Crafty Pint /
Anyone that has visited Hobart in the past year or two will be aware that the craft beer scene in the city has really come alive. Its annual Tasmanian International Beer Fest is one of the largest and most successful in Australia and in 2013 was augmented by the inaugural Beer Lovers Week, which saw a number of events take place at venues throughout the capital.
The Tasmanian microbrewing scene is also well established, with a number of brewers each with their own unique style and character. Yet, when you step outside of Hobart, it hasn’t been as easy to find places selling craft beer other than the breweries themselves. There are oases, such as the idyllic Weldborough Hotel in the northeast, which stocks beers and ciders from every local producer, and Crown Cellars in Launceston, plus some taps and decent bottle lists at the likes of Launceston’s Pizza Pub, Newstead Hotel, The Cock n Bull, Alchemy, Dickens Cider House, Mud Bar, Black Cow and Stillwater.
And now the city has a new dedicated craft beer venue. Former Crown Cellars head honcho Luke Dempsey opened Saint John Craft Beer on January 17 and already it’s going great guns.
“We offer six rotating taps: five beer and one cider,” says Luke, who is also the Northdown Craft Beer rep for the state. “We try to have a balance of styles and regions on at any one time. We also have a selection of approximately 100 bottled beers and ciders available to drink in or takeaway plus growler fills and a BYO food policy.
“We try to support as many local producers as possible. We make sure a third of our taps are local and always have a big range of local stuff in bottles.”
He reckons an uncertain local economy and the domination of Boags may have played a role in craft beer’s slow take up in Launceston but sees that changing.
“Launceston is a big country town at the end of the day, so things happen at a different pace around here,” he says. “Small businesses and licensed venues have been in decline so it’s probably not the best environment to want to start up as new business, especially in Boags heartland! A few local venues have dabbled in craft over the years but no one has really done it with enough gusto to change their offering completely.”
The city is home to Morrison Brewery, with Van Dieman just a few kilometres away in Evandale and Seven Sheds a slightly longer drive west towards Devonport in Railton. Dickens Cider, which produces some of the most unique craft ciders in the country, is also based there and has one of its two Cider Houses in Launceston too. What’s more, another new microbrewery is launching. Little Rivers from Scottsdale will be pouring its first beer at Saint John’s Craft Beer Rising event on February 22.
“The Tassie scene is buzzing along at the moment,” says Luke. “For such a small population we have so much great beer to choose from, and more on the way. I’m really looking forward to being one of the first to showcase the beers from our newest producer Little Rivers.
“It was a little disappointing to not have any [Tasmanian] beers in the Hottest 100 beers of 2013. Maybe our guys need to start knocking out some more IPAs. Hint hint!”
With most Tasmanian brewers selling almost all of their product within their home state it is perhaps unsurprising that the impact on the national poll was small, yet, as with many brewers in South Australia, if there is a voracious appetite for your beers close to home then why go to the trouble of seeking markets further afield? Certainly, Luke says the early enthusiasm for his new bar suggests there are plenty of locals eager to get their hands on as much good beer as possible.
“[It’s been going] really well. Very encouraging stuff,” he says. “The locals are really getting into it. It’s just what Launceston needed! So everyone keeps telling me…”
Saint John Craft Beer is at 133 St John Street, Launceston.
Crafty Pint /
The beer scene in Brisbane is unrecognisable from just a couple of years ago. First, a wave of new craft beer-supporting venues opened up to give locals an alternative, and more recently they have been followed by a spate of brand new breweries: Green Beacon, All Inn, Newstead, Fortitude/Noisy Minor, for example.
The city’s rising tide of craft beer awesomeness is set to peak next month with the arrival of the first Brewsvegas festival. A week-long cavalcade of events taking place at breweries and venues all across the city, it has been put together over the past few months by a committee drawn from a number of the city’s bars and breweries with the aim “to promote innovation, creativity and collaboration to help nurture and grow a local beer scene already replete with passionate contributors.”
Remarkably, for a festival in its first year, there will be 80 events taking place across 35 venues, a tally that exceeded all expectations. The program is now available online here; you can browse events and buy tickets for those events that require them too. Expect more events to be added between now and the festival kicking off on March 23.
In anticipation of the biggest week for craft beer in Brisbane, we posed a few questions to one of the festival’s founders, Andrew Sydes of Green Beacon Brewery.
Why did you create the festival?
