In the words of Monty Python: "And now for something completely different." Why? Because the Moon Dog crew could not have set out into the beer world with an approach that was any less outlandish or that eschewed the advice to be found in any "How To Start Your Own Brewery" guide more completely. From the word go, the trio made up of two violin-playing brothers and their marvellously monikered mate have set out to create beers that meld styles, use all manner of unusual ingredients and frequently get to see the inside of barrels before being unleashed.
In keeping with their unique ethos, Josh and Jake Uljans and Karl van Buuren have also situated their microbrewery in a spot equidistant between Carlton United Breweries headquarters and the Duchess brothel. What's more, they've put it together from parts that include those used for seaweed-based cosmetics and an open fermentation tank from the former Wagga Wagga brewery that hasn't been operational in around 80 years. Oh, and they've hung chandeliers from the ceiling of their factory unit too.
Prior to releasing their first full commercial release, they teased the market with beers ranging from ales featuring pineapple and coconut, highly smoky beers, an Imperial Gingerbread Stout and a whopping pale ale that counted rose and chrysanthemum water among its ingredients. Bearing names such as the The Artisan Poser, Perverse Sexual Amalgam and the George Freeth Memorial Brown Ale - and featuring suitably dramatic packaging - they're unlike anything to grace the Australia beer market. Unsurprisingly, they've sharply divided opinion between those who seem them as crazed pioneers on a brave journey into uncharted waters and others who see them merely as crazed idiots.
At The Crafty Pint, it's an experiment we're thoroughly enjoy watching unfold. A year or so before they opened, we were telling all and sundry how we wanted to see an Aussie brewery open that didn't bother with 4.5 percent ABV pales and an easy-drinking golden ale for newcomers, but went all out from the word go to make beers that would excite even the most hardened beer geek. Two weeks later, we found Moon Dog's business card on a bottleshop counter. Since then, they've unleashed wild ales, massive stouts, fruit beers named after 80s action heroes with mullets and raised the bar in inspired label design too. And the beer world is a weirder place for them.
In May 2014, they opened their brewery bar, shortly after taking over an adjacent warehouse for a bottling line, storage and table tennis table (accessed through a book shelf). Open Wednesday to Sunday, adorned with blow ups of their labels, chandeliers, reclaimed furniture and a wall of barrels, it offers a chance for lovers of their beers to enjoy them in the Moon Dog inner sanctum.
In 2016, they grow up – kinda – by creating a core range of three 5 percent ABV beers, Love Tap lager (which had started out as a much bigger "double lager"), Old Mate pale ale and Mack Daddy dark ale. And it soon became apparent why when they snapped up De Bortoli's old brewery, installed it two doors down from their original warehouse and set out on a mission to quadruple their output.
Since then, Beer Can and Sun Cat IPA have joined the core range and production has been ramped up considerably, with the original brewery dedicated to turning out even more of the experimental and amusing releases with which the Moon Dog name was made. Add in a space dedicated to barrel ageing and a growing export market and it seems there are plenty of people out there on the lookout for something completely different.