About KAIJU! Beer & Golden Axe Cider
Brothers Nat and Callum Reeves are dedicated to perfecting the art of crafting devastatingly good Victorian beer and cider.
For over 15 years, we have been home brewing, making beers for parties and our own consumption. About 10 years ago Nat got a taste for the bigger American IPA styles, but found them extremely hard to access in Australia, so he started making his own ridiculously hoppy beasts. There were a few brews that our friends were particularly fond of. The Black IPA that ultimately became Cthulhu, our multiple gold medal winner was notorious for being the drink of choice at the parties where everyone was surprised at how wasted they got (not that we condone that kind of behaviour). The beer was just so delicious and easy to drink and none of our friends were aware that it was 6.5% alcohol.
The family of Callum's best mate owns an orchard nearby and asked us if we'd like to use their juice to make a cider for a friend's wedding. We thought it was worth a try. The juice we used was really awesome and everyone who tasted the cider loved it. We started getting a lot of people suggesting that we start selling our cider commercially and in October 2012 we launched Golden Axe.
Much of our success thus far can definitely be attributed to the graphic design genius of Mikey Burton. Mikey is a well-known illustrator currently working in New York. Callum's wife Clara is a computer game developer and had seen Mikey's work in blogs, newspapers and magazines like GQ, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc. She really wanted to work with him but hadn't found the right game for his style. When we decided to make the cider she suggested we contact Mikey, thinking he'd be far too busy and wouldn't be interested. So we were absolutely stoked when he said he'd love to do it. Mikey has since gotten heaps of love for the work he's done for us, and our designs are recognised internationally, which is kind of bizarre for such a tiny little brewery.
When we first started out we only had the cider, because we couldn't find a brewery where we could make our own beer, and no contract breweries would touch our recipes due to the excessive hop regimes. After a few months of searching around we heard about a new craft brewery that would be selling tank space at to help cover their start-up costs. We jumped at this opportunity as it gave us more freedom to brew how we wanted to. After a couple of years, we were able to build our own brewery and this year we are expanding and even bringing over an in-line isobaric canning system from the States. It will be the first of its kind to run here in Australia.
The first beer we chose to brew on a large scale was our Double IPA, which we now call Aftermath - a 9.1% alcohol hop beast, almost certainly the hoppiest beer made in Australia at the time (140 IBUs and over 20g/L). People said we were crazy to make that our first beer, but in our opinion there wasn't really another option. This was Nat's favourite beer to drink, so it seemed like an obvious choice. Unfortunately all the hops in the beer made it extremely difficult to package, and on the day we tried to get the beer out and into kegs, it took us four hours to fill one and a half kegs and we gave up to let the beer settle some more. The next attempt was only a little more successful and at the end of the day we only yielded about 1200L out of a brew over 2,000L. As challenging as it was getting it into kegs that day, we knew we were on to a good thing when we quickly sold out of the car load we took to our first bottle shop tasting. The rest of the beer was gone in three days. A week later, Aftermath received a silver medal the Sydney Royal Beer Show, so that was even more of a thrill. It has since gone on to win gold at the AIBAs and the hearts of many.
The KAIJU! range has grown quite a bit since the first release of the Aftermath Double IPA. We’ve since added a number of beers to our core range, including the Hopped Out Red Ale, Metamorphosis IPA, Robohop Golden IPA, Cthulu Black IPA, Behemoth Double India Black Ale, Betelgeuse Double Red Ale and most recently the KAIJIU! Krush Tropical Pale. The latter was our first venture in cans and has proven to be a great success. In the coming months, we plan to expand our range of canned beers, starting with the Metamorphosis IPA. The success of Krush has definitely introduced us to a broader audience, which we are really excited about. The KAIJU! tale has only just begun.