They had their naysayers and doubters, but the three mates from Moon Dog Craft Brewery are proving that brewing only extreme beers for the simple purpose of “fun” can work.
Moon Dog first revealed themselves to Melbourne beer drinkers with several small keg-only releases during 2010. Word soon spread about a couple of crazy guys on a mission to produce big, bold and style smashing craft beers from a humble warehouse in Abbotsford.
Anticipation and excitement was shared by many of Melbourne’s craft beer fans whilst caution was often advised by many from inside the local beer industry. The ability, passion and enjoyment of the Moon Dog brewers was never questioned, but the debate over whether their brewing philosophy was viable ran hot. In a market where extreme craft beers are in their infancy, could Moon Dog find a market foothold with only crazy and extreme beers? Surely they would also need a core range of softer, friendly, to-style beers with a broad market appeal? Until now, every other Australian brewer who was producing beers at the extreme end of the scale supported their business with broad appeal regular beers, such as a Pale Ale.
Understanding the risks ahead of them and knowing that they would have to play smart to establish themselves in the long run, Moon Dog’s serious attempt at taking on the local beer market was always underpinned by their desire to never be so serious.
The results of the People’s Choice votes from the recent Microbreweries Showcase held at Melbourne’s Federation Square provided clear evidence that that the Moon Dog mission is working. Out of seven categories, Moon Dog were voted best in two, for best wheat beer and best dark ale. Cavalier Beer received the most total votes to be crowned Best Brewery. However, Moon Dog was the only brewery to receive the top votes for two different styles, a commendable effort considering they only had two beers available for the crowd to sample. The approachable and engaging Josh, Jake and Karl from Moon Dog were the talk of the showcase across both nights.
It was Moon Dog’s first appearance with their own stall at a Feq Square Microbreweries Showcas, following their cameo appearance last October with a growler of their Black Lung stout whilst manning the Local Taphouses stall.
Moon Dog’s Josh Uljans said he enjoyed the experience.
“The Fed Square showcase was great fun and it was good that the punters enjoyed the Melon Gibson and Henry Ford’s. We’ll definitely be doing it again next time around.”
Melon Gibson is one of three beers from Moon Dog’s new “Magnificent Mullets” series of fruity wheat beers named after famous mullets. At 5.6% abv, each have been brewed with a touch of wild yeast and a significant amount of a single juicy fruit to add a slightly tart yet refreshing twist to the Berliner Weisse style.
In the case of the tribute to Mel Gibson’s hairdo of the 1980s, 100 kilograms of watermelon were added late in the brewing process. Moon Dog describes this beer’s taste with a perfect mullet pun: “the flavour is short and wheaty up front, but long and melony at the back.”
Also currently on tap at good beer bars around the country is MacGuava, Moon Dog’s guava juice soaked beer homage to the TV action man who had something in his pocket to get out of any sticky situation. The wheat beer and guava addition compliment each other very well, resulting in a flavoursome and quaffable ale.
Coming soon is the final beer in the series is Billy Ray Citrus. Little more needs to be said about this beer other than “business in the front, party in the back”.
Asked if the Moon Dog business plan had changed since they began releasing their bottles beers a little over 6 months ago, the answer from Josh was straight.
“All things Moon Dog-related are going great and we are having a ball. Plans haven’t changed in that we will keep on pumping out a wide range of interesting beers.” So far, their beers have divided drinkers across the country, but it’s an exchange that the Moon Dog team celebrate.
Never short of ideas for new style-smashing beers to brew, Josh also noted that they have no intention to rest of their laurels with their current line-up of beers. More brand-new adventurous beers are planned for the immediate future.
“We’ve still got capacity to increase our volumes and intend to slowly get up to capacity over the next 18 months.”
During the Microbreweries Showcase, Moon Dog also previewed a new unnamed Imperial Stout, for those who had been privy to the whisper about its availability. The 17% stout packed a punch of liquorice sweetness.
“It should be sweet,” remarked Moon Dog’s Jake Uljans “with the amount of sugar we put into it!”. Jake noted that the beer was still far too young but they were very happy with its current development.
Beer blogger Dave Ellis suggested the name Fukushima for it. It was “like Brewdog’s Tokyo, but…dirtier” he joked.
See the full list of Peoples Choice Winners for the March 2012 Microbreweries Showcase.