Australia has a rich and fascinating history when it comes to beer. Did you know that beer was among.
The Australian brewing style was pioneered by our early inhabitants by famous names such as John Boston, who made the first fermented alcoholic beverage with corn in Sydney in 1796. And don’t forget James Squire, the First Fleet convict who is known as the first person to successfully cultivate hops in Australia and he also founded Australia’s first commercial brewery in 1798. But head south to Tasmania, at Hobart’s Cascade Brewery, where you will find Australia’s oldest surviving brewery, operating since 1824.
These days, in every state, north, south, east and west, Aussie beer lovers are so lucky to be able to claim some of the world’s best breweries and beers as their own. In this piece, we celebrate some of our locally born and bred craft beer heroes. Discover your own state favourite in your local Vintage Cellars stores – state availability applies.
Eight mates walk into a bar and decide to start a brewery. Four of them are Australian professional surfing legends: Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Josh Kerr and Bede Durbidge. All of them happen to love being terrible dancers, hence, “Balter: (verb)… to dance artlessly without particular skill or grace, but usually with enjoyment”.
Since 2016, the Balter boys have been dancing their way onto the palates of beer lovers. Balter’s range includes the fresh-flavoured XPA, which changed the brewing game two years ago with its punchy palate of tropical florals and hops, while the Strong Pale Ale will wrestle any thirst to the mat with its smooth malt profile, juicy hops and crisp bitterness. Balter’s IPA is an epic refresher of a brew; big on hops yet balanced and refined.
Renowned for its no-compromise attitude, Young Henrys is synonymous with good beer from the heart of Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Newtown. Beginning in 2012 with mates Richard Adamson and Oscar McMahon, the idea was to brew good, local beer. The Young Henrys range is outstanding when it comes to consistency and quality. The session-style Stayer Mid is an exercise in honest brewing that’s low in alcohol but high in flavour, with a smooth mouthfeel. Likewise, Young Henrys Natural Lager, which celebrates its Aussie origins with three homegrown hops, contributing to the beer’s hazy look and magic mouthfeel. However, when it comes to declaring love for the locals, the Newtowner is a Young Henrys rock ‘n’ roll love song that shouts about the team’s love for their own town.
In 2014, Vedad Huric converted his parent’s single-car garage in Maribyrnong, Melbourne, to a home-brewing laboratory in which he could innovate. Months of trial and error followed. Some batches were good, others not so good. Over time, Vedad defined his own brewing style, which can be described as “refined refreshment”.
Sample seeks to find integrity with all its small-batch beers. The quality of its Lager can be explained by the use of the rare Enigma hop, which maximises flavour. Sample’s Pale Ale honours Vedad’s journey from garage to greatness. Meanwhile, the ¾ IPA boasts only the essentials for beer lovers: complexity, brightness and vibrancy, which we have come to love and expect from a well-crafted Aussie-made IPA such as this.
Hobo is the self-determined wandering spirit, an adventurous soul with a craft beer in hand. Operating from its microbrewery in Adelaide, the Hobo team is determined to change the brewing game by crafting a beer for every taste and occasion. Building flavour into a mid-strength beer is no mean feat, but Hobo has done it with its spice and pine-based brew. The Hobo Mid-IPA is the pick for those who want an all-day drink without compromising on flavour. While for others, Hobo’s APA is home to full-on
fresh flavour and balanced bitterness.
Gage Roads Brewing Co. is one of the largest independent breweries in the country. Its name comes from the strip of ocean that separates the city of Fremantle and Rottnest Island. Established 15 years ago, Gage Roads brews beers that take their inspiration from the natural environment. The Single Fin Summer Ale is a smart little sipper, made from Aussie-grown hops, that’s fresher than a Freo Doctor breeze. The Little Dove New World Pale Ale features a huge tropical hop aroma, from pineapple to passionfruit balanced by a robust bitterness. It was crowned Champion Australian Beer in 2016.