Ocean View Estates is a winery situated 45km north of Brisbane in the Moreton Bay hinterland. There, alongside the wine, popular restaurant and breathtaking views, you'll find beer too, thanks to Hannah Honnef, daughter of the winemakers behind the family-run operation, Thomas and Kate Honnef.
“Dad wanted to brew beer but never had the time," Hannah says. "So I took it as my own project. I started with small batches working on developing styles that I wanted.”
Along with fiancé Andrew, Hannah has been running the brewing side of the business for just over three years.
“We have to be very careful about sanitisation," she says of the challenges of brewing in a winery, "especially when the wine is fermenting and you have yeast flying about.”
With five beer styles already pouring and a sixth on the way, we caught up with Hannah to find out more as part of our ongoing Brew & A series.
Hannah Hontef – Ocean View
Why are you a brewer?
My parents are the owners and managers at Ocean View Estates. I've spent my whole life in the vineyard and making wine with my dad. I love wine and winemaking and still work with dad in that side of the business.
When I was 17 I travelled to Europe on my own for seven months and spent a lot of time with Dad's family in Germany and really fell in love with good beer over there. I also loved the culture around beer. Every little town and even every family seemed to have beer present at its heart and centre.
After getting home I started becoming more interested in Australian craft beer. After trying a few different things at uni, I finally decided that back in the vineyard and winery was where I wanted to be, so came back to working for Mum and Dad as assistant winemaker. It didn’t take long for me to suggest that we start brewing our own beer and that I would head this new endeavour.
What would you be if you weren’t a brewer?
If I wasn’t brewing I would just be winemaking… but if I was to do something away from family business I’d probably be a counsellor.
What was your epiphany beer?
What's the best beer you’ve ever brewed?
Hard question. I like all the beers I’m brewing. My focus isn’t on brewing lots and lots of different styles and experimenting like crazy. I'm focusing more on developing our core range and making sure that each of the beers are perfected and consistent.
What's your single favourite ingredient to use in beer?
Other than the essentials… roasted wattle seed.
Are there any beers you’ve brewed that might have been better left on the drawing board?
Not really… but I've had a few individual brews go bad/infected, especially at the beginning while still working out our processes and how to actually brew.
But I've grown up tasting good wine and eating good food and I feel like I have a fairly good idea about flavours and balance and what will and won't work before even brewing.
If you could do a guest stint at any brewery(s) in the world, which would it be and why?
Any of the small town breweries in Germany, ideally somewhere in Bavaria.
Why? Because I think German beers are incredible. I'd love to experience their processes and also I'm inspired by the history of the beer. They’ve been doing it so well for so long. They’ve got their style, they stick to it and they have perfected it. I love the perfection of it…
Which local (Aussie or Kiwi) breweries inspire you?
Stone & Wood. Although we will never be as big as they are and don’t even desire to be.
I think that the way they run their business is incredible, they have an amazing product, and, again, they have perfected it and get that consistency that I am aiming for. I think they have a lot of integrity and, although they have grown a lot, they have resisted selling out to the big guys.
What inspires you outside the world of brewing beer?
Nature, mountains, family and my fiancé.
What's your desert island beer – the one to keep you going if you were stranded for the rest of your days?
Kölsch… but real Kölsch, not Australian pretend Kölsch.
And what would be the soundtrack to those days?
Lots of stuff from the 70s and 80s… Queen, Simon & Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Kelly… with a bit of acoustic indie stuff like Ziggy Alberts and Hozier and definitely Mumford and Sons (but before they went mainstream).
If you couldn’t have beer, what would be your tipple of choice?
I can't choose between wine or whisky.
What's the one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a brewer?
How to brew! I'm still learning a lot.
And the one piece of advice you’d give to anyone considering a career in craft beer?
Do it! But before opening a brewery yourself… get the experience, and do A LOT of research.