Ocho

As the craft beer landscape becomes more crowded, it gets ever harder for new brewers to stand out. It's the case even in Tasmania where, up until 2014, the number of breweries was pretty static, remaining stubbornly in single figures, before an explosion that quickly took the total to 20 and beyond.

There are many ways in which a new entrant to the market can try to catch the eye. And it's fair to say that Launceston based Ocho has ticked off a fair few of those. For one, Stu Grant entered the fray in early 2016 with an opening salvo of beers that featured barrels, flashes of sour, fruit and more besides. He also presented the beers quite beautifully, with eye-catching labels that are reminiscent of those of Scandinavian brewing artists such as To Øl.

But perhaps the most compelling part of Ocho's entry to the world of commercial beer was the means by which he planned to get beers to his customers. The idea came from his brother-in-law and business partner Will Rainbird, a Melbourne-based web developer: each beer would be sold via the brewing company's website and shipped in eight-packs (hence "Ocho") direct to the customer. Sure, there are online retailers aplenty and brewers who will ship direct too, but no one had set up a brewing company to do this explicitly.

Clearly there was a market for their concept as early batches of beers such as the Barrel Saison, Chardonnay grape-infused Fruit Punch and delicious Black Forest – a blend of two different stouts – all sold out and soon encouraged Stu to start brewing bigger batches.

The beers are brewed by Stu at Van Dieman, where he has been working as a brewer alongside founder Will Tatchell. The pair share similar passions and often brainstorm ideas or share ingredients for each other's beers. According to Stu, Will views Ocho as something of an R&D wing for his ever more experimental outfit.

Despite also working at a coffee roasters and having a rapidly expanding young family, Stu managed to keep to a schedule of one new beer per month – brewed, packaged and sent off to customers across Australia – in his first year, with the odd keg also sent to venues around Tasmania and to the Tasmanian Pint of Origin venues across the country. He's also maintained online relationships with some of his customers, seeking feedback on the beers and trying to create a community around the beers, something that isn't easy when Ocho doesn't have a physical home.

If brewing so many new beers all the time – including those that are playing around with unusual ingredients, mixed ferments, oak, bacteria and so on – sounds over-ambitious, it's worth acknowledging that, as well as working as a commercial brewer, Stu brought 14 years of homebrewing experience to the table. Indeed, even before launching Ocho, some of his brews had poured at his favourite local, Saint John Craft Beer, and been well received.

The warm reception for Ocho in its first year appears to have emboldened him to indulge his passions further too. A sour beer enthusiast, he has a number of quirky yeast cultures that have been developing at his home for a few years and that have now started making their way into commercial brews and some of the oak vessels he's amassing. Then there's the saison series: a collection of saison style releases, all of them different and all developed with pairing in food in mind. And then, well, we can come to other future projects when they arrive in beer form.

But, safe to say, having announced Ocho to the world in a unique fashion, Stu has plenty of other tricks up his sleeve to keep the most adventurous of Australia's beer drinkers paying close attention.

Name
Ocho
Address

7/31a Churchill Park Drive (OFFICE)
Invermay
TAS 7248

Phone
0435 836 387
Website

Ocho Specials

Ocho Beer Reserve Bière de Garde

Tapped December 5th, 2017
The final days of spring 2017 saw Tasmania's Ocho Beer release the first of its Reserve series: barrel aged beers in 750ml bottles that have always been founder and brewer Stu Grant's intended direction. The first of the two we sampled was Imaginary Ale, a blended saison, with the beer accompanying it this Bière de Garde. Those who've been following Ocho from the early days will have had a brush with the beer before – in a manner of speaking – as it started out as A Fox In The Cellar, the rich,… Read more
Style
Bière de Garde
Strength
8.2%
Stockists

Get hold of it via Ocho's website

Ocho Beer Reserve Imaginary Ale

Tapped November 20th, 2017
You could never accuse Stu Grant and his Ocho Beer project of being mundane. The original concept – to sell all beers direct to customers in mixed eight-packs, the elegant packaging, the choice of beer styles – a blended sour stout here, a hybrid featuring wine grapes there – all combined to make the Launceston based operation one of the most fascinating to launch in the past few years. Yet, even as those first beers were hitting the market, Stu was talking of his more longterm goals, of beers… Read more
Style
Barrel Aged Saison
Strength
7.8%
Bitterness
29 IBU
Stockists

Get hold of it via Ocho's website

Ocho Beer Lusty Winter

Tapped October 5th, 2017
The second half of the spring 2017 double offering from Launceston based Ocho Beer is another that, like its partner Born In Burton, has its feet firmly planted in old European traditions. It's a Baltic porter, a style that grew from English porters but was also influenced by Russian imperial stouts and is often brewed with a lager yeast (although here it's an ale yeast fermented at a cooler temperature). There's nothing out there by Ocho's occasionally experimental standards either, just a handful… Read more
Style
Baltic Porter
Strength
7.2%
Stockists

Available direct from Ocho here

Ocho Beer Born In Burton

Tapped September 29th, 2017
Years ago, when The Crafty Pint was yet to crystallise into something real, I was sat in a warehouse in Boronia with a bunch of homebrewers preparing for a BJCP exam while looking to improve my knowledge of beer and brewing. The term "Burtonisation" came up in a session on water. "Did you just say 'Burtonisation'?" (Yes, I knew what I liked to drink but little else about the subject back then – it's been a steep and slippery descent since...). "Does it refer to the place… Read more
Style
English IPA
Strength
6.6%
Stockists

Order direct from Ocho

They're packing four of these with four Baltic Porters, which we'll write about soon.

