Beechworth brewer designs florally pink beer to help raise money for regional cancer centre

There is a real art behind brewing beer, especially when standard ales or lagers just do not make the cut anymore.

Beechworth brewer James Dittko has experimented with many flavours and come up with a number of distinctive creations including a wasabi beer and BBQ chicken beer.

So far, he said there has not been a creation he did not liked the taste of.

“Once you understand the science of beer and how different chemicals react in the beer you know what you can and can’t add,” Mr Dittko said.

One of Mr Dittko’s latest creation is a pink beer made from the hibiscus flowers.

Pink beer

Bridge Road Brewers, where Mr Dittko is head brewer, teamed up with Albury’s Beer DeLuxe to raise funds for the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre and awareness for breast cancer.

“We wanted to make it that famous Cancer Council pink,” Mr Dittko said.

“Then it was about trying to find something that was a bit different to usual.”

He said there have been many raspberry and strawberry-infused beers in the past that create a pink colour, so the aim was to do something different.

“I thought it would work well and knew the flavours that it created and went from there,” he said.

Creating the perfect beer

Typically when making beer malted grain, such as barley and wheat, are combined.

This is then broken up and mixed with hot water — a process known as mashing.

“It activates some enzymes which convert all the starches into sugar, which is what we want for the yeast to create the alcohol,” Mr Dittko said.

Depending on the type of beer being made, hops are then added after that.

“The earlier on in the process, the more bitter the beer is and the later, the more aroma and flavour we get,” Mr Dittko said.

A fine art to brewing

To create the pink beer the hibiscus flower was added during two stages of the brewing process, firstly in a whirlpool.

“We add a little bit early on and then assess the colour and work out how much more we need to add later on in the process,” Mr Dittko said.

Once the colour is assessed more of the hibiscus flower can be added in the fermentation process to achieve the desired colour and flavour.

Mr Dittko said it was crucial to get the favour of each batch tasting the same.

“We have recipes and that’s what we do every day — make sure it tastes the same,” he said.

Mr Dittko has been mastering the art for the past eight years.

“I used to be an engineer and a mechanic before that,” he said.

“But I really enjoyed home brewing.”

After being in a horrible motorbike accident that left him unable to work, he decided to study brewing by correspondence which enabled him to complete the course at his own pace in his own time.

“When I was able to start working again, I got into brewing instead of my old profession,” he said.

Hibiscus beer helps raise funds

Mr Dittko said the new pink hibiscus beer is perfect for upcoming spring days.

“[The hibiscus flavour] is quite subtle but it gives it a slight tartness which helps make the beer a bit more refreshing and sessional,” he said.

A percentage of every litre sold of the pink beer will go towards the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Trust.

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