March 28, 2014 by 250 Beers
“What the firkin hell is this?” I hear you ask. Well, let me explain…
‘Who the firkin hell is…?’ is a weekly glimpse into the lives of individuals that work (some tirelessly) to bring the Brisbane public the very best in good beer. Some are brewers, some own/work in your favourite bar, some are retailers and some are brewery reps.
If you don’t know what a firkin is then the whole beer-related, play-on-words title will be lost on you right?! Fear not – click here for more information on firkins.
Something rather different this week – a one-off ‘special’ to tie in with Brewsvegas with a triple whammy.
Bacchus Brewing Co. can lay claim to having 50 – yes five zero – beers pouring throughout Brisbane this week. Brewsvegas wouldn’t be Brewsvegas without Bacchus. So, I’m honoured to feature three Bacchus brewers in the shape of Bill Foley, Brendan Chan and Matt Glanville. They’re a terrific bunch of blokes that know a thing or two about crazy beers. They’ve embraced me during a couple of brew days. It’s now my turn to embrace them…
What is your day job?
Bill: Head Brewer, Bacchus Brewing Co.
Brendan: Drinking/brewing beer at one of the most progressive breweries in the country (and the world)!
Matt: I’m one of the brewers at Bacchus brewing at Capalaba
How long have you been doing that for?
Bill: Just hit the two-year mark in February.
Brendan: With Bacchus, about 8 months, but I have been Brewing professionally (off and on) since 2005, when I worked at The Brisbane Brewhouse when I was 21.
Matt: About 2-2.5 years
What were you up to before that?
Bill: I worked as an environment artist for a computer game company for almost ten years, all the while I was home brewing. Making games and playing games was good, but making beer, drinking beer and playing games is a much better combo.
Brendan: Working as a chef, which helped cement the importance of balancing flavour.
Matt: I was working for craftbrewer the homebrew shop attached to Bacchus for a few months before moving into the brewery.
What is the best part about your job?
Bill: I get to work and drink with lots of great people, both at the brewery and the bars around Brisbane. The one thing I really love is actually serving up the beers and watching the reactions we get to some of our more ‘full on’ beers. Our Big Red Cock Ale usually gets a good reaction. Most people love it 😉
Brendan: The beers, mates and the beers.
Matt: Getting to try all the crazy beers we make.
What was your ‘epiphany beer’? The beer that made you ‘turn your back on cack’?
Bill: About ten years ago now, a good mate tipped me off about this German beer that tastes like bacon. He couldn’t remember the name of it and said that all I had to do was go to the German Club and as for the bacon beer. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier opened up a whole new world of smoked beers for me with Schlenkerla Märzen.
Brendan: 2 weeks after my 18th birthday, my cousin Steve took me to the Elephant and the Wheelbarrow in Fortitude Valley. Morland’s Old Speckled Hen on nitro, that did it, absolutely blew me away! Next day I borrowed every book about beer from the library and I was brewing my first batch of homebrew the same week. With all of 2 days worth of reading, I was already questioning the wisdom of the “expert” selling me ingredients.
Matt: The first “good” beer I had was a becks in germany when I was 16 (german drinking age). Epiphany beer was probably Chimay Blue.
Have you ever had a beer that has totally blown you away? If so, what was it?
Bill: The Schlenkerla did hit me like a slap in the face, but I got the opportunity to try Westvleteren 12 when a friend who travelled to the brewery in Belgium and brought some all the way back to Oz (thanks Gavin). It really does live up to the hype.
Brendan: Other than Old Speckled Hen it’s happened a few times. When I was 18/19, it was almost happening on a weekly basis! Most of the jaw-droppers in those days were Belgian; Chimay Blue, Westmalle Tripel, Gulden Draak. Triple Karmeliet still gives me tingles.
Matt: Sam adams utopias. I just wish i could afford a bottle!
What is your preferred style of beer and why?
