Brewer Exchange

Brewer Exchange

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Earlier this month, the Aurora Borealis arrived Down Under. At the same time, the Aurora Australis landed in Norway. The two are beers created on either side of the globe as part of a joint venture between Bridge Road and Nøgne Ø. However, it seems that merely exchanging beers with breweries on the opposite side of the world is not enough for Nøgne à founder Kjetil Jikiun. Now he’s swapping brewers too.



On Thursday night, Nick Rhodes, one of the brewers from Woodend’s Holgate Brewhouse, will board a plane at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport and head to Norway. Coming the other way is Ingrid Skistad, a junior brewer at Nøgne Ã. The pair will spend a month at each other’s respective breweries, sharing and gaining experiences as the result of a project that, in Nick’s case at least, began over lunch at Josie Bones during the last Good Beer Week in Melbourne.


“We had a chat about brewing and travel,” says Nick, “I asked if I could work at his brewery and Kjetil said he had a young brewer who was keen to travel too, so why didn’t we swap.


“That’s how craft brewing works often it comes down to a conversation and an idea. A week later, when he got back to Norway, my email was sitting waiting for him; then I just had to get Holgate interested in the idea.”


Nick has been brewing at Holgate for nearly two years, while Ingrid has been at Nøgne Ø since graduating from Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh in 2011. As part of their swap, they will be creating a collaboration brew on either side of the world: an Imperial Red Ale that they have devised between the two of them via email over the past eight months.


“This is a chance for me to spread my wings,” says Nick. “It’s a bit of an adventure as well as a chance for some professional development, both for myself and for Holgate. I have a lot of respect for the way in which Nøgne  goes about brewing and marketing their beers. They are very much about quality – they are the uncompromising brewery after all just sticking to what they want. I’d drunk Kjetil’s beers and seen a few things about him on YouTube and it seemed he had the same basic ideas about how craft beer should be made as I do.”


As for Ingrid, the trip Down Under is the result of an even longer period of pestering her boss…


“The brewer’s exchange started when Nøgne Ø’s head brewer, general manager and the production manager all were going to a brewing convention in the USA,” she says. “Before they left I told them that I would not mind it if they found someone somewhere who would take me in for a brewer’s exchange, and the further away, the better – I was in an adventurous mood! When they came back, Kjetil had found three possible breweries who were interested.




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