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Introducing Noel 2020

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We are excited to announce that Wildflower Noel 2020 will be available online and for tasting and take-away/collection at our cellar door from 12pm (Sydney time) on Friday 4 December.  

Noel is a festive Australian Wild Ale aged in ex-Muscat barrels, unspiced and made entirely of Voyager malts. First made in time for the 2018 holidays, this is one of the releases we most look forward to each year. I wanted something suitable for the table at Christmas lunch, something to pair with spiced ham, to share with family and friends. An occasional beer made specifically for that occasion.

This year we only have a single barrel of Noel to share, a mere 250 bottles. As our friends at Clonakilla winery were not able to make any estate wine this year because of prevalent smoke taint in their fruit, they did not make any muscat wine to fill their ongoing collection of muscat barrels. As a result, they did not have any empty barrels to share with us in the end. A little sad from our end, but completely understandable.

Instead, however, we did keep a single barrel back from our 2019 brew of of this beer to see how it would evolve over extended ageing. So for our 2020 Noel, we decided to bottle this whole barrel (not even a keg for cellar door) and offer it online and at cellar door exclusively. We have learned that many of you have come to love this release and have applied a 1 bottle per person limit on the purchase of it on both caller door and online purchases with the intention to spread these bottles to as many homes as possible this Christmas.

Noel is the only beer we have released to expressly name the type of barrels the beer was aged in. For pretty much all the rest of our beer, the barrel is a vessel, not a flavour additive... but this just had to be an exception. Noel 2020, as in the previous editions in 2018 and 2019, is aged in a single ex-Muscat barrel from Clonakilla Winery in Murrumbateman, NSW. 

The inspiration for Noel comes directly from a beer I once had in 2015. On a trip through Wallonia, I slipped across the border into France to visit Xavier Bailleux at his family brewery, Au Baron in Gussignies. I wrote about the trip on my old blog here if you want the whole story. While I was there, I tasted their Biere de Noel 'Saison Saint Médard' made in time for Christmas each year. Up until that point, I had never experienced such a flavour filled malt character in a beer. It wasn't sweet or cloying, just bursting with fresh red berries and dried fruit notes.

Noel 2020 at release shows an impressive balance for such a high ABV and rich beer. It is deep in flavour yet light on its feet. You can expect aromas of caramel, raisin, sweet oak and red fruits with chocolate, toffee and cherry flavours on the palate all coming to a pleasing finish that is neither sweet nor sour. A really beautiful beer.

The base beer was brewed entirely with New South Wales cereals from Voyager Craft Malt. It's grist is 99% Munich and 1% freshly roasted Chocolate malt. It was hopped with Saaz (CZ). Finally, it was fermented with our house culture: brewers yeast, foraged wild yeast and naturally occurring souring bacteria native to New South Wales. The 2020 edition spent over 18 months in barrel before being bottled on 30 September 2020 and naturally conditioned through refermentation for 9 weeks. At bottling it was 8.0% ABV, 23 IBU and 2.8°P (FG= 1.011 SG).

Noel 2020 is packaged in 750ml bottles and there are only 250 bottles in total available. We will make 150 bottles available online and 100 at our cellar door. Please note that due to the small amount available, there is a 1 bottle limit person. 

Like all our beers, Noel 2020 is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C). It will even be better at Christmas lunch.