Alice Springs Brewing Co

Alice Springs might be a small and isolated town, even by Australia’s exacting standards, but as the gateway to the Red Centre it’s always possessed a unique appeal capable of luring people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life to stop in while enjoying an outback pilgrimage.

With Uluru a few hours to the southwest and awe-inspiring national parks and adventure-filled 4WD tracks in pretty much every direction north, south, east and west, it’s never short of visitors. Even when COVID-19 stopped the flow of international tourists, locals evading lockdowns and chasing dreams helped fill the gap.

That said, unlike many of Australia’s iconic destinations, it was never going to appear on a beer tourist’s to do list – unless you were the sort of of beer tourist who measured success by the number of places in which you’d ripped through a carton of Great Northern or XXXX Gold. That all changed, however, with the arrival of Alice Springs Brewing Co in 2018.

Leading the charge was Kyle Pearson, who grew up in Victoria but moved to Alice around a decade-and-a-half earlier for reasons as typically colourful as many who choose life there. He’d been playing venues across the Mornington Peninsula with a covers band when his fellow band members announced they were heading to Europe to tour with a thrash metal band for six months; unsure what to do next, a mate in Alice suggested he joined him, assuring him life there was a nonstop party.

The six months stay became permanent – other than 18 months in Ballarat – with the years prior to launching the brewing company spent running venues and working for CUB. Given he’d been homebrewing since before he was legally allowed to drink, it meant he had plenty of skills to bring to the brewery, which was brought to life with the support of mates and family.

The decision to introduce local beer to his adopted hometown came with challenges few fledgling breweries need to consider: the desert town's water quality, which these days is made beer worthy with an impressive reverse osmosis setup; eye-watering shipping rates; and the Northern Territory’s rather unique liquor licensing requirements among them.

But, if you’ve met Kyle, you’ll be aware his generous and fun-loving personality comes with a healthy dose of determination and ambition. Sure, bringing a new beer experience to a place in which craft taps appear in just a tiny number of venues might not be easy, but he was going to make it happen.

At first, the brewery focused solely on draught beer created on a 500 litre Braumeister (since augmented by a separate 500 litre Braumeister kettle), the vast majority of which was sold alongside pizzas through the brewery venue in the Star of Alice function centre to the south of the city centre. Aided by the support of a handful of venues plus the holiday parks and other tourist accommodation within walking distance, Kyle and the team steadily built an audience, over time developing the Centralian Ale as an approachable, affordable means of enticing mainstream drinkers away from bigger brands.

When the nationwide shutdown and closed international borders of 2020’s global pandemic hit, it just proved another challenge to overcome. Initially, the brewery effectively became a takeaway pizza joint, but the dire situation – at one point, there was just $1,000 left in the kitty – prompted them to push into packaged beer, which allowed them to better show off the colourful branding designed by Jessie Jungalwalla of Craft Instinct, who Kyle knew from school.

The turbulent global situation brought benefits too. Having decided to employ a head brewer at the start of 2021 – not least as he’d taken over Monte’s Ale House as well as the function space adjacent to the brewery – Kyle landed Jum Ryan, an ex-Little Creatures brewer not long returned to Australia, whose dreams of starting a brewing company in Myanmar had been scuppered by that country’s military coup.

While some of the original recipes developed by Kyle and co-founder / original brewer Brian Young remain untouched, such as the chocolaty yet dry core range Stout, others received a Little finessing. At time of writing, the brewery had a core range of six, with the aforementioned Centralian Ale and Stout joined by Territory Mid (a collab with fellow NT breweries Beaver and Purple Mango, and the sort of 3.5 percent ABV lager that makes perfect sense in the Territory), the Galaxy-laden Specific Ale and a couple of other hoppy paler offerings, such as debut release Almost Summer.

While the beers don’t tend to nudge beyond 5 percent ABV – this is the desert, after all – you’ll always find limited releases pouring through the dozen taps (up from six when the venue first opened), which might feature a fruity IPA or a session strength sour. And, in a sign of changing tastes in Alice, the Centralian Ale isn’t likely to remain their biggest seller beyond 2021 as the more hop forward beers gain traction.

As for the space in which the beers (and a selection of wines, spirits and cocktails) are served, there’s picnic style tables and chairs out front, a mix of tall tables and stools, couches, and rows of long tables and benches inside leading to a foosball table and the brewery at the rear. You can also enjoy their beers at the Hideout restaurant next door, which is where you’ll find a tropical beer garden that hosts live music including, on occasion, head brewer Jum on acoustic guitar.

