Specially brewed wedding beers have been a staple of marriage celebrations for many years. The rise in popularity for including a bottled nuptial brew at the wedding reception has seen brew-your-own companies become a regular feature at wedding expos. On the other hand, many keen homebrewers have brewed a beer especially for their own nuptials or even for a friend’s wedding. Few could lay claim however to crafting their nuptial brew in a genuine commercial microbrewery alongside a respected professional brewer whilst the public watched on. Danny McGinlay has now done just that. Last Saturday Danny and good mate Charlie Pickering provided a celebrity hand in the brewing of a Raspberry Saison at True South.
Guided by True South’s head brewer, Sam Fuss, Danny and Charlie were also joined by Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn for the first True South Celebrity Brew Day. Kirrily helped keep Sam accountable to an offer the brewer made to Danny and Charlie whilst on stage at the Ballarat Beer Festival. Part of the festival’s entertainment included a blind taste-off competition between two professional brewers, one of which was Sam Fuss. They tasted and tried to guess the style of a beer brewed by Danny and Charlie. Impressed to discover the Celtic Red Ale was their homebrew, Sam invited the festival’s MCs down to True South for a brew day. With Danny due to wed in two months, the two mates used the opportunity to produce a beer that would compliment the happy occasion. The team at True South added the final element of the day by inviting the public to watch on and even join in as Danny, Charlie, Kirrily and Sam brewed together on a sunny autumn Saturday.
Pickering is now a familiar face to many across Australia, thanks to his lead role on Channel 10’s The Project and as the Generation X team captain on Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation. The one time lawyer, former radio host, writer and Logie nominee is a stand-up comedian and political junkie at heart who also has a passion for good beer. He used his television success to invest in a homebrewing setup for his garage.
McGinlay began his career in stand-up comedy during an open-mic night at St Kilda’s Esplanade Hotel when he was 16. Since that time he has performed all over Australia, as well as overseas in London, New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. During his time in England he developed a love for English soccer and English beer. More recently Danny has made regular TV appearances, including on Rove, The Project, The Footy Show and even cooking up a storm on The Circle. Danny has been a regular voice on Melbourne commercial radio and has also been seen by studio audiences as the warm-up guy for many tv shows, including The Project working alongside Pickering.
Together Charlie and Danny are long time mates who began homebrewing in 2009 under their lighthearted brand of “McGickering’s Brewing Industries”, maybe one day Australia’s answer to the UK’s Morrissey Fox.
McGinlay’s latest show, “Danny McGinlay Learns Ukrainian”, is all about his pending nuptials to Ukrainan born fiancé Lesya and the trials of learning her language to woo his future parents-in-law. He finishes performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this weekend, with his next big gig being the wedding in June.
The Celebrity Brew beer for Danny’s nuptials would be based on the recent Saison Du Victorien, a farmhouse ale which used only Victorian ingredients. It was released in February by True South as one of their seasonal small batch beers. The late addition of raspberries to this new brew would help add a vibrant colour and dry fruity finish.
Saison Du Victorien was a keg only release, as True South do not yet bottle their beers. Since the McGinaly wedding would require around 100 large bottles, the True South brewers had run a trial on the bottle conditioning quality of Saison Du Victorien. The resulting product was sampled by those present for the brew day and declared a success.
Mashing in at 10am the two comedians joked their way through the manual labour of brewing a craft beer. Although still very small on commercial scale, they revelled in the size, processes and technology that would covert the malt, water, hops and yeast into a beer.
Sam Fuss explained every stage of the process, guiding the hands of Danny, Charlie and Kirrily through each ingredient addition, button push, knob turn, spec measurement and transfer, then clean out.
As the brew boiled and whirlpooled in the kettle, the brewers and the Australian Brews News team enjoyed True South’s hospitality with an Argentinean feast from the venue’s kitchen for lunch. The meal was complemented with True South beers including the hopped-up Pale Ale, last year’s Wee Jimmy Scotch Ale and the Women of Beer’s Ninkasi’s Angel, on draught from one of the final kegs following the special beer’s October 2011 release.
Back in the brewery, Charlie and Danny added Galaxy hops and again checked all the levels, finding everything was hitting the planned specifications.
After the brew was transferred to the fermentation tank, six containers of freshly puréed raspberries were added by the hands of Kirrily and beer writer, Dave Ellis. The final stage was to pitch the yeast so that the fermentation process could begin. The brewhouse was then cleaned and by 5:00pm the brew day was done, just in time for a rewarding drink at The Local Taphouse before heading into the city to catch McGinlay’s comedy festival show.
One week on and Sam reports that the beer is tasting nice and tart. McGinlay and Pickering will return to bottle the beer in several weeks.
For those not invited to the exclusive McGinlay wedding, you will still have a chance to drink this Raspberry Saison in honour of the nuptials. The beer will be available to the public as a True South small batch release. During winter it will be on tap at the brewery and at good beer venues around Melbourne where True South beers can usually be found. Sam also hopes that her friends at The Local Taphouse will order some kegs for their Sydney bar in Darlinghurst.
It will also be the final small batch release for Sam Fuss at True South, who departs the microbrewery after this year’s Australian International Beer Awards. Another great reason to track down and experience this celebratory Raspberry Saison.
To see the full photo album of the True South Celebrity Brew day, visit the Brews News Facebook Page.