The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

WHEN Kevin O’Neill went to a pub for a drink af­ter a hard day’s ski­ing at Thredbo in the NSW Snowy Moun­tains, he was keen to sam­ple the lo­cal beer. The prob­lem was, there wasn’t one.

O’Neill sensed a gap in the mar­ket and the idea of the Snowy Moun­tains Brew­ery was born. Four years later it has four beers to its name with two more on the way, but none as yet are brewed in the area that in­spires their names.

Wa­ter from the Snowies was trans­ported to Blue­tongue Brew­ery at New­cas­tle, NSW, for the first SMB beer, Crack­en­back Pale Ale, which was brewed to O’Neill’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions on a con­tract ba­sis.

Pro­duc­tion has since moved to the Aus­tralian In­de­pen­dent Brew­ers at Smeaton Grange south of Syd­ney, a six­hour drive from the Snowies.

But there are plans for a brew­ery with pub near Jind­abyne, at the foot of the moun­tains, where pos­si­ble sites are be­ing scouted around the town’s pic­turesque lake.

Mean­while, SMB is win­ning awards with its new­est beer, Char­lotte’s Hefeweizen, an un­fil­tered wheat beer with a pale cloudy ap­pear­ance ‘‘ rem­i­nis­cent of a high-coun­try white-out’’. Ac­cord­ing to O’Neill, it’s ‘‘ per­fect in sum­mer or af­ter a hard day on the slopes’’ (he’s fond of the ski analo­gies). The name comes from Char­lotte Adams, the first wo­man to climb Mt Kosciuszko (in 1881). It was voted Aus­tralia’s best wheat beer at last year’s Aus­tralian Ho­tel Beer Awards, which comes as no sur­prise once you’ve sam­pled a bot­tle or two. SMB’s Bul­locks Pil­sner com­plies with the Ger­man pu­rity law — us­ing only bar­ley, hops and wa­ter — and has no sugar, preser­va­tives or other ad­juncts. O’Neill says it ‘‘ goes down like a well-waxed pair of skis’’, which is very well in­deed. The fourth beer in the SMB stable is Ra­zor­back Red Ale, made with four malts and named af­ter Ra­zor­back Ridge.

O’Neill isn’t re­veal­ing what new­com­ers are in the pipe­line but my money’s on a Koscuiszko porter. It has a cer­tain ring about it, don’t you think? Barry Oliver Dis­tri­bu­tion at present is in NSW, ACT, Vic­to­ria and WA; $17.99 a six-pack. www.snowymoun­tains­brew­ery.com.au.

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