Friday evening, footy on the telly, pizza dough rising, and a beer in my hand. What is that beer, well the last one was a Pacific Ale, but the next one is infinitely more interesting.
I’ve had the week off, wasnt in massive need of a break but it seemed like a good idea. After a bit of deliberating on a location we ended up back where we started, Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. The diversion of thoughts occurred when I decided I needed to learn to fly fish. Seems it’s not really the season for fly fishing right now (and I hadn’t done the slightest bit of preparation) and Cradle Mountain sounded like a must see place to go. Havent heard anyone talk it down, and I wont be starting (with the exception of the beer list at the Cradle Mountain Lodge, yes I know its Tasmania but do we really need 4 versions of Boags?).
So after dealing with the huge line at Jetstar, and the much shorter flight to Launceston we were in the bright green rental car, a Kermit green Nisan Micra. Needing breakfast we stopped at a cafe that had sentimental value to Jacqui. There I read a bit of a local paper, something I never do. And that’s when I figured out I could fit in a brewery stop. It seems Willie Simpsons Seven Sheds Brewery, Meadery and hop garden at Railton, about half way between Launceston and Cradle Mountain. What a well thought out location, good thinking Willie.
Time wasnt of the essence so a stop wasnt a problem, and being a quiet little town we had the tasting room all to our selves. Just me, Jacqui and Willie (I think his wife was in the back room). So to the beers, all ales, done in open top fermenters that were dairy vats in a previous life, actually I think all the brewing vessels are. The brewery is a shed, however there appears to be only one of them. I was somewhat disappointed by this, for some reason I expected there to be seven of them. unfortunately I can’t add any other logic to the name than perhaps this is the 7th shed he has brewed in?
OK back to the beers, we tried them all (except the barrel aged ones) and liked them all, perhaps with the exception of the raspberry beer. It could have done with some time in a barrel and some souring bugs. I particularly liked his Kentish Ale, seems to be the flagship, kind of an english ale fairly easy drinking but with enough going on to let you know its a well made beer (I have one in the fridge) and the Paradise Ale, more of a hoppy golden ale, nice hop flavor on this one. But the one that really caught my eye was the Leggett IPA, a beer from the Brewers Reserve Range and possibly the only beer in Australia made with the Leggett hop. Apparently Leggett was named after a hop breeder, bred for Tasmanian Conditions, and only grown in any quantity (read small) in Willies hop garden. Dont know much about this hop, other than it being supposedly a high alpha acid variety, and the internet isn’t giving me much joy either. Lets just say its a hop. Oh and it seems that all of the harvest went into this batch of beer.
Enough said what about the beer? I think I can paraphrase Willie and say it’s not a US hop bomb. The roots of this beer are definitely in the traditional UK IPA spectrum. It has a nice bitterness, not too much and a little bit piney or fruity going on in it. All round its a great beer that goes down well after a day of foot slogging it around the face track and hansons track on Cradle Mountain. If you are expecting some kind of hop freak beer this may not be what you are expecting in an IPA, but still try it, a ballanced IPA is a great thing.
So does rarity make a beer a great beer? hell no, but its a nice little side line. What I really like is seeing someone growing something that was bred for the region and using it right there on the spot. Cant get any more local than that. Take that food miles people! Willies hop garden also gave me a little hope that I may get a decent hop harvest this year coming from my lone hop bine. Oh and the hand written labels are a nice touch.
So get some Leggett IPA if you can, although that may be tough unless you are on the road from Launceston to Cradle Mountain. However even if you can’t get this beer, drop in and say g’day, Willie was a most welcoming host, the beers are good, and who doesnt want to see a home brewer going pro and try their beers? Oh and grab some of his beer if you are staying at the Cradle Mountain Lodge and want to drink something other than Boags.