For most people, being in the wettest part of Victoria would be cause for complaint. Not Luke Scott, head brewer at the Otway Estate Brewery, who has an impressive water harvesting system and a pair of 150,000l tanks at his disposal to capture the rain. This pure water is used to brew his beers, ensuring they are truly a product of the Otways.
Brought in to start a brewery alongside the existing Otway Estate Winery, Luke has taken a two-pronged approach: a standard range of approachable beers under the Prickly Moses label, ranging from a pilsner through to a stout and the “Otway Trilogy” of French and Belgian Farmhouse Ales available in longnecks – plus occasional short run specials.
When Otway Estate’s owners decided to build the brewery, it was seen as something that would complement their wine production. Three years on, with its beers playing their part in Australia’s craft beer revolution, the brewery is taking the lead. The Prickly Moses label is found in pubs all along the Great Ocean Road, as well as in Melbourne and further afield, with the Otway Organic Lager and a cider made with apples grown on the estate helping win a new audience.
The brewery, which takes its name from a native plant local to the area, is well worth a visit. Sat on the edge of the beautiful Otway Ranges National Park and less than 50km from the Surf Coast, it has three holiday cottages onsite with views over the rolling countryside, a well stocked cafe and restaurant with outdoor dining. It also produces its own cordials. And if you want to go a step further, you can sign up for residential beer courses and learn to brew hands on.
Otway Estate Beers
- Prickly Moses Commander IPA
- Prickly Moses / Odyssey Tavern Hop Series
- Prickly Moses ChainSAW
- Prickly Moses Vintage Ale 2012
- Prickly Moses Tailpipe
- Prickly Moses Oktoberfest Lager
- Prickly Moses Chocolate Ale
- Prickly Moses Session Ale
- Prickly Moses Black Panther
- Prickly Moses Raconteur: A Love Story About Hops
- Otway Estate Wild Hop Organic Ale
- Otway Estate Red Fred
- Oktoberfest 2010
- Barrel-aged Strong Ale
- Otway Saison 2010
Otway Organic Lager
Made with raw ingredients that are all certified organic and rainwater harvested at the brewery, this crisp, refreshing lager is one of the greenest beers in Australia.
A deeply dark beer with a crema like head, this dry stout has a gentle roast and treacle aroma that merely hints at the flavours within. Dark chocolate with a touch of burnt caramel gives way to a pleasantly lingering mild bitterness from the roasted malts. A classic winter beer.
Awards: People's Choice Winner - Stouts, Federation Square Microbreweries Showcase 2009 and 2010. Silver medal - Australian International Beer Awards 2010
Style: Dry Stout
A clear, light amber ale with a white head that clings to the side of your glass, the Otway Ale is subtly complex. The nose mixes an almost sherbet like sweetness with a touch of malt and the grassy, floral bouquet of classic English hops. Upfront caramel flavours soon give way to a steadily building hop bitterness reflecting the mixture of varieties used in the boil to create the sort of beer enjoyed in English pub gardens for years.
Style: Pale Ale
Using fresh rainwater captured at Otway Estates is perfect for this style of beer, a light Bohemian pilsner which demands subtlety of flavour. It pours with a bright white, lingering head and has a gentle floral aroma from the use of traditional European Saaz hops, which also lend the beer a soft, dry finish. An eminently sessionable, thirst quenching lager.
Style: Bohemian Pilsner
Otway Red Ale
The Red Ale is a traditional Irish ale, meaning the emphasis is firmly on the malt character. The blend of malts includes some roasted barley which give the beer an element of roasted nut, even a hint of woodiness. The distinctive earthy aroma and flavour of English Goldings hops add balance.
Style: Irish Red
This cloudy, light gold beer is Otway’s take on the Belgian witbier (White Beer) style, which means citrus and coriander on the nose and the palate. A refreshing beer in which the use of unmalted wheat adds a touch of nuttiness, it’s also only 4.3% so won’t knock you out while quenching your thirst on a hot summer day. It pours with a creamy white head, a creaminess that’s matched in the mouthfeel.
