It is that wonderful time of the year when we are able to share a beer made entirely from ingredients grown and foraged in New South Wales.
This November when we release Waratah it is in reality a portion of our 2018 brew which spent additional time in barrel before packaging. The 2019 version of Waratah was brewed in March 2019 and will be released in 2020 and so on in years following. We made this decision about 2 years ago now and have been planning on it since... to allow Waratah to have a little additional time in oak before bottling and thus to hold back two barrels worth of the 2018 version to release in 2019. The 2017 and 2018 versions had about 3 months each in oak and we did not feel this was representing the best the beer could be. We held a small portion of 2017 back for another year, and released it in 2018 under the name 'Year Old 'Tah' and have essentially done the same for this 2019 release of the 2018 brew.
Waratah is a collaboration between Ryefield Hops (Bemboka, NSW), Voyager Craft Malt (Riverina, NSW), Batch Brewing Co (Sydney, NSW) and us.
Waratah '18 was brewed at Batch on 11 May 2018. Its grains were grown and malted in NSW by Voyager Craft Malt. In the boil we used Cascade and Fuggle hops grown and dried in Bemboka, NSW by Ryefield Hops. The wort was transferred to Wildflower where it underwent primary fermentation in stainless for 5 days.
The yeast we pitched was different than our usual house culture, which includes a strain native to Belgium. Instead, for Waratah we pitched a happy culture of yeasts that we had foraged from here in NSW. Since from when we started, we have kept the two cultures separate (the house culture and our native culture). The only beers we have made with this native culture so far have been Waratah 2017, Foudre Beer #1 and Waratah 2018.
After primary fermentation, the beer was transferred into a number of oak barrels. Three of them aged for 12 weeks and then were emptied and packaged in 2018 to make Waratah 2018. Two of the large, 300 litre hogsheads 1823 and 1825, however, we left and allowed them to age for 11 months. In early June, we racked the beer out and packaged it on 5 June 2019.
At release, it has super fruity aromas of melon and melon perfume combined with vinous characters of matchstick and oak. An attractive palate of mild citrus with accompanying stone fruit and earthy spice. Mild acidity highlights the savoury oak finish.
In many ways, Waratah epitomises our goals here at Wildflower. It is an agrarian beer, a product of the harvest conditions of each of the inputs. The recipe was built on what was grown here, not on what we could order from international malthouses and hop fields.
It’s also a celebration of friendship, of the growth of an industry and the continuation of the good fight of buying, living and brewing local. Beer is a beverage made for social gatherings and to share with friends. It is not pretentious and coveted. We love beer's place in society and a beer like Waratah helps remind us that it is really just beer at the end of the day.
The base beer is brewed entirely with New South Wales cereals, hops and yeast: Single Origin (S.O.) Riverina grown Schooner barley and Janz S.O. raw wheat from Voyager Craft Malt. S.O. Cascade and Fuggle hops grown in Bemboka, NSW. Finally, it was fermented with our native culture of foraged wild yeast and naturally occurring souring bacteria native to New South Wales. It was bottled on 5 June 2019 and naturally conditioned through refermentation for 22 weeks. At bottling it was 5.0% ABV, 23 IBU and 1.3°P (FG= 1.005 SG).
There are just under 500 bottles of Waratah 2018 available and due to this limited volume, it will only be available at the cellar door and our online shop and just a handful of our stockists.
Like all our beers, Waratah is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).