“There seems to be a growing inclination in Australia to mispronounce the name Jervis Bay. May I please assure you that the correct pronunciation of this word is Jervis and not Jarvis.” - Mr Jervis Manton, 1928.
With that out of the way, welcome to Jervis Bay Brewing, the brewery that makes a great place even better.
The Shoalhaven region that Jervis Bay sits within has a blossoming culture of local growers, producers and artisans, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that four strangers could meet and bond over the desire to start a brewery. Ben grew up in the area; Christian, Oisín and Paul were caught in the gravitational pull of this gorgeous part of the world, hailing from as close as the Inner West of Sydney and as far as Northern Ireland. The result of this newfound friendship? A brewery and taproom on the outskirts of the suburb of Huskisson.
It’s a relaxing sanctuary in the middle of an industrial estate. From the moment you arrive, the beer garden greets you like a backyard birthday party: picnic benches shaded by big umbrellas, scattered plants and strings of festoon lights for decoration, and a fire pit for chilly evenings. Between punters sipping at tasting paddles, dogs lazing in the sun, and kids climbing on the play equipment, it’s clear that everyone’s having a good time.
Step inside the airy warehouse and you’ll see that the brick and corrugated iron has been softened with timber, bamboo and hanging ferns, bringing a taste of the natural world into the industrial space.
The bar sits front and centre: first you see the Australian native timber slats; then you see the stained glass picturing the giant cuttlefish that live in the bay; then your eyes land on the ten beer taps emerging from subway tile splashback. It’s here that Jervis Bay Brewing showcases both their regular lineup – from the malty Beacon Lager to the citrusy and sessionable Bright Idea XPA – and their seasonal releases.
With locals and tourists alike churning through plenty of beer, head brewer Oisín Sweeney gets to play with plenty of recipes. Depending on when you’re around, you might get a hazy, red, or black IPA; a hoppy German ale, a Dunkelweizen, or a raspberry wheat beer; a mid-strength mild or a smooth oatmeal stout.
While a certain amount of beer has always made it into cans that's set to ramp up significantly following a major brewery expansion, meaning beer lovers nationally – and in time internationally – will find them appearing in bottleshops near them too. Aided in part by a $600,000 state government grant, they're set to start brewing from a larger system across the road from their brewpub in early 2022.
The new brewhouse will allow them to further enhance their sustainable approach too, via a world-first commercial brewery partnership with SwitcH2, which has developed technology that helps brewers turn wastewater into hydrogen.
It's in keeping with Jervis Bay's ethos around serving the local community they’re a part of, and protecting the natural environment they love so much. At the original brewery, you’ll spy sustainable bamboo, as well as furniture and signs made from reclaimed timber. And, if you look a little closer, you’ll notice the solar panels on the roof, the fundraising for a different charity every month, the sponsoring of local sports teams, and the information nights run for local environmental causes.
This approach grows out of the founders’ love of the local area. The four realised right from the beginning they shared a deeper drive than just wanting to make good beer – they all wanted to give back. After all, three of them started a new life there because they knew how special it was, and Ben, the long term local, decided to never leave. And when the people who live in the area supported the brewery from day one – crucial for a brewery that opened amid bushfires and a pandemic – the four founders knew they’d made the right decision.
To cut a long story short, anyone who lives in the Shoalhaven region already knows about Jervis Bay Brewing; they don’t need to be told twice. But for those who live a few hours away in Sydney, or Canberra, or further afield…
Come for the bay. Stay for the beer.