In this episode, we talk to Kaiju founders Nat and Callum Reeves about the incredible story that is Kaiju including; where Kaiju came from, their incredible artwork and the exciting developments that are on the horizon.
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Full Text Transcript Below:
Lachlan: Welcome everyone to the Inside Word. My name is Lachlan McClane from Beer Cartel, Australia's number one craft beer retailer. In today's episode we talk to KAIJU founders Nat and Callum Reeves about the incredible story that is KAIJU. Including where KAIJU came from, their incredible artwork, and the exciting developments that are on the horizon. I hope you enjoy this chat with one of Australia's most loved craft beer breweries.
Lachlan: Hey guys and thank you so much for joining me today.
Callum: Hi, welcome, how are you? This is Callum.
Lachlan: Yes, we've got Callum and we've got Nat with us today from KAIJU Brewing. We've got... So, two brothers, Head Brewer. And Callum, you're I guess what, Head... what, sales, business?
Callum: I'm Chief Boss, so I guess that covers pretty much everything. I guess it's more of an administrative role in many ways, but all across the marketing and stuff.
Lachlan: So Nat, you're actually at the Brewery today, so with power of technology nowadays, we've got them both in different locations.
Lachlan: But Nat, you're at the Brewery, and as Head Brewer what's been going on at the Brewery the last few days?
Nat: What has been going on? We've been doing some batches on the pilot system. So we have a little 500 liter, pilot brew house where we can just do whatever the hell we feel like.
Lachlan: Yeah, nice.
Nat: So the boys have been having fun on that. Mainly a bit of, just, cleaning up and maintenance going on in the packaging hall... [inaudible 00:01:40]
Lachlan: What, cleaning the brewing?
Nat: Yes Lachlan, cleaning.
Nat: And, what else is happening today...?
Lachlan: Any special brews being planned for soon?
Nat: Yeah, we're pretty bad with actually planning ahead. What do we have? We've got a few things coming up. There's a few specialty beers that we're doing. There's one for Bendigo On The Hop, that we're doing, so, it's just a festival that happens down here... well, in Bendigo which is a few hours away. It's kind of like a... you hop between bars and each of the bars has two breweries in there and everyone does a special beer for it.
Lachlan: Yeah, nice.
Nat: That's pretty exciting thinking about what beers we're going to put together for that.
Nat: There's... I guess there's Adelaide Beer and Barbecue Festival. Is that this weekend or next... It's this weekend isn't it Callum?
Callum: It's this week... yeah, this weekend.
Nat: We've got a few cool things coming for that.
Lachlan: Always nice and busy.
Nat: Yeah, yeah.
Lachlan: So, I thought the first thing we'd start with is... Before KAIJU and what you guys were doing beforehand... a bit of your histories.
Lachlan: Nat, thought we'd start with you. Where... were you brewing beforehand? How'd you get into the brewing side of it?
Nat: Yeah, I haven't actually worked at a commercial brewery before. Before we made ours. Callum and I used to do the kits, like the Coopers kits back when we were much younger. They were pretty hit and miss. Sometimes they were good. When I say good, sometimes they were acceptable, sometimes they were awful.
Callum: Nat didn't drink them by the way, because I don't think that Nat was quite of age when I started brewing.
Nat: I didn't jump on board on that until I was 18.
Lachlan: No, not at all. It's been a... in my interviews with brewers this has been a common theme though.
Nat: So yeah, that happened for a little bit but never really eventuated into anything because it was so much time for like, maybe something that you would drink. But, probably not, you'd probably just pour it down the drain.
Nat: And then, a few years later, while I was at Uni, I was at... I had expensive taste in beer and so I couldn't really afford to drink it. My expensive taste in beer was thanks to Callum, cause we'd go to Mountain Goat and stuff like that when they would open up for a Friday night at the original brewery there. I was at Moo Brew, so down at Barilla... when was that? I must have been like 25... no 26 maybe, and I had their Pale Ale, it must have been so fresh because it was just blowing my mind. So I kept... I drank a lot of that that night and when I got back to Melbourne and Callum said that he was working at a company and they... were they bringing Moo Brew over to, [inaudible 00:05:10]?
