The overwhelming bulk of beer sold in Australia is brewed in the lager style, and ideally suited for quenching thirsty palates on a hot summer’s day. Look beyond the mainstream offerings though, and a host of boutique producers are revisiting the centuries-old technique of brewing traditional ales, which tend to offer more complex malt characteristics than their hop-driven lager cousins.

Most ales respond well to being served a few degrees warmer than lager, in fact over-chilling can actually mask many of the more desirable attributes of the brew.

Some ales mature over time, although any improvement is slight compared to the more apparent benefits of bottle-ageing wine.

With the full force of winter upon us, relaxing in front of a warm fire with a pint of ale is one of life’s simpler pleasures.


Coopers Sparkling Ale, 5.8 per cent.

It’s often said that Coopers Sparkling Ale will put hairs on your chest, which may partly explain why it isn’t the beverage of choice for many members of the fairer sex. Available either bottled or on tap, Sparkling Ale has a rich, yeasty taste with a slightly bitter finish. The trademark cloudy appearance may be off-putting for some.

Wineglass Bay Brewing, Hazards Ale, 5.2 per cent.

The side project of Freycinet Vineyard winemaker Claude Radenti, Hazards Ale provides a refreshingly different alternative to commercial Australian beers. A lighter European ale in style, Hazards is brewed in accordance with German purity laws which prohibit the use of any ingredients other than barley, malt, hops and yeast. Smooth malt flavours dominate, with a clean, crisp finish. It’s lovely chilled, and not bad at all served at room temperature.

– Tom Ellison

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