It's not easy to bring something new to the Australian beer landscape now that it's populated by hundreds of breweries and you can find quality venues with rotating tap lineups in country towns. But it's fair to say Dollar Bill Brewing have managed to stand out from the crowd from the moment they first appeared.
For one, the first ripple they sent through the industry came in the shape of a funky, barrel-aged, hopped cider. Then, when they were ready to bring their first beers to market, they started out with the sort of styles many drinkers only advance to after years of exploring: barrel-aged blends inspired by the lambics of Belgium. Better still, the beers were brilliant, knocking drinkers sideways and, despite their very limited release, flying into the upper echelons of our Best New Victorian Beers list.
The family-run venture launched by Fiona and Ed Nolle from their home in Ballarat has hardly put a foot wrong since. The barrel-aged blends and fruited farmhouse ales have continued to impress palates wherever they've landed; their first "core range" beer, Learning To Breathe collected a trophy at the 2019 Indies just weeks after release. And they've stamped their distinctive personalities onto a local beer world that's been eager to welcome them.
Add in a background that takes in one of the country's leading winemakers going by the nom de plume "Attorney at Large" Miguel Sanchez, a label designer who's also responsible for an entire country's currency, regular runs from Melbourne to Ballarat with freshly-filled barrels, plus a portable Quarter Bar (25 cents in a dollar; 25 taps on the bar) and this isn't your typical brewing company.
Indeed, while the Nolles might have brought Ed's beers to market late in his brewing career – he and Miguel had been homebrewing together for almost two decades before the first bottles hit retailers – they've arrived in a space many would regard as the cutting edge of brewing today.
Upon launch, their grand plan was to add a small cellar door to their Ballarat property where they could share their innovative beverages on a working farm that showcased permaculture, sustainable and minimal impact practices – not to mention a lot more spontaneously-fermented beer. But, as ever, life and local council throws the odd spanner your way and they’ve had to park the “garden of beer” part of the project while they search for an alternative site.
Not that any of that has had any negative influence on their beer which just keeps getting better; indeed, 2021 saw them hit a new high as they collected the Champion Australian Beer trophy at the Australian International Beer Awards for their Gold Teeth peach wild ale.
As for the brewing company name, it tips a wink to Andy Warhol, Smokey And The Bandit and Wu-Tang Clan (you're as likely to talk Pharcyde as fermentation with Ed and there are listening suggestions on the labels). It also comes laced with a hearty dose of irony; no one who started out making 300 bottle batches of beers four years in the making has "getting rich" top of their list of life goals.
Taken together, it's a potent package for anyone interested in the history and future of beer, or who enjoys seeing good people making excellent beer and having a great time doing something they truly love.