Family. It’s one thing that seems ever-present in good beer. With family friendly venues, husband and wife teams, or just the sacrifices that time starved loved ones have to make as brewers chase their dreams.
A year or so ago, a friend of mine mentioned his cousin was into brewing and was planning on starting his own brewery.
It turns out that they weren’t cousins at all and it was some sort of in-joke that I still don’t understand, but the part about wanting to start a brewery was true.
Dainton Family Brewing is one of the newest brewing companies in Melbourne. The brewer behind it, Dan Dainton, has previously brewed at the James Squire Brewhouse at the Portland Hotel (Melbourne) and then a stint with Holgate.
Both of which Dan sees as important in his progression to starting his own company.
“At Squires I learnt the basics of a bigger brewery and how different size equipment will affect recipes and also the importance of maintaining a professional standard in everything you do.
“Holgate again was a bit different, we did a lot more packaging, and Paul (Holgate) was really good with sanitization and standard procedures. They are very consistent, professional in the way it’s run but also good blokes as well. You’ve got to be well rounded there.”
Now Dan has decided to take the plunge and start his own brewing company, currently contract brewing at the Cavalier Brewery in Derimut, he has eyes on bigger things.
“After brewing a lot for the last five years with (James) Squire and Holgate, it came a point in time where I just wanted to do my own thing. “
Dan says he is close to having his own brewery location finalised, with eyes on a family friendly venue in North West Victoria, although he is secretive of where exactly that might be.
“It’s a family friendly kind of thing. That’s where I’m aiming to go. More of a country style venue… We have nailed down where we want to be, I’m not going to say just yet but we’re very close. (but) even if we signed the papers it would still be 6 months away.”
Living in Brunswick, he did think about setting something up city-side initially.
“We toyed with the idea of being back in the city but it would cost too much… country makes sense for us”
Having a venue is important to Dan, as he believes it gives it a personal touch and allows him to get involved with the drinkers, sharing his product with them directly
“Creating something and being proud of it, that’s a large part of my personality, sharing things with people and the social side of it. That’s why we always wanted a venue.”
The family philosophy isn’t just in name and venue focus. Dan’s father is helping back the venture and the bottled product will give an insight into his relatives, although it might not be a flattering one.
“We’ll have a run of different bottles in different styles all revolving around creepy weird characters of the family. The writing on the bottle sort of emphasises that little struggle you have with your family.”
As any brewer will tell you, there is a hell of a lot of work getting product to market and doing this as a full time job has definitely helped open his eyes up to just what is involved. Sometimes putting the cart before the horse… or the bottle before the labels.
“A very steep learning curve for me. I didn’t have labels before I had beer in bottles, didn’t have customers before I had kegs.
“In the real world of brewing, you basically learn the whole other side of it that a sales rep would learn and a lot more managing your time in terms of getting bottles in and beer out… and really learning the alcohol trade and how pubs operate. You gotta get out there and really talk to pub owners and talk to people.” Dan said.
However from all accounts the drinkers are embracing his first beer, a rye amber ale called “Red Eye Rye”, and Dan has been able to get it into venues, initially by himself, and now with the help of Northdown Brewing who have agreed to distribute the beer.
“Most of the places are very responsive, even if they said they liked the beer but couldn’t get some in now. Out of 15 places I’ve seen in the last two weeks, I’ve probably had one of them say they didn’t like it” he said.
“Not bragging”, he added with a chuckle.
The beer itself is a big mix of malt, rye and 7 hop varieties and is one that Dan has been working on for a few years.
“I wanted to go for something that wasn’t on the market in Australia already. Instead of going for another pale or a pilsner.
“Its something that’s been in my mind for a while actually, at least a couple of years.”
You can currently find Dan’s beers around Melbourne in all the usual places both in bottles and on tap.
Dan’s second beer, a Golden Ale called Good Son, has also just been launched.