Founded in West Australia’s Swan Valley in 2006, Mash began as a tiny operation that has gradually crept its way across Australia. Different styles of beer are brewed in different breweries, from the original Swan Valley site, to Bunbury, Rockhampton in Queensland and Thornbury here in Melbourne. Joining forces with Melbourne’s own 3 Ravens, Mash’s beers are about to hit town in a big way.
Head brewer Charlie Hodgson says he’s a “bit of a traditionalist” who likes to brew old-school styles with new varieties of hops. While the wheat and barley used in the beer comes from Australia, some hard-to-get hops are sourced from the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Germany.
Hodgson uses such ingredients to make a broad selection of craft beers. Mash’s standard selection comprises The Freo Doctor (an easy drinking pale lager), West Coast Wheat (a Hefeweizen) and the Mash Pale Ale (a hoppy pale ale).
Hodgson also regularly puts together a range of specialty brews, which currently include the Contender (a black I.P.A.), Rye the Hop Not? (a rye E.S.B.), the Deville (a smoked amber ale), Tank 8 (a Belgian farmhouse ale) and Koffee Stout (a dry Irish coffee stout).
He believes that Australia’s interest in craft beer is only just beginning, pointing out that while Australian’s overall beer consumption is falling, people are drinking more craft beer than ever before. “The selection of beers available in bars and bottle shops is ever increasing, and represents a huge shift towards diversity in flavour,” says Hodgson.
“As these drinkers are becoming more experimental with their decision making process, more and more pubs, bars and retailers are responding to the demands of their customers. If the craft beer revolution in the U.S. is anything to go by, I can't see this momentum stopping anytime soon.”
Most recently, the brewer devised a bunch of brews that feature the work of local artists for the Illustrated Ales series. The first off the line, Challenger India Pale Ale features illustrator Nick Young’s bare-knuckled boxer adorning the bottle, which Hodgson thinks is a perfect interpretation of the beer.
“With English I.P.A.s being around for so long and being overshadowed by the U.S. interpretations, we thought that this would be a great challenge for us,” says Hodgson. “It comes with subtle, yet complex malts supporting a reasonably new English hop that delivers wonderful orange and apricot aromas with a firm bitterness.”
Diners at the Middle Park Hotel’s Beast and Beer event will be able to sample a wide range of both Mash brews, plus beers from their sister brewery, 3 Ravens.
While there will be a number of beers on offer, Hodgson’s hot tip for matching beer with beast is their Challenger I.P.A. (a personal favourite) and perhaps their unusual, but delicious Smoke Beer.
“The Challenger's stone fruit-like qualities will add a lovely fruitiness to the dish, while the bitterness of the beer will help cut through the richness of the slow-cooked beast,” Hodgson explains. “And, the bacon-like qualities of our Smoke Beer will give depth to the flavours brought out by the way the lamb’s cooked.”
Middle Park Hotel’s Beast and Beer dinner, featuring locally sourced, spit-roasted, rare-breed meats, with Mash and 3 Ravens brews, kicks off at midday Sunday June 16 – $45 for a set menu and a five-beer flight.