Dermot O'Donnell Celebrates 50 Years in Beer

This month Asahi Premium Beverages’ Master Brewer, Dermot O’Donnell, celebrates 50 years in the beer industry, an extremely rare event in any industry in Australia. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to the celebration lunch at Builders Arms; a privilege to be there and honour Dermot.

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Dermot told The World Loves Melbourne in an exclusive interview that his favourite beer was "the next one." He also spoke to us about the importance of "different beers for different occasions. I love the diversity of beer!" As a beer judge in over 95 categories he knows his beer! He also described Melbourne as a "beer Mecca" and pointed out that Melbourne has "sophisticated tastes in everything - not just beer but water, cheese, great food, you name it." He's worked in nearly every brewery in Australia it would seem but humorously told The World Loves Melbourne, "love the one you're with!"

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Builders Arms served up a superb meal and there were a number of speeches by prominent beer executives and friends of Dermot.

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It’s hard to believe that Dermot, one of Australia’s most renowned brewers, actually started his career in a chocolate factory.

The then 21-year-old Dermot worked at Rowntrees where he was responsible for quality. It wasn’t too long before the smell of hops over cocoa lured him into the world of beer, and in 1967 Dermot got his first job in the brewing industry, working at Courage Breweries where he did beer analysis. Dermot then transferred to the Melbourne operations of Courage to assist in the new brewery in Victoria.

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 From 1970-1975 Dermot worked with Bass Charrington in the UK on Bass Ale and Carling Black Label. Dermot then spent 15 years working at Tooheys, launching breakthrough products in the market place including Tooheys Blue, a low alcohol beer and the first reduced carbohydrate beer in Australia, Tooheys Dry in 1991 and 1989 respectively. After winning an accolade of awards at Tooheys, Dermot moved to Carlton United Breweries (CUB) where he spent 15 years developing a wide range of beers including Foster’s Special Bitter, Carlton Mid, Cascade and Pure Blonde. Dermot also launched Carlton Cold and Fosters Light Ice in 1994 with both beers becoming the second biggest sellers in the market at the time.

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Dermot joined Asahi Premium Beverages (APB) in 2013, after creating the highly awarded Cricketers Arms Lager, Keepers Lager which won the AIBA Gold medal last year for best Australian style lager. Dermot also created further brews for the Cricketers Arms range, including the renowned Spearhead Pale Ale, Journeyman and Captain’s IPA.

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Additionally, Dermot developed a special brew for the first day and night test in Adelaide called Nightwatchman, and most recently created a Summer Ale with Galaxy aroma hops called Scorcher. “On behalf of Asahi Premium Beverages and Cricketers Arms Beer we want to congratulate Dermot on an amazing innings as a Master Brewer,” said Scott Hadley, Chief Commercial Officer, Asahi Premium Beverages.

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This was a convivial event with much laughter and celebration; fitting for a beer legend.  

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And what does Dermot think of making it 50 years in the beer industry? “I am exceedingly fortunate to have worked in such a vibrant industry as brewing for 50 years – it truly is a fraternity of like-minded highly professional people. It just shows that beer drinkers live longer!” said Dermot.

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This was an amazing celebration by Asahi Premium Beverages with Dermot and friends, industry and media at the Builders Arms Hotel in Melbourne. Dermot brewed a special beer for this luncheon and named it Golden Jubilee – a strong Golden Lager which incorporates many of the features of beers he has brewed over the years - a great beer! What an event and what a beer legend!

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