Dave Mullins has officially taken up his role as the new head brewer of Lion’s Tiny Mountain Microbrewery in Townsville.
Tiny Mountain made a rocky entrance into the market after the existing Townsville Brewery lobbied the council to have conditions placed on the Lion-owned microbrewery.
However, both parties were able to resolve the issues amicably and it’s now full steam ahead for the brewery and bar development.
Head brewer Mullins moved back to his home state from Sydney for his new role. He’s been with Lion for 10 years and started out in the industry from relatively humble beginnings.
The native Queenslander was a design draughtsman in the engineering sector, and worked at the Oxford Brewing Co in the Brisbane suburb Bulimba until its closure in the mid 2000’s.
After this, he worked on the packaging line of Castlemaine Perkins, before moving on to work with Malt Shovel in Camperdown and Tooheys in Lidcombe.
“For me it started as an older teenager, when I started homebrewing with a couple of mates,” he explained.
“As I got older I did a lot of travelling and that led to me discovering beers all around the world.
“I kept at it and got hooked on all of that; the history, the stories, all the different beer styles.”
While he was at Oxford Brewing Mullins completed brewing qualifications with the University of Ballarat (now Federation University) under the tutelage of Peter Aldred. He said that while qualifications weren’t essential when looking at a career in brewing, they helped.
“I think it’s a great thing to learn however you can do that, definitely as a homebrewer but also with qualifications. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door professionally.
“[Having said that] most of your learning when you’re full time is literally on the job as well.”
“If it’s what you’re passionate about and where your passion lies then go for it. It might not happen overnight but it will happen if you chip away at it.”
The official opening date is looming and Mullins said the team were adding the finishing touches to the site.
“We’re getting pretty close to opening, we should be open in early December. All the tanks are in place, we’ve had design approval from the council and the liquor licence is being finalised,” he said.
“We’re steaming along with a lot – it took a big project team to get us this far so I haven’t had a great deal of involvement until the past few weeks as I was looking after Malt Shovel in my last role, so I didn’t have much time available!”
He has been working on the beers already, which will be available from three serving tanks fed from a DME Process Systems 20-barrel system. He also hopes to have Tiny Mountain brews in local venues and bars in the near future.
The stipulations agreed with the council mean that output is capped at 220,000 litres a year so Tiny Mountain can maintain its microbrewery status, and Mullins is planning diverse array of beers, keeping in mind the tourist and local populations which will be Tiny Mountain’s audience.
“Diversity on offer is crucial and key to keeping people engaged and interested,” he said.
To help its decision-making when it comes to beers, Lion undertook taste tests.
“We’ve got a great team of marketers who are doing a good job figuring out what beers to start off with, and that goes back to consumer taste tests and trying to tap into local minds and preferences to try and give them something they’re interested in.”
That doesn’t mean that Tiny Mountain will stick to mild ales or lagers though.
“I think there is a lot of variety in the beer here already – there is another brewery here [Townsville Brewery] and it has a great taphouse, not forgetting that there are a lot of people who like a good beer already.”
He said that consumer tastes were evolving as was their understanding and interest in beer.
“People ask me what my favourite style is and it’s a tricky question for a brewer. For me it depends on temperature, whether it’s my first or third beer, what I’m eating, the time of day, and I think that’s the same for everyone.
“Every style has a great story behind how it originated, and when people learn about that kind of thing it’s easier to connect with that product.”
He said Tiny Mountain wanted to embed itself in Townsville life.
“People have been keen on the idea of us getting up and running. It’s good for the economy and local jobs.
“We really want to be engaging with the local community. That’s key for us. We’re here on the ground trying to source local ingredients, getting local food trucks in and engaging with the local community as much as we can, to make the Palmer Street precinct even more vibrant.
“People are so friendly, it’s a different way of life [compared to Sydney] and no one seems to be in a rush!
“It’s a cool place, with fantastic beer-drinking weather, and it’s somewhere where people are ready for Tiny Mountain.”