Tuesday, 28 April 2020

BROO BREWING COMPANY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Sunraysia
  • Tasting Room: 20 Langtree Avenue, Mildura
  • Food: Pub Food
  • Price: Inexpensive
  • Websitehttps://www.broo.com.au/
It's finally time to give the people what they've been asking for. We've been covering Broo pretty extensively for a few years & now is the time to (hopefully) summarize the story & current situation as best we can. There's so much misinformation out there about the brand, but we've done our best to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

Founder Kent Grogan
It's hard to believe that this story goes all the way back to 2009; but it does! The business was founded by Kent Grogan, who previously ran a large financial services business. Grogan is from the Mornington Peninsula & the despite reports to the contrary the beer has never been brewed at the Sorrento Brewhouse, with all production being contracted.

Broo first hit the public consciousness in 2011 with their offer of 10 shares with each slab purchased on Australia Day, with a reported 6,437 people taking up the offer. Grogan attempted to get the business registered with the ASX however they ran afoul of their rules. Their constitution specifically excluded any foreign ownership, which the ASX took umbrage with. This started a 5 year battle, which eventually resulted with Broo appearing on the ASX in October 2016.

Things started promisingly when they announced an ambitious $100m brewery in Ballarat with help from the Victorian Government's Ballarat West Employment Zone scheme along with their acquistion of Stefano's Mildura Brewery. This saw their share prices rise to a high of 39 cents in November 2017. However, next to no progress has been made on the Ballarat Brewery & in late April 2020 the share currently sit at just 1.2 cents.

The last few years have descended into something of a farce with numerous run ins with the ASX over various compliance & reporting issues. The company reports significant losses most quarters, despite supposedly highly profitable overseas deals to China & the USA. The Chinese deal will reportedly see 1.5bn litres of beer sold into China over a seven year period, in a take or pay style $120m deal. It'll be intriguing to see how much of this money makes it's way through, I'd wager not much.

Despite the financial uncertainty Kent draws a significant salary, although has had to sell a large chunk of his shares with his ownership down to 62.96%, after the sale of 10 million shares to the CFO last year. Brews News has done some significant digging into the financials of Broo & their coverage is well worth checking out if this has interested you.

The Broo Premium Lager is actually not the world's worst beer. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly not good - but it is an acceptable macro style lager. I drink it at a pizza restaurant a stones throw from the brewery in Mildura when visiting family at Christmas time & in that setting (remembering it's also 40+ degrees normally) it's an enjoyable thirst quencher.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Friday, 17 April 2020

PROJECT BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: S.E. Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 3/12 Laser Drive, Rowville
  • Food: Food Trucks
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://projectbrewing.com.au/
Project Brewing was the long term dream of husband & wife team Braden & Caitlin Beggs. Braden began home brewing in 2002 & as is quite often the case this hobby spiralled out of control. He'd spoken to Caitlin for years about his dream brewery but the idea on really crystalized in 2016 after visiting the newly opened Watts River Brewery.

Both really resonated with the industrial location & feel of the brewery, combined with the passion the brewers had for their product. Braden managed to convince the team at Watts River to teach him the ropes of running a commercial brewery, whilst they advanced their plans for a space of their own. In September 2018 they secured a warehouse in industrial Rowville & began setting about turning it into a space they could call their own. With the help of family & friends they opened the doors to their "project" brewery taproom in late June 2019.

They've done a really good job of personalizing a pretty generic looking warehouse. They've given the front a black paint job, with their logo splashed across the top in white. Inside is tables they've built themselves, that have been branded with their logo. Their kit is at the back left of the building and is capable of producing batches up to 1000L. Down the left side of the warehouse are the toilets, bar & coolroom. They've fitted it with corrugated iron & timber to make it look like an outback pub & it's come up a treat. It gives it a really unique feel in an industry that can be a bit samey.

It's rare I comment on social media but; they have the hardest beers to find on Untappd that I've ever come across! The word "Project" appears in so many prominent brewery names & their beers are only named after the style... Their Instagram page is also worth checking out, it shows a cross section of their family life & their journey building their brewery. Their beers are available almost exclusively at their taproom at the moment, although they are slowly starting to get beer out to local restaurants.

In terms of food currently they are offering snacks & have food trucks from time to time. When there are no food trucks they actively encourage you to bring your own food/order delivery; so much so that they even supply the plates & cutlery! The couple have plans to one day have a larger brewery & have cited Stomping Ground's Collingwood Brewery as their inspiration.

I'm reviewing their Pale Ale, one of the two beers they bottle. The Pale Ale is really nice. It's slightly old school with big floral component complimented by some citrus, as well as just enough malt character to provide balance. It's got a good amount of bitterness & is a Pale Ale that I'd quite happily drink all afternoon.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

BEER O'CLOCK PODCAST - EPISODE 15

Episode 15 - Show Notes 

Welcome to another episode of the Beer O'Clock Australia podcast. It's our first podcast that we've done remotely, so apologies if there are a few teething issues- although Dylan's done a really good job of editing as usual & we're happy with the results. We'll fine tune the process over the next couple of episodes while we keep trying to bring you content whilst still confined to our respective houses.

