For our third instalment we meet Nick Pang from Melbourne’s Temple Brewery. Temple can be credited with ushering in a new era in Melbourne’s craft beer scene and is making serious waves in the international beer market. A brand whose focus on quality has received recognition on the world stage—Temple’s Anytime IPA was recently crowned the winner of the 2015 Australian International Beer Awards for Best International Pale Ale—Nick’s passion for beer and business acumen has cemented Temple as a brand to watch. Not just a brewery, Temple is also a busy restaurant and the team are, as you’d expect, absolute masters at food and beer pairings. We’re expecting big things from this little Brunswick East brewery.
We caught up with Nick to find out what inspires him, his favourite Melbourne hunts, and they key ingredients in a truly great beer.
What’s not to love about living in Melbourne? Melbourne is unique. I love the culture we have here; I love the people. This city is amazing! It’s vibrant and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Relaxation for me is a gym session, and you’ll find me at Australian Strength Performance working out most mornings.
My wife and I have kids so we don’t get out just the two of us much, but when we do go out we love to try new places for dinner. A few favorites would be Miss Katies Crab Shack, Kenzan, the degustation at Shoya, Tonka, and the Royal Mail Hotel.
When friends come to stay our first stop is Temple Brewery, then it’s on to The NGV, Fed Square, Flinders Lane, Yarra Valley Vineyards, breweries and distilleries. I’ll also take them for a walk down Brunswick Street, Smith Street and Gertrude Street.
When we head out at night it’s pre-dinner drinks at Kent St Bar on Smith Street, followed by dinner at Peking Duck and a walk to Brunswick Street for cocktails at The Attic.
When do you feel your most creative?
Creativity to me is about the expression of ideas. It’s about being able to continuously evolve, share and develop those ideas with others.
I feel my most creative when I’m out on the road, talking to bars and bottle shops about Temple Beers and listening to their stories.
I draw inspiration from a few places. Firstly, my family gives me inspiration. My staff at Temple inspire me all the time. And my major inspirations come from my business partners—they mentor me and challenge me and always drive to be more creative. I can do what I do because of them.
Do you have mentors?
Absolutely—my mentors are Jason Yeap and Michael Loke. They’re both amazingly successful businessmen who have shown me what it is to have a vision and not to be afraid to be creative and think boldly.
What advice would you give to aspiring brewers?
If you want to make it as brewer you have to understand that there are no short cuts. Being a home brewer is very different from brewing as a career. Like any career, you start from the bottom and get educated, and there are now courses you can do on brewing which can be incredibly helpful to a budding brewer. You also need to educate yourself on the business side. A successful brewery is not just about making good beer—it’s also having the business savvy to make it work in a competitive industry.
Where did your beer journey begin?
I got the opportunity to move into beer when Temple Brewery was placed into liquidation back in 2013. I decided to take the plunge and move away from the professional life and run my own business for the very first time; I figured it was now or never.
Temple is not just about producing unique beers or winning awards. What we’re trying to do here is promote a lifestyle of matching good food with good beer, while creating a craft beer industry. I think this makes Temple unique from the rest of the breweries that are mainly manufacturing based.
Temple’s also unique as it is the closest production brewery to the CBD and was designed specifically to immerse the customer in the brewing experience.
The craft beer industry in Australia in in its infancy, so at Temple we actively promote other Australian craft beers as it’s imperative that breweries support each other to showcase the best of Australian beer.
What do you love about Temple?
I love everything about this job. Walking into Temple and hearing the sounds and smells and listening to Team Temple doing their thing—it’s amazing.
The people you meet in this industry, from the brewers to the bar and restaurant owners, all have their own incredible stories and it’s great to just be a part of their journey.
When developing a beer, we look at what is unique about this specific product. A beer that we release must also be true to style. Sometimes this gets a bit stretched in this industry—it’s so easy to get carried away and just put a lot of hops into beer, but that’s not what makes a beer great.
The ingredients need to speak for themselves. Most importantly, the beer needs to taste great (not just good) before we release it.
I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
How important are quality and reputation to you?
The quality of our product and the reputation of Temple are extremely important to me. Quality and reputation are paramount and define our business. More importantly, each member of our Temple team have their own reputation in the industry, and is this us just as crucial as our reputation as a whole.
What does style mean to you?
Style is about being true to the way you express yourself. I think confidence comes from the way a person carries themselves.
I think food and drink can absolutely be stylish. You should try a meal at Temple!
I spend most of my day around Brunswick, Fitzroy, Collingwood and the Melbourne CBD visiting bars and restaurants and the MINI is just one of those zippy cars that gets me around efficiently.
When we’re out and about on weekends, we get to use the power of the MINI on those country roads when we’re out on family drives.
We bought our MINI Cooper S about 5 months ago. My wife and I have always loved the look of the MINI and consider it one of the most iconic cars. I’m also a bit of a car fanatic and consider the drivability and handling of the MINI as one of the best cars in its category—in fact my favourite thing about my MINI is the way it drives. It just gets better and better! It’s also a good looking car.