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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Tuesday 23 September 2014

Moo Brew (TAS)

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As anyone who has visited MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, will readily attest, David Walsh doesn’t do things by half. So it is with Moo Brew, the beer arm of his majestic empire on the banks of the Derwent River, just outside Hobart. Launched in 2005, Moo Brew come in uniquely designed bottles, feature exclusive artwork by Australian artist John Kelly and are crafted to an exceptionally high standard by local hoodlum Owen Johnston.

The original brewery, encased in a glass tower atop the main ‘Ether’ building, enjoys what could well be the best views of any in Australia – back along the Derwent towards the Tasmanian capital. Just up the road, a second brewery has been established to help bring more Moo Brew to the people. This will allow the MONA brewery to become something of a mad scientist’s lair, where the brewers will be given free rein to concoct the weird and wonderful, to be sold under the MONA label exclusively onsite.

Elsewhere, you’ll find a fine dining restaurant, spectacular outdoor concert venue and, as of January 2011, a wine bar showcasing the vineyard’s own labels, Moo Brew beers and a carefully handpicked selection of other tipples from around the globe, which can be served alongside locally produced cheeses, breads and charcuterie platters.

As for the beers, the core range of a Pale, Hefe, Pilsner and Dark Ale are embellished by an annual Stout, an absolute beast of a beer that is eagerly awaited by craft beer lovers across Australia every year – and outdone only by the limited number of even bigger Barrel Aged Imperial Stout released in bottle that commands a huge price but gives huge rewards in return.

Regulars

Moo Brew Hefeweizen

A full-bodied take on the style, Moo’s Hefe pours a deeply cloudy, glowing yellow with a foamy head and boasts plenty of banana and spicy clove aromas with a hint of vanilla. Big on taste, with a refreshing tartness underpinning the banana and zesty citrus flavours and a dry finish.

Style: Hefeweizen
Strength: 5.1%

Moo-brew-hefe_bottle

Moo Brew Dark Ale

A masterclass in the art of balance, Moo’s Dark Ale rolls all the characteristics you might expect of such a beer together in a well bound whole. While not as insanely hopped as some of the imported American Browns, it blends its caramel and gently roasted choc malt flavours with piney aromatic hops and a gentle hop bitterness.

Style: American Brown Ale
Strength: 5%

Moo-brew-dark-ale_bottle

Moo Brew Pilsner

Moo’s Pilsner offers up a something of a hop twist on the traditional German beers on which it is based. But unlike a number of Australian and Kiwi brewers who have switched the original’s Saaz hop for something New World, Moo use only Spalt, another German hop, in theirs. Pouring a pale straw colour, it begins with grassy, fruity hop aromas and ends with a solid bitterness. And, in 2011, hitting the Aussie mainland on draught for the first time.

Style: German Pilsner
Strength: 5%

Moo-brew-pilsner_bottle

Moo Brew Pale Ale

There are bigger US-inspired pale ales around in Australia but few as refined. Floral and citrus hops on the nose lead into soft yet densely layered malts before the hops return to seal the deal with a satisfying dose of bitterness.

Style: US Pale Ale
Strength: 4.9%

Moo-brew-pale_bottle

Moo Brew Belgo

When the call went out from the 2012 Great Australasian Beer Spectapular for breweries to come up with a brand new beer for the event, a few decided to use it as an opportunity to try out something new for their full time range. And that was the case with Hobart’s Moo, who came up with the Belgo. As you’d expect from the name it’s a Belgian style ale: a bright, golden pale ale. There’s a sweet aroma with a hint of vanilla and some fruity US hops, and a taste that’s aromatic yet drier than you might expect. And as ever with Moo’s beers, it’s tight and balanced, even allowing for the Belgian complexity. NB If you went to GABS and don’t recall a Belgo, it was called Cowboy for the event after the John Kelly artwork that appears on the bottle; it’s the last of the Kelly artworks destined for a Moo label, so may well be the last addition to their year round range too.

Style: Belgian Pale
Strength: 4.5%

Moo-belgo_bottle

Specials

Moo Brew Harvest Ale 2014: Rye IPA

Traditionally, for the most part at least, when breweries have turned their attention to creating fresh hop harvest ales they have tended to favour pretty straightforward base beers that allow the hops to shine. Last year, Moo Brew took a rather different approach and released a fresh hop Robust Porter. It was one of the best beers we sampled in the whole of 2013. And now, for its 2014 harvest release, they are trying something a little different again. It is the first harvest release with new head brewer Dave Macgill at the helm and he tells us that for this beer they have used raw ingredients never before used in the brewery, including rye malt from Tasmania’s Belgrove Distillery. “The use of rye will give the malt structure a complex, dry and spicy finish showcasing the real hero of the beer: the hops,” he says. The wet hops used in this beer are Galaxy and Ella; Galaxy brings big fruit flavours and aromas, Ella contributes floral and slightly spicy elements. The result, says Dave, is “a dry fruit driven, well-balanced 7 percent Rye IPA.”

