With the Tasmanian Beerfest, the most southerly state lays claim to the biggest-by-numbers beer festival in Australia and, with the Tasmanian Micro Brew Fest, it has events that continue to shine a focus on the smallest and newest of its brewers and cider makers.
What’s more, with visionary pub owners like those at the Weldborough Hotel who have beers from every Tassie micro in stock and try to encourage visitors to go and visit them all, it has an industry that seems proud and supportive of its own members. Add in the efforts of the new(ish) team running Lauceston’s Crown Cellars to get quality craft beer into punters' hands and the arrival of more and more new breweries, with Morrison being the latest cab off the ranks, and it’s a very healthy situation.
So, without further ado, over to a couple of those responsible for pushing the craft beer revolution in Tasmania.
Will Tatchell, founder of Van Dieman Brewing
How was 2011 for you?
Busier than 2010. It saw us grow at a sustainable level initially but end up reaching a point where we were struggling with packaging and storage capacity. We ended up purchasing a new bottling line to assist with these problems in 2012. I was generally impressed with the continued level of uptake of craft beer thought out not only Tasmania, but also Australia, something that bodes well for the future.
What was the highlight of the year?
The continued success of our limited release beers. As "experimental" batches that obviously aim to be a commercial success, all three this year have hit the mark perfectly and been terribly popular with the consuming public. It makes then more fun to produce when you know that the support for such beers is out there, giving you confidence to push the boundaries even further. Even though we don't brew for awards, it was great recognition for our Little Hell ESB to be awarded a silver medal at the AIBA earlier in the year.
Anything that surprised you?
Hitachino Nest XH
The best beer you tasted all year.
Kooinda Black IPA. What a fkn cracker.
What would you most like to see in 2012?
Continued craft beer uptake by educated consumers not fooled into the marketing bandwagon of the big brewers. A single national Craft Beer body, representing all corners of the industry, pushing forward in support of craft beer.
Al, manager of the New Sydney Hotel, Hobart
2011 was a fantastic year in Hobart, customers continue to enjoy different beers and the demand for craft beer seems to grow every week, local brewers continue to experiment and evolve, often leading the rest of the country in developing different beers for the market.
The highlight of 2011 was the “Platinum HOPS” tasting with James from BrewDog. The beers on show were amazing, James was in fine form talking about all thing beer and BrewDog, and making ice cream out of Tokyo stout with liquid nitrogen was quite a sight.
Possibly the most surprising thing was the continual rise of cider – there appears to be no sign of a slowing down for this market. We are very fortunate in Tasmania as apples are plentiful and craft producers like Capt'n Blighs understand what it means to produce quality products from local produce, not just swill for the masses.
This is a hard one, do we go with Seven Sheds “Smoking Bagpipes”, a beer made with grain smoked with Tasmanian peat, perhaps it was Van Dieman’s Autumn Hedgerow Ale infused with berries from Will’s farm, can’t leave out Iron House’s big double IPA aptly called “The Hoff”, and finally we really enjoyed Moo Brew seasonal stout through our very own “Hopinator” with a luxurious Tasmanian black truffle dropped in for good measure.
Hopes for 2012?
For 2012 we would just like to see the craft beer world continue to evolve and grow. It would be nice if some more venues in this part of the world embraced smaller producers instead of towing the large corporation line, from a Tasmanian point of view we think the local producers will continue to be right up there with the mainland boys in quality and variety. We would love to see more people visit to look at the amazing array of products on offer down here; it’s a great place to sample amazing things made locally.
Photo at top shows the hop bines at Two Metre Tall. Look out for more listings for Tasmanian craft beer venues and breweries on The Crafty Pint in 2012. We just need to get them ready first…