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HopDog BeerWorks

With a smiling face, thin goatee ripe for thoughtful stroking, sparse tattoos and wavy hair reaching halfway down his back, Tim Thomas appears as though he’s just walked off stage from the halcyon days of death metal rather than a family man who runs a small brewery in rural New South Wales. But as it is with books and covers, judging brewers by their coiffure is nothing but folly.

It was in 2011 that Tim and his wife, Tess, started HopDog BeerWorks in her home of Nowra, a small town on the South Coast which serves as something of an industrial hub for the many pretty hamlets around the Shoalhaven River.

From the time the brewery opened, and for several years afterwards, HopDog was served proudly by a 200 litre brewhouse that, as far as commercial operations go, was surely one of the smallest setups in Australia. With it, Tim would churn out a handful of kegs at a time, full of beer that was often confronting, occasionally polarising but always representative of his uncompromising attitude; essentially a stiff middle finger aimed at easy-drinking lagers. Out of that, HopDog developed something of a cult status amongst dedicated craft beer drinkers, the brewer’s signature fluorescent green bottle caps popping out on shelves with the promise of something different.

Growing popularity, coupled with that almost impossibly small brewing system, meant demand constantly outstripped supply. Beer could be found somewhat reliably in Sydney and, less reliably, Melbourne and Brisbane but such were the limitations that some regular visitors to the brewery believe they were victims of a curse, owing to the fact that every time they turned up a beer would have just run out. Finally, in 2014, a new, bigger brewery and packaging line were installed. Six new 800 litre fermenters gave HopDog something resembling an economically sensible production capacity while significant investment in a bottling machine began paying itself off immediately; instead of hand bottling their beers which once took an entire eight hour day, a six pack could now be filled in a shade over 12 seconds.

For their part, the beers, now produced in tanks with imposing names like Gorak The Destroyer, still maintain their bold, generally hop-forward character that is Tim’s signature; on the wall of the brewery is a chalk illustration of the brewing process where beer’s ingredients, as according to the HopDog methodology, are listed as water, malt, yeast and “an insane amount of hops”.

While hoppy beers form the foundation of the brewery’s output, there’s a sense that Tim has broadened his horizons and become, dare it be said, more refined. In recent years he’s been winning more praise for beers with a Belgian influence and, in particular, the wild or barrel fermented releases featuring sour and fruit characters. The brewery has around half a dozen barrels which, after several years of regular use and a loose view on cleanliness, have nurtured some organism (or, more likely, several) into something that does increasingly interesting things to a beer. This was evidenced when the team from Texas’ famed farmhouse brewery Jester King came to Australia in 2015 and, having tasted his Alluvial Peach, hunted Tim down specifically in order to discover the secrets. The soundtrack at the HopDog brewery has always been heavy metal, but on this form it’s the funky barrels which may be playing the best music in the house.

With the increase in capacity they’ve been able to branch out into other areas such as the roaring trade in selling fresh wort (the unfermented base of beer) kits to home brewers as far away as Canberra. They now even have enough space to accommodate passing gypsy brewers keen to take a bit of knowledge from Tim’s nearly fifteen years as a commercial brewer, stretching back through stints at the Lord Nelson Brewery and Five Islands (now the Illawarra Brewing Company).

The evolution of the tasting room perfectly encapsulates the reality and evolution of HopDog as a small, family-run business. Adjacent to the brewery, the bar started out, like the original brewhouse, tiny and just functional enough to get by. That’s because most of the space was set aside as an impromptu nursery for Tim and Tess’ children who literally grew up in the brewery with mum and dad toiling away in the background. Now that they’ve grown up a bit, the kids’ day care has become a genuine cellar door with six tap tasting bar, tables, chairs and space to relax and try a few brews. They even have capacity to hold the odd event like Hopsology, a monthly beer education session hosted by Tim that takes you through several styles of beer with a bit of food to match. Thanks in part to having a proper front of house, around half of what HopDog produces is now sold locally or through the cellar door.

Buoyed on by a burgeoning microbrewing industry, HopDog is undoubtedly far bigger, better and faster than when they started but they’re still doing what they’ve always done: making beer their way and having a lot of fun doing it.

