Cupitt Craft Brewers

There are few breweries in New South Wales where you’ll be so well rewarded for the simple act of arriving. Being on the outskirts of Ulladulla it can take a while to get here, wherever you’re coming from. You’ll be fully compensated for your journey.

As you approach along unpainted roads then hit the gravel driveway you’re greeted with a quite majestic scene, one that slopes gently downward before rolling out across undulating fields and farms. The scene is cut diagonally by a cerulean river and bookended by the Budawang Ranges. Everything else but the sky is green. This is all very dramatic considering you haven’t yet left the car park.

Cupitt’s is a family run business best known for its winery and restaurant. It’s actually considerably more than these things and has a great many layers to reveal, but you need to start somewhere. So, to the table.

The restaurant is upmarket and wildly popular. That means it can be noisy, but that's what happens when a lot of people are enjoying themselves in an enclosed space. The presentation of the meals is such that you’ll be reliving them through your Instagram account for days afterward. They’re rustic dishes, magnified by colour and garnish and sauce. No filter required. They encourage refinement when all you really want to do is shovel it down in a flurry that leaves your tablecloth splattered like a Jackson Pollock piece. It’s a compliment to the chefs.

But you don’t have to commit to napkins and table service. You can order from a casual menu and sit on the lawn. And you should. Memorable as the restaurant dining may be, it’s no match for removing your shoes to get the feeling of grass between your toes and a view of vines stretching out below you. If you’re visiting from the city it’s about now when you start to ponder whether country life might be for you. Ploughman’s and Pinot. Rivers and mountains. Selfies in the sunset.

Their winery is small but they work it hard. Built to handle ten tonnes of fruit they get through about a hundred during a vintage. A small percentage of the grapes are grown on site but most comes from the eminent wine regions of the country. In a given year it allows them to produce more than twenty different wines. The cave, where the wine rests over winter and beyond, is an attraction in itself, an old stone creamery now rammed with hogsheads, puncheons and barriques that arcs back beneath the restaurant. To view this as a cross section would show a layer of diners above, winemakers like miners toiling beneath them.

They care what happens underground here. They have to. The soil grows produce that provides for the restaurant, with almost every scrap of excess from the kitchen bound again for the ground, turned to compost to continue feeding the sprawling garden and resident fowl. Almost every scrap. Whey is no good – too acidic, affects the plant growth. Whey? Why, yes, they have a fromagerie. Cupitt’s makes its own cheese. This place has layers.

It has a brewery, too. It’s small, with a brew length of just 300 litres. Glorified homebrew, some would say. But, like the winery, they work with what they’ve got and they work it hard. And they get results.

They make a handful of beers you would expect, beers most breweries make because that’s what most people arriving at a bar like to drink: kolsch, pale ale, IPA, et al. They also make an English Mild. No one in Australia makes English Mild! If you want to see a grown adult from Albion shed a tear of longing for home, follow their face as they walk up to the bar and proffer their pennies for a pint on hand pull.

There are more beers. They use fresh local hops at the onset of autumn, make maltier beers in winter, fruity and hoppier beers in summer. They make a Smoked Porter because it’s delicious but also how would the fromagerie make a Smoked Porter cheese otherwise? They also blend beer and wine. Crush the grapes and add the juice to the wort – ferment them in the same vessel. This is genuinely experimental, pointy end beer nerd stuff. And yet for a wine crowd it’s perhaps familiar ground, the path of least resistance into the beer world. Co-fermented gateway beers.

Cupitt’s, should they wish, has an ability to scale this experimentation exponentially. Every harvest they have access to as much grape juice as they want and a stockpile of oak barrels greater than they could possibly use. They’re still learning how this fusion fully works, but a competition medal for the first of these beers at their first time of asking ought to give confidence that there’s plenty worth exploring in this realm.

The Cupitt family – aided in no small part by a clearly talented team – have shown they’re open to exploration, to adding more layers to this business. Most of their growth over more than a decade has been organic; trying new things, doing what they think is right, getting people though the door and giving them an experience. It’s an approach that’s turned a tiny winery into a bonafide, all-encompassing destination where you want for nothing. Except, perhaps, just to stay a little longer.

