In 2005, Red Duck Brewery launched as one of the brave few fighting the craft beer cause in Victoria's west. Initially founded in a converted dairy in the grounds of Purrumbete Homestead and operating a Providore in nearby Camperdown, brewer Scott Wilson-Browne soon made a name as one of Australia's most adventurous brewers.
Based in Ballarat since 2011, Red Duck continues to push boundaries, whether working with barrels, producing hop free ales inspired by ancient styles or collaborating with international brewers and using unusual ingredients. A pioneer of many unusual or rare styles and techniques that are now being attempted by a growing number of Australian brewers, the brewery has also become increasingly synonymous with its hometown, selling much of its beer, particularly core range beers such as its Pale and Amber, within a few kilometres of the brewery.
Originally brewing into tanks named after characters in Kath and Kim but now bearing those of the world's leading footballers, Scott and his brewers frequently bring a no-holds-barred approach, specialising in full strength and Imperial versions of predominantly traditional British and European ales as well as obscure releases such as Egyptian-inspired sours and Medieval gruits and braggots.
Opened in 2005 by Scott and wife Vanessa after they left Melbourne for a change of pace, and named after the Shelducks that inhabit Lake Purrumbete close to the original brewery, Red Duck was for a while the only brewery between Geelong and Adelaide. Using a self-designed system that has been steadily expanded, the focus outside the core range is on small batch brewing: many releases are only produced in 500 litre batches; many of the barrel aged beers are scarcer still.
You can call into the cellar door in Ballarat to check out their current brewing setup, pick up bottles from a range that often tops 60 beers, have a chat to the brewing team and discover just what experiments they've got bubbling away. And, from 2016, look out for Kilderkin, the new gin and whisky operation Scott is launching.