Love the name – what is the story behind it?
We had already decided on a name, until one day Nat announced that we needed to change it. In hindsight he was right; that old name was awful. While we were coming up with possible options Clara was thinking of what might make a good name for a pub. We thought that “The Broken Arms” might not make for a particularly appealing cider (although if we ever open a bar, that’s what we’ll call it), but also on the list was “Golden Axe” which we all liked immediately and it continued to grow on us. Only after it was locked down did anyone point out to me that it was also the name of a cult classic video game from 20 years ago. I just wasn’t that cool as a kid. Clara is a computer game producer as her day job now, so I’m pretty sure she knew about it. You’d be surprised how many people come up to us and say, “I just want to try this because I loved the video game!”
What inspired you guys decide to start a brewing / cider making company?
We are all lovers of great drinks. Nat has been a home-brewer for years, and has had a bit of success at VicBrew and AABC with his IPAs. I’m a wine nerd and have studied some wine making subjects at Adelaide Uni. When one of my band mates, Nick Russo, joined his family’s orchard and juicing business in West Gippsland we pretty quicklyconnected the dots and ask him for some juice to have a go at making cider.I guess the inspiration came from the results of that first batch we made. We really loved drinking it! It all kind of snowballed from there over the next couple of years.
Were there any brands that inspired you?
Napoleone & Co is a brand I really admire. The cider is good and they have great integrity as well. We all really love Moo Brew too. It’s another one where the drink lives up to the promise of the branding. That’s what we aspire to.
Did you have professional advice or was it a ‘learn as you go’ experience?
It’s been a major ‘learn as you go’ experience for us and we’ve certainly made heaps of mistakes along the way. Nothing disastrous has happened yet but there was that one week just after Christmas where I had to lock myself in the office and completely re-enter all our accounts into MYOB. I’d set things up incorrectly from the start and it had caused problems that couldn’t really be fixed. I wasn’t a fun person to be around that week! Part of the problem is that you really don’t know the questions to ask until you’ve already done it before, so yeah, in hindsight we should have sought more advice!
Where do you produce your cider?
When we first decided to make the cider we were doing our trials in the second bedroom at my place. Unfortunately, that room had also been earmarked as our as unborn baby’s nursery. In fact, it was still full of fermenters, kegs and lab equipment up until about a week before our son was born. At that stage I was given my marching orders! These days the juicing is done at Summer Snow in Officer, and we’ve moved on from the second bedroom to get it made and bottled in Preston. At the moment we’re also doing a bit of fermenting at Yering Station in the Yarra Valley.
Will you be creating any other cider styles?
It’s such early days for us! We’re really happy with the clean, appley and crisp flavour profile of our Apple Cider, so we don’t want to stray too far from there. But I am looking forward to getting back into experimenting with some new things.I like the challenge of seeing what you can do with natural sweetness, acidity and flavours to achieve balance.I can’t see us doing any berries or citrus-type things, just experimenting with different apple varieties and possibly blending apples with pears. Actually the next thing on the horizon for us is probably to take advantage of Nat’s brewing skills and make some beer. It will just be a small-scale run of kegs, and I imagine it will have the word “Imperial” in the description. We’ve just harvested a massive crop of hops from Nick’s place, so they’ll probably find their way into the batch.
Winning People’s Choice at the Microbrewery Showcase is pretty amazing. What else do you hope to achieve with your brand?
Just having a really delicious cider and an engaging brand is important to us – something we can all honestly be proud of. As long as people who are drinking Golden Axe are having fun I reckon we’ve achieved what we set out to do.