Helios Brewing

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out Helios Brewing has something to do with the sun.

Their logo is a glass of beer from which is emanating the light of the sun. Inside the brewery is a wall mural of the Greek sun god Helios riding a chariot in the sky, holding said glass of beer and the light of the sun. The brewery’s slogan gives a slightly more clear hint to the relationship with the sun: “Craft beer brewed with the power of the Aussie sun.”

There’s a burgeoning movement in the Australian craft beer scene for breweries to be more environmentally sustainable. It’s leading to more companies installing solar panels, donating spent grain to farmers, looking for ways to improve water efficiency and more.

But, at Helios Brewing, environmental sustainability isn’t an afterthought – it’s built into its very DNA. Founders Scott Shomer, Jayne Rutter and Tony Rutter are all career environmental scientists, and this joint background became foundational for Helios.

The design of the brewery came down to Scott, who met with manufacturers to discuss the customisation of equipment.

“When it came time to design a brewery, which is normally very energy, gas and water intensive, and produces a lot of waste, I said, ‘How can I make this super efficient? How can we use less water, use less electricity? How much electricity can we generate ourselves?’.”

These questions led to a myriad of clever solutions in their hardware and processes: a solar thermal system made up of 90 evacuated tubes on the roof provides 90°C-plus water, meaning no power is needed to heat the water at the beginning of the brewing process for the mash. This alone reduces the power required for each batch of beer by about 30 percent.

Then there are the 59 335w solar panels, which produce enough power under the Brisbane sun that Helios is able to export 40 percent of it back to the grid – but only after using as much of the surplus as possible to cool water in the cold liquor tank for greater efficiency in the heat exchange process later.

“In essence, the hot liquor tank and the cold liquor tank are batteries,” says Scott. “They’re storing excess energy from the PV system in the form of hot water and cold water 'batteries'. It’s nothing too earth shattering, but nobody else is doing it.”

But it doesn’t end with the solar power. There’s also the insane amount of insulation installed on their glycol system, keeping the precious cold safe from the Queensland heat. Then there’s the innovative ways they re-use clean water, hot water and cleaning solutions. And the wastewater treatment vessel they installed under the parking lot, not to mention the outlet they've located to compost their yeast to keep it out of the wastewater. (And yes, they give their spent grain to farmers, too.)

In short? Helios is a Lean Green Brewing Machine.

Now, if that were all they had going for them, we might give them some polite applause and go drink beer somewhere else. So it’s a good thing they brought in Charlie Hodgson to make seriously good beer.

After spending six years at Gage Roads and a further six at Mash Brewing, where he won Champion Australian Beer for the Copy Cat American IPA, Charlie made the move from WA to Brisbane to be head brewer. He describes himself as a malt-forward brewer, something you don’t hear too often in the current hop-heavy climate…

“Without malt, hops don’t have a pedestal,” he says. “They sit out there on their own. You can end up with a singular-dimensional beer that just doesn’t carry balance and structure.

“Layering your malts is something really cool. It’s about building that platform for your hops to sit up on. If you don’t give [malts] the due credit they’re worth, you’ll end up with a beer that’s lacking balance and complexity.”

Each of Helios’ three-dimensional, balanced, complex beers is depicted as a god or monster from Greek mythology. Some are obvious – Midas is the golden ale, Hades is the bittersweet chocolate stout, Zeus is the big ol’ double IPA with the two thunderbolts, Medusa is a wicked black IPA – while some of the special releases may test your rudimentary knowledge of ancient Greek mythology.

Heading to the brewery bar at Yeerongpilly is the best way to try these brews of the gods. You can go with a tasting paddle and offerings from whichever food truck is around, or get a growler filled from one of the eight taps.

And, of course, it doesn’t take much to get the owners or brewer chatting about their beers and sustainable practices, or to show you around. That’s the joy of the local brewery, right? Along with Slipstream down the road and Ballistic in Salisbury, Helios brings that joy to the area by the truckload.

“We get a lot of locals coming here, saying there’s been nothing here for aeons. They love having us as a threesome. A ménage à trois of breweries,” smirks Charlie.

