When Deeds Brewing fired up their Glen Iris brewhouse in the first half of 2019, it was the end of a long journey for Pat Alé and Dave Milstein.
The seeds of the idea to build a brewery together had first been planted way back in 2003 when they attended university together and started spitballing business ideas after class over a beer. They might have been enjoying their engineering degrees, but building a business – particularly a brewery – sounded like a lot more fun.
As they started researching the practicalities, they quickly woke up to the reality that building a brewery is damn expensive and, worse still, they didn’t know anything about manufacturing beer, selling, marketing, finance or, if they're honest, anything at all about business. So, as a first step on their journey, they started a distribution business called Red Island and set about learning the ropes.
Five years on from their launch after importing beers from all over the world – some successfully, others not so much – the pair picked up Rekorderlig ciders. Then practically unknown in Australia, they transformed it into a drink that seemed to be in pretty much every bar and bottleshop out there. But owning their own brewery was always the goal and, in 2012, Pat and Dave launched Quiet Deeds as a contract brand, based around a highly approachable lineup of a pale ale, Kolsch and IPA.
By 2013, they’d sold off the rights to Rekorderlig to focus their eyes more keenly on beer and set out on a hunt for their future home, which they found in one of the inner east’s few industrial pockets: Paran Place in Glen Iris is the sole industrial zone in Stonnington Council, within a cluster of suburbs that have historically been Melbourne’s driest.
The old car dealership that took their fancy might have had plenty of asbestos that needed tearing out but, in the building’s sawtooth roof and unique fit out, Pat and Dave envisioned the perfect spot in which to bring local beer to an area that had long gone without.
They ordered their 25 hectolitre DME brewhouse and substantial packaging setup and… well, let’s just say it took almost another three years to get it installed and operational after enduring a red tape-strewn roller coaster ride with their local council then VCAT, which saw them having to remove a planned tap room from their planning application in order to gain approval for their brewery.
By then, they’d rebranded to Deeds Brewing, the intention being for it to become the overarching home for a family of themed beer brands. Quiet Deeds still adorns most of the brewery’s releases, but look out for the likes of Dark Deeds and more down the line. The rebrand also brought with it a new logo, one mimicking their sawtooth home and promoting their Glen Iris location.
It wasn’t just the Quiet Deeds labels that changed, either, but many of the beers too. Some of the beers that followed their early trio had hinted at a greater sense of adventure – the Lamington Ale and, more than anything, their Juice Train NEIPA, now fine-tuned into one of the most popular of the hazy IPAs doing the rounds – and you can see that spirit in the new look lineup.
There’s been a double dry-hopped pale named Double Time, in reference to how long it took the brewery to be finished, the pineapple sour Sawtooth, an ice cream pale, and Nuke Point, a hopped-to-the-wazoo IPA they pull from fridges if it hasn’t been sold within 30 days of being packaged.
Within months of firing it up, they’d also taken full advantage of the versatility of their brewhouse in the shape of limited edition and one-off brews. The likes of the Breakfast NEIPA Naked Brunch, double hazy IPA Fortune and Glory, fresh-hopped DDH pale Interstellar and a hazy IPA called Nebula have set out their stall for a jam-packed limited release schedule.
As far as statements of intent go, it’s pretty clear that, under the leadership of former Hawkers head brewer Justin Corbitt, the new Deeds beers will be exploring a diverse array of modern styles. Some other early brews on that kit were squirrelled away into barrels too, so expect big stouts and wilder releases (which the Crafty team hopes will come bearing the Dirty Deeds banner…).
The plans don’t stop there, however, with work ongoing (at time of writing) on revisiting their on-site venue too. Pat at Dave want to make their original vision for the venue a reality by gaining approval for the taproom. When you’re in a suburb with few drinking and dining options – sat just a few metres from Glen Iris station and only a couple more from the number 6 tram route – it’s a smart move.
That said, it’s a part of the business that’s ensuring the roller coaster still has a few more loops and twists to complete first. The plan – and it’s an ambitious one that will see guests wrapped around two sides of the brewery and the creation of a kind of indoor-outdoor beer garden – is to open to the public some time in 2020. And, when you consider the journey Pat and Dave have been on already – one that makes you wonder how they still go about their business with smiles on their faces – that must feel like it’s just around the corner.
You can sign a petition in support of their brewery venue application here.