A few years ago Tassie’s Moorilla Estate decided to branch out, and in a massive way.
The winery was established in 1958 by Italian-Australian Claudio Alcorso, and in 2001 current owner, David Walsh, established a museum (MONA) on the wineries grounds in 2001. He decided to add a micro-brewery to the site in 2004, aptly named Moo Brew, under the guiding hand of then head brewer Owen Johnston. The brewery hit the ground running with the first keg rolling out in 2005, demand has been so great that in 2010 they realised a bigger a site was required, expanding to a second brewery, ten minutes up the road from the Moorilla Estate in Bridgewater, Tasmania, where all brewing is now carried out. The museum site itself had a massive $75 million renovation from 2007 to 2011 officially opening as MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, in January 2011.
Despite the move to bigger premises and the change of head brewer, the philosophy at Moo has remained the same. Unlike the big boys of brewing, Moo Brew have decided to stick to the German Purity Law of 1516, using just pure water, malt, pure hops and yeast, and are preservative free and unpasteurised. This means that freshness in the stubby can be an issue for us FNQ drinkers, or other regional places where the beers require significant transport.
To combat these issues the brewery have made a “canny transition” from glass to tins, installing a canning line and partnering with Sam Smith and Sons (more commonly referred to as Yalumba) for distribution. This means that the beers we see here have no chance of oxidisation as they are completely airtight, and keep out all light, they are also less prone to breakage, and lighter to transport than regular bottles, so it’s a win for greenhouse gas emissions.
The core Moo Brew beers also remain unchanged: Pilsner, Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Dark Ale and a Mid-Strength Ale, which was the final member of the regular family of five to appear. There are some seasonal brews available from time, your local independent bottleo would be your best bet there, especially with Moo’s new distribution arrangement.
Two years ago the current head brewer Dave Macgill, decided to add single hop, single malt beer to the range, simply named “Single Hop”. The beer heads down the path of single site wines, brewed from just one type of hop, and one type of malt, with both being Tasmanian grown, the Enigma hops are grown at bushy Park, and the malt in Davenport.
As individual and unique as the beers are, it’s the labelling that stands out the most. Artist John Kelly was commissioned to create the designs that wrap around the bottles and cans, featuring the kangaroo and a sun, the designs are striking, and certainly make the beers stand out in the bottleshop fridges.
A few of the range:
Moo Brew Hefeweizen – I was hesitant to try this again after grabbing a six pack of stubbies only a month or so ago. I found the beer turned to mousse and fizz as soon as it hit the tongue, whether it was in a glass or straight from the stubby. The cans however are different, they were fresher, and were certainly drinkable, from both the can and the glass, big on taste, super refreshing on our hot summer days, and a refreshing tartness that works with the light banana and zesty citrus that the beer carries.
Moo Brew Pilsner – Pilsner has long been a dirty word in craft beer worlds, mainly because most brewers have switched from using purely Saaz hops, the original Pilsner hop, to something a little cheaper and easier to get hold of, or blending with Saaz. Moo has taken a different path and switched to Spalt, another German hop, which makes this stand head and shoulders above its current peers. Fruity hops up front and a lingering sophisticated bitterness.
Moo Brew Pale Ale – made in the big American style but it’s a little classier than most of the imports we see, this has a better balance between the malt and hop profile as opposed to the big hop dominate US styles. It’s floral and citrusy over complex malts, fresh up front with an excellent bitter hop finish.
Moo Brew Dark Ale – I’m a fan of darker beers, they carry a lot more flavour from the roast of the malt than you see with regular ales or lagers, Moo’s effort is extremely well-balanced with those roasted malts giving rich chocolate and mild coffee notes, and hops driving the piney aromatics and gentle bitterness, with a slight spice on the finish.