Brewmanity finally broke ground on what will become their brewpub home in South Melbourne last month. It's been a long time coming, given former Melbourne Demons captain David Neitz and co-founder Jamie Fox were raising money for good causes through their beers midway through the last decade.
Since then, they've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, predominantly in support of Neita's former coach Neale Daniher's FightMND charity, scoured Greater Melbourne for a site for a brewery – almost ending up in Prahran, and added several more beers to their lineup, the most recent being West and East Coast IPAs.
All being well, they'll be welcoming guests through the doors of their venue in early 2023. It's a venue that will feature a brewhouse and tanks visible through a wall of glass, one wall dedicated to the bar and taps, a rooftop deck with views of Melbourne's CBD skyline unmatched by any other brewery venue in the city, and a crows nest above that because, well, why not?
You'll find it out the back of the historic Bells Hotel – itself a place with a colourful brewing history. At the time of writing, that hotel is also undergoing serious expansion and reinvention under the guidance of publican Sam Tresize, who appears to have been responsible for encouraging Brewmanity to go rather harder than their initial vision for the brewpub.
Of course, a brewpub isn't much without a diverse beer offering, and it's here Brewmanity have arguably made their biggest step forward in 2022 in hiring Tim Miller (above centre with Neita and Jamie at the site of their forthcoming brewpub).
Prior to joining the team, Tim had been brewing at Little Creatures in Geelong; before that he was head brewer at 3 Ravens after cutting his teeth at Matilda Bay (Jamie's old stomping ground) so brings with him experience in both large and small craft breweries.
According to Neita, their new signing's philosophy is "taking traditional beers and making them better – reimagining them for today's market", as evidenced by a trial batch of an amber that sits closer to those of the UK than the US that Tim shared when we toured the building site.
While he still has six months or more until he'll be brewing on the full kit and serving customers on-site, Tim envisions "a clean house lager, ambers and reds, a dark lager" as well as the current offering, embellished by experimental brews and, his pet passion, "introducing a bit of smoked malt into everything!"
Before then, and as he works on the opening lineup for Brewmanity's brewpub in the "bunker", we invited him to tell us all about his career in beer and beyond for our Brew & A series.
Why are you a brewer?
Apart from the obvious matter of loving beer, I enjoy drinking beer with people. Hanging around with mates and family, sharing a yarn, talking garbage and just talking about the different beers we are drinking and what we like and dislike about them.
So being part of the making of these beers is a key element.
What would you be if you weren’t a brewer?
I would have probably continued being a chippy.
What was your epiphany beer?
I can’t remember as there have been too many, but I remember going to Beertopia and my mind being opened to the mass array of different beers available. Can’t remember much else after that.
How did you first get involved in the beer world?
Was making a bit of homebrew with a mate and he started talking about a course out at Ballarat. I looked into it and thought: "Let's go back to uni and do a degree."
What's the best beer you’ve ever brewed?
For me it was the Big Dance – our West Coast IPA. However, some of the latest concepts out of the bunker that will be available once we open the brewery are definitely giving it a run for its money.
What's your single favourite ingredient to use in beer?
Can I say malt? [Pretty sure you want to say "smoked malt" – Editor]
Are there any beers you’ve brewed that might have been better left on the drawing board?
There have been plenty of those, but it's these beers that you learn from and grow as a brewer.
If you could do a guest stint at any brewery(s) in the world, which would it be and why?
Schlenkeria, Bamberg. I’d love to work in a rauchbier brewery.
Which local (Aussie or Kiwi) breweries inspire you?
It would be hard to pick just one, all the breweries are putting out some really good beer of different styles.
What inspires you outside the world of brewing beer?
Family, camping, getting out and exploring.
What's your desert island beer – the one to keep you going if you were stranded for the rest of your days?
Not an easy one to answer, but if I had to choose I’d go Saison Dupont. I really enjoy this beer and you can drink it for a long time. It also gives me the double of using the bottles to send messages out for my island party; hopefully someone comes.
And what would be the soundtrack to those days?
Being all by myself, I'd need something to sing along to, so would want some good old school Aussie rock as well as running a bit of Credence and Fleetwood.
If you couldn’t have beer, what would be your tipple of choice?
Probably have to go for a spiced rum of some description. It's typically where I can find myself after the beer is finished.
What's the one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a brewer?
Cleaning and watching things clean is 95 percent of it.
And the one piece of advice you’d give to anyone considering a career in craft beer?
Apart from a love of cleaning, packaging is where you make your money, so you need to come to terms with it. It’s not all just making wort.
You can find other entries in the Brew & A series here.