For most breweries, the opening of a second venue is typically an opportunity to drastically increase production capacity and widen distribution. But Batch Brewing Company isn’t like most breweries. The motivation for their second site, which opened in Petersham in mid-2019, is completely the opposite.
Rather than going bigger, they’ve gone significantly smaller, scaling back production to a mere 350 litres per brew – around six or seven kegs. The resulting beers are available only at the second site, appropriately named Small Batch. It can be found hiding in a small warehouse behind Public House Petersham, with whom Batch have had a longstanding relationship.
Inside, the tiny fermenters along the exposed brick walls look like toy-sized versions of the ones in the original Marrickville brewery, but they serve a serious purpose. They’re there to allow the brewers to experiment and be creative, something that’s always been a part of the brewery’s ethos. For most of their existence, that’s been the case: the team have been able to produce a new beer on average every two weeks since opening in 2014. But, with increasing popularity – as with their Inner West brewery peers – they’ve found balancing the original ethos with the demands of the Marrickville production brewery to be a growing challenge.
The small production volume also allows for a quick turnaround. That’s useful for the brewers, who get to see how small changes to a recipe can affect the final beer, allowing them to tweak and improve new or existing recipes that can be scaled up in the original site. It’s an advantage for consumers, too, who get to provide feedback on the beers and potentially see those changes be implemented within days or weeks, rather than months – pending the nature of the suggestion, of course!
Beer geek or not, the ability to be part of the brewing process, even in a small way, is quite exciting. But, there’s other benefits to Small Batch as well, even for more casual punters. For instance, a variety of limited release brews can be made for events such as Oktoberfest or IPA Day, allowing drinkers to try a few different, freshly-brewed beers within the same theme. There’s also the opportunity for plenty of collaboration brews, something that became near impossible at the original site.
Then, there’s the benefits of the coexistence with Public House Petersham. Customers can bring beers from the brewery to the venue’s beer garden, and drinks from the venue, including wine and soft drink, can be brought in to the brewery. Small Batch also leverages permanent access to the kitchen, with a custom, snack-style menu designed to eat with beer, as well as the Public House’s regular offerings.
Despite the new digs, Small Batch has retained the charm of the original brewery, with plenty of exposed brick and wood, high stools, and an impressive, open view of where the magic happens. But, perhaps the most novel feature of Small Batch is the long shuffleboard that runs the length of the fridges. If the word “shuffleboard” is a mystery, then fear not – the bar staff are always eager to explain the simple rules.
In terms of takeaways, Small Batch has repurposed the original brewery’s single headed seamer, allowing for can fills on the spot. There’s also a collection of cans in the fridge, both from Small Batch and the Marrickville brewery. Then again, there should be no real rush to leave. The brewery and venue are both open late, meaning you can play shuffleboard and drink experimental brews well into the night.