Melbourne Brewers Club History

In the year 2000, our club changed its name from the ABAV (Amateur Brewers Association of Victoria) to The Melbourne Brewers.

The ABAV was formed in 1972 by Gordon Clark to act as an association to coordinate the activities of the Victorian brew clubs. This concept never got off the ground as the clubs wanted to remain independent.

So the ABAV actually became a club in its own right, and it held its meeting on the last Wednesday of each month in Gordon's Glen Waverley brewery. Gordon was, and still is, a legend in amateur brewing circles throughout Victoria. He is referred to as the father of amateur brewing because of his pioneering brewing even before it became legal in 1972.

Gordon served as President of the ABAV from 1972-1981, and Barry Hastings from 1981-1992 and 2000. We have had a variety of Presidents since 1992. Meetings at Gordon's brewery were legendary . He malted his own barley and grew his own hops, Bullion, in his back yard. He had a million and one contraptions in his brewery and scattered around his backyard. At one stage, I think he had 5 lauter tuns. He would improve on his last invention, and the predecessor ruthlessly consigned to the backyard.

From 1981 - 1992 the meetings alternated mainly between the Clark and Hastings breweries.

In 1992, Barry Hastings suggested to a meeting of members of the ABAV, that the club go national and call itself the ABAA. This was rejected by the membership as they did not want the responsibility of running and financing the proposed new national magazine, Ausbeer.

Subsequently, Barry Hastings resigned as President of the ABAV to form the new national amateur brewing association, the ABAA. This association at its peak boasted 650 members, who all received Ausbeer by mail. Ausbeer lasted 22 issues over approx. 7 years. I was voted in as President for one last time in 2000 to reform the ABAV and change its name. It was ridiculous to be known as the ABAV because it never was an association, it was a regular club. Also, we wanted the club to be open to all brewers in Melbourne and not just a region within it, hence the new name, The Melbourne Brewers.

The ABAV started running Beerfest around 1999 under the due care of Michael Guenzel.

Past Presidents

Over the years the Melbourne brewers has seen a few Presidents come and go.  See a familiar name? Let us know!

2022-Present John Keske

2017-2022 Ian Bennett
2010-2017 Andy Davison
2004-2009 Haig Jason
2004 Paul Sorenson
2003 David Yeske
2001-2002 Shane Ward
2000 Barry Hastings
1999 Martin O'Connor
1995-1998 Doug Blair
1993-1994 Andy Graham
1981-1992 Barry Hastings
1972-1981 Gordon Clark

The 'Old Dick'

Since 1999, the Club Brewer of the Year trophy has been an unusual mechanical device, affectionately known as "The Old Dick".

The trophy was built about 22 years ago by former Member Dick Seville who was a popular and eccentric Member of the Melbourne Brewers and the ABAV which preceded it. "The Old Dick" is designed to hold a 750ml bottle of beer and to gradually tilt it in order to pour the contents without disturbing the sediment, thereby obtaining a crystal clear beer.

Dick an engineer by trade would regularly take the device with him when dining at BYO restaurants and drinking his own beers, mostly bottle conditioned brown ales.

Longstanding Members will remember Dick as the quietly spoken gentleman who would bring a large plate of cheese and onion sandwiches to every club meeting which would be unveiled late at each meeting after the standard Club nibbles had been consumed. These would rapidly be devoured and were a traditional part OF Club meetings for many years.

Dick was an inventive guy having a hand in building one of the first commercial washing machines ever built in Australia. Unfortunately, Dick passed away several years ago but much of his brewing equipment was donated and subsequently auctioned by the Club so many current Members have equipment designed and built by Dick and his legacy lives on.

The Old Dick was donated by Dick's family and Colin Penrose. So next time you see "The Old Dick" remember that it, like our Club, has a rich history built on the efforts of eccentric good blokes like Dick Seville.

Previous winners of "The Old Dick" have been:

  • 1999 Don & Claris Liebe
  • 2000 Michael Guenzel
  • 2001 John Abbott & Michael Guenzel
  • 2002 Darren Robey
  • 2003 Tony Wheeler
  • 2004 Mark Leathem
  • 2005 Tony Wheeler & Mark Leathem
  • 2006 Tony Wheeler
  • 2007 Tony Wheeler
  • 2008 Tony Wheeler
  • 2009 Chris Taylor
  • 2010 Robin Brown
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013