For most aspiring brewers, simply turning your beery dreams into commercial reality is effort enough. But Jason Harris and Craig Basford decided they were going to do more than just brew the beers they’d been concocting in their man shed for years: they wanted to bring others along with them.
So, more than a decade after they’d started making beer together in a rented farmer’s shed in the Barossa (complete with Scalextric set and a mechanics pit that allowed them to control fermentation temperatures), when Big Shed Brewing Concern became a reality it came with an invitation to their peers: if you’re looking for somewhere to brew, we’ve got the space for you.
Taking an approach similar to that of Cavalier in Melbourne’s west, they established their business in Adelaide's Royal Park as a form of communal brewery. Sure, they would brew their own beers on their 10 hectolitre system but the offer was there to other South Australian brewers looking for a home to rent some steel and use the brewery for their own means. The idea was to give something back to the wider home brewing community they were a part of (and, presumably, to help them start paying off the costs of the brewery).
Steadily, the Big Shed was filled with tenants, first and most notably the Mismatch Brewing Company, while slowly but surely Jason and Craig began establishing Big Shed as a brand in its own right. First up in early 2014 was the American brown ale FrankenBROWN, soon followed by the F-Yeah APA. Then, as the business continued to grow, in came brewers from elsewhere to help them improve their existing beers and develop new ones as they turned their focus onto the venue side of the business.
As of early 2015, that was fully up and running too, with the front half of their shed turned into a brewery bar that’s in keeping with the industrial location and feel. Built by their mates at Grand Kitchens, it features all manner of reclaimed materials, not least some timber that formerly made up part of the Adelaide Oval. It’s a place where guests can sample their beers, including single keg experiments, as well as those being brewed on site by others, with the six taps lining a bar right in front of the brewery.
They've since started taking their colourfully attired beers further and wider across the country, winning fans wherever they go, not least from stunts such as driving a keg of IPA through the night as soon as it was packaged to Bitter Phew in Sydney to be tapped "Fresh as Phuck".
The Big-ness keeps on getting biglier too following news in early 2018 that SA government funds were going towards a massive expansion that will see them open a second, larger facility.
Thanks to Matt King for supplying many of the above images