Crisp coconut notes, warm golden syrup and a biscuit-like bite are not the usual tasting notes you’d expect to see alongside a beer.
But those are exactly the flavours one Launceston brewer hopes beer aficionados will find in his upcoming brew.
Morrison Brewery owner-operator Paul Morrison has been mashing, malting and brewing the ingredients for his specialty brews for Launceston’s upcoming Fresh Hop Beer Festival.
The festival is hosted by Saint John Craft Beer, and celebrates the state’s annual hop harvest by inviting Tasmanian brewers – and a select few mainlanders – to turn around freshly harvested hops into a seasonal beer to showcase at the three-day event.
To celebrate the third edition of the festival, Morrison has paired with the Saint John crew for a collaborative piece.
Morrison is not one to shy away from a beer with an unusual flavour backbone – many will know him as the maestro behind the Thai green curry rice saison, or the Festivale favourite raspberry fizz.
The Fresh Hop colloboration pays tribute to something that rings true to the hearts of Australians: our Diggers.
Morrison and Saint John have set their sights on an Anzac biscuit IPA; a malt-heavy creation that settles with notes of toasted coconut and golden syrup, just like its namesake.
On a balmy March day, Morrison was watching carefully as the Saint John staff stepped out from behind the bar and into the brewery.
They will turn Ella hops – freshly picked from the Bushy Park hop farm just days prior – five different malts and a few choice ingredients into a beer that echoes the country’s favourite biscuit.
For Morrison, the success of the beer will rely upon more than just its taste.
A good beer takes on multiple senses; taste, sight, smell. Morrison is hoping for a big start on the nose.
“The later you can get the hops in there, the more aroma you can get, which with this beer is what we want,” he said, inside his Invermay brew house.
While the biscuit IPA is coming together inside the brewery, outside there is something very different going on.
Plumes of heady-scented smoke are billowing from a wooden barrel. Here is where Morrison is testing the boundaries yet again.
He is smoking fresh hops with hop pellets and hickory for his solo Fresh Hop creation: a sour and smokey German wheat beer.
With such out-of-the-box ideas, does Morrison go through a testing phase before committing to brewing 500 litres?
Nope – he just runs with it. Getting the idea is the hardest part, he says. Building the flavour profile to be just-so comes as second nature for the experienced brewer.
A hands-on experience like this is a good chance for the Saint John staff to get involved in the beer making process, bar co-owner Ryan Campling said.
The craft beer-centric bar has taken part in some collaborations with Morrison Brewery before, but this will be the first beer brewed especially for its Fresh Hop Festival.
“The guys have been able to get elbows-deep in the hops, Paul got us on the shovel before, digging around,” Campling said.
It’s this sort of ethos that underpins the Fresh Hop Festival. This year will see about 20 Tasmanian breweries present their creations, plus a handful of invited interstate guests.
The three-day beer extravaganza is complemented by decadent pop-up food stalls, and live music, plus beer-related masterclasses.
Campling said the organising team had put more oomph behind the Sunday line-up this year, something he hoped would resonate with punters.
Fresh Hop Beer Festival is held from April 20-22, at Vincent Street, behind Saint John Craft Beer, Launceston.
Tickets are on sale now at freshopfestival.com.au, and cost $15 each for Friday and Saturday, $10 for Sunday, and $30 for a full weekend pass.