A few weeks back, I popped on a 75 tram from Flinders Station and went on a journey to the ultra groovy Burnley Brewing in Richmond.
Not only did I have a stunning meal, with a full review coming in the next 2 weeks, but I got to meet the Head Brewer Michael! What makes Burnley Brewing so special is they brew the nectar of the gods on site and then not only supply that to their customers but also retailers around Melbourne.
I’ve never been a massive beer fan, but Burnley Brewing has converted me. I got to try some incredible beers from Coffee to Ginger and even a Salted Peach. My favourite was the Passionfruit – so good and really light also.
I was lucky to steal Michael for a quick chat, where he walked me through the brewing process and explained they can make 600 litres at a time – delicious.
R. Hi Michael! Thank you for joining us today, it’s super exciting to be chatting with a Brewer – that’s a first for The Happy Organic Girl!
Let’s start with where you draw inspiration from for beer ideas?
M. I guess inspiration from the seasons and situations, that sounds weird, let me explain. If I’m in the garden on a hot day mowing the lawn, it’ll dawn on me what’s missing, “a fruity sour with, maybe passionfruit.” From there, I start coming up with a recipe that’ll work best to bring those flavours I want to life.
R. That sounds perfectly reasonable, and a creative way to work through a recipe!
If you weren’t working as a Head Brewer at Burnley Brewing, what do you think you would be doing?
M. I seriously couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve been brewing since I was 15 years old and always waned to be in the industry.
R. I love that! You knew from the start what you wanted to be doing, not many people can say that.
With that passion in mind, what lead you to starting getting into the brewing business?
M. At first it was a means of getting beer before I could actually buy it. I thought, if I can’t buy it, I can just brew it. I actually got pretty good at it and then with 16 years of age I won a homebrew competition. It was kind of awkward as I was still underage so I had my dad accept the reward.
R. Haha that’s amazing, I can only imagine what your Dad would have thought. To be fair, I’m sure he would have been pretty proud – even if you were 16!
How important is the use of organic/sustainably sourced produce to you and the business?
M. We try to be as sustainable as possible, our spent grain is donated to a local dairy farmer, we reuse as much of our water for cleaning, and our cooling water will be used for the next batch of beer. We have future plans of becoming even more green as we expand.
R. I’m keen to hear more when the green plans have come to fruition!
Are you currently working on anything exciting?
M. Always working on something exciting. At the moment the project that excites me most is our barrel program. I have recently gotten some ex red wine french oak barrels and am filling them with a young beer, and inoculating the barrel with brettanomyces, a mix of bacteria and in some cases fruit. These barrels will age from 9-24 months and will then be blended with one another and then bottled, and then further conditioned in the bottle. It’s exciting stuff which will definitely test my patience.
R. Oh wow – that sounds so cool. I’d love to pop back in and try it in 2 years! What an achievement that will be.
What have you found the biggest challenge to be in beer brewing?
M. The biggest challenge to keeping all 14 taps at the brewpub running. We have 5 core beers which leaves 9 rotating taps for me to play with. But sometimes the restaurant customers get really excited by our line up and drink everything, which means I’m left with empty serving tanks with nothing new to go in them straight away.
R. Outside the world of beer brewing, what hobbies do you have and how do you like to chill out?
M. Training and playing with my dog. He is a Vizsla named Harry and next month he will start his scent detection training. I want him to learn to smell of flavours in beer. It’ll be a challenge but a fun one. And playing lawn bowls, I recently got really into that. I do love cooking as well, I come home put on a podcast/audiobook and get cooking.
R. I saw a photo of Harry on the @burnleybrewing IG page – so cute! I wish him luck in his scent detection training!
What would you do if money was no object?
M. If I won the lottery and money wasn’t an issue, I honestly would still brew beer. I seriously can’t get enough of it. The industry is ever-changing as are consumers tastes and expectations, so a brewer is forced to adapt and keep people engaged. Even after all this time I continue to learn something new every day. It’s fantastic.
What is your favourite beer?
M. German styled Wheat beer, with the beautiful aromas of clove and banana.
M. The Mosel river in Germany, that is where my wife and I lived for 6 years while I was doing my Brewer and Maltser apprenticeship. When not working we would spend most of our time with our friends wakeboarding.
A close second would be the Austrian alps. Again we would spend at least a week there each snow season with friends snowboarding. I guess I just like places where there are lots of activities to do.
R. Incredible! Thank you again Michael for your time. It’s been an absolute blast, I need to get my hands on some Passionfruit Beer so you will be seeing me again sooner rather than later! Ha!
As I mentioned above, my full dining review will be live within the next two weeks where I will speak about the incredible food I enjoyed, think hand rolled gnocchi and more about the beer tasting!
You can find out more about Burnley Brewing here www.burnleybrewing.com.au
Happy Wednesday all!