The story of the Little Bang Brewing Co started in Fil Kemp’s back shed. The beer he brewed with Ryan Davidson was the centrepiece, their little baby, and the Adelaide drinkers who chanced upon those small, early batches loved it.
Moving into a bigger venue in the Adelaide suburb of Stepney in 2015, the beers still spoke for themselves and multiplied in number, like mogwai caught in a sudden spring storm, and the Little Bang crew worked on developing a culture, a loyal following.
Now, having outgrown a second home in just a few years, the show is shifting a five minute walk around the corner into an even bigger building, where the marriage can be fully consummated, as they look to perfect their combination of beers and culture under one expansive roof.
The latest move, like the previous one, has been driven for the most part by constantly running out of beer (OK, so rubbing against each other in Fil's shed was a driver last time around too) and a desire to have more space in which to pour beers for their growing band of followers. Life at their current venue in Union Street had come to resemble a technical game of Tetris (a version of Kegtris © Phil Cook), as each week they would have to rearrange their brewing equipment in order to create space for the weekend drinkers.
“Everything that evolved in Union Street, everything we learnt over there and what people really love about it, we want to maximise here and design it from the ground up to be perfect,” says Ryan.
“We want to keep the Union Street feel, but be less shit,” adds Fil, with a poet's flourish.
“The general feel of it was, we moved into Union Street with a wholesale plan – to be a production brewery – and then the retail just happened around us," says Ryan. "So many people just kept coming and coming, so we re-built the whole business around that, but it was always built for wholesale.
"This is the opportunity right now, now that we really know what Little Bang is, what Little Bang’s culture is, and we have a really good idea of it.
"I feel like our current setup is only going to be cute for so long. Union Street is cold in winter, it is hot in summer, it’s pokey and, yes, it is adorable and it is very us but we want to build something that is fucking majestic and really open it up to everyone.
“In Fil’s shed, we were just having a laugh and seeing what we could get away with, which happened to be plenty apparently. Then Union Street was really going out on a limb."
Armed with the knowledge that going out on a limb (or one of Galactopus' many tentacles) is a viable modus operandi, the new space they're crafting into Little Bang III is a vast industrial shed – 1000 square metres as opposed to the 180 at Union Street – that needed a lot of work to ensure it was brewery ready. To assist on the re-fit, plumber Simon Taylor (known in SA for helping out with many new brewery builds) has been called in to help install gas lines, drains, water pipes, sewerage and grease arrestors.
“I helped to design a system specific for a brewery and specific for this very premise," Simon says. "This place has 600 metres of piping hiding underneath and at multiple depths."
“Under this concrete here is a symphony of pipes,” says Ryan.
As well as stepping up in size, the team plans to take the brewery experience to the next level too.
With more space, they're investing in more equipment, with plans including their own canning line. One side of the shed will be lined with tanks, brewhouse and canning line; on the other, guests will eat and drink, as they're building a bar and a commercial kitchen. Food will be kept simple at the start, with the potential to partner with a local food business initially then bring in a chef once they are settled in.
Add to that a barrel room at the back, with a long table in the centre they'll be using for special events and functions. Then there's a mezzanine floor with a function space and additional seating on top, with the bar below serving up the beery goods. The couches, pool table and video games will make the trek from the current brewery; the dartboard, however, is being cast asunder.
“No one can hit it," says Fil. "Maybe if it was floating in mid-air. Seriously, someone managed to get a dart in the door frame, which is about two metres away from the board.”
As for when this will all come to fruition, there's a very loose target of “summer”. Whenever it is, we're sure they'll be opening with a bang (I'll get me coat...).
About the author: You can follow Matt King on multiple social media platforms, including via his blog The Craft Beer King, or by following the CraftyPintSA Twitter account.