Crown Ambassador will release its fifth consecutive vintage today. This year’s vintage will again feature just 7,000 individually-numbered 750mL bottles.

Following tradition the 2012 vintage features fresh-picked Galaxy hops from the Ovens Valley in north-east Victoria. Back in March, new Head Brewer, Tully Hadley, led a hop picking team to collect the key ingredient, which was then added to the kettle the very next day. According to Crown, fresh hops are an indulgence that is worth its weight for the unique brew – used sparingly they are intended to bring a unique aroma, taste and style to the premium beer.

This year, roughly 20 per cent of the beer was transferred – post-initial fermentation – to a variety of both new and one-year-old Dargaud et Jaeglé (D&J) French oak barrels.

In August, the brew was blended back together to create a balance of the oaky, vanilla hinted brew from the new barrels, the toasty characteristics of the brew from the seasoned barrels and the malty, hoppy brew that had been resting in traditional brewing tanks.

A nerve wracking task for Hadley, it being his first Crown Ambassador brew.

“It’s probably the most intimidating role in Australian brewing to take over this beer from John Cozens,” he says. “In just four years we have established an incredible heritage and sense of tradition – really it is a brewing and drinking experience like no other.”

But he is pretty chuffed with the result.

“This year the extra oak component is really quite evident as we had twice the number of barrels we did in 2011,” says Hadley. “The result is an even more complex, mouth-filling, rich beer that also finishes crisp and dry. It’s an incredible beer by any measure.”

Crown Ambassador is designed to be cellared, and patience will be rewarded, as the beer will reportedly mature well with flavours developing with age.

This year, as always, the number one (0001) bottle will be delivered to Her Majesty the Queen of England.

The 2012 Crown Ambassador will be available at selected quality retailers, restaurants and bars for a limited time only from November 5. RRP is $99.99 per 750ml bottle.

According to the team, Crown Ambassador’s complex character is perfectly matched to premium cuts of smoked, grilled or barbecued meats. It is also suited to rich desserts, dried fruit and vintage cheeses.

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