Since his arrival in early 2021, brewery output has increased significantly – the tricks and knowhow of someone with big brewery experience – yet not enough to satisfy demand. Hence the order for a 12 hectolitre brewhouse, bigger tanks, and a faster canning line.

Once in place, Kyle hopes to start sending beer into South Australia, making Alice Springs the first Territory brewery to distribute across state lines. At the same time, the Braumeisters will head north to Purple Mango Brewery & Café, located on the road from Darwin to Kakadu, to enable owners Adam and Kylie to expand their horizons too.

The NT: come for the fantastical landscapes and wondrous wildlife, refresh with a local beer.

Name
Alice Springs Brewing Co
Address

39 Palm Circuit
Alice Springs
NT 0873

Phone
(08) 7904 4007
Open Hours

Thursday: 3pm to late
Fri & Sat: midday to late
Sunday: midday to 8.30pm


This is a directory listing. To find out more, head here

Alice Springs Brewing Co Regulars

Alice Springs Brewing Co Centralian Ale

Kyle Pearson and his team might be on a mission to bring a different beer experience to the Red Centre, but they're not daft enough to ignore drinkers after something familiar. In many ways their flagship – even if other, craftier beers seem to be gaining in popularity, Centralian Ale is the affordable, don't-be-scared option. It sits in territory familiar for drinkers of their home state's bigger brand beers (likely called Draught or Bitter), with European hops and some Motueka adding an earthiness… Read more
Style
Aussie Ale
ABV
4.2%

Alice Springs Brewing Co Territory Mid

Alongside the Centralian Ale, the beer in the Alice Springs lineup most attuned to traditional drinking habits in the NT is this mid-strength lager that even takes the region's name. It's a collab with two of the state's other three breweries (at time of writing – there are more a-coming...), Beaver and Purple Mango, with each brewing to the same recipe and selling it under their own branding. Considering the challenges inherent in brewing a clean lager on a craft scale, let alone one at 3.5 percent… Read more
Style
Mid-Strength Lager
ABV
3.5%

Alice Springs Brewing Co Post Office Pale

One of a number of pale ales that form part of the Alice Springs year round lineup is the Post Office Pale, and it's one which takes inspiration from the classic American pale ales that helped drive the rise of craft beer globally. The old school approach pits some creamy caramel malts against Cascade and Centennial hops, with the latter providing some hop bite but, when it comes to aroma and flavour, tucked in side saddle with the malts rather than riding high. James Smith… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
ABV
4.2%

Alice Springs Brewing Co Batch #37 Pale Ale

The biggest beer in Alice Springs Brewing Co's core lineup is another of their pale ales, with Batch #37 weighing in at 5.4 percent ABV. The name comes from the beer's origins: the brewers took a look at what ingredients they had left in the brewery, worked out what they could make with them, and clearly liked the outcome. With Amarillo and Citra hops leading the way, there's more of everything compared to the beers of this ilk on tap at the venue: it's more viscous, aided by the residual hop oils,… Read more
Style
Pale Ale
ABV
5.4%

Alice Springs Brewing Co Stout

When you think of drinking beer in the desert, it's unlikely stout is going to pop into your head first. Yet this Stout has been around at the Red Centre's sole brewery since the start and you can pick it up in cans year round too. That said, this is no gnarly, roasty, bitter or big ABV stout, but an easy-drinker. There's plenty of chocolate from start to finish yet still dry, plus a touch of coffee and some figgy dark fruits too. You could argue it's as much a dark ale as a stout, which explains… Read more
Style
Stout
ABV
4.2%

Alice Springs Brewing Co Almost Summer

Alice Springs Brewing Co's debut release as this pale ale, Almost Summer, which is still around to this day as a permanent release. It's probably best described as a modern American pale ale, given there's still a distinct malt base and a decent bitterness, but instead of the old school hop character of the Post Office Pale, here it's honeydew and ripe stone fruit all the way. James Smith… Read more
Style
Pale Ale
ABV
4.6%

Alice Springs Brewing Co Specific Ale

Let's start with an aside. On the same day I was to first encounter Alice Springs' Specific Ale (at the Kings Canyon Resort bar), I spent the afternoon at an Aboriginal community's cultural tour. Leading the experience at Karrke was a lovely chap called Peter who said "pacific" in place of "specific". I'd not heard anyone make said switch in years, then, lo and behold, hours later I had a Specific Ale in my hands... The inspiration for the name is exactly what I'd heard from Peter… Read more
Style
Summer Ale
ABV
4.0%