Getting Merry On The Ferry

You come across 4 Pines beers in all parts of Australia these days, with the Northern Beaches brewery's reach even greater since it became part of the world's largest brewing company in September last year. Yet the brewery's home base has always been the Manly Brewpub where it all started out and the Northern Beaches area that surrounds it.

Pull up a pew on the brewpub balcony and you can watch ferries come and go from the terminal across the road. Harbour City Ferries has brought thousands of visitors to the brewpub over the past decade and this week has struck up a deal that means you can get hold of 4 Pines beers while en route too.

After winning a tender process that started around 18 months ago, 4 Pines is now running bars on the Narrabeen, Collaroy, Queenscliff and Freshwater ferries, meaning passengers can tuck into cans of Indian Summer Ale, Pale Ale, In Season IPA and Brookvale Union Ginger Beer between 4pm and 8pm or 9pm depending on the service. It's a coup for the brewery, with 4 Pines co-founder Jaron Mitchell pointing out that six million passengers travel on these ferries each year.

"It's huge," he says. "It's one of the biggest commuter ferry routes in the world. The ability to put our brand in front of quite literally millions and millions of people – not just from Australia, but also international visitors – is just massive.

"The Manly ferry would definitely be in the top five attractions in Sydney – it's iconic."

The move represents the latest partnership between local brewers and transport operators, with Singapore Airlines carrying beer from independent brewers BentSpoke, Green Beacon and Cheeky Monkey and Newstead supplying a beer brewed especially for Alliance Airlines in Queensland. Anyone travelling through Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne can also enjoy refreshment at Stomping Ground's Terminal 3½ pop-up bar.

Taken in conjunction with the prowess being made by small brewers in other areas, including partnerships in the worlds of sport and the arts, it's a sign that craft beer is continuing to break beyond the beer bubble and into the mainstream.

One of the new 4 Pines Ferry Bars on the Manly Ferry routes.

"What it says to me is that, like a lot of infrastructure globally, it's modernising," says Jaron. "Even with something like the ferries, you can't rest on your laurels. What does the modern consumer want? What does the modern consumer look for? It's a signal to me about where the world is going. 

"The world is so connected that maybe in years past the Manly Ferry was compared to the CityCat in Brisbane; now it gets compared to the Staten Island Ferry in New York. You have to be at the top of the game globally. It's a really good sign of the times."

What this means for passengers on the ferry is bars featuring the raw material feel familiar to those who've visited the brewpub, offering food and soft drinks throughout the day as well as beer in the late afternoon and evening.

Harbour City Ferries managing director Martin Kearney said the move was about improving customer service and offering something more.

"The move brings Sydney into line with ferry services around the world and Australia, offering a bar service," he said, adding that extra security would be in place at peak times. "Sydney ferries are popular with tourists and I am certain the prospect of an iconic Australian beer such as 4 Pines will appeal to many of them."

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