Callum: Yeah, yeah.
Callum: Prime Wines. They were bringing over, one pallet a month. It was all packaged I think, I don't remember getting any kegs. We certainly didn't sell the kegs. But yeah. One pallet of those crazy looking bottles every month and it was pre-allocated months in advance, it was, yeah, pretty crazy.
Nat: $120 a case or something ridiculous.
Callum: Yeah, it was really bad.
Nat: So I could afford to buy one of those for... and had to drink that over a couple of months. And so it was like, "This is just way too expensive." But I didn't want to drink other beers. So I just started looking online about how to actually make beer from scratch. I was doing science at Uni at the time, so it really wasn't particularly difficult science. Yeah, I guess it just started from there. But then once I'd cut the top off a keg and made that into my kettle and made a Mash Tun or, Mash Lauter Tun, at that point I was like, "Yeah, I'm pretty deep in this now, this is costing me a lot of money to put together." It was a very slippery slope and I just, got, absolutely obsessed with it.
Nat: Everybody liked drinking the beer. Probably because it was free as I'm sure everybody says. But, yeah, I really loved making it and I really enjoyed drinking it and so I didn't... it just kind of felt like that was what I wanted to keep doing. So, yeah.
Lachlan: And there was a decision to go, I guess, open your own brewery?
Nat: I wanted to do something like that for a very long time but hadn't bothered to do anything about it. Even research how to do something like that. So that was more where Callum's ideas about what he felt like doing... which probably is a good segue way to get into what Callum was doing.
Lachlan: Yeah, so, Callum, you briefly mentioned there that you were in sales for a time? Is that kind of more your background?
Callum: No, not really.
Callum: I... so at that time, I was working at a wine importer and distributor, in Melbourne. This was coming out of five years working in market research and economics consultancies...
Lachlan: Yeah, right, okay.
Callum: And when the market research industry decided that it wasn't really the place for me. I then sort of thought about, "What do I really want to do? What do I actually love?" And I love food and wine and I thought, "Well, I don't want to be a Chef. The hours don't look good and I don't want to get a tattoo." So I decided to go and see if I could get a job in the wine industry.
Callum: And I started working at a shop called Prince Wine Store, which is one of the best wine shops, probably, in the world if not... and certainly probably the best in Australia. And I learned so much there and really fell in love with wines and then from there I went and worked at this wine distributor which also was distributing the Moo Brew beers in Melbourne. There was another brewery as well, might have been Mildura actually. So we were distributing those, but I was still really loving the wine industry and spent quite a long time there, about five years.
Callum: But over time, particularly as Nat was making these delicious beers... and I found myself, every time I'd go to band practice... So my house is in Prahran, which is close to the city and I'd go to my band's band practice out in Pakenham which is quite a way out. And sort of half way between... either on the way out there or on the way back I'd stop in at Nat's place and get a growler of beer. Because I just loved his beers. I know it sounds ridiculous, but having tasted lots of wines and having tasted lots of beers, I thought that his beers were particularly good. He just, sort of, got hops and was getting better and better and better over time. I got really excited about his beers. I was more excited about his beers than I was drinking the next wine. I guess that sort of planted the seed for me, and for Nat, as to starting a business.
Callum: So the first thing that we did, the first step in that journey was to make a cider. So one of the guys that was in the band with me, his family owns an orchard and they make a lot of juice. And we loved the apple juice. Until Nat found out that he was fructose malabsorption. Which probably, apple juice wasn't doing the best things for his health. Anyway, but one of the other guys in the band was having a wedding and Nic said to me, "Why don't we make a cider? You kind of know a bit about making wine." I'd studied some wine making, and I'd helped wine makers make wine. "You know about making wine, and Nat knows about making beer, let's make a cider, I've got juice."
Callum: So, we made a cider for this wedding, for Carl's wedding and it went over really well. People loved it. That was kind of just the first step and from there on it was just like, "Well, maybe we should make more or maybe we could sell it?" You just sort of tick off each of those boxes and suddenly you've got this company.
