Regular readers of The Crafty Pint will know all about Boatrocker already. Launched as a brewing company back in 2009, with its beers brewed at Southern Bay, its co-founder Matt Houghton has written a series of features about the trials, tribulations and excitement of starting a brewery (read them here). Today, he and wife Andrea are owners of their own brewery in Melbourne's south east.
The story started with the launch of Alpha Queen, a hoppy American inspired ale with an old world malt backbone, that set out Boatrocker's stall as a brewer of beers with character. When the brewery's second beer, Hoppbier - a New World pilsner inspired by Matt's time living in Northern Germany, promptly won a gold medal at the Australian International Beer Awards, it was clear it was a story worth following.
And so it has proved, with the opening of the Braeside brewery allowing Boatrocker to pursue Matt's passion for Belgian style ales and barrel ageing.
Prior to launching Boatrocker, Matt had made multiple visits to Belgium to visit breweries large and small in an attempt to learn the tricks of the trade. So, once he had his own brewery and space in which to play, he set about creating Australian versions of lambics, Berliner Weisse, Flanders red style ales and beyond. Before he'd even put the first test brew through his brewery, he was already the proud owner of 60 wine barrels and, towards the end of 2015 and with help from an injection of funds from Made By HAND, a group made up of the team that launched Little Creatures/Little World Beverages, opened the doors of a dedicated Barrel Room with its own bar in which he has working towards a goal of 70,000 litres of beer ageing in oak at any one time.
Even before the Barrel Room opened, all manner of barrel-aged beers had appeared, from the low ABV Chardonnay barrel-aged, trophy winning Berliner Weisse Mitte to the all-conquering whisky barrel-aged Ramjet imperial stout, Banshee barley wine, a brett saison and more as the Houghtons – aided by their new business partners – establish Boatrocker as one of the most exciting breweries to watch in Australia.
In 2017, the brewery became "Brewers and Distillers" as Hippocampus, an award-winning distillery from Perth founded by Made By HAND, moved to the Barrel Room. As well as continuing with its spirit production, the plan is to blur the boundaries between the two sides of the operation to create even more new and unique Australian beers.