The Australian craft beer world is full of colourful characters. Few, however, are as colourful as Steve Henderson or, as he is known to everyone who's met him (which is a lot of people), Hendo. He's a unique blend of Tigger, Dr Alfred Necessiter and Kojak - a brewer with big ideas and often equally big beers who has been on a whistle stop journey through the industry since gaining his brewing spurs.
He's enjoyed spells at Prickly Moses, where soon after arriving he was creating experimental imperial versions of their core range and brewing The Raconteur: a love story about hops, Murray's, and Southern Bay, where he completely redesigned their range and released beers, such as the Hop Bazooka, that captured the attention of craft beer drinkers. And now he's struck out on his own under the name BrewCult, which he announced to the world with a beer called Hop Zone.
If you've noticed a thread throughout the previous paragraph - one that reads like hops, looks like hops, smells like hops and tastes like hops - you're on the right track: Hendo is a man who loves hops. Loves cramming them into his beers, loves trying out new varieties, simply loves the lupulin with a passion. Little wonder he signs off as BrewCult's "Director/Brewer/Hop Consumer"...
Yet he's no one trick pony, having introduced the Metalhead Porter while at Southern Bay and, for his second Brew Cult beer, hooking up with his brother, an artisan vinegar producer in Queensland, to create a Balsamic Porter for the 2013 Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular. It's a beer in keeping with past efforts to create a pepper steak beer in conjunction with two local beer bloggers and highlights the off kilter ethos that drives his brewing company and was followed in 2015 by Milk & Two Sugars, a sweet stout featuring heaps of coffee that took out the People's Choice title.
The unusual approach carries across to the BrewCult setup too. Hendo moved in with the boys at Cavalier Brewing soon after they took over their Derrimut site before moving across to Kaiju!'s brewery in early 2016, where he continues his gypsy ways. Indeed, he's doing them so well that, in May 2016, he took home the first ever Champion Gypsy Brewer title at the Australian International Beer Awards.