Callum: It's funny, because you go through this process of like, "I've really got to make this thing good. I've got to design it well, I've got to make really good stuff. I've got to find a place to make it." And you get to the day that you've been waiting for, the day that you produce this... that you've got these bottles and kegs of your products, ciders in this case. And you're just like, "Holy crap. Now I have to be a sales person." Because it's a completely different skill set. So...
Nat: I don't have much skill in...
Callum: Nat sells himself short. I think people respond to Nat's passion.
Callum: Anyway, so we started selling it and that was slow because I wasn't that skilled. But I was actually working as a sales rep for a wine company, the same wine company. So, I'd gone from being a wine expert at that company and writing wine lists and that sort of thing, to thinking, "Oh, all the wine reps make more money." So I went and got a job as a wine rep at the company. And that's a lot harder and you've got to go out there and sell stuff and it was, you know... it wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be. But I had that opportunity to speak to people about the cider and from there on it was kind of like, "Okay. So where do we make this beer?"
Callum: I guess Nat can probably talk more about the challenges of finding the right place to make what was probably the hoppiest beer that anyone wanted to make in Australia at the time. Which was the Double IPA. So, Nat, I mean...
Lachlan: Yeah, I'll pass over to Nat on this one, going over... you've done the cider and you're moving into wanting to now commercially make beer. Your first beer was, what is, I guess today, Aftermath?
Lachlan: That's seems brave to do a Double IPA as your first beer.
Nat: Yeah, well it was... there were a bunch of other breweries at the time, who had just started and they had a Pale Ale or a some variation of a Golden Ale or like a Steam Ale or something like that. That's an entry point that is like, "Oh yeah, if you wanted..." We were thinking, "Well, if we wanted to enter and just kind of, move into the background of something or..." Do you know what I mean? Like, not-
Callum: Not make it, not make it same.
Nat: And considering the designs that we had from Mikey, and also my taste in beer... At the time I didn't really want to drink Pale Ales, by that time I'd started brewing hoppier and hoppier IPA's and Double IPA's. So, the beer that I made the most at home was, what is now Aftermath. That was the beer that I thought that I made the best. I really enjoyed making that one and everyone particularly enjoyed drinking that one, it would seem.
Lachlan: Yeah, so you were going to... wanting to make that as your first commercial beer, without your own brewery. So you were probably contracting, I'm guessing? Or gypsy brewing?
Nat: So, we looked at the idea of contract brewing but it was just something that when we spoke to the people who would contract brew it, I was just like, "No, I don't like what you want to do." At least they were honest about how they would do it. I was just like, "I don't like, I don't like this..." I don't feel like any of the breweries that we spoke to were set up to make beers like that. So it was kind of like, there were compromises and I was like, "I don't want to compromise on this beer. This beer has to be exactly the way that I'm making it at home. Even if there are going to be ridiculous amounts of losses." And that was one thing that they were saying, and it's like, "Well, you're going to get so much loss out of this beer." And I'm like, "I don't care. But that's..." Yeah, I just didn't want it like that.
Nat: So, we were talking to the guys at Bintani and they said that there was a brewery that was allowing people to buy a fermentor and put it into their space. You'd be able to... You'd brew the beer on their equipment, you'd package the beer on their equipment but you'd be doing it all yourself. And that way we'd have complete control over that. And I said to Cal, "I've heard about this." And it was... We were just like, "This is perfect. This is a perfect fit for us." So we went and met with them... So that was Cavalier. We went and met with them, and... yeah, we were like, "This is going to work pretty well." And there was two other people who were putting in fermenters at the same time. So that was Hendo from BrewCult and... who was the other dude, Cal?
Callum: Was it... Oh gosh. Darren.
Nat: Darren, yeah that's right.
Callum: It was Darren, yeah.
Nat: So we got in on that, like right at the last minute. The fermenters were being shipped out of China on their over. They were about to go out and we were like, "Yep." We got into that container, so that was good.
Nat: And then, yeah, so we just started making these beers at Cavalier and it really was just like, "Well, we can do this Double IPA." And yeah, we had ridiculous losses and everyone was saying to us, "Why are you starting with a Double IPA? That is just very silly." But, it's the kind of beer that I wanted to drink. I just assumed that there were other people like me. Who also wanted beer like that. Because you could get great imports of Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada and they might even... Sierra might have even probably had direct imports at the time. But the beers just weren't fresh. They weren't super fresh. So it was like, a beer like a Double IPA, you want to drink that as fresh as possible.
