Shark Island Brewing Co is proud to be part of the Sutherland Shire.
From the fact the brewery itself is named after a reef break just off Cronulla, to the naming of some of its beers – you can hunt down the surf spots that inspired Voodoo IPA, The Point Dark Ale, and Shiprock Hazy Pale Ale – this is a brewery that never stops boasting about the place it calls home.
Back when the founders worked in booze retail in the area, they realised the Shire was itching for a local brewery with its finger on the pulse. A brewery that’d make beers for the coastal lifestyle, but would also tinker with classic and modern styles to challenge people’s tastes. A brewery where people had fun making beer, and invited others to have fun drinking and talking about it.
So in 2015, they started Shark Island Brewing. And when this little brewery opened its roller door, the locals recognised right away that this was what they’d been waiting for; not a big shiny corporation, but a couple of knockabout blokes who loved nothing more than a day at the beach, some rockin’ tunes, and a cold beer in hand.
Right from the start, the founders threw themselves headlong into their community, looking to local businesses for everything from the labels on their beers to the treatment of their waste water, and even donating the spent grain to Menai High School. (Don’t worry – it’s for the animals, not the kids.) And, right from the start, the punters were fiercely loyal to their very own watering hole.
Shark Island Brewing is now the longest running independent brewery in the Sutherland Shire. And when the crew look out at the landscape of good beer in the local area, and the kindred spirits who have opened nearby in the meantime, they can’t help but beam with pride at the way they’ve helped shape the beer culture in the Shire.
“Proud to be the original – the grandfathers!”
But while the journey may have given the gang a few grey hairs between them, Shark Island remains a place brimming with energy. When you rock up to the cellar door in Kirrawee you immediately feel part of the in-crowd as you step into an eclectic mix of second-hand furniture, an atmosphere of industrial grunge, and a sea of smiles greeting you from behind the bar.
With the whole brewing operation stretched out before your eyes, what you see is what you get. The larger stainless tanks house the high volume beers like their clean lager and the Australian Ale, which is Shark Island’s gateway to big flavour, while the smaller tanks allow space for co-founder and head brewer James (the one in the slideshow with the hearty beard) to play around with pet projects and one-offs.
In some ways, this is a brewery bursting at the seams, and the team is always thinking of what the next stage looks like. But the intimacy of Shark Island Brewing is part of its charm.
If you like down to earth people who are passionate about what they do; if you like food trucks and acoustic tunes on the weekends; if you like layers of decor that have built up organically over years; if you like filling your fridge with tinnies of your favourites, and filling growlers with whatever adventurous nano batch is going at the moment; if you like suggesting what the next small batch beer should be, and keeping an eye out to see if it makes the cut… then you’ll love Shark Island.