The Uraidla Hotel’s next-door bakery and cafe has been a pit stop for Hills residents and passers-by since late last year. The recently up-and-running brewery – under the same roof – rounds out the trio.
Head brewer Oscar Matthews has a few years at Pirate Life and California’s SLO Brew under his belt. “What I’ve tried to do is take some of the technology the bigger breweries use to get that same quality beer,” he says of the “mid-size” operation. “It’s all about consistency.”
Earlier this year, before the brewery was operational, Matthews brewed his first beer by contract. The Third Eye pale ale has an earthy flavour that “reflects the [Uraidla] area … floral, aromatic and a little bit of white pepper on the nose,” he says.
Now he brews everything on-site. Watch the brewery’s cogs turn through massive panes of glass while you sip a coffee in the cafe, then head next door to the pub for a pint or tasting paddle.
“There’s so much focus on big American hops at the moment,” Matthews says. His Half Moon session ale uses “new-school” German hops for a zesty, “smashable” result. His tropical-fruit-flavoured classic American IPA – Old Ones – is “pine-y, citrusy and quite dry … as it should be.”
If you’re wondering about the names: “Uraidla has a bit of a witchcraft-y, pagan following,” Matthews says. “[Owner Julie Peter] came up with the idea of naming our beers around that.”
It’s dark-beer-drinking weather right now. But, “Up here, even in peak summer, people are drinking stout,” Matthews says. His year-round version accounts for that. “We didn’t want anything too high in alcohol ‘cause if you want to have a few stouts in summer it’s too full on.”
The pale ale, session ale, IPA and stout are the core four. Bolder styles come in limited releases. At the moment, there’s a rich-and-creamy eight-per-cent imperial stout and an American amber ale – “a sessionable winter beer,” says Matthews. There’s a double-IPA and a porter upcoming.
“I want to try and bring a lot of people up here, and build a bit of a following,” says Matthews, though he eventually plans to lock down a few taps in town. Takeaway growlers are in the works, too.