Lion opens the floodgates for Furphy beer

Furphy now accounts for more than half the beer volume at Little Creatures Geelong

Drinkers will now be able to find Furphy beer outside Victoria, with interstate production now underway and a national launch this week.

The move to begin producing Furphy Refreshing Ale at Tooheys Brewery in Sydney was announced to local media late last year.

Malt Shovel GM Gordon Treanor this week confirmed the beer’s national launch to industry media. He said drinkers will be able to find Furphy beer on tap and in packaged format in the coming weeks.

“Furphy is growing at about 300 per cent year-on-year, and demand is growing outside of Victoria,” he said.

“We’ve continued to expand the Furphy brewery as much and as quickly as we can, doubling the brew volume, investing $20 million the last two years and employing 21 new people in the brewery.

“Despite this, we are still unable to brew enough to keep Victorian pubs stocked and to sell Furphy up north.”

According to reports, Little Creatures Geelong is now brewing about 15 million litres a year of Furphy, accounting for more than half the brewery’s total annual volume of 28 million litres.

The Geelong brewery started operation in late 2013 with annual volume of six million litres. Furphy was launched as a Geelong-only beer in July 2014, and gradually expanded throughout Victoria.

Geelong now has a total brewery team of 48 people, with more than 100 employed across the entire site including the canteen.

Brewing at Tooheys
Furphy will continue to be made with 100 per cent Victorian hops and malt. Its creator, Little Creatures Geelong head brewer Warren Pawsey, has been overseeing production at Tooheys.

He told Brews News that recreating the “Kolsch-inspired” beer on a very different brewing kit at Lidcombe was not without its challenges.

“The shape of the fermenters was quite a challenge technically because yeast behaves differently in different geometric shapes,” he said.

“Our fermenters [in Geelong] are tall and skinny and the Tooheys ones aren’t, and they’re much bigger, so the weight of beer above the yeast is so much bigger as well.”

He said various brewing techniques had been employed to compensate for these differences and ensure the yeast would produce the same ester profile it does in Geelong.

“There’s a lot of levers to control. Ultimately we go by flavour but we can measure those esters at the end of fermentation and see if we’re on track.

Drinkers will now be able to find Furphy beer interstate

“We have a form where multiple people compare it to the ‘control’… the beer from Geelong. We rate it against various parameters.

“I flew up to Sydney a lot over December and then the January period to sign off on tanks and get brewing.

“Once they’d done their three brews and they’d all been to specification and they all tasted okay, there’s that level of trust… that they should be able to just keep doing it like that.”

Floodgates open
Treanor said Lion had never anticipated that Furphy would grow to its current scale.

“We’re getting requests for Furphy all over the country; on-premise, off-premise, independent bottle shops.

“We’re going to make it available to all those that would like it. Victorians will be the first to get their beer and then everyone that we can supply outside of outside of that.”

He told Brews News he does not expect any backlash from Victorians now that ‘their beer’ is available interstate.

“The fact that it’s 100 percent Victorian hops and malt means that a lot of Victorians are very proud… that people outside of the state are looking for it,” he said.

Windfall for Furphy family
The beer was named in honour of the Furphy family of Shepparton, who look set to be a major beneficiary of its unexpected success.

“We’ve got a financial incentive, or reward if you like, around volume. So its success is good for everyone,” J Furphy and Sons managing director Adam Furphy told Brews News.

But he said the Furphy family had not taken lightly the decision to license their name for use on a beer label.

“This is our family history and it’s got a historical legacy in Australia. The word furphy is part of the language,” he said.

“Really it was all about the sort of goodwill we were able to build with the guys from from Lion and Little Creatures around, ‘how do we navigate that process?’

“We were really impressed with the way the whole thing was conceived and how it was executed and I guess the respect, if you like, the organisation was paying to what we have.”

Sam and Adam Furphy

Furphy said the beer’s success has other benefits to the family business beyond the royalties.

“The little story on the back of the stubbie and the can, takes our history story… to a much wider audience than we can perhaps hope to [reach]. That’s of real benefit to us as well,” he said.

Sam Furphy, Adam’s cousin and Furphy Foundry director, told Brews News the family is proud of having “a real national name on a product that can be found throughout Australia”.

“To see the demand actually dragging or requesting the beer to sort of come to the market is great, as opposed to by design – trying to push the beer into different markets,” he said.

You can find Furphy beer stockists by clicking here.

Read more:
Furphy refreshes Creatures’ founders vision

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