Tasmanian brewer Ashley Huntington is imbuing the amber fluid with vintage character.

Story by Therese Hall

Ashley Huntington pulls one of the four hand pumps at the ‘Farm Bar’ on his Derwent Valley property in Tasmania, pouring beer brewed from barley and hops that he and his wife and business partner, Jane, have grown on site. “We grow the ingredients, turn them into beer and sell it the way we want to,” he says. 

The Huntingtons have taken pause from their busy cropping, brewing, bottling and delivery schedule to share a drop with ale aficionados at their Two Metre Tall brewery (named after Ashley’s tall stature) as they do every Friday afternoon. “We don’t put a big sign on the gate,” Jane says. “People just seek us out.”

It’s just three years since the Huntingtons converted the corrugated-iron shearing shed on their 600-hectare former sheep property into a brewery, but already word is spreading about their ‘real ales and ciders’. Consumers are lapping up the brewery’s flavoursome range of ales and ciders (an apple and a pear cider, otherwise known as a perry or poire), all featuring wine-like batch-to-batch variations. “If beer is going to achieve what it can – which is become a major beverage to be put with food – you’ve got to have textures, colours and aromas that we can match with it,” Ashley says.

The Huntingtons’ insistence on elevating the importance of flavour is giving them an edge in the rapidly expanding craft-beer sector. “It’s like the Australian wine industry in the 1970s – the flower is opening up,” Ashley says. “All of a sudden your ‘average Joe’ has discovered that there’s more to beer than Fosters and Crown Lager.”

The Two Metre Tall Company is being hailed as one of the most exciting small brewing operations in the country, attracting industry attention for applying small-winemaker thinking to beer production. As a former winemaker, Ashley describes himself as an accidental brewer who is learning as he goes. “It’s the most liberating thing I’ve ever done because I’m driven by my fascination,” he says. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #79

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2011