If the name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, it’s not long after walking into Future Mountain brewing and blending that you get the sense of just how important barrels are to the brewery’s story. They line walls and envelop tables while barrel hoops hang down from the old warehouse’s roof like beery chandeliers.
Even before they opened the doors to their Reservoir home, Shane Ferguson and Ian Jones were well versed in brewing, having worked at several other local breweries over the past few years.
They opened their own venture in March 2019, another moment that helped showed just how diverse the local beer scene is becoming in Australia. Future Mountain may still be located along the 86 tram line - Melbourne’s most craft beer and brewery rich public transport route – but you hardly need to look deep into the annals of history to consider Reservoir an unlikely spot for an operation like Future Mountain to set down roots.
The diversity of what’s brewed inside flits from Belgian-inspired saisons and traditionally-minded pilsners to the barrel-aged, the barrel-fermented and the blended. They pour from 12 taps lining the walls either side of the island bar and are likely to change with each visit, as new blends, new barrels and new ideas regularly take their turn. What stays constant is that each beer’s name is a musical references; it might be a song name or a lyric – with the Bob Dylan portrait inside hinting at the source of some of Shane and Ian’s musical cues.
While many brewers of such beers have drawn inspiration from the great lambic and farmhouse breweries of Belgium and northern Europe, it’s also America’s growing number of sour and wild beer specialists that have helped drive the creation of Future Mountain. The duo’s focus is on blending the Old World and the New by overlaying historic brewing practices with more contemporary techniques, something reflected in the brewery’s name.
Their lab – the aptly named Culture Club – is filled with a selection of bacteria and cultures they’ve stockpiled from beers they love; Future Mountain’s core culture has been built by Ian over the years at home and can trace its roots back to some of the pair’s favourite breweries, the likes of Cantillon and Jester King.
Like the beers, the plan is for the mixed culture to evolve and include wild yeast strains they’ve captured, including some from the orchards and wineries where they're sourcing their fruit: from the off, Shane and Ian have been working closely with local producers, sourcing raspberries, apricots, redcurrants and more from the Yarra Valley.
The final element of the brewing side of Future Mountain sees their Belgian style beers take shape within an open fermenter located in its own sterile and temperature-controlled chamber – a setup designed to let the yeast really go to work.
The mix of modernity and tradition is maintained throughout the taproom, where an exterior that looks pretty much identical to the surrounding warehouses obscures what lies inside. The front bar is brought to life by low lighting and indoor plants, and provides plenty of space in which to enjoy glass after glass of saison. The back bar feels designed more with the beer geek in mind: the stainless side of the business lines one wall and you can pull up a pew between the barrels as you tuck into one of their mixed ferments.
Until bottles arrive in the second half of 2019, the brewery is the only place to find the beers too, not that you’ll regret the trip. With no kitchen, food comes in the shape of pies and pasties or can be is supplied by nearby businesses. But chances are you’re here for the beers and the barrels. Enjoy.