Sometime around the start of the 2010s, the bar team at Beer DeLuxe in Fed Square launched a range of beer cocktails. They went beyond the typical beer cocktail in which you'd use beer as an ingredient, however: hops were being infused into spirits; dense malt reductions were bring prepared.
The man behind them was Kris Miles. He hadn't been in Melbourne long at the time, having not long relocated from Brisbane where he'd been part of the team at the now-long-gone Nectar bottleshop in West End, a crafty haven close to where Archive Beer Boutique was set to embark upon its mission as one of the city's very earliest beer-focused venues. But he was clearly a man with a mission and a passion for good beer.
It was a passion he shared for food too, with the two coming together for a period in the blog he created with his then girlfriend, now wife, Caroline: Ambersandwich. And it was one they soon took to Tassie, after he was invited to help set up the bar at MONA in the early days of the museum – a bar that would go on to feature one of BrewDog's ultra-limited edition, stuffed-roadkill-in-tartan End Of History beers after owner David Walsh stumped up a hefty fee and had it shipped south.
After bouncing from one beer venue to the next in relatively quick succession, the couple found their spiritual home in the shape of an old pub in North Hobart. When they took it over in 2013, it wasn't doing much more than plodding along but that soon changed. They wanted a good local they could go to that offered the sort of beers, whisky, ambience and food they were into, so they created one.
The Winston quickly became a must-visit for any beer lover visiting the Tassie capital, mixing local beers with a wide selection of their beloved US imports (before he started brewing such beers himself) and some of the best Buffalo wings (complete with Kris' special sauce) you'd find anywhere in Australia. Then, once it was up and running, they set out on the next stage of their mission: brewing beers under the Winston name.
The brewery setup is on the smaller side, but the beers tend towards the large: typically punchy, US-inspired and hop forward, occasionally barrel-aged, often with plenty of rye malt in the mix, and these days filling many of the taps at the pub. The slow and steady evolution of their baby continues too: they've taken over the bottleshop next door and will open that and a brewery taproom a block away from the pub in 2020.
Moreover, as I've steadily come to realise as this series has progressed, there's a common thread running through many of the entries in the Advent Calendar: the people we chose to feature often possess something that's less tangible than their achievements – the things you can list that they've done. It's what they bring to the beer community – or the beer communities they've created in their part of the world.
Kris is one of those people, someone whose impact stretches beyond the places he's worked and the beers he's brewed. He's someone who helps make the beer community the special place it is: a genuinely lovely guy who gives a shit about good beer, hospo, good times, people.
Next time you're in Hobart, call into The Winston, order a pint of one of his hoppy beers, pair it with something spicy, and, whether he and Caroline are in the pub or not, it won't take long to understand what they've brought to the city's beer scene over the past seven years – or why good pubs have played such a vital role in society for centuries and will continue to do so.
What's been your highlight of the past decade
Opening our bar and brewery have been big highlights.
It’s also been exciting to be a part of the growing Australian beer industry and sharing beers with so many great people.
What's surprised you the most about the Aussie beer scene?
How quickly the everyday beer drinker has embraced trying new and exciting beers. It’s always great to see people from all walks of life getting excited about independent Australian beer.
What are your thoughts on the health of the beer industry as we approach the end of a remarkable decade?
It's going from strength to strength and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It’s great to see how widely available good quality local and independent beer these days.
It’s also great to see regional cities and towns embracing great beer and supporting their local breweries too.
What's your number one goal for the coming decade?
To keep learning and refining my recipes in the brewery. And to hopefully have more holidays than I have in the past few years.
And, if you had one Christmas wish for beer in Australia
It would be great to see more changes to legislation in regards to tap contracts, tax, etc. It’s time to break the corporate stranglehold and open up the market to independent breweries.
We're opening a door on Crafty's Advent Calendar every morning up until Christmas Day and you can find them all here.
You can find our guides to Hobart's breweries and beer venues here.