Awards: AIBI Bronze Medal 2009 & 2010 Peoples' Choice Award for Best Wheat Beer at 2010 Fed Square Microbreweries Showcase
Prickly Moses Commander IPA
We’re about to enter the time of year where, even more than usual in the current climate, there is a particular focus on hops. Home experimenters with their own handful of plants, small breweries with a few rows of bines and the country’s major hop growers are all in the process of, or about to start, harvesting this year’s crop. Yet Prickly Moses' latest, despite being an IPA with plenty of all-Aussie hops contain within, is keen for us to focus on another ingredient. It is named Commander after a new type of malt that head brewer Luke Scott believes he is the first to use as a base malt in a commercial beer. It is being introduced after being developed for its greater resistance to disease and replaces Galaxy, a variety of Aussie malt, not the all-conquering hop (not that that’s in any way confusing…).
“Everyone talks about hops,” says Luke. “But you always need malt to hold up the beer. The first thing I decide upon with a new beer is the yeast, then the malt and then the hops. Malt to me is the important one.” That said, he’s used a blend of all local, and mostly new, hop varieties in it too: Ella (64 per cent), Vic Secret (32 per cent), Galaxy (3 per cent), Pride of Ringwood (1 per cent). He says this will be the first of a series of Commander beers, while lovers of IPAs can look out for the return of the Chardonnay IPA, for which the winemaker from McWilliams will be joining Luke in the Otway Ranges for the blending. Oh, he’s got heaps of barrel experiments going on for Good Beer Week too, but you’ll discover that when you get your hands on the official program next week…
Most kegs gone to NSW – venues to be confirmed
Four in Vic – again TBC
Style: Australian IPA
Prickly Moses / Odyssey Tavern Hop Series
All being well, in the near future the Odyssey Tavern & Brewery will become fully what it says on the tin: a tavern and a brewery. In the meantime, as work continues to get the in-house brewery up and running, the team there are having a bit of fun with one of the region’s brewers, Prickly Moses. Taking advantage of the venue’s hand pump, Prickly’s head brewer Luke Scott has been playing around with his Otway Ale and a few hop varieties to deliver a range of tiny batch beers. Thus far, the Otway Ale has been given a twist with Mosaic hops, a new variety from the States, also known as the son of Simcoe, which Luke says delivers some lovely floral aromas. Specifically, he says he gets lavender, but he says others disagree… The other hop to have been used so far is the British Bramling Cross, which took the Otway ale in an ESB direction. The plan is to keep throwing these small kegs in Odyssey’s direction, so there should be something to try when ever you pop in.
Prickly Moses ChainSAW
It’s not that long ago that heads were turned and palates were pricked by the Bridge Road / Nøgne Ø India Saison for its combination of big, punchy Aussie hops and funky saison yeast – a combination of opposing styles that worked so well both brewers continue to make the beer for their respective markets. It wasn’t the first beer to meld styles you wouldn’t necessarily put together in a glass but was one that really got people talking. Since then, there’s been a wave of white IPAs, hoppy hefes and the like that throw hopping regimes more usually associated with strong pale ales into the mix with base beers in which hops are usually more of a supporting cast member, the bit part actor without any lines. The ChainSAW, which was originally trialled at this year’s GABS, fits into that lineage, a wheat beer using one of the most powerful of the new wave of Aussie hops, Stella, to create a beer that’s got big tropical (and herbal) aromas and a sizeable bitterness playing with the flavours and body you might expect in a wheat beer. There are some sweet malt flavours in its cloudy yellow mix too, while the bitterness blends with a dryness to create what’s akin to a summer refresher on steroids.
