FREE Brewing Co founder and Head of Beer, Ash Truscott, tells us more about his business and how they’ve been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tell us about Free Brewing.
FREE Brewing Co is a true story of passion and belief in organic beer, natural beer and great tasting beer. We believe everyone should drink better; drink free of additives and free of preservatives, using pure ingredients. We choose to brew beer as it was, as it should be. We select only the best hops and malt in delivering this certified organic beer, brewed with traditional methods.
How and when did the idea come about?
The idea for FREE Brewing came about over a few beers with James (Head of Farm) and Craig (Head of Brand) around a fire at our spiritual home on the Bellarine Peninsula. Ash had the idea and experience, and James and Craig were on board immediately – we talked about brewing the beer in a free-spirited way – free from anything unnatural. We had been working on organics in beer and connected as we are all passionate about Free brewing. We want untainted, natural, better for you beer. Beer grown and brewed better to taste better. The farm is our HQ and whilst we don’t yet have full scale brewing capability – we are working on the other side of that equation first. Growing barley, hops and experimental brewing with the raw inputs.
Explain the name.
We like to think of FREE Brewing being the art of making beer using traditional simple methods, free from artificial constraints. Beer brewed in its purest form using natural ingredients, no preservatives or additives and certified organic.’ That’s what we do therefore there is no more fitting name than FREE Brewing Co.
Why did you decide to produce the beer with only organic ingredients?
Why wouldn’t you? In beer speak, the organic ingredients are the hops and barley used to make the beer. To be certified organic they have been grown and processed without harsh pesticides and herbicides, genetic modification, antibiotics and artificial hormones. Natural ingredients as it was and should be. Better for the land, body and the beer!
When did Free Brewing launch?
Officially in September 2019, but before that plenty of late nights and beer-related banter.
Why on the Bellarine Peninsula?
A couple of the guys in our team obviously live on the Bellarine; but more importantly we think the Bellarine is a fit for who we are. The people of the Bellarine and surrounds are good, honest, no b-s and that’s who we are. The landscape is beautiful of course and still agricultural and raw in many ways; again like us and our passion.
Tell us about the flagship lager?
FREE Organic Lager is a beer made for you. It embodies everything that we stand for… refreshing, crisp and clean. A great cleanser to be had after a surf, mowing the lawn or sitting around a fire chewing the fat.
The tasting notes from Bruce Peachey (Head Brewer): Crisp and clean in style, FREE Organic Lager is brewed using traditional simple methods free from additives and preservatives. Unfiltered, it is bright golden in colour with slight natural haze. Its smooth bitterness, subtle aromas and spice is derived from a blend of organic pilsner malt and NZ hops. The result is pure, refreshing and certified organic. ABV: 4.4% | IBU: 19
Tell us about the barley and hops you are growing?
So much excitement about seeing what the Bellarine can deliver on the raw product front. We have heaps of fruit and vegies on the FREE Brewing Co property that are grown without any sprays etc and they are amazing. Should have seen the peaches from last season! This year we will see how the climate is for the crops. We know hops have grown really well on the Bellarine before and in a perfect world we will source all our hops from HQ; but it’s going to take some time.
What has been the response to the beer so far?
We’ve been blown away with the response to our refreshing lager and the ethos of what we are about – FREE brewing! People are now realising you don’t have to compromise on taste to drink better. It’s clean, crisp and refreshing with well-balanced flavour – to be enjoyed on most occasions!
What have been the 3 x highlights of the beer brewing/business?
1. Getting FREE Brewing Co. off the ground, a beer company that truly projects our values, ethos and passion for quality beer.
2. Producing our flagship Lager in time for Summer and having it available nationally
3. Seeing the harvest of our first crop of organic barley on our Bellarine property. It was a unique event with the Bellarine Vintage Machinery Group arriving with an antique Reaper Binder, which was retired last century and is only used for exhibition purposes. Two dozen enthusiasts and local farmers volunteered and worked all morning, binding and stacking the stooks, ready to dry. Needless to say the cold FREE Organic Lagers went down a treat afterwards in our brewing shed.
What do you love most about what you do?
We’re lucky enough to work in a space we’re passionate about. Not only to we love beer, but importantly natural and authentic beer. Nothing pleases us more than seeing faces of people who are trying our organic beers for the first time and having them join in on our FREE Brewing journey.
How has the COVID-19 affected you?
The virus has had an unimaginable impact on the world thus far. While the full ramifications yet to be seen, there are many consequences already being felt in a number of different industries including ours. From restaurants to bars, most employees and business are being challenged right now. We need to manage our costs and exposure to risk very carefully through this period, provide support to neighbours and our community where possible, and focus on making sure FREE Organic Lager is available to customers looking for a natural beer option. Optimistically speaking, the forced economic reset could result in a stronger community and value system which will benefit us all in the long run. It may also speed up the consumer demand shift towards natural organic food and beverages.
Where can people buy Free Brewing beer?
What are the dreams for the brand moving forward?
1. To bring the other great tasting 100% natural beers we have been working on in the background to the market. Organic beers with a range of complexity and flavours.
2. To grow into our Bellarine property and get the public drinking FREE Organic beers with us on the weekends!