Mike Ben­nie fills his glass with the best lo­cal beers, ciders and spir­its.

delicious - - CONTENTS - @mikeben­nie101 @mikeben­nie101

In­spired by the de­li­cious. Pro­duce Awards, Mike Ben­nie cel­e­brates the ar­ti­san stars of Aus­tralian drink­ing.

IT WOULD TAKE just one look through my beer fridge or liquor cabi­net to see that Aus­tralia’s brew­ing and distilling in­dus­try has never been in bet­ter shape. I’m ex­cited about fermented, dis­tilled and brewed prod­ucts of dis­tinc­tion with a fo­cus on lo­cally sourced pro­duce, na­tive botan­i­cals, or­ganic grains and for­aged in­gre­di­ents. There’s a bur­geon­ing cult of pro­duc­ers do­ing just that – cre­at­ing things I like drink­ing at home.

It’s a cul­tural shift and en­thu­si­asm that has re­sulted in wide­spread in­ter­est, with brew­eries and beer brands in Aus­tralia dou­bling from around 200 to around 400 in just five years, and a head­count of more than 100 dis­til­leries now serv­ing up lo­cal gins, whiskies, rums, vod­kas and ex­otic spir­its.

Once seen as cul­tural cringe or sideshow to the megas­tar im­ports, Aus­tralian beer, cider and spir­its are firmly on my radar, cel­e­brated at my par­ties and pic­nics, in my night­caps and cock­tails. I’m par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in those that fit the same kind of ethos as that cel­e­brated by the de­li­cious. Pro­duce Awards, by rais­ing aloft ex­cep­tional pro­duce from the pad­dock, the dairy, the sea and the earth.

BREW­ING Beer and cider in Aus­tralia are thrilling. From gypsy-styled op­er­a­tions ek­ing out small batches of cre­ative, wild brews to the re­gional brew­eries who cham­pion lo­cally grown grain, there’s so much ex­cit­ing drink­ing. As an in­ner west Syd­neysider, I’m spoiled for choice, with Young Hen­rys a short stroll away, Grifter a slightly longer one, and Batch, which cham­pi­ons base in­gre­di­ents from NSW farm­ers, a power walk away.

I’m lik­ing that brew­eries have found a bet­ter bal­ance in ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, with more ju­di­cious hop use to help drink­a­bil­ity, and a cu­rios­ity about wild fer­men­ta­tion and sour beers in­creas­ing the gene pool of brews. Wild­flower Brew­ing & Blend­ing is one of those stars, also in my ‘hood and brew­ing in­cred­i­ble beers, full of char­ac­ter and in­ter­est, from for­aged yeasts. Ex­trap­o­late these sorts of ex­am­ples across Aus­tralia and you’ve got a po­tent se­lec­tion for the Pro­duce Awards’ ‘In The Bot­tle’ se­lec­tion, and that’s just beer.

Cider pro­duc­ers are grow­ing their own, ex­plor­ing the unique per­son­al­i­ties of not only our well-known-and-loved eat­ing ap­ples such as Pink Lady or Granny Smith, but the English cider va­ri­eties like Yar­ling­ton Mill, Break­well, Foxwhelp, Dabi­nett and Trem­lett’s Bit­ter. Or­ganic farm­ing, as Wil­lie Smith’s cham­pi­ons in Tas­ma­nia, is a break­through, and an en­cour­age­ment for bet­ter­ing ex­ist­ing, al­ready-high-stan­dard ciders.

DISTILLING Aus­tralians were once con­tent to chase down the lat­est la­belling of fancy, im­ported spir­its. We had our bling-bling vodka en­dorsed by rap artists, our gin from pres­tige UK dis­tillers, our fancy-pants sin­gle malts from Scot­land. Big-name pro­duc­ers did lead the way in Aus­tralia with rum, but the cur­rency is now in small-batch, unique dis­til­leries with a sen­si­tiv­ity to their en­vi­ron­ment and a pur­suit of char­ac­ter.

Wo­ven into this up­ris­ing is a seem­ingly bound­less in­ter­est in cel­e­brat­ing na­tive Aus­tralian in­gre­di­ents. Distillery Botan­ica sources from their botan­i­cally rich gar­den; Mt Un­cle Distillery pro­duces their Botanic Aus­tralis gin us­ing only na­tive herbs, fruits, roots and flow­ers; while Daniel Mot­lop and fam­ily of the Lar­rakia peo­ple now for­age in­gre­di­ents from their land, and pro­duce their own gin en­hanced by Aus­tralia’s nat­u­ral bounty.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.