Aireys Pub, Aireys Inlet (tap)
Farm Food Birregurra
The Otway Fly – Lavers Hill
Warners at the Bay
Vue Grand, Queenscliff (tap)
Otway Nourished, Beech Forrest
Wye Beach Hotel, Wye River
Annie’s Provedore – Barwon Heads (Bottle)
Style: Australian Wheat Beer
Prickly Moses Vintage Ale 2012
Back before brewer Hendo (now at Southern Bay) made his brief dalliance with Prickly Moses and set about knocking out some big US-inspired brews, the seasonals coming out from the Otway Ranges tended to be more traditional in origin, notably the trilogy of Saison, Farmhouse Ale and Reserve De Otway. Those three are coming back soon, apparently, but in the meantime there’s this – a rusty coloured, spiced strong ale that’s spent 12 months in pinot noir barrels, something that’s apparent straight up with some light fruity (OK, pinot-y) notes from the off. It’s surprisingly delicate for a beer of its size, with some stewed fruit flavours alongside some malt sweetness and a gentle funky nod in the direction of Belgium, particularly as it warms.
Scratch Bar, Brisbane
Style: Barrel-Aged Strong Ale
Prickly Moses Tailpipe
Silly Crafty. There we were, happily plodding along in the mistaken belief that the Tailpipe was one of Prickly MOses brewer Hendo’s little playthings only on show at the Taste of Melbourne. But we were wrong, stumbling across it on our last visit to Slowbeer. And glad we were to be wrong, as it’s claim that it’s a “Big Ass Brown Ale” is spot on and Big Ass Brown Ales are always welcome at Crafty Towers. As you’d expect from such a beer, there’s plenty of everything, from the New World hops and nutty roast malts on the nose to fulsome chocolate flavours and a bitterness that’s part resiny hops, part roast in a beer that continues a run of releases from the Otway brewery that’s far removed in conception from its regular range.
Style: US Style Brown Ale
Prickly Moses Oktoberfest Lager
A beer that’s brewed every year for the Otway Estate Oktoberfest is the Prickly Moses' brewers take on malt driven Vienna style lagers. Made with malts and hops grown in the southern German state of Bavaria and, of course, the local Otway rainwater, we’re told to expect “a rich, malty palate with a balanced hop bitterness and aroma with a reddish hue”. It will be flowing at the Otway Oktoberfest on October 22 but has already started to appear elsewhere, after making its bow at The Local Taphouses' own Oktoberfest.
Otway Estate, The local taphouse both venues, Biero
Available from these bottle shops Otway Estate, Black Hearts and Sparrows, Purvis Cellars, Purvis Beer, Corkscrew Cellars Torquay.
Style: Vienna Lager
Prickly Moses Chocolate Ale
The second new beer to be unveiled during the Prickly Moses showcase at Young & Jackson’s this sees the brewers from the Otway Ranges hooking up with Grounded Pleasures, who have supplied organic fair trade Ugandan Red Cocoa to create a rich, chocolaty ale. According to brewer Hendo: “We created this chocolate ale to highlight the reddish hue of the cocoa in a malt-driven beer.” He says there are subtle mineral yeast tones, designed to accentuate the origins of the cocoa. Some orange peel was added to the boil too. As with the Session Ale that’s also been debuted this month, if the feedback’s good they may be brewed again so if you like what you taste, let them know.
Style: Chocolate Ale
Prickly Moses Session Ale
A beer that tells you pretty much all you need to know about it in its name. It’s an ale. From Prickly Moses. Designed for sessioning. However, we’ve got space to fill on the page (and brewer Hendo likes to talk about his babies) so what else might you like to know? Well, it’s the first of two beers they’re debuting during their showcase in the Chloe’s Bar at Young & Jackson’s. It uses lots of the Topaz hop once almost exclusively used for bittering but now being explored for aroma and flavour, here added late in the boil and for dry-hopping (alongside some Centennial). Hendo says that gives you lychee, citrus and musk, apparently. The aim is to show Topaz can make something other than mainstream lagers and, if the beer’s well received during the showcase, it may reappear in keg and bottle down the line.
