With its striking, glass and steel brewhouse perched high above the Derwent River, Moo Brew is probably the best-appointed microbrewery in the land. It’s also part of Moorilla Estate, situated on the outskirts of Hobart, which is one of Tasmania’s oldest wineries and among the first in Australia to diversify into craft beer-making, which it did in late 2005. Moo Brew immediately set high benchmarks in beer quality, price and packaging – the beers come in dinky, piccolo-like bottles. The diversion into craft beer sits comfortably within the multifaceted Moorilla operation, which incorporates a fine restaurant and function centre, luxury chalet accommodation, an outdoor concert venue and a $55 million private art museum development (due to open in 2010). A honey-ish pilsener, an unfiltered American pale ale and a cloudy, Germanstyle wheat beer were the foundation brews, joined some time later by a flavoursome dark ale. Seasonal beers have included a muscular imperial stout, with a portion matured in wood – a combination of virgin French oak and ex-chardonnay casks. Tasmanian-born head brewer Owen Johnston is a lucky man in many ways, not least because he has ready access to such luxuries and a free hand to create some extreme styles. Demand for Moo Brew beers has quickly outstripped their production imitations and, while they are easy enough to track down around greater Hobart, orders are generally rationed beyond that point. Not surprisingly, plans for a second, considerably larger brewing plant are well advanced, which would see Moo Brew more readily available across mainland Australia.
655 Main Road, Berriedale, 7011 Tours by appointment; bar; restaurant
Full-flavoured interpretations of a handful of the world’s classic beer styles are notable, with a solid nod in the direction of the US craft-beer market.
Moo Brew Pale Ale
Behind the Label
The Moo Brew labels feature original paintings commissioned from prominent Australian artist John Kelly, who was initially approached because of the seemingly obvious bovine connection with his sculpture series based on camouflaged cows. Kelly was apparently over the whole cow thing by this stage but, after a fair bit of persuasion, he produced a different series of images for the brewery. ‘Setting Sun’ graces the Wheat Beer label and is a reworking of the Australian Arts Council logo which Kelly objected to, strongly, as an example of the ‘corporatising of art’. The beer’s pretty good, too.