Available:

Saint John Craft Beer
The Winston
Lark Distillery
Preachers
Peppermint Bay
Prince of Wales
Knoppies
New Sydney
Custom House Hotel
Jack Greene
Blue Eye
MONA
Quarry
Barcelona
The Alehouse Project
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Great Northern
The Wheaty
Clever Little Tailor
East Of Everything
Earl of Leicester
Publishers Hotel
The Terminus
Gertrude Hotel
Odyssey Tavern
Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn
Royal Albert Hotel
Forest Lodge
Grain Store
Warners at the Bay
Prince of Wales
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Frankies Pizza by the Slice
Welcome Hotel
New Brighton Hotel
Beer Cartel
Flatrock Cafe
Sydney Wine Merchants
Jeremy’s Bistro
Archive Beer Boutique
The Scratch
Malt
Tippler’s Tap
Flux
Bine
The Burrow
Statler and Waldorf
Shady Palms Cafe

Style: Rye IPA
Strength: 7.0%

Moo-harvest-14_bottle

Moo Brew Seasonal Saison 2013

It’s birthday time at Moo, with the brand turning eight and the new (well, newer than the original one) brewery celebrating three years in business this month. There’s no birthday brew to celebrate, instead the third release of its Seasonal Saison. The beer first hit a handful of taps around Hobart for Beer Lovers Week and the Tasmanian International BeerFest, as well as the brewery’s stand at Taste of Melbourne. And, as of this week, it’s set to land on taps at craft beer venues all over the land. It’s been brewed as in previous years, using traditional floor malted pilsner malt along with raw spelt and hops sourced from just up the road at Bushy Park. It’s a bright, zesty take on the style, with just the merest hint of tartness creeping in among the spicy, lemony and peppery elements to create the sort of thing a doctor would prescribe for the warmer weather. If doctors were ever minded to do such a thing.

Available:

Jack Greene. Hobart
Irish Murphy’s, Hobart
Other venues across Australia TBC

Style: Saison
Strength: 5.5%

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Moo Brew Trippel

The first beer in what we’re promised will be a series of barrel-aged beers from Tasmania’s Moo Brew is a Belgian Tripel. It was flagged up on the site a few weeks back and has since made its way to beer bars across the land. It’s this year’s Spring Seasonal from Moo and, as such, is a keg only release. It’s also, as the name suggests, a Belgian style Tripel, albeit one granted an additional “p”, perhaps in tribute to the “oo” in Moo. Either way, one of the Moo Crew tells us he reckons it’s the best beer they’ve ever brewed down on the Derwent.

We’re also told that they utilised barrels (or in this case barrel) rather differently to the now-defunct Vintage Stout program. Just one new American oak barrel was filled with the beer, which was then blended back in with the rest of the batch, allowing the oak to add a new dimension without overpowering what, despite the nine per cent ABV, tends to be a pretty delicate style.

According to the brewers, it’s “a deep yellow with rich dense foam. It has a complex aroma with fruit esters, hop character and a detectable contribution from the oak barrel. Given the intensity of the beer the mouth feel is relatively light and supported by hop bitterness, spicy phenolics and oak tannins. The elevated alcohol is present as a late mild warming that lingers.”

Available:

Tasmania
Jack Greene
The Winston
Irish Murphy's
Cock & Bull Hotel
Victoria
Palace Hotel
Great Northern
Saint and Rogue
Beer DeLuxe
Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn
NSW
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Union Hotel Newtown
Forrest Lodge Hotel
The Albion Hotel
Queensland
Tippler’s Tap
The Scratch (tap takeover Sunday 15th Sept)
Archive (available at ARMAKEGGON Sun 22nd Sept)
Malt
South Australia
The Wheaty
Western Australia
Norfolk Hotel

Style: Barrel-Aged Tripel
Strength: 9.0%

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Moo Brew Barrel-Aged Vintage Stout

The first time The Crafty Pint encountered this beer from Tasmania’s Moo, it was in the company of a beer rep who was part of a group that had invested in a case of 24 bottles at a cost of $600 for a mate’s 30th birthday present. That they’d chosen to do so was no doubt in keeping with how Moo viewed the jewel in their crown: the ultimate pool room beer; a rarity to be savoured on special occasions. And, as the 2,500 bottles that make up this year’s release make their way from the brewery, it turns out the beer is rarer than ever.

