Meet the crafty couple behind the Canberra-based beer delivery service The Beer Crate, Murray Emerton and Mandy Francis.
My beer drinking tastes seem to accommodate most varieties of the bubbly brew I fondly refer to as Jesus Juice, but in recent times I’ve found myself returning to old favourites like Coopers Pale Ale and Toohey’s Old which might put me at odds with the trend setters, but I’m well used to that.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a craft beer, even better if it is from one of my local breweries, but sometimes it’d be good to just order a beer without having to think too much about it, right?
While working at Beerfest last year, I ran into Murray. Now Murray and I, we go waaaaay back! Back to my apprentice chef days where he was a banquets supervisor and I a baby chef working in the kitchen. A decade on from then, we shared an office for a few years and I learned as his Assistant General Manager how to run a small hotel. Fun times!
Murray got to chatting about his latest venture, The Beer Crate, so I thought I’d ask him a few questions about how this clever little idea was born.
What inspired you to create The Beer Crate?
The Beer Crate is actually the inspiration of the fairer side of this great team, and the result of a girl’s weekend away!
Mandy was on a girl’s weekend away that included much pampering and preening, she was gifted with a subscription to an online beauty product club where each month you were sent samples. She thought it was a great idea to see what was on the market and experience new products you perhaps wouldn’t normally get to.
Knowing I was a keen craft beer enthusiast who loves to try new and different craft beers from all over Australia, she immediately saw the potential for a similar service only for craft beer.
All of our friends and colleagues were talking about craft beer; the newest, the tastiest, the strangest. It was even a regular Monday morning elevator conversation, so when we started to research the idea we found that there were very few online beer clubs out there, and in Canberra there were none! Enter…. The Beer Crate.
Tell us a little about your boozie journeys, do you have formal training in brewing science or art? Do you work in the industry? Professional beer taster?
No formal training in the beer industry, but I have over 20 years experience working in the hospitality industry and have had the opportunity to be involved in the liquor industry. And, when you spend as much time drinking beer and enjoying the different styles of beers as I do, then who needs formal training?!
Where and what is the most exotic beer you have consumed?
Tough question, I have travelled to a lot of countries (Europe, North America, South Africa and South East Asia just to name a few), and enjoyed a lot of beers from these countries but cannot say I have consumed any one exotic beer. My first attempt at a home brew pale ale was exotic *cough* a disaster! I think I’ll leave it to the pros for now, but look out when I have some more time up my sleeve.
Favourite beer and food pairing?
It would have to be a Saison style beer served with fresh mussels. My favourite mussels recipe will feature in next months’ food recipe on The Beer Crate, which is something we do every month. I have a couple of Bridgeroad Brewery’s Chevalier Saison left from last month’s crate, which I will be enjoying with my Mussels.
In the kitchen I make a mean?
Prawn and chorizo Risotto, check out the recipe here. I suggest a Pale Ale or IPA to go with it, you want a beer with a good balance of bitterness to citrus.
If you had to pick a favourite beer from ANY Australian brewery and offer it to a stranger, which one would it be?
The Big Shed’s Californicator IPA – Coming out in May’s Beer Crate to all our subscribers! If you’re overwhelmed by the choices and wondering when choosing a beer became as complicated as a wine tasting, you’re not alone. The solution is to try them all! How you ask? Well if you subscribe, you can get an 8 or a 12-bottle crate delivered every month or every quarter that is loaded with beer sourced from a variety of Australian breweries.
Not a subscriber? But want to be… Sign up here!
Describe your perfect beer day?
My perfect beer day would absolutely include sipping a craft beer (something new and different of course, Australian preferably) with friends and family at a brewery or pub.
If you were omnipotent, what would change (first) to improve our beer universe?
I would be the Robin Hood of beer and take some of the money from the larger breweries and distribute it to the hundreds of small and newbie breweries so we can all continue to drink better beer, and all of the time too.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three things, what would they be and why?
I want to say a hammock, an esky, and a six pack of my favourite beer (see above). But if I was really smart, I’d say all I need to remember is the world’s BEST girlfriend Mandy, because she would make sure the esky was full of beer and ice (that’s technically one item right?!), and let’s face it, everything else we could ever possibly need would be in her handbag.
If you could sit down with anyone (living or dead) and have a beer, who would it be and why? What would be the first question you would ask them?
How do I pick just one person to sit down and have a beer with? Nope, I can’t do that! I’m easily distracted you see, so I’m going to say not one, but a group of people. Considering I like good food, good beer and good wine, then I of course would pick a group of people who are the best in the world in their fields. Thomas Keller – The French Laundry, James Halliday – World known Wine Writer and Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø – Evil Twin Brewery NY. When you have people like this around, you absolutely take advantage of that right? I would ask them what they thought of the home brew I made for them, because just quietly, I think it’s standout!
****THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED, THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR ENTRIES****
Congratulations to Kate Blackhurst!
This competition closes at 5pm on Monday 23 May and will be announced that day.