When Eden Pink first started working at Prancing Pony around six years ago, becoming a brewer wasn't front-and-centre of the 19-year-old's mind. Sure, she loved beer but as a student at the time Eden regarded the front-of-house job as a fun way to combine her love of working with beer and people while helping to her studies in natural health.
“I’d homebrewed with my dad and I was an avid beer drinker,” she says, "but I wasn’t thinking, 'I’ve got this job to go work in production.' It was more, ‘Awesome, I’m going to work in a brewery and have knock-off drinks and drink all the beer.’.”
But it would only take a few months before trying beer gave way to analysing it and for Eden to find herself increasingly fascinated with how beers are designed and brewed.
“Basically, as soon as I started,” she explains, “I started paying a little bit more attention to the production side of how things were working and the different flavours I was getting from different beers, and I wanted to learn more about that process.
“So I couldn’t ignore that curiosity anymore. The curiosity just killed me and I had to start.”
After her front-of-house manager dobbed her into Prancing Pony founders Corinna Steeb and Frank Samson, Eden soon switched her time between service and joining the production team, before moving into brewing full-time.
“It’s been five years and I can’t imagine doing anything else now,” she says.
After realising half a decade was a fifth of her life, she mentioned it in passing to Corinna and Frank, which led in turn to Eden developing a new beer: Pinkers, complete with her image on the cans. The recipe is entirely hers too, landing on a Brut IPA as she's a fan of the style and loves exploring the impact of different strains of yeast in brewing. Fermentis’ SafBrew DA-16 is a strain she’d been looking into without finding much on how brewers were using it, or how it delivered from a practical point of view.
“I couldn’t find any information on it or reviews or anything,” Eden says. “It just said it had really high attenuation so I went, ‘Well, I want to make a Brut.’ because I think Bruts are cool, even though they died out.”
Brewed with El Dorado, Sabro, Amarillo and Citra hops, Eden says feedback from the brewery team has been positive, feeling it blurs the line between a dry Brut and a juicy IPA, while also providing a mix of esters from the yeast.
The person she's most keen to serve Pinker too is her old homebrewing partner who we have to thank for the beer's name.
“Pinkers is my nickname growing up from my dad; with the last name pink it kind of speaks for itself,” Eden says.
“It’s nice because he still calls me that, and he’s just as obsessed with beer as I am. So it means it’s special for him too.”
To learn more about what she loves about brewing and the beer industry, we invited Eden to join us for our latest Brew & A.
Why are you a brewer?
Firstly, I love beer, the production of beer, the equipment and also the industry. I’ve never felt so at home in a role, or as passionate and curious. I adore that no matter how much you learn there is always more; new materials and findings from research and trials keeps things interesting – the brewing landscape is forever changing and evolving!
What would you be if you weren’t a brewer?
Who knows! Perhaps a role in quality control or sensory, both of these areas really interest me. I also try to incorporate them into my role now as much as I can.
As far as something utterly not beer related – I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought.
What was your epiphany beer?
The epiphany beer was after my first shift in front-of-house. I had a pint of India Red Ale as my knock-off drink. It was like *ping* I love this; I need to know and do more.
How did you first get involved in the beer world?
I’ve always been a lover of beer, homebrewing and looking up the beers I was drinking. Dad and I would often sit down and do tastings of a large selection of beers and it was the best way to broaden our palates and style knowledge.
My true entrance into the beer world was when I first started pouring beers, and then moving into a brewing traineeship at Prancing Pony Brewery.
What's the best beer you’ve ever brewed?
We used to make a beer at PPB called the Pagan’s Empire. It was my favourite. It ticked every beer box for me. It was complex, spicy, fruity and piney. It had a high percentage of rye in the malt bill that would just turn to glue in the lauter tun, making for a very long, tearfully frustrating day. But the beer was so worth it.
In terms of having fun with recipe development and having my own spin on a beer, the Pinkers Brut IPA was magnificent fun. I decided to use DA-16 yeast, which I couldn’t find any reviews on whatsoever, and it just took off and fermented down to 0 Plato in two days! An amazing yeast that, without experimenting, we wouldn’t have found!
What's your single favourite ingredient to use in beer?
Yeast – I am constantly impressed by different yeast performances. I really enjoy esters in particular beers, and experimenting with different yeast strains can be like going into the unknown. No matter how many reviews and specs you read, it always makes a unique touch to a beer.
Are there any beers you’ve brewed that might have been better left on the drawing board?
We haven't had a beer come through our brewhouse that we have been unhappy with. There is something for everyone, especially with limited releases. When you first make a beer, it doesn’t always turn out as expected, but by some small recipe alterations over a few batches, a beer can be shaped.
If you could do a guest stint at any brewery(s) in the world, which would it be and why?
Weihenstephaner or any other large-scale brewery with history. With nearly 1,000 years in the industry, they are definitely doing something right. I love their beers and would be very interested in a good sticky beak at their production facility, to learn more about their processes, and what they have changed throughout history.
Which local (Aussie or Kiwi) breweries inspire you?
As a brewer, all breweries that have a consistently great, fault-free beer should inspire anyone in the industry. Coopers, BentSpoke, Black Hops, Modus Operandi and Hawkers are all standout, consistent breweries for me. They are always consistent, and I know what I’m getting.
What inspires you outside the world of brewing beer?
Drinking beer! Specifically with my Dad!
Music is certainly also big part of my life; I’ve played guitar and sang for a very long time. I also love cooking, camping and four-wheel driving with my partner and friends – nothing beats it.
What's your desert island beer – the one to keep you going if you were stranded for the rest of your days?
A session ale of some sort. Our XPA certainly comes to mind – I could drink it all day!
It’s already my perfect lawn-mowing beer, so I feel safe to say it would be my desert island beer too.
And what would be the soundtrack to those days?
Anything from Red Hot Chili Peppers. A groovy and chill soundtrack is the way to go for me!
If you couldn’t have beer, what would be your tipple of choice?
A nice complex red wine, I love shiraz, but I am also partial to a nice oaked chardonnay.
What's the one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a brewer?
Bring a change of clothes. You are never safe from getting covered in something: yeast, hops, or full frontal of beer or cider. No matter how long you do it, you will get covered.
And the one piece of advice you’d give to anyone considering a career in craft beer?
Firstly, drink more beer, enjoy the experience. Chat to your local brewers and see if the lifestyle and job will fit well. If you are passionate, certain and willing to make beer a big part of your life, then go for it!
Apply for positions in breweries: packaging, brewing assistant, cellar hand as this gives room to grow. I started in front-of-house and made my way into production.
Also educate yourself, research, do a course etc, so that you have more of a chance of getting a role in brewing.
You can find other Brew & A features here.
If you're in Adelaide's CBD between now and the end of April, you can try any of Eden's beers by heading to the Prancing Pony pop-up on 266 Rundle Street. Further details are here.