Will and Katie Cannaby knew their life was going to change when they had a baby... but it changed in ways they never could have predicted. Not only did they gain a new member in their family, but they ended up with a new community and a new business as well.
Like many parents before them, the couple found themselves hit hard with less sleep, less freedom, and more anxiety. In an attempt to find an outlet to help him cope with parenting and an intense job, Will took up homebrewing to get a few hours of "me time" every Saturday.
He invested heavily in an elaborate brewing setup in his garage, complete with three beer taps, and got brewing. Between studying beer and brewing techniques, experimenting with ingredients and flavours, and the enjoyment of seeing his recipes come to life, Will found himself with a passion project he could concentrate on to clear his mind at the end of each week.
But there was another side effect. While brewing on the weekends with his garage door open, Will regularly had neighbours and passers-by showing an interest in what he was doing. People would drop in and ask questions, and get excited about what he was making next. They’d try his beers and give him feedback. Their