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Thus Let Us Drink Beer - Hop Nation & Cronulla Beer Co.

It must have been a couple of years ago that while on a quest to quench my hankering for a hopped out beer, I came across one of Hop Nation’s delicious emissions the first time. I remember that obviously the name, the label design and the overall way Hop Nation presented itself caught my eye and luckily their first IPA, The Fiend, did not disappoint on the flavour front either, which started an on-going interest in the brewery.

After refining their approach and a period of gypsy brewing, Hop Nation eventually set up their own shop in Melbourne, which was the starting point for a journey that eventually established them firmly on the firmament of Australian quality craft beer breweries with their focus firmly set on the creation of hop forward styles, centred around the experimentation with quality ingredients and minimal filtration.

With the Hop Nation founders having a pedigree in winemaking and a curious interest in experimenting, over the years a diverse array of barrel aged brews were given birth to as a side projects under the moniker Site Fermentation Project, which also saw the release of idiosyncratic beer-wine hybrids and fermented brews.

Hop Nation’s over-the-top hazy hop-hash informed tour de force that is the juicy and citrusy J Juice and the pale gold, grapefruity The Chop, which is informed by the best of what the quartet of Ella, Cascade, Simcoa and Mosaic hops have to offer, along with their take on a traditional American red ale, The Buzz, have become a reliable staples in my fridge

Apart from consistently knocking things out of the park with their hop-centric releases, it was interesting to see Hop Nation branch out into sour beer styles, the first of which I experienced via their refreshingly salty, delicately acidic and passionfruity The Punch, which is a Teutonic-styled mango gose in nature and proved to be a perfect companion to be teamed up with a wee dram of Port Charlotte.

I have to admit that when I first learned about Hop Nation diversifying their offerings via the Ray Seltzer brand, I was a bit sceptical as carbonated water combined with alcohol and fruit flavouring does not exactly sound like an exciting proposition, however, with their natural brewing approach and reliance on real fruit, it makes for a refreshing tipple, especially when one feels like accommodating the urge to indulge during the earlier hours of the day.

Apart from the way Hop Nation is expertly channelling their alchemy in the realm of brewing and fermentation, their meticulous attention to detail not only can be experienced via the artful presentation of their drink range, but also with the creation of their top notch merchandise, which both in terms of designs but also the quality of their garments aligns with their quality approach.

Cronulla Beer Co.

We have covered a myriad of Australian craft beer distilleries from all necks of the woods of terra australis, however, an area that was not necessarily on my radar in the brewing department was Sydney’s Sutherland Shire.

All the more exciting it was to see a brewery pop up that fully embraces the DNA of the place and channels the local vibes into their interpretations of hoppy nectars, which to culminates in a liquid, fun- and flavour filled equivalent to what Cronulla and its beaches stand for – an ethos that also expands to the branding and their high quality merch range, which given the stylish components it is based on, should be more than well received both by beer aficionados as well as folks a bit more invested in what garments they invest in.

Having initially started out with a core range of four beers, i.e. XPA, mid-strength, a lager and a pale ale, my current favourite expressions are Cronulla’s Next Level XPA, which is essentially based on an NEIPA by transforming the grain bill and hop schedule, and their Pavlovian response evoking Ultra Hazy IPA, both of which are lipsmackingly great and dangerously more-ish due to the slightly higher ABV content.

Especially with the Ultra Hazy IPA, Cronulla Brewing Co demonstrates that they are naturals when it comes to expertly calibrating the finer nuances of subtleties, which are often overshadowed by lesser releases in the current haze craze breweries find themselves competing in.

Cronulla’s Ultra Hazy IPA is a beautiful union of solid and liquid, resulting in flavour that you can see, with each ingredient contributing to the haze without running danger of cancelling the impact of other ingredients out.

An example par excellence for the best one could hope for when merging the triumvirate of protein-rich grains, yeast activity, and hefty hop additions, which results in a foggy brew that one would be hard pressed to distinguish from a class of orange juice as far as appearance is concerned, and thereby representing the provenance and natural hues of Cronullaand its surroundings.


T • February 16, 2022

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