Noodledoof. It's a name that's open to interpretation. Asian restaurant? Banging psytrance event?
How about brewpub and distillery in Victoria's west?
It turns out one of the more unlikely brewery names in the country is a combination of its founders' nicknames – Noodles and Doof. Then again, given the founders can list things such as sparky, pro footballer and beekeeper on their CVs, it's probably only right their chosen name avoids the well-trodden routes of numbers, animals and colours.
As they approach their first birthday in November, they're able to reflect on a momentous start to life in Koroit. One in which challenges they'd have been expecting – launching a new business in a country town, starting a family, for example – have been joined by the unexpected arrival of a global pandemic.
When The Crafty Pint first visited back in January, Alex "Doof" Carr and Sam "Noodles" Rudolph were flying. Less than three months after pouring their first beers in the town a short drive from Port Fairy and Warrnambool, they were struggling to meet demand from locals. Two months later, they – like every venue owner in Australia – had to close.
"We started hand delivering growlers in the first lockdown and the response to that was crazy," Alex says. "We'd had to stand down the staff as we didn't know about JobKeeper then, so it was us two and our partners; we were getting more than 100 growler orders every week – it was insane.
"That sort of kept us going for that first bit. It was amazing how the locals got behind it."
JobKeeper allowed them to bring staff back on so they could offer takeaways, and they started using their still to produce hand sanitiser.
"We only really broke even, if that, but at least we were doing something," Alex adds.
Other ideas kept them busy and cash coming in – Mother's Day and Father's Day hampers sold well and they augmented their growler offering by hand-filling 500ml cans.
"We ended up spending two days a week filling cans with a handgun to keep up with demand," Alex says. "We're pre-purging them all and I've been really happy with how well we're filling them. We're wasting so much beer, though – more than 20 percent of a keg!"
As for how the pair came to launch a brewery and distillery in regional Victoria, it's down to their partners: Sam's wife Bianca and Alex's wife Claire are cousins. Prior to the move to Koroit, Sam and Alex had lived in a share house in Adelaide before the former signed for Port Fairy's footy club and the latter decided to take his passion for homebrewing to the next level, undertaking the brewing course at TAFE SA before landing a job at Holgate Brewhouse for four years.
With Sam's love for homebrewing growing and a mate at the footy club eager to help him get a business up and running, Claire landed a job with South West Health and the mates were reunited.
At time of writing, they'd been reunited with their regulars too; current restrictions mean they're able to welcome ten guests back inside and fill their beer garden, while Alex spent much of the previous week clearing space in the brewery to fit another ten. A canning line is on the way so they can hang up the handgun too.
"Having people in here again is great," he says. "It's not easy opening and closing all the time; it takes a lot of effort as everyone [in Melbourne] will find out when they reopen again."
As well as the move into cans, they're growing hops on Sam's hobby farm and enjoying being part of their adopted hometown's growth.
"Port Fairy gets a lot of the limelight," Alex says, "but there's a big shift towards Koroit. There's a lot of young families moving out here; the town is growing, which is unusual for regional Australia.
"It has its own character. I've loved living here."
Ahead of their first birthday, we invited Noodles and Doof to be part of our long-running Who Brews...? series.
Who are you?
Alex Carr – head brewer. In a previous life, I worked as a brewer at Holgate, an electrician and was a keen homebrewer.
Sam Rudolph – brewer. In a previous life, he was a bloody good public servant, kicked a footy around a grassy paddock, and was an overenthusiastic, average homebrewer. Sam has a background in horticulture, and is currently growing a few different types of hops and other ingredients that will make their way into our seasonal releases on his farm.
Where do you brew?
Noodledoof Brewery and Distillery, 128 Commercial Road, Koroit.
Why do you brew?
We love to create beer that people enjoy and try to have something for everyone.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Our interest in brewing started years ago living together in a share house; it was pretty basic stuff back then like throwing some ginger and honey in a Coopers kit beer.
Alex went off and worked at Holgate for a few years, learning a lot from such a well-established and respected brewery that creates great beers. We started homebrewing together again about four years ago and would brew beers for family parties and special occasions, which they told us they really enjoyed – not sure if they were just being nice.
This led us to the original idea of starting our own craft brewery. Then we did it and here we are.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
The rumour mill was swirling when Noodledoof first set up shop in Koroit. Is it a replica of a small German village? Is it a noodle shop serving slurpable bowls of goodness? No, it’s a craft brewery and distillery created by two mates, Noodles and Doof, who wanted to make quality craft beer and spirits that are exciting, adventurous and approachable.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
One beer cannot define us!
Our only mainstay beers are Pale Ale and Lager; we are constantly brewing new seasonals, so it’s hard to pick just one. We think our helles lager and pale are great representations of their style and a true representation of Noodledoof.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
A lot of local Australian rock/punk like A Swayze and the Ghosts, Pist Idiots, Smithy’s, The Peep Tempel or some older classics like Beastie Boys, Tool, RATM and always Toto on Fridays.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Noodledoof low fills and some fancy Garage Project sours that Alex won’t share with Sam.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Anything Tallboy & Moose or Sailors Grave put out is on the mark at the moment.
Where can people find your beers?
Direct from brewery taproom in Koroit or from our website for Australia wide delivery. We are working on distribution at the moment so ask your local bottleshop if they can stock some Noodledoof.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Sold out… of our current seasonal releases and still producing quality independent craft beer and spirits.
You can try the beers at source at 128 Commercial Road, Koroit. You can also find Noodledoof and hundreds of other good beer venues across Australia in the free Crafty Pint app.
Other entries in the Who Brews...? series can be found here.