A weekend away at a friend’s beach house enabled the discovery – for me – of a previously unheard of brewery in Airey’s Inlet: Rogue Wave Brewing Company.
A relatively new operation, Rogue Wave are situated in – and brew on-site at – Aireys Pub, an iconic surf-coast pub that sits along the Great Ocean Road. Existing since 1904, the pub ‘survived’ being burnt to the ground in 1983 by the Ash Wednesday fires (running out of a tin shed until a rebuild was completed) and in 2011 was rescued from closing by a group of passionate locals who invested in the pub.
The pub has a relaxed feel to it, and is home to an impressively open beer garden. Backing onto what appears to be a small paddock, the pub allows you to laze on the grass listening to the nearby waves and enjoy a meal and a drink. I dare say the option of bringing along a footy to take a few ‘screamers’ wouldn’t be frowned upon! There’s a solid vibe to the place, with chilled out tunes piped through speakers into the outside area, a mostly young crowd, but most importantly, brewery-fresh beers!
Headed by Christopher Haren (previously of Tooborac Hotel & Brewery and Southern Bay Brewing), Rogue Wave produce a wide array of brews, with lagers, pilsners, session ales, double IPA’s, saisons, and even Belgian Chestnut Reds!
Rogue Wave’s attitude towards brewing – and towards the town of Airey’s Inlet – is akin to that of a young, brash, bronzed surfer.
As seen on their website, their story is so: “We live our lives by the tides and the wind and the swell. We don’t dream of living somewhere else, or doing some other job. We love it here. Our beer is a continuation of our lifestyle. We won’t be told what mass produced beers we have to put on tap by some foreign owned, multinational, beer factory. No extracts. No chemicals. No additives”.
It’s a refreshingly belligerent attitude towards ‘big business’, and part of a growing trend in brewing – from my perspective at least – to provide a sense of ‘place’ to beers, and to enable brews to be representative of where they come from. It’s an attitude that makes sense too. If developers came along and attempted to shut you down, you’d hardly invite their kegs into your ‘house’ would you?
On the day I visited I was lucky enough to sample four of Rogue Wave’s brews – and true to form they were served on a surfboard shaped paddle.
First up was the Moby Pale Ale, a typical pale ale brewed with cascade and mosaic hops, and one that has a dry and spicy finish. Golden in colour and with lingering hop flavours, it’s an easy-drinking brew.
The Saison is fresh, fruity, light, and full of honey flavours. It’s very floral (and reminiscent of Temple Brewery’s Saison de Miel), and extraordinarily easy drinking when it’s a 24 degree sunny day by the beach.
Next came the Cranky Mrs IPA. The ‘biggest’ beer on their list – weighing in at 8.2%, this brew is a boozy, malt-driven, smooth double IPA. It’s not aggressively hoppy like many double IPAs are, rather it’s well-balanced. A dangerously tasty proposition.
Finally came the Dark Lager. This is a malty, coffee hit. It’s not overly heavy – the ‘lager- aspect adding some lightness to it, but it’s an intense beer nonetheless. It’s almost ‘gritty’, with a tasty coffee tones, and a long finish that kind of reminds you of left-over coffee grounds. In a good way!
With a brewer who seemingly enjoys experimenting and attempting different styles, I would be very keen to make my back to Rogue Wave sometime down the track to see how their range develops. For now, it’s well worth checking out if you’ve come off being dumped by a heavy swell and need a more relaxing way to spend an afternoon down on the surf coast!