It might sound like the set up to a punchline but it’s no joke: a comedian and a doctor walk into a brewery and … actually, who are we kidding? There has indeed been plenty of good humour and laughs along the way as the Killer Sprocket story has taken shape.
The brewing company was launched by Sean and Andrea Ryan back in 2013, with the former a standup comedian who worked in business management and the latter the doctor. The name Killer Sprocket stems from a program Sean designed while working his day job, a program that became so popular he spent most of his time dismantling it.
While taking down one Killer Sprocket, however, Sean and Andrea were working on building another, after homebrewing had become an obsession for the former after moving out of home.
The fledgling brewing company launched with their Amber Ale, a malt driven beer that stood out from the crowd at a time when many of Australia’s new breweries were looking to make their name by adding another pale beer to a sea of them. That left-of-centre flagship release was soon followed by one that was completely off the ledger: a peated ale called Bandit that was partially inspired by German Rauchbiers but different enough to likely upset the entire city of Bamberg.
The obsession, for Sean in particular, was always around bringing malt to the fore in their brewing. The backbone of beer was his passion as a homebrewer and one he was determined to bring to beer drinkers. It makes sense, after all: if you’re going to build a brewery, make sure you’re focused on brewing the beers you love to drink.
Andrea, on the other hand, turned her hand to the Killer Sprocket beers that might be equally off-centre but typically a little less malt-focused, beers such as a the gin-leaning American pale ale Hey Juniper.
Largely, in the early years, brewing took place at Cavalier in Melbourne’s western suburb of Derrimut where Killer Sprocket had their own fermentation tank that allowed the couple to brew whenever they needed to. They weren’t the only people making use of the space either; over time the likes of Two Birds, KAIJU!, Exit, Dainton, BrewCult, Wolf of the Willows, Bad Shepherd and a whole host of others have brewed beer on the Cavalier kit.
It’s an impressive lineup of talent, most of whom moved on to build homes of their own. For Killer Sprocket, that process took rather longer to materialise; instead, they followed a rather nomadic path as they brewed across Victoria.
That’s not to say they weren’t working towards finding a home, something they finally achieved in 2020 at a spot in Bayswater North. Located in an industrial block amid jet ski and garden supply stores, it’s primarily a production facility but there is a taproom for locals or beer tourists keen to sample beers by the tanks in which they took shape.
Having opened during a global pandemic, the brewery’s early months have been a little odd, but judged by the eager embrace they’ve enjoyed from locals heading in after work or during afternoon walks around the adjacent park to grab takeaways, it’s clear the suburb was ripe for a brewery to call its own.
Once set up, Sean and Andrea wasted no time putting their two debut beers, Amber and Bandit, through the 10-hectolitre Brewtique system. More new and returning beers have followed and, in a nice touch, they’ve completed the circle – inviting people to use their kit in the way they started out using Cavalier’s.
A comedian and a doctor walk into a brewery and, seven years later, end up with one of their own isn’t much of a joke. But we’re pretty sure the Ryans and their Bayswater North regulars are happy with the punchline.