When you have earned a beer, (really earned it) out on the trail; you’ve sweated and battled the mud and the rain, that first beer tastes infinitely superior to every other beer, ever.
You walk into your local bar, legs heavy, cleats clopping on the floor. You order your first beer from the bartender with the Midas touch. That first golden sip almost hurts it’s so cold. It passes your crevassed lips and crackles down your throat making your eyes water. You let out an involuntary satisfied sigh, a big smile fills your face and you are pulled – all too soon – from the moment as laughter fills the room and you look up to see Steve pouring his own beer, messing it up completely and proceeding to spoon foam from his glass with a teaspoon.
It’s these moments we work hard for in the cold winter months. We want you to join us for a post ride beer (well, sort of) and try some locally crafted favourites that we have enjoyed this winter.
In no particular order...
Sweetwater Brewing – Bright, VIC
Weissbier (5% ABV)
Don’t let the cloudy hue of this classic Belgian style wheat beer fool you: there is nothing wrong with the water used in its creation. In fact, the crystal clean mountain water that flows from the Kiewa River is what gives Sweetwater Brewing its name (Kiewa translates to Sweetwater in the local Indigenous tongue), and what enables their brewers to create such clean and complex brews.
That cloudiness you see comes from the high proportion of malted wheat used in the mix. Sweetwater’s Weissbier is crafted in the classic Hefeweizen style meaning it must be top fermented and unfiltered – no yeast was harmed in the making of this beer, sort of… After a crisp winter’s ride, Wiessbier served cold has a surprisingly warming effect, and is known to convert even the most adamant non-beer drinker to its gloriously wheat-driven ways.
What we taste
We taste banana! True to a classic Wiessbier style, Sweetwater has created a delicious, creamy wheat beer that isn’t so heavy that you couldn’t knock back a couple.
Kosciuszko Brewing Co. – Snowy Mountains, NSW
Kosciuszko Pale Ale (4.5% ABV)
This one has been a favourite among the BikeExchange team for a while now.
Crafted high in the Snowy Mountains, this beer is made to be enjoyed by the outdoor adventurer. The hop to malt ratio has been developed based on feedback from skiers who were after a craft a beer that goes down easy after a big day on the slopes. But it would go down equally well when the snow has melted away and the mountain bikers move in…
A mountain beer for mountain bikers: we always look forward to a well-earned Kusciuszko after riding the trails.
What we taste
Medium bodied and fairly low on hops, the Pale ale is balanced to refresh. Fruity but malted enough to retain body, the Kosciuszko Pale Ale is a true reward when you’re covered in mud and sweat.
Bright Brewery – Bright, VIC
Fainters Dubbel (8.5% ABV)
The Fainters Dubbel is aptly named, a drop that has taken more than a few hasty punters by surprise.
A style developed by the Trappist monks at Westmalle Abbey in Belgium, the ‘Dubbel’ (or double) has gone through many changes since its inaugural release in 1856. Originally a light gold, sweet-ish beer, the style grew in body and in alcohol content. Perhaps the monks were just bored, but more than likely they realised that they could develop more complex characteristics through an extended brewing process.
Bright Brewery's Fainters Dubbel is not actually named for its ability to catch the unwitting drink unawares. Their head brewer was rather inspired by his paragliding adventures, soaring above the Fainters’ peaks that can be seen looming in the distance, just beyond Bright.
What we taste
You might only have one of these before moving on to something else, but you are sure to enjoy the brew. Perfect on a cold day, we tasted caramel, spices and honey. The high ABV definitely showed towards the end. We reckon it would be great after a big roast dinner (and a big mountain bike ride).
Stone & Wood – Byron Bay, NSW
Pacific Ale (4.4% ABV)
If you have ever been to Byron Bay, you almost certainly spent a good portion of your time bathing and rolling around in the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
S&W’s Pacific Ale has become an Australian classic, staying true to the values of the Byron Bay community with big honest flavour, and a natural brewing process to boot.
Their Pacific Ale isn’t pasteurised or filtered; two processes that are common in brewing, but that can kill some of the flavour in the final product. The folks at S&W want you to taste the same product they taste from the barrel at the brewery and so they pour it straight from the vat into kegs and bottles to head out on the road to your anticipatory lips.
That yeast you see at the bottom of the bottle tells the tale of its creation. Just make sure you give the beer a gentle roll to help it recombine before opening.
What we taste
The Pacific Ale holds true its name, with tropical fruit flavours like passionfruit coming through. Super refreshing for an ale…this might be the only beer you drink all night.
Moo Brew – Bridgewater, TAS
Dark Ale (5% ABV)
Cold winter weather is synonymous with big hot meals and big beers too. We couldn’t talk about winter and beers without including a Dark Ale in the mix, and Moo Brew’s is surely one of Australia’s best.
Not quite as hop loaded as some American Brown Ales, Moo Brews Dark Ale manages to retain the weighty caramel and coffee characteristics of an American Brown without being so intense as to turn away the inexperienced dark beer drinker. It’s a beer balanced artfully, made by a Brewery with a unique historical connection to Australian art.
Moo Brew was originally located at MONA, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art. The connection lives on even though the brewery has since expanded operations to other sites. Every label features original artwork created by Australian artist John Kelly in response to his famous sculpture series that included such works as “Cow up a Tree.”
Enjoy on solid ground with caramel, chocolate or coffee-based desserts; aged cheeses and smoky grilled white meats (so once the ride’s well and truly over and you’re ready for dinner, basically).
What we taste
Chocolate, coffee...toasted wintry goodness. It was a bit big for some of us, but we all agreed, this beer screams winter. A great beer to get the taste buds rolling, or to finish up after dessert.
See also: Three top tips to help keep you upight
Burleigh Brewing Co. – Burleigh Heads, QLD
Big Head ‘No-Carb’ Lager (4.2% ABV)
You’re rolling your eyes thinking “it might be low on calories, but where is the flavour!?”
That was my thought too until I tried Burleigh Heads' Big Head lager. They won’t say exactly how they did it, but they actually made a beer with no carbs and with only 88 calories in each 300ml bottle. That’s 51 calories less than a can of coke – and definitely more delicious. A session beer like no other, you won’t have (quite) the level of guilt you would after a pint of Guinness, and it won’t weigh you down as much as the infamous loaf of bread-beer. Maybe you didn’t work so hard on the trail today, or maybe you skipped the ride altogether – this is the beer for you.
What we taste
A controversial beer to be sure. It’s hard for some of the purists to accept the no-carb concept, but we had to admit, if we were training hard for a race and still wanted to enjoy a post ride beer without the guilt, the Big Head is a no brainer.
Little Creatures – Fremantle, WA
Perhaps one of the most iconic breweries in all of Australia, Little Creatures has fuelled many a frivolity since they first released their Pale Ale to the Australian market in 2001.
It was the Pale Ale that won them their fans, but their exploration into new styles and crafting techniques that keeps the masses coming back. Little Creatures Pilsner is the perfect example: a refreshing twist on the European style lager, they use a combination of Australian and Kiwi hops to create a clean, bitter, eye-watering refreshing lager that is sure to cool you down after a hard slog up the trail.
A favourite among the team, the Pilsner kicks in a good way. Crisp, bright, and bitter enough to make you want to crack another one. This one is good all year round.