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Tassie (AUS) News..

Brewing a new life

A few years ago, Jane Huntington and her young family were living on a vineyard (Domaine de la Baume / Beziers) in France.

But the desire to run a business with her husband Ashley, and to come back home, led her to the rolling hills of the Derwent Valley where she's now cultivating old strains of barley for the craft beer market as well as brewing her own beer in a converted shearing shed.

Jane is one of the finalists in the 2009 RIRDC Tasmanian Rural Women's Award.

She runs the Two Metre Tall Company with her husband as well as farming their 600-hectare property and is hoping the award may help her undertake a study tour of malt barley production in England as part of her research into the development of Australian grown specialty malts for Australian brewers.

"One thing that is very frustrating in a sense about craft brewers and there has been a boom over the past five years in Australia is that they're still using German malts, they're still using hops from Oregon".

"It's a bit like the cultural cringe that Australia has seen over the years that it has to come from overseas to be a valued product and we really want to promote Australian ingredients, Tasmanian ingredients, and focus on the regional aspects of that and we've really got to promote that and encourage the Australian craft brewing market to focus on what's at home".

At the moment Jane is cultivating a small patch of marisota barley from seeds found in the Tamworth Seed Museum with the aim of harvesting her own seed for bigger crops.

Jane grew-up in Western Victoria and is a teacher by training, with a background in French and History and she says the opportunity to go and live in France where Ashley worked as a winemaker was a dream come true.

Their two daughters were born there but after six years they decided to return to Australia to set-up their own business.

Since buying the property near Hayes, the Huntington's have converted their shearing shed into a brewery where they also bottle and package their beers which are all handmade, unfiltered and feature locally sourced ingredients and are fermented in the bottle.

The Rural Women's Award is an initiative of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and is designed to recognise and encourage the vital contribution that women make to rural Australia.

"For me it was the opportunity to meet other women and hear about what they are doing and the award encourages leadership amongst women and it also allows relationships to develop in rural communities which I think is really important".

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