Haaaaaave You Met is back! With quite a few new brewing companies popping up, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce some new faces and their story. There are also some new questions thrown into the mix to spice things up a little.
First up, is Marco Bona from Libation Army Brewing and Distilling Operation. Marco’s beers burst onto the scene in early 2018, after he completed a TAFE brewing course. Previously, Marco worked with wine, as a sommelier. His beers are a little left of centre, creating new styles that largely focus on strong yeast characteristics. If you have met Marco in real life, you would know that he is an incredibly positive man that always has a giant grin on his face. His mobile tap room, ‘Tinny’, has been popping up at beer festivals and will be out and about quite often this summer. To date, he has made six different beers, including his initial releases ‘Tropical Riot’ and ‘Gentle Upheaval’ and two darker beers ‘Love Train’ and ‘The Infidel’. Here we go, introducing, Marco Bona from Libation Army.
Q1. Who are you and how are you involved in the SA beer industry?
I’m Marco Bona, brewer/founder of The Libation Army, a Gypsy Brewing Operation based in Grange, SA.
Q2. What are some of the great moments you have had whilst being involved in this industry?
Last month’s Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival was an absolute cracker and, indeed, a milestone in The Libation Army’s short life so far. Having the chance to be part of such a great event and getting so many people to drink our beers was incredible. Punters’ great feedback for our Fever Peach (peach and amaretto stout) at GABS last May was also fantastic. Can’t wait to start creating next year’s beer!
Q3. How have you seen the industry grow and what do you think are some trends for the future?
In my 2 years in SA I witnessed the local craft industry flourish. What the likes of Pirate Life, Big Shed and Little Bang have done in such a short spell is incredible and their fantastic work has been beneficial to all of us. There’s pride in supporting local breweries. Drinkers are willing to spend a bit more to have quality beer in their glasses and are becoming more adventurous with their choices.
The popularity of more unusual styles like Berliner Weisse or Gose, the rise of Brut IPAs or the explosion of NEIPAs are a testament to such curiosity and the evolution of consumers’ taste.
I can see this trend continuing in the future. South Australians are educated and discerning drinkers and will keep embracing local brewers’ creativity.
Q4. Beer contains a ton of calories, what do you do to keep the beer gut at bay?
Beer has taken over my life and the words ‘six’ and ‘pack’ together have only one meaning for me now.
I carry my little ‘beer skip’ with pride, as a physical representation of my passion.
Q5. What was your epiphany beer that set you on your crafty way?
I don’t think I can pin one beer down in particular. I remember when I first visited Lobethal Bierhouse and the Wheaty and how impressed I was by the quality and variety of their brews. That, along with the opportunity to get my ‘hands dirty’ at TAFE’s Regency Campus Brewery and the IBD training, made me realise that brewing was what I wanted to do.
Q6. Do you have any exciting news you can share with me? Maybe about future plans, collaborations or anything new?
We’re only just over 7 months into our first release and pace is picking up. The plan is to have one, maybe two, new seasonal releases and, possibly, in the next 6 months, going in cans with a couple of our core range.
We are going to try and have Tinny, our mobile tap room, out and about as much as possible in the summer months. It’s all very fluid at the moment and I like to take things one step at the time. I am considering different options regarding our future set up, but a brewery or just a permanent tap room are definitely on the cards.
Q7. We are all friends here in South Australia, so who would you like to collaborate with next and what would you make?
I am a huge fan of most SA breweries and if I could, I’d collaborate with every single one of them. I brewed ‘The Infidel’, my stout, at Big Shed. It was great fun being hosted by these amazing guys and I’d love to do something with them. I’m also fascinated by Little Bang’s incredible creativity and I absolutely love Left Barrel’s unique approach.
Q8. Some brewers stick religiously to the style guide lines when brewing a beer, others throw that book out the window. If you were to create your own style, what would it be like?
I do not brew to style and in every single one of my 5 releases to date I’ve tried to concoct something a bit different, with a focus on yeast.
I consider my Tropical Riot to be a style on its own, my ‘Unicorn beer’, what I like to call a ‘New World Belgian’.
The yeast is the star of this unusual pale ale, with its typical fruity esters supporting New World hops aroma on the nose. The palate is complex, with layers of citrus flavours, smooth mouthfeel and a balanced bitterness to finish.
It is intricate without being over complicated and, yet, super easy-drinking.
It represents perfectly my brewing philosophy.
Q9. What is your favourite season for beer drinking? Why?
I am a dark beer lover, so autumn and winter are definitely my favourite beer drinking seasons. The comfort you get from the malt roastiness, toasty aromas and velvety mouthfeel of a stout or a porter on a cold night is true bliss. One of the greatest pleasures in life.
Q10. If you could choose any profession, what would it be? Why?
I have chosen my profession a couple of years back and I absolutely love it.
The reward in seeing people enjoying the fruit of your creativity and hard work in a pint glass is incredible. Brewing makes me happy and I feel blessed in being finally able to do what I love for a living.
With a huge focus on heavily hopped beers in the marketplace, it is great to see yeast becoming the feature ingredient. One of the main points I get from Marco’s answers is that he has a great respect for the SA craft beer scene, the people involved and has taken some inspiration from quite a few different companies. Thanks Marco for helping me re-launch the Haaaaaaave You Met segment. Next week we meet seven guys from Simple Brew Co. Cheers