Down the side of a normal looking house in a cul-de-sac in suburban Rosanna lives Melbourne’s only residential microbrewery. While it’s not unusual for a bunch of mates to be hanging out in somebody’s shed, the name of the game is normally the consumption of beer not its production. But that’s not the plan for the 5 mates, Trav, Mick, Rob, Jamie and Fenton, who are Kooinda Boutique Brewery. A look in the door of this shed doesn’t reveal a pool table or an old Holden in bits. Not even a shadow board on the wall. Just wall-to-wall stainless steel, a workbench, a desk and a tele that you wouldn’t want to watch the news on let alone the Grand Final.
Kooinda is relatively new to the market and only released their first brew, a pale ale, last November. It may only have been in production one year but getting to the position where they could start brewing took five years of planning, building the brewery and even manufacturing some of the brewing equipment. A proactive approach when dealing with their local council helped them get all the necessary permissions without too much fuss.
When All Ale The Big V visited Kooinda HQ the first batch of their Hop Hurricane American style IPA was in the process of being brewed. Never having had the chance to watch brewing happen at this level it was interesting to see the physical labour involved. Big Mick seemed to be constantly lost in a cloud of steam as he stirred away at a bubbling mash. Fenton was Mr Perpetual Motion as he carried away spent grain, measured out hops (Chinook, Amarillo and Cascade for all you hop heads out there) and made sure the timer was set for the next addition. Unfortunately for Trav he had to take a break from the steam filled brewery to look after the nosy blogger who had come to visit and any cold beers he drank were purely for marketing purposes.
Trav told AATBV that the plan for Kooinda was to produce “out there beers” made with passion. The boys are fans of the American craft beer scene but think that the Australian industry is about 10 years behind what’s going on over there. They intend to help us catch up by producing beers that lack not for flavour or character. Judging by the amount of hops going into the Hop Hurricane it certainly won’t want for personality.
Plans are afoot to expand Kooinda beyond just releasing a new beer though. Trav told us that they view Mountain Goat as a good yardstick for what they want to achieve and they are in the process of locating a new site for the brewery that will allow them to increase output to 8 hectolitres a batch from the current 4. The hope ia also to be able to open a bar on the site that will have an emphasis on beer and food matching. And the good news for beer retailers is that those crappy six-pack holders are almost gone and will soon be replaced with a sturdy, easy to carry model.
I’m not sure which mob it was but I’ve been told that Kooinda means “happy place” in at least one Aboriginal language. Judging by the smiles on the faces of the crew from Kooinda Boutique Brewery when All Ale The Big V visited last week we think that these blokes at least may have found their happy place.