Urban Salvage

The Drum


      AUGUST 2014

  • Two Birds Nest In Spotswood
  • What's New?

Two Birds Nest In Spotswood

It sounds unlikely - but brewed beer was once regarded as a safe alternative to drinking water. Marxist historiography would contend that the approach to any town in Western Europe in the year of Our Lord 1000 was heralded by the appearance of clouds of flies. Britain and Europe in the Middle Ages were plagued by unregulated sewerage and contaminated drinking water in rivers and streams. There had been a steep decline in town services since Roman times. The ample and healthy flesh seen on display in Game of Thrones was just as likely to be rotting and cadaverous in the feudal era that inspired the series.



Innovation in public health came from monasteries and abbeys - communities with the time to work on a reliable supply of fresh food, potable water, herbal medicines and hygiene - and possessed of the basic HR requirements for specialisation. By the 12th century it was widely understood that purification of water could be achieved by herbal additives - and the most effective of these was hops. The practice of hopping - or bittering with the hop resins - was developed in sundry monastic communities in Northern Europe and the science was reported in Latin on vellum. Read Abbess Hildegard of Bingen in Physica Sacra. If your Latin is rusty, stick to Chapter 61 - De Hoppho and share the joy of discovery of the preserving powers of the hop flower.

Less valuable as a preservative nowadays, hops is still important in the craft of brewing beer - and the mysteries attaching to its use - the occulte cervasiam - are known only to a few. Jayne Lewis - head brewer at Two Birds in Hall St, Spotswood - a stone's throw from the famous Urban Salvage - is one of the knowledgeable few. Jayne and business partner Danielle Allen are the two birds inspiring the name. I called in recently to see how the bar and brewery fit out was proceeding - and to cadge a beer. "In potibus?"  inquired Jayne - channelling Abbess Hildegard. Across a counter of polished swirling grain Birdseye Stringybark, dark foaming Sunset Ale overspilled a chilled pot glass and settled patiently under a cold dripping spigot. 



The brewery occupies the old site of Goetz Engineering. The industrial Art Deco facçade is well fenestrated and arranged with benches and a few tables fabricated from recycled Tasmanian Oak flooring. Down on the main brewery floor - and overlooked by giant steel kettles - is a beer garden of recycled timber tables corralled by benches of recycled floorboards. On a wintry Saturday afternoon a few dozen patrons were sampling the beers - relieved to be safe for a moment from the uncertain dangers posed by Melbourne Water - chatting in groups around the trestle tables - or reading their Brother Cadfael mystery on kindle in a cosy corner.

My dark and rosy Sunset Ale kept a fine lacy head and the first draft - when rolled around the mouth - had an ironbark-sourness with a touch of grapefruit resin. Had it been a family visit, I'd be well reprimanded by now for making plumbing noises. There is an expectation of the full Vegemite-on-burnt-toast and Sao biscuit-with-Pecks Paste sort of aftertaste from a darker brew like the Sunset - but it gives you very little grief at the gunpowder end of the spectrum. Instead, it finishes with a malty, apricot back-of-tongue sensation. It was redolent - for some reason - of both Hoop Pine sawdust and Fuggles hops. Perhaps I should have showered and brushed my teeth before I left work. Brewer Jayne insisted the hops wasn't Fuggles - but I like the word - and I just had to mention it. Twice. 


What's New

KD Birdseye Stringybark
140 x 20mm - Rate: $14.00/m
  90 x 32mm - Rate: $14.00/m

Two Birds Brewery purchased some of the 32mm board for the bar fit out - but we have plenty of the more versatile 20mm board in stock and in quantity at very reasonable rates.

It's extraordinarily good value considering how uncommon and unusual birdseye figure is in timber. Two-Birdseye is even harder to find.


Recycled Hoop Pine
- various sizes -

210 x 42mm - Rate: $49.00/m 135 x 65mm - Rate: $49.00/m
235 x 80mm - Rate: $110.00/m 140 x 140mm - Rate: $99.00/m

You can buy plantation Hoop Pine at a hardware store near you - probably marketed as Araucaria - and it is a very pleasantly-grained pale timber.
Or you can buy recycled old-growth Hoop Pine at Urban Salvage, with a colour that is deep gold and darkly oxidised just beneath the original surface exposed by planer.
It retains a few marks and fuggles of age from the decades it was used as truss cords in a sugar mill in Mackay in northern Queensland.

I look at this Hoop Pine and imagine island benchtops, bar tops and tables. Where does your imagination take you?


KD Spotted Gum
T&G Floorboards
80 x 19mm - Rate: $5.50/m in set-length

Merchants struggle nowadays to locate set-length durable hardwoods for verandah flooring.

We stock Jarrah of course - but not everyone wants a new red verandah floor.

Spotted Gum has the mellow brown appeal that ages quickly to look like it has always been there - and wasn't laid yesterday.

It's great to be able to offer Spotted Gum in 1.5m, 1.8m, 2.1m, 2.4m and a few discount packs.

Ask about availability now - while it lasts.


Laminated Recycled Messmate Shelf and Tabletops
- very reasonably priced -

300 x 28mm LAM shelving - Rate: $77.00/m

We had some great packs of recycled Messmate which we sent out for edge-lamination into benchtops.

This scale of production can always be done at a better rate than custom lamination and allows us to offer these individual benches at a great price.

The 700-800mm wide tabletops sell at about $150.00/m.

Raw timber boards requiring some filling and sanding - but well within the abilities of most DIY homemakers.