Grand Ridge Article In The Sunday Age

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Just though I'd post this, it's reasonably interesting. I dont mind their beers at all, good on them.

He's a man who loves a beer, from malt to mouth
By Richard Webb
April 17, 2005

Take some hops, some malt, your own yeast culture, add some of the freshest mountain water in Victoria, boil it up and wait for a few months. That, in a nutshell, is how Gippsland's Grand Ridge Brewery crafts its nine award-winning beers.

Owner Eric Walters says: "The secret is to never compromise. We only use the finest ingredients, we don't add any chemicals, preservatives or additional sugar, and we don't pump our beer out in a week. It's not about profit, it's about beer - and that might sound like a cliche but, at Grand Ridge, it's true."

Eight years ago, Mr Walters was the youngest general manager at Telstra, looking after the group's services business in Victoria and Tasmania. He was in charge of a staff of about 3000.

For some time he had been a minority shareholder in Grand Ridge Brewery in the South Gippsland town of Mirboo North. But in 1997, he took the plunge. He quit his job at Telstra, bought out his partners at Grand Ridge and set to developing the brewery full-time.

Today, Mr Walters has a staff of eight, works round the clock seven days a week and ploughs the money he makes from the brewery back into its development. He has no regrets.

"I just love it, mate. I love the beers and things are going good, I've no complaints," he says. "But you wouldn't go into a microbrewery for the money - I'm not making a fortune here, I'm planning on paying myself one day."

His pay packet might not be showing it yet, but things are moving at Grand Ridge.

The company took over the old Mildura Brewery three years ago and this lifted its storage capacity tenfold - from 10,000 litres to 100,000 litres. This is important, because some of Grand Ridge's high-alcohol beers, such as Moonshine (8.5 per cent) and Supershine (rocket fuel at 11 per cent), take up to nine months to brew.

More recently, Mr Walters has begun the process of expanding the Grand Ridge Brewery visitor experience. Six months ago he took an interest in a local beef farm - the cattle are fed the spent grain from the brewing process - and last December he took over management of the restaurant at the Grand Ridge Brewery site, installing head chef Katrina Dent. The restaurant sells beef from his farm and is carving a name for steak and seafood, says Mr Walters.

To cap it off, Mr Walters is establishing Grand Ridge Manor, converting a nearby old building he has just bought into a bed and breakfast.

"I've wanted to bring a holistic approach to the whole thing for some time and in the last few months I've been able to start doing that," he says. "The restaurant offers pure, grain-fed beef fed from the Grand Ridge Brewery and we have local cheeses and produce such as fruits from the Drouin West Fruit and Berry Farm."

Owning a brewery also has helped Mr Walters secure some of the good stuff at fish and seafood markets. "Having a brewery sometimes has its strategic advantages in getting the quality of produce you want," he says.

Steve Lacey

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Take some hops, some malt, your own yeast culture, add some of the freshest mountain water in Victoria, boil it up and wait for a few months.

What a bastard of a thing to do to a yeast culture! The brewery might be good, but the standard of the journalism leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe the journo was too busy doing this :chug: to take decent notes. :p


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