Wed Aug 22 2012 by Crafty Pint
What do you do when you know two champions of the brewing world are coming to your country at the same time? At the very least you invite them to collaborate on a beer together, even though one of them has never brewed a collaboration beer in their entire 17 years of brewing. Then how about creating an event around the brew day so that beer lovers can be a part of the unique occasion? Makes sense, no? Throw in some as-yet-unreleased Australian hops – several kilos of them – and you’re getting there. And how about inviting a team from some of Melbourne’s leading restaurants along to turn the host brewery into an Eastern European beer hall for the day to serve up a brewery floor feast? That, along with a bus trip from Melbourne to the Yarra Valley and the arrival of some unexpected American rye malt whisky should just about do it.
The result, other than a great day for all concerned, is Our Dark Secret, a beer created by Californian brewery Moylan’s and Norway’s NÃ¸gne Ã at Hargreaves Hill for the Good Beer Week Masterclass of Champions in May. The dark, very hoppy, very aromatic and very bitter 8.2 per cent beer was conceived between the two brewers via email, phone calls, meetings at the World Beer Cup in San Diego and, finally, on the fly as punters gathered at Hargreaves Hill on the day of the brew. And it’s going to be released simultaneously around the country on September 8, with just seven venues receiving the only kegs in existence and only those who attended the Masterclass receiving one of 50 individually number 750ml bottles.
“We knew several months out from Good Beer Week that Brendan Moylan, his head brewer Denise Jones, and Kjetil Jikiun from NÃ¸gne Ã were going to attend the festival,” says Good Beer Week team member James Smith. “As they were the 2010 and 2011 Champion Exhibitors at the Australian International Beer Awards, we were determined to come up with something special while they were here. We were delighted when they agreed to collaborate – especially as Moylan’s had never done so before – and set about finding a host brewery willing to hand over their brewhouse for the day and willing to let us set up a temporary restaurant.
“Hargreaves Hill owner Simon Walkenhorst declared himself ‘chuffed’ to be asked, The 36 Collective, who I’d worked with for the Gypsy & The Goat, agreed to handle the dining and created Uncle Vlad’s Best Beer Hall and Cigar Shoppe for the day, and Hop Products Australia and Cryer Malt agreed to supply all of the hops and malt for free. There were still changes being made to the recipe on the day, but the beer is as big and bold as you could hope for from the brewers involved.”
Our Dark Secret, whose name is inspired by its colour, the nature of the brew day and the fact that the unreleased Victoria’s Secret hops were used, is being tapped at:
There will also be a keg at the Hargreaves Hill restaurant in Yarra Glen. In keeping with Good Beer Week’s status as a not for profit organisation, the importers of Moylan’s and NÃ¸gne Ã beers – Northdown and Phoenix – will be donating all profits from the sale of the beer to charity.
The international guests are chomping at the bits to get hold of their bottles, with Denise describing the day as “a fun and challenging project to pull off”.
“We all seemed pleased with the way that the day went,” she says, “and I am certain that all 40 plus people that were in attendance that day were honoured with a life long experience. I know that I was.”
So, if you like big, hoppy beers and are keen to taste something truly unique, mark September 8 in your diary and head to your nearest venue. Because this is one secret that won’t be shared for long.
(Photo at top shows Denise Jones weighing out hops (lots of them) with Hargreaves Hill brewer Glenn Harrison, who deserves massive credit for his work on the brew, not only assisting the guests on the brewhouse, but then handling a particularly long and arduous transfer and clean up after record amounts of both grain and hops were put through Hargreaves' brewery.)
Masterclass attendees will receive their bottles later this month.
Please note: James Smith is also the founder of The Crafty Pint.