If you haven’t yet heard of Hawkers beer, I expect that’s going to change in the near future. Their brewery in Reservoir is apparently among the largest for craft beer producers in Australia and they’re led by the experienced hands of Mazen Hajjar, known for his Lebanese craft beer range 961, and restaurateur Joe Abboud, owner of Rumi and the Moor’s Head.
And most importantly, since they started appearing around the craft beer circuit earlier this year, the reaction to their beers has been overwhelmingly positive. I hadn’t had the chance to try their beers myself yet so when I saw the chance to sample their wares at a Good Beer Week event last Sunday alongside food from a personal favourite restaurant in the Moor’s Head, I jumped on it.
The Moor’s Head is a gourmet Middle Eastern pizza restaurant and they had four courses to match the four beers from Hawkers’ core range for the event. Mazen and Joe were also on hand at the event to provide some insight and stories behind the beers.
So how was the beer?
I think Joe summed up the Hawkers approach best when he noted their range is very much to-style, nothing crazy or out there, but still full-flavoured. This range sets them up perfectly to really crossover to the mainstream while also being a go-to favourite for craft beer lovers.
Their Pilsener is probably the beer you give to your non-craft beer drinking friends when they come over. It’s a Czech-style pilsener with a bit of bitterness at the finish but not too much.
Next up was the saison, which was my favourite of the range, it’s a traditional Belgian beer style that is gaining popularity for its versatility and drinkability. This one used a Belgian yeast from a small town on the French side, it gives off some lovely fruity esters but the beer remains nicely in balance, complex but sessionable, a saison at its best.
I wonder if this will be the first saison in Australia to truly become an everyday beer, available in multi-beer packs for a reasonable price all year round. I hope so as this would truly be a great go-to beer.
Following on was the Pale Ale, hoppy but not overly so with pleasant citrusy hops aromas. Joe explains that they used Citra instead of Galaxy because they couldn’t get their hands on the latter. All for the better for me as I find the overt fruitiness of the Galaxy a bit overbearing, and the bitter citrus notes of the Citra make a welcome replacement.
Finally, kicking things up a gear with more malt, more hops, more alcohol, is the IPA. It goes surprisingly well with the ricotta and honey calzone. I do like this amped-up beer myself but I might need to revisit this one at a later date with a cleaner palette.
All in all, the event was a great chance to try a top-class range from this exciting new brewery in Melbourne’s north-east. Along with the always top-notch food from the Moor’s Head, my belly went home plenty full and satisfied.
The balance and professional quality of the Hawker beers is a promising sign of things to come. I’ll be interested to try more of their beers as they expand their range starting with the Imperial Red Ale slated for the GABS festival and possibly an Imperial Schwarzbier on the way from the Good Beer Week masterclass at the brewery.