Meet the Crafty Couple behind The Beer Crate and WIN BEER

An interview with the creators of Canberra craft beer subscription service - The Beer Crate. Anna Johnston -

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!

An interview with the creators of Canberra craft beer subscription service - The Beer Crate. Anna Johnston -

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.

An interview with the creators of Canberra craft beer subscription service - The Beer Crate. Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans.comTell 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.

Prawn & Chorizo Risotto. An interview with the creators of Canberra craft beer subscription service - The Beer Crate. Anna Johnston -

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. 

An interview with the creators of Canberra craft beer subscription service - The Beer Crate. Anna Johnston -

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. 

An interview with the creators of Canberra craft beer subscription service - The Beer Crate. Anna Johnston -

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! 


Congratulations to Kate Blackhurst!

Do you want to WIN A MYSTERY CRATE OF 12 BEERS for you or your beer loving friends?  
***** You can enter every day until the competition closes ***** 
An interview with the creators of Canberra craft beer subscription service - The Beer Crate. Anna Johnston -
1. Leave a comment below and tell me about the best beer and food pairing combo you’ve ever tasted?
2. Choose your poison(s) and follow the prompts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ OR Pinterest
This competition is open to Australian residents only.

This competition closes at 5pm on Monday 23 May and will be announced that day.  

Ready to take this relationship to the next level?

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shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Pamela @ BFG - May 14, 2016 Reply

Not a drinker but I appreciate the art of making beer! It’s a big thing in Brooklyn for sure! Thanks for posting!

    Anna - May 16, 2016 Reply

    Yes, there really is a special skill involved in making beer, wondrous folk they are!
    I’ve heard good things about the brew in Brooklyn. 🙂
    Thanks as always for stopping by, appreciate the comment even though you do not drink.

My Inner Chick - May 12, 2016 Reply

I don’t drink beer, but I appreciate this post, photos, and risotto! xxx

    Anna - May 16, 2016 Reply

    Why thank ya lovely Kim! I appreciate you. xox

Elissa - May 12, 2016 Reply

I did ask my home brew husband for some thoughts on food and beer matching, he suggests a Flanders Red pairing nicely with some kind of chicken casserole.

    Anna - May 16, 2016 Reply

    AWESOME Elissa! Loving the sound of this winter warming beer / food combo. 🙂 Thanks for entering!

Elizabeth @ Compass & Fork - May 12, 2016 Reply

There is no such thing as a bad food/beer pairing! Beer goes with everything.

    Anna - May 12, 2016 Reply

    A true beer drinker indeed! 🙂

mjskitchen - May 12, 2016 Reply

What a GRAND idea! If we had something like that in New Mexico the husband would be all over it.

    Anna - May 12, 2016 Reply

    It really is a super rad idea huh MJK?! Fingers crossed The Beer Crate go international and your hubby can subscribe. 🙂

John/Kitchen Riffs - May 12, 2016 Reply

Boy, the variety and availability of truly great beer has really changed since my youth! Way back then in the US you could buy the national brands, and that was about it. These days, I can walk to breweries! So. Much. Fun. And speaking of fun, great read — thanks.

    Anna - May 12, 2016 Reply

    Mine too John, I grew up only knowing 1 kind of beer, these days there are 1000’s to choose from and even better, we can easily access local breweries. Agreed my friend, so much FUN!
    Glad you enjoyed, as always, thanks for your support!

Glamorous Glutton - May 12, 2016 Reply

I can see that this is a really popular competition. A good craft beer is a wonderful thing. GG

    Anna - May 12, 2016 Reply

    Isnt it just GG! We are spoilt for choice when it comes to craft beers, and its wonderful when we get a goodun too.

Kris - May 11, 2016 Reply

What a great concept. I find half the battle with the craft beers is, trying to decide what is good. Especially as there is so many to choose from. I have had beers thinking I would hate it, only to find that it was the best thing I have ever tasted. New Years a few years back I had dry stout with oysters, it was unbelievably good!
A fantastic write up on this great Canberra business, and absolutely something that I would seriously consider getting on board with, as I love trying new beers and…. learning how to match it with food would be great.

    Anna - May 11, 2016 Reply

    It’s rad huh? A really great idea, another example of Canberra being awesome!
    I hear you re the selection when it comes to craft beer, sometimes its just too hard and overwhelming, but The Beer Crate takes that stress away and makes all the decisions for you.
    Love your food and beer pairing, well in theory, I dont like oysters, but can appreciate the fanciness of that taste.

Lorraine @Not Quite Nigella - May 11, 2016 Reply

I know how much you love a good beer! Good luck to everyone that enters. I bet it will be a popular competition! 😀

    Anna - May 11, 2016 Reply

    Teehee! I do indeed enjoy me a pot of the bubbly brew. 🙂
    And yes, fingers crossed it is a popular competition.

