Did we ever mention that we really like supporting Australian breweries here at the Blind Monk? Drinking beer brewed down the road takes us back to a simpler time, a time when men flew spitfires to work and a house with a toilet inside was considered futuristic.
All that those old timers had to drink was humble local ales and possibly illegal moonshine brewed in that same dunny - how times have changed!
Where 'drinking local' used to be the only option, now we seem to have a million choices of beers from all around planet earth; why only the other day I saw a beer made from meteorite dust, and another one brewed with weasel shit - Is it any wonder people get a bit overwhelmed/disgusted when picking their next cold one?!
Well it seems to us that sometimes keeping it simple with the local stuff is the best option, take for example Rocks Brewing from Sydney.
These boys have made a real name for themselves not only in old Sydney town, but across Australia and the world (possibly not WA yet, they don't get stuff 'til about ten years after it comes out).
They started back in ’08 and originally rocked the taps at Harts Pub in the Rocks, fittingly. Now you can find their brews all over the place, in bottles and on tap, and you won’t find a drop of weasel turd in any of them.
To prove that they really are ruling the craft beer scene at the moment they have recently opened a beautiful new brewing facility in Alexandria, with heaps of computers/robots that allow for next-gen craft brewing and incredible drinking. Don’t believe me? Read what the MFCEO Mark and Scotty the head brewer have to say on the subject, then get down to the Blind Monk for a cheeky Hangman Pale.
BM: What made you decide to start jump in and start a brewery... in other words are you mad?
Mark: I spent a lot of time in the US in the mid 90’s and this was when craft beer was going crazy. I always knew in the back of my mind one day that it would also happen here in Australia. I came back and worked in Television and Advertising for a long time until there was the opportunity to take the plunge. Plus making, selling and drinking beer is a great career option.
Scotty: I think I have called Mark worse than that, others have. 7 years later we still keep on ticking.
BM: When designing a beer do you stumble across your amazing recipes or do you start with an end taste in mind?
Scotty: If we look at the Red Ale, Mark gave me a brief and I worked from there. Main aspect was something that was not a light lager, Mark liked Red Ales he drank in the US and it was a point of difference. Most of the beers go through the test brewery, the Spec beers are a bit looser.
For the Red I did a bunch of test beers and we put it out to Marks mates for comments.
Mark: Looking at the market and what was missing was a Red or Brown ale. It would have been stupid to start the beer company with an American style pale ale or Lager and try and compete with all of the majors. Finding a gap in the market was what we tried to do. I think we did 16 different versions of the Red Ale when we first started. Each time we had a lot of my mates, family and friends to score each of the beers and give us feedback. Scotty would then take the beer that did the best for each round and develop more from there.
BM: Are you like most of us, a functioning alcoholic or do you manage to keep yourself under control even tho you are surrounded by beer daily?
Scotty: Next question
Mark: “the only difference between me and an alcoholic is that I wear a clean shirt everyday”, quote from my father. I find it hard to say no if someone asks me to have a beer. Not sure about Scotty and the brewers…. They start early and seem to be hungover by lunch time.
BM: What has been the biggest challenge with your brewing?
Scotty: Always challenges, we have gone from being on Contract (at one time we were in 5 plants in a month) to getting our brewery built and coping with the growth of our beer. Our sales reps are doing a great job keeping us busy, and our customers are enjoying more of our beer.
Mark: Staying in business for 7 years and actually looking like we might actually make some money soon. I think you will see over the next couple of years a lot of new craft beer companies open up but you will also see a lot fail.
BM: Where do you see the craft beer industry going?
Scotty: 10 years ago would you have expected expresso coffee grow to such huge numbers? Craft beer is no different in my opinion.
Mark: It is an exciting time in craft beer right now and the next 10-20 years are going to be amazing. I like to always look back at the US and see what they are trending. They are wanting to be at 20% penetration by 2020… Australia is not even at 5%. There is so much growth potential in Australia it will be crazy. It’s just the perception of beer in Australia that needs to change, that will only come over time.
BM: Do you mainly drink beer or do other beverages really get you going as well?
Scotty: I am not proud, except for RTD’s…
Mark: Love my Red wine and always looking for a good aged dark rum.
BM: You are consistently brewing the same beers now, Do you still love to get in and invent a new one?
Scotty: I reckon it’s the preserve of all brewers to muck around. I do not think brewing is art, but there are some folks who ply a deal of imagination to things. We have plenty of different things on the go at the moment, whether new to us or to the world. A 100% non-malt fruit Wheat beer is one of those things.
Mark: Rocks Brewing has not even started to experiment with different beers yet. Scotty and the brewers will not give away anything but if you look on the white board at the back of the brewery you will see some pretty cool beers that they are wanting to make. We are about to get 5 more tanks delivered and installed. One of these will be for the brewing team to fill twice a month with whatever they like.
BM: There is talk of cans coming back in... your thoughts - bottles or cans??
Scotty: we currently use cans, it’s a bigger size … a 50l keg. Not sure why the argument polarises some folks.
Mark: Again, in Australia it is the perception of value that the general public has. A can is the best vessel for a beer to be in but the mind set and block that the typical Australian beer drinker has will not change. If they are paying $60 for a case of beer in cans they will question their purchase. Right now we put everything in bottles but they may not always be the way. I would love to do cans and it is considerably cheaper to install a canning line then a bottling line that would pump out the same volume.
BM: Favourite beer you have brewed?
Scotty: a 10% barley wine I kept for 5 years, should have brewed a lot more.
BM: Finally, when can we get you into The Blind Monk for a session?
Mark: Just give us a date and we will be there. Might even drag Scotty away from his
brewery for a couple. Drink the Beer, Spread the Word, Show your Conviction!
Want more beer related nonsense? cool, then i’ll see you on instagram - Jimmy - @a_craft_beer_ideot