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.
Moo Brew (TAS) Beers
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.
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
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
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
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
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.)
Find it here
Style: Fresh Hop Brown Ale
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.
On tap at good bars.
This is a good place to start too.
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
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.
MONA Winery Bar
Style: Barrel-Aged Stout
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.
Style: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
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.”
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.”
Style: Hop Harvest Ale