New Year, New Beer

New Year, New Beer

January 3, 2011 by Crafty Pint

While most of us were kicking back over the festive period, two of Australia’s most established and highly-regarded craft brewers were beavering away on a new brew. It’s a brew with a difference too – one of the first beers that’s the result of a collaborative effort between two Aussie brewers, in this case Victoria’s Hargreaves Hill and Red Hill. They met at the former’s brewery in Lilydale to create a Maibock under the “Two Hills” moniker, with the beer due to be tapped at The Local Taphouse’s Great Aussie Beer SpecTAPular next month.

Simon Walkenhorst (Hargreaves) and Dave Golding (Red Hill) launched their first beers within a few months of each other in 2004/5 and share a similar commitment to brewing traditional beer styles so the joint effort made a lot of sense. They decided upon a Maibock – a strong German lager – after sampling ten beers over lunch towards the end of last year. And, given they both now employ brewers to do much of the actual hands on brewing at their Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula breweries these days, it gave them an opportunity to get back to basics – while sampling a few of each others' limited release beers, such as Hargreaves' Phoenix Imperial Red and Red Hill’s Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout.

“It’s a beer I’ve never brewed before on a system I’ve never brewed on so it’s going to be interesting to see how it pans out,” says Dave, who designed the grain bill, with Simon taking control of the beer’s hopping, which includes some dry-hopping with whole hops.

The concept of collaborative brews is one that’s been growing in popularity in recent years. The Portamarillo created by NZ’s Epic and Dogfish Head in the States is probably the latest to hit Australian bottleshop shelves, yet it’s a new approach for homegrown brewers. And while more often than not they seem to be an excuse for brewers to get crazy (the Portamarillo contains tree tomatoes smoked over chips from the sacred Kiwi Christmas tree), this sticks to the ethos of the two Hills.

“It’s going to be a subtle style of beer,” says Simon, “not a big beer. I hope it’s one that people will get and understand as it involves a level of sophistication not necessarily seen in some beers.”

You’ll get the chance to judge when it lines up alongside 19 other beers made specially for the occasion at the SpecTAPular, which will feature all manner of styles from the subtle and traditional to the big and bizarre – plus a second collaborative brew from SA. It takes place on February 12 at both Taphouses in Sydney and Melbourne, with the Maibock also going on tap at the Hargreaves Hill restaurant in Yarra Glen and Red Hill Brewery.