Six months ago, three local lads were sitting at the pub having a few beers when the conversation turned to brewing.
One of those gents had an idea to brew an Eggnog Stout but he didn’t have the brewing experience to get it off the ground. As luck would have it, another had just set up a three-vessel home brew system that he was yet to use. The third dude was just there for a beer. And that’s how Black Hops Brewing started.
“We made our first brew, the Eggnog Stout and it tasted even better than we hoped, so we handed it out to friends and others in the industry for feedback,” Eddie Oldfield, one of those three tells me.
“We also spent a bit of extra time on some nice labels, a good brand name and a website. That extra effort helped us stand out, and before we knew it, people were asking when the commercial release would be ready,” Eddie said. So they kept the momentum going and brewed a 800L commercial batch.
We posed a few questions to the team behind Black Hops Brewing.
Tell me about your team
Michael McGovern is our brewer. Brewing has been his full-time job for seven years. He started at Pickled Pig, then moved to Burleigh Brewing and now Fortitude Brewing. He has brewed four out of the current top seven Queensland craft beers. He’s also a beer lover, keen surfer and a new dad!
Dan Norris is a serial entrepreneur and online marketing expert. His current business offers small 30 minute WordPress fixes for a monthly subscription. The jobs are managed by a team of 40+ people in 7 countries, servicing over 850 clients in 14 countries. He loves to write, surf, and drink beer.
Eddie is the relationship and sales guy that every brewery needs. An all round good bloke, friend to lots in the craft beer industry, and a real beer aficionado. He too, also loves to surf as much as possible.
When did you all first fall in love with craft beer?
For all of us, the first proper taste of craft beer was probably the good local stuff a few years ago at Burleigh Brewing, the full range was a real eye opener. But I guess the foundation was laid a little earlier for us all with beers like Little Creatures Pale Ale and Coopers. Eddie used to take Tooheys Old to high school parties as no one would ever steal them. As far as mainstream beer goes, that had and still has some flavour at least.
And what drove you to start making your own?
I think it just felt right from the start. We got together and started making beer quite often and talking a lot of shit, but that shit all of a sudden didn’t sound so stupid, and that beer we were making was tasting pretty damn good! We are a mixed bag, but the skills we all bring are quite unique.
How different is making a batch of homebrew to brewing a craft beer for sale?
It’s quite similar, the process is identical, for example the time it takes to brew 20L is the same as it takes to brew 1000L. We brew on a three vessel all grain system at home, which is somewhat equivalent to a large commercial setup, just a lot smaller. Scaling up the recipe is probably the biggest challenge, making sure ingredients remain in proportion, that’s Govs’ job though and he’s been doing that on a commercial scale, for a long time.
Where do you hope this will go – do you want to quit your real jobs to become beer makers?
Definitely. We think craft beer is going to explode in Australia and the Gold Coast is the perfect destination for it. Our plan is to find ourselves a home in a Gold Coast industrial area and build Queensland’s third largest independently owned brewery with a cellar door to create a place for locals to grab worldclass beer at their doorstep.
What’s the craft beer scene like on the Gold Coast
The craft beer scene here is in its infancy. There are promising signs but realistically we are a long way behind other major cities in Australia. We are really keen to help build a d change that. In a city that is so passionate about locally sourced produce (which is a good thing!), there seems to be a very big misconception about who owns beer, where that money goes and what’s actually in it.
Burleigh Brewing have obviously paved the way on the Coast, and we also have Fortitude Brewing up on Mt Tamborine, as have the bars that support local/Australian owned craft brewers. Places like Ze Pickle, Easy Street Diner, Cambus Wallace, Pigs ‘n’ Pints, Black Coffee Lyrics and Bine.
So where can we try this magical brew?
At the moment, we’ve been brewing small batches for specific events around the country. We have 4 events coming up for Brewsvegas, we will have a beer at the Great Australian Beer Spectapular in Melbourne and Good Beer Week in Melbourne. We keep our website, blackhops.com.au updated with all of the details.