The year is 2016: Kanye West has just dropped a new album, a Star Wars spinoff has landed in the cinemas and Dennis Beer Co is rolling batches of beer into pubs around Newcastle and Sydney. Equally, it could be today. Indeed, if you'd gone into hibernation two years ago and just woken up, you might wonder if anything had actually changed while you were gone.
But it has. Rather a lot, in fact. It seems Kanye quite likes Trump, his wife's become a campaigner for prison reform and Solo: A Star Wars Story’s lacklustre run at the cinema has caused many to wonder if Star Wars fatigue is finally setting in.
As for Dennis Beer Co, 2016 was the last time the brewing company released a beer. Prior to that, the gypsy brewing operation started by Michael Archer, Dan Kemp and Steve Moore had caused a stir among beer drinkers in their home state of New South Wales, thanks to beers such as Rocket Science, Galactic Ale and Red Planet. Their Mad Hatter IPA, a beer brewed with the addition of “secret” tea ingredients, even took out 20th place in the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll back in 2013.
Then they stopped. Until now.
“After close to a three year hiatus, we got the urge to get some beer back out there,” Michael says.
So what caused them to go quiet? And what prompted the return?
For the most part, the answer to the first question is that the place they were brewing stopped brewing. Dennis beers had been brewed at The Dalgety Brewing Company in the Snowy Mountains on their mate Dave Lowe’s 200 litre system. So, when Dave sold up and moved on, momentum was lost.
But then a special occasion saw that momentum return.
“Life’s busy but you get that bug back again,” Michael says. “It’s Dan’s 40th coming up and he wanted a keg or two of Mad Hatter for his birthday.”
While the original idea was to just make a batch of homebrew, once Michael, Dan and Steve sat down, the idea quickly grew like Alice after consuming an Eat Me cake. They contacted their mates at Yulli’s Brews, which had recently opened a brewery in Alexandria, and decided to return with 30 kegs of Mad Hatter instead.
“Once we got the go ahead and I could get the secret tea ingredients over to Yulli’s, we put out the word to a few places we sold to years ago and we have already sold half of it,” Michael says.
For now, it’s just planned to be a single batch; Michael says they want to keep going but the trio is unsure the beers will be released as regularly as they were in the past.
“It’s really changed it," he says of today's market, one vastly busier than the not-too-distant era of The Life of Pablo and Rogue One. "If you’re a big player and you’re starting up somewhere with tap space – that’s a way to do it.
“But if you’re just having a bit of fun launching some random things here and there, then it’s just those one or two keg orders that you tend to get and then something fresh and new goes on.”
Michael says it's not just a more crowded industry for small brewers but one that's much changed too.
“What’s the go with this New England IPA?"