Crowd-funding has become an increasingly popular option within the beer world. There has been a wide variety of pitches, from NOLA Adelaide asking people to fund their tap system to help them keep all the taps independent to Black Hops raising $10,000 for a bottling line for their forthcoming Gold Coast home.
Not all have been well conceived and not all have succeeded (usually one and the same), but one that recently passed its funding target is also perhaps one of the more unusual. Former Little Creatures, Stone & Wood and Holgate Brewhouse brewer Nic Sandery plans to launch a brewing company called Molly Rose. Yet his Pozible campaign didn't ask for support in building a brewery or buying equipment; instead he asked for $3,000 to buy a laptop, camera and protective cases for both.
Why? Because, as of last weekend, he's off on a three month research trip taking in diverse beer cultures around the world. He'll be meeting brewers and checking out festivals and venues along the way, looking for ideas for Molly Rose beers and documenting his travels on the Molly Rose website. But, more than that, his hope is to delve deeper into beer cultures around the world: how do people approach, serve or respect beer in different cultures? What inspiration can he glean from what beer means to people outside the drink within the glass they're holding?
"It was always my intention to have my own place," says the former home brewer who started working at Creatures while completing his brewing studies at Edith Cowan in Perth. "I'd always planned on doing a bit of travel too but haven't had more than five days off [since starting work].
"Before I take the big jump and have even less time off, I wanted to investigate these great beer cultures around the world and learn something from them. It would be remiss to think that I already have all the answers."
Nic arrived in Japan at the weekend and will spend two weeks visiting the likes of Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo and Kyoto. First port of call was the intriguingly titled Snow Monkey Beer Live festival hosted by Shiga Kogen Brewery. After that, he's off to the US and then Europe with stops planned in the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.
"I want to talk to people about how they think about beer," he says. "We drink at the pub and with our mates watching footy, but what is beer culture like in Japan? In the States, they have three or four generations of people who have grown up drinking craft beer, so I can see how they enjoy it and celebrate it.
"I'll be enjoying beers in their home, going to places [in Europe] that have been [brewing] in the same place for 500 years and only sell within 20km. I can see what role beer plays in people's lives."
A good chunk of the money raised via Pozible came from friends and family and family is at the heart of Molly Rose too: the name is a composite of the first names of his two grandmothers.
"They are both really strong, independent women: humble and generous," says Nic. He says they helped shape him and feels his intentions for the brand are in keeping with their guidance.
As for the Molly Rose brand when it takes physical shape, the intention is to start out as a contract brand to help raise funds to open his own production facility in Adelaide. The hope is to achieve that goal by Christmas 2017.
Prospective buyers of his beers should have a good idea of his intentions by the the time the first beers hit taps and shelves thanks to the travel project. As well as reporting on his own site, Nic will be sharing some of his thoughts with us in a series of travel articles for The Crafty Pint.
"Why not write about [my experiences] as I need to record it?" he says. "I can share it with my consumers – with the people who will be drinking the beer – and get their input."
You can follow Nic's adventures via the Molly Rose website.