Engineers turned beer brewers Patrick Alè and David Milstein founded Red Island Group in 2003 when they were only 23 years old. After ten years of developing the business, their brew Quiet Deeds has made a buzz in the craft beer scene, and is growing a wider audience all the time. Having been very busy working to bring this beer further into the public light, Patrick managed to find the time to have a chat with us.
You and David were both studying engineering before deciding to brew beer. How did you two get into the beer game, an industry so different from engineering?
We met in high school in Gippsland. We always had an interest in business. I went overseas and saw an interesting beer in Bolivia called Pacena. I spoke to David about it as a business opportunity over one of our customary beer sessions. Some of the different options we had at the time were business orientated, we both came from families with businesses. We both like the liquor game and decided to one day open a brewery, but that’s quite cost prohibitive. Pacena is a cool quirky beer that we started importing, but that didn’t work. It had issues and a short use by date. It taught us a lot of lessons, but we’ve progressed from there.
How much research on beer brewing did you two have to do before officially founding Red Island Group? I can imagine it would’ve been very extensive and time consuming.
We’ve been importers since we started nine years ago. We’ve become more sophisticated as the years progressed as the business has grown. We’re now very knowledgeable in the business. The volume of consumption was going down, but sales went up. People have been putting down beers like Carlton Draft and instead craft beer has had growth. We’re following the American model of creating craft beer, though we’re five years behind. Quiet Deeds started 18 months ago, with coming up with the name and its marketing position. A lot to work on obviously. We had to engage a marketing agency to help us with the brand, and got a master brewer involved to get the right kind of flavour.
Do you two have a personal favourite type of beer?
I like Stone On Wood Pacific ale, it’s a fruity, pleasant beer. David likes Little Creatures.
What type of demand does have you getting so far for your drinks?
There’s been good demand for it, we’re trying to go for in terms of flavour as a craft beer that packs quite a bit of flavour and is easy to drink with packaging to make it stand out. We’ve also got it on draft, which we’ve never had before. We’ve learned a lot there. We’ve been selling at trade events and also the Ballarat Beer Festival, and showcased it at Fed Square and the Canberra Craft Beer Festival.
What have been the main factors in helping your drinks catch on? Was it from a lot of advertising, word of mouth, or other methods?
We work on the marketing side. With a brand like Quiet Deeds, it’s all about seeding it for marketing and putting the brand in the right people hands to help it spread through word of mouth.
It must have been very exciting to win the Best Pale Ale award at the Micro Breweries event at Fed Square recently? Was there a lot of competition for you guys?
A lot of craft beers there, such as Mountain Goat. We were pleasantly surprised that we got to stand out amongst all that competition.
You guys recently sponsored the Carbon Festival. How did that come about?
We’re big fans of Acclaim Magazine, and they approached us about sponsoring it with Quiet Deeds.
How did you guys feel about your brew sponsoring the backstage events at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival? That would’ve been great exposure, and a great way to meet well known comedians.
It was awesome. The Comedy Festival is something you go to every April, and it was great seeing all the comedians enjoying our beer. We got a DVD sent to us of Danny Bhoy thanking us for the beer.
Have there been any updates on opening up your own brewery in Melbourne and other brews coming this year?
That’s our major goal, but we need to reach a certain volume to make it viable. We’re growing to make that happen.
If you want to go out and taste some Quiet Deeds for yourself, it can be purchased at various McCoppins bottle shops in Melbourne and bars such as Beer DeLuxe, The Brunswick Mess Hall, Campari House, The Nixon Hotel and The Toff. For more information on where you can buy some Quiet Deeds, check out their website or Facebook page.
Originally published here at barsandnightclubs.com.au on Friday 3 May 2013