Nick Oscilowski

Name
Cupitt Craft Brewers
Address

58 Washburton Road
Ulladulla
NSW 2539

Phone
02 4455 7888
Website
Hours

Wed & Thur: 10am to 4pm
Fri & Sat: 10am to 10pm
Sun: 10am to 4pm

Tours

By appointment

Cupitt Craft Brewers Regulars

Cupitt Kolsch

When you arrive at Cupitt’s, retire to the grass embankment with the landscape sprawling out beneath your feet and a glass of this kolsch in hand, it takes on the feeling of an aperitif, a scene setter. There’s no doubt they make a lot of beers (and wines) with more outright flavour than this, but its approachability is its appeal. The fruity aromas and soft malts are delicate and elegant, its bitterness crisp and refreshing. This is the kind of clean but well balanced beer for occasions which… Read more
Style
Kolsch
ABV
4.8%

Cupitt Mosaic Session Ale

Want a little more flavour for a little less alcohol? Cupitt’s Mosaic Session Ale is the saviour for anyone that’s drawn the short straw in being the designated driver to – and especially from – the Ulladulla brewery. Thanks to its exclusive use of the punchy Mosaic hop it packs in plenty of tropical fruit character in the realm of passionfruit and papaya while the bitterness is low so it retains an easy-going appeal. … Read more
Style
Session IPA
ABV
4.4%

Cupitt Pale Ale

While lagers may make up the bulk of the nation’s beer consumption, within the “craft” or even “crafty” category there’s one style which is dominant: pale ale. And it’s not especially hard to understand why. They pack in loads of hop flavour, aren’t over the top in alcohol so you can knock back a few in a session and are basically just great to drink. And, importantly, they’re as friendly for newcomers to beer as they are appealing to the more advanced drinkers. So, when your brewery… Read more
Style
Pale Ale
ABV
5.2%

Cupitt IPA

Beer and wine are old foes. At Cupitt’s they’re great friends. They make both on site with an understanding that complementary flavours offer a more complete experience. For example, if you’re sitting in their restaurant staring down a cheese board you have the choice of what to pair where. Both beer and wine can playfully complete in fruits character and tannin and acid and structure, but wine doesn’t do bitterness and that makes an IPA something of a trump card. Cupitt’s IPA is based… Read more
Style
IPA
ABV
6.5%

Cupitt Craft Brewers Specials

Cupitt Craft Brewers Barrel Aged Imperial Stout 2018

Tapped August 8th, 2018
If Cupitt’s 2018 Barrel Aged Imperial Stout proves any one thing it’s that being the biggest and boldest isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to this style of beer. Conceived in 2017, this spent spent eleven months sitting, dwelling and developing inside old shiraz barrels before being bottled. Once you’ve selected a suitably salubrious occasion to chip your way through the thick (and rather fun) black wax cap, you’ll be met by a beer that shows off satisfying characters of cocoa,… Read more
Style
Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
ABV
8.0%

Cupitt Craft Brewers Co-Ferments: Arneis & Tempranillo

Tapped August 8th, 2018
In 2018, Cupitt began a kind of internal cultural exchange, combining its winemaking and brewing arms to create a couple of co-fermented libations to the mysterious deities of wild and mixed fermentation. The results are sort of wine and sort of beer but not quite either. One is the Arneis Co-Ferment. This was begun back in April by trucking in grapes from Orange to Ulladulla, where they were pressed in the Cupitt winery. A day into ferment the fruity mush was wheeled across to the brewery where… Read more
Style
Beer-Wine Hybrid
ABV
7.6% & 7.7%

Cupitt Mild

There may be plenty of parts of English culture and character that have carried on though generations from this country’s first convict imports, but a love for traditional English style ales isn’t one of them. The climate may have a lot to do with that because, honestly, most days a cool and crisp lager makes more sense and is often far more appealing than the prospect of a moderately warm malty ale. But there are still cool seasons, chilly evenings and a surprisingly strong niche audience for… Read more
Style
English Mild
ABV
4.4%
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