We felt that Brisbane deserved a celebration of craft beer all to itself. I guess there are two reasons for that: firstly, the scene up here has really come of age in recent years and, secondly, as a result of that we are able to band together and create something like Brewsvegas as a grass roots movement. Exciting times we live in!
Who’s behind it?
The committee members hail from Archive, Bitter Suite, Green Beacon, Scratch Bar and Tipplers Tap.
What’s the goal?
We aim to raise the profile of good beer in Brisbane, to show off our unique culture and to celebrate our city’s best and brightest. We also all genuinely love seeing people fall in love with good beer.
Are you happy with the response for year one?
Very happy, with the number of venues keen to be involved, the different types of businesses taking part and the variety and creativity of the events in the lineup, Brisbane really has stepped up!
Why should people check it out?
This is an opportunity to see Brisbane’s bars, bottleshops and restaurants at their best, and a chance to see each venue’s take on their part in Brisbane’s craft beer culture. It’s not every week that you have such a bewildering array of beery delights to choose from.
What are you most excited about?
I’m pretty keen to get out to some venues I’ve never been to before, I guess we all are at Brewsvegas. Special mentions also go to Broga (bro yoga) with bacon sandwiches at The Mill and the braised camel shank burgers being offered up at Hoo Ha bar’s Aussie Hoo-ha-beque.
How would you describe the past two years for beer in Brisbane?
It’s been an explosion of sorts. A couple of years ago there were a handful of venues flying the craft banner in Brisbane, a couple of years before that the scene was far, far smaller again.
What we’ve seen is something of a snowball effect. Queensland has been slowest state on the Eastern seaboard to accept and embrace good beer; I guess that goes some way to explaining the flurry of openings and refocussing we’ve seen in the last two years.
Check out the Brewsvegas website for more. Then book your flights, of course.
Crafty Pint /
Way back in the depths of time (okay, 2012) the launch of the People’s Pint – a beer that we had invited the country to invent – was used to announce the Temple Brewing / Good Beer Week Scholarship. It invited young brewers from across Australia to apply for the chance to work at Sierra Nevada in California for two weeks, with the trip funded by East Brunswick’s Temple.
The winner was originally to have been announced some time ago but, due to the trials and tribulations experienced by Temple Brewing in the meantime, this was delayed. However, with Temple now up and running again, the selection process has been finalised and Carrie McLachlan has been chosen. More than 30 entries were received, with a panel from Good Beer Week, The Crafty Pint and Temple drawing up a shortlist from which Sierra Nevada Brewery Ambassador Steve Grossman selected the winner.
For Carrie, it continues a rather rapid ascent through the brewing world. It’s not that long ago that she was with friends in Oregon, working the ski fields, when she first fell for craft beer; soon afterwards, back in New Zealand, she saw a job going at Creatures' HQ in Fremantle and impressed head brewer Russell Gosling so much with her application that they flew her across the Tasman and began training her as a brewer.
Today she works at Little Creatures’ new brewery in Geelong, where she helped set up the packaging line. Prior to becoming a brewer, Carrie worked as a bike mechanic and ski field lift operator. And it was in part her outdoor lifestyle as well as her focus on environmentally conscious brewing that appealed to Sierra Nevada.
“Even though Carrie is relatively new to the craft brewing world she has a strong quest for knowledge, and exhibits great passion for both the art and science of craft,” says Steve Grossman.
“Her interest in sustainability and the desire to learn about Sierra Nevada’s practices in this arena, and her goal to adapt protocol and methodologies to her own brewery work was a strong factor in our decision to select Carrie for the Young Brewer’s program. We have all confidence that Carrie will continue her rapid development in her career as a Brewer and are very pleased that she will be joining us for this program.”
“I’m so excited,” she says of the impending trip to the US. “It’s one of the breweries that I’ve always wanted to see. They’re doing things that no one else is doing.
“I just want to get behind the scenes and see what they do on a day-to-day basis.”
Good Beer Week festival director James Smith added: “There was a fantastic field of applicants, of which a handful really stood out. In the end, we whittled the list down to three, with Carrie securing the deciding vote from Sierra Nevada. Now we look forward to her reporting back later in the year.”
The Good Beer Week 2014 festival programme will be launched on March 12. Look out for details of the second Good Beer Showcase in Melbourne that will act as the program launch – coming soon.
Crafty Pint /
There’s little more than two weeks now until the inaugural Craft Beer Rising. Already, more than 70 events have been registered by breweries and venues across the country, with each of the six states now represented. They range from simple offers to tap takeovers featuring a venue’s nearest and dearest breweries, from new beer launches two new brewery launches, and from citywide treasure hunts to the first ever Big Beer Bashes cricket match in St Kilda.
