It helps to have friends in delicious places, and in the case of Akasha and the winemakers at Robert Stein it's no doubt a feeling that's mutual. A friendship forged during the early months of the pandemic has led to an ongoing partnership between brewer and winemaker that's since extended to joint dinners, stocking each others' products, and a number of collaborative releases. Heck, securing a couple of ex-chardonnay barrels from the Mudgee operation ultimately led to Akasha's barrel-aged beers and, later, the opening of The Barrel Room in Leichhardt.
For winter 2023, it's also spawned four new beers. Three of them are only available at The Barrel Room but Mudgee Grape Strong Ale – a 50/50 mix of wort and freshly crushed and separated riesling juice – is on wider release in cans. There’s also Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin hops at play, presumably chosen to augment the grape character, yet it's trio that delivers its combined charms with a subtlety.
Aromatics are light on, although broaden a little as the beer warms in the glass: a touch of pale malt sweetness and hints of citrus and grape. Even the flavours come at you slowly, unfurling as they cross your palate with a flicker of bitterness and the acidity of the grape juice ensuring a lean, dry finish despite the 8 percent booze. It's reminiscent in many ways of a traditional Belgian golden ale, where less can mean more, albeit one that acts as a refined showcase of the riesling grapes.
Published July 7, 2023 2023-07-07 00:00:00