When Mike Clarke first got in touch with The Crafty Pint, the subject of his email started along the lines of: “Not another Inner West brewery…” It was a tongue in cheek but somewhat frank appraisal of a section of Sydney where breweries and brewing companies have sprung up with such regularity that it would almost be more surprising to have a month go by without learning of a new one opening.
The contents of that first message suggested a search for a brewery site, a plan to start gypsy brewing and a hypothetical launch date. In other words, it was all promise with no proof. And, perhaps most audaciously, he was already advertising to hire a sales rep to sell a non-existent beer.
It turns out a lot can happen in a few weeks.
Having since caught up with Mike over a few beers, it turned out he had signed a lease for a more than 500 square metre site in Marrickville which, by mid to late 2017, should house a 20 hectolitre brewhouse, half a dozen 40 hectolitre fermenters, a canning line and a substantial beer garden. He had brewed his first two beers – a pale ale and double IPA, which are packaged in kegs and cans – at The Australian Brewery, while the third will be ready for the November launch. And he found his sales rep too.
Things are clearly going in the right direction for Mike, and fast, so before things get away on us any further, here he is to share the secrets of Sauce Brewing…
Who are you?
Mike Clarke, an ex IT/telco entrepreneur, turned brewer and beer entrepreneur.
Why do you brew?
To me, craft beer is all about variety and brewing allows me to experience and experiment with that variety. It also allows me to have beer on tap, at home, always.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
It’s actually a very boring story. One Saturday evening, I spent many hours in front of a computer looking into synonyms for “alcohol”. I liked “sauce” the moment I saw it and, after confirming that business names and domains were available, and that no one else was doing beer in the Sauce name, I registered everything on the spot. I think I finished about 1am and I’d had maybe eight beers. I still liked it when I was sober the next day, so Sauce was locked in.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
More a series of moments over a few years. I started home brewing in 2010, in part inspired by a girl I had just started dating who was homebrewing.
I started with the cans of goo from the homebrew shops, then started learning about all grain brewing and BIAB [Brew In A Bag] over the kitchen stovetop. It didn’t take long before we had to move house because we needed more room for my brewing. So now I have a 3V HERMS setup, temperature controlled fermentation, and a four tap keg system in the lounge room and I proudly call myself a massive beer nerd.
Last year, after 20 years in the IT&T game I was ready for my next challenge and ready to build something from scratch again. With craft beer being such a huge passion, it was almost a foregone conclusion that I’d open a brewery. Oh, and that girl I was dating? Married her.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Which fridge? I’ve got nine fridges at home and three at the office (that’s normal, right?). I’m a sucker for big IPAs so right now I’ve got Garage Project Pernicious Weed, Epic Lupulingus, and Resin Global Warmer in the office fridge. At home, I’ve got Coopers Vintage 2016 and a 2011 Fullers Vintage Ale in bottles, and on tap I’ve got American Pale Ale, Red Rye IPA, Oatmeal Stout and Flanders Red. I’m all about variety!
What would be your desert island beer?
I guess it would have to be something made from coconuts, wouldn’t it?
If your brewery was a band, what band would it be?
A band that caters to everyone.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Our BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) is to be one of the top ten Aussie craft breweries by volume. Ultimately that means you shouldn’t have to travel far to find some Sauce.
Where can people find your beers?
We’re focusing on craft beer bars and bottleshops in the Sydney area to begin with. Once we’ve bedded down the logistics side of things, we’ll expand up and down the coast, and eventually west. Our website will have a “Beer Locator” so our customers can search for bars and bottleshops in their area that have our beer. Good chance you’ll be able to buy off our website too.
We’ll also be at quite a few beer festivals around the place. We’ve locked in BeerFest Melbourne and, of course, we want to be involved in things like Good Beer Week and Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Mike will launching his Sauce beers at the Dove & Olive on November 11.
You can read more in our Who Brews?... series about up and coming brewers here.
About the author: Nick Oscilowski lives on the South Coast of New South Wales and writes about beer. He has nothing to complain about.