Conspiracy theories have long marched hand and hand with human history. Whenever impressive or outrageous feats take place, there’s likely to be people eager to offer their own hot take on what exactly went down.
And, as social media has made ever greater inroads into our everyday lives, conspiracies have managed to spread even further. Today, there’s no shortage of dark corners of the internet where groups form around discussion of pizza-based murder cults, fluoride, chem trails and the reptilian origin of many of the world’s leaders.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some forces conspiring for good; well, good beer anyway. That’s the case with CoConspirators Brewing Company, a plot dreamed up by two couples: Maggie and Deon Smit and Tim Martin and Jacqui Sacco.
Long before any of them considered brewing professionally, paramedics Maggie and Deon brewed fanatically – at home as part of the Melbourne homebrew club Merri Mashers. It was there they met future accomplices Tim and Jacqui and, despite all sharing a love of beer, in the early days the conversations were centred more around recipe development and hopping regimes than any thought of going pro.
That was until Deon and Maggie won a Merri Mashers competition and were invited to brew their IPA at Kooinda Brewery and Tim got the chance to brew one of his beers at the Clifton Hill Brewpub. Standing in bars and watching strangers buy the beers they’d made seemed enough to softly plant the seeds that a future in the professional beer world might not be a bad idea. Separately, and quietly, the two couples started having what must have been incredibly similar conversations about whether it was time to turn their love of brewing into something more serious.
As fate would have it, all four ended up realising they shared a similar goal and a scheme was hatched; if they were going to jump, they should all jump together. Decision made, in late 2016 the first CoConspirators kegs started rolling through the bar doors of Melbourne and it wasn’t long before bottles and cans started appearing too, each adorned by the artwork of Melbourne graphic designer, Clint Weaver, itself based around the brewing company’s clandestine theme.
Each release is brought to life as an underworld figure, from the Bookie Pale Ale, to New England IPA, The Matriarch, with those characters' tales found on the side of the cans. The core range is one that focuses mostly on hop forward styles, but the brewing operation’s regular limited releases have shown an affinity for yeast driven beers, sours and barrel ageing as well.
As a gypsy operation, Maggie, Deon, Tim and Jacqui have a number of other regular accomplices in the shape of the Victorian breweries that offer them space to keep the beer flowing.
That said, the idea of setting up a home of their own has featured heavily in their plotting and, at the start of 2020, the CoConspirators announced they were building a home in Brunswick. The brewpub is set to open on Victoria Street in 2021 with a focus on sustainability, collaborations and limited releases. The opening of the 195-capacity venue is preceded by a rebrand, with their new logo designed to represent the four owners coming together, the familial connection between the characters on their labels, mates coming together over a beer, and a little mystery too; X marks the spot, after all...
But, even as their operation evolves, CoConspirators’ raison d'être remains much as it was when they started: four people – two couples – conspiring to make good beer. No further conspiracies required here, thanks very much.