Bam's Kitchen - May 10, 2016 Reply

After the day I had… I could have used a few delicious brews. Nice interview and love the beer matching with recipes. Are you sure you don’t deliver to HK? lol

    Anna - May 11, 2016 Reply

    I hope you treated yourself to that well earned beer Bobbi, I think it tastes so much better when you’ve had a big day.
    Haha… fingers crossed The Beer Crate goes global and you’ll be able to get your hands on some delicious Australian craft beers one of these days soon. 🙂

David - May 10, 2016 Reply

Gosh this comment section has me drooling!

Too many delicious experiences to only share one!
I’ll give you a count down of my top three.

3) Bintang on the streets of Jakarta sampling some soft shell crab!

2) Pale ale and prosciutto pizza! Or prosciutto anything.

But the one I’ve been lusting over the most lately…

1) Amber ale with a big burger with the lot – two patties please!

    Anna - May 11, 2016 Reply

    Holy moly! YES to all 3 of your beer and food combos, especially the soft shell crab with Bintang on the streets of Jakarta. So much fun!
    When I visit you guys in Melbourne, lets totes go for double patty burgers and amber ales. Awesome entry into the comp David.

Hannah - May 10, 2016 Reply

What a cool idea!
I know so many people who would LOVE this!

I’m not a beer drinker myself however I wish I was!
Getting together for a beer has a special level of comradery that can’t be matched by cider or wine.
I just want to be one of the cool amber ale loving folk!

    Anna - May 11, 2016 Reply

    I agree, it is such a cool idea huh? Canberra is so hip and cool…. Look out Melbourne!!!
    I recall a series of photographs that suggest otherwise re your beer drinking, Haha! 🙂
    You make beer drinking sound fun, super fun. Lets go get a beer some time soon. We can order you an amber coloured drink and tell everyone you are COOL, kinda the same thing right?!

      Hannah - May 16, 2016 Reply

      Yes! to pretending to be cool!

        Anna - May 17, 2016 Reply

        Don’t reckon a whole lot of pretending will actually need to happen. 🙂

Susan - May 10, 2016 Reply

There are so many great brews out there, only in the last couple of years have I indulged into the marvellous world of beer & food pairing, I was so surprised how delicious it was.
This service will be fantastic for the craft brews of Australia.

    Anna - May 10, 2016 Reply

    Oh yes, I totally agree, I remember planning for a beer degustation dinner a couple of years ago and thinking it an odd combo, but my goodness… so much yum! Especially that Machu Pichocolate from Wig and Pen Brewery and the venison. DROOL!!!

Sarah - May 10, 2016 Reply

You definitely need to get to San Diego if you are a craft beer lover. We have like 10 microbreweries in our neighborhood alone. And there’s a warehouse district in SD county that’s full of little “nanobrewery” start-ups. Have you gotten into sours at all? That’s my current obsession, but I like most IPAs as well. Loving this post!!!! 🙂 🙂

    Anna - May 10, 2016 Reply

    Now that sounds AMAZING. San Diego has been on my list for years and years, but haven’t been able to visit the last few times I was in the states.
    How wonderful for you having access to such a variety of microbreweries. Lucky duck! 🙂
    Cant say that I actually drink all that much these days, so no, havent got into sours. But… next outting I will be sure to give it a whirl.
    Glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

Sue Slaght - May 9, 2016 Reply

What? No free shipping to Canada? 🙂 We are very fond of beer and love to try local brews whenever we travel. I think we shall have to return!

    Anna - May 10, 2016 Reply

    Hahaha! You could ask Murray and Mandy REALLY nicely and they might ship the crate to you. 🙂
    If by return, you mean come back to Australia and have a beer with me, then yes, yes, yes!

Denise Browning - May 9, 2016 Reply

Very nice interview… Wishing much success to the couple. xoxo to you!

    Anna - May 10, 2016 Reply

    Thanks my friend! Glad you enjoyed and big squishy hugs back at chya! xo

Amanda @ Move Love Eat - May 9, 2016 Reply

Unfortunately I’m not a beer person at all, but this is a great idea for those who are!

    Anna - May 10, 2016 Reply

    It really is huh Amanda! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by even tho you do not drink, really appreciate it.

Eileen | The Food Avenue - May 9, 2016 Reply

A guy I work with is a subscriber to The Beer Crate, and he LOVES it! A shout out in support of another great Canberra business, thanks for the interview Anna. 🙂 I am a fan of the sushi and Kirin combo, or a light German lager or Belgian Saison with chicken or fish is perfect too. But I dont really drink, so this food and drink matching happens VERY rarely.

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    Fantastic Eileen! And good to hear that your colleague is in on the beer drinking subscription action. 🙂
    YAY! Here – Here to the shout out, Canberra is becoming rather hipster huh?
    Yum, I love the sushi Kirin combo too. 🙂

Daphne Goh - May 9, 2016 Reply

Love this wonderful write up on Australian craft beer even though I am not a beer drinker. Recently, I watched a whole episode on craft beer in South East Asia on Channel News Asia and I found it very informative and interesting that craft beer niche is taking over the world by storm, Australian craft beer included!