For several years, Moo has been ageing a portion of each year’s Seasonal Stout in oak barrels before being released as the Vintage Stout a year later, but this is the last time it will happen. Lovers of oak-conditioned stouts needn’t worry too much, however, as Moo plans to expand its barrel program, rather than abandon it. For the stouts, it means from next year they will release their Seasonal Stout with a barrel-aged component of that same batch, making it a Barrel-Aged Seasonal Stout rather than a year old barrel-aged batch. Make sense? If not, we’ll be speaking to the head brewer for more on his plans to expand the barrel program later in the week.

In the meantime, for the sixth and final Moo Brew Vintage Stout, expect more of the same lusciousness that has defined earlier releases, with the combination of new American and old French oak barrels adding coconut and toast characters to the rich, multi-layered coffee, chocolate and bitter roast of the base beer.

Available:

Direct from the brewery – (0)3 6263 7773

Style: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Strength: 8.0%

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The Wheaty SchwartzHopf

To mark 10 years as a venue many knowledgeable types will tell you is the best beer bar in Oz, the ladies at The Wheaty headed south to Moo Brew for a three-way collaboration with two of their favourite breweries / stalking victims: Moo and Mountain Goat. They took over the older, smaller of the two Moo breweries and set about creating a hoppy, black pilsner. The thinking behind it, according to the Wheatsters, was: “No 10% ABV, 10 Malts, 10 Hop additions, 100 IBU business for us in our 10th year – we liked the idea of a little beer with big flavour (just like us). Anti-Superhero if you like, but with enough hops and style bending to unsettle a Moo; enough cold fermentation to lager a Goat and enough chirp to get the Wheaty spanked…”

The result is something “smooth, dry, roasty, herbal & bitter”, which was originally called “Weizeny Zehnter Jahrestag SCHWARTZHOPF LARGER mit Muhen und Ziege” (or, if the Crafty German is up to scratch Wheaty Tenth Birthday Black Hop Lager with Moo and Goat). Thankfully this has since been shortened to SchwartzHopf’. You can read more about it in our story here or just head to The Wheaty to sample it. (There may be some going to Goat and Moo too – we’ll let you know if and when…)

Available:

The Wheaty

Style: Black Pilsner
Strength: 5.8%
Bitterness: 60 IBU

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Moo Brew Seasonal Stout 2013

On a tour of Moo’s brewery just before it became operational, head brewer OJ was at his most animated when showing off the waste water treatment system. This isn’t to say he has any unpleasant foibles, more that he’s a real technician when it comes to brewing, someone fascinated by the finest of details and determined to turn out clean, tight beers.

It explains why everything that comes out of the Tassie brewery tends to be so immaculate and of a consistency the big breweries would admire – even something as big and bold as the Seasonal Stout.

This annual release is a true Aussie craft beer classic: a silky yet intense affair that’s rich with dark chocolate and roast coffee flavours and packs a dry, bitter finish. It’s been tagged the Velvet Sledgehammer and with good reason: its smooth facade hides the eight per cent alcohol so well that you’ll be on your back if you’re not careful.

This copy first appeared as a Thirsty Thursday on the Smith Journal website.

Available:

On selected taps from June 13
Check out the Moo Store Locator here

Style: Stout
Strength: 8.0%

Moo-seasonal-stout_bottle

Moo Brew Harvest Ale 2013

The team from Moo has been leaping the fence at nearby Bushy Park once again* to pilfer a load of fresh hops for its annual Harvest Ale release. This time around they bundled a swag of Summer and Willamette hops back to the brewery near Hobart where they were used to create a robust brown ale. As they explain: “In using fresh, wet hops, the aroma is slightly resinous, with tangerine and tropical fruit elements. Due to the seasonal variations, the hop flavour and bitterness is always different.” What’s more, they add: “Given the unknowns when brewing this Harvest Ale, all we can guarantee is an interesting beer.” Given it’s master technicians we’re dealing with here, expect it to be rather well made too.

(*OK, so they were invited to pick the hops, but we like the idea of OJ in bandit’s mask crawling through the bines at dead of night on a secretive mission so we’re sticking with it.)

Available:

Find it here

Style: Fresh Hop Brown Ale
Strength: 5.8%

Moo-harvest_bottle

Moo Brew Saison 2012

For the second year running, Moo Brew has decided that their summer seasonal shall be a Saison. As before, this farmhouse ale is a light-bodied affair that has drinkers with their fingers poised over the “Drain and Repeat” button in its sights. Pale orange / yellow in appearance, it’s a melange of spicy, fruity, citrusy esters. If the Crafty memory serves us correctly (and given how many times a week we spend hunting high and low for wallet, glasses, key, child, etc, this is not a given) it seems to be a little tarter than version one, finishing nice and dry – “a peppery dryness” according to the brewer.

Available:

On tap at good bars.
This is a good place to start too.

