the town’s beautiful former National Bank building in 2007, turning it into an oasis for lovers of the grain in the heart of one of the world’s foremost wine regions.
Hargreaves Hill Beers
- Hargreaves Hill The Phoenix
- Hargreaves Hill Russian Imperial Stout 2012
- Our Dark Secret
- Hargreaves Hill C4 IPA
- Hargreaves Hill Russian Imperial Stout (bottled)
- Hargreaves Hill Russian Imperial Stout
- Hargreaves Hill "Melanie"
- Hargreaves Hill AD (750ml bottles)
- Hargreaves Hill AD
- Hargreaves Hill Yarra Valley Pilsner
- Hargreaves Hill Phoenix
ESB (Extra Special Bitter)
The beer that, more than any other, brought Hargreaves Hill to the attention of the wider world. A New World take on a traditional English style, it turned heads with huge, fragrant hop aromas seldom found in Australian beers at the time and a thick, toffee-like malt body shot through with passionfruit and a healthy whack of hop bitterness to finish. Previously only available in draught form, the second half of 2010 saw popular demand sated when it finally appeared in bottles, one of two beers selected to launch the brewery’s new range of four-packs whose look mimics the restaurant in Yarra Glen.
Bitterness: 55 IBU
A great example of a balanced beer, Hargreaves Hill’s Pale is a delicate blend of caramel and gentle hop bitterness. The US of American Cascade hops lend it a floral touch to the sweet malts on the nose and a marmalade like bitterness.
Style: Pale Ale
A light, refreshing take on the German wheat beer style, this is a great summer drink bursting with anything from banana and clove to nutmeg and vanilla thanks to the use of the iconic German yeast strain Weihenstephan. Light yellow, slightly cloudy and pouring with a fluffy white head, if The Crafty Pint’s stint working the Hargreaves Hill stall at an earlier Microbreweries Showcase is anything to go by, it’s also rather popular with the ladies.
A new addition to the Hargreaves Hill bottled range in the second half of 2010, this is a Foreign Export style stout with a fuller body and higher alcohol content than most standard stouts. Not that you’d necessarily pick up the 6.7% alcohol in the flavour – it has little chance to grab your attention due to the wealth of dark cocoa and espresso coffee notes in a warming beer that balances the bitter edge of its roasted malts with malt sweetness. A good helping of East Kent Goldings hops from the UK give it a bitter finish.
Style: Foreign Export Stout
Hargreaves Hill The Phoenix
The first Phoenix was brewed back in 2010 to mark Hargreaves Hill’s return to brewing after the original brewery was destroyed in Victoria’s Black Saturday fires. A luxurious Imperial Red Ale that has stood the test of time quite magnificently, as we discovered in a tasting alongside the new batch recently, it has been brought back just in time for Christmas. Once again presented in a number of wax-sealed, limited edition (350) 750ml bottles, it’s a beer you can set down for years to come. Alternatively, drunk fresh it’s a rich, full-bodied, multifaceted treat that glistens rusty red in the glass and has that soft, velvety mid-palate familiar to many of Hargreaves' beers. As for the wax seals, they’re handy for ensuring you only drink The Phoenix at a time when you’re going to fully appreciate it as we discovered when pulling our last bottle of 2010 out of the fridge rather too late one night; after 15 minutes chipping away unsuccessfully at the wax, we gave up and went to bed, awaking the next day glad it was still around.
Style: Imperial Red Ale
Hargreaves Hill Russian Imperial Stout 2012
A beer that in its first incarnation last year blew The Crafty Pint and many of its big-beer-loving mates away and then, earlier this year, did the same to the judges at the Australian International Beer Awards, where it picked up a gold medal. Given its success, it had to return and, thus, here it is. Not quite as massive in terms of ABV as the last one, but still registering 11.3 per cent, it’s a full-bodied, rich, roasty, creamy, everythingy kind of imperial stout – a little softer than last year’s apparently too. It’s a beer you can sit on for hours and which the brewers hope will find a home in many a cellar ready to be pulled out and shared as an after dinner treat with friends.
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Our Dark Secret
A beer like no other… When the 2010 and 2011 Champion Exhibitors from the Australian International Beer Awards, Nøgne Ø and Moylan’s, visited Australia for the first time for Good Beer Week in 2012, we asked them if they’d get together and brew a beer. They agreed, we built an event around it and, three months later, the secret was out. A massively hoppy imperial black IPA featuring a huge amount of Aussie hops, including several kilos of the as-yet-unreleased Victoria’s Secret variety, it has some soft cocoa characters in amongst the hops once it warms, along with some roastiness that rides in at the end to join in the fun in what must be one of the most bitter beers brewed in Australia. Thanks to Hargreaves Hill for agreeing to host the brew, assisting the brewers on the day and getting it into the tanks with what we believe was one of the toughest transfers ever thanks to all the hop flowers in the kettle!
Style: Imperial Black IPA
Hargreaves Hill C4 IPA
We have to be careful when writing about IPAs from Hargreaves Hill. We mistook a joke about the name of the Topaz and Amarillo IPA from 2011 as serious which resulted in parts of the beer world thinking it was indeed called Melanie. So just to be certain, this one is called the C4, not 4C IPA. So called because it contains four hop varieties that begin with the letter C – Citra, Columbus, Centennial and Chinook – and also in a nod to the IRA’s explosive of preference in its 20th century campaign against the British Government, presumably as it’s a hop bomb. That said, while it is bursting with those piney, citrusy notes you’d expect from such hops – and possesses a resiny character in the mouth – it’s far from explosive. Instead it’s all under control, with the malt backbone holding everything in check, the bitterness firm but not overbearing and the result yet another addition to Hargreaves fine arsenal of beers.
