Thus Let Us Drink Beer – The Velvet Sledgehammer
If Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art – MONA is not of your bucket list of places to visit, we cannot be friends. Opened at the beginning of 2011, October of the same year saw my first visit and a love affair that has seen me return at least once a year as operations evolved, blossomed and branched out in a range of wonderful directions, with the core of its bars, cafés, restaurants, and accommodation, winery, cellar door and cemetery only being a few of them.
The inception of Moo Brew predates the museum and is an endeavour to create beer reminiscent of what David Walsh, the man behind MONA, found during his travels overseas. So, he built a brewery. Logical, right? Easy.
Not unlike everything that emanated around MONA, be it festivals or otherwise, the brewery became quickly Tasmania’s largest craft beer brewery and accumulated accolades internationally with kicked into overdrive when head brewer is Jack Viney took the reins to further refine the brewing process under the watchful eye of former head brewer Dave Macgill.
Now, one thing to look forward to every year during Australia’s winter is the annual emergence of Moo Brew’s legendary stout.
Truth be told, I am not much of a stout aficionado – too rich, too heavy and I prefer IPAs to complement boilermakers with heavily peated water of life.
However, as with nearly every of Moo Brew’s idiosyncratic emissions, it proved difficult to subdue smacking my lips once the “Velvet Sledgehammer” tickled the top of my mouth.
With Viney channelling his alchemy, it is everything one would expect from a well-made stout, i.e. it is dominated by syrup and roasted maltiness along with a higher ABV content, yet it is more delicate and much more drinkable than any other stout I’ve had so far. Velvety indeed with enough punch to justify the allusion to the sledgehammer.
Given that it will disappear in September, it is not further wondrous that beer lovers make a run for it and stack up on time, making it a coveted brew.
MONA is heavy on curated branding. There are not coincidences with what you will see emerge from the museum. A lot of thought has gone into every aspect and Moo Brew is not exception with its art making a statement as well.
Leigh Carmichael, now Creative Director of Dark Mofo, forged the idea to use John Kelly’s iconic series of paintings, which started off as a deliberate affront again the Australia Council for the Arts in a bid to counteract the commercialisation of art.
While the beer labels might look simple in nature at first sight, the different interpretations and embedding of the sun and kangaroo within different contexts, one of them being a reimagination paired with art from Sidney Nolan, makes it the perfect eye candy to adorn the Moo Brew cans and it elevates the drinking pleasure quite a bit.
Apart from the recently launched Club – which much to my annoyance sells out its limited-edition emissions within days, Moo Brew has an overly stylish merchandise collection which manages to strike a near perfect calibration between being striking and subtlety.