When Dave Macgill started working at Moo Brew in 2006, Australia’s craft beer landscape was unrecognisable from the crowded marketplace of today. There were few dedicated craft venues, it would be more than five years before the first canned craft beer would appear, and every new release was a story-worthy cause for celebration (if you could get your hands on a bottle).
But, as the industry grew, so too did batch sizes and responsibilities, until Dave found himself removed from what drew him to brewing in the first place.
“I just wanted to brew beer,” he says, “but the higher up you get, the less time you spend on the kit.
“I spent a lot of time as the general manager of Moo not brewing beer – the Session Ale was a recipe of mine that I never brewed – so it's good to be back on the tools now.”
The tools in question are found at the newly-launched Deep South Brewing Co, where Dave – who also worked at Temple between twin stints at Moo – says he’s doing a few things differently this time around.
While Moo Brew lacked a home of their own, sharing the bars at MONA with other brands and, since 2011, brewing a few kilometres away from the museum precinct, Deep South is located in a cavernous North Hobart warehouse that Dave and his business partners stripped and rebuilt.
“The only things that are original are us and the four walls,” he laughs, before adding: “and we're not that original anymore... we've changed a bit since it first started.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is his fondness for European beer styles; at Moo, he once said he’d never release an IPA (ultimately, he did, and it’s a cracker) and oversaw a core range that included a hefeweizen and still boasts two lagers – and the steam-heated, four vessel brew kit at Deep South suits that predilection perfectly.
The 12 hL setup with six 2,500 litre ferment vessels can punch out 200,000 litres a year, and features dual blending stations for simultaneous mashing and sparging so it can be run by a single brewer. That’s partially so Dave can spend plenty of time on the tools, but also an acknowledgement of how hard it is to find experienced brewers – and a place for them to live in Hobart – at the moment.
Deep South’s initial core range consists of a draught, XPA, IPA and pale, all named after islands off Tasmania’s southwest coast. Noticeably absent from that lineup is a dark beer, and Dave says it will stay that way when it comes to the core range, although a dry Irish dry stout will be followed by seasonal brown ales, dark lagers and possibly even a Märzen.
After needing to brew at least 2,000 litres just to hit the temperature probe at Moo, the ever-smiling brewer is loving the opportunity to play around with smaller batches and unusual malt profiles. Just don’t expect any “double upside down, quadruple dry-hopped IPAs…” he says.
“I don't have the imagination to think up the quirky names for them every single time.”
Instead of drawing a crowd for crazy one-off brews, Deep South will be dedicated to beers that locals can drink all night, hence the easy-drinking draught designed for neighbouring mechanics and tradies to enjoy as their knock-off.
With 12 taps, there’s room for the core range, four seasonal beers, a cider and guest taps, while the walls behind are lined with gin, whisky and mezcal. In fact, you don’t even see the kit until you’ve walked all the way through the venue, a hint that it’s not all about beer in a space Dave describes as “not a brewpub but a brewery / taproom / restaurant or a restaurant / taproom/ brewery... any combination of those three words.”
Beer might not be the only offering at Deep South, but heading to the deep south will be the only way you’ll be able to try Dave’s new brews because he has no plans to send any to the mainland.
“It's $300 bucks or so to send a cold keg across Bass Strait, so you're 40 or 50 dollars behind already,” he reasons, and while Moo could play in that field a decade ago it’s a lot more competitive now.
Plus, this way, he can decide the brewing schedule without distributors making demands on him. It is, he suggests, the ultimate extension of his love of those European style beers.
“After all,” he says, “the Germans always say you should drink the beer in the shadow of the brewery.”
Deep South Brewing Co is at 220 Argyle Street, North Hobart. You can find it and hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues in the free Crafty Pint app.