What would you rather do: have a bucket of ice water poured over your head or drink a cold beer? Because the folks behind the Brewmanity project, Melbourne AFL legend David Neitz and experienced beer industry head Barney Matthews, might have found a more palatable way to help find a cure for Motor Neurone Disease.
The Crafty Pint attended a brew day at Yarraville’s Grain & Grape for the brewing of the second batch of the forthcoming Brewmanity Pale 141: a concept beer driven by giving and supported by some big names.
“I guess, for me, the beer was part of it, but the idea that we were going to be able to give something back through beer resonated particularly,” says project co-founder and longest-serving Dees captain David Neitz (pictured above right shovelling spent grain). “As things went forward, we wanted to ensure that that was part of our DNA – that there was a giving element in what we did.”
Brewmanity is paired with micro-donation organisation Buy 1 Give 1 where, for every beer purchased, they donate a day of clean drinking water (ergo: the "one-for-one" pale). Funds will also go to the Cure for Motor Neurone Disease Foundation, highlighted earlier this year by legendary Dees coach Neale Daniher’s Big Freeze at the ‘G event that raised funds and awareness for the fight against the crippling disease.
David had the concept and, after the Big Freeze, approached Daniher and Cure for MND President Ian Davis with the idea. Having already worked with Cavalier on the Cavalier Courage project, which also supports MND research, Ian is the beer tragic on the team.
“Neil will just drink the beer,” he says with a smile.
While Ian had input on Courage, the Brewmanity project is driven by David and Barney.
“I’ve seen the recipe and it looks great,” says Ian (pictured below right in blue and white cap). “I think it’s going to be a very easy-drinking beer and the Australian public is going to love it.”
Through his CUB connections, Barney was able to bring on a Chief de Beers in Mick Jontef (pictured at top adding hops to the brew). Mick could hardly be better qualified: a CUB veteran since 1973, he’s a hop expert who was involved in the development of Galaxy, a renowned tasting guru, and spearheaded, among other things, production of the brewery's most extravagant release, the annual Crown Ambassador Reserve Lager.
Mick says he's excited by the Brewmanity project, despite, he says with a chuckle, “the fact that I’m a lifelong Essendon supporter.”
Unsurprisingly, the Brewmanity Pale 141 has an all Aussie hop regime: Ella and Vic Secret.
“We have got probably the most interesting hop varieties out there,” Mick says of the local product. “A lot of multi-dimensional varieties. Any particular flavour you want you can find in Australian hops from spicy, herbal to your big fruity aromatics.”
For all that, don’t expect a monster pale. The aim is sessionability and repeat patronage.
“It’s ultimately going to be a beer that is relatively easily drinkable,” says Mick. “We’re not going the big craft way, we’re not after huge hop flavours and huge malt flavours. It’s going to be relatively moderate but all those elements are going to be evident in the beer.”
Barney (pictured below) brings a wealth of experience in the local beer world to the project. He was a founder of Good Beer Week and has worked at the former Belgian Beer Cafe, Matilda Bay and Beer DeLuxe, where he drove its original transformation into a specialist craft beer venue, and says that, while the project sounds like an easy sell – a pairing of beer and goodwill: “If the beer’s not good, you’re dead in the water.”
As for the target audience, David says they’re aiming to please the average swiller at the footy as much as the moustache-twirling sipper.
“With the particular beer we’d want to straddle those two worlds,” he says. “I think this beer will have something for the craft beer drinker and all of us have wanted to stay true to the beer itself, aside of the giving element.”
While nobody would deny that charity brews are a good thing, when it comes to the health sector some might speculate that marrying alcohol and a charity for disease is an odd choice. Indeed, Ian was knocked back from several MND charities when he initially proposed the Cavalier Courage idea, which sees a portion of each sale of the blonde ale go to charity. In the end, he set up a foundation himself and saw the first batch of Courage sell out before it was even brewed.
“I think the concerns from the public and other charities are there, but we’ve proven that it works and it can do good,” he says. “We here in Australia love beer and people are going to drink beer anyway. If this beer was on tap at a place, people would drink it. That a portion of the profit goes to charity is a bonus.”
David agrees. “We just wanted to create some really good beer, which is key, and do some good things along the way. The combination of that is where the energy comes from within our little team.”
Brewmanity will be launched at Beer DeLuxe and feature on The Footy Show on September 23. After that comes Brewmanity Hour, where pubs are being encouraged to replace their Happy Hour on October 23 and donate their profits to the Cure for MND Foundation.
For more information on the project, order some beer or make a donation, head to the Brewmanity website.
Andrew Tijs has been writing for fifteen years, pouring crafty pints for three years, attempting to homebrew a decent saison for one year, and drinking for some time.