Nat: So it was like, "Well, maybe we can be doing something like that and hopefully our beers will stand up to those American ones. Especially if they're super fresh."
Lachlan: So when you were contracting out of Cavalier, is this early 2012?
Nat: No this is at the end of 2013.
Lachlan: And how long were you contracting there for?
Nat: Well it was really contracting.
Lachlan: Or, gypsy brewing-
Nat: Gypsy brewing. Hobo Brewing as Hendo called it. Because we still... we didn't have a house but we had a bridge that we slept under.
Nat: So yeah, that was at the end of 2013 and we started brewing at our facility at the end of 2015. So we were there for two years.
Lachlan: Yeah, wow.
Lachlan: So I guess, for KAIJU, the big, identity for you, that people I guess, would know you as, is your artwork and your labels. You mentioned Mikey, are you able to have a... where did all the inspiration come from for the crazy labels?
Callum: So the way that we found Mikey... my wife works in computer game development and she has seen his work and wanted to work with him and never found the right game to work on. But when we said we were going to make the cider she said, "I reckon this guy would be really good." We spoke to him and he was keen to do the work and so we made the cider, the Golden Axe Cider, which at the time was a lumberjack head. Basically a self portrait of Mikey himself. And we knew that we wanted to use him for what was then Monster Mash beer. So the concept of Monster Mash, he sent us through a few different directions that we could go with the design of the first beer. And the one that we really liked the most was this KAIJU type of monster. Which I guess, probably wasn't the direction that we thought it would go but we were super excited about the style.
Callum: So then when, as everyone knows by now, we had to change our name, and we'd been referring to the monster on the Double IPA label and the Hopped Out Red label, as KAIJUs. We went through a few different names, but the one that stuck was KAIJU. So, we said to Mikey, "This is the brand that we're going to do, can you send us through..." I think it was probably, asked him for a new design for what was to become Metamorphosis. And along with that, he just sent us a bunch of different designs and they were all this KAIJU style of monster, and we were just blown away. And we were like, "There is real direction with the branding. We now know what this KAIJU brand is about."
Callum: Over time we've used some of the initial designs that Mikey send through. And we also... When we have a new design, the briefing process is... can go backwards and forwards. Sometimes it's an idea from Mikey himself. Sometimes it's an idea based on, this is the style of beer that we want to make... Then we go and... Mikey will come back with something. But a lot of those first ones were... we have this great design, what are we going to make for it? Cthulhu On the Moon, our Black IPA and Robohop both came out of that initial suite of designs. As well as Where Strides The Behemoth, we had... that was kind of like, the design was there but we knew we wanted to make this... that graphic that we had would work really well with it.
Callum: It's a process... certainly for me, and I think for Nat as well, the design process is one of the most fun parts of what we do.
Lachlan: You mentioned that all your designs are I guess, KAIJU and monsters, but I guess for people that don't know what the reference is, what are they?
Callum: So, KAIJUs are the kinds of city destroying monsters that you see in post-war Japanese films, like Godzilla. The cinematic movement I think is called Tokusatsu and you have these monsters like Godzilla and Mothra, Gamera.
Lachlan: Go see the new movie, I think they're all in it, I think.
Callum: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think they are. There's quite a few in it... The world of KAIJUs is like, there are just... so many different ones and then soon after we came up with the name KAIJU, the Pacific Rim movie came out and so that also got a little boost.
Lachlan: I remember, we were talking about Aftermath being the first beer that you ever did... I remember... I can't remember if it was both of you, or just one of you, but where I was... when I was in Brisbane, five years ago now, you popped into the store I was working, The Wine Emporium and you...
Callum: Oh, right.
Lachlan: Yeah, and you ran us through the entire sample... the range you had then, I think it was four or five beers plus the Golden Axe. And it blew my mind. There was no brewery like it, in Australia really, that were doing such hop forward beers.
