If you’re familiar with winemaking, you would have heard of Brettanomyces, a yeast strain that can spoil a wine’s character and aroma. Most would associate it with poor winery hygiene. While hygiene is also paramount in brewing, we’ve seen a steady growth of Brett/Sour beers over the past few years as brewers contain and capture the Brett character for creating funky, wild flavours unlike anything else.
Bridge Road Brewery, located in Beechworth in Victoria’s High Country, is nestled amongst some of the finest chardonnay producers in Australia. Owner of Bridge Road Brewery and ex-winemaker Ben Kraus worked with his good friends at Giaconda, A Rodda and Sorrenberg to produce three distinctive Brett Pale Ales to educate, inspire and enjoy. I had the pleasure of catching up with Ben for a chat about these intriguing beers.
The three Pale De Wilde beers are mind-blowingly good. What are you most proud of with this release?
I have always enjoyed trialling new ideas and pushing the boundaries with our beers. This theme has always been a part of what we do; from brewing Saisons in 2005 to introducing 100% Brett-fermented foeder beers to our stable in 2016. The three Pale De Wilde beers follow this theme and allow us to work with local winemakers and be part of the exciting period that is vintage each year. I like that it blurs the lines between beer and wine yet highlights the differences between the two.
What was your experience like collaborating with some of the best winemakers in Victoria?
They all happen to be mates, so it was pretty casual. They all enjoy the brewery and beers and I’m a fan of their wines. It generates discussion and debate about the importance of yeast in wine and beer and the complexity that wild wine yeast offers.
How have you seen the evolution of Brett / Sour beers in Australia over the past couple of years?
We’re only just seeing the tip of the iceberg with these styles. I think Australia will begin to generate its own craft beer identity, rather than only following the USA model. That said, this trend is booming in the US.
Could you expand on “generating our own identity”?
Well, I think we’ll see an increase in the use of native ingredients, locally developed hop varieties and collaborations with Australia’s world beating food, coffee and wine scene.
It’s common for people to think that wine is better matched to cheese, but I see your challenging that thinking with the Pale De Wilde.
Yes absolutely, we recommended matching these beers with soft and blue cheeses on the label. As it happens, I only just recently sampled all three beers with our recommended cheese match and I’m pleased to say I can stand by the decision to go to print ahead of bottling.
Bridge Road Pale De Wilde ABV: 4.8%
Style: Brett Pale
Serving Temp: 6 degrees
Food match: Soft & blue cheeses
Origin: Beechworth, Victoria
Price (RRP): $30 for a 3 pack www.bridgeroadbrewers.com.au