When you've gone from drinking slabs of VB to being named the best homebrewer in Australia in little more than the blink of an eyelid, there's a strong argument to be made for taking brewing seriously. So Kevin Hingston decided to do just that, joining forces with a couple of mates to launch Pact Beer in Canberra in June 2015.
Armed with the recipes that brought him success via the homebrew kit in his kitchen, the trio – Kevin, Transit Bar owner Marc Grainger and operations man and keg counter Tim Osbourne – set about winning over their hometown while also spreading Pact into other cities as quickly as possible. And, as the craft beer scene comes into its own in Canberra, they've found plenty of willing customers; when they launched none of the capital's breweries had much in the way of distribution or packaged beer, leaving the door open for their brightly-liveried core range to step in. At the time of writing, 80 percent of Pact's beers were being sold in their hometown.
The core four are beers that possess the sort of tight construction one imagines would have impressed homebrew judges and come with names that pay homage to where they were conceived: Mt Tennent Pale doffs its cap to the mountain and bushranger it was (inaccurately) named after; 42.2 Summer Ale takes its moniker from the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canberra.
But while those four beers, which are brewed at Hawkers in Melbourne, stay true to style, Kevin's fondness for experimentation is found elsewhere. Recipes first devised in his kitchen have since been brewed commercially at the likes of Prickly Moses in Victoria and St Peter's in Sydney, while there's been a flourishing relationship with fellow Canberrans Wig & Pen, with whom Pact collaborates regularly.
As of 2016, the threesome who made the pact to bring Kevin's beers to a wider audience were still working full time jobs, while roping in Kevin's wife for graphic design work and Tim's to assist with accounts. Presumably their next pact is to sell enough to focus on beer alone.