Two control system engineers and an environmental scientist walk into a shed full of beer. No, this isn’t the setup for the funniest joke you've never heard, rather a weekly occurrence to the northeast of Melbourne.
The shed in question is located in Hurstbridge, and the trio responsible for all the beer in that shed are Pete Imison, Brendan Corrie and Steve Marshall, the owners and operators of Rare Bird Brewing.
The three mates have known each other for around 30 years in some form or another, first meeting through uni before surreptitiously all buying houses near each other in adulthood. Because of their close proximity, the trio would often spend time in Steve’s shed, playing with his brewing equipment and showcasing the tricks they had picked up over the years brewing independently.
Eventually, due to the sheer amount of beer they'd been brewing, Rare Bird Brewing was formed, which gave them an avenue to get the fruits of their labour out there in a somewhat more professional manner.
“Truly, we were just giving away beer in the beginning,” Steve says, laughing.
“We would just brew and give it to friends and family. It naturally got to a point where we were getting such good feedback we figured we could probably sell it.”
When it comes to the sort of beers coming out of their shed, well, that can change depending on the mood.
“We brew what we like,” Pete says. “One week it might be an amber, the next week it might be something completely different. It’s really all about what we’re wanting to drink and what we think would be fun to brew.”
Steve adds: “I remember when someone who worked within beer actually told us they liked our beer... it was a shock!
“We brew because we love it, and the fact that other people have been loving it as well is amazing.”
We invited the trio to tell us more as part of our long-running Who Brews...? series.
RARE BIRD BREWING
Who are you?
Three friends and neighbours. Two control system engineers and an environmental scientist.
To be clear, these are still our day jobs, and the brewing is a passion project!
Where do you brew?
In a shed in the suburb of Hurtsbridge, Melbourne.
Occasionally in a bigger shed; we work with our friends at Temple Brewing when we want to make more beer and do canning runs.
Why do you brew?
We brew, therefore we are.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Pete: When I first discovered Belgian ales, that kicked off the serious homebrewing.
Brendan: I have been brewing for 20 years, starting in uni when the aim was really how much alcohol can you cram in before it stopped tasting like beer.
Experimenting with different styles and ingredients really started for me when I spent a year in New Zealand – the variety of beers available from craft breweries was great, but I also got to meet a few people who had started their own little breweries and saw what they were doing on equipment not dissimilar to my own hoard of stainless tanks salvaged from jobs over the years. When I moved back to Oz, I happened to land in a house right between Steve and Pete and the passion project on Friday nights to turn a bunch of old stainless tanks into a decent homebrewing kit began, and really has not stopped since.
Steve: I have been brewing for about 30 years, starting in my student days using Coopers brew kits plus 2kg of cheap sugar. I’ve always loved the alchemy of brewing: the way a bucket of cheap ingredients can become a delicious and unique beverage through the mystery of fermentation!
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
The name evolved from our logo to be honest, when our first creative designer helper created the Hop Flower Bird from our initial beer recipe, The Powerful Owl Pale Ale.
The brewery is not just about making beer, or money for that matter … we sponsor Bird Life Australia with ten cents from every beer sold.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
We do a lot of one-off runs, experimenting with whatever is floating our boats, but in terms of our standard lineup, I think or AuPA (Australian Pale Ale)
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
The Udderly Udderlys, The Beards, recordings of mid-90s RRR shows…
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Our new Eisbock and some Sierra Nevadas I’d never seen before – Dankful IPA and Wild Little Thing.
Sierra Nevada Pale – I love the classics, our pale and a sparkling apple juice I made for the kids whilst we made our latest batch of Cider.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Send It Down is a very sessionable drop. Temple's Hazy series.
Where can people find your beers?
We like to keep it local and friendly: drop in to see Albert and the team at Nillumbik Cellars in Diamond Creek, Dan at A Boy Named Sue in St Andrews, the team at Hurstbridge Liquor, and have a chat and some nibbles with Jo and Analise on a Friday night at the Hop and Vine in Warrandyte.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Exactly where it is now, but profitable!
You can keep up to date with all things Rare Bird via their Facebook page and check out other entries in our Who Brews...? series here.
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