Nick O

Name
HopDog BeerWorks
Address

2/175 Princes Highway
South Nowra
NSW 2541

Phone
0428 293 132
Website
Regular events

Hopsology: Monthly beer education seesion at the brewery
Dog Box: Quarterly/seasonal mixed cases (order online)

Hours

Tues to Thur: 10am to 4pm
Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday: 10am to 4pm
Sunday: Closed

Tours

By appointment

The Regulars

HopDog BeerWorks Cosmic Highway

Pale ale. Single hop. Three malts. 4.8 percent ABV. Reading those basic descriptors off the label, experience might tell you that you’re in for a middle-of-the-road beer. But HopDog doesn’t really stick to the middle of the road, especially when the alternative route is a Cosmic Highway. This is undoubtedly and intentionally the brewery’s most approachable beer, added to the permanent range a couple of years after establishing their reputation mainly with balls-to-the-wall releases. It’s ··· Read more
Style
Pale Ale
Strength
4.8%
Bitterness
30 IBU

HopDog Redhopulous

Tapped Tue Aug 7 2012
The original label said it straight up: “It’s red. It’s hoppy”. That was when the beer was first released, back in 2011, and the same remains true now. So what’s changed since then? Well, the label artwork was given a makeover in 2016, morphing from something that resembled a simple pantone swatch towards a mechanised man whose face is charming and terrifying, depending on your mood. If this robot had a heart, it would be made of hops. Chinook and Ella are pronounced, and mostly so on the ··· Read more
Style
Hoppy Red Ale
Strength
5.0%
Bitterness
40 IBU
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks

HopDog Horns Up

Like it's little brother, the Pale, this is a beer that's all about the hops. OK, so it's a rye IPA, which lends the malt side of things a little twist, but that's really not where the focus is. Loads of US and Kiwi hops take control in a beer that's big on aroma, hop flavour and bitterness. As Tim puts it: "This IPA finishes strong and dry with a lingering bitterness that just goes on, and on, and on like a screaming heavy metal guitar solo, and [has] an aftertaste that reminds you that you've ··· Read more
Style
US IPA
Strength
5.8%
Bitterness
70 IBU

The Specials

HopDog BeerWorks Children of Darkness 2016

Tapped Mon Jul 25 2016
HopDog brewer Tim Thomas’ balls-out attitude to flavour in beer can sometimes give the impression that his approach to brewing might simply be to load up as many ingredients as the brewhouse can contain, set the dials to maximum, let go of the controls and watch to see where things end up. The reality is something more like him loading up the brewhouse with as many ingredients as possible, setting the dials to maximum but keeping those hands firmly on the wheel. And the 2016 "Respawned" ··· Read more
Style
India Black Ale
Strength
6.6%
Bitterness
80 IBU

HopDog BeerWorks Cherry Bombah!

Tapped Tue Mar 15 2016
Every now and then HopDog releases a beer that is totally polarising. Cherry Bombah! is one of them. The reason is that it’s a spontaneously fermented ale that spent three months in the brewery’s increasingly bacteria-ridden oak barrels with around 150 kilograms of fresh cherries for company. With an aroma that’s in the rarely sniffed area where acetic acid crosses with fairy floss, it’s immediately confronting. To some it will be straight-up off-putting, to others a turn-on. The flavour ··· Read more
Style
Sour Cherry Ale
Strength
5.6%
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks Brewery

And select stockists where you find HopDog beers

HopDog BeerWorks Quincemas Baubles

Tapped Sun Dec 20 2015
In normal circumstances, being less than a week out from Christmas we would well and truly have seen the release of Secret Santa, the annual Christmas Ale from HopDog BeerWorks. But this year santa is not visiting Nowra. Instead, the festive fare from brewer Tim Thomas is a beer that’s been months in the making and, indeed, one that’s actually been out for a few weeks: we’d been trying to wrap our hands around Tim’s Quincemas Baubles sooner but he's played hard to get. Never mind, a Christmas ··· Read more
Style
Barrel Fermented Wild Ale with Quinces
Strength
5.8%
Bitterness
27 IBU
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks

HopDog BeerWorks Abbey of the Dead

Tapped Sat Oct 31 2015
At the end of October each year – around the spooky double header that is Halloween and the Day of the Dead – Tim Thomas is usually busy releasing his pumpkin-infused, Belgian-inspired All Hallowed Ale. This year, however, pumpkin is off the menu. The beer taking its place is Abbey of the Dead, an appropriately ghoulishly-named Belgian Dubbel. The label goes so far as to suggest this beer “perches on a mound of skulls above a river of blood, offering up candy to all the lost souls” which, ··· Read more
Style
Spiced Belgian Dubbel
Strength
5.8%

