Based on a recipe from the 1980s, Matilda Bay Original Ale has been packaged in cans for sale direct from the brewery in Healesville, VIC.
Matilda Bay founder Phil Sexton this week told the Drinks Adventures podcast that the reborn brand will slowly ramp up distribution in the coming months.
“We’re going to pick up to about 1000 cases a week fairly quickly,” he said.
“The first 1000 cases, we’re only going to sell across the pub counter.
“We want to stay really close to our market… One part of our relationship with CUB is to hold it back,” he said.
Sexton said he wants to ensure Matilda Bay is properly established in the Yarra Valley locale before sending beer any further afield.
Next to follow will be broader distribution in Victoria along with the brand’s original home in Western Australia.
“The moment we started this, we started getting a lot of enquiries from WA because of the connections there,” he said.
“Once we’ve established our place in the market, of course we’ll start looking at taking some beer up to Sydney, but I don’t think you’ll see it this year.”
Matilda Bay Original Ale history
Sexton said Original Ale was inspired by a Matilda Bay beer that had been quite successful in the late 1980s.
“It never actually went outside the state, but it got to quite high volumes,” he said.
“It got caught up at the time between CUB – who then owned Matilda Bay – needing to brew their own beers for the west coast market in the brewery they’d acquired from us.
“And it just sort of fizzled out, which always struck me as odd, because it had done so well and made such incredible inroads into the West Australian market.”
Sexton said the Original Ale of today is more English in style than the earlier iteration.
“It’s a bit fuller and richer, and a little bit more hop driven. But it’s 4.2 per cent alcohol… For me as a beer drinker, I really kind of enjoy beers in that range because I can have a few pints,” he said.
“I hesitate to call it an English ale… It’s not really. But it’s made in the style of the Northern English ales.”
Sexton said the recent sale of his Yarra Valley winery Giant Steps to US company Jackson Family Wines would allow him more time to focus on Matilda Bay, which had used the COVID-19 lockdown as an opportunity to perfect its recipes.
“We had nearly 10-12 months’ practice making beers, trying to perfect them and putting them down the drain,” he said.
“[It] sounds extravagant, but it was just the raw materials that go down the drain when you’re doing that,” he said.
“We had no choice. There was nowhere to sell beer.”
Click here to open the Phil Sexton interview in your favourite podcast player, or listen in the media player above.