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Who the firkin hell is…Michael McGovern, Eddie Oldfield & Dan Norris?

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May 1, 2015 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.

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Making waves (forgive the surf pun) or certainly noise over the past year is what Black Hops Brewing has done very well. The bearded trio from the Gold Coast have created a sturdy brand, captured an appreciative audience and produced some head-turning beer. In such a short space of time it is quite surprising (or maybe not) that building a brewery of their own is now a very distinct possibility.

Here are the ‘Blops’ boys in a bumper edition…Michael ‘Govs’ McGovern, Eddie Oldfield and Dan Norris…

BLACK HOPS BREWING What is your day job?

Govs: I’m the other Brewer at Fortitude Brewing Co.

Eddie: Manager at SAP Learning Solution…safety, training & compliance. Incredibly boring.

Dan: I have a few businesses. The main one is WP Curve which provides 24/7 website support. I know…don’t get too excited now. But don’t worry I also work with Govs and Eddie on Black Hops Brewing. Much cooler.

How long have you been doing that for?

Govs: I’ve been with Fortitude for just over 12 months.

Eddie: About 10 years at the same company. Far too long. Not always the same job, but mostly similar.

Dan: I’ve worked for myself for eight years. It was spectacularly unsuccessful until I started WP Curve 18 months ago. Now I can afford the occasional craft beer.

What were you up to before that?

Govs: I’ve been brewing beer commercially for as long as my poorly-looked-after brain cells can remember (about 7 years now) but before Fortitude I was at Burleigh Brewing Co. on the Gold Coast.

Eddie: That’s going a long way back…bike shop, fish & chip shop…those sorts of jobs.

Dan: I used to work with Eddie at QR. It was sick. We used to play cricket in the hallways, go out for beer at lunch and we even started a business making coffee for other co-workers!

What is the best part about your job?

Govs: Getting to brew new and interesting beers and having them in the public domain to be enjoyed and judged is very exciting and rewarding.

Eddie: I work from home Monday and Friday. I can buy beer at decent bottle shops in the city during lunch and it’s air conditioned. That’s about it.

Dan: The fact that I have no job.

What was your ‘epiphany beer’? The beer that made you ‘turn your back on cack’?

Govs: It was a 28 Pale Ale on a brewery tour at Burleigh Brewing not long after they opened. Before that I had never tried a fresh craft beer and getting to hear the story behind it from Brennan was very inspiring.

Eddie: Early on, it was probably a combination of the high school communal party esky dramas. I drank Tooheys Old as no one would steal them but I quickly developed a taste for beer with some flavour. A bit later on, like everyone else, Little Creatures Pale Ale and Coopers Greens but I also did my time drinking cack. My wife then landed a job at Burleigh Brewing then the obsession really kicked in after tasting their range four years ago. The rest is history.

Dan: Burleigh Brewing Figjam. I was into Little Creatures back in the day and Coopers Sparkling before that (does that count?). There was a good eight years of shit beer drinking before I completely retired. Figjam brought me into the real world of quality beer and I never looked back. 

Have you ever had a beer that has totally blown you away? If so, what was it?

Govs: I would have to say Black Hops Eggnog Stout. It was the first beer I produced as an independent brewer so it was very important that it turned out just right because I didn’t have anyone to hide behind if it wasn’t but it totally exceeded our expectations and we were all very proud of ourselves.

Eddie: I’m sure there are heaps but to answer the question probably Saison Dupont. It’s my special occasion beer. It’s classy as hell and passes as wine at BYO restaurants. It’s so simple and refreshing but with so much going on. 

Dan: I think these days I probably don’t get quite as excited about beers because I’ve had a lot of amazing ones. But when I was first into it, I was always excited at the different flavours you could get. The three that stood out at the time were 8 Wired Superconductor, Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale and Moon Dog’s Henry Ford’s Girthsome Fjord. These beers blew me away at the time. Plus, every beer Hendo made ever.

What is your preferred style of beer and why?

Govs: I’m a very seasonal drinker. I like hoppy ales in summer and rich, dark brews in winter.

Eddie: I like most styles to be totally honest – providing it is balanced. To narrow it down to a top few: Reds/Ambers – I love the jammy, juicy, malty, caramel flavours you get from this style. Throw in a bucket load of tropical hops and I’m happy. Variations on the farmhouse style – I don’t go in for that big traditional clove spiciness which is why I say ‘variations’; it’s a crazy yeast that can be used with a lot of different styles (e.g. Can’t Fight the Funk). Black IPAs and stouts and, of course, I can never resist an APA/IPA – I’m not too fussy with this style.

Dan: It’s hard to say. I like dark beers but all that means is when I have a dark beer I’m all that more critical which leads me to disliking more than I like. Make sense? If I was to choose a style I drink the most I would choose a pale/APA/IPA around the 5.5% mark (Hop Hog/Hassle Hop/Hop Zone/Punk IPA etc). 

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?

Govs: I would invest it all in Hammer Head because if their [Newstead Brewing Co.] Hottest 100 campaign is anything to go by this stuff is going to be worth a lot of money soon!

