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WINTER BEERS

Seasons change, tastes change AS THE NATION HEADS INTO CHILLIER TIMES, CRAIG HAWTIN-BUTCHER REVEALS HOW DRINKERS’ TASTES FOR WINTER CHANGE AND HOW HOTELIERS CAN ADAPT TO THEM.

“M

ost venues seem to be contracted [to one of the big two brewers],” says Tom Pigott of Solotel’s The Bank. “For venues under those contracts, they have so many more options now, with those big companies having invested in smaller craft breweries. I would encourage venues with those contracts to consider the Pirate Lifes, 4 Pines, Goose Islands, Matilda Bay ranges. They don’t lose out by trying to experiment. There’s such a big growth still in the craft beer market that people are always looking.” With those words of encouragement, now is the time to embrace seasonal shifts. “May is a special time of year,” says Dean Romeo of Felons Brewing Co in central Brisbane. “Mainly because it’s that transition from the warmer weather into the colder weather. So there’s an ability to be open to these fruit sour beers, but also lean in to those roastytoasty notes of porters, stouts and dark ales.” The large brewpub venue, Felons, opened last November and, while Queensland winters are milder than many, how they will fare as the weather cools is something of an unknown quantity, given it will be their first winter in operation. However, as Romeo explains, “we’re pretty into what’s in season at the time of our seasonal releases. When we’re conceptualising each beer we’re very sensitive

12 | MAY 2019 AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER

to what local farmers are growing and what’s available,” says Romeo. “For seasonal peaks, we look at what sort of fruits are in season,” says Romeo. “We’re just coming out of the peak of summer here in Brisbane [in April], mandarins are really starting to ripen on the trees, so we’ve got a little mandarin gose up our sleeves. It’s a session sour beer.”

GOING DARK FOR WINTER Meanwhile in Sydney’s Camperdown, Wayward Brewing Co has a pretty clear idea what to expect this winter. “As soon as the weather starts to cool down we find people instinctively begin to gravitate to richer, more malt driven styles,” says Tully Mansfield, National Sales Manager with Wayward. “For us, Autumn has always been a big month for our Red IPA… as it’s a great balance of something a bit more malt-forward that’s still clean and hoppy – perfect for the seasonal transition.” The result of that popularity is an updated version of their red IPA now in can and joining Wayward’s core range. “Definitely you’ll see a rise in amber/red style ales,” says Pigott. “For a string of our pubs I definitely see more putting on 4 Pines amber ale. It’s a nice approachable easy level, where

it’s darker in colour but it doesn’t lose all its hoppiness so you don’t push away those who are getting into the more darker style ales. “We’re definitely seeing a rise in red IPAs. That’s probably a style I’m seeing more and more of. A personal favourite of mine is the Hop Nation American Red, which is my go-to Winter beer,” says Pigott.

SWEET FOR WINTER Across town, James Thorpe, co-owner of Thorpe Hospitality and The Taphouse, Darlinghurst and The Oxford Tavern, Petersham says: “As the weather cools we start to see some of the richer, maltier styles coming out. Red ales and amber ales all the way up-to bigger darker porters and stouts.” Thorpe has also spotted some distinct new trends heading into these cooler months. “Over the last few years, we’ve definitely seen a big rise in sweeter dark beers, like milk stouts and dessert stouts, as well as barrel aged stouts,” says Thorpe. “People are starting to realise that not every stout has to be a dry Irish stout like Guinness.” Wayward’s Mansfield agrees. “Bigger Imperial and/or Barrel Aged Stouts are becoming more and more popular as people continue to diversify their beer drinking preferences beyond the more traditional Pale

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Australian Hotelier May 2019