Time Out Melbourne

Time Out has a chat to Chief brewer Nick Button about taking their award-winning craft beer to infinity and beyond

They’re an ambitious bunch at 4 Pines. Swinging open the doors on their Manly brewery and bar in 2008 they now have their sights set on expanding operations with a massive 50-hectolitre – 1 hectolitre equals 100 litres – brewery in Brookvale to complement their current 500 litre operation by the wharf. That is in addition to a little side project: space beer. “On face value it seems a bit tongue-in-cheek”, says chief brewer Nick Button, who joined the 4 Pines crew in 2011. “But it really is a major project. We want to be the first commercially available beer in space.”

Taking that giant leap for mankind was a suggestion by regular spaceman Dr Jason Held, a Manly local and director of Saber Astronautics. Saber are collaborating with 4 Pines Brewing Company to create Vostock stout – the world’s first certified space beer. It has already undergone zero gravity testing in Florida but further development is still underway. “One of the biggest challenges with beer in space is that the liquids don’t behave as they do on Earth. A lot of work is going into designing the container, so you can hold a beer in your hand and not have to drink it through a foil pouch.”

4 Pines is serious about space beer, and Nick is serious about brewing it. Originally from the UK, he got his first pub job aged 16 in Somerset, England. Realising that he was a dab hand at brewing and good at science, “the two things are quite well matched”, he’s been a beer man ever since.

He is passionate about sticking to the traditional European techniques but isn’t afraid to get creative when brewing. The 4 Pines Keller Door series sees the release of around 16 small batch beers with obscure flavours. “We’ve experimented recently with a beetroot Belgian. It wasn’t designed to be a purple beetroot-tasting beer; it was a tribute to the heritage of brewing in Europe. They use a lot of sugar beet and there’s not a lot of that available in Australia, so we picked the next best thing… short of having a koala in there, you couldn’t get more Australian.”

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