Mirek Aldridge is one of a new breed of indie brewers: a ragtag bunch of beer nerds, home brew and craft enthusiasts whose love for beer has driven them toward turning pro. But brewing independently needn't mean recklessly.
A vintage arcade machine sits in the corner. "I bought it from America, 10 years ago," says Aldridge, which was roughly around the same time he began home brewing. He'd bought the machine to one day go in his bar. "It actually came with a stack of quarters and a bible stashed inside of it, which was pretty weird." In the corner opposite, hidden behind a row of shiny chrome fermenters, is Aldridge's old 70-litre all-grain home brewing kit.
All of the recipes being brewed at The Mill Brewery, Aldridge's first venture into commercial brewing, were captured initially on this 70-litre system. It's no match for the 600-litre system he's brewing on now and which dominates the rear third of the bar and brewery, but it's the perfect size to test out a new batch or to brew a limited one-off keg.
"Because we're so small it makes it hard to lock in contracts," says Aldridge. "We're not asking for 100 kilograms of hops at a time, we're asking for maybe five kilograms. But in saying that, it opens up opportunities for us to go and talk to hop growers directly and actually go out to the hop farms and pick our own hops."
The Mill will be running up to eight taps in total but to start with, Aldrige intends to keep things simple. Three taps pouring an American-styled pale ale, a black Indian pale ale and a vanilla porter will round out the offering in addition to another guest beer tap and a cider tap.
Just as much attention has been poured over the wine list which features a bold selection of Victorian varietals, a Pinot Noir from New Zealand's North Canterbury, a Barossa GSM and Canberran cool climate Shiraz.
The Mill, from the homemade red gum tables to the self-confessed obsession with hops and aromatics, has been a lifelong labour for Aldridge. The Mill is pet-friendly and will be serviced by a roster of food trucks on launching.
Images: Nic Allchin.