In the coming weeks, the first of Red Duck’s intriguing dark beers we told you about a few weeks back will start leaving the brewery. As such, it seems like as good a time as any to pose a few questions to the brewery’s founder and head brewer Scott Wilson-Browne.
He’s one of Australia’s most idiosyncratic and adventurous brewers, never afraid to try something new – no matter how out there it might be or whether others might view a particular beer as commercial suicide. Not all of Red Duck’s releases are for everybody, but that’s how he likes it. It’s a risk-taking approach that has resulted in some of The Crafty Pint’s favourite Aussie beers and without people like him pushing the envelope would the Australian beer revolution be moving forward as fast as it is?
Favourite Australian beer (other than your own)?
On the rare occasions i am lucky enough to be in a bar that has Goat on tap, I probably wouldn’t need anything else. Unfortunately, that doesnt happen very often, so on the rare occasions I get to a well stocked bottleshop, the best beers in recent times would be Holgate White Ale, Brew Boys Ace of Spades and Otway Estate’s Organic Cider.
Epiphany beer – the one that set you on the road to becoming a brewer?
Answer A: Anything produced by large Australian commercial brewers, from around 1985 to 2005. These beers are so unpalatable that I didn’t drink them.* I drank infrequent and very small amounts of imported UK and European ales, the occassional American craft ale, and wine. Mostly wine, not beer. Sad. In the end, I decided that the only way to get a decent beer on a regular basis was to make my own.
Answer B: When in the UK, I always looked for whatever was the "guest beer" at the small pubs, too many to recall any names, but must have included Adnams Broadside, Fullers London Pride, Goose Island IPA, Fraoch Heather Ale, Greene King IPA. But there was one ale which I had to wait a few years to try, after we started brewing. Before we decided to build a brewery, we had been talking about a small brewery, in the middle of nowhere (like us), that made great ales (like we wanted) and one ale they made, in particular, got me dreaming: St Peter's King Canute.
*Anyone in this country that says they love beer, and only drinks commercial styled "lager" or whatever it really is, is not a beer lover. A beer lover is someone who loves all styles of beer. A beer lover is someone that is loyal to only one cause: beer. Not one style, not one brand. Being loyal to one style of beer, that’s not love of beer, it’s stupidity.
It’s embarrassing that there are still so many people that set their standards on beer by those brewed by the largest breweries in this country. But if there isn’t an alternative, who is to blame? Not microbrewers, that’s the whole point: the small guys can make the biggest changes. We might die trying, but at least we tried.
Desert island beer – the one to keep you going if you were stranded for the rest of your days?
Lindemans Grand Cru Gueuze, but if I had to go local, our White Garden.
Favourite beer and food match? Red Duck Porter, at 8am, freshly opened oysters with a squeeze of lemon juice.
What are we likely to hear cranking from the stereo on brew days?
On a brew day, there is usually nothing cranking, as we listen to the pumps and other brewing noises incessantly. Fair to say that our brewery is pretty dull on the music side. It’s a brewery after all! Bottling days, there are two stations available in our designated remote regional reception area: triple J or 774…
We flip between the two, depending on which is more interesting, but usually just chat away inanely, solving the world’s problems.
Favourite place to enjoy a drink?
If I lived closer to Josie Bones, I would never go home.
If you were a beer style, what would you be?
A beer style that doesn’t exist yet, but i am working on it.
The best thing you've ever traded for beer?
Beer. Everything else is a trade down.
When I'm not making or drinking beer, you'll find me...
Working my other job, graphic design, in an attempt to earn enough money to pay exci$e and keep one of Australia's smallest micros going.
Your hope for beer in Australia?
Large commercial breweries simply disappear, and that every small town sets up their own brewery, or two.
We walk to the local for a pint or two every night, we socialise with our community and neighbourhood, no one cares about imported beers, because the local guys make a huge selection of fresh, healthy and excellent beers. It leads to an appreciation of diversity, not only in beers, but in everything we consume: food, wine, local produce. Everyone wants to be a micro producer, and stop polluting, uses less fossil fuels, thinks local, acts local, lives local. People switch off their TVs every night, and get out. The world would be a better place... And it starts with a freshly brewed, all natural, hand crafted ale…