HopDog BeerWorks Shizzam IPA

Tapped Thu Oct 29 2015
Some seven years ago, maybe eight – no one can remember exactly – the New South Wales Brewers’ Guild got together for a meeting and collaborative brew. That beer they made was, well, no one can remember exactly what that was that either. But HopDog brewer Tim Thomas’ recollection of the event was that, with the collective having agreed on a recipe, he and another brewer decided to have a bit of a laugh while the other brewers’ backs were turned and made something completely different. Given ··· Read more
Style
Double IPA
Strength
8.1%
Bitterness
100+ IBU
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks Brewery

HopDog & Platinum Liquor Best Extra Pale Ale

Tapped Mon Oct 26 2015
From time to time during some of the country’s major beer weeks, Adam Bellamy from Sydney’s Platinum Liquor organises an event based around a movie screening then teams up with a brewer best suited to creating a collaborative beer as accompaniment. The first time was an American stock ale brewed with Nowra’s HopDog BeerWorks to pour at a showing of True Grit, the second was the Bah’sdin Irish stout with Shenanigans which premiered with American mob movie The Departed. For this third effort, ··· Read more
Style
Strong English Pale Ale
Strength
7.0%
Stockists

Platinum Liquor

Golden Age Cinema

HopDog BeerWorks Gose & The Pussycats

Tapped Wed Sep 23 2015
It's hardly the most HopDog name, is it? The brewery that releases beers such as SuperBeast, Children of Darkness, Horns Up and An American Werewolf in Belgium releasing one that puns on a show aimed at tweeny girls. Whatever next? Still, when a pun's too good to resist, what's a man to do other than take off his Metallica t-shirt, don hot pants and a boob tube and start pirouetting around the brewery. At least, that's what we're assuming happened at HopDog's Nowra joint during the production of ··· Read more
Style
Gose
Strength
4.5%
Bitterness
15 IBU
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks

Justin Lills

Little Prince, Wollongong

Crown West Cellars

Spooning Goats (draught)

Platinum Liquor

Cellarbrations Warilla

Crafty Brew

More stockists...

HopDog BeerWorks SuperBeast 2015

Tapped Tue Aug 25 2015
Each year, to mark its birthday, Nowra's HopDog BeerWorks releases a beer called SuperBeast. Thus far, all SuperBeasts have been different from their predecessor, albeit united by common themes. Those themes are: heaps of hops; heaps of malt; heaps of booze. The fourth anniversary 'Beast is a black barley wine and comes in suitably black attire – so black that, like Metallica's black album, you'll have a hard time making out anything other than the brewery name and barcode. It's a beer through ··· Read more
Style
Black Barley Wine
Strength
10.5%
Bitterness
100 IBU
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks

Justin Lills

Crown West

Cellarbrations Warilla

Crafty Brew

Dimitrti's Pizzeria

Platinum Liquor

Camperdown Cellars

More stockists...

HopDog Alluvial Peach 15 / Taxidermied Pachyderm / 6TENK II

Tapped Wed Jul 15 2015
It would appear Tim Thomas and his team at Nowra's HopDog BeerWorks like to keep busy. He's spent much of July on the road personally delivery kegs across Queensland and New South Wales, says they've quadrupled production since expanding the brewery in August 2014, and now there are three new beers coming out at the same time. Two are new versions of old beers, the third their entry to this year's GABS festival now in bottled form. One of the comebacks is Alluvial Peach, a 5.3 percent beer that features ··· Read more
Style
Various
Strength
Various
Stockists

Archive

Tippler's Tap

Hop Heads

Crown West Cellars

Dicey Riley's

Manning St Cellars

More stockists...

HopDog BeerWorks Secret Santa 2014 & Lawnmower Beer

Tapped Tue Dec 16 2014
It doesn't take much to put the Crafty Pint Photoshopping skills to shame. But if there's one man who not only puts them to shame but does it with style it's Tim Thomas of HopDog BeerWorks. The homespun labels that adorn his packaged beers are often as fun as the beers inside and, with a new Meheen bottling line now installed alongside their expanded brewery, we can expect to see more of them. Just in time for Christmas, HopDog's popular Secret Santa is back with the latest variation a return to ··· Read more
Style
Belgian Christmas & Farmhouse Ales
Strength
8.6% & 4.3%
Stockists

From the HopDog cellar door and specialist venues and bottleshops

HopDog BeerWorks SuperBeast 2014

Tapped Tue Sep 30 2014
Rare are the moments when Tim Thomas of HopDog decides to opt for a safe, stylistically true beer to release upon the masses. Rare, if not non-existent. But even by his somewhat demented standards, the annual SuperBeast releases tend to push things a little further. Last year saw him create a peated barley wine under the banner, and not just slightly peated – 90 percent peated distilling malt. This time around, it’s a rather more prosaic barley wine, albeit only as prosaic as a beer with a theoretical ··· Read more
Style
American Barley Wine
Strength
10.0%
Bitterness
100 IBU
Stockists

Beer Cartel

The usual HopDog stockists

(ie we’ll update when Tim tells us who)

More stockists...

