They say Australia is a land of opportunity. And the story behind Nomad Brewing, which released its first beers in August 2014, is bold proof of such a statement.
Early in 2013 Leonardo di Vicenzo, the founder of one of Italy's leading craft brewers, Birra del Borgo, was enticed to Australia by the owners of a young but fast-growing beer importer, Experience It. Founded by Sydneysiders Kerrie and Johnny Latta, who then lived in Italy and had started importing Italian wine to their home country before falling in love with their new home's flourishing craft beer industry, Experience It was keen to showcase one of their star brewers to the Australian market so brought him Down Under to host a series of events in several cities. Leo liked what he saw and returned a few months later for Melbourne’s Good Beer Week.
Still liking what he saw, but also seeing huge potential in Australia's nascent craft beer scene, an idea began hatching. Experience It had always planned to be more than just an importer and instead become an active member of the local craft beer community. After a throwaway comment one evening over dinner, the idea was realised when Leo and Experience It agreed to team up and launch what would become Nomad Brewing. With things in motion, they found an empty warehouse in Brookvale on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and installed a brewery almost identical to the one Leo had originally started in Italy.
The man they have at the helm of the brewhouse is Brooks Caretta, the nomad of the title and a young brewer who has enjoyed a quite incredible rise since turning up to Birra del Borgo for a short apprenticeship in 2009. After only a few months he received a call from Leo telling him of the Birreria / Eataly project he was launching in New York City with Dogfish Head and fellow Italian brewery Baladin – a project that would need a brewer. Brooks liked the idea and spent the coming months working at three highly respected craft breweries and enjoying the sort of fast-tracked education any young brewer would dream of. Soon after, lo and behold, he was no longer a home brewer but a head brewer in New York. When Eataly subsequently expanded to Rome, Brooks was brought over to launch the brewery and create the beer range there too. Thus, when the Australian adventure became a reality there was really only one person for the job.
Designed with the wider Nomad team, his beers share the same ethos Leo had pursued with Birra del Borgo: elegant and refined beers almost always featuring some unique or unusual local ingredient. The core Nomad range boasts an Aussie ale, session IPA, pale ale, IPA and saison and they’re joined roughly once a month by a new and generally more experimental beer, ranging in style from salt & pepper gose to grappa barrel aged strong ale. These limited edition brews are often made with a little help from their friends, and they have a great many of those across the brewing world thanks to the globetrotting of their founders; past collaborators have included Dogfish Head, Stone, Victory, Cigar City, Sixpoint, Beavertown, and plenty more.
After starting life as a production-only facility the brewery opened the doors to the Transit Lounge, a small cellar door where visitors can try the full range of Nomad beers, plus the occasional one from a visiting overseas brewer, and get takeaways from the wider Experience It distribution catalogue. There’s also a small beer garden encroaching on the car park where you can enjoy a few tasters, snacks and live music under the Northern Beaches’ sunshine. And one Sunday each month Nomad’s Italian heritage is put on show as the brewery gets transformed into a makeshift Roman-style osteria serving up a long lunch paired with fresh beer made on site.
Bringing a bit of European finesse and creativity to the Australian market in this way seems a fitting way to revel in the journey the Nomad team has taken to get to this point, via Italy via Australia via Italy via New York via Italy again... Or something like that!