Call around. Dial Up. Facetime. Zoom. Whatever it is, however it’s done, share a one of these beers and get talking.

Origin – Orange, New South Wales
ABV – 5.3%
Size – 355mL can
Style – Pilsener

Flat open deserts interspersed with cut and eroded tortuous gullies and saw-toothed divides, the Badlands. The sort of isolated and inhospitable terrain where Breaking Bad’s Walter White drove his mobile meth lab. Surrounded by harsh and rugged nothingness, the meek high school chemistry teacher who transformed into the most ruthless player in the methamphetamine drug trade would cook up his rather morish blue rock.

With this image in mind, I find the naming of Jon Shiner's brewery in a region famous for its rich food and wine culture incongruous. Rather than a reflection of the landscape, Shiner says the naming was 'inspired by stories of outlaws and bushrangers.’ Yet, as one always ready to experiment - black truffles, figs, finger-limes, and chillies are just a few of the ingredients cooked up that have made it into a Badlands keg or can – it seems the similarities between himself and White are far too coincidental. Whatever the truth, both characters worked hard to become the best in the business.

Jon’s story is like many others; an avid homebrewer dissatisfied with the pale lager dominated beer market ten years ago. Originally from the Inner West of Sydney, he moved 250 km directly westward and set up a small, local and authentical, community-focused microbrewery on the outskirts of Orange. And for the best part of a decade, the regional town kept its brewery to itself. That was until Peter Lalor of The Weekend Australian let the cat out of the bag, saying of Badlands in his 2020 Beer Of The Year listing, ‘I fell on my knees in front of their efforts'. Lalor was, of course, talking about this New World Pilsner. Ever since, it's been in such demand that Badlands has put a case limit on sales. A genuinely fantastic lager, it uses NZ Nelson Sauvin hops instead of traditional German Saaz, though its base of pilsener malt aligns with heritage. The result is a New World Pilsner with aromatics of nettle & elderflower, slight hop bitterness and a crisp, refreshing finish.

If you've got a fridge full of these, to quote Walter White, 'I'll be the one who knocks!'