Lachlan: Was it always the intention that... you'd done Aftermath, was it always the intention to stick with those sort of really hop forward styles? Or was there ever intention to kind of broaden the range?
Nat: They were just the beers that I liked making at home. Like I really liked hoppy beers, I didn't really make malty beers. I made a few of them and I was like, "Eh?" You know, like I just didn't really care. My tastes haven't totally changed, but I have broadened my horizons. But yes. Certainly, when I was brewing at home I just wanted to make really hoppy beers. And then when we started this all of my recipes were just, they were just stupid hoppy beers.
Nat: So... and then the name KAIJU kind of... we had Monster Mash and KAIJU, it just worked with these beers being, big. So I mean, before Robohop came out, every beer was at least 6.5%. So it was like... 6.5% isn't an enormous beer but it's still a big beer. So everything was about being big. When we started. Considering when we were at Cavalier, we had... by the time we left there we had two, 35 hec tanks so we... we could put out 70 hec a month. Which isn't much. Only two beer styles at a time so I feel like they had to be bigger beers because that was the way to keep the brand the way that it was while still making small volumes of beer.
Nat: When we came to this... When we set up our brewery, we just... we wanted to put beers into cans. And the best... I woke up one morning and just came up with the name. I had KAIJU Crush just in my head. So, that was just a matter of, "Okay. What is this beer going to be?" The idea that I had in my head was, it's going to be like a tropical Pale Ale. So that was where the idea of then actually making a beer that's under 5% and putting it into cans... that came along. That was kind of really where we thought we could do beers that weren't [inaudible 00:26:47] beers anymore. But still wanted to keep it KAIJU so, it still had to be a pretty hoppy beer.
Callum: Yeah, and that was probably... oh, sorry. That was probably the longest iteration process of making a beer that we've done. Where it took months of trials of beers to get it tasting it how we wanted it, as well. It was difficult for us, it was new ground.
Nat: [inaudible 00:27:22] that it was new ground, it's so funny, but it's true.
Lachlan: You mentioned that Crush was the first beer that you put into cans. Was there a point in the market where you realized that that was the way it was all going? Because previously you were in the 500ml bottles.
Callum: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, so we started out just doing 500ml bottles. And when we gout our... we started brewing in our own Brewery, we were kind of like, "Okay, so we'll start to transition things over to 330ml bottles." And we'd bought a bottling line. This was before Pirate Life when we started. Sort of, six months before Pirate Life.
Callum: When they started doing their beers in cans, the market changed very quickly. Where the acceptance of cans for high quality beer just grew dramatically within six months to a year. I guess, probably a year later we were like, "Oh, man, having a bottling line is not..." We hadn't considered, had not even crossed our radar to get a canning line when we first built our brewery. Then after time we were like, "You know what, our designs would look rad on cans. And we're seeing that the quality of canned beer is getting better, let's dip our toe in the water."
Callum: It was also that there were contract canners becoming available. Because we certainly didn't feel that we could afford to buy a canning line with all the equipment that we just bought. SO we thought, "We'll dip our toe in the water with this one beer." And it went bananas. Very soon after that we realized that we had to get our own canning line. When we... As we expanded... Crush, just, taking over our brewery and putting in more tanks. We put in more tanks. We had a bottling line. We had a canning line. We were all in this one space that we'd originally started out with that we thought was going to be our brewery for 10 years. And there just wasn't enough space for it.
Callum: So we leased an adjoining property, put a hole in the wall and we moved all of our packaging equipment into the new space. Hooked up the canning line and hooked up the bottling line and when we got the bottling line in, we started it up, two or three times. Because everything that we were selling, was cans. So we transitioned all of the beers across to cans and then someone offered to buy our bottling line from us. And we were happy to let them do that.
Lachlan: So do you do have your own canning line?
Callum: Yeah. Yeah, so now we have our own canning line and we don't have a bottling line anymore.
Callum: And having our own canning line has made a huge difference. Its meant that we've been able to produce enough beer to the demand that's out there. So...
Lachlan: You mentioned that the demand has obviously sky-rocketed and Crush obviously plays a big part in that. What percentage is Crush of your beer?
