Time to head south for the sixth entry in The Best Of Beer 2022 series as we cross the Bass Strait to check in on a busy year of openings – both new and from existing operations – around Tasmania.
Game Of Homes
At times it’s been a case of someone old, at others a case of someone new, and taken together it means 2022 has seen plenty of Tasmania's breweries moving into new homes. A year on from the Deep South team welcoming guests inside their incredible brewpub in North Hobart for the first time, they were joined in the same street by Overland Brewers & Distillers.
The much-loved haze maestros at Fox Friday got their major new production brewery up and running and, with that, their beers became more widely available across the country. Next up for 2023 is their first mainland brewpub, set to take shape in Melbourne.
Longtime local favourites Spotty Dog Brewers completed construction of their new production facility at Prince of Wales Bay (pictured above); they started brewing onsite in September with their spectacular cellar door set to open in January.
To quote one of the people behind that brewery – and one-half of the Step Brewers Podcast – T Bone Brewing’s production brewery and cellar door was an important moment too; as Klimt Donohoe put it, they did “what everyone had always talked about and opened a venue in Kingston.”
He also reckons the big story of the year was in the state’s north where Du Cane opened their impressive cellar door and everyone went, “a brewery cellar door in Launceston ... how has this not happened before?”.
Another northern success story is that of Island State Brewing, who now operate three sites: Penguin Beer Co in Penguin, Island State Brewing in Devonport, and Island State Brewing – The Pier in Ulverstone on the former site of Buttons Brewing.
Add in Moo’s announcement that they're opening a brewpub in Salamanca (now set to welcome punters for the first time in early 2023), the arrival of Brewlab in Derwent Park in Hobart's north, and crafty distributor Sonic Syrup's opening of a second facility, giving them hubs in Hobart and Launceston, and it’s clear the small island has plenty of appetite for local beer.
To quote the other half of Step Brewers, Alistair Davis: "It’s been a year of new venues and breweries, breweries finding their space or building and growing from existing sites, which is exciting. I feel like it'll be a big 2023 and more fun and better beers will come out because of it."
Hops With Personality
Following the success of their Eclipse mix packs in 2020, Australia’s largest hop grower, Hop Products Australia, set about giving their proprietary hops their own personalities. The brand refresh in June saw the Tassie-based operation tap into nostalgia and the unique attributes of their hops.
In November, drinkers were invited to get on board via their Aussie Hops Explorer packs featuring some seriously tasty beers from a dozen Aussie and Kiwi breweries.
A Wild & Winding Road
Two Metre Tall have been making beer (and many other beverages) in Tasmania for longer than most but over the course of the last year they pulled off something they’ve been consumed by for years: making a truly Tasmanian ale.
Will Ziebell was privileged to sit down with Ashley and Jane Huntington to talk about their philosophy while drinking some delicious beer, cider and mead for this story.
Beers of the Year
The Albert Brewery Czech Pilsner
The lager-focused brewery’s beers have only continued to improve and help cement The Albert as a cult favourite across their home state. Joining their lineup in 2022 was the Czech Pilsner, one you can enjoy served three different ways through a Lukr side pull tap at their Moonah brewery and which has been blowing the minds of those who know their Saaz from their elbow.
Communion Brewing Choice Bro NZ DDH NEIPA
Burnie’s Communion Brewing launched with a sensational hospitality offering and back it up with a solid lineup of beers. Of those to debut in 2022, Choice Bro – a showcase of Nelson Sauvin hops – sparked plenty of excitement.
Fox Friday's Core Range
You could put forward any number of delicious beers from Fox Friday – IPAs of all shapes and sizes, multiple pilsners – but we think attention has to be paid to the core range that arrived with their rebrand earlier in 2022. If aliens landed tomorrow and you wanted them to know what a pale ale, hazy pale, West Coast IPA and hazy IPA should taste like, you could do far worse than introduce them to Fox Friday.
Hobart Brewing Rocky Mountain High IIPA
Hobart Brewing’s head brewer Scott Overdorf learnt to brew in Boulder, Colorado, and he’s never lost his knack for brewing expressive IPAs. Rocky Mountain High IIPA (pictured at the top of the article) is something of a spiritual successor to their first ever IPA, Mountain, and came loaded with some of America’s favourites: Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, Amarillo, Idaho 7 Cryo and Citra.
Miners Gold Triple Choc Black Ale
To celebrate turning three, Miners Gold brewed a 10.5 percent ABV stout featuring cocoa powder and vanilla, resulting in a luscious drop ready for any special occasion (except maybe a human's third birthday). There were also claims made for Ocho's Red – one of their seasonal IPAs – and their latest Feijoa Sour, but as they've been featured in our roundups in previous iterations – and Stu Grant is behind both them and Miners Gold beers, and gets a shout out later on in this article – we'll leave them here.
Overland Brewers & Distillers Overland Ultra
The brewery's name is shared with the famous hiking trail and there can be few beers better suited for post-hike refreshment than their clean, fresh Japanese rice lager (pictured above).
Shambles Brewing Scream & Shout
Pink Boots Australia's members spent 2022 brewing no less than ten different collabs to celebrate the local chapter turning ten. Among the many highlights was the rich, creamy and highly-drinkable chocolate and raspberry stout produced at Shambles in Hobart: Scream & Stout.
