Getting into the Nitty- Gristy is a (hopefully) fortnightly segment that I will start doing, promoting all the awesome craft beer crusaders out here in the eastern suburbs. Whether it’s brewers, retailers, people that run/ work in your favourite craft beer bars, home brewers… Anybody doing good work in the name of craft beer, I plan to shine the spotlight on them and their contribution to the cause.
FYI- for those wondering if I can’t spell: grist is a brewing term for crushed malt….. play on words! See what i did there??? Anyway…
First up is Ben Waymouth.
Ben is the newly appointed head brewer at Napoleone Brewery out here in the Yarra Valley, serious beer nerd and all around good guy (sorry for the horrendous photo, mate….). Had a fantastic chat with him and his approach to craft beer and what direction he wants to go in with Napoleone and I gotta say, I’m pretty excited…
Where did your Brew Saga begin?
Not with beer, with mead actually. I studied a medieval studies class at university, as part of my philosophy degree. I started playing around with ferments then, and i realised ‘okay, beer seems like the logical path to go from mead’. Started playing around with beer at 18, starting with kits and thought it didn’t taste as good as I wanted, started mini- mashing at home then all- grain and kept acquiring the gear and moved from bottles to kegs, pretty much a gradual progression of obsession…
What inspired you to come out to the eastern suburbs?
Pretty much the chance to set up and run a place, you don’t get that opportunity at all unless you start your own place. To have someone say ‘ come in and stamp your own uniqueness to a brand and we’ll work with you to try and build something’, it’s pretty unique really. It was a massive draw card.
Have you seen a growing craft beer trend out here?
I think the amount of breweries that are starting up out here is going to warrant beer tours soon. Cellar doors and pizza ovens are popping up everywhere, you can go to multiple places, have some lunch and have a whole range of beer. Us alone (Napoleone) will have 10 taps alone in our venue and growler fills. I’m also pushing for staying open late so people can come in, have a beer and stock up for their weekend.
What do you love about the job and industry?
What’s great for me personally is that it fuels my OCD *laughs*. I like to be clean, I like to operate in certain ways and have set standards and thats what the job and industry allows me to do. I love the combination of chemistry and cooking, you’ve got fantastic chemical reactions going on between yeasts and hops that changes compound aromas, heaps of stuff like that. Everyone is just really open about what they do. I just get to drink beer and do what I love doing.
Have you ever changed someone’s mind it terms of craft beer?
Yeah, a house mate. He was anti, then he became pro and then got him on to whiskey now he’s obsessed with whiskey and beer. Not sure if that’s good for his over all health though…
What was the beer that turned it all around for you?
It’s actually nothing particularly grand: Sam Adams Boston Lager. It was the first time i was like ‘wow, a beer can taste like this??’ Then i really got into sours and saisons.
What beers in your fridge right now?
I’ve got my own keg fridge with a saison on at the moment. Couple of nights ago i had Sierra Nevada’s Big Foot Barley Wine. The greatest inducer of sleep known to man, 25 minutes later you will be out…
What’s your favourite beer/ food matching?
Anything with bacon…. salty chips with aoli, sliders, slow cooked pork with salt crackling, basically anything that will shorten your life by 10 years…
What do you think is the next hot style?
Saison, 100%. It’s very approachable, very floral and they can range anywhere from 4.5% to 8% or 10%. They are very variable and variable in their flavour profile.
What’s your favourite place to get a beer?
Joe Taylor in North Melbourne. Little bar, decent craft list and i can get a good whiskey after I have a beer. Very important.
If you had a time machine, what would you go back and be part of/ brew?
I think I’d like to be part of the Porter brewing business in England, before gin took over. So when that was happening and then when they changed their base malt and discovered the hydrometer. So when Porter was big, before gin destroyed it…
What’s your favourite style?
Depends on my mood. i like drinking Porters, barley wines, big bocks, crisp german lagers, sours, gueuze. Tend to stay away from massive IPA’s, with big bitterness. I love floral though. Beer that drinks well!
Any advice for home brewers?
Read John Palmers book, get to a home brew club. Two things that i stress the most: make sure you get your yeast right and temperature control. I would recommend Jamil Zainasheff’s website, Mr. Malty. Download beer smith, it’s at $25 app that does all your brewing calculations for you. Finally, listen to the brewing network. Also, don’t be afraid to spend more on gear if your serious about it.
If someone asked you to put a 6- pack together for them, what would you put in it?
That’s tough, like putting together a mix tape! Weihenstephan’s Vitus for sure, i love that beer. A Braggot from Red Duck, I’d also throw in Cantillon Gueuze. A Saison Dupont, I’d add Heretic ‘Shallow Grave’ Porter as well, Jamil is amazing. Finally a really good pilsner maybe Moo Brew or Weihenstephan’s.
Napoleone Brewery and Cellar Door/ Restaurant will be opening very soon, stay tuned for details!