HopDog BeerWorks Bingo Wings

Tapped Tue Dec 31 2013
When a pre-Christmas care package arrived at Crafty Towers from the metalhead at HopDog, included was a pair of unlabelled bottles. Well, unlabelled in the traditional sense. In place of the Nowra brewer's wildly colourful stick-on labels was a cardboard swing tag around the neck with just the words "Bingo Wings" and "Summer Wheat 5.0%" and an instruction to leave them another week or two to finish conditioning before consuming. Wait over, we popped a bottle of the light golden, ··· Read more
Style
Spiced American Wheat
Strength
5.0%
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks

Slowbeer

Beer Cartel

Pumphouse Bar

Bitter Phew

The Yardarm

[Sydney Wine Merchants](/beer/bottleshop/

More stockists...

HopDog BeerWorks Secret Santa 2013

Tapped Thu Dec 12 2013
There's plenty going on in the 'Doghouse at the minute. Founder Tim Thomas tells us: "We've recently placed an order for a bigger kick arse mill, and are also in the process of designing a new kettle for our brewhouse to upgrade it to a 500 litre kit. It's a bit Franken-brewery, but that's how we roll." He's also got a couple of beers lined up for the festive period, with Bingo Wings waiting in the, ahem, wings for now while Secret Santa makes another appearance. For once the heavy metal ··· Read more
Style
Spiced, Gingerbreaded, Sugared Belgian Ale
Strength
7.0%
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks

Slowbeer

Beer Cartel

Pumphouse Bar

Bitter Phew

The Yardarm

[Sydney Wine Merchants](/beer/bottleshop/

More stockists...

HopDog BeerWorks All Hallowed Ale

Tapped Wed Oct 30 2013
We'd happily wager that of all the celebrations and occasions that dot the western world's calendar, Halloween is Tim Thomas' favourite. The metal-loving, Devil's Horns-flicking brewer from Nowra loves to take inspiration from the darker side of life when conceiving and naming his beers: Children of Darkness; Superbeast; American Werewolf in Belgium; Horns Up... you get the message. Given it's a time of pumpkin pies, sweet treats and spicy things, it also gives him carte blanche to do what the hell ··· Read more
Style
Spiced Belgian Pumpkin Ale
Strength
7.3%
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks

Slowbeer

Beer Cartel

Sydney Wine Merchants

[The Local Taphouse Darlo](/beer/bar/the-local

More stockists...

HopDog BeerWorks Super Beast 2013

Tapped Thu Oct 10 2013
In his two years brewing as HopDog, Tim Thomas has never been one to work within parameters. If there's an unusual combination of malt, yeast and hops, he'll give it a go. If he can throw fruit and veg at a beer, then a few spices and a barrel, likewise. So where could he possibly go to mark his second birthday? The answer is a peated barleywine. It comes a year after Super Beast one - a wheat barleywine - and features a malt bill that is 90 per cent peated distilling malt. There are brewers out ··· Read more
Style
Peated Barleywine
Strength
11%

HopDog BeerWorks An American Werewolf In Belgium

Tapped Thu Jun 6 2013
If someone were to say to you the phrases 'HopDog Beerworksâ?, 'Belgian IPAâ? and 'American Werewolf in Belgiumâ?, you might be forgiven for gulping a little nervously at the thought of what sort of frighteningly big and aggressive beer might have been created. That's because HopDog brewer Tim Thomas isn't the type that's afraid to hold back. He's someone for whom the term 'hop restraint' is a juxtaposition; someone that loves hops enough that they're included in the name of his brewery. ··· Read more
Style
Belgian IPA
Strength
6.5%
Bitterness
70 IBU

HopDog Redrum

Tapped Thu Mar 14 2013
Sometimes a beer comes along where you suspect that the brewer compiled a long list of ingredients and items that could be used to make beer, cut the list into little squares, drew a circle on the ground and threw the little squares of paper high into the air. Once they settled, those that landed inside the circle would form the basis of a beer. Then there are beers where you suspect the brewer instead collects up all the pieces of paper that fall outside the circle and uses them as the basis of ··· Read more
Style
Barrel Aged Fruit Beer
Strength
6.2%
Stockists

HopDog BeerWorks

Slowbeer

Grape and Grain

Josie Bones (Tap)

The Scratch (Tap)

More stockists...

