As part of our Club Hops subscription, we interview industry legends from the Australian beer brewing community. This edition we chatted to Matt McIver, co-founder of Range Brewing in Newstead, QLD!
Hey, I’m Matt McIver (left), co-founder of Range Brewing. We are a Brisbane based brewery located in the inner-city suburb of Newstead. Our approach to brewing is simple. We use the freshest and highest quality seasonal ingredients we can source to make modern and drinkable beers. We employ new world techniques to brew an evolving repertoire of beers which is constantly changing. Rather than stick to a core range, we prefer to mix things up from batch to batch to give ourselves the freedom to brew what we want to make and our customers want to drink. We are forever exploring and forever evolving.
What has been the biggest hurdle in starting your own brewery?
I would say this answer is two-fold. 1. Red tape. Local government and council make it exceptionally hard for small breweries to get off the ground. It’s very expensive and time-consuming. 2. Geography. Australia has some great local producers which we use as much as possible, but a lot of what we use ingredient-wise comes from overseas. All of our brewery equipment also came from OS too. It makes it difficult to source and is a logistical nightmare - especially in a pandemic!
What’s in your beer fridge at the moment?
I have a little bit of everything! Some BA stouts, a couple of Wildflower beers, and some hoppy beers from Garage Project, Mr Banks and Mountain Culture. I also have a stash of Augustiner Helles. I love lager and will usually have at least one or two German lagers in my fridge.
Where do you see your brewery/the brewing scene in the next 5 years?
I think there will be more of a shift to lower ABV beers and alcohol free beers in the near future. I don’t think IPAs and Imperial Stouts are going anywhere but I think people are becoming much more aware of alcohol intake! It’s definitely something we’re interested in exploring.
What’s on the stereo when you’re brewing?
Depends who gets in first! Usually something upbeat. We love artists like Anderson .Paak, Glass Animals, Tame Impala and The Jungle Giants. We’ve also been known to go full 90’s or have a 2000’s RnB marathon if we’re feeling fruity.
What’s your least favourite style of beer?
Personally, Rauchbier. I had a very well known Rauchbier early in my beer journey and ever since I have not been able to get into them
Do you prefer to use traditional or hi-tech methods and equipment in your brewery?
We’re definitely more modern in our approach to brewing and the methods we use. We’re always keen to try out new products and techniques to improve our processes and the experience for our drinkers. A lot of our techniques for dry-hopping, fruit additions and general brewhouse techniques would definitely not be considered traditional. Although we do like to dabble in traditional styles occasionally and try to do them as much justice as we can.
Which brewery or brewer is your greatest influence?
It would be hard to nail down to one at this stage. In the early days we took a lot of inspiration from the likes of Cloudwater, Verdant, Other Half and Trillium. Closer to home, Garage Project has always been a huge inspiration not just in their beers but how they come across as a company too.
Tell us a little bit about your label designs.
We have a full-time graphic designer in our team who handles all things design from can labels to menus and merch. We prefer to stick to a unique style that focuses more on colours, lines and gradients than specific objects or illustrations. The aim is to make the beer and the experience feel that little bit extra special because the vessel it came in is as aesthetically pleasing as the flavour is satisfying.
What’s the next big purchase in the brewery?
Probably more barrels and a bottling set up to package the beer out of said barrels! We started to experiment with barrel ageing this year and will hopefully make that a bigger part of what we do over the next 24 months.
What do you drink when you’re not drinking beer?
Definitely wine. There are an unbelievable amount of incredible small-batch wineries in Australia who do the wine equivalent of what we do. People like Latta, Koerner Brothers, Konpira Maru, Range Life and Unico Zelo are some of my go-to picks.
What’s your current favourite hop varietal and why?
I am really enjoying working with Kiwi hops at the moment. I love Motueka and the flavour qualities it has, especially when combined with some US varieties.
Where do you source your hops?
The majority of our hops are sourced from Yakima Chiefs in Washington, USA. We had the chance to get over there for harvest in 2019 which was incredible. Locally, we used a fair amount of Galaxy last year from HPA and were really impressed with the quality of last years Galaxy harvest.
Do you have a loyalty to either the West Coast or East Coast style of hoppy beer?
As a brewery, we make both styles but definitely lean more to the East Coast style. It’s rare to come into the taproom and not find a WC IPA pouring, but they are usually outnumbered 5-1. On a personal level, I would say my tastes reflect that. I love how approachable and drinkable good New England IPAs can be. Exploring the aromas and flavours that can be extracted from hops in these more modern IPA’s is pretty cool. We often have people asking if we have fruit in our IPAs (which we don’t) and to know we can achieve that flavour through the use of certain hops is pretty cool. Hops are amazing!
Image: Range Brewing