Callum: Probably a little over 60%-
Callum: Maybe 65%.
Callum: Yeah, yeah.
Lachlan: That's going crazy.
Callum: Yeah. It's a... It makes sense. It's an easy drinking beer. It still delivers at that hop impact. We... I certainly drink more Crush than I do of most of the other beers. I still have a real soft spot for Cthulhu on the Moon. I think it's just an absolutely delicious beer and it offers deliciousness in every aspect that you would want in maltyness, in hoppyness and all that sort of stuff. So I do drink a few of those but... Crush is the one that we know we have to get right as well. So we sort of, you know... we're always tasting it and making sure that everything's exactly on track with all the beers and that's the one that we sell the most of. So, yeah, but it's also that, you don't have a hangover and you don't get blind.
Callum: I remember the first party that we had, it was one of my kid's birthday parties. After... It was when we launched Crush and I had a few cases of Crush at the party and we were all drinking Crush and going, "This is kind of cool. We're not getting blind. It's nice. You can drink a bit more and still be responsible." I'm trying to keep this all responsible with what I'm saying here. But yeah so... it's certainly been, it's been pretty cool.
Lachlan: You mentioned that the reason you went to cans was because of the changing markets. I know at Beer Cartel and at... probably every other bottle shop around the country and even the world, over the last probably year to two years has been the Haze Craze as we put it. The New England IPA's... as far as I... I haven't seen a KAIJU packaged one come out. Is that something that you guys are looking at? And how has that affected your business with that kind of craze?
Nat: I'm not a massive fan of hazy IPA's. I've got to admit. I don't drink them. I don't know what it is about them, they just... especially ones with lactose in them... Yeah, they just, they really don't do it for me.
Nat: We did a couple of small batch ones. Just, kind of... Well one of them was... well actually it hasn't been released. There's one that's going to be at Netherworld one of these weekends. And the only reason that I made that is because it's for a Cthulhu event and it's a Non-Euclidean IPA. So that's where the N-E comes in. But then because it's an N-E-I-P-A we were just like, "Well, we have to make it a NEIPA. It has to be a New England IPA." It was just a joke about the Call of Cthulhu and [inaudible 00:34:46] being made of Non-Euclidean forms and shapes.
Nat: But, other than that I guess, we did a sour NEIPA with the guys from Collective Arts. And... I'm actually... I really love that beer. But it is so different to what a NEIPA is, like it's super hazy but it's... that sourness just makes it a totally different beer for me.
Nat: It's not a style that I generally enjoy and I don't want to make something that I don't enjoy. Yeah.
Lachlan: I guess for Callum, I guess more about the business and the sales side of it, do you get consumers and bottles shops and do you get the question constantly that, "Why aren't you making them?" And is there any pressure for you to actually try and do one?
Callum: We don't get a lot of pressure for it. I guess we do get the question, "Oh, you guys haven't really made a New England IPA." Certainly, yes, like you said, not packaged. And just going from my perspective, I quite like New England IPA's and I don't even mind if they've got a bit of lactose in them. I might have like one, or I'd prefer to share one, because it's a lot of lactose. But, the sour one that we've just made has sort of changed our opinions of what it is. Because really what you're looking for is, that deliciousness and balance in a beer. And we... And I think that like, that beer that we've just made, does kind of cover off those bases. But yeah, so we do get the question occasionally, but not a lot of pressure from people to make one. Potentially because there are quite a few out there already. Yeah.
Lachlan: I guess the... this whole talk of the limited releases and the pilot batches... and I guess KAIJU hadn't really been prolific in releasing packaged limited releases up until... what, about this time last year?
Lachlan: I guess it's a nice segue way into talking about the Mutation Series that you guys launched. And whether, if you were going to do one, whether that's kind of the place that you'd put it? Mutation as it is... What is the Mutation Series?
Callum: So the Mutation Program... Yeah, we'd always wanted to be able to do some... to do different beers and release them and... which we've done a lot of in, keg versions. And having the pilot brewery, having that 500 liter system, really works well to be able to come out with things that we're really only put them into kegs in the past.
