Having been somewhat shunned in the past, there is an ever greater focus these days on the delights to be found in Tasmania's northwest. Quite right too as, not only is it a beautiful part of the world, but it is home to a richly diverse collection of small, independent producers. Among them is Seven Sheds, the Railton brewery run by former beer writer Willie Simpson and partner Catherine Stark, who have been prominent in bringing attention to the region. They've also taken opportunities to involve local producers in their beers too and have done so again with Black Inca. A sneaky keg was tapped at the Pint of Origin Tasmania pub in Good Beer Week before it was formerly launched at the Anvers chocolate factory in Latrobe last week by celebrity chef Ben Milbourne. The beer is made with rare Fortunato # 4 cacao beans from a remote mountainous are of Peru, which are only imported into Australia by Anvers, as well as organic quinoa and oats from Kindred, Tasmania.
According to Willie: "These remarkable cacao beans are the real 'hero' in Black Inca. We wanted to create a beer that was every bit as complex, delicate and mysterious as the cacao itself. Other breweries have made chocolate-infused beers but once I heard the fantastic story behind Fortunato # 4, I knew we had to give it a shot."
The quinoa adds a nutty character with organic oats providing a creamy texture. Anvers' founder Igor van Gerwen travelled to Peru for the annual harvest at the Fortunato cacao farm and says: 'In my 30 years of searching for different varieties of single-origin chocolate, I have never tasted a chocolate this intense. The floral aromas and exotic fruit flavours make Fortunato # 4 a very complex, powerful chocolate which finishes with minimal bitterness."
UPDATE: Such is the popularity of Black Inca, its now a permanent member of the Seven Sheds lineup.