With the summer at our doorstep, it’s the perfect time to get to know some great Victorian beer to see you through. Enter, KAIJU! – a fun, bold and distinctly comic-book style line of beers.
The KAIJU! story has been going for some time now, but it originally began with a frustrated homebrewer and his brother.
“Nat couldn’t find the American style, hoppy kind of ales – IPA styles that he was really enjoying – available in Australia, so he started making them himself,” brother Callum Reeves explains. “It was a process of the more hops he added, the more he enjoyed the beer.”
And so the first KAIJU! beer was created. To make sure they were true to themselves and only made beer they loved to drink, the brothers’ first release was what is now known as Aftermath Double IPA.
“Soon after we started selling the beer, they were just proving to be really popular and we couldn’t supply enough of them, so we decided to build our own brewery,” Callum says, referring to South East Brewing Company. Since the Aftermath’s release, the KAIJU! family has grown to include 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 KAIJU KRUSH! Tropical Pale.
“We started brewing almost exactly two years ago and the business has been growing since then. We started just bottling and kegging the beer, and now we’ve added cans to the lineup as well and that has just made a massive impact.”
With summer a peak time for beer sales in Australia, the team at KAIJU! balance this out with their exportation of their product to China, UK, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, which keeps them busy 365 days a year.
An aussie favourite and a clear stand-out of the KAIJU! lineup is the most recent addition, KAIJU KRUSH! Tropical Pale which was created in the space of 10 minutes.
“Nat had sent a text message one night saying he had this idea for a beer – KAIJU! Krush, a tropical XPA type of beer and I was like ‘that’s brilliant, and the can can look like a Hawaiian beach scene’,” Callum reveals. “Within the space of 10 minutes and three or four text messages, we had this complete idea for this product. We sent it straight off to our designers and Nat was already working on the recipe, but it was actually one of the most difficult recipes to come up with.
“You’ve got nowhere to hide with the flavours,” he continues, “It’s got to be really perfect and have that balance where you’ve got lots of flavour but also really drinkable. It took quite a few brews to get it right. Usually Nat comes up with a recipe and he makes the style in one or two brews, whereas this one there were quite a few trial home brews (and a lot of product testing) before we got it right. We’ve been pretty happy with it ever since.”
Launching the beer last year, it has become one of their best sellers, both in Australia and overseas and is proving to be the perfect brew to enjoy on a hot summers day. “The rest of our beers are big experiences of beers, while this one is super flavourful and refreshing and is a bit easier to have one after the other.”
In addition to great beers, the brothers also make Golden Axe Cider. Since its inception in 2012, Callum and Nat have been sourcing juice locally from a mate’s orchard. The cider is handcrafted using only freshly-crushed Victorian apples and the result is refreshing and delicious.
What is most eye-catching about the products from South East Brewing Company is their use of vibrant colours and unique label designs, which is a direct reflection of the name KAIJU!, a Japanese word that means “strange creature” and is the general term for characters such as Godzilla and Mothman. It was here the team decided to give each brew it’s own unique kaiju monster.
The Reeves brothers, along with Callum’s wife Clara, attribute much of their marketing success to graphic designer Mikey Burton, an internationally acclaimed designer and illustrator whose work has been featured in publications such as GQ, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. It was some of Burton’s original drawing which actually inspired some of the beers.
“When we sent the name to our designer, he just came back with all these drawings of what some possible label ideas could be, and some of those were just so awesome we wanted to make a beer to match the drawing,” Callum reveals. “Robohop Golden Ale, which was our biggest seller before we launched KAIJU KRUSH, that was actually designed from a drawing.”
The unique, video game-esque style of the labels make KAIJU! and Golden Axe Cider stand out from the crowd, and will be turning heads at any summer drinking session. The perfect guilt-free option for a cheeky mid-week beer at the end of a long day. That’s right, it’s beer o’clock.
Find and adopt your KAIJU! of choice at your local bottle shop or head to www.kaijubeer.com.au for stockists.
Written by Talia Rinaldo