Mick Wust

Name
Helios Brewing
Address

15 Palomar Road
Yeerongpilly
QLD 4105

Phone
(07) 3392 9739
Website
Hours

Thursday: 4pm to 9pm
Friday and Saturday: 12pm to 9pm
And open for growler fills through the week

Tours

By appointment

Current Crafty Cabal offers

Half Price Paddle at Helios Brewing

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Helios Brewing Regulars

Helios Brewing Zeus' Thunderbolt Double IPA

The scene: a rocky plain, where a musclebound Zeus stands, twin thunderbolts in hand, the scorched ground still smoking beneath his feet. In the voice of every action movie hero, he drawls: “I came here to blow people’s minds, and to procreate with human women… and I'm all out of human women.” It may not come as a surprise that this double IPA’s a heavyweight. The thick body and big flavours go hand in hand. Sweet and resinous and a little fruity, Zeus is almost bordering on barleywine… Read more
Style
Double IPA
ABV
9.0%

Helios Brewing Athena's Courage Scottish Ale

A beer endorsed by the goddess of wisdom? You’d be foolish to go past it. Athena holds a rich copper, almost rusty red colour. The toffee notes bring that nostalgic sense memory of toffee sticking to the roof of your mouth, causing your mouth to water. But unlike the toffee from that strange, shared-with-everyone memory, this beer also has a savoury dimension to it, lent by the touch of peat that hangs around at the edge of your perception. The depths of Athena’s wisdom reveal a significant dryness… Read more
Style
Scotch Ale
ABV
5.4%

Helios Brewing Goddess Ravishing Red Rye

For some reason, Aphrodite is usually portrayed as having blonde hair. (We’ve probably got you to blame for that, Botticelli.) But perhaps she’s really been a redhead all along. When designing the recipe for Goddess, the brewer began with a recipe for an Irish export red ale, then added a little rye into the mix, which introduced some spice to offset the malt sweetness. He also changed the hop schedule to include Australian hop additions all the way through the process, raising the aromas and… Read more
Style
Red Rye Ale
ABV
5.7%

Helios Brewing Hades' Bitter Chocolate Stout

When someone walks into Helios and asks what light beers they have, invariably the bar staff ask: “Do you want light in flavour, or light in alcohol?” Because, at 4.2 percent ABV, Hades is Helios’ second lowest alcohol beer, but is by no means light flavoured. It contains vanilla beans and crushed cacao nibs, and both flavours come through clearly. This beer may look to be as dark as the River Styx, but hold it up to the light and you'll see a tinge of red, like the glowing ember eyes of restless… Read more
Style
Chocolate Vanilla Stout
ABV
5.0%

Helios Brewing Poseidon Pale Ale

Poseidon shines a pale gold, like the morning sun glinting off the surface of the water. Fragrant floral and fruity notes lead to citrus and tropical notes on the palate, with sweet malt undertones and a solid bitterness. This American pale ale is one that retains the hop content typical of such beers, but has a higher malt body to match the bitterness. While each of the other decal graphics of Helios’ beers only display the character’s torso and above, the Poseidon decal is a little different.… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
ABV
5.3%

Helios Brewing Midas Golden Ale

The founders of Helios say: “We are firm believers in not brewing the ordinary. Yes, we’ll do a mid-strength for Brisbane… but it’ll be interesting.” A lot of people associate golden ale with a commercially brewed beer with little flavour. But Midas offers a gentle honey aroma, malt sweetness, and a surprisingly punchy bitterness from the Australian and New Zealand hops, which breaks through the malt and keeps your attention. This is the Helios beer that head brewer Charlie Hodgson is most… Read more
Style
Golden Ale
ABV
3.8%

Helios Brewing Specials

Helios Brewing Medusa Black IPA

Tapped July 31st, 2018
Medusa was said to be a terrifying creature with snakes in place of hair, instilling dread in any heretofore brave hero to come across her. But not many of us are brave heroes, so we have nothing to worry about. Though it’s called a black IPA, this brew shows up more dark brown, letting through some reddish light around the edges. The citrus and pine aromas tempt you, and the malt base offers up biscuit and some coffee at the beginning, luring you in. By the time you’ve really looked Medusa in… Read more
Style
Black IPA
ABV
5.8%

Helios Brewing Xenia Belgian Golden Ale

Tapped July 31st, 2018
The ancient Greeks had a concept that hospitality should be shown to any stranger, in case it turned out to be a god in disguise. If you were kind to them, imagine the gifts they could bestow upon you! This Belgian blonde, brewed with Munich malt and Loral hops, would be a fitting gift. While it doesn’t look like an average blonde – it’s an interestingly rich orange colour – it carries many of the traditional characters you’d expect. The esters come through not only as banana, but as sweet… Read more
Style
Belgian Golden Ale
ABV
6.5%

Helios Brewing Kronos Big Breakfast Stout

Tapped July 12th, 2018
Kronos is the king of the Titans, father of Zeus and a bunch of other gods, and bigger and badder than the lot of them. He overthrew his father, ate his children and still had time to have a beer named after him. It’s labelled a "big breakfast stout", but this monster would suffice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The head is a dense, tan foam strong enough to form the foundations of the earth. At 79 EBC, Kronos is the blackest of the black, allowing no light to pass through (which seems… Read more
Style
Imperial Stout
ABV
11.0%
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