When Deeds Brewing fired up their Glen Iris brewhouse in the first half of 2019, it was the end of a long journey for Pat Alé and Dave Milstein.
The seeds of the idea to build a brewery together had first been planted way back in 2003 when they were both university and started spitballing business ideas after class over a beer. They might have been enjoying their engineering degrees, but building a business – particularly a brewery – sounded like a lot more fun.
As they started researching the practicalities, they quickly woke up to the reality that building a brewery is damn expensive and, worse still, they didn’t know anything about manufacturing beer, selling, marketing, finance or, if they're honest, anything at all about business. So, as a first step on their journey, they started a distribution business called Red Island and set about learning the ropes.
Five years on from their launch after importing beers from all over the world – some successfully, others not so much – the pair picked up Rekorderlig ciders. Then practically unknown in Australia, they transformed it into a drink that seemed to be in pretty much every bar and bottleshop out there. But owning their own brewery was always the goal and, in 2012, Pat and Dave launched Quiet Deeds as a contract brand, based around a highly approachable lineup of a pale ale, Kolsch and IPA.
By 2013, they’d sold off the rights to Rekorderlig to focus their eyes more keenly on beer and set out on a hunt for their future home, which they found in one of the inner east’s few industrial pockets: Paran Place in Glen Iris is the sole industrial zone in Stonnington Council, within a cluster of suburbs that have historically been Melbourne’s driest.
The old car dealership that took their fancy might have had plenty of asbestos that needed tearing out but, in the building’s sawtooth roof and unique fit out, Pat and Dave envisioned the perfect spot in which to bring local beer to an area that had long gone without.
They ordered their 25 hectolitre DME brewhouse and substantial packaging setup and… well, let’s just say it took almost another three years to get it installed and operational after enduring a red tape-strewn roller coaster ride with their local council then VCAT, which saw them having to remove a planned taproom from their planning application in order to gain approval for their brewery.
By then, they’d rebranded to Deeds Brewing and with that name, brought out a new logo, one mimicking their sawtooth home and promoting their Glen Iris location.
It wasn’t just the Quiet Deeds labels that changed, either, but many of the beers too. Some of the beers that followed their early trio had hinted at a greater sense of adventure – the Lamington Ale and, more than anything, their Juice Train NEIPA, now fine-tuned into one of the most popular of the hazy IPAs doing the rounds – and you can see that spirit in the new look lineup.
There’s been a double dry-hopped pale named Double Time, in reference to how long it took the brewery to be finished, the pineapple sour Sawtooth, an ice cream pale, and Nuke Point, a hopped-to-the-wazoo IPA they pull from fridges if it hasn’t been sold within 30 days of being packaged.
Within months of firing it up, they’d also taken full advantage of the versatility of their brewhouse in the shape of limited edition and one-off brews. The likes of the Breakfast NEIPA Naked Brunch, double hazy IPA Fortune and Glory, fresh-hopped DDH pale Interstellar and a hazy IPA called Nebula have set out their stall for a jam-packed limited release schedule. As far as statements of intent go, it’s pretty clear that, under the leadership of former Hawkers head brewer Justin Corbitt, the modern Deeds beers explore a diverse array of modern style.
The plans didn’t stop there, however, with Pat and Dave still wanting to make sure people could try those beers where they were brewed. When the Deeds Taproom and Kitchen finally opened midway through 2021, it instantly became one of Melbourne's most distinct - which really says something when the city is bursting at the seams with breweries. Located by the final stop on the Number 6 tram route and only metres further from Glen Iris station, you still know you're in a brewery when visiting Deeds but it's one that feels more modern than most.
As you walk down the stairs, it feels not unlike descending into parts of MONA in Hobart, before the stunning venue reveals itself in stages. The tanks sit behind the bar where 28 taps pour 22 unique beers, some of which only ever appear at Deeds' home, while the brewery's barrel program is on full display too.
Steel hoops and circles of light are designed to reflect the scores of barrels, while dark lighting and reclaimed wood pay tribute to the building's long history – at the same time creating a space that feels akin to a modern Australian restaurant in the heart of a capital city.
The food matches the thought put into the taproom's design too. Head chef Roger Van Den Bogaert takes inspiration from his love of Italian cuisine and comfort food, with menu items including the likes of halloumi with fire-roasted romesco, fried chicken wings, vodka-cured salmon, burgers, pan-fried gnocchi and many more delicious options.
It may have taken a long time to get here but, considering the experimentation when it comes to beer and the refined experience of visiting, we're certainly glad Pat and Dave have not only forged their own path but brought something unique to Melbourne's beer industry too.