Style: Saison
Strength: 5.5%

Moo-seasonal-saison_bottle

Moo Brew Vintage Imperial Stout 2012

Over the past week or so, we’ve been interviewing some of the country’s leading brewers about barrel aging. We were told that one of the effects is to allow oxygen to slowly come into contact with the beer, which – in the case of beers such as stouts – can have the effect of softening the roast characters and lending the beer more caramel notes. Whether it was coincidence or not, the latest release of Moo Brew’s Vintage Imperial Stout then landed in our hands and may as well have announced: “Here’s what they were on about” as soon as the top was popped. The 2012 vintage is a blend of last year’s stout, some of which spent time in French oak, some in American, and is far richer and creamier than any previous version we can recall. Sure, there’s dark chocolate and a roasty bitterness that builds gently and lingers, but there’s heaps of caramel and vanilla too in this beautiful looking beer. In fact, there was something else that we couldn’t put our finger on straight away and had to keep the mind focused on working its way through the rolodex in our noggin until it found it in some dusty, long-untapped recess. Dare we say it? Amid the oak and the roast: Bailey’s ice cream!

Style: Barrel-aged Imperial Stout
Strength: 8.5%

Moo-imperial-stout_bottle

Moo Brew Whisky Barrel-Aged Stout

They do enjoy playing with their stout down at Moo, with this latest release a joint venture with Tasmania’s Lark Distillery. MONA bar manager arranged the supply of a 100 litre barrel, which had previously had whisky aged in it for six years, which was filled with Moo Brew Stout, from which four 20 litre kegs were produced. The first keg was tapped at the screening of Beer Wars at the Museum of Old and New Art cinema, a second is being tapped at the distillery on November 20, where punters will have the opportunity to not only try the stout, but also the whisky that was aged in the barrel. Moo head brewer Owen Johnston and the head distiller from Lark will be there. According to Owen, the kegs are uniquely different, with the two from the bottom of the barrel having a more intense whisky character. The other two kegs will be tapped at the MONA Wine Bar and are unlikely to last long.

Available:

MONA Winery Bar
Lark Distillery

Style: Barrel-Aged Stout
Strength: 8.0%

Moo-imperial-stout_bottle

Moo Brew Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (2010 Vintage Release)

In the world of Aussie beer, this is one that can easily be tagged “luxury item”. It’s to craft beer aficionados what a diamond encrusted iPhone is to a yacht-hopping dolly bird in Monte Carlo: oozing, nay, flaunting excess. In previous years, the folks at Moo have used such phrases as “complex matrix of high residual sugar and bitterness” and “active alcohol vector” when describing the beer. It seems the bogans have taken back control this year, however, with the label simply declaring “John Kelly’s art on the front. Bullshit on the back. Beer in the middle.” Nice. They’ve also been calling it the Velvet Sledgehammer, a title that doesn’t quite do it justice; this velvet comes dotted with the studs from a punk’s collar. Because lurking within the thick, gloopy, nigh on jet black beer – underneath its deeply dark mahogany head – there’s a spikiness too. Sure, there’s tonnes of soft, creamy roast flavours and a lovely, smoky peatiness alongside the dark chocolate aromas, but the aging has lent complexity too: a slightly vinous tang and hints of funk. Oh, and not forgetting that seriously solid dose of sledgehammer too.

Available:

Moo Brew

Style: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Strength: 8.0%

Moo-imperial-stout_bottle

MONA Saison DeMoo

Tapped across three states simultaneously as part of Moo’s “four-way dance” this limited release is Moo Brew’s Tassie take on the classic European farmhouse style, released under the MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) label. We told you about it a few weeks before its release, but in case you missed the story, it uses traditional floor malted Bohemian Pilsner malt from Germany – the oldest form of malted barley – as the base malt as well as raw spelt, following the farmhouse tradition of including raw grains in the grist. Brewer OJ describes the DeMoo as “medium bodied and pale orange in appearance with a complex flavour profile developed by the yeast, creating esters balanced with spicy earthiness. It finishes slightly tart with a peppery dryness.”

Available:

Mona Winery Bar
The Wheaty
Beer DeLuxe
New Sydney Hotel, Hobart

Style: Saison

Mona-special-logo_bottle

MONA Hop Harvest Ale

Unless you’re near Hobart, you’re gonna have to travel for this one. Moo Brew’s Hop Harvest Ale is the first beer they’re going to hold onto for themselves, serving it only at the new Mona Winery Bar. It’s a wet-hopped version of the brewery’s Pale Ale, using fresh Summer hops (also known as Summer Saaz – a variety only recently developed by Hop Products Australia at nearby Bushy Park), picked by the brewers and thrown straight into the tanks. According to Mona’s bar manager Kris Miles: “It has aromas of stonefruit, particularly apricot and a nice lingering bitterness.”

Available:

Mona Winery Bar

Style: Hop Harvest Ale
Strength: 5%

Mona-special-logo_bottle