Beer. For the people, by the people. That is the M.O. of the Hunter Valley’s latest brewing enterprise - Malt ‘n Hops Brewhaus - located just off the M1 in the Freeway Business Park, Beresfield.
“When we started, we would brew three or four different versions of a particular beer style, like a pale ale or an IPA or something, and then put them through the taps and ask for feedback on the beers from our mates and customers,” says Lucas Cattell, operations manager at Malt ‘n Hops. “Pretty much every beer we now make has been picked for taste by our customers.”
It’s a fairly novel approach to brewing – letting the people decide.
“We can have our own opinions on what we like, as beer drinkers, but it might not align with what our customers want,” Cattell says. “We get a lot of tradies coming in for a drink after they knock off, and most of those blokes don’t enjoy the hoppy styles of beer. We want to make a beer for them to enjoy.”
Malt ‘n Hops Brewhaus is the latest in a cavalcade of small start-up breweries that are making waves in the Hunter. The team is Cattell, bar and sales manager Cameron McDonald, and brewer Craig Upton.
Upton got his brewing start at the nano-sized River Port Brewery in Morpeth alongside Dave Allen, but has since graduated to the role of head brewer at Malt ‘n Hops after completing a Certificate III in micro brewing.
“I used to do a bit of home brewing before getting the opportunity to work with Dave at River Port, and now I’ve progressed onto here,” Upton says.
“It’s going to be a challenge, brewing on a bigger system, but the principles are the same; you’re still mashing for an hour, boiling for an hour, that sort of thing, It’s just on a larger scale.”
The brand new system includes a 2000-litre brew house and 2000-litre fermentation and conditioning tanks. The system is able to produce up to 22,000 litres of beer per week.
The plan is to sell the Malt ‘n Hops beers through bottle shops and pubs around the region, plus online, and, of course, direct from the tank to the glass to anyone who visits the brewery’s tap room.
“We have around 11 beers on tap at any one time, including eight from our core range, plus a few experimental or trail brews we’ll be doing from time to time,” Cattell says.
“I’ve been working on a strawberry blonde ale, which came about off the back of the needle in the strawberries thing,” Upton says. “I wanted to do something to support the farmers, so we bought a whole heap of strawberries, cut them up and mashed them and put them into a blonde ale, which will be great for summer.”
Malt ‘n Hops Brewhaus beers are available on tap in the Brewhaus tap room and in bottles, and soon in cans as well.
Beer for the people, by the people. Prost!
Malt ‘n Hops Brewhaus, Unit 10/26 Balook Dr, Beresfield. Open daily noon-8pm. 0444 537 490