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While wine tasting is the main activity that draws people to the Hunter Valley area, the region also has much to offer for beer enthusiasts. With multiple top-class breweries available you could go on a beer tasting Hunter Valley tour and enjoy yourself plenty. These breweries have their own specialties, unique experiences to offer, some with guided tours and tastings. Although you may need to check the availability of such tours for certain days.
If possible, getting an expert might be quite a worthwhile experience. Other tips include, not having an empty stomach (we don’t want to get too tipsy early on), having a designated driver, and avoid perfumes and colognes as they may interfere with the beer’s aroma.
What is craft beer?
Lots of producers use the terms “prime quality”, “excellent”, and other similar phrases to describe their beers. However, the term “craft beer” is something more consistent and used with consistency and has a cogent definition. That definition being, “craft beers are ones that small and traditional breweries produce”. A fitting general description for small would be, a less than 3% occupation of the total market.
Craft breweries are also considered to be independent and traditional. In other words, at least ¾ should be owned by a craft brewer. The word “traditional” implies, that most of the beer is made from traditional ingredients in their fermentation.
With that said, a lot of the breweries in Hunter Valley fit this category. With many either offering or are included in beer tasting Hunter Valley tours.
How to taste a craft beer?
You’d think beer tasting would only involve chugging it and that would be that. However, craft beer offers a lot of unique taste and deserves more care and to be savored. As such there a few things that might be useful to try and keep in mind;
Appearance of the Beer
The hue of a beer can give you some insight as to its taste in addition to being aesthetically appealing. It’s best not to hold the beer to the light as it may distort the intended natural color. A reddish tint can indicate sweetness while a dark one can hint at chocolate or coffee flavors.
We have a better sense of smell than taste so it’s truly worthwhile taking in a whiff of the beverage. Agitating the beer by swilling the beer and allowing oxygen to mix, will allow you to experience the smell of the beer more richly.
Following the aroma, the flavor will flow naturally. Start by taking a small sip and letting the beer flow over every taste bud. Try breathing out as you taste to simultaneously smell and taste the beer. Finding out familiar flavors like sweetness or bitterness is a great way to start analyzing the taste.
Beer tasting Hunter Valley – Best breweries
While wine and Hunter Valley are usually in the same sentence, you could definitely ‘pair beer with food & cheese’ tasting on a beer tasting Hunter Valley day trip from Sydney. Since there are quite a few craft breweries near Hunter Valley wineries, we’ve rounded up some that may suit your taste;
Hope Estate beer tasting Hunter Valley
Beer, wine, and spirits will be sure to satisfy you to trip to this location. Events like, birthdays, corporate functions and weddings can be held. They also host multiple concerts and events throughout the year. Midnight Oil, the big 80s party, and the HV Beer and BBQ Festival are among the few. If you’re ever on a Hunter Valley wine tour, paying them a visit is a great idea.
They’re located on 2213 Broke Road, Pokolbin, NSW, and are open all week. From 10 am to 5 pm on Sundays through Thursdays, while Fridays and Saturdays see the doors open until 7 pm. They can be contacted through (02) 4993 3555 or emailed at [email protected]
Matilda Bay Brewhouse
This venue hosts multiple functions such as staff parties, conferences, and team building to name a few. In fact, if you have any hen party ideas in Hunter Valley this is a great place to consider. They also offer tastings of up to 12 of their own craft brews.
They have breakfast all week from 7:30 am 10:30 am. That is in addition to lunch, dinner, take away and the bar service, all week. Lunch is from 12pm-4pm while dinner is from 6pm-8pm. The takeaway is available from 5 pm-7 pm. And the bar is open from 11 am to 5 pm. You can find them at Corner Hermitage Road & Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin, NSW. You can reach them through (02) 4998 7777.
The Mighty (formerly Potters & Foghorn Brewery)
Pale ale, dark beer, lager, IPA, and sour beer along with various spirits and ciders are up for you to experience and enjoy. They do have quite a large selection of beers for you to choose from. If you want a beer tasting hunter valley tour, you can visit on Fridays at 5 pm and Saturdays from 12 pm to 5 pm. However, they do recommend that you bool one beforehand. They also have a lawn area where you can bring along your dog, but you will have to be mindful of others and clean up after them the pets.
They have listed [email protected] and (02) 4058 4155 as a contact means for inquiries regarding bookings or inquiries concerning the Mighty hunter valley brewery. Wine Country Drive, Nulkaba NSW is the address for their location in Hunter Valley. They are open from 11 am-10 am from Mondays to Thursdays, 11 am-12 am on Fridays, 10m-12am on Saturdays and from 10 am to 10 pm on Sundays.
IronBark Hill Brewhouse
You can find beverages from stouts and potters to pale ales and lagers pouring fresh on tap with 8 beers and 4 ciders all in all, which makes a pleasant stop on a beer tasting hunter valley trip. They have some Italian picks for meals, such as pasta and pizza curtesy of their outdoor oven. They also offer a number of their beers and ciders in cans. Unfortunately, they do not cater hen or buck parties, although milestones can be celebrated with a group.
The doors are open weekly from 10 am to 5 pm, including Friday nights. 694 Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin NSW is where you can find them, and their contact is [email protected]
Sydney Brewery Hunter Valley
Right next to the brewery you’ll find The Lovedale bar with its signature Lovedale lager. While their Sydney Cider is available continuously, they rotate seasonal beers on the tap during the year. The beers they produce are hand made using filtered Hunter Valley water. Plus, the bar is served by four serving vessels directly form the brewery. The brewery is listed on certain Hunter valley tours so keep an eye out for them.
Opening times are on Mondays to Friday from 10 am and Saturday to Sunday from 8 am, all days until late. Lunch is served from 11 am onwards. The bar is located at 430 Wine Country Drive Lovedale, NSW and you can call them at (02) 49910947.
Things to consider before you drink
Up to now we have talked about how you can enjoy a beer tasting Hunter valley. And with that me must mention how you can keep yourself safe. It’s always best to have a designated driver in your group or hiring a taxi works too.
In NSW if your caught drunk driving, you may face an immediate removal of license, fines or even imprisonment so it’s in your best interest to know the legalities in this regard.
During roadside breath tests the police lookout for certain levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the limit that a particular license will allow. There are three limits which are zero, 0.02, and 0.05. What that indicates is that 0.002 g of alcohol is present in 100ml of blood in a BAC of 0.02. Here is a quick summary of the license types and their allowable limits;
- Learner – Zero
- Provisional 1 & 2 – Zero
- Visiting, overseas, interstate learners or provisional and similar licenses – Zero
- Public vehicle drivers (Taxi or bus drivers) – 0.02%
- Drivers carrying “dangerous goods” – 0.02%
- Drivers where their “gross vehicle mass” is greater than 13.9 tonnes – 0.02%
0.05% is the maximum allowable limit. Keep in mind that even beer tasting can make your BAC exceed 0.02%. For more information, visit the Police NSW web here.
You should also avoid drinks as everyone’s tolerance is different. Not drinking and driving is what’s best for everyone.