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Mel Robson Rip

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Armstrong

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I was recently shocked to receive news that Mel Robson (the founder of ESB) had passed away.

I searched the forums here and found that no-one as yet has paid tribute to a man I had a lot of respect for.

I know people like Barry Cranston knew Mel better than I and I would hope they will add some insight

I think it was around 1984 that Mel started ESB (please correct me if I'm wrong) and at that time and for over a decade, he was one of the few home brew business who actively promoted all grain brewing in Sydney ... if not Australia!

ESB was the breeding ground for many brewers who went on to occupy the commercial brewing ranks ... names like Rob Freshwater at Malt Shovel, Dave Edney at Mountain Goat and Matt Donelan of St Peters Brewery, not to mention his son who is now the head brewer at The Lord Nelson.

Mel was also the first to successfully market what is known today as a Fresh Wort Kit, which many have since copied.

Mel was a very likable man ... always greeted me with a smile and would bend over backwards to help you if needed.

I sure he will be missed by many.

Please add comments about Mel if you knew him

Cheers

Shawn Miles
 

AndrewQLD

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A sad day indeed Shawn, my very first all grain was brewed with ingredients from ESB and I remember him as one of the first to promote AG in NSW.
He certainly helped start me on the road to brewing, I wish his family the very best in this sad time.

Andrew
 

///

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Unfortunately I could not get to the service due to work commitments and paid my sincere regards to Andrew on the weekend.

ESB Randwick is the reason so many folks starting brewing with grain and for more than a few of us in Sydney, made the jump from weekend warrior to a day job in brewing. ESB was my neighbourhood shop for years, was always a blast on a Thursday night and is where I won my first award.

Mel was always a kind gentleman, especially considering some of the dishwater I put out in those early years! ;p

Scotty
 

bigfridge

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Like Scotty, I first got to know ESB through the Randwick store when the old Southern Home Brewing (forerunner of Grain & Grape) recommended that I buy my grain from Sydney rather than paying freight from Melbourne to Newcastle.

In those days Reagan was the man who ran the store (now brewing at Malt Shovel) - but Mel made it possible to buy all the things that we could see on the new fangled interweb.

Mel was the supporter behind the early beer comps sponsoring the Winter ale and Summer lager brewing championships. Many judges started on the road to beer education and winners include names like Craig Deakon and Dave Edney. This spawned the comp in Bathurst and through the apprentiship servered by many of us, comps in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.

Shawn mentions the Wort Kit innovation, but there was also the full wort kit where you got a paint-can of extract where you could see the hops floating around when you prised open the lid.

A lot of what we take for granted in craft and home brewing taday can be traced back to Mel's innovations and dedication. A constant supporter of our craft.

A sad time indeed for his family and all who were blessed to meet him.
 

Barry

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Mel was a true gentleman in all senses. He always had a smile for all on all occasions. Someone said that they couldn't remember Mel ever being angry and I couldn't either. There were hundreds of people at the funeral that knew Mel in different ways but all had been touched by his humour, bright spirit and friendship.
I started home brewing (again) in January 1997. I was happy with kits with some enhancement packs. Someone at work told me about ESB at Peakhurst so I went there to buy my kits. Mel never told me that I should do this or that but by using his Mel magic by January 1998 I was mashing and using liquid yeast.
The last Friday of each month at Peakhurst was the "university of home brewing" which taught us how to brew better beer by sharing and talking. Mel was the guide and the heart of these meetings. I remember the first strange beer that I brought along. I asked Mel to try it. He sipped it then ran to the sink and spat it out while calling out "pheeeennooollic" in a raspy voice. I am sure everyone has a similar Mel story.
I, like so many, owe Mel so much.
Cheers old mate.
 

mckenry

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What a shame. I saw him in the latter days when he could get to the shop in Peakhurst. Still had a smile.
When I was working in Yagoona, I'd slip over there at lunch and always spend way too long chatting and be late back. Each time telling myself, that next time I'll just get what I need and go. Never happened. He was a gentleman.
 

mje1980

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I used to drive up to peakhurst to get grains and whitelabs off him. He was always polite and a gentleman. Im sure i asked him noob questions he'd heard a million times before, but he was always happy to answer. RIP
 

gap

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My first forays into grain brewing in 1996 were inspired by going to the Randwick Shop.
I lived in the Blue Mountains and travelled the 120km to get my gear from ESB.
Usually Regan, but some times Mel was there. A true pioneer .

Condolences to his family.
 

winkle

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I first got introduced to all grain brewing at the Randwick store in the late 80's by Mel and team (Willie Simpson was manning the desk for a while) and the Thursday nite tasting sessions were epic. It took me a long time to progress to all grain brewing but the seed was planted then.
A lovely helpful guy who'll be missed.

Condolences to his family.
 

poppa joe

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Armstrong..
Is this the fellow that had the shop on Henry Lawson Drive At Peakhurst.?
I bought my first go at H B off him ...But that would of been
in the early '70s .Last year i threw out a packet of Irish Moss and
Another pack of stuff i bought 40 yrs ago..I think he was about the only
place to get anything...The beer i made was lousy.. did not drink it.. But
My father did..Then I gave up for a long time...The stuff i buy now is from
ESBs latest owner.
Cheers
PJ
I remember Dave Edney was winning a lot of trophys,
still got an old mag.with him accepting a tropy..
 

mckenry

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Armstrong..
Is this the fellow that had the shop on Henry Lawson Drive At Peakhurst.?
I bought my first go at H B off him ...But that would of been
in the early '70s .Last year i threw out a packet of Irish Moss and
Another pack of stuff i bought 40 yrs ago..I think he was about the only
place to get anything...The beer i made was lousy.. did not drink it.. But
My father did..Then I gave up for a long time...The stuff i buy now is from
ESBs latest owner.
Cheers
PJ
I remember Dave Edney was winning a lot of trophys,
still got an old mag.with him accepting a tropy..
Hey poppa joe,
I'll jump in here. No, they are now the same business, (ESB) but werent then. ESB is in Lorraine St and also at Randwick - not sure if this exists anymore. The one on Henry Lawson Dr was called The Brew Shop. HL Drive was bought by ESB and Lorraine St became the factory.
Thats how I remember it and understand the current arrangement.
mckenry
 

poppa joe

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Thanks Mc Henry..
I used to work and live in the area..Norman St./Boundary Rd/
Riverwood/Mortdale/Peakhurst....In the '70s I used to get a bit of stuff
off him..Anyway i know the arrangement now.The new owner lives out my way..
Cheers
PJ
 

Josh

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My first AG was brewed after watching a demo by Leon in the Clovelly store. But I would buy my grain from Mel at Peakhurst before Absolute was around.

Mel was always very helpful and happy to offer to suggestions to this beginning brewer.

RIP
 

geoffi

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I first encountered Mel in 1990 at his Clovelly shop. His 'dry pack' kits were the gateway drug to AG, and made a very nice beer besides, especially when coupled with some yeast cultured from a CSA, which he suggested to me (long before the days of White Labs and Wyeast, that was).

He was a fine brewer, too, and usually had something yummy on tap for customers to sample.

A great fella and instrumental in transforming home brewing in Australia. Very sad to hear of his passing.
 

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