Callum: The thing about our branding is, that we always want to make sure that the branding looks right, and it's really expensive. It's expensive to get the design done, and then its expensive to get a small batch of labels done. So we had been working on a way to make the Mutation... it wasn't called Mutation program but this, like small batch series, work, brand wise for us.
Callum: Like, to be exciting all the time and to be something different but also be high quality in the level of design. And we came up with the idea... So Mikey... Mikey Burton who's our designer, he's doing this series of envelopes. So he's basically using Posca pens and designing... like doing illustrations on envelopes. And I saw that, that he was doing and he was uploading to Instagram and I was like, "Mikey, these would be perfect, as labels, for beers. What do you reckon? Can we do that?" And the way that we could kind of make it work would be to get a few at a time and print a whole lot of different ones. So that we've got a long enough print run that it sort of... like it brings down the price per label... this is all very business-y stuff.
Callum: But it meant that we could have several different designs. So we'd have a little bank of beers coming up. But they're not fully printed, so they don't have the beer name and information on them until we print that on at the brewery. So we use a thermal transfer printer and we print that information on the labels at the brewery. That now gives us the opportunity to do that, but now, equally, it's about the opportunity to have the space in the brewhouse to do them as well. So this... all these difficulties but...
Lachlan: And the Mutation Series, the first few beers that have gone through them, have been a very different style. They've been sour beers. I think they've been sour beers? I know the first couple were.
Callum: So the first one was Main Squeeze, which is a passionfruit and guava Session Ale. Not a sour. You've potentially got a lower... so a more acidity from the fruit acids. But it's not a sour. So it doesn't have any kettle souring or barrel souring process in that.
Callum: Then the second one was Dopethrone, which was... Nat do you want to describe that one?
Nat: Well, Dopethrone was just a straight up West Coast IPA basically. Like with the really really new... well, are they new anymore? But just, more of those kind of... the hops that are being used in NEIPAS and stuff. But still just, West Coast style. So just, dry and just hoppy, hoppy as, yeah.
Lachlan: And the third one was?
Nat: Tapestry of Chaos. Yeah, which is a... which is a sour. So that was a kettle sour but then we dry hopped it.
Lachlan: What can we see in the... if you can [inaudible 00:41:26]... hasn't been released yet but what can kind of rough styles can we expect in the future for the Mutation Series?
Nat: There's... I'd like to think all the different styles that you can ever think of. But... yeah, we haven't even decided on what the next one's going to be. So, yeah, we don't really know... it's kind of... the beers will just come to us at a time and be like, "Oh, let's do this as the next one." Yeah, I don't know. I really don't know what we're thinking about doing next. I've got lots of ideas but whether it's one thing that I actually want to put into a can is a totally different story.
Lachlan: Well, I guess we'll have to just wait and see.
Lachlan: But I guess, this time of year, the big beer that everyone looks forward to, and I think it's getting released in a couple of days, is Behemoth. That's, kind of the main reason that I wanted to get you guys on here... So we're doing a launch event with the beer and a few things on this Thursday, so, that is the 11th I think? Of July for those people that are listening to this later. But, Behemoth. It's your annual release. What is it and where did it come from?
Nat: Yeah, Where Strides The Behemoth was our beer that we did for GABS for 2014. It was... we were kind of like well, at that point we had done, a Double IPA, we'd done Hopped Out Red, we'd done Metamorphosis and it was like, "Okay, we need another color of IPA to do." And the idea was to make it as metal as possible. Because Where Strides The Behemoth is a song by Mastodon off Remission that is... I really like that song. But it had to be as metal as possible. So the idea was, "Okay then, well, let's just... We'll make it black. It's going to be hoppy as we could possibly do, and it was going to be 11% alcohol." It was just going to be enormous in every way shape and form. To live up to the idea of the... of Where Strides The Behemoth. I later found out that Where Strides The Behemoth, they named it after a lunchbox that Bill Kelliher had, when he was a kid that had the Hulk on it, and it said, "Where Strides The Behemoth" on it. Which is pretty cool.
Nat: So yeah the idea was to make something big, ridiculous, and throw it into GABS. Because that's what GABS was and, is it still about that? I'm not 100% sure, but I think it is. So yeah, we did that and it proved to be quite popular and so we were like, "Well let's just keep making this beer."