Also, the last photo gives the vibe of undersea treasure of the Beer Crate craft beer found on the mystical coral reefs floor, nicely done. 🙂

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    Thanks heaps Daphne, I appreciate you taking the time to stop by, even tho you are not a beer drinker. 🙂
    How awesome, I will have to have a look for the series you are talking about, there are some really delicious south east asian beers, although I havent really consumed much of the craft stuff.
    Awesome that Australian craft beer is up there in the world rankings too. #proud

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - May 9, 2016 Reply

We have something similar here but I don’t drink enough beer to subscribe. :/

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    That is AWESOME Tandy! Seems that our cities are very similar in a lot of ways.

Holly - May 9, 2016 Reply

I don’t drink beer so I wouldn’t even know where to start with pairing food and beer. But great post and lovely to meet Murray and Mandy!

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    I think beer and food pairing is actually a relatively new thing, and only in the last few years have I seen the trend really starting to go off. But I can attest to the awesomeness of this combo when done well! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed meeting the couple behind the Beer Crate too. 🙂

Liz Posmyk (Good Things) - May 9, 2016 Reply

I’m not a beer drinker, but what a cool idea.

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    What about your better half lovely Lizzy? Does he enjoy a pot of craft ale?
    Yes, it really is a super idea, clever couple coming up with this idea.

Monika - May 9, 2016 Reply

I love the last photo! It makes me want to drink beer right now 🙂

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    Yes, the marketing for the Beer Crate is very cool. 🙂

Prateek Dasgupta - May 9, 2016 Reply

I have a strange relationship with beer, I actually enjoying knowing more about it and the process of making it much more than drinking it, I know it’s weird but I for me beer is more of a food than a beverage hence I rate craft beers very highly. For drinking I ll probably always be biased towards hard liquor! I loved this informative piece and kudos to the founders for such an amazing business.

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    Oh I agree Prateek, the beer making process is really interesting, so I can completely appreciate where you are coming from in that regard. Hahaha, you make me smile, sometimes I agree with that statement about beer feeling like a meal. Especially the dark beers. 🙂

Ariana - May 9, 2016 Reply

This was a really fun post! I can’t say that I drink beer all that much, but I do love the idea of being able to subscribe to a service where I can try all different kinds. It’s great for someone like me who wants to try beer, but gets a bit intimated when trying to figure out what I may like beer wise.

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    Glad you enjoyed the post Ariana. 🙂 I am much like you these days, enjoy a brew from time to time, but dont always know where to start. So having someone make the decisions and deliver a fresh batch every month is ideal.

Elissa - May 8, 2016 Reply

Really cool that the Canberra craft beer scene is growing in leaps and bounds – there are plenty of talented brewers in this town. Sounds like an interesting venture!

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    It is amazing huh Elissa? Very cool to see Canberra proudly being hipster and not just being referred to as a political town with a bunch of round abouts.
    You’ll have to talk to your hubster about entering the comp, he is a mad brewer from what I hear. 🙂

Mabel Kwong - May 8, 2016 Reply

I don’t drink beer but this is such an entertaining interview with Murray. He certainly knows his beer and very nice of him to champion Australian-made beer. For those who drink, I’m sure Aussie beer is a kind that holds up on its own and has a unique taste. 😀

I think Beer Crate is a great idea. As mentioned, there is a kind of venture like this for beauty products, so why not beer. It’s also not that hard to transport small samples of drink around too. They just have to be packed carefully so that they can be consumed when they arrive at their destination. Not only is a good way to see what new beer is out there, but you could possibly try some that you never thought of trying before. 🙂

Hope you are well, Miss Anna! Congrats on your recent achievements and stay the wonderful person you are as always. Big hugs and kisses your way 🙂 <3 xoxo

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    That is awesome you enjoyed the post even tho you are not a beer drinker. 🙂 Yep, Murray sure does have a love for the bubbly brew, and I agree, it is really cool that he is just focused on Australian craft beers. Mandy was very clever thinking up the idea for a beer subscription, I’d take that over the beauty products any ol day. Ha!
    Thanks my beautiful friend for your love and support, it sure has been an exciting month changing jobs. I will keep on being AWESOME. Haha. 🙂 Big hugs and love back at chya. xoxo Happy week ahead little one. Mwah.

Gary - May 8, 2016 Reply

I usually have a pale ale with spicy food. But I dont drink that often, only on sprcial occasions

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    Lovely Gary! I would be intrigued to hear more about said spicy food paired with pale ale. 🙂

Rosemarie of Travel and Beyond - May 8, 2016 Reply

There’s a beer delivery service in Canberra? Wow! Who would have thought! I don’t drink, but I am sure some of my friends would love this!

    Anna - May 9, 2016 Reply

    There surely is Rose. 🙂 Pretty rad huh?! And be sure to tell all your beer drinking buddies to enter the competition for a crate of 12 beers.

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