These days, you’ll find Heroes & Villains growing into their Osborne Park brewery, yet the story stretches back more twenty years, of which the past few have seen head brewer Shannon Mizen’s dream realised in liquid beer gold.
Like many, Shannon began homebrewing as a means to save money, and over the following two decades accolades and awards accumulated, thanks in part to a thoughtful Christmas present.
“The only reason I got into all grain brewing is that my wife bought me a recipe book for all grain brewing for Christmas,” he says. “Had she known that we’d end up here, she would have never bought me that book!”
Armed with the gift, a new world of possibilities opened up; later, for the Mizen’s tenth wedding anniversary, Shannon received a Grainfather brew kit – possibly another gift wife Sally might have had second thoughts about. One of the first brews, a Belgian pale, collected a gold medal at the 2014 WA Amateur Brewing Awards, part of Perth Royal Beer Awards, and provided a tipping point towards thoughts along the lines of: “What if this became more serious?”
After an extensive career in sales and marketing for utilities companies, the desire to craft something for himself took over, beginning with a business plan in 2016, then Ritual Brewing in 2017. All being well, Ritual would have debuted that year, but trademark issues with a winery scuttled the name.
As such, it was the release of the Villains album by Shannon’s favourite band, Queens of the Stone Age, that bestowed the then stateless brewery with its new nom de plume, Heroes and Villains. The Californian rockers also inspired the new brewery’s commercial debut, Beer of the New Age pale ale, for which Shannon is enthusiastically unapologetic: “I love beer and rock ‘n roll!”
Brewing originally took place at Oakover Winery thanks to, oddly enough, a coffee connection. There, he secured the lease on a small, 100 square metre site, and installed equipment in April 2018 ahead of that first release in September 2018.
However, it wasn’t long before the developing scale of the brewery called for a new location, and thus a move from the Swan Valley to “hipster tradie” Osborne Park – an evolving industrial hub 15 minutes north of Perth’s CBD – in February 2020.
Once established inside the former furniture restoration business, Shannon committed to Heroes and Villains full time, scaling to a potential 80,000 litres per year, and resigning from his job in March 2020 – just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard. The months that followed featured a mix of consulting work for his former employer, mountainous legislative paperwork, and a wait for restrictions to ease.
However, the time also allowed Shannon to refine the Heroes and Villains offering, which now consists of four core range beers – the Heroes – plus a growing range of one-off, limited releases – the Villains.
The Heroes include Beer of the New Age (BOTNA) American Pale, and evolving IPA Renegade, which are supported by the Saigon Fresh Ale featuring lemongrass, ginger and honey through the warmer months, and Dark Hearts, a brown ale brewed with honey as the weather cools. That said, there is crossover in the availability of these two. They’re all clad in Sally Mizen’s hand-drawn artwork, each featuring details of the beer’s backstory.
Then there’s the Villains: a collection of experimental one-offs, released once a month in both cans and kegs. To date, these have included Lockdown West Coast IPA, a homebrew competition-winning IPA using English hops, Van Damme Belgian ale brewed with Saaz, The Swamp NEIPA featuring Strata hops, and Downstairs, To The Right, a Belgian Hazy IPA celebrating Perth venue The Rechabite’s first birthday.
As for their titles, Shannon notes: “All the Villains’ names take the piss out of something.”
At time of writing, you can visit the brewery to enjoy them via tasting paddles, and pick up cans and growlers for takeaway, with Shannon working towards having a taproom open in early 2021.