Lachlan: So it's obviously your annual release now, you only do it once a year?
Lachlan: I guess, the beer itself, it's a Double Black IPA? Is that, I guess, technically what it is?
Nat: Yeah so... what do we... what's it's-
Callum: We call it Double India Black Ale. But yeah, Double Black IPA is an equally good description of it. So it's certainly not a stout. So that's probably, the main thing to note is that, it's huge and high alcohol but it's fermented with West Coast IPA yeast, and with a grain bill that's a... lends itself not to being a stout.
Nat: Yeah, and they're all pretty old school hops as well, it's all Columbus, Chinook, Cascade and Amarillo so it's... their the old... I guess Amarillo's a bit newer but that's still an old kind of hop. So, it is living up to that San Diego, mid 2000's-
Callum: Yeah, absolutely.
Nat: Kind of thing. Which is, generally the kind of beer that I love the most anyway. Yeah. So it's... it isn't... We now make it at 10%, not 11%, and that was just due to the yeast that we were using at the time. We have moved on now, we are using different yeast that's a lot healthier but... just, inconsistent fermentation in that, it didn't always perform as well as we wanted it to. Yeah. So now it is at 10%, not 11%, as I said before, but... yeah.
Lachlan: Yeah, awesome. So I guess, for anyone out there who's listening to this, Behemoth is once a year so, around this time, every year be on the look out for it, it never lasts long. Most bottle shops of venues only get a few cases or one keg.
Lachlan: But I guess, this whole talk about... back to Crush and the boom that that's kind of given you. I heard... talking about what's next for KAIJU, that there's a sneaky expansion happening. What can we expect from the expansion? What's that going to give you?
Callum: So at the moment at the brewery we've just got a big hole in the ground where we've cut a slab of concrete out of the brewery, to put in a new floor. And we're going to be putting a new brewhouse on there. So that's going to be a 5000 liter, three vessel brewhouse. And all the necessary upgrades for there. So that will just mean that we can produce more beer. And it means that when we get more tanks we can fill them. So that's kind of this year's project.
Callum: We are also working on a very exciting new project which we haven't really spoken about before but that's... so we've just signed an agreement to... on a premises to have a brew pub. Which will hopefully be opening before mid next year.
Lachlan: That's fantastic.
Callum: Yeah, it's a big process, and it's a new process for us. We know kind of how to figure out how to build breweries but brew pubs are quite a different kind of thing.
Lachlan: Is the intention for that to be, kind of, a bit more of the pilot batchy... pilot batches and run those sort of out of them?
Callum: Yeah, absolutely. So we're probably going to put our pilot brewhouse into the brewery. Have sort of 500 liter batches and that'll all just be kegs and we'll... yeah we'll continue to run small tanks in the original brewery for the Mutation Program beers, but mainly just keg stuff. A lot of it hopefully go through the brew pub, but it will also... some of the small batch stuff will be available to other people.
Lachlan: That sounds absolutely fantastic. I'm assuming it's in the Melbourne area?
Callum: Yeah, that's right. So, probably about 20km's out of Melbourne. Right near public transport.
Lachlan: So I won't push you too much, I know there was a... whether or not you were going to talk about it but thank you so much for giving us that little insight. Always fascinating to hear these kind of stories.
Lachlan: I guess... just wrapping up now. Thank you so much for coming on today and talking about the KAIJU story. For the people out there, if you find Behemoth, I highly recommend that you get it. And yeah, thanks guys.
Callum: All right, thanks very much. Good to speak to you.
Nat: Yep, see you later.
Lachlan: KAIJU have certainly grown, since their humble beginnings as what Callum affectionately calls it, "A Hobo Brewery", to one of Australia's premiere craft breweries.
Lachlan: I hope you enjoyed today's episode, and if you have any questions, please let us know on our Facebook group. Beer Cartel's Craft Beer Collective. If you'd like to continue to stay up to date with the latest from the craft beer industry, please hit Subscribe at either iTunes podcast, StitchUp of wherever you listen to your podcasts. That's it for today, I'll see you next time.