It's spring! Time for botanic garden picnics, Phenergan milkshakes, To the Manor Born repeats and long, boozy lunches. You're going to need beer for all this, so here are 10 new(ish) releases from Australian brewers that are perfect for riding shotgun through the sunshowers.
Balter Brewing Company, XPA, 5% ABV
The Gold Coast brewery founded by Mick Fanning and fellow pro-surfer mates came charging out of the gate with its first release in March. This American-style pale ale has Passio Nectar popper and fresh mowed lawn on the nose (fitting, because one of these cans would be super after a round with the whipper snipper) with hints of allspice and a clean bitterness on the finish. I feel jabbering on about all this is missing the point, though. Crack another tin and turn up the Oils.
Best with: a post-surf shower and Double J; ceviche and a healthy squeeze of lime.
Stone & Wood, Green Coast, 4.7% ABV
So fresh. So clean. The perfect spring beer. Stone & Wood is surrounded by the hills of NSW's northern rivers, and you can taste their lushness in this lager. There's balanced malt, a soft finish and a bit of hop on the nose but nothing silly. You know that part of a coastal road trip that dances between rainforests and the beach? That's this beer, and it's immensely drinkable.
Best with: rolling mountains and Radio National; minestrone soup and home-made pesto.
Feral Brewing Company, Ace of Base, 8.3% ABV
This West Australian hop whopper has big whiffs of Mountain Dew (the soft drink, not the Wordsworth line) with wildflowers and paperbark burning in the distance. Taste-wise it's all lemon and lime thanks to Sorachi Ace hops and there's a good whack of bitterness on the tail end. I would bloody love this in an ice-cold lagerita.
Best with: scallops a la plancha; an after-lunch spell under your favourite tree.
Bridge Road Brewers, Biere de Wilde, 7.6% ABV
Sweet Christmas. The legends at this Beechworth brewery have teamed up with local winemakers to create two beers fermented on wild chardonnay yeast. Each brew was inoculated with yeast from either A. Rodda or Sorrenberg vineyards and it's best to taste both in the same session. Wild yeast is wonderful thing. The Sorrenberg is big on boysenberry, while the A. Rodda ferment smells nutty, thick, ancient and sticky with smacks of sherbert and a ting of celery. Complex, delicate, untamed beasts.
Best with: a sweet and heady summer night; aged comte and oatcakes.
Two Metre Tall, A Farmer's Resilience and the Seven Year Itch, 6.4% ABV
I've made sure most of the beers here can be tracked down in most states without too much trouble, but you might need luck finding this wild and sour concoction out of Van Diemen's Land. Strike gold and bask in a wealth of springtime flavours. We're talking grapefruit, plum, heather and lavender along with old barnyards and dusty roads. A Farmer's Resilience was matured in bottles for seven years and decanted into oak barrels before re-fermentation, but not all of brewer Ashley Huntington's creations take such a long kip. Keep an eye out for other Two Metre Tall releases and grab 'em whenever you can.
Best with: Banjo Paterson and a free afternoon; Cabot clothbound cheddar and a whisky chaser.
Exit Brewing, Saison, 6.2% ABV
This balanced Melbourne brew has a similar lemon-lime profile to Feral's Ace of Base, which probably has a lot to do with both beers using Sorachi Ace hops. There are aromas of wet grass and dried apricot, with Allen's banana lollies and dulce de leche on the palate. A big, sexy slice of banoffee pie, really, with pleasant bitterness and a toasty aftertaste.
Best with: hay-baked lamb and salsa verde; spring rain and the Go-Betweens.
Moo Brew, Single Hop Can, 4.8% ABV
A Tassie pale ale that gives VB a run for its money when you want a smashable beer on a blistering day. It's brewed with one malt (Tasmanian pale) and one hop (Enigma, grown not far from the brewery) for a clean, straight-shooting bitterness. It reminds me of my favourite crisp and pure brews from Japan. As the can warms up you'll find aromas of orange peel, passionfruit icing and melon show their hand, but bollocks to that. Smash this tall-boy straight from the Esky.
Best with: a jetty and your toes in the water; fried chicken and one-day cricket.
Prancing Pony Brewery, Magic Carpet, Midnight Ride, 9% ABV
"Wot, wot? An imperial stout in spring? I say, old bean, you're off your rocker." Except I really love eating South Australian oysters in spring, and nothing pairs better with oysters than stout (sorry, champagne). This malty Adelaide Hills concoction is the perfect partner for a briny dozen of fresh-shucked Pacifics, thanks to an initial zap of warm alcohol that mellows to a sweet finish. The nose is all coffee, chocolate and typical stoutness with a shadow of licorice. Sip this meaty thoroughbred slowly.
Best with: bourbon-spiked Bonox; fresh Pacific oysters and the smallest dash of Tabasco.
Collins Street Brewing Company, Once Bitter, 4.5% ABV
The media release for this Melbourne "urban ale" (which seems to be a cross between a Belgian blonde and Australian golden ale) says it's a "celebration of our great city, a tribute to the laneway culture and a blend of the old and new". I don't know about any of that. It just tastes like beer to me. And a fair dinkum, thirst-quenching Aussie beer at that. There are notes of mango and pawpaw on the turn, but this is all about crisp bitterness and maximum refreshment. Get in, pals.
Best with: a fishing rod and old mates; Jatz and French onion dip.
Red Hill, Wild Cherry, 6% ABV
For Red Hill's 10th anniversary, the Mornington Peninsula brewery created a beer for each year of its existence. This wild-fermented, tarty saison is the series' ninth release, and made with locally sourced, hand-pressed cherries (Red Hill sits on land that was a cherry orchard in a former life, you know). The cherry stones manifest themselves in almond flavour fun times while farmhouse funk leads to a happy, bitter finish.
Best with: hot-smoked trout and walnut bread; fresh apricots and a picnic rug.