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January 15, 2019

Two new made-for-summer beers from Vale Brewing and Fox Hat Brewery

After a brief hiatus from special releases, Vale Brewing and Fox Hat are back with two new summery brews.

  • Words and pictures: Johnny von Einem
  • L-R above: Fox Hat XPA and Vale Tropic Ale

You wouldn’t normally see a dual-release from Bickford’s-owned sister brewery labels Vale Brewing and Fox Hat, but head brewer Jeff Wright has been itching to get new beers into punters hands – the first since Fox Hat’s strawberry wheat ale 2018 GABS release.

Officially launched at an event at 23rd on Melbourne on Monday, 14 January, the release sees the Vale Tropic Ale and Fox Hat XPA join the breweries’ lineups.


Both beers can be found on tap at 23rd on Melbourne, the North Adelaide distillery door of Renmark spirits brand (and Bickford’s Group sibling), Twenty Third Street Distillery.

129 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide 5006

Wed-Thu: 4pm-12am
Fri-Sat: 11am-12am
Sun: 11am-11pm

“They’re both beers that have been in my head for a couple of years, to be honest,” Jeff says.

The Tropic Ale is designed to fit in the session ale category, sitting at 4.2 per cent ABV – lower than the standard Vale Range, but above their Mid Coast Bright Ale.

“It’s, for that range, one of those beers where you can knock quite a few back – responsibly of course – on a hot day like today, and not come unstuck,” Jeff says.

Lupulin powder, a yellow powder found in hop flowers, infuses the brew with “a melody of yellow tropical and summer stone fruits,” placing it in line with the current trend of flavour-forward beer releases.

The Fox Hat XPA sits at a higher ABV than its co-release, but still lower than the traditional Fox Hat range, at 5.6 per cent, with a golden tone in the glass belying its heft.

“A lot of people talk about XPAs but there’s not really a style guide for XPA, it’s more of a marketer’s style,” Jeff explains. “We are calling it an ‘extra pale’, which is what XPA is short for. It’s sort of a cross between that pale ale and an IPA category, so bigger than a pale ale but not as big as an IPA.”

Both beers are available now on tap at 23rd Street Distillery (along with the aforementioned strawberry wheat ale), and Tropic Ale will be rolling out into bars and bottle shops this week, with the XPA set for a later can release.

“We’ll get a bit of feedback from punters out there, see what people are thinking, a couple of tweaks until that one is finished,” Jeff says.

With the dust now settled after the Bickford’s buy out in late 2017, fans of the brewery can expect a steadier roll out of special releases.

“We’re looking at, between the ranges, we should be bringing out a new beer probably three or four times a year,” Jeff says.

“We’ve got a fairly diverse beer style knowledge, so it’s a matter of having a bit of a brainstorming session – which usually involves a few pints – and talking about what direction we want to be heading in for the next one.”

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