When you hear the word “nomad”, what do you think of? A nomadic tribe wandering across a desert with a caravan of camels in tow? Grey nomads crossing the Nullarbor in a caravan, collecting souvenir teaspoons along the way? Or an independent brewery that was conceived in Italy, has a head brewer from America, and brews all kinds of styles of beer from its home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches?
Obviously our mind goes to the latter; after all, this isn’t The Crafty Camel or The Crafty Caravan.
While many craft breweries begin with a passionate homebrewer, Nomad begun with a couple of Aussie expats in Italy who were distributing Italian wine to Australia. Johnny and Kerrie Latta went from distributing wine, to distributing wine and beer, to partnering with Leonardo di Vicenzo of Italy’s Birra del Borgo to open a brewery in Australia’s thriving beer scene.
Johnny and Kerrie moved back to Australia to run the Northern Beaches brewery, and they brought a head brewer with them: Brooks Caretta, who’d moved from the US to Italy for a brewing apprenticeship, then taken a head brewing role in New York, then one in Rome, before finally joining the team in sunny Brookvale.
If it wasn’t obvious before where the name “Nomad” came from, hopefully it is now. At a time when the good beer revolution had Aussies wide-eyed and hungry for what the rest of the world had to offer, Nomad brought it. Every beer they made had revved-up flavours - their starting lineup included an American style IPA with a native Australian bush tucker twist, and a saison with wattle seed, Tasmanian pepper and locally roasted coffee, when most people still had no clue what a regular saison was. And when they decided to add a more sessionable beer, they didn’t turn to a pale lager, but to a salt ‘n’ pepper gose, into which they put local seawater and Tasmanian pepper.
As you might expect, Nomad’s beers proved polarising at the beginning. Not everyone is sure what to do with a seawater beer or a say-zon. But the beer scene in Australia keeps growing and evolving, and so do Nomad. Consumers are appreciating a broader spectrum of flavours and drinking experiences than ever before, so Nomad are able to keep playing around with hybrid beers, interesting native ingredients and new takes on classic styles. There’s now also a place for mid-strengths and delicately hopped beers on the shelf alongside palate-blasting IIPAs and funky farmhouse ales, allowing the brewers to explore that space as well.
Indeed, Nomad have become one of the more versatile breweries out there, seeming to have something for everyone. While they periodically return to the question: “Should we specialise?”, they always reach the answer: “That’s not who we are.”
They’re nomads, and nomads, by nature, don’t stay still. Their dreams and inspirations come from near and far, from the coastal suburb where they rest their heads to distant lands that give an unfamiliar thrill.
If you find you have the same affliction as the Nomad team - whether you call it itchy feet, the travel bug, or Wanderlust - it might be worth dropping into the Transit Lounge (read: Nomad’s cellar door bar) in Brookvale for a visit. Sixteen taps and a handful of fridges give you access to a broad range of Nomad’s globetrotting-inspired beers as well as beers from all around the world.
Thanks to their far-reaching distribution company, Nomad’s fridges are full of beers from US breweries like Alesmith and Jester King, UK breweries like Buxton and Magic Rock, plus other European breweries including To Øl, De Ranke, and Brewfist, and right back to our nearest neighbour in the shape of New Zealand breweries Yeastie Boys and Deep Creek. As an added bonus, this selection of takeaway beers - which surely ranks among the best of any brewery you’ll walk into in Australia - includes a bunch of collaborations with the Nomads themselves.
Whether on a stool at the bar or a wooden lounge chair out in the beer garden; whether drinking a beer brewed metres from where you’re sitting, or thousands of kilometres away; whether enjoying a Nomad creation at the source, or exploring vividly designed tinnies at your kitchen table… with Nomad, you can simultaneously travel the world and indulge in the comforts of home.