THERE’S been unusual sounds bubbling out of a shed in Main Street, Rutherglen.
Never fear, it’s just the burping valve on Rutherglen Brewery’s fermenters.
Owners Gavin Swalwell and Fiona Myers poured the brewery’s first beers on the long weekend of June.
While the region was filled with wine drinkers for the annual Winery Walkabout, a lucky few beer drinkers sampled the Seven Stars Pale Ale and Wallace’s Pilsner.
One craft beer aficionado even drove all the way from Newcastle for the occasion, after following the brewery’s progress towards their first brew on Facebook.
“Everyone loved it,” Swalwell says.
“I’m a massive craft beer fan.
“It’s only over the past five years that I’ve got right into it.”
Myers is also a fan and says she grew up around her dad’s home brew.
It was her idea to get into brewing in the first place.
She also pushed to go into business with her partner almost three years ago — launching Taste@Rutherglen.
It was a massive leap of faith and one that is paying off.
Swalwell was originally from Melbourne but fell in love with regional living when working at Bowral.
He’s worked in metropolitan and regional restaurants and is dishing up classy and tasty meals at Taste.
Myers is from Beechworth and Stanley, and has a background in pine plantations and weed control.
She also started the Rutherglen Lolly Shop, which she has since sold.
With her business nous and love of food and Swalwell’s cooking skills, it’s been a perfect match.
But it’s been since they went from leasing the building to being freehold owners of the building that they’ve been able to make changes and live the dreams they had been dreaming.
Most notably the creation of Rutherglen Brewery.
The brewery’s range of beer is named for Seven-Star Wallace, the historic Rutherglen entrepreneur John Wallace, who is famed for starting the region’s star hotels.
History has also recorded Wallace named Rutherglen after his home town after buying a round of drinks for the bar of the then-settlement’s Star Hotel in 1860.
The self-styled “purists” make the restaurant’s own butter, breads, feta and olives.
Making their own craft beer was a natural progression.
And so Rutherglen Brewery was born.
It’s a new venture stepping away from the fine dining on offer at Taste, which will remain.
Out the back of Taste is the brewery area where pizza and roasts are among the food served to accompany the beer.
It’s a space they have made inviting, hoping locals and visitors alike will settle in for the experience of the brewery, not just a quick drink.
Swalwell says in creating the beers, “sessionability” was important.
That is, they wanted visitors to settle in for a session. It’s something that can’t be achieved with all craft beers. Swalwell and Myers believe they’ve achieved this with the help of brewer Simon Bardill.
Bardill, who has previously worked for Stone and Wood, Byron Bay, Mornington Penisula Brewery and Red Hill Brewery, Mornington, is on board for the ride.
He expertly brews the beer with ingredients as obscure as chocolate, decked out in big red gloves and other safety gear.
But Swalwell explains once you know what you’re doing, basic beer brewing isn’t rocket science.
“It’s like cooking, it’s all smoke and mirrors,” he says.
“Really, monks were doing it in caves.”
Rutherglen Brewery’s process takes a minimum of 21 days from raw ingredients to being able to drink it.
“It’s all about not shocking it,” Swalwell says.
They are decantered into envirokegs (pictured left).
The beer is hand-bottled, maintaining craft beer authenticity.
Bottling on a commercial line is also an expensive exercise.
Next to come into production will be a smoked milk porter, a dark beer.
They also plan on making cider from Stanley pink lady apples.
“We’re going to be really selective to who we supply to,” Swalwell says.
“We want it to be a true craft beer — you won’t find it at an IGA or Dan Murphy’s.”
He said they would be targeting places like Beer Deluxe in Albury and niche breweries in Melbourne who specialise in craft beers.
He says it would also be supplied to Dal Zotto Wines at Whitfield, which supplies wine to Taste.
Brewing requires very specific ingredients containing very specific qualities. At this stage ingredients are sourced from a specialist wholesaler.
However, Ellerslie Hop, Myrrhee, will be supplying hops to the brewery soon.
So, look forward to raising a glass to the latest drawcard on the food and beverage scene at Rutherglen.