Bill: I go through stages. At the moment I’m all over Imperial IPA’s. The problem is, a session on Imperial IPA’s doesn’t end well.
Brendan: This is a tough one, there are very few styles that I don’t love if done right. Old ale, bitter, stout, rauchbeir, trappist, saisons and IPA to get started! It really depends on mood, setting, weather and who you’re drinking with!
Matt: At the moment saison is my favorite, i enjoy the complex flavours that come from the yeast.
If I gave you $100 in cash right now with the only proviso being that you had to spend it on beer, what would you indulge in?
Bill: I’d go for something I haven’t had before. Perhaps, Russian River Pliny the Younger.
Brendan: These days I’m increasingly easy to please, mainly due to the high standard of modern craft-breweries. When I started, the scene was very green, hardly any knowledgeable bar-staff, and even fewer decent bars. There’s so much great beer around now, you can’t throw a bag full of pancakes in Brisbane without hitting a decent beer venue! I would take your money to one (or more) of the many local crafty establishments and drink whatever was recommended.
Matt: Put it towards a bottle of Utopias or spend it at Stewarts wine co.
I have a large hoard of empty beer bottles and another of beer glassware. Do you have any beer-related vices?
Bill: Yeah me too. I’ve got heaps of Grolsch swing top bottles that I’ve had for many years. I’ve moved over to kegs for all of my home-brewed beers and swear that if I had to bottle all of my beer I’d never brew again. Still, the Grolsch swing tops are cool and will probably sit in my shed for another ten years.
Brendan: Books, bottles, glassware, but I’ve tearfully managed to dump quite a lot over the years.
Matt: I have a growing selection of special beers i never find a special enough occasion to drink.
In your opinion, where’s the best place to grab a decent beer in Brisbane?
Bill: The top three for me are Tippler’s Tap, Scratch Bar and Newstead Brewing Co
Brendan: For the awesome inclusive atmosphere, hand-made decor and sweet pals; Bosc in West End.
Matt: The Scratch Bar.
What is so good about it there?
Bill: They usually have something on tap that I haven’t had before.
Brendan: See above.
Matt: Great beer selection, knowledgeable staff. Only downside is it’s not close enough to my house.
Bottles or cans?
Bill: You can’t go wrong with cans.
Brendan: Cans. They’re better for the environment, lighter, keep beer better, offer lots of area for creative labelling. Hands down winner for my money (and they don’t taste metallic, it’s in your head!).
Matt: Cans, i would love to see wide mouth cans sly fox are using in Australia.
What are your hopes for the future of Brisbane’s craft beer industry?
Bill: I hope that little bars and breweries keep popping up around Brisbane, as they have been doing for the last couple of years. There’s still room for more, especially in Brisbane’s surrounding suburbs.
Brendan: We’ve just gotta keep doing what we’re doing: making great beer and exploring the boundaries of what beer is. People are flocking to micros because we do it better! Also, I hope local beer businesses don’t go public, shareholders will definitely ruin everything.
Matt: Bigger and better things. Also if restaurants would stock actual good beer instead of “Premium” beer.
This isn’t a job interview but where do you see yourself in five years time?
Bill: Still at Bacchus brewing beer on fancy new equipment and serving beer over the bar.
Brendan: I would like to be on my way to carving out a niche for myself, a community-based brewery and restaurant in a small town on the Sunshine Coast and spear fishing often.
Matt: I would like to have a brewpub one day, i don’t know if it will be in 5 years time though.
What would your response be if somebody stopped you in the street and asked you what your favourite beer blog is?
Bill: Darren’s 250beers. Can I have that 100 bucks now???
Brendan: So many great ones! drunkenspeculation.com, chasingale.com, thewestbender.com, brewsandbacon.com, whatbeertodrink.com’s still around, right? Yeah, I think they’re all my faves.
Matt: I guess I should say 250 beers but i don’t currently read a beer blog.
Thanks a million guys!
Previous ‘Who the firkin hell is…?’ appearances can be found by clicking here.