Micro-brewer finds the key ingredient is snow

Posted by Editorial on 22nd July 2008

Snow beer
The first snow of the Australian ski season is many things to many people. A heavy fall of the prized white commodity is annually prayed for by devotees in the pursuit of fun – from snowboarding and skiing to throwing a fistful of it at your unsuspecting mate. Rarely is it used as an ingredient to brew beer.

That’s exactly what has happened, however, as Snowy Mountains Brewery founder Kevin O’Neill used his first snow sighting at Charlotte Pass in late June to good effect, stocking up on the precious resource for his first batch of beer since the start of new snow season.

The ritual will become an annual event for Mr O’Neill. “It’s like a good luck charm I guess. The snow season is the best part of the year for me and I want to mark each new season by adding a bucket or two of the first white powder into my next batch of beer,” he said. “The first snow of the season is very symbolic for me, it almost marks a new season for the beer. If you’re drinking one of our styles with a batch date marked July, you are likely to be drinking some of Charlotte Pass’ finest.”

O’Neill was inspired to start his own brewery after he took refuge in a Snowy Mountains resort watering hole after a day on the slopes four years ago. Since then he has propelled the label into one of the country’s most respected micro-beer producers, winning national awards and critical acclaim at a time when some of the category leaders have been battling to ignite static sales of a few of their most popular brands.

The increased costs due to higher barley and fuel prices has seen great consolidation in the industry recently, epitomised by InBev’s recent acquisition of Anheuser-Busch. And, while some of the market leaders have been streamlining operations, a select number of micro-brewers have begun to make their mark.