EXCLUSIVE

Jeff Argent brews tribute beer for the Nambucca Valley and his brother Aaron

Jeff Argent with Bowra Hotel publican Shane Welsh
Jeff Argent with Bowra Hotel publican Shane Welsh

The Nambucca Valley is now on tap.

And it tastes like a cool breeze on a warm Summer's day, guitar in hand, lazing on rolling green hillsides which stretch to kiss a purple sunset.

Valley Lager is the brainchild of local boy and 'gypsy brewer' Jeff Argent.

And locals at the beer's launch at the Bowra Hotel on Friday were frothing with compliments after a few sips of the golden nectar.

"It was always going to be launched here," Jeff said.

Being able to do this beer and get it into the local community in Bowraville, it feels good. It feels right.

Valley Lager is the second liquid venture for Jeff after a hobby turned into something more about a year ago.

A humble home-brew club in Bondi with some of his mates took off when one offered to put it on tap at Bondi live music venue Spring Street Social.

"He approached me and said 'Wow this beer is good. It's really good'," Jeff said.

And so Grassy Knoll Brewing's Session Ale was born.

The hoppy drop has been stocked in Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong, and, courtesy of his cousin Ben Boorer, in Brisbane.

After his initial success, Jeff was accepted into a limited and prestigious TAFE brewing course in Sydney which he said has opened up his mind.

"When I first started it was fake it 'til you make it'," he said.

But now he's all about honing in on technique and so wanted to challenge himself with this latest drop.

Valley Lager is a "smash beer"; employing the German rule of using only four ingredients, it's a single-malt, single-hop beer.

"I wanted to showcase the grain," Jeff said. "And using only four ingredients means you have to experiment with brewing techniques - you can't hide behind the flavour of added ingredients."

But Valley Lager isn't just representative of Jeff's personal growth. It's also a beer to celebrate his home and the community he loves.

"Another local, Jack Lhuede, came on board. None of us do this for money yet - we're up against big companies who can make and sell beer for nothing. But once Jack got involved I realised there was good support at home," he said.

Jack Lhuede and Jeff Argent. Photo by Chris Hewgill

Jack Lhuede and Jeff Argent. Photo by Chris Hewgill

"I've been so lucky to grow up here. I literally wanted to make a beer for my family and friends. I want the community to be able to enjoy it."

It's also a tribute beer for his brother Aaron, who lost his life last year in a tragic accident.

"Aaron would be drinking lagers 'til the cows come home. I wanted to make a beer that he would have loved, and to know that he's up there somewhere going 'oh you bastard, I wish I was having one'."

In fact it's Aaron who features on the can design, sitting on the hills of his mother's property, Crooked Top (Titty) mountain on the horizon.

The view that inspired the label

The view that inspired the label

The first 'karma keg' went down a treat at the Bowra Hotel on Friday - especially with the proceeds going to help out locals affected by this fire.

"It's just one way I could help. I can't do much else for the Valley, being in Sydney," Jeff said.

It'll be on tap in Bowra until New Years. Other Nambucca retailers have also now come on board to stock it. And shortly it'll be available online at Dan Murphys.

"Hopefully it gets a good little following," he said.

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