Mike Bennie has nothing but praise for the many innovative Australian brewers, distillers and fermenters honing their craft.
Mike Bennie celebrates the drink scene’s homegrown heroes.
AMONG THOSE CELEBRATED by the delicious. Produce Awards are the best artisan distillers, brewers and fermenters creating drinks that speak loudly of Australia’s increasingly thrilling culture of beers, ciders and all things spirituous.
It’s an exciting time for drinks of all varieties in this land. Exploring our cultural identity through native ingredients and the derring-do of local producers to reinterpret classics has been seismic in the homegrown drinks industry.
Gin, for example, has seen some 40-odd distilleries explode to 400-plus, many shining a light on local botanicals such as pepperberry, lemon myrtle and river mint.
All-Australian Negroni cocktails were a pipe dream until recently. Now, with a multitude of high-quality vermouth, we’re closer to perfecting our version.
Along with innovation is Australia’s growing number of paddock-to-bottle distillers. While amounts are small, they are significant for an emerging distilling culture, and substantial compared to worldwide. A previous winner of the ‘In The Bottle’ award, Belgrove, is considered one of the world’s leading paddock-to-bottle advocates. Quite the achievement.
Beer is no slouch either. The number of independent breweries in Australia is now staggering. Brewers are experimenting, or honing-in on singular styles. Wild fermented and sour beers, a focus on local grain, an increase in sourcing organic product, and using local fruits and botanicals in one-off brews have all made Australian brewing come alive.
Cider is following suit. A small shift to ‘proper cider apples’ is beginning to resonate with drinkers and brewers alike. Looking at the resources in places like Tasmania, there’s a bright future for such artisanal production.
With a rich vein of handcrafted, considered drinks now on hand for us to enjoy, we’re increasingly spoiled for choice in Australia. Kudos to those in the mix.