Despite the road being long, with many a winding turn …it often seems to disappear so quickly. So, let’s not wait for the wake, grab this cold craft – it’s all the lubrication you need to be brave and tell a mate, your brother, the tribe, what they mean to you. It's a beautiful way to not only encourage another, but it opens the door to a conversation about life's sometimes bumpy road. Remember, eulogies are also for the living!
Origin – Uralla, New South Wales
Size- 375mL can
Style- Brown Ale
It seems we're swapping our lager for latte's in epidemic proportions, with data released recently showing that for the first time in Australia's history there are more coffee shops than pubs. It's the combined result of a café culture that is full of beans – with a new trendy shop opening on every other corner – while at the same time outback hotels are closing and inner-city watering holes get redeveloped. With people drinking less, and competition from Netflix and UberEats, it appears that the life of a publican is not easy. Add to that the economic hard times experienced by our small towns, many of them ravaged by drought, and it's not surprising that last drinks have been called on many country outposts at an even higher rate than their city counterparts - Birregurra's Royal Mail Hotel in country Victoria recently turned off it taps after 148 years of lubricating the locals.
Fortunately, there's a few that are determined to turn the tide. Ben Rylands, with a big heart for regional beer, is one of them. The seed was first sown over a Toohey's old in Uralla's Top pub (the Bottom pub is two doors down!) as he's grandfather shared stories of the times between 1885 and 1913 when the New England region of country NSW was home to not one, but four different breweries.
Though it took a decade or so, the seed sprouted in early 2013, with Ben pulling a local beer from the regions first commercial brewing operation in a hundred years. Choosing to open the brewery in a former wool store – fine wool being one of the backbones of the local economy – and putting a flying ram as its logo serves as permanent reinforcement that New England Brewing Co is firmly part of its region. With the help of head brewer Reid Stratton, who joined in 2014 having previously worked at Grand Teton in Idaho, New England has flourished. While there’s a core range of beers including a cracking pale ale and a refreshing lager that are used to thread themselves into both the surrounding regional communities and up and down the east coast, it is this Brown Ale that is Ben's signature beer. As a throwback to his granddad's love of dark ales, Ben has taken the best of a cold climate English Ale and adapted it to suit our sun-drenched nation. The result is a Brown full of classic flavours of caramel, chocolate, nuts and coffee, that are balanced by the Australia Willamette hops gentle bitterness.
At a restrained 4.5 per cent ABV, a mouthfeel mild and that easy-drinking sweetness, I'll pass on the almond cap, and stick with another of these cold ales!