As part of our Club Hops beer subscription, we interview industry legends from the Australian beer brewing community. This edition we chatted to Renn Blackman, owner and head brewer at Blackman's Brewery in Torquay, Victoria!
Renn & Jess Blackman. Image: Blackman's Brewery
What has been the biggest hurdle in starting your own brewery?
It’s a lot of work! When you first start, you won’t have a lot of time for other stuff. There is always a lot to do.
Which of your beers are you most proud of?
Juicy Banger IPL as it’s a blend of some of my favourite styles, German pilsner and American IPA. Reginald IPA, a classic west coast, is also a favourite as it’s the first beer we ever brewed, and still is one of our best-selling beers today.
Tell us about your favourite beer or beer style at the moment.
My favourite beer style would currently be the West Coast IPA. I’ve been drinking a lot of them, something about the bitterness and the awesome hop character you get, especially when beers are currently very Hazy driven.
Where do you see your brewery/the brewing scene in the next 5 years?
The beer scene is just going to continue to get bigger and more localised. People love supporting local, so there is great growth opportunities in local markets. We see ourselves continuing to grow, further asserting ourselves as a quality Victorian brewery making good beers for people all over Australia.
What’s in your beer fridge at the moment?
Hop Nation West Coast IPA, Juicy Banger, Reginald IPA, Colonial Pale.
What’s your least favourite style of beer?
Barley wine, I probably haven’t drunk enough of them.
Do you have a brewing mentor?
Justin fox and Hugh Dunn, both had big parts in my early brewing career.
Do you prefer to use traditional or hi-tech methods and equipment in your brewery, and why?
We use a combination of high tech and tradition. The newest, most exciting bit of equipment we have just received is a brand new Centrifuge/ separator. This awesome bit of equipment clarifies beer and leaves all the good flavours in. We have also just ordered a wooden foeder, which we plan to start making traditional high end lagers year round on a 8 week rotating basis, giving the beer maximum lager time.
What’s on the stereo when you’re brewing?
Johnny Cash, System of a Down, James Brown, Rick James.
Is there a brewery you’d like to collaborate with in the future? What attracts you to working with them?
Firestone Walker, I think they are just so good. They really make quality hop driven beers, lagers and barrel aged beers and everything in their range is always on point.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the business?
It’s going to be a lot of work, be budget conscious, make quality beer.
Which brewery or brewer is your greatest influence, and in what ways have they had an affect on you?
Camden Town brewery has had a great influence on me. I spent 2 years working there in the company’s early days. I learnt a lot about quality lagers, and saw a brand grow from being very small to becoming a worldwide powerhouse.
Tell us a little bit about your label designs.
All our original core beers are named after Blackman members, they all have references to their personalities in the beer style being brewed. Reginald IPA, being named after my grandfather, Reg, he was a grumpy old fellow so IPA was well suited to his personality. Anything we brew that’s newer, we try to keep fun, bright and exciting.
What do you drink when you’re not drinking beer?
I drink a lot of soda water, everyone at Blackman’s does. We even package our own soda, and everyone drinks it all day long at work.
Do you have a favourite beer and food pairing?
When I lived in the UK, I went to a Garret Oliver beer and food pairing night. One of the courses was a lemon tart and American IPA, I was mind blown by it. The hop character accentuates the lemon vibes in the tart and it was very very tasty.
Want to explore Blackman's Brewery beer?
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Club Hops is the best way for you to indulge in all things bitter and hoppy. We hand select a dozen outstanding hop forward beers every two months, and cold ship them straight to your door!
Each pack will contain only the freshest brews, all cold stored on site to maintain those bitter, herbal, floral and resinous notes. You can expect your fill of Pale Ales, IPAs, and perhaps some higher alcohol Imperials, hopped dark ales, and other hoppy surprises!