Bird Rock, Blackman’s Brewery and local artist Jake Ross unite for an epic collaboration brew

Bird Rock, Blackman’s Brewery and local artist Jake Ross unite for an epic collaboration brew

Words by Liam McNally

Introducing Blackbird Pale Ale.

“I guess like all good things, it came about while we were sitting around drinking beer,” he says with a shrug and a grin.

I’m talking to Anthony Gist, the owner of Bird Rock; Jan-Juc’s preeminent surf-rock-bar-slash-dumpling-house, about a new beer he’s released in collaboration with Blackman’s Brewery and Jake Ross.

Blackbird Pale Ale is the product of these Torquay locals distilling the surf-coast’s beach culture and iconic scenery into a single delicious can of frothy beer.

“I think it’s pretty rad man,” Gist says of the “local supporting local” nature of the project.

“I think it’s important to work with the people around you. We have so many rad creators, beer makers, and farmers. We’re not only supporting the micro-economics… but you’re also feeding off other people’s creativity and specialities to actually better what you do, and to inspire yourself and others.”

The Blackbird artwork by Jake Ross is a poignant extension of this energy, delivered in his signature style which contrasts bold lines against soft tones. The piece depicts the famous Bird Rock surf spot and the soft pastel colours reflect a Jan Juc sunset.

“Jake Ross is a dope ass artist. I kind of hinted at changing the colour scheme to something with a bit more vibrancy, but he explained that he actually came down and photographed the skies, and that pastel pink comes from the local sky colour at sunrise and sunset. Everywhere I look around now I see that pastel pink and it all makes sense,” Gist says.

“All that area is all intertwined; from surfing, to the pink skies, the drinking beer after you surf, it’s all right there in that little golden triangle as we like to call it.”

The beer is brewed at Blackman’s Brewery in Torquay with a mix of flavour and drinkability.

“I wanted that kind of hoppy flavour when it hits your palette, but a nice crisp finish. I basically tasted 20 odd beers and narrowed it down to about three of them, then sat down with Ren [Blackman] and said, ‘I love the hoppiness of a pale ale, but I love the drinkability, of like, the Blackmans XPA,’ and asked if we can mould them together.

“We tried the hops and smelled the barleys and everything else from the brewing process, and to have him pour me a beer out of the tank… no bullshit I couldn’t have asked for a better beer.

“The Blackmans crew just nail awesome beer. It was a brilliant project all the way through.”

As we head back into stage three lockdown, it might be a while before you can sip on a crispy Blackbird in-house, but both Blackmans and Birdrock will still have beers available for take-away.

It’s a great time to support local businesses, especially ones that are already supporting each other.

And who knows – in the dead of a locked-down winter, the Blackbird Pale Ale might even be perfect thing to sip on to remind you how good a coastal summer is going to be.

You can keep up with the latest on Bird Rock here, Jake Ross art here, and Blackman’s Brewery here.