Style: US IPA
Hargreaves Hill Russian Imperial Stout (bottled)
One of the biggest beers ever produced in Australia is now available in a very limited run of 750ml bottles. Hargreaves Hill’s RIS weighs in at more than 12% ABV and packs just as much flavour. One friend of Crafty who likes his uber-beers went so far as to claim it could be the best Victorian beer he’d ever tasted when it was on tap in 2011. If you missed out then, grab a bottle or two before they’re gone – and don’t worry about whether it’s too hot for such a beer now as they’ll last a fair while. Here’s what we had to say about it when it was available in draught form.
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Hargreaves Hill Russian Imperial Stout
You know when you take your first mouthful of a particularly feisty chili or curry and it sends your taste buds into overdrive, firing off warning messages to your brain that this one might just be too hot to handle? Then you soldier on and, palate suitably adjusted, it turns out you were just being a wuss. Well, it seems the same can apply to big bastard beers like this Russian Imperial Stout, the biggest beer yet released by Hargreaves Hill. After wallowing in the lovely rich aromas – dark caramel, vanilla, sweet liquorice – the initial taste was a surprise: an intense coffee-like bitterness that left a dusty coating. “Hmmmm…” we thought, uncertain. But, just as a test wicket requires careful preparation before a titanic battle can commence, so The Crafty Pint’s gob needed resetting up a few notches in readiness for tackling this oily, ruby-tinged black beast. And what an enjoyable battle it turned out to be. If you’ve tasted the brewery’s Stout – itself pretty bold – you’ll recognise some of its characteristics here as it’s clearly the elder, much-tougher-in-a-fight brother: chocolate liqueur, creamy treacle and molasses flavours give way to a long, lingering bittersweet coffee finish, not dissimilar to a multiple espresso laced with brown sugar. The alcohol warms the cockles too, in a beer you’ll want to clear a couple of hours in the diary for. Truly a whopper.
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Hargreaves Hill "Melanie"
In an attempt to bring a female touch to his brewery (or perhaps revealing a hitherto untapped weakness for puns) Hargreaves Hill founder Simon Walkenhorst gave his latest beer the working name Melanie. A Topaz & Amarillo India style Pale Ale, it’s been brewed using fresh Topaz flowers given to the brewery by Hop Products Australia on the day they were harvested. He says the working name is in part because the beer “tastes pretty melon-y, like honeydew melon, with a healthy bitterness”. They’ve also used 99% maris otter grain and a little bit of Simpson’s Chocolate Malt “to add colour and flavour”. Apparently the working name has been replaced by the rather more prosaic “Topaz & Amarillo IPA”, but why not test out the bar staff with “A Pint of Melanie, please?” anyway?
Hargreaves Hill AD (750ml bottles)
At Crafty, we like to think we’re on top of things when it comes to new beers coming out of Oz’s craft breweries. So we were most upset when at a beer vs wine dinner at The Courthouse in North Melbourne earlier this month, the owner pulled out a bottle of this, Hargreaves Hill’s latest Abbey Dubbel. How’d he get one before us, hey? Jesting aside, given it appeared rather late in the course of the evening, we wouldn’t want to say too much of our recollections, other than it was a beer boasting layers of flavour, the richness of mouthfeel Hargreaves captures in many of its beers and a drier, spicier finish than we recall in earlier versions. Instead we’ll leave it to brewer Simon Walkenhorst to tell you it’s “brewed with a complex grain bill consisting of Dingemans Special B, providing depth of colour, chocolate malt and acidulated malt to add some raisiny notes and acidity. We gave it a warm fermentation with Westmalle yeast, which lends some fruitiness and a little bit of sarsparilla bite.”
Style: Belgian Dubbel
Hargreaves Hill AD
In keeping with the brewery’s philosophy of creating traditional beers comes the return of the Hargreaves Hill Abbey Dubbel, their take on the Trappist style of strong brown ale with its origins in Belgium. Theirs is a faithful recreation, weighing in around 7.5%, that uses a special strain of Westmalle yeast from Belgium. Hargreaves founder Simon Walkenhorst will tell you of “notes of raisin and sarsparilla gracing the palate, which is quite dry and lightly bitter giving a pleasant perception of sweetness”. Crafty will tell you we’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t rate it, so get it – and savour it – while you can.
Style: Abbey Dubbel
Hargreaves Hill Yarra Valley Pilsner
The release of Mountain Goat’s summery Skipping Girl on Wednesday doesn’t appear to have stopped the rain so perhaps the release of a second seasonal this week from Victorian brewers will do the trick. This time it’s the latest batch of Hargreaves Hill’s Yarra Valley Pilsner, brewed with Summer Saaz, a variant of the famous Czech hop variety and lightly dry hopped. It’s on tap in Melbourne from today and will be on the lineup of Aussie hoppy beers at Tuesday’s Ale Stars session at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda, where the guest is Tim Lord, from major Aussie hop producer HPA.
Style: Czech Pilsner
Hargreaves Hill Phoenix
ONLY 350 WAX-SEALED, NUMBERED BOTTLES RELEASED. The folks at Hargreaves Hill decided to make a beer to mark the year’s anniversary of their return to brewing following the destruction of the original brewery in the Black Saturday fires. And for such a worthy milestone comes a worthy beer – an absolutely monstrous Imperial Red Ale that’s likely to turn as many heads as their New World take on the ESB did when it first hit taps. We could bang on about forests of fresh pine, clotted cream toffees, butter biscuits, thick cut Olde English marmalade, deep auburns, mouth-filling creaminess, tingly alcohol warmth and obscene amounts of resiny Simcoe hops. But we won’t. All we’ll say is there’s only 350 individually numbered, wax-sealed 750ml champagne bottles available and you really, really don’t want to miss out.
Style: Imperial Red Ale