For the most part, Will Tatchell spends his time in the brewery creating pretty traditional brews that wouldn't have been out of place in the small English breweries where he learnt his trade. Then, every now and then, he goes and pulls something a little outrageous out of the hat.
Perhaps most notable in the rabbit-from-hat category is the Hedgerow, an annual release that started out as a soft, fruity, malty ale featuring various ingredients plucked from the hedgerows of his family's farm that has evolved into a barrel-aged sour. But it has company, both in the outrageous and barrel-aged stakes, from the latest limited release, this Barley Wine: a 14 percent ABV drop – so clearly not for the fainthearted – that spent 12 months in fresh muscat barrels before being bottled.
Now, normally we avoid going into much detail about the characteristics of beer in these write ups, figuring that people would rather read about the stories behind beers (or whatever vaguely related nonsense happens to be passing through the Crafty headspace at that moment in time) and leave their own palates to decide what a beer is actually like; after all, we all taste and smell differently. However, once in a while a beer comes along that's got a lot going on. This is one of them, so, #$%^ it, Pseuds Corner here we come...
At various times as it warms, this softly carbonated amber ale will send forth aromas of Christmas spices, fortified sweet malts, oak, marzipan, stewed fruit, dry rosé wine and champagne, hints of Negroni and booze, but not in an off-putting "hot" booze sense. It's surprisingly light on the palate for such a big beer, delivering flavours that include but are not limited to upfront malt sweetness, angostura bitters, some tart acidity and drying oak. In short, it's one rewardingly complex mofo.
Hmmm, in hindsight, it may be time to resort to a good friend's more prosaic approach to describing beers; one word summations such as "boozy" and "functional"...
- Barrel Aged Barley Wine
Josef Chromy Wines (Van Dieman's "cellar door")
Cool Wine, Hobart
Club Hotel, BurnieMore stockists...
Mill Providore, Launceston
Kings Meadows Hotel, Launceston
Edge of the Bay, Coles Bay
Black Cow, Launceston
Trevallyn Grocer, Launceston
NSW stockists to follow