Spotty Dog Brewers Single Hop Citra IPA
Spotty Dog finished 2022 with a bang, then their cult Single Hop Series capped the year off with a new variant showcasing Citra. It’s a beer that's been requested by fans since the series started and was the first big IPA brewed at their new brewery too.
T-Bone Brewing Naked Truth
For lovers of Citra (who isn’t?) and Sabro (OK, this one's a little more in the love it-hate it camp), T-Bone’s hazy IPA packed plenty of both, with their lupulin goodness delivered upon a super-smooth base enhanced by naked oats.
Welcome Swallow's Hazy Days
When you brew close to the heart of Tasmania’s hop industry, it helps if you know how to brew with hops. Thankfully, Welcome Swallow do just that. It’s hard to pick just one release as their hazy IPAs have been exciting hopheads, tourists and locals all year. They know what they’re doing and are a brewery to watch in 2023.
Van Dieman Wildebeest
In recent years, it's tended to be Will Tatchell's wilder, funkier releases that have turned heads. But Wildebeest managed to do so while being rather more straightforward. This was a really lovely white IPA featuring fresh hops harvested about 60m from the brewhouse.
Fox Friday Brewery
Back in 2020, we named Fox Friday as the state’s breakthrough brewery and now, just two years later, so much has changed – and only for the better – we feel it would be remiss to deny them a second guernsey. Not only did they launch their production facility in Moonah earlier in the year, rebrand, and launch the aforementioned core range, but they've managed to keep firing out limited releases at a shocking speed too (while nabbing a couple of brewers from Deeds along the way).
As things stand, they're also one of the very few Tassie operations showing a desire for serious national distribution, an ambitious plan that should be made somewhat easier when their Richmond brewery opens next year.
Their team has also grown significantly over the past 12 months, with Benny and Sarah Hooper now surrounded by some of the craft beer world’s brightest when it comes to brewing and selling delicious beer.
How was 2022 for you?
The eagle-eyed will have spotted that there's no New Arrivals section here as with the other entries in The Best Of Beer 2022 series to date, and that's because we focused on new arrivals at the start of the article. You'll also have noted that the arrival of Du Cane's brewpub in Launceston has been noted as the highlight by some; certainly, the article we published as it opened was one of the most read on the site all year.
We've featured Du Cane in these year-end articles in the past on the back of the beers created by founder Will Horan, but now they've got their own home – opened by Will in partnership with Sam Reid of Willie Smith's Cider fame – they're reaching far more people.
How's 2022 been for you?
Sam: It’s been a cracker! The whole year has been focused on opening the brewery and dining hall in Launceston and I absolutely love the chaos that comes with that – it’s certainly when I feel the most alive! The stress levels have been running super high but we’ve had an incredible team working to bring Du Cane together, and now we’ve got an incredible team in the venue who have just been absolutely smashing it and making me so proud of what we’ve created: a family-friendly brewery you can visit has certainly been missing in Launceston for a long time.
Any standout moments?
Sam: Plenty but the biggest one has to be opening the venue on September 22. My stress levels had gone down dramatically as the previous night we threw the doors open for a soft launch and the response was amazing and that first night was wild – like a mini festival when it felt like all of Launceston was there! We had to have had at least 600 people in the space which was licensed for 420, but we had the deputy premier and the mayor at the launch so I figured no one was going to pull us up on that one.
Will: The birth of two babies: my partner and I welcomed our son Liam in September, and Du Cane Brewery & Dining Hall opened two weeks after that!
Which beers from Tasmania have you enjoyed most in 2022?
Will: I’ve enjoyed – not for the first time – Stu Grant's sensational beers that he makes under his Ocho guise. I rediscovered Happy Place in particular, which is tasting better than ever.
Sam: We’re running a very tight drinks list whereby you can only be in our venue if you are from the northeast of Tassie and anything Ocho has been tasting great. Stu is a great brewer and he and Will are good mates, so it’s nice to see people respond so well to his beers.
If I had to pick one beer, though, it would have to be the Fox Friday Hazy DIPA – a mate brought one around to my place and, to be honest, I haven’t always been a fan, but this beer blew my mind and was so apricoty and delicious I was craving another one straight away. Might head down to Crown Cellars and get one now that I’m thinking about it...
What can people expect from you in 2023?
Sam: We hope to have our own beers on tap more regularly – it’s been a bit of a challenge just how quickly demand has taken off and has caught us by surprise, to be honest. Once we’re on top of that, I’m looking forward to putting our IPA into cans and working with our mates at Hillwood Berry farm on a raspberry sour so that we have a core beer that a little more approachable for the non-drinkers.
Will: It will be a huge growth year for Du Cane. We just snuck in with getting the new brewhouse operational in 2022 and have focused on catching up on the core range; now we’re there, expect plenty of new beers to follow!
And what's your one wish for Aussie beer in 2023?
Sam: That the quality continues to improve and that more people recognise it’s worth paying more for good beer. Certainly, I feel much more positive about the future after opening Du Cane and seeing how quickly so many Boag's drinkers have come around to good beer, and we’ve got so many more people to convert in Australia still.
Will: My one wish is that we see a continuation of classic beer styles revived. I love simple beers, brewed well.
You can check out the rest of The Year In Beer 2022 series here. Thanks to the wider Crafty Pint team and the industry gurus who have helped in the compilation of this series.