“In Greek mythology, Aether is the fifth element, which holds the universe together. Obviously… that’s beer.”
This is the idea that gave birth to Aether Brewing years ago, well before the brewery opened in 2016. Plenty has changed at Aether in the intervening years, including the core range and the can designs and even the location of the brewery itself. But something that’s never changed is the firm belief that beer, along with the passion and creativity that go into making it, is at the centre of the universe.
Aether rocks a core range that moves from an easy-drinking Mexican lager, through an XPA and all Aussie pale ale, to a West Coast IPA and a blackberry sour built for maximum impact - with a ginger beer and two flavourful seltzers to boot. These may not all be your standard core styles from an Australian brewery, but they show that Aether isn’t afraid to try a different path.
Owner Dave Ward has always been one to pour his passion and creativity into Aether’s beers - the brewery was one of the early adopters of NEIPAs in Australia, one of the first to use hemp in beer (and a IIPA at that), and once released a double Irish red ale with bone marrow (“It was a stupid beer,” says Dave). The brewing philosophy at Aether isn’t just ‘think outside the box’; it’s ‘I wonder what’ll happen if we throw the box into the brew’. Expect to see some weird and wacky flavours coming through in their special releases.
Of course, the best way to drink Aether’s beers is at the source: Aether HQ in Northgate, a down-to-earth brewery taproom where the people of the community come together. The staff know the locals by name - and know the dogs by name, for that matter - and treat them as friends. And that warm sense of belonging is something the locals have embraced. For some, it’s something they always wanted to have. For others it’s something they didn’t know they wanted.
But it’s not just those who live in the area who frequent Aether HQ. The brewery is on the train line, making it accessible to and from the city and a couple of nearby suburban breweries. Visitors from all around come for the beer and stay for the friendly vibes.
From the moment you step inside you can see a green wall, a hop mural, an array of wooden barrels and the hop cone lights glowing above the bar. But once you’ve grabbed a beer in a cool tasting glass (ribbed for your drinking pleasure), you’re free to wander further into the matte-black and stainless steel wonderland. Explore far enough and you’ll find the long tables nestled deep in the heart of the brewery, surrounded by towering brewing tanks on all sides. From here, safe from the bustle and busyness of life outside, you can appreciate the beer machine in all its glory. Depending on when you’re there, you may see the brewers swinging off valves, or may simply get to appreciate the 3000L brewhouse at rest, the tanks like so many dormant metal giants.
While Aether HQ will always be the brewery’s beating heart, Aether is partnering with FnB Collective to open a stylish venue closer to the city. Located in Woolloongabba’s South/City/SQ precinct, The Wright House will be pouring Aether beer through all twelve taps, seven days a week as of early 2023. Punters rejoice!
(As a side note, Aether brews exclusive beers for two of FnB Collective’s restaurants in the same precinct: an Italian lager for Sasso Italian and a rice lager with Peruvian purple corn for Casa Chow.)
The Aether team have always found ways to use their beer for the good of the community, but they saw their rebrand in 2022 as an opportunity to double down on supporting local artists. They launched what they’ve called the Artist Amplifier Initiative - an ongoing and open call for Australian artists to submit existing artworks to be considered for beer label designs. Even the design on the Aether core range beers will be rotated annually with new artworks. The result is a range of labels showing different art styles from different artists working in different mediums, all held together by Aether’s motto: ‘The Art of Craft.’
While the initiative focuses on the long-term support of the Australian arts community, it’s also designed to help drinkers broaden their horizons with each tinnie, providing information on each artwork and artist via QR codes on the labels. The art can act as a conversation starter: ‘Have you seen this can? Seen this art? Heard of this artist?’ It can be all too easy to get stuck in a conversational loop about work and the depressing things in the news. How much better would it be to talk about the beauty and meaning of Australian art?
The brew team at Aether are in constant pursuit of that elusive perfection in their beer. After all, beer holds the universe together, remember? But with these folk, it always comes back to people. They say beer’s only as good as the company you keep, and when you rub shoulders with the Aether team, you’re guaranteed good people.