Given they go by the name Bracket Brewing, you might expect this Sydney brewery's moniker to stem from a piece of equipment, maybe something used to keep a homebrewing setup cobbled together. You'd be wrong, however. You should instead be looking to the undergrowth.
As father-son duo Mark and Mike Meletopoulo were setting up their brewery they spent some time growing the mushroom variety turkey tail in spent grain (for a mental image of that this type of fungi looks like, imagine what grows from a long dead bit of wood in a forest) and, when they discovered it was a type of bracket fungus, the name stuck.
“We’re not superheroes, we don’t have a fancy origin story,” Mike says, laughing.
Opening during the final weekend of August in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Alexandria, unlike most of the country's breweries the Bracket Brewing crew have no experience of what operating a brewery looks in a world not faced with a pandemic. But Mike says, despite having to keep their customers apart while also letting them enjoy themselves, they've been welcomed warmly by their local community.
“We’ve only been open [a few] weekends now and we’ve had some people in three or four weekends; each time with a different group of mates,” he says.
The brewery features both a ten hectolitre brewhouse and a pilot system a fifth of the size, with the focus primarily on keeping their six taps filled with new beers.
“We hope to be putting new beer on every week and if we have a few local pubs that take our product then [our size can] facilitate [that too],” Mike says.
“Yes, there will probably always be a West Coast IPA on, but it wont be the same recipe every time.”
A little more than a month after they opened, we asked Mike and Mark to tell us a bit more for our ongoing Who Brews...? series.
Who are you?
Mike: I’ve worked in the industry for a few years now, started out slinging beer at Beer Cartel and had a short stint at Flat Rock Brew Café, before moving to Scotland where I started my masters in Brewing & Distilling [and worked] at Stewart Brewing and Edinburgh Beer Factory.
I moved back to Sydney and took a job at Batch Brewing Company, then moved into distilling for Archie Rose. Working at so many places made setting up our brewery much easier than if we went in blind; you really learn where the money should be spent on a tight budget
After I left of the UK, the homebrew that used to flow freely dried up for my old man and he decided he’d try his hand at it. Turns out he was like a duck to water producing a pretty colourful range of beers for him and his mates to enjoy.
Pre-COVID, Mark was a pilot but, like a lot of people, it’s impacted his work pretty heavily which fortunately gave him a lot more time to get involved with the build, fit-out and brewing.
Where do you brew?
Our little brewery is located in Alexandria, Sydney.
Why do you brew?
We brew because we love beer and the craft beer community. Honestly, it's full of some of the nicest people you’ll ever come across and why wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with people like that?
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
For me there was a definitely a defining moment: back at uni a mate and I were looking for a "bludge" subject and had heard Food Tech was the go. First lecture was on fermentation, so like all good uni students – poor and thirsty – we went straight out and bought a Coopers homebrew kit. It was drinkable.
But it turns out the rabbit hole goes very deep since my mate now works for Tooheys. We both agree that choosing that subject was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Alcohol’s a wonderful thing. At the time we were seriously considering diving into setting up our own brewery we were mucking around with growing mushrooms and looking into growing turkey tail mushrooms out of spent grain.
We had a few beers one night, discovered that they were technically a type of bracket fungus and went with it. For reference, spent grain isn’t a great mushroom growing media.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
We don’t really do core beers so if we’re just going by what’s on tap at the moment it would have to be our Helles Bock. It’s not a "sexy" beer, but good beer doesn’t have to be. We’re really proud of it, and it’s what our tap list is: beers we’re excited and proud to share.
But if you ask me what I love brewing and drinking the answer is the opposite end of the spectrum, our current tap list is saturated with hazy, hop forward pales and IPAs.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
It’ll depend who’s taken control of the speakers. If its Mark, it’ll likely be a mix of 70s rock, blues and Regurgitator. If it’s me it could be anything in the genre of Soul/Funk/Jazz/Afrobeat.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
The fridge is pretty bare at the moment but there is a bottle of Garage Project OTP [Omne Trium Perfectum] I’m saving for a special occasion.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Where can people find your beers?
At the moment we’re not putting anything into small pack, so you can really only find it here at the Taproom and a couple of local venues like Noble Hops and The Woolpack Hotel.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Hopefully still here with the same bunch of great locals that have been supporting us from opening night.
You'll find Bracket Brewing at 21 McCauley Street, Alexandria NSW 2015, and in the free Crafty Pint app, along with hundreds of other good beer venues across Australia.
Keep up to date with all the happenings at Bracket Brewing by following them on Facebook.
And you can find other entries in the Who Brews...? series here.