Australians have been trying to sell us beer for as long as Paul Hogan was in short trousers. But the 3 Ravens Brewery in Melbourne has a slightly different take on the beer scene than our friends at Foster’s. It is very much about capturing the irreverent Australian personality in its beers, but matching it with authentic, local ingredients that gives the brewery an ever changing range of quality, but quirky craft beers that have gone down a storm at home and now want to make it around the world, including the UK, explains general manager Nathan Liascos.
“Here’s to passion, hard work, good times and the 3 Raven’s potion for human happiness – great beer.” The 3 Ravens Brewery team certainly talk a good game and appear to have a beer range to match up to the hype.
Can you tell us the background to the 3 Ravens brewery?
3 Ravens Brewery is an independent craft brewery, bar and barrel room based in Thornbury, Victoria. Proudly brewing since 2003, we’re pioneers of Australian craft beer and Melbourne’s oldest independent brewery. The brewery was named by our original brewer Ben Pattison (a goth from way back) who is a fan of Norse mythology – which has heavily influenced our brand mood over the years.
Ben created a story where Odin sent his two ravens off to discover the meaning of life so he could turn it into a potion. Loki sent his prankster raven Jack along to spy on and troll them. Long story short, Loki ended up joining Odin’s gang, introducing the elements of creativity and imagination (Hugin & Munin are known for boring practical things like Sight and Memory/Knowledge) – sort of like a third eye – reflecting our original story of an engineering company venturing into the brewing world.
A 300L nano brewhouse was set up and 3 Ravens Blonde Ale was the first beer launched back in February of 2003. Inspired by European brewing traditions but with a unique “twist”, our original lineup helped introduce Melbournians to flavoursome beer, and have a warm place in a lot of beer drinkers’ hearts.
Fast forward 17 years and we are still proudly brewing out of our Thornbury brewery (a little larger than the original brewhouse) but now our focus is on championing local ingredients and developing a range of unique and exciting styles that reflect Australian culture.
What do you see as your point of difference?
We see ourselves as a group of friends, banding together in their Thornbury basement, to create unique Australian beers.
We pay respect to traditional ales while pushing boundaries to create our own, with influences and processes borrowed from old and new.
Here’s to sharing experiences with flavour enthusiasts – explorers, connoisseurs and purveyors alike. Here’s to passion, hard work, good times and the 3 Raven’s potion for human happiness – great beer.
With innovation and creativity being the heart and soul of our brand, we are considered market leaders when it comes to product innovation. We work tirelessly on creating new and exciting products and celebrate and champion our ability to produce beers that are first to market and provide consumers with unique products that cannot be found anywhere else.
By producing a range of award winning and sought after beers celebrating hyper local ingredients and culture, as well as a story and provenance distinct to us in Thornbury we are able to tap into significantly larger markets around the world.
Tell us about your range?
Our flock of drinking beers are pale, hop forward and sessionable, and brewed for everyone to enjoy, whilst experimenting with technique and challenging traditional perceptions are key components of our ever evolving array of specialty beers.
We currently produce a relatively small amount of barrel aged wild, sour and mixed fermentation beers (not enough to satiate our current market in Australia) and can see huge potential to grow this category of beer both here and abroad. Our Wild Ravens range focus’ on Australian ingredients grown locally by Australian companies, including heritage and heirloom grain varieties and in-house malted grains.
NAT RAV is a sub-series of our Wild Ravens range that features local wine grapes and is packaged in clear glass to celebrate colour and appeal to a modern, natural wine drinker. We believe these are the greatest beers of all-time, not just because of their flavour impact, but their societal impact as well, bolstering relations between beer and wine drinkers and facilitating contact with extraterrestrial life (including Martians).
We’re also committed to reducing our impact on the environment and aim to produce beers with a small footprint and a big heart.
Is there such a thing as an Australian style?
We’re proud to champion Australian produce and over the years have moved away from brewing European styles and towards creating distinctly Australian beers – to reflect local preferences and our unique and ever-evolving drinking culture. It’s really important for us to have our own identity and for our beers to reflect that sense of place.