If this is your first time listening to a Beer O'Clock Australia podcast, welcome! We change the segments up a little each month, however most months we'll discuss some of the latest news from the beer world, we'll talk about some beers that we've been enjoying over the last month & we'll crack something interesting from my cellar.

This month we covered the latest COVID-19 beer related news as well as some news from before the world changed irrevocably. We discussed our work trip to the Gold Coast, which involved a lot of beers after the actual work got done, talked about some local new beers & added a new beer to our Ranking of Macro Lagers. We finish off with a Cellar segment with a twist, as we obviously couldn't be in the same room to share a beer.


 Show Notes

News Items
  • COVID-19 Causes Chaos with the Beer Calendar
    • Everything is cancelled
  • Industry Pulling Together
    • Carwyn Cellars Quarantinnies
    • East Coast Canning - Kegs to Cans
    • Beer Together
    • Keeping Local Alive
    • Matthew Beggs' Spreadsheet link
    • Breweries Making Hand Sanitiser
  • Pregnancy Warning Labels Scrapped
  • ABAC Tightened Compliance
  • Broo Record More Losses (Is this still news?)
  • Hop Products Australia Open New Facility
  • Hop Nation Release J-Juice to Replace Jedi Juice
What We're Drinking (19:30)
  • Gold Coast Trip
    • Madocke
    • Gold Coast
    • Black Hops
    • Balter
  • Madocke Cherry Beer
  • Deeds Fear & Loathing in Brewsvegas
  • Deeds Grisette
  • Hop Nation Melbourne Fog & Hop Nation 7 Clouds
  • La Sirene Farmhouse Red 
  • Augustiner Maximator
  • General Quarantine Beer Chat
Ranking of Lagers (44:37)

  • Slowly this down for obvious reasons; this month we slot Stella Artois into the rankings
  • The new rankings are as follows:
    1. Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic)
    2. Tennent's (Scotland)
    3. Carlsberg (Denmark)
    4. Quilmes (Argentina)
    5. Kingfisher (India)
    6. Gullmack (Norway)
    7. Sapporo (Japan)
    8. Birra Moretti (Italy)
    9. Corona (Mexico)
    10. Steinlager (New Zealand)
    11. Heineken (Netherlands)
    12. San Miguel (Philippines)
    13. Cantina (El Salvador)
    14. Stella Artois (Belgium)
    15. Tusker (Kenya)
    16. Skopsko (North Macedonia)
    17. Tiger (Singapore)
    18. Karlovacko (Croatia)
    19. Singha (Thailand)
    20. Red Stripe (Jamaica)
    21. Vonu (Fiji)
    22. Cusquena (Peru)
Noz's Cellar (55:18)
  • We're delving into both of our cellars this month
  • Noz has a Wildflower Amber Batch 24
  • Dylan has a Wildflower Amber Batch 23
  • Compared to tasting notes
That's it for another month on the Beer O'Clock Australia podcast. Considering the challenges thrown our way I think this turned out pretty well. We've got some new equipment in bound, which should make our next episode sound a little cleaner as well as giving us the option to record interviews out & about if we go down that route in the future. As usual emails are welcomed with any comments/questions at gus.norris7@gmail.com

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Thursday, 16 April 2020

YARRA BREWING CO

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Inner Suburbs
  • Tasting Room: 390 Smith Street, Collingwood
  • Food: Pizza, Gourmet Pub
  • Price: Inexpensive
  • Websitehttp://www.yarrabrewingco.com.au
I really thought long & hard about whether or not to include Yarra Brewing Co in the list, however the can release got me over the line. Yarra Brewing Co is effectively a sub-brand of The Craft & Co. It's their "in-house incubation sub-brand", which is pretty much code for being a way for them to release their test batches without damaging their own brand.

You find their beers on tap at The Craft & Co from time to time, which you can read about in depth here, and very occassionally they release some canned offerings. The beer I'm reviewing is one of those. It was called "Craught", standing for craft draught & it was actually a pretty solid beer. It was relatively straight forward lager with moderate bitterness & little malt character - for the price I'd happily buy more in the future.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

THE MANSFIELD BREWING COMPANY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: High Country
  • Tasting Room: No
  • Food: N/A
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://mansfieldbrewery.com.au/
The Mansfield Brewing Company was established in 2013 by father & son team, Tom & Mitchell Walsh. This is going to be another of those short posts with relatively little information. Unlike most previous short ones, I have managed to contact these guys through Facebook! Although that contact has extended to promises of more information & then ignoring future requests... I find it fascinating that a company, let alone a brewery, can exist for so long with such a small online footprint.

