Two birds, originally from Perth, are using their combined skills and the love of a good drink to tap into the ever-growing craft beer market. Last year, brewer Jayne Lewis (formerly of Little Creatures and Mountain Goat breweries) and former marketing guru Danielle Allen launched their own small business, Two Birds Brewing.
In November 2011, they introduced their first handcrafted brew, Golden Ale, which is currently produced and bottled at Southern Bay Brewing Company. However, Jayne and Danielle’s dream is to one day have their own Two Birds brewery and a flock of original craft beers.
Danielle, what are we drinking?
It’s our Golden Ale. It’s got two hops varieties; one’s a New Zealand hop called Motueka and the other’s an Australian hop called Summer. It’s got peachy, stone fruity flavours; a lot of people say that it’s quite sweet.
You and Jayne [the other half of Two Birds] have been friends for a long time…
Jayne and I have known each other since we were 19. We had joint friends and our husbands are actually best mates.
Why did you decide to start the company?
Jayne and I (and our husbands) went on a trip to America. We went to a lot of craft beer venues and bars and I listened to Jayne talk about having her own brewery, her own brand and getting to make the beers that’s she’s interested in drinking. Although she loved working for Mountain Goat and Little Creatures, I think you’ve either got it in you or you haven’t to break out and do something on your own.
What do your husbands make of it all?
They were our biggest critics at the beginning. Both of them are headstrong guys and they were asking all the right questions, being supportive. For a husband to be able to say to someone “my wife works in beer”, they just think that’s really cool. My husband was the biggest critic when it came to the beer, but he loves it!
What’s it like working with your best friend?
Both of us are just absolute control freaks and perfectionists! [Laughs] But at the same time, I kind of go a million miles an hour, and Jayne thinks through things. So I think that’s a happy medium between the two of us.
What are your roles?
Jayne’s a trained brewer, so she comes up with the recipes, physically brewing the beer, getting her hands dirty. She does all of the selling in Melbourne as well. My skills are the business side of things; I’m based in Sydney, so I do all of the sales for Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, and I do all of the boring stuff: accounting, admin, paying the bills…
What’s your favourite part of the job?
I really love doing deliveries! It sounds weird, but I think it’s just such a novelty at the moment. Coming from an office job, wearing a suit and high heels everyday, to being out on the road, running around… And just having your own business. I just love that whatever decision you make is yours; you’re living it!
Has it been tough starting a business in a male-dominated industry?
I wouldn’t say it’s tough. Like anything, you get different reactions and different personalities, but on a whole, everyone’s been really accepting and willing to listen to our story. We’re not the type to worry about that stuff.
Are you trying to encourage more ladies to drink beer?
Oh, we’re definitely trying to encourage more women to drink beer! I think by default, we probably will pick up [women drinkers] because the things that we say and do are more girly - but we’re not specifically targeting women.
So, who’d drink who other under the table?
Ooooh, that’s a good question! Jayne would most definitely be able to put back the most beer, but I reckon I could out-drink her in a session!
Have you ever been hung over while working?
OH! ALL THE TIME! [Laughs] Every time [Jayne] comes to Sydney, she’s like: “Eugh! What do you guys do to me?”… They’ve learnt now not to get the early flight back to Melbourne.
Do you have any good hangover cures?
Having another drink usually helps. It’s the only way.
What’s next for Two Birds?
We’ve been talking about our next style and timing. We’re looking at the end of April, beginning of May. In Melbourne, there’s a festival called Good Beer Week [12-19 May], so ideally, we’d like to have our second beer ready for that.
Is there anything you can tell us about it?
[Laughs] No! It’s top secret! Not that we think anyone would copy it, but we’d like to keep it under wraps for the time being.
Who won the Melbourne pub awards?