Back when Moon Dog first appeared on the Australian beer scene, we were moved to open this description with the iconic words of Monty Python: "And now for something completely different."
It's testament to the evolution of the beer world – and the impact Moon Dog have had upon it locally – that their approach isn't quite as "completely different" these days. In the years since they took up residence in the Abbotsford warehouse in the shadow of CUB's main site, more brewing companies have launched with a similar approach to creating beers, or put out limited releases that share common ground with the more outré ideas with which Moon Dog's founders first gained notoriety.
Travel back to their earliest days and you'll find the likes of a Cognac barrel-aged double IPA, an imperial gingerbread stout and a whopping pale ale that counted rose and chrysanthemum water among its ingredients. They came bearing names such as the The Artisan Poser, Perverse Sexual Amalgam and the George Freeth Memorial Brown Ale - and featuring suitably outlandish packaging - and were produced on a brewery put together from parts that include those used for seaweed-based cosmetics and an open fermentation tank from the former Wagga Wagga brewery that hadn't been operational in around 80 years.
They were unlike pretty much anything else seen in the local beer world to that point. But the trio made up of two violin-playing brothers and their mate could see where things were headed.
Just as the Australian beer landscape has evolved and grown since then, so has the business launched by Josh and Jake Uljans and Karl van Buuren. In the case of Moon Dog, the penchant for often daft experimentation has continued, usually in small batches using the original brewhouse and its much-expanded collection of fermenters, but the operation has grown well beyond that. There's a core range of sensible beers – Old Mate pale ale, Mack Daddy dark ale, Beer Can, Lager – driving volume sales and a large team working across Australia and exploring overseas markets.
In May 2014, they opened their brewery bar, shortly after taking over an adjacent warehouse where they could install a bottling line, storage and table tennis table (accessed through a bookshelf). That has since become an extension of the venue and is regular hired out for functions, with a much bigger production facility built down the street (and a separate space filling with barrels across the road).
That expansion has merely proved to be an appetiser. Late in 2019, they opened the doors to what promised to be the most outrageous brewery venue in Australia: Moon Dog World. They took over the former Nylex production plant in Preston, a truly vast space, where the venue features a waterfall, lagoon, tiki bar, fountain, retractable roof, 100 hectolitre brewery and rather more.
Even after all this time, it looks like Monty Python's words will be just as appropriate as they were in the early days. And there are plans for more Moon Dog Worlds to come too.