Style: Australian Ale
Prickly Moses Black Panther
One of two new beers from the Otway brewery making an appearance for the first time at the Melbourne leg of the Good Food and Wine Show, this dark beast originally reared its head during the Prickly Moses showcase at Young & Jackson’s least year. Now back, it’s an India Black Ale allegedly inspired by the mysterious legend of big black cats that roam the Victorian bush. It’s made with a “generous” addition of North American hops both in the boil and in the fermenter with caramelised black malt used to impart a subtle burnt flavour. According to the brewers, you’ll find “citrus hop notes and strangely enough some aniseed or licorice” plus “a luscious head that holds up well”.
Style: India Black Ale
Prickly Moses Raconteur: A Love Story About Hops
For a brewery that knocks out more beers than most over the course of a year, it might come as some surprise that this is Prickly Moses' first IPA. It’s a beer that’s got brewer Hendo hot under the collar, hot enough to describe it as a beer that “tells the classic story of American India Pale Ale with hops the protagonist. A hop driven beer in every way, hops are added throughout the entire brewing process from the mash tun to the kettle and even the fermenter.” The hops in question are the classic “Three Cs” – Centennial, Chinook and Cascade – which he says are balanced by a caramelised malt profile. It’s the hoppiest beer Prickly Moses has produced to date and was created in part as an experiment to see how much hops the brewhouse and their beer handling procedures could handle.
Style: US IPA
Otway Estate Wild Hop Organic Ale
One of the more unusual of this year’s crop of hop harvest beers, this saw the Otway Estate brewers track down a field of wild hops on the edge of the Otway Ranges that had once been used to supply the long-defunct Ballarat Brewery. Having filled their truck with Canterbury Goldings, they threw everything – hop flowers and vines – into the mash tun and continued adding more hops right through the process in a beer with a traditional English Special Bitter malt backbone. Brewer Luke Scott says it has “earthy, spicy” hop characters, a “touch of nectary sweetness – peach and apricot – and fresh green hop flower characteristics coming through”. It’s keg only with the first one outside the brewery being tapped at Josie Bones' Hop Harvest Dinner on May 4.
Style: Harvest Ale
Otway Estate Red Fred
Getting fruity in time for summer, Otway Estate appears to have combined its beer and cordial-making skills in this organic raspberry beer. A heap of crushed raspberries were added to a base beer with a soft enough flavour profile to allow the fruit to take effect, although it’s in the aroma that they really shine through: it’s like taking a whiff of a fresh punnet. The raspberries' effect on the palate is more subtle, definitely there but not in the manner of a Lindemans Framboise, for example, instead adding a slight tartness to a drink that’s nothing if not refreshing.
Available from the brewery
Or at the Young & Jackson’s Otway Showcase
Style: Raspberry beer
The Otway Estate team really push the boat out for their annual Oktoberfest, bring in German oompah bands, putting on traditional German fare and games, having souvenir steins produced and, of course, brewing a specialty Oktoberfestbier. Brewed in the traditional Vienna lager style with ingredients imported from Bavaria, the 2010 version pours a bright copper colour with a white foamy head, has a soft malt aroma with a hint of spice from the hops, a biscuity malt-dominated flavour and a long, dry finish. It’s being launched at the Otway Oktoberfest on October 2.
Style: Oktoberfest / Marzen
Barrel-aged Strong Ale
One of the benefits of having a winery and brewery on the same site is that it allows the brewer to get creative. This is the Prickly Moses Strong Ale after it’s spent a few months in an oak barrel previously used for Otway Estate’s Pinot. The result is a hint of oak on the nose and a smokiness to taste.
Style: Barrel-aged beer
Otway Saison 2010
The 2010 vintage of one of Otway Estate’s trio of French and Belgian Farmhouse styles, the Saison pours a hazy golden colour with an effervescent white head. Fruity aromas from the yeast strains mix with soft alcohol notes on the nose and are matched on the palate by initial flavours of dried apricot. A tart, wine-like character comes through – one of the yeast strains used has red wine origins – along with a tingle of warmth from the high alcohol content before finishing with a lingering, astringent dryness not dissimilar to that of a strong French farmhouse cider.