Ocho Shy Lad & Golden Double IPA

Tapped April 13th, 2017
Earlier this week, we described Moon Dog's latest duo of limited releases as a yin and yang pairing. And it's a description that can be applied to the first output from Tassie-based Ocho in 2017. Here, you've got a beer that's as pipe and slippers as they come and another that's very much part of the zeitgeist. The former is Shy Lad, an English dark mild, the sort of beer you might find older gents cradling by the fire in a cosy Dales pub. By local categorisation, it clocks in as a light beer at… Read more
Style
Mild & Double IPA
Strength
2.9% & 8.3%
Stockists

Order direct from Ocho here

Ocho Beer Papá Noel

Tapped December 5th, 2016
Tasmanian brewer Stu Grant is bringing down the curtain on his first year under the Ocho banner with a beer for Christmas. Or Daddy Christmas, if you will. After as colourful an opening array of beers as this country is likely to have witnessed – barrels, farmhouse ales, blends, sours, grapes and a take on the New England IPA style – all while adding to his collection of children, he no doubt feels entitled to a little celebration. And that's what this sort of beer is; it's not a spiced, strong… Read more
Style
English Strong Ale
Strength
8.5%
Stockists

Order direct from Ocho here

Ocho Beer Primavera

Tapped November 1st, 2016
Brewer's notes: Saisons are a beautiful (and traditional) way to brew with the seasons. Primavera captures the bright and breezy character of Spring in Tasmania. There are a few regions around the world where farmhouse breweries have continued production to this day, most notably the saisons brewed in Wallonia in Southern Belgium. These ales vary considerably, but they are all pale, highly carbonated, with fruity and spicy yeast and hop characteristics, and a dry finish. We love the style so much… Read more
Style
Saison
Strength
6.3%

Ocho Beer A Fox In The Cellar

Tapped October 15th, 2016
Brewer's notes: Wily brewers once discovered the magic of cellaring strong, malty beers. This Bière de Garde is a rich red ale with bready malt and subtle fruit flavours. The Bière de Garde style hails from Northern France, along the Belgian border. It was a style brewed strong enough to be cellared for many months. Commercial examples come in a range of colours: blonde, ambrée and brune; ours is a foxy shade of red... We brewed A Fox in the Cellar in May 2016, so it’s had over four months'… Read more
Style
Bière de Garde
Strength
6.8%

Ocho Beer The Haze

Tapped September 20th, 2016
Brewer's notes: New Zealand hops add bright, tropical fruit flavours and aromas to this New England style IPA. Soft and juicy, with an alluring haze, this is an IPA for those who prefer hop flavour over bitterness. New England refers to the northeastern corner of the United States, where a pioneering group of craft brewers have recently re-imagined the IPA. These IPAs have a beautiful sunny haze, a massive tropical hop aroma and flavour, and a very soft, creamy mouthfeel. Our twist on the style was… Read more
Style
New England IPA
Strength
6.3%

Ocho Beer Wilderness

Tapped August 1st, 2016
Brewer's notes: Our fifth release, Wilderness, is a beer that brings together three of our passions – hops, oak, and wild fermentation. It's what we're calling a "wild" IPA. The combination of barrel-ageing and wild yeast has brought out an earthy, grapefruit character perfectly matched to the citrusy hops. Over three months ago, we filled a French oak barrel (ex-pinot noir) with our Deciduous IPA and allowed it to mellow and transform under the influence of a wild yeast culture. This… Read more
Style
Barrel-Aged Wild IPA
Strength
7.2%

Ocho Beer Black Forest

Tapped July 1st, 2016
Growing up in the UK in the 70s and 80s, Black Forest gateaux was one of the classic, tried and tested dessert cakes that would crop up everywhere. Being a fussy little pre-Crafty, the lure of the chocolate wasn't strong enough to overcome an aversion to the sharp tang that the layer of cherries created. Here, the beer of the same name doesn't feature any fruit at all, but it does feature a chocolatey stout and some cacao nibs. Yet it too has cherry and dark berry characters. Stu Grant achieved… Read more
Style
Blended Stout
Strength
5.0%

Ocho Beer Fruit Punch

Tapped June 1st, 2016
Just as Ocho's second release took advantage of brewer Stu's home state's bounty, so does beer three. This time, instead of locally grown hops, it's wine grapes that are brought into the brewery. Fruit Punch started out as a hoppy pale ale featuring fruity Mosaic hops from the States; then it was poured into a barrel and aged with 15kg of fresh Chardonnay grapes before packaging. It pours a cloudy, rusty copper colour and delivers some spicy Chardonnay and oak on the nose alongside grape and peach… Read more
Style
Chardonnay Barrel Aged Pale Ale
Strength
6.1%

Ocho Beer Deciduous IPA

Tapped April 1st, 2016
With the largest hop farm in Australia on their doorstep, it's little wonder that many Tasmanian brewers leap at the chance to brew a fresh harvest beer each year – sometimes with their own, home or brewery grown hops. So that's what Ocho did for beer number two, securing experimental hop variety HPA-035 plus some just-picked Ella from Hop Products Australia and adding them to a rye IPA base within 24 hours of harvest. They were added at a rate of 30 grams per litre (in other words: a lot) towards… Read more
Style
Fresh Hop Rye IPA
Strength
5.9%

Ocho Beer Barrel Saison

Tapped March 1st, 2016
If your intention is to stand out from the crowd, even in today's incredibly and increasingly diverse craft beer landscape in Australia, a beer such as this is the sort to do the trick. As the name suggests, Barrel Saison is a saison style ale that was fermented in oak, spending a month there before being dry-hopped then bottle conditioned for another three months. The outcome is a very pale and spritzy beer, high in carbonation and light on the palate. There's a hint of lemon and oak in the aroma,… Read more
Style
Barrel Aged Saison
Strength
5.5%
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