Eddie: I’d probably just go to the nearest craft bar.

Dan: I would give it to Eddie and he’d buy me a good mix of some new stuff and a few old favourites. It might include some BrewCult, Dogfish Head, Garage Project, Brew Dog, Exit, Moon Dog, Rogue and hopefully a few sours. Wait. I think I just blew the budget.

I have a large hoard of empty beer bottles and another of beer glassware. Do you have any beer-related vices?

Govs: Not many people know this but I collect brew lab equipment It’s not that exciting but I do enjoy getting a new Erlenmeyer flask, pH meter or microscope. I’m pretty sure my neighbours think I’m Walter White.

Eddie: Not really…I’ve got a reasonable selection of beer glasses. I’d have the correct glass or two for any style I reckon. Oh actually, I throw most bottles caps into a vase type thing. No idea why I do this and I’ll either have to stop soon or find another vase as it’s overflowing.

Dan: Ha. Only the inability to stop drinking good beer once I start. So in a word…alcoholism.

In your opinion, where’s the best place to grab a decent beer in Brisbane?

Govs: With due consideration for all the wonderful places in Brisbane to drink, I would have to say The Scratch. 

Eddie: All of the usual suspects are so good. I can’t say which is best. I do love Hoo Ha Bar though as it’s on the Gold Coast train line so I can easily jump off the train if I’m a little thirsty then back on for the next train heading south. As for Gold Coast bar, Ze Pickle.

Dan: Tough call because we’ve gotten to know a lot of the local bars and they are all run by great people. I would probably have to say The Scratch for nostalgic reasons because my mate took me there when it first opened – before I was fully into craft beer and I thought it was just weird. A bunch of bearded dudes, talking about Warcraft and eating peanuts wondering if a chick would walk in. Turns out they were onto something.

What is so good about it there?

Govs: It was the first craft beer bar in Brisbane I went to and the guys and girls there are total legends. They’re forever cracking me up with their antics.

Eddie: Well the reason above but like all of the craft beer bars in Brissie, they are all pretty welcoming. Maybe that comes as a result of hanging around too much I’m not sure. As for Ze Pickle, it’s close to home, they have 12 rotating taps and seem to only employ hot staff.

Dan: Even now I like that they often have something I haven’t had before. I went there not long ago before a nice dinner with the miso and for my first beer was offered a 9.2% HEL Black IPA from Ekim. Fuck yeah! The next time I went there with a non-craft beer drinking mate. I made him drink Holgate’s Midnight Cowboy Cherry Sour. He hated it. But fuck him. What does he know? He drinks Rosé.

Bottles or cans?

Govs: Kegs first, then cans – there’s just something special about a tinnie!

Eddie: I don’t care really, off tap is my obvious preference, but to answer you question I’d have to say cans. My bin doesn’t sound like a car crash when being emptied after a week on the cans. 

Dan: Uncool response probably but I like bottles. I am scarred for life from drinking Powers cans at Straddie when I was 12. A good 500ml bottle of something with a sexy label get’s me going.

What are your hopes for the future of Brisbane’s craft beer industry?

Govs: I think we are experiencing a huge growth in the SE Queensland craft beer scene with new brewers popping up and some really cool new venues (like 4 Hearts and Brisbane Brewing Co.) so I hope to see this continue with a focus on good beer education for the public but also for venue staff to showcase Brisbane as a beer connoisseur’s dream destination.

Eddie: On a selfish note I’d love to see Black Hops really become established within the industry and brewing out of our own facility. I want to see the industry and scene on the Gold Coast catch the hell up. But as far as the Brisbane industry, I think it’s in fine hands. They have some of the most respected breweries, bars and people involved.

Dan: Screw Brisbane what about the Gold Coast! Brisbane is going great! Gold Coast only has one decent craft beer bar and no bottle shops. My hope for the Brisbane craft beer industry is some of them move to the Gold Coast!

This isn’t a job interview but where do you see yourself in five years time?

Govs: On a yacht, not my yacht, just always wanted to go on one. Then once I get kicked out of the marina for trespassing probably at my brewery doing what I love most.

Eddie: I have no idea, honestly I don’t.  

Dan: Doing exactly what I’m doing now but hopefully I’ve calmed down a little and don’t swear as much. Ideally Black Hops would be making a shit load of unique, high quality beer.

What would your response be if somebody stopped you in the street and asked you what your favourite beer blog is?

Govs: I’d say “Hey Darren, it’s 11pm on a Tuesday, everyone loves your blog. Maybe you should go home.”

Eddie: Assuming that did happen…yours, Darren. You do a great job supporting and promoting this industry. Cheers.

Dan: 250 Beers, no brainer. Your support has been amazing, you’re all over everything and a nice dude as well. Congrats on building the brand you have and I look forward to catching up for a beer soon.

I told you that it was a bumper edition this week didn’t I?! Thanks to the Black Hops Brewing fellas for coming on and taking time out to mull over my posers. They’re full of gusto and I wish them all the very best with their imminent endeavours.

Previous ‘Who the firkin hell is…?’ appearances can be found by clicking here.

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