There are so many opportunities to immerse yourself in the beer industry these days that it's far easier to amass knowledge and experience before launching your own venture than it would have been for Australia's craft beer pioneers of even a decade ago. But we'll wager there are very few out there who have gone to quite the lengths of Nic Sandery.
Sure, the fact he spent time at established breweries Little Creatures, Stone & Wood and Holgate Brewhouse while he honed his skills isn't particularly unusual. Nor is the fact he's a keen student of beer and brewing. Yet such building blocks represent only part of what he's using to create Molly Rose Brewing.
Upon leaving a brewing position in early 2016 – and armed with a laptop, computer and protective cases for both acquired via a Pozible campaign – he set off to explore beer cultures in diverse regions of the world. He first spent time in Japan, later immersing himself in parts of the beer world in the US, England and Germany, all with the aim of understanding not just how they brewed and what they brewed but what beer culture meant in each of those places.
Since returning from that trip, he's worked at wineries in Victoria to understand the winemakers' mentality and techniques too and, along the way, has been documenting his exploits and learnings both on the Molly Rose Brewing website and in regular articles for this site.
Admittedly, all of this is well and good but, if it doesn't lead to Nic brewing and releasing any beer, is it not a little like the eternal student who embarks on successive uni courses? It might do, were it not for the fact that beers have been forthcoming since late 2017, initially in very small numbers but, from early 2019, to be seen in rather larger volumes.
The first Molly Rose beers appeared in the limited run Foundation Series, available online and in beautifully presented packs of 750ml bottles that balanced the feminine brewing company name (an amalgam of Nic's grandmothers' first names) with a more austere, yet still elegant, look. They included beers that indicated he intended to bring something different to the table – a remarkable smoked Japanese dark lager featuring seaweed, for example, and a delicate strawberry-laced sour ale that has since returned.
More have followed, with Matilde, a finely judged Brett saison, at time of writing the only release approaching "core range" status. Following The Foundation Series is The Molly Rose Cornerstone, a collection of 12 beers appearing across three deliveries in 2019, six exclusive to club members, the others made up of limited releases.
It might seem a slow and painstaking way to go about building a business, with the beers created in 300 litre batches at a winery in the Strathbogie Ranges. But, equally, when you look at the sort of beers Nic is creating, you could describe is as deliberate and thoughtful; spend time in his company and you'll soon appreciate where the answer lies.
What's more, it's all part of a plan that has led to Molly Rose moving into her own home: a brewpub in the burgeoning craft beer hub that is Collingwood. Built to a great degree by Nic's own hands inside a former furniture store in Wellington Street, barrels, tanks and the bar line the walls while a blend of contemporary hop driven beers, farmhouse styles and barrel-aged blends typically pour through the taps.
It's welcoming, humble and hums with echoes of beer's storied past; in other words, it's a reflection of the man behind Molly Rose.