Hop to it: on the trail of Tassie’s best beers
The Tasmanian Beer Trail follows a wide arc from north to south (and vice-versa), tracing the island’s picturesque east coast, with side-trips to the north-west, the Huon Valley and Bruny Island. Beer lovers can tackle the entire route or carve off bite-size sections to suit their own touring itinerary. Before you start, remember to nominate who will be the designated driver for which parts of the trail.
Those with more limited time could simply explore some of the new and hip brewers clustered in and around Hobart (Captain Bligh’s, Hobart Brewing Company, Fox Friday, Devil’s Brewery, T-Bone Brewing Co) and Launceston (KICK|SNARE Brewing, Little Rivers Brewing Company, Morrison Brewery) to name a few; although some are still in the process of establishing tasting rooms.
While innovative new breweries are popping up all over the Apple Isle, Hobart remains the engine room of the state’s craft-beer revolution. Hop-heads might like to tour Cascade Brewery Co’s 1832 brewhouse (entry includes a free beer tasting), sample toothsome lagers and ales around Hobart Brewing Company’s fire pit, or cuddle a Barry White – a robust porter – at the Shambles Brewery, an exciting new brew pub on Elizabeth Street. Meanwhile, art-lovers making the pilgrimage to MONA can slip next door to the museum’s own Moo Brew for an inspirational tour of its inventive range of pilsners, ales and wheat beers. Tours of the new brewery in Bridgewater are also available.
Those with a little more time on their hands, and an enthusiastic travelling companion, should make a beeline for some of Tasmania’s brewing superstars, such as Two Metre Tall in the Derwent Valley, famed for its farmhouse-style ales and ciders, and the Seven Sheds Brewery in Railton in the state’s north-west, a pioneering artisan operation opened in 2008. Both great spots to fill your boot with some fabulous Tassie brews.
Having already secured an enviable reputation for its cool-climate wines and distinctive malt whiskies, it was perhaps inevitable that Tasmania would also want to ride the global craft beer wave.
But, unlike their mainland counterparts, Tassie’s small-batch brewers have the advantage of being able to source some of Australia’s best ingredients without leaving the state – hops have been grown on the island since the earliest days of colonisation. Many of the island’s historic oast houses, where the hops are dried, still survive.
Travellers on The Tasmanian Beer Trail will see many fine oast houses en route, including Valleyfield and Tynwald Park, both near New Norfolk. At Swallows Nest Guest House, beer lovers can even spend the night in a restored hop kiln.
Just remember to purchase a few bottles of Barry White for the stay.
Header image Seven Sheds Brewery, Meadery and Hop Garden provided courtesy of Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett.