Craft beer community group brews collab beer

Brewing beer for special occasions or corporates isn’t a new concept, but Maltnhops Brewhouse has gone a step further after teaming up with the Hunter Valley Beer Snobs.

The Snobs Red IPA launched on Friday 26th March, after members of the Hunter Valley Beer Snobs took over the Maltnhops brewhouse.

The Beer Snobs were founded in 2017 by Chris Rufus, after he noticed a dearth of groups for craft beer fans in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley regions – the latter being very much associated with wine – and it now has 1,600 members.

The project with Maltnhops is the latest initiative from the group, and saw Chris Rufus, Nick Davies, John Valentine and Nathan Sheppard head to the brewery and learn about brewing with the help of Maltnhops head brewer Dan Lindon.

“As beer lovers, we want to be as involved in the industry as we possibly can,” explained Valentine.

“I’ve seen collab beers done with bottleshops and online retailers before, but not with a group like us, and honestly, we never expected the idea to become anything more than a laugh between mates.

“To say we were stoked with Maltnhops were receptive to the idea would be an understatement.”

It also proved a learning moment for the Beer Snobs team.

“Learning about the process has just been a bonus, out of the four of us, only Chris has dabbled in home brewing, so it was amazing to see how things progress from an idea, to a recipe, to a brew day and finally to the finished product.

“The brew day was fantastic. Dan let us be as hands-on as possible, and even managed to get a few smiles out of us while we cleaned the mash tun, a job I am sure he was happy to delegate to someone else for the day.

“Dan took the time to speak about the level of chemistry behind brewing in detail, really showcasing his knowledge and passion for the craft.

“The biggest thing we all learnt though was just how much cleaning is involved. I think we all walked away with a newfound respect for the people who do this job day in, day out to create the beers we love to drink.”

The Beer Snobs’ Red IPA

Maltnhops Brewhaus was founded by local family Richard and Carol Gunther and their son Anthony in September 2018, and it has gone from strength-to-strength as a venue, as well as winning several medals at the 2020 Indies for its beers, brewed on a 20hL brewhouse from Honglin China.

“In addition to brewing our own brands, Maltnhops started contract brewing for several other small local brewing companies about 12 months ago, but have never embarked on a collaboration mainly because of other higher priorities around improving our own business efficiency,” explained Lindon.

“So, when John Valentine approached Maltnhops recently on behalf of his club with the concept we welcomed it with open arms. John and many members of the club are great local supporters of our brewery and beer and so that was a no-brainer.

“It was also nice making a connection directly with the drinkers who appreciate our beer and was a great way of tapping into the minds of the people who consume our beer, and finding out exactly what they like and want.”

As most good plans do, the collaboration started with a chat over a beer.

“I invited John and his fellow Hunter Valley Beer Snob admins in as the think tank for the beer’s development, they brought in a few of their favourite examples of the style, we tasted them and we went through developing the malt and hop profile for our version,” Lindon said.

It uses a New World hop, Zappa, one that Lindon said he had never brewed with before.

“When I looked it up and read through the specs I thought this was very unique and offered something that would really suit the style, with a combination of flavour characteristics that include passionfruit, mint, spice, and tropical fruits,” he said.

Hear the story of Zappa hop with this conversation with CLS Farms’ Eric Desmarais.

The Beer Snobs’ John Valentine said a big hoppy beer was a must for the group.

“Prior to the meeting with Dan at Maltnhops we had all agreed we wanted something with real punch to it, when he agreed and the recipe came out at 55 IBU, similar to the Maltnhops IPA, we knew we were on to a winner.,” he said.

But it wasn’t just the Beer Snobs who benefitted.

“I really love getting feedback on our beer, good, bad or indifferent,” explained Lindon.

“If you are not open to feedback you will never really know how good your brewing process and creative skills are.

“Collaborating with your drinkers, looking forward and developing a new beer is an excellent way of tapping into the minds of the very people who are responsible for keeping us in a job, doing what we love.

“We’ll certainly be up for it again, and it’s been a nice way to say thanks to the Hunter Valley Beer Snobs for their patronage, they’re a great bunch of passionate beer drinkers.”

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