How To Create A Beer Sensory Program
Pink Mist And G.O.A.T. Go Gold At The 2019 Indie Awards

Black Hops Launches Smashed Avocado Beer

Black Hops, an independent craft brewery on the Gold Coast, has brewed a beer with avocados from a customer’s farm.

The beer is brewed with Single Malt and Single Hop (SMASH for short) using Barrett-Burston border malt and lemon hops, along with coriander, lime juice, chilli and of course smashed crushed avocado – 17kg to be exact!

Marty from Bularka Farming, a 700-avocado farm in Cudgen, northern NSW, is a customer of the Black Hops restaurant and is more than happy to serve a bunch of avocados for beer.

But don’t expect the green beer to taste like guacamole, explains Black Hops co-founder and brewmaster Michael (Govs) McGowan: “The avocado adds a smooth texture to the beer, which we compliment with fresh coriander,

 lime juice and a bit of red pepper. But despite the interesting choices in ingredients, our beers are always brewed in a balanced and enjoyable way.” .


On Saturday, Oct. 26, Black Hops will launch the pounded Avo malt at a spring celebration at its Burleigh and Biggera Waters restaurants.

The day also marks the inaugural Indie Beer Day (a new initiative by the Independent Brewers Association), which includes a simultaneous national toast with more than 200 other independent breweries.

In addition smashed to the crushed Avo malt, Dark Hops will brew four other unique spring-style beers, especially for the occasion, with ingredients including blackberry, cucumber, mint, mango, ginger, pineapple and lime. Details of the other beers will be announced before the event begins.

All beers will be available on tap and in cans for a limited time at Black Hops restaurants smashed in Burleigh Heads (HQ) and Biggera Waters (BHII) from noon on Saturday, October 26.

For more details and to confirm your attendance, please visit the Facebook event (HQ – Burleigh Heads& BHII Biggera Waters).

Implementing an official beer sensory program for dark hops
We’ve been conducting in-house beer sensory testing since the brewery opened. We have now started to implement an official, clearly defined process to run it.

This started in July when we began rolling out our “real deal” beer sensory program at our Burley brewery and restaurant (headquarters).

To help build our brand, we turned to the expertise of one of our most trusted beer colleagues, Steve ‘Hendo’ Henderson, who now offers a range of brewing consultancy services and training modules. We’ve known Hendo for many years through the Craft Beer Circle, 

and once we took a closer look at his newly developed beer sensory program, we felt comfortable that it would both meet our needs and fit seamlessly into our operation.

If you’re interested in building your own beer sensory program and want to check out everything Hendo has to offer, be sure to check out his Rockstar Brewer website.

Related story: Hendo Beer Quality Podcast

Writing an effective, truly on-brand instruction manual is a definite art, and Hendo’s Rockstar Brewer Academy Beer Quality Essentials course covers this in detail.
Here’s the process we followed when building our company

Appoint a brand smashed owner and sensory coordinator

To run an effective beer sensory program, you first need to select a designated brand owner and sensory coordinator, and utilize a subset of smashed your brewery staff as ongoing sensory team members.
Brand Owner: Govs

As a brewer, it seems logical to make yourself a brand owner. In addition to approving the real-brand specifications for our beers mentioned earlier, my primary responsibility as a smashed brand owner is to escalate any issues identified in real-brand testing.

Finally, if a batch of beer is identified as having potential problems, I will decide what to do next. This may include
Postponing production

Reprocessing or blending the beer
Releasing under another name
Send it anyway (if the problem is minimal or uncertain)

Dumping batches (worst case scenario!)
So far, in our entire brewing history, we have only detected sensory “issues” about 3 times that required us to dispose of a batch of beer without putting it on the market.


Pouring a beer is not the mark of a bad brewery, no one is immune to mistakes or discrepancies, and having the integrity to be able to destroy a batch of beer rather than sell it shows that the brewery respects its process, its brand and its consumers.


 The cost of losing smashed a batch of beer is almost always far less than the cost of damaging a reputation by selling poor quality beer.


About Black Hops Brewery

Black Hops has smashed quickly established a reputation as a premium brewer of experimental beers, producing an average of one unique new beer per week for the past 12 months.

 These inventive blends go hand-in-hand with smashed the regular “core series” available year-round and feature prominently at limited beer festivals at GABS and Black Hops restaurants.

If you are interested in covering Black Hops, our media page will provide more information.