More than 18 months ago, a British expat not long arrived in Sydney got in touch with The Crafty Pint's main Sydney writer. Tim Hodge was launching a new beer site he'd built from the ground up. It was called Sydney Beer and was conceived with the intention of telling people about and commenting on the many things happening in and around his new home's craft beer scene.
Fishing around in the memory banks, we're pretty sure we said we'd like to feature the site in our semi-regular series focusing on the country's beer blogs once Sydney Beer had been up and running a while. Somewhere between then and now, we become convinced that we'd already done so, perhaps a by-product of Tim's success in building a site that's become part of the ever broader fabric that is beer in Sydney.
But it turns out we never did go back to Tim with the invite to join our Aussie Beer Blogs alumni. So now we are, with an overdue Q&A with Mr Sydney Beer.
NAME OF BLOG: SYDNEY BEER
When did you start Sydney beer?
I started work on the site in March 2015 and went live to the world in September 2015. There were six months of fiddling with website code.
Why did you start it?
A few reasons. I have a compulsion to write and it’s much easier to write about something fun. I was amazed by all the cool stuff happening in the Sydney beer scene and wanted to keep track of it and shout about it.
I also thought there was room for a hyper-local view of Sydney’s beer community that spoke to the industry and consumers alike.
What does your blog tend to focus on?
The intention is to document and celebrate good beer in Sydney, including the community of publicans, brewers and beer lovers who make it what it is. I also find time to write about some of the issues affecting the wider world of beer.
Why should people read it?
If you’re in Sydney, because we have such a great beer scene with a diversity of producers and venues. We need to shout about it more and support them. If you’re outside of Sydney, because you should come here and experience it.
What do you do when not drinking beer and writing about beer?
I work with websites, mostly in communications and content management. Otherwise, I still find time to kick around a spherical ball at the weekend.
What first got you into craft beer?
When I was younger (but definitely over 18) I was always searching for something that tasted better than Carling. In the UK that was typically “real ale”, with the odd Belgian import thrown in for good measure.
It wasn’t until I moved to Sydney, to a more metropolitan environment and with greater disposable income, that I had immediate access to a huge range of tasty beer on my doorstep.
What are your favourite blogs / sites / podcasts, beer or otherwise?
I’m always listening to podcasts. There’s too many to list but I have recommendations for a variety of subjects.
Within beer, I’ve been listening to Sessionable and Ale of a Time and reading The Crafty Pint for a while. Brews News (the podcast and the site) are great for industry news. I try to keep an eye on what’s happening in the US and the UK too. There are some excellent beer writers and podcasters out there. Anything niche and nerdy normally grabs my attention too.
What do you enjoy most about beer?
I bloody love drinking it. The sheer variety makes it constantly exciting.
Other than that, I have a fascination with beer’s role within our society and communities, with pub culture, and the loose concept of that warm, fuzzy, friendly feeling which other cultures verbalise better than us. See gemütlichkeit (easier written than said).
I love that we can intellectualise it but also treat it as a bit of a laugh.
Which Australian breweries impress you the most?
There are so many at the moment.
Within Sydney: Wayward for always hitting the spot with their beers, 4 Pines for combining a diverse range of beer with superb hospitality, and Wildflower for doing something truly unique in the city.
Outside of Sydney: Two Metre Tall for challenging people’s pre-conceptions of beer, Stone & Wood for defining a flavour profile, and Pirate Life for taking the market by the scruff of the neck.
What about overseas breweries?
That’s also way too difficult. I have great admiration for breweries like Brasserie Dupont or Sierra Nevada who have defined a particular style.
I have an affinity for a lot of English breweries, particularly if they’re from Yorkshire.
What's your favourite time and/or place to enjoy a beer?
Why choose one? A beer on a Friday night helps ease open the pressure valve. I’m a big fan of a beer with a simple weekend lunch. A beer with my dad at Christmas is always good too.
You’ve got three beers to convert someone to craft beer; what are they?
- Wayward Sourpuss [Winner of a trophy at last month's Australian International Beer Awards]
- Saison Dupont
- Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout
What are your hopes for beer in Australia?
That the market develops to truly support and sustain independent beer and that beer drinkers recognise and celebrate just how good Aussie beer is. I also hope it doesn’t become as intensely divisive as it does in parts of the US.
You can follow Tim's adventures in the Sydney beer scene here and check out past featured blogs here.