by Sarah Halfpenny
A nice cold drink in the heat of an Australian summer is one of life’s simple pleasures, and can also feel like absolute luxury. The simple clink of ice in a glass can make memories from past holidays or long gone childhood days resurface in an instant.
In 2020, our drinks of choice are a little more refined than the soft drink or cordial we coveted as kids, and the range we have to choose from exceeds anything we could have dreamt up a few decades ago.
We’ve scoured the country to find some unique craft drinks to keep you a happy sipper over next few months.
With a tagline of ‘think different, drink different’, Dainton Brewery have certainly allowed their customers to tick that box! Known for their inventiveness and for pushing boundaries when it comes to flavours, this craft brewery in the Melbourne suburb of Carrum Downs has really been making a name for itself ever since father and son team, Dan and Kev Dainton, launched it in 2013.
Even if you’re not a fan of beer, it’s fun trying their innovative brews. Some of their more creative beers currently include: ‘Maple Bacon Ice Cream Pancake Ale’, ‘Nutters Choc Peanut Butter Stout’, ‘Kinky Cola Black Cherry Cola Sour’, ‘Shellraiser Oyster Kilpatrick Stout’, and ‘Easy Peasy Lemonade Sour’.
For the purists, they also have a traditional core range, featuring the likes of six well-known styles: Pale, IPA, XSA, Draught, Blood Orange New England Rye IPA and Red Eye Rye.
If you can’t find a stockist near you, the good news is they offer sales via their website.
We’ve certainly come a long way since the days when beer choices were limited to Fosters, XXXX and Carlton Draught, and ‘upmarket’ meant a Crown Lager!
Etch Sparkling (non alcoholic)
Australia has long had a reputation as a drinking nation, with alcohol front and centre at most social gatherings. Bubbling their way onto the scene like one of their refreshing beverages comes Etch Sparkling, to help non-drinkers and those on a health kick feel more included in occasions where alcohol dominates.
Etch Sparkling was founded by husband and wife Jason and Andy Quin, who hail from the picturesque Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Jason and Andy are passionate about the principles of good health and inclusion, which led to the production of this high quality, non-alcoholic beverage aimed at adults.
Utilising uniquely Australian plants – including lemon myrtle, finger lime, Davison plum, Strawberry Gum, and riberry – they have no preservatives and no artificial anything!
Currently offering three varieties, there’s no sugar in their ZST (citrus) and PLM (berry) beverages, and only natural honey sugars in the ever-so-slightly sweet HNY.
So next time you’ve got a function on and want to feel included, pour some Etch Sparkling in a tall glass loaded with ice and a garnish … because let’s face it, drinking Coke and Fanta just doesn’t cut it anymore!
Yes, it definitely sounds weird but this didn’t win the World’s Best Vodka at the 2018 World Vodka Awards for nothing!
Hartshorn Distillery is a fairly new Tasmanian micro distillery making boutique batches of vodka and gin from their own sheep whey – in fact they’re the first in the world to create this unique product and we can confirm from personal experience that it’s amazing, with an almost custard-y aftertaste.
Each bottle is from a very small batch of just 80-120 bottles and is like an artwork in itself – they’re hand-sprayed black, with the label handwritten and featuring head distiller Ryan Hartshorn’s signature.
Ryan and his family also run Grandvewe Cheeses in Birchs Bay, located deep in Tasmania’s south. When making cheese, the whey is often discarded, so Ryan spent two years discovering how to convert the complex sugars held within the whey protein into basic sugars to then ferment into alcohol and eventually distil. The resulting distillate has a delicately sweet bouquet and extremely smooth finish, thanks to the dairy influence and traditional ageing methods.
Designed to drink straight at room temperature, the best way to serve yourself the Hartshorn Sheep Whey vodka is on its own in a large aromatic glass, or as a vodka martini with a pair of quality green olives. We’ve enjoyed it both ways and can’t pick a favourite yet. Guess we’ll just have to keep on trying!
Archie Rose whiskey
Led by master distiller Dave Withers, this Sydney-based business – and Australia’s most highly awarded distillery – are probably best known for their gins and vodkas, but part of the plan from the very beginning, and what most people wouldn’t realise, is that they’ve been distilling and laying down casks of whisky since Archie Rose started in 2014.
The Archie Rose team work with local grain growers and local malting houses to source as many of their malts as possible from New South Wales, and ensure wherever possible that they don’t have to buy internationally.
As the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait”. In the case of Archie Rose, the wait for their distilling equipment to be built was exactly 364 days from when they commissioned a craftsman to create their three stills, using the highest purity copper shipped in from Europe then hand-hammered to their exact specifications.
Their patience appears to have paid off though, with their newly released whisky winning several awards, including the World’s Best Rye Whisky at the World Whisky Masters in London, and the World’s Best Unaged Whisky at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition last year.
As the long days of summer stretch out before you, there are worse ways to spend your time than savouring some of these delicious Australian-made craft beverages. After all, according to chemistry, no matter what your situation, drinks are a solution …