Hawthorn Brewing Company (Australian Venue Co)

These days, contract brewing is far less contentious an issue than it was back in 2009 when the Hawthorn Brewing Company launched its first beer into the hands of Victorians. While financial realities mean more and more start-up businesses opt to have their beers brewed under license today, back then there was a feeling in some circles that only those who weren't serious about beer, those who wanted to spin a dubious yarn and try to make a quick buck, were at it.

It was into that environment that Hawthorn stepped, choosing to have their resident brewer Hamish Reed's recipes brewed initially at Mildura, then Southern Bay and, finally, at BrewPack. And, while the "Imported from Hawthorn" tag may have ruffled a few feathers early on, they were quick to be open about the way they operated and, rather more crucially, Hamish's beers proved well worth drinking – no matter where they were brewed.

The journey of the self-styled "Flavour Merchants" is one that resonates like many in the craft beer world too. Hamish and his business partners Darren Milo and Peter Willis all grew up in the same suburb, Mooroolbark in Melbourne's east, and knew each other via family friends. Later in life, Hamish would rock up to BBQs with his home brew, which, according to Peter, went from "pretty bad in his teens" to "better and better" until his mates suggested they should be released commercially. Between that point and the forming of Hawthorn Brewing Company in 2008, the trio worked and travelled overseas, exploring beer cultures wherever they went and, particularly in Hamish's case, soaking up inspiration for the beers that are now available nationwide.

The beers are of the approachable sort, designed for broad appeal. There's nothing too wild, nothing too crazy. Instead, to a man, they're well crafted examples of their style, from a piney take on American pales and a fruitily aromatic yet light on the palate Golden Ale to a juicy Australian IPA.

While the oft-discussed brewery of their own, ideally located somewhere near Hawthorn where two of the three live, remains at the discussion stage, their decision to "dip our toes in" via contract brewing continues to pay dividends. Having racked up a stack of medals of varying hues at major beer awards in Australia, they've sent their beers overseas to be judged too. It's a decision that's reaped rewards, particularly in the UK, where their Australian IPA collected a trophy at the International Beer Challenge – the world's largest packaged beer-only competition – in 2013; a year later, their Golden Ale snapped up another trophy while their range performed so well overall they took out the Supreme Champion Brewery title.

In 2017, Hawthorn became the first brewing company to be bought by the Salt Brewing, a new brewing division launched by Dixon Hospitality, which is now part of a larger enterprise under the Australian Venue Co banner. It's a move that has seen its beers appear on tap in more of the group's growing number of venues across Australia. Not bad for three boys from Mooroolbark.

Name
Hawthorn Brewing Company (Australian Venue Co)
Address

PO Box 2037
Hawthorn
VIC 3122

Phone
1300 HBC BEER (422 233)
Website

Hawthorn Brewing Company (Australian Venue Co) Regulars

Hawthorn Brewing Company Pilsner

One of very few pilsners found in any Aussie micros year round range, Hawthorn's Pilsner first appeared as a seasonal before its popularity demanded it stuck around. A regular winner of People's Choice for best lager whenever Hawthorn pop up at beer festivals, it's another beer that stays true to the European beers upon which it's based. It has a distinct traditional pilsner aroma: herbaceous, lightly spicy, with a touch of lemon, straw and mild sweetness from the pilsner malt. It pours a lightly… Read more
Style
Pilsner
ABV
4.6%

Hawthorn Brewing Company Amber Ale

While most beers in the Hawthorn range push the hops as their stars, with the malt there to provide balance or play a supporting role, with the Amber the tables are turned. It's inspired by the brown ales of Northern England with hops offering a touch of earthy spice, maybe a hint of marmalade bitterness in the background, but elsewhere it's a layered malt-fest. It's a bright, rusty amber affair with soft cocoa, chocolate and lightly toasted flavours that all mingle with the bitterness.… Read more
Style
Amber Ale
ABV
4.7%

Hawthorn Brewing Company Australian IPA

The biggest beer to come from Hawthorn at the time of its release is another one that wasted little time garnering garlands. An IPA made with all Tassie hops – four varieties of them – collected a gold medal and trophy at the 2013 International Beer Challenge in London shortly after release. It's easy to see why with the copper body created with Crystal and Munich malts giving the beer a caramel base upon which the wealth of fruity, juicy hop aromas and flavours come into play. Look out for everything… Read more
Style
Australian IPA
ABV
5.8%
Awards

Best Ale Above 5% – International Beer Challenge 2014

Hawthorn Brewing Company Golden Ale

Golden ales became all the rage for many Aussie brewers in 2013/4 – heck, even Crown released one – and among those bringing one to market was Hawthorn. They did it rather well because, after missing out on entering the Australian International Beer Awards, they sent some to the UK for the International Beer Challenge where it promptly won a trophy. The beer itself has one of the most enticing aromas we've yet encountered in a golden ale, with soft, broad aromas of melon and tangerine rising… Read more
Style
Golden Ale
ABV
4.5%
Awards

