Who Brews As The Malt Man?

March 12, 2024, by Crafty Pint

https://craftypint.s3.amazonaws.com/crafty/learn/People-Culture-icon-230620-122811-230706-153436.png
Who Brews As The Malt Man?

Drive along the scenic route skirting the NSW South Coast and you’ll see his face in the sky. Masked, menacing and malty – so very malty. His name is Malt Man, a brewer by day, bartender by night, and no one knows his true identity… until now.

Well, Malt Man is not a man at all. He’s actually two people: husband and wife team Kirsty and Eric Blue. The latter shared some time with us so we could hear about his various alter-egos.

During their 23 years together (successfully set up by their mums, it turns out), Kirsty and Eric taught English in Daqing, China, before moving to quiet Bodalla 12 years ago.

“It’s a dairy farming town, used to be pretty rustic,” Eric told The Crafty pint. “Now it’s becoming quite a little tourist trap because it’s got nice green rolling hills and it’s quite laid-back.

"It’s getting a bit developed now. I sort of like it quieter but that’s a terrible philosophy for a businessman!”

Like Eric himself, the Malt Man brewery has lived many lives: it was originally built by an Austrian designer as a display home – something that explains the 45 degree pitch roof and wooden ski lodge warmth inside. Later, it became a real estate agency and pie shop, before Eric bought the premises, ran it as a café then made the switch to brewing after spending time on the road around Australia. 

“When we were traveling, we had a camper trailer and our dogs and traveled for two-and-a-half to three years," he says. "We went to a lot of weird places in the outback fossicking for rocks.

"While we were traveling, that's sort of where we had [the café] on the market. We used to visit a lot of breweries and we formulated an idea in our head. Took the property off the market while we were traveling, sold the house, built our house at the rear, and put the money into the brewery.”

If Eric’s life were a superhero movie, this would be the point where he dons the Malt Man mask and cape for the first time. On his gadget belt are the skills needed not only to brew the beer but also to build a new house on the back of the brewery property, renovate the brewery, and landscape the garden, a task that involved moving a collection of unique edible plants that he had cultivated over the years, many of which end up on the menu or in Malt Man beers.

“All our salad is grown either by my mum, me or Yuki who works at the bar. The honey is my sister's honey, which I use in blueberry beers. We use limes out of our garden in our gin.

“I’ve got five lemon trees which go into our kitchen and I make two beers a year every year with my own hops: Tiny Torro Amber Ale, which is brewed in my dog’s memory.”

Although superheroes are often figures of principle, Malt Man dodges detection by avoiding a traditional core range and focusing on going with the flow. Rather than cranking up the tiny 100L system for each new beer idea, Eric holds pilot brew sessions one-fifth of the size at which Kirsty, his brother Anton and the lucky few in his brains trust are encouraged to taste recipes he is refining and give honest feedback.

While many would love to be part of this inner sanctum, the real winner is you – well, those citizens who drop by to sip these well-laboured beers often inspired by traditional European styles such as Kolsch, pilsner and lager. Keep an eye out for the show-stopping porter I was lucky enough to enjoy while politely asking Eric if he wouldn’t mind sparing a minute to be part of our ongoing Who Brews…? series.

He agreed.


Malt Man Brewing

The Malt Man of Bodalla unmasked.

 

Who are you?

We are a team of two: Kirsty and Eric Blue. Kirsty runs the taps and Eric brews the beer and runs the kitchen.


Where do you brew?

Bodalla, NSW.


Why do you brew?

I love making beer and that, every time you brew something new, it could be the best beer you’ve ever made.


Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?

When i was gifted a 30 can box of macro lager for doing a favour. I cracked one and it tasted like the can it came in. I said to myself: “I can do  better than this.” And the rest is history.


What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?

Kirsty loves superheroes and anime and we thought Malt Man kind of sounded like a beer-making superhero.


What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?

We think our Kolsch best represents us. It’s balanced, drinkable, tasty and is true to the original style. We love making beers that people like to drink that are uncomplicated but memorable.

 

Eric with hops – just one of the homegrown ingredients that appears in Malt Man beers

 

If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?

My mate Grant who inspired me to start homebrewing and helped me with advice and any questions I had when I first started out. Always made time to give me a hand and we get on great.

I don’t think Malt Man would exist without him having pushed me to brew.


If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?

Grunge most likely.


What beers are in your fridge right now?

Just finished a box of Wildflower Organice Table Beer – fantastic beer. 


What would be your desert island beer of choice?

Rodenbach Classic – ticks all the boxes.


Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?

I was in Sydney last week and spent a bit of time at Bracket Brewing in Alexandria. Their maibock was absolutely delicious. 

They brew lots of big IPAs and imperials but I have to say I love the way they do Euro styles.


Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?

I brew a couple of beers every year with the hops I grow in my beer garden. I use rainwater for those brews. I would love to brew one of those beers with a yeast I foraged from my property so as to create a beer about as local as it can be.

This would be the holy grail for me and definitely something I would like to explore.


Where can people find your beers?

We don’t package beer so just at our taproom and the two local establishments that pour our beer: The One Tree Inn in Tuross Head, and JJ’s at the Marina in Batemans Bay.


Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?

Hopefully, we will be trading the same way we currently are and are still enjoying it. We love our job and what we’ve created.

https://craftypint.s3.amazonaws.com/crafty/learn/People-Culture-icon-230620-122811-230706-153436.png

Discover more People & Culture articles

If you enjoy The Crafty Pint, you can become a supporter of our independent journalism.

You can make a donation or sign up for our beer club, The Crafty Cabal, and gain access to exclusive events, giveaways and special deals.

Gypsy Hub
Obsidian 2024
Lallemand 1
Cryer E