So I've gathered that Tom homebrewed for about 10 years before launching The Mansfield Brewing Company with his son. They moved from the backyard shed to a warehouse in 2013, where they've been producing 850L batches ever since with their first beers hitting the market in November of that year.

I've got my hands on their Stout. It's a limited release, which I think they've released each of the last 3 years. This packs a bit of roast flavour, alongside something that purports to be smokiness. There's some chocolate with slightly more licorice as well as moderate hop bitterness. It's bordering on Imperial Stout although I think the body isn't quite big enough - despite the ABV being high enough.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Friday, 10 April 2020

BELLS BEACH BREWING

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Bellarine Peninsula
  • Tasting Room: 2/22 Baines Crescent, Torquay
  • Food: Food Trucks/UberEats
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttps://www.bellsbeachbrewing.com/
I imagine that opening a brewery on Victoria's Surf Coast was a long way from the thoughts of Adam Smith & Jono Moscrops when they were growing up in England. But fast forward through engineering degrees back home, emigration to Australia & years spent working together for Ford in Geelong & that's exactly what happened!

There's more to their brewing story than I knew. Like most who end up opening a brewery of their own, they were avid homebrewers. Having some beers one afternoon they thought their beers would be a good addition to the local beer scene. Like so many before them, & certainly after them, they reached the critical now or never moment; & they took the plunge!

They released their first beer, brewed at Cavalier, to market in late-2015 & spent the next 3 years gypsy brewing at Cavalier, Cockies, Rogue Wave (now Salt) & Bellarine Brewing. In 2017 the duo approached sports photographer Jeff Crow to buy a couple of photos to give local character to their beers, not only did they end up with those photos but also a new business partner. Jeff's arrival & attention to detail they set out to find the perfect location to set down roots in their local community.

The end result is a warehouse behind another warehouse halfway along an industrial street in Torquay. It's an interesting space with high ceilings, tanks prominently on display behind the bar & a huge motif comprising the companies logo plastered all over the back wall. The majority of the tables are quite high, although I'm not sure if that was due the event happening that night, as well as a few couches out the front.

We arrived to a packed venue on Rugby World Cup Final night. There was a big crowd in, and the majority of them were really up for the game, despite the dreary weather in the coastal town. It may not have been the best way to assess the brewery - but they were certainly capable of handling a crowd & the beers were tasting great.

As soon as we looked at the tap list we knew what we had to have on a cool, damp night on the Surft Coast; Steps Session Stout. It was the perfect beer after a long day of visiting breweries, characterized by this big dark fruit aroma that paired nicely with the more traditional chocolate & roasty notes. It drank very easily, as you'd hope at 4%, but it wasn't thin at all. It's a beer that I'll be looking to stock my fridge with for winters to come.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

CORNELLA BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Heathcote
  • Tasting Room: 507 Hamblin Rd, Cornella
  • Food: Pizza
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.cornellareal.com.au/
The Shiraz Republic is a winery in the Heathcote Wine Region, located about 25km to the north of the town that gives the region it's name. It was started by Brian Spencer in 2006 & they have become known for their big fruit forward Shiraz's, that the region is known for, as well as for being one of the few wineries that sells Heathcote grapes direct to the public.

Why am I talking about wine? Well, that's where Brian's son Spencer Page comes in. Spencer studied Chemistry at University, before he decided to join the family business in 2015. He'd previously spent a year in Scotland where he'd developed a love of real ale & saw a way to use his chemistry degree, add value to the family business & indulge his passion. He roped in friend Matt van Run who was easily convinced to start a brewery rather than look for a real job.

They installed a tiny (by commercial standards at least) 200L system which they picked up from Cheaky Peaks in Wodonga & set about trying to replicate the real ales that Spencer had fallen in love with. They were so set on this track that they launched their brewery as Cornella Real Brewery. Within two years of operating, gone was the name "Real"; simplified to just Cornella Brewery, along with the focus on just real ales as they began producing the full spectrum of styles.

The setting for the venue is typical of Central Victoria. To get to the brewery you take a left turn off the narrow highway onto a dirt track, pass numerous dusty fields with brown grass before arriving at the green oasis of the winery. There are a number of artefacts from the history of Cornella dotted around, from farming equipment to the towns old Post Office.

The cellar door is housed in a new looking corrogated iron shed. There's a shade cloth over a decking area with a few tables, although the majority of people were seated at long benches under the gum trees in the yard. It's a really lovely spot for a beer, we didn't have any on the day but they also do pizzas which from all reports are excellent!

Amongst their relatively broad array of offerings are a couple that incorpoates their wine roots, which is naturally where I had to go for the beer. Shiraz Barrel is billed as a Barrel Fermented Farmhouse Ale. It's got light bready malts, some grassy hops, plenty of funk & some shiraz barrel notes that comes through. I'm intrigued by the lack of colour that comes through, considering how much flavour comes through. I assume they must've been relatively dry barrels. There a brewery well worth visiting in an area dominated by wine.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!