Gold Medal - International Beer Challenge 2014

Hawthorn Brewing Company Pale Ale

Hawthorn's first release was their Pale Ale, tagged as a New World pale but with more roots in the West Coast of the USA than elsewhere. The predominant aromas are those of pine and a forest floor like earthiness. It pours a bright copper colour with a spritzy carbonation that keeps it feeling light bodied. Spicy hop flavours blend with burnt caramel from the malt, which leaves a lingering sweetness tied up by a piney bitterness.… Read more
Style
Pale Ale
ABV
4.7%

Hawthorn Brewing Company (Australian Venue Co) Specials

Hawthorn Brewing Raisin Shine Export Stout

Tapped May 15th, 2018
There's not many who aren't suckers for a good pun in the beer world, with the residents of Crafty Towers among those susceptible to a bit of wordplay. So, hello to the punsome winter seasonal for 2018 from Hawthorn, a beer debuted in draught form at March's Good Beer Week Gala and now back in bottles. It's the first release in their "Back of the Coaster" series and comes with a title that hints at two of its ingredients: raisins and coffee, with the former added twice – first on their… Read more
Style
Coffee & Raisin Stout
ABV
6.1%
Bitterness
35 IBU
Stockists

And other stockists here

Hawthorn Brewing Brewshed Collection Saison Rosé

Tapped October 26th, 2017
Hawthorn Brewing's Brewshed Collection is the space in which they step outside the line and length confines in which they built their name with their core range beers. And for their spring 2017 release, they've stepped outside the beer world and into a winery in South Australia. There, they helped themselves to some Not Your Grandma's Rosé, a blend of grenache and mourvedre from old vines in the Barossa and riesling, gewurtztraminer and Weißer Herold from the Eden Valley. Why? Apparently, this… Read more
Style
Saison-Rosé Hybrid
ABV
5.0%
Bitterness
27 IBU
Stockists

And select venues in Sydney and Melbourne

Hawthorn Brewing Discovery Pack

Tapped November 21st, 2016
With Christmas coming, there's a few brewers going down the box set route beloved of record labels. Among those to do so is Hawthorn Brewing, who have packaged together their five core beers along with their most recent seasonal: the New World Lager. If you're unfamiliar with their range (which presumably means you're the target audience for a pack bearing the name Discovery), those five core beers are the herbaceous, spicy Pilsner, the malt led, English brown-inspired Amber, the soft melon and tangerine… Read more
Style
Mixed Pack
ABV
Various

Hawthorn Brewing New World Lager

Tapped August 30th, 2016
Hawthorn's Brewshed Collection is the home of the brewing company's occasional limited releases. To date, they've been draught only and also a step or two away from the more traditional, straight down the line beers that form its core range. To date, there's been a hoppy rye red ale, a spiced witbier and a spiced dark ale, with number four bearing New World credentials too. That said, it's a beer closer to those upon which the business was built. It's a lager featuring all New World ingredients:… Read more
Style
New World Lager
ABV
4.7%
Bitterness
28 IBU
Stockists

Available nationwide

Hawthorn Brewing Company Midnight in Bombay

Tapped June 3rd, 2016
From the outset, Melbourne-based gypsy brewers Hawthorn pitched themselves as the "Flavour Merchants", complete with a website that nods visually to days of the British Empire and speaks of "intrepid explorers scour[ing] the beer world, risking life and limb to bring home the secrets of its best brewers." It's all rather exotic sounding, whereas in reality they have found success here and overseas with beers of a more broadly crowd-pleasing nature: Pale Ale, Pilsner, Amber, Golden,… Read more
Style
Spiced Dark Wheat Beer
ABV
4.9%
Bitterness
18 IBU
Stockists

Find it on tap around Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra

Hawthorn Brewing Brewshed Collection: Summer Witbier

Tapped February 3rd, 2016
Another of Victoria's major summer festivals is on its way. And, just as Ballarat Beer Festival was the occasion for Barrow Boys to launch their summer seasonal, so Hawthorn Brewing has chosen Geelong's Great Australian Beer Festival to debut its second Brewshed Collection beer. These are beers brewed as one-off, keg only releases, the first of which was last year's Red Rye Hand red ale. This time around they've gone for a witbier – Summer Witbier to be precise – that adds a little extra to the… Read more
Style
Spiced witbier
ABV
4.7%
Bitterness
15 IBU
Stockists

GABF Geelong

Valley Cellar Door Sunbury

More stockists...

Hawthorn Brewing Red Rye Hand

Tapped June 15th, 2015
Busy times for Hawthorn Brewing Company. Following success in recent years at the International Beer Challenge they've signed a deal to have their Pale and Pilsner ranged throughout the UK by Majestic Wines. And they've finally found the time to launch their first small batch Special Release in the form of the Nick Cave-referencing Red Rye Hand. Launched at GABS 2015, it's since popped up on taps (mainly around Victoria) and, once drained, that's it as this is a draught only release. Described as… Read more
Style
Red Ale
Stockists

NB: We're a little behind listing this so the beer may have already gone at some of these...

University Hotel

Royal Standard Hotel

Valley Cellar Door Sunbury

Racoon Club

Three Chimneys (Wollongong)

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