Victoria's Yarra Valley region is known around the world for the high quality wines it produces. And there are quite a few breweries and distilleries there as well. But as businesses grow, they need to move to different premises. That's what happened to the popular White Rabbit brewing team, who moved to Geelong. But that left a great opportunity for Innocent Bystander, a growing, local winery to move into the brewery. And rather than pull out the beer taps, they found a way to re-use them for wine - giving them a different way to serve as well as doing their bit for the environment.
Almost every industry on the planet is looking for ways to reduce their carbon emissions. And it turns out that 80 per cent of the emissions created by the wine industry comes from the production of glass. That, and a desire to use the exisiting infrastructure they inherited, drove Innocent Bystander to look for a way to deliver wine through a tap system.
Unlike beer, which can be stored in a pressurised container as it contains gas most wines are flat. And you can't rely on pumping gas into the wine to push it through the plumbing to get it to the tap as that will change the characteristics of the wine. Innocent Bystander found a solution for that problem in a part of the world, they said, is not renowned for their wine culture - Norway. But Norwegians are keen environmentalists so it's not surprising they found a solution that reduces glass use.
It's called the KeyKeg.
The wine is stored in a bladder - that the demonstrator called a "goon bag" - that sits within a "PET pressure vessel". The area around the bladder is pressurised with compressed air and that forces the wine out of the bag, up through the plumbing, to the tap. For a spot of extra presentation, Innocent Bystander serves the wine up from volumetric flasks rather than there traditional carafe in their restaurant or during tastings like the one I attended. Or you can just order a glass straight form the tap at the bar.
As it's using compressed air, there's no other gas being lost into the atmosphere.
The keg is fully reusable while the internal bladder is recyclable. It needs to be broken down as the cost of cleaning and sterilisation cost is high.
Each tap is connected to a separate cold room so each wine is served at the optimal temperature. Innocent Bystander serves eight different wines ranging from their prosecco, which is delivered at 2 to 3 degrees through to their syrah (which I learned is the correct name for shiraz which is a bastardised version of the word syrah) is delivered from an air-conditioned room that's kept at an optimal "room temperature".
That's not to say there are no bottles. If you want to take a few bottles home, you can still buy them that way but the production of bottles has been cut back massively I was told.
With the volume of beer being consumed by Australians falling over recent years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistic, and wine and cider drinking climbing, it's likely systems like the KeyKeg will become more common as pubs will be looking for ways to redeploy their existing tap systems and to reduce the costs of bottle disposal.