HopDog C-Bomb

Tapped Tue Jan 8 2013
We all drop the C-Bomb sometimes and we'd imagine that Tim from HopDog dropped it when he learnt that we hadn't received our last delivery of his beers because they had been "disappeared" by couriers from Fastway. This time around he has a much better reason for dropping the C-Bomb, given it is the name of his latest beer. And it is a beer that lives up to the brewery's name: a double IPA crammed chock full of American and Kiwi hops, this is one not to be messed with. According to Tim it ··· Read more
Style
Double IPA
Strength
9.3%
Bitterness
150 IBU
Stockists

Frankie's Pizza, Hunter St, Sydney

Justin Lill Wines, Berry

Mogo Village Cellars, Mogo

HopDog BeerWorks

Rosebery Cellarbrations, Rosebery

Olinda Cellars, Olinda

Slowbeer

[Pumph

More stockists...

HopDog White Christmas

Tapped Wed Dec 19 2012
It's not just Bing Crosby dreaming of a White Christmas this year. Oh no, the crazy kids down at Nowra's HopDog have decided to bring a touch of the Northern Hemisphere Down Under for the festive season. And with snowflakes on a 30C day beyond all but Bond baddies from the 60s, they've decided to do it in the form of beer, specifically an Imperial Belgian Witbier. We were hoping to have a taste before popping this listing up but instead there's a bastard Fastway courier tucking into the bottles instead. ··· Read more
Style
Imperial Belgian Witbier
Strength
7.3%
Bitterness
35IBU
Stockists

Slowbeer

Others TBC

HopDog All Hallowed Ale

Tapped Mon Nov 5 2012
Whether you judge it by his brewery's name or on five minutes conversation with brewery founder Tim Thomas, it's pretty darn clear that this is a man who loves hops and loves to cram them into his beers. So it's rather bizarre that, here at Crafty Towers, our favourites from his range are those where hops aren't the focus: the Alluvial Peach, Hyper Hyper coffee beer, a barrel-aged spiced Belgian number we sampled at the brewery last year (which may actually have been a prior version of this) and ··· Read more
Style
Spiced Pumpkin Ale
Strength
7.5%
Stockists

Slowbeer

Olinda Cellars

HopDog BeerWorks

Others TBC

More stockists...

HopDog Alluvial Peach

Tapped Fri Mar 2 2012
A beer described by the brewer as "the elevator music of our beer line up compared to the arena rock spectaculars of the rest", this is a fruity number with quite a genesis. Made with 50kgs of fresh Araluen peaches per 100 litres of a simple Belgian wheat beer - "minus the orange peel and stuff" - then aged for 30 days in used French oak barrels. Look out for a hint of tartness in a smooth, sweet and peachy affair. ··· Read more
Style
Fruit beer

HopDog Ham on Rye

Tapped Sat Mar 3 2012
As the entries for The People's Pint have rather surprisingly shown, it seems plenty of Aussies like a bit of smoke in their beer. Certainly, that's the case with the HopDog family, as head brewer Tim explains: "The idea for the beer came from a visit to the Lowenbrau Keller in The Rocks in 2004 with my wife, Mrs HopDog, where we had Rauchenfels Stenbier and Schlenkerler Marzen. Wow! Smoke! Fell in love with them, and had to bring some of my own style to it." The result is the Ham on Rye, ··· Read more
Style
Smoked ale
Strength
4.7%

HopDog Black Sunshine

An oatmeal stout that makes up part of the HopDog year round range, the Black Sunshine is a deeply black beer that's all about the coffee and chocolate characters from its roasted malts. Sure, there's some hops in there too, but they're playing second fiddle to the dark side, with a hint of dark fruits in there too and a smooth, rich body delivered by the use of 15% oatmeal in the mash. ··· Read more
Style
Oatmeal Stout
Strength
4.8%
Bitterness
30 IBU

HopDog Pale

A Kiwi twist on the classic US pale ale style, HopDog's Pale uses a single NZ hop variety - and plenty of it - to create a highly aromatic beer that, as the name of the brewery suggests, is all about the hops, with a bigger bitterness than you'll find in most Aussie beers of its kind. ··· Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
Strength
5.0%
Bitterness
50 IBU

HopDog Midgee

Styles as a "South Coast Red Mild Ale", this is one of a small but growing number of lower alcohol beers from Aussie micros that don't skimp on flavour. There's plenty of rich malt character and a touch of Kiwi hops in a beer that goes some way to rescuing the reputation of light strength beers. ··· Read more
Style
Midstrength Red Ale
Strength
2.9%
Bitterness
30 IBU

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