Earlier this month, Mornington Peninsula Brewery released the first beer from its barrel program, the luscious Old Pumping Station, a take on their Imperial Stout aged in Shiraz barrels. Overseeing the program is young brewer Kristian Martin.
The program may have sent just one beer into the world thus far, but there are many more barrels already filled with a wide range of beers waiting for their moment to shine. So, as he helps take the brewery in another new direction, we invited him to answer the questions in one of our regular Brew & A features.
Why are you a brewer?
The main reason is that I love creating something people enjoy, but a big selling point was having a job where no two days are the same and I am physically active.
What would you be if you weren’t a brewer?
Criminologist. Before I transitioned into brewing I was tutoring criminology at Deakin University and had been accepted as a PhD candidate. At the time, however, I really wanted to do something more creative and physically active.
What was your epiphany beer?
Thinking back I would probably say Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout – but there have been many along the way.
How did you first get involved in the beer world?
Working at Carwyn Cellars, Thornbury (the greatest craft beer venue in Australia!) was definitely a massive influence. But I am also a pretty obsessive and geeky homebrewer, and was for quite some time before I started brewing commercially.
What's the best beer you’ve ever brewed?
Maybe I shouldn’t say, because it’s probably something still in barrel and not yet released. But the Brain Squeeze – Hoppy Sour – is banging!
What's your single favourite ingredient to use in beer?
Brettanomyces. The unpredictability of wild yeasts really excites me and I love the funky flavours they produce. I find there is always more to learn more about how these yeasts behave in different environments such as oak barrels vs stainless steel, or how they interact with other ingredients such as hops, malt and, most especially, different bacteria.
If you could do a guest stint at any brewery in the world, which would it be and why?
Instinctively, I would say any Lambic brewery where I could learn more about spontaneous fermentation, barrel ageing and sour blending. But there is a long list of US breweries making awesome and diverse beers I would kill to be a guest at: Green Flash for their hoppy beers and New Belgium for their foeder blends, just to name a couple.
Which local (Aussie or Kiwi) breweries inspire you?
8 Wired have always been a big inspiration for me – I love their focus on making new and exciting beers using both traditional and modern techniques. Hoppy wild beers such Gypsy-Funk really inspire me, and their IPAs and dark beers are awesome.
What's your desert island beer – the one to keep you going if you were stranded for the rest of your days?
Cantillon Original Geuze.
And what would be the soundtrack to those days?
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd. Or Maybe Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Some of these questions are really tough.
If you couldn’t have beer, what would be your tipple of choice?
Whiskey, I guess, but I really don’t like this scenario.
What's the one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a brewer?
Trade waste is a big part of the job and it’s a royal pain.
And the one piece of advice you’d give to anyone considering a career in craft beer?
Always wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Thanks, Kristian, particularly for the reminder to revisit Speakerboxxx/The Love Below – it's been too long.
If you're a member of The Crafty Cabal, keep your eyes peeled for an event tied to the MPB barrel program. If you'd like to read other Brew & A interviews, head here.