Hunter Beer Company
Potters Brewery, as this microbrewery is also known, might seem like a rather odd addition to this convention-based accommodation complex, which is named after the historic beehive-shaped pottery kilns scattered around the property. The dinky, 6-hectolitre copper-clad brewhouse was fired up back in 2003 and has since been relocated to its own dedicated building to better cater for beer tourists. The house brews I’ve tasted have been generally good, though rather under-appreciated by patrons frequenting the main bar and restaurant. But all that may soon change under new owners Hamish and Pru Ord, who bought Potters Hotel in late 2008. (The Ords have an interesting connection to craft beer, as Hamish’s mother Carole Ord was office manager at the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel for several years.) As we went to press, the Hunter Beer brands were available on tap at Potter’s Inn and in hand-bottled 750 ml bottles and magnums to takeaway. ‘It’s a labour of love,’ says head brewer Keith Grice. ‘We fill the bottles individually, plonk on a plastic cork and tap it in with a rubber mallet.’ He says it was his first job when he started as an assistant brewer 18 months ago, before graduating to head brewer a year ago. Grice turned his back on an academic career in chemistry and followed his passion for home-brewing. ‘I decided one day that I wanted to do something I really enjoy,’ he says. After working in a homebrew shop in Newcastle for a time, he landed the job at Potter’s Brewery. The regular Hunter Beer range comprises a lager, pale ale, kolsch, bock, witbier and an alcoholic ginger beer, while seasonals include an oyster stout (‘We brew a batch every year for St Patrick’s Day’), Oktoberfest beer, and The Hop Monster, which is brewed with hops grown alongside the brewery building.
Seasonal tap brews include a hefeweizen and an American-style amber ale. ‘It’s four per cent with lots of toffee notes and a gentle citrus hop character,’ Grice says. ‘We like to have one seasonal which is an easy-drinking, classic style and another which is out of the ordinary, hard to get or just original.’
Behind the Label
As the only craft brewery as such in the Hunter Valley (albeit one that is located basically at the gateway to the famous wine-producing region), Hunter Beer features an archer as its logo. Presumably ‘hunting’ his prey, the chap with bow and arrow poised aquiver does bear a passing resemblance to one Robin Hood, it has to be said. With plans to roll out their bottled beer to wider markets, new livery may well be in the pipeline as you read this.
Potters Hotel & Brewery, Wine Country Drive, Nulkaba 2325 Tours by appointment; bar; restaurant; takeaway sales
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- Tooheys Brewery
- Murray's Craft Brewing Company
- Bluetongue Brewery
- Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel
- Redoak Brewery
- Steel River Brewery
- Schwartz Brewery