Boarding the haze plane back in 2016, we’re proud to have led the formation in Australia, boldly venturing into the cloudy skies of the unfiltered “New England” style IPA. Low in bitterness and high in fruit flavour with a smooth mouthfeel, we created our own twist on the style by utilising a locally grown hybrid grain Triticale and a unique blend of hops.
We’ve also garnered quite the reputation for our sour and lactose beers. Even more so for combining the two. This summer we launched a new Creamsicle flavour every month from September through til December 2020. We took our Original Sour Beer “Acid” and added milk sugar, french oak, vanilla and real fruit to formulate four fun, fruity and fantastic flavoured frothys inspired by nostalgic summer treats. They were so popular that we put it to the public to choose a 5th and final creamsicle flavour. Orange Sherbet was the people’s choice and it rolled out to stores last week.
What are your biggest selling beers?
Our Juicy IPA and Tropical Pale Ale are our two most popular beers. They are easy drinking and approachable with great hop character and mouthfeel.
Which channels of the market do you usually supply your beer too?
We’re predominantly focused on the wholesale market but also have our own retail outlet where we showcase and sell products direct to the public. We also have a burgeoning on-line business supporting sales directly to consumers. We have strong distribution throughout Australia with our beers available in over 600 venues and outlets.
The types of customers include independent bottle shops, bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes and wholesalers such as Paramount Liquor and ALM. We partner with all of the major retail groups to advertise and promote, including Endeavour Liquor Group (Woolworths Liquor, Dan Murphy’s and BWS), Coles Liquor Group (1ST Choice, and Vintage Cellars), Cellarbrations, IGA Liquor and Thirsty Camel.
In 2020 we drastically grew our international footprint entering six new markets including Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and the UK.
What percentage of your sales are now in export?
Export now makes up 20% of our total beer sales compared to 0.2% in FY19.
You are looking to introduce the beers to the UK – why the UK and why now?
The UK will always have a small piece in our heart. Our original brewer was English, we were renowned for brewing European and English style ales at the beginning of our journey and were the first Australian brewery to cask condition ale and introduce hand pumps to the Melbourne hospitality scene.
Most recently, the world’s most popular beer club and the UK’s largest online craft beer subscription business, Beer52, chose to include our Juicy IPA and Salted Caramel Milkshake IPA in their Melbourne pack. Our social media channels have been blowing up with glowing reviews and our inbox has been getting hit hard with people trying to find out where they can buy more of our beer from in the UK. There hasn’t felt like a better time than now to enter the market. It’s time for our Ravens to migrate north and give the people more of what they want.
Why do you think they are suitable for the UK beer market?
We believe we have a point of difference and an ever-evolving exciting and unique array of beers that champion and celebrate local.
What sort of importer are you looking to work with ?
We’re looking to work with a distributor that lives and breathes quality booze, especially craft beer and has a wide network of indie contacts throughout the UK. Someone that understands the ever-evolving nature of the industry, has a portfolio of complimentary brands and products with a focus on independent craft beer and genuinely wants to build the brands they represent.
What channels of the UK market are you looking to concentrate on?
Indie craft beer focused pubs, bars, restaurants, bottle shops and online retailers.
Do you have other new beers in the pipeline?
Always. This month we’re releasing an imperial version of our cult favourite Juicy IPA, called Very Juicy. We’re also releasing a Mandarin version, aptly named Manadrin Juicy, an 8% Red Rye IPA and we’re bringing back our seasonal Oatmeal Stout as the weather starts to turn. Following that we’re brewing a beer modelled on the Aviation cocktail, a Choc-Coconut Milkshake IPA and we’ll have some new skinsy beers under our Nat Rav (Skin Contact Beer) range rolling out over the coming months. There’s always plenty of fun stuff in the pipeline.
How long does it take to get the beers here?
It takes anywhere from 30-45 days on the water.
- If you like, or are intrigued by the back story to 3 Ravens Beer then you can contact general manager Nathan Liascos on firstname.lastname@example.org.