Melbourne’s brewing scene has a lot going for it. And yet, very few breweries here specialise in sour (or farmhouse, or wild) beer. La Sirène and Boatrocker are the only two making a really decent go of it.
It was at the latter that Shane Ferguson (a former TV cameraman) and Ian Jones (a former commercial printer) met and became friends. Both were drawn to Boatrocker by their passion for yeast-driven Belgian-beers and American-style sours.
“In craft beer you work in a really small team, side by side, usually with only one or two other people,” Ferguson says. “You get to know somebody pretty damn well.”
There’ll be a similar focus at Ferguson and Jones’s forthcoming brewery and taproom, Future Mountain, located on Plenty Road in Reservoir. “I like to call it ‘deep Preston’,” Jones jokes (Preston is just 200 metres south).
Production is already underway, with the first beers going into 55 oak barrels for ageing and conditioning. The site has a dedicated warm room to facilitate this, plus an open-fermentation room where beers are brewed in a wide, shallow pool rather than a tall, enclosed conical tank. Ferguson says this reduces “osmotic pressure” on the yeast cells and results in more expressive yeast flavours.
This sort of detail is crucial at a brewery focused on yeast-driven beers, rather than hop-forward styles such as IPA, or malty styles such as stout. When Future Mountain’s 120-patron bar opens in February, expect to find saison, witbier, dubbel and hefeweizen flowing through six to eight taps.
Mixed fermentation (yeast plus bacteria such as lactobacillus and pediococcus) will also be used to produce sour beers of clean acidity with an emphasis on balance and drinkability, in the realm of America’s famous Crooked Stave and Jester King breweries.
“We want to produce beers … where you’re able to drink more than a 150-millilitre tulip glass of [it], and still go, ‘Damn, I want another one,’” Ferguson says.
Unlike Tasmania’s Two Metre Tall, Future Mountain isn’t brewing truly “wild” or “spontaneously fermented” beers (those where the tank is left open to receive whatever microbes happen to be floating by). Even its open-fermentation room is sterile and negatively pressurised. Rather, Jones has a library of yeasts and bacteria he’s been culturing for several years, the same way good bakeries keep their own sourdough starters going. Most notably, he’s isolated yeasts from bottles from Russian River, the most-hyped brewery in American craft history, and Cantillon, a similarly venerated nearly 120-year-old brewery in Belgium.
Future Mountain Brewing and Blending is slated to open at 703–707 Plenty Road, Reservoir in February 2019.