How Australia’s Dollar Bill is Growing on Wild, Mixed-Ferment Styles

International Insights is a continuing series of Q&As with brewing members, but this time branching outside of the US and into the rest of the world.In this series, Brewer will share personal insights from international breweries periodically about the craft beer market in other countries, where those brewers get their inspiration, and how the market compares to craft beer in the US.

Ed Nolle,​ ​​brewer​/​​owner​ & ​Fiona Nolle,​ sales​/m​arketing​, Dollar Bill Brewing — Victoria, Australia

BREWER: What can you tell me about the history of your brewery? How has your business strategy evolved to help grow and stay competitive?​
NOLLE: ​We are a small wild and mixed​-​ferment blendery in regional Victoria, Australia. Focusing on sour and funky barrel​-​aged beers and fruit blends.​ ​Production has steadily doubled every year for the last ​four​ years starting with 16 barrels, we have expanded capacity to over 120 french barriques with some larger format barrels for core range product.​ ​Our business strategy is constantly evolving much like our beers, reacting to market changes and the effects of the pandemic by staying fresh, releasing limited quantity new releases and developing a subscriber club to allow direct access to the weird and the wonderful in our cellar collection.​ ​Every year a new progressive benchmark was set and achieved with a transition in package form, product range and distribution networks key areas of focus. Our next big transition will be to start producing non​-​sour beers and engage larger retailers and buying groups for more effective distribution of product.

BREWER: Why is your winning entry in this year’s 2021 CBMAs a great example of marketing for your brewery? Can you give us the backstory on your winning entry?
NOLLE: We received recognition for both our seasonal range product in small format 375ml bottles and our larger 750ml core and annual release products.​ ​Our Parlay range of smaller format 375ml bottles is the essence of our brand and identity. The label contains an array of symbolism and imagery reminiscent of an American dollar bill and is representative of the complexity of microbiological interplay when producing wild fermented barrel​-​aged beers. Designed to pair with the season of release, summer, light effervescent fruit, Autumn, darker fruit or co-ferment grape beer, ensuring a constantly changing new release product enables us to blend from our barrel library and source seasonal and appropriate fruit or foraged components. This is also represented by the roll of the dice, chance or fate and indicative of agricultural products like fruit hops and barley being influenced by luck, weather and uncontrollable influences.​ ​Our larger format 750ml bottles are our core range and annual releases. Representing the east and the direction of the rising sun, the green dragon is the first in a series of classic Belgian​-​inspired beers. The concept is a mélange of related influences with the Belgian monks, Shaolin monks, Wu Tang clan and currency as the foundations for interlocking structure of brand development. The original green dragon represents our base beer and the first step of a holistic spiritual brewing concept with the red dragon representing the north and the second product of the series, a barrel​-​aged cherry sour ale. Passing through the central influences of the Yellow peach and completed by the yin and yang of the white, west (blonde or double) and black, south (Belgian ​Dark ​Strong) represented by dragons with wings. This series of beers is yet to come to fruition as each year a new product is added to the stable. 2022 is earmarked for release of the black and white dragons, with the wings as a subtle suggestion of rebirth and a move away from sour and barrel​-​aged beer to regular ​Saccharomyces fermentation. True to Dollar Bill style​,​ each label contains a hidden track to ensure your ears and taste buds can be stimulated simultaneously. For those curious this is printed in micro font on the dragon’s tail and is matched to the label concept and product within.

BREWER: What are the popular beers at your brewery, and how do they compare to the popular styles in your country?
NOLLE: Our most popular beers would be our seasonal fruit selection of barrel​-​aged sour beers. Having just received the title of Australian Champion beer for our spontaneously fermented barrel​-​aged ale over clingstone peaches at the 2021 AIBA awards, the recognition shows a shift in pallet and appreciation by judges and growing awareness of mixed ferment and barrel​-​aged beers by the general public. The shift in consumer knowledge and preference has been significant over the last decade and the recognition is an absolute honour.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
NOLLE: The greatest influence on us falls to the winemaker Glen Hayley of Kooyong and Port Phillip wines, who’s pursuit of perfection is incomparable. His knowledge of natural winemaking techniques, barrel care and brewing along with fruit selection and industry vision and foresight has by far been the greatest influence on our brewing and blending.

BREWER: What idea did you or your team come up with lately that has been a big benefit to how your brewery functions?
NOLLE: The establishment of a membership and beer subscription club, The Rare Oak Society, has benefited us immeasurably by giving us access to cash flow and enabling passionate consumers to access our most interesting cellar selection.

BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry in your country, what would it be?​
NOLLE: ​With some discussion and possible government assistance I feel the Australian brewing industry and small​-​scale producers can lead the way in the use of renewable energies, with the adoption of heat pumps and all electrical heat recovery and cooling systems. The technology is available and affordable to transition from fossil fuels and enter the world of carbon neutrality or with some investigation and the adaptation of biochar from spent brewers grains, we could lead the way in reaching carbon negative brewing processes. Saving the world one beer at a time

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