If you’re an avid fan of beer, craft beer in particular, then you probably love trying out new flavours and styles. What this means is you’ve had your share of adventures hunting for innovative craft breweries.
Lucky for you, even if you don’t feel like taking up a new hobby and brewing your own, Australia is a country that’s made global news with the varied craft beer market and industry. One brewery that’s making its contribution is Melbourne’s Moon Dog that’s grown to be one of the most popular names in the craft brewing world.
Who Started Moon Dog?
Two brothers, Josh and Jake Uljans, had the idea after they received a home brewing kit as a present in their teen years. Dreaming big in their 20s, they already thought of starting up their own business and invited their friend Karl van Buuren into the venture a decade ago in an industrial quarter at Abbotsford.
Despite their humble beginnings, selling in a ’97 Volvo V40 station wagon their outstanding house brew made up of mismatched eBay equipment consisting of old dairy tanks, their broad views of brewing took them far. As far as starting up the successful urban Moon Dog brewery in a tiny warehouse in 2010.
It’s all because they weren’t afraid to experiment with non-traditional ingredients (e.g. their mum’s stewed cherry plums), flavours, and processes even when the craft beer landscape in Australia wasn’t as flavourful as it is today. It was quite the refreshment for a rather bland scene. For the name, they were inspired by a poem based on the incredible, quirky and unique musician from the US, Louis Thomas Hardin, aka Moondog.
After taking over four buildings in the same street, in 2019, they took over the Nylex production plant and opened up a venue in Preston called the Moon Dog World. It’s a spacious theme park-style brewery with a retractable roof, a tiki bar, a waterfall and a tropical lagoon so people can enjoy beer where it’s made in a relaxing setting, and pair it off with equally delicious foods.
From 70 to 80 cases per batch, to 15 million litres per year, with more than 150 employees and growing into an alcoholic post-mix company – they’ve certainly gone big. You can nowadays also find their amazing beers at trusted suppliers around the country, as well as abroad. In addition to their craft beer products, ranging from stouts to sours, and everything else, you can also get a taste of their fun alcoholic seltzers and cocktail spritz.
What’s Behind the Moon Dog Success?
Being anything but conventional. As they showed with their first potent double IPA aged in a cognac barrel, it’s their daring to be different, and not being afraid of experimenting in terms of flavours, ingredients like pumpkin, chilli, truffle, wild yeast, as well as equipment, even if others weren’t open to it in the craft beer scene in the country.
The other ingredient of success that quickly set them apart from the rest, and helped establish Moon Dog brewery into what it is today, was the idea of creating concept-driven beers that had more story about them than the contents in the tins. Delicious beers that are interesting at the same time!
From references they used from culture and movies, influencing the names of their beers which has turned into a signature of a sort, to the colourful and artsy tins. Some of their iconic names include the Melon Gibson inspired by the mullet of Mel Gibson, from their Magnificent Mullets series of fruity beers also featuring Sir Plum McCartney and Jon Pom Jovi ales, and the Spice of Heaven pine line ice cream IPA which goes oh so great with, you guessed it, ice cream.
Then, there are also the Moon Dog craft brewery classics like plain Love Tap, Old Mate Pale Ale and Moon Dog Lager – crisp, refreshing and easy to drink, with a soft aroma. If you’re interested in beers that are the result of interesting combos, try out some of the unique blends of Moon Dog, like the Far Out Coffee Stout which is an oat milk latte stout, with a creamy texture, or the Timothy Tamothy Slamothy caramel chocolate milk stout which is chocolatey with a caramel twist.
If you get the need for something salty for a change, and the opposite of the fruity flavours, there’s the food-inspired Bánh Mì, Bánh Mì, Say That You Love Me golden ale brewed with cucumber, coriander, a little bit of chilli, and it’s got that salty finish many like. In short, they provide a variety of beers in a variety of flavours for all different tastes. While we may not know which out-of-the-ordinary ingredient or a blend of flavours they’re going to treat our palates within the coming years, one thing is certain – the sky is the limit here.