If tucking into delicious, locally brewed craft beer wasn’t enough incentive to take part in Craft Beer Rising, we thought we’d give you a little more encouragement. From today, if you’re out and about with your mates enjoying some quality local tipples – or doing something related to Aussie craft beer – then take a photo, post it on Instagram with the tag #CBR14 and it will appear here on the Craft Beer Rising website. The latest four photos will also appear on the homepage.
Come February 23, when the party is over for 2014, we will select the best and send prizes whizzing to the star photographer’s door. The usual Crafty Pint competition rules apply, which you can find elsewhere on this site. So get creative, get snapping and let’s see what you’ve got.
Also, if anyone is planning to celebrate the day by purchasing a Craft Beer Rising T-shirt, then you had best get a move on. They are available via Red Bubble here, and there is a manufacturing and delivery period of a few business days so if you want yours ready for February 22, time is ticking.
As for any venues or breweries that plan to take part but are yet to register their event, please do so as soon as possible. We have set no deadline on submissions, but we are keen to hit up the media across the country armed with the events ASAP, so the quicker you get yours up on the site the better. We have a few enquiries already, so wish to get another media release out at the very start of next week. Register here.
THE CRAFT BEER RISING MANIFESTO
Here are some ideas on how you could spend the day…
1. Head to your nearest brewery and share a beer with the brewer.
2. Go to your nearest participating venue pouring all Aussie beer for the day and join in the fun.
3. Take a trip down Memory Lane with the first Australian craft beer you ever enjoyed.
4. Gift a bottle or glass of your favourite Aussie craft beer to a mate who claims they don’t like beer.
5. If all your local venues sell crap beer, gift the landlord a bottle of your favourite Aussie craft beer and suggest they get with the program.
If you can do the above with a mate (or loads of mates) who are yet to be converted all the better – let’s spread the love!
Nick O /
In the past few years, as the Australian craft beer movement has grown upward, outward and onward in every direction, one of the significant contributors to that growth has been the opening of more craft breweries. As each one begins production it not only helps increase the crafty segment of the market share pie, but also helps to put good beer in places it’s seldom been: in front of people that haven’t experienced anything like it, thereby adding a bit more chitter to the beer chatter.
There’s another bonus side-effect of a new brewery too: it can also provide opportunities for more brewing companies to get off the ground. It’s all quite practical really; you’re just starting out, production might not be at its full capacity, so instead of having an empty tank why not let some eager brewer come in and utilise that tank space?
This type of relationship is great news for the beer drinker – a sort of symbiotic double-up bonus; one brewery, two (sometimes more) brewers and an increased diversity of beers being produced. Of late, New South Wales seems to be doing particularly well in this regard with brewing companies like The Grifter Brewing Co, Doctor’s Orders, Wayward, Dennis Beer Co and Grainfed flying the flag with some well made, interesting and increasingly popular brews. In Victoria, you’ll find a similar setup at Cavalier, where the likes of BrewCult, Monster Mash, Dainton Family Brewery and Killer Sprocket have been making beer.
The latest local to join this rank of brewers without breweries is Shenanigans Brewing, a project by Dan Beers and Sam Haldane. This weekend just gone, the duo sweated through Sydney’s heat and humidity to brew their first commercial batch. And quite appropriately they did it at the also very new Batch Brewing Co in Marrickville.
Brewing commercially isn’t something Dan and Sam have suddenly jumped into in order to catch the rising wave of interest in craft beer. They’ve had the idea in place for some time and all they really needed was the right luck and timing in finding a place to brew.
Says Sam: “We’ve actually had a license to brew for about a year, and I checked back and we’d filed the original tax application about two years ago.”
So while this is clearly still a good time in terms of them getting a beer out into the world, you could also say it’s not before time.
What does seem superbly well-timed is the beer they’ve brewed first up. Named ‘Griz’, it’s described as “a pale, sessionable [circa 4.5 per cent] farmhouse ale with a splash of new world hops and a hint of rye” and it’ll be out before the end of summer.
It’s a recipe they’ve developed together at home, back and forth over something approaching 20 different brews and over several years – even predating the idea to brew commercially. But however much you’re comfortable with brewing the recipe on your own kit – and they are indeed homebrewers of some local repute – it’s quite something else to scale it up to 1200 litres on a brewery you’re unfamiliar with.
The benefit of being in someone else’s brewery is that help is usually at hand, with Chris [Sidwa, Batch brewer] ensuring they hit all the right buttons and valves at the right time. It also no doubt helps that Sam is fresh off a brewing course undertaken in Davis, California – although he did point out that the Batch system is rather different and simpler (in a good way) than the one he spent time learning on.
So aside from taking time to become more familiar with the intricacies of full-scale brewing, what of future Shenanigans? Is the idea to produce more of the same beer, or is there a desire to try something else?
“It’s a bit of both,” says Sam (pictured in white top above; Dan in blue). “If people like this [Griz] we’ll probably keep brewing it, if not we’ll try something else. I’d like to brew an Imperial Black IPA and Dan’s been playing with a sour recipe.”
But that can wait. With brew number one now happily fermenting in the tank, the only thing they really need to focus on is celebrating.
To be amongst the first to try Shenanigans’ ‘Griz’, the official launch is on February 22nd at Spooning Goats as part of Craft Beer Rising.
To keep up-to-date with all the latest goings-on in the New South Wales beer and brewing world, follow Nick on Twitter.
Crafty Pint /
In next to no time, the Young Henrys crew has established itself as one of Australia’s most creative and exciting young breweries as well as ingratiating themselves with seemingly every drinker, venues, band and artist in and around their Newtown home. And now they’ve got a chance to go and woo the Brits. Rather appropriately for a brewery that includes a beer called Real Ale in its core range, they’ve been invited to travel to the UK to create a beer for the forthcoming J D Wetherspoons pub chain’s annual, nationwide Real Ale & Cider Festival.
Each year, the organisers invite a select band of international brewers to hook up with one of the UK’s biggest real ale producers. In the past, Brendan Varis from Feral has made the trip twice, while this time around Young Henrys co-founder and head brewer Richard Adamson (above) will be making his third trip, and will be joined in the UK by Kiwis the Yeastie Boys.
Richard will be hooking up with Banks Brewery in Wolverhampton to make a casque conditioned version of his Real Ale that will be sold in more than 900 of the pub chain’s venues across the UK.
He says: “I’m really looking forward to getting back in the Banks brewery with Simon [Yates] and making our Real Ale. It’s an honour to represent Australia with a beer that’s inspired by those classic English bitters and showcase our unique locally grown hops.
“It’s fantastic that the beer will because conditioned and served on traditional hand pump across the United Kingdom.”
The bay itself is based on a traditional English style but uses three Australian hop varieties – Galaxy, Ella (ormally Stella), and Topaz.
As for the Yeastie Boys, they will be brewing their offbeat Gunnamatta Earl Grey India Pale Ale at the Adnams Brewery in Southwold, Suffolk.
“Gunnamatta is our biggest selling beer but we’re brewing more of it in a single day there than we brew in an entire year here in New Zealand!” says Yeastie Boys’ brewer and creative director Stu McKinlay. “It’s a scale of brewing beyond anything we’d dream of and, with more than a million people visiting those pubs during that fortnight, it is undoubtedly the widest exposure we’ve ever received on that side of the world!=.”
Gunnamatta has developed a cult following in the Pacific Rim since its award winning release at 2012’s Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, where it was named Champion Beer. Despite the attention and awards that the beer has received, McKinlay was still shocked upon receiving the email from the organisers.
“I honestly thought the invite was a practical joke from one of my friends – to be flown to England, the home of both beer and tea, to brew our beer at one of my favourite breweries felt like the cliché of selling coal to Newcastle,“ he says. "People call us rockstar brewers and this really does feel like we’ve been invited to Glastonbury!”
As well as enjoying their busman’s holiday, the Yeastie Boys intend to use the trip to explore distribution possibilities into Europe.
“We’ve been approached by several distributors in Europe over the last two years but have held off exporting there as we concentrate on the New Zealand, Australia and existing Pacific Rim markets.” says their directive creator Sam Possenniskie. “We’re very conscious of growing in a way that suits what we want from this business.
“Demand for our beer locally has been difficult enough to keep on top of but this trip coincides perfectly with a significant increase in production capability coming online in the first quarter of 2014.”
Yeastie Boys also intend to look into the possibilities of contract brewing their regular beers (which also includes Pot Kettle Black and Digital IPA) in the United Kingdom or Belgium, for distribution across Europe, while on this trip.
The festival takes place from March 26 to April 10, which is handy as The Crafty Pint’s founder will be in the UK then too. Nice.