William Bull Brewery
The high-profile, family-run De Bortoli Wines diversifying into craft beer has been one of the longest-running stories around. In the late 1990s they acquired a brewhouse that originally belonged to the Ballarat-based Sovereign Brewery. I recall speaking to Darren De Bortoli around that time, when he said they were going to fire it up ‘sometime after vintage’. Apparently, an ale or two were produced along the way for in-house consumption only, the project was shelved for a few more years and then dusted off in earnest again during 2006. Finally, Red Angus Pilsener was belatedly released two years later. ‘We had problem after problem with the new bottling line,’ says head brewer Neal Cameron. ‘In the end we had to totally rewire it and add some new safety features.’ The pilsener was trialled extensively on a 50-litre pilot brewery and finetuned after feedback from a regular tasting panel of 25- odd people. ‘But it’s not a beer designed by a committee,’ Cameron emphasises. ‘We tried lots of different yeasts, malt and hops and certain ingredients produced positive comments again and again.’ Cameron selected Nelson Sauvin and Northern Brewer as the hop varieties, which are used at three different stages – bittering, late kettle hops and dry-hopping in the fermenter. At around 32 bitterness units, Red Angus Pilsener certainly announces its considerable hop presence. ‘We like to think of it as a ‘new world pilsener’’, he says. ‘It’s more aromatic and fruity than the more austere German pilseners.’ Cameron jokes that De Bortoli’s winemakers are banned from entering his brewery, which is based at Bilbul, near Griffith in the Riverina region.
The solitary brew to date has rich, malty notes up front with a whiff of spicy hops; the hop character comes through significantly in the palate and lingering after-bitterness.
William Bull Red Angus Pilsener
Behind the Label
The town of Bilbul, near Griffith, and the brewery are both named after founder William Bull. ‘Pure grain fed beer’ the label reads and the marketers obviously had a field day with bullish puns. ‘Grab life by the horns’ and ‘A beer that hasn’t been butchered’ among them. And, yes, the spent grain left over from the brewing process ends up being consumed by some local cattle. We’re still not convinced that Red Angus is necessarily the best breed to represent a pale golden lager, though.
De Bortoli Road, Bilbul 2680comments powered by Disqus