Madi Cooper is a trainee brewer at Bright Brewery, an independent, family-owned craft brewery, bar and restaurant located on the banks of the Ovens River, in the heart of Bright, Victoria. Ahead of International Women’s Day 2022, Madi created a beer named in honour of the pioneering co-founder of Bright Brewery, the late Fiona ‘Fred’ Reddaway. ‘Fred’s’ Blackberry Pale Ale is brewed by the women of Bright Brewery, including Fiona’s three daughters, Tenley, Jaslyn, and Krista, and her mother, Virginia, and so with a beautiful, Bright-inspired brand design by Melbourne artist Lynn Bremner, Fred’s is an all-female production from start to finish.
“Fiona was a champion for women and naming our first International Women’s Day beer after her seemed like the perfect idea.”
Falling in love with the craft beer scene
After completing high school, I attended the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne and completed my studies as an event manager. After living and working in Melbourne for a number of years, my partner and I moved to Canada for a ski season. Previous to this I hadn’t always loved beer but after spending a summer in Golden, British Columbia, I fell in love with the craft beer scene, thanks to Whitetooth Brewing Company.
I split my time at Bright Brewery between our venue, where I am a front-of-house supervisor, and the brewery, where I work alongside the brewers to learn about brewing whilst I complete my study.
Our venue sits on Bright’s Great Alpine Road, on the banks of the beautiful Ovens River, right in the heart of town. Here, I focus on staff training, running brewery tours, and ensuring all our customers have an excellent experience with us.
In the brewery, I pitch in with brewing new beers, canning and packaging our beers, cleaning tanks and kegs — whatever needs doing!
Coming out of the other side of COVID
It’s certainly been a challenging two years to be working in hospitality. Our venue was closed for significant periods of time in 2020 and 2021 so I focused on training and upskilling, providing mental health support to my colleagues, helping out with COVID initiatives like beer and meal home delivery, and even minor renovations around the venue.
The brewery has a strong commitment to its staff and we were well looked after during this time and kept in active employment as much as possible.
Take four ingredients…
The process for developing a beer recipe is more creative than I ever could have imagined. You need a great understanding of the four ingredients (yeast, hops, malt, water) to understand how they all play their role to make a creative and balanced beer. This was all possible thanks to the experience and mentorship of the brewers at Bright Brewery, as well as a lot of research and experimentation on my homebrew system.
As for the secret to creating a great tasting beer … it’s about having some great mentors around you! I knew what beer I wanted to create and had a strong image of the way the beer looked, smelt and tasted. The knowledge and guidance our brewers Reid (Stratton) and (David) Stokie gave me was invaluable in helping develop the beer I envisioned.
Honouring ‘Fred’, our beating heart
Honouring Fiona ‘Fred’ Reddaway’s legacy is a big part of life at Bright Brewery. She was the beating heart of the brewery before she passed away, and keeping her legacy alive is important to all of us. (We also have a production facility called ‘Fred’s Shed’.)
Fiona was a champion for women and naming our first International Women’s Day beer after her seemed like the perfect idea. While the beer has not yet been released (we are waiting for International Women’s Day to do that), the reaction to our early promotions has been immense. People seem genuinely interested and touched by the idea, and we really hope they’ll enjoy the final product.
Bringing together Bright women
We plan to launch Fred’s at a special International Women’s Day event at Bright Brewery. The event will be open to our community of local Bright women and will celebrate female empowerment, entrepreneurship, artist and live music. Part-proceeds from all sales of Fred’s Blackberry Pale Ale will go directly to Pink Boots Australia — which works to support and empower women in the brewery and fermentation industries.
I’m hoping the next step for me is a full-time job in the brewhouse. I love working behind the bar pouring beers but my love is producing the beer so that’s the direction I want to be heading in. I’m excited to see all the female staff pouring this beer behind the bar and being able to tell the customers that they personally helped brew and package it!
Bright, Victoria image credit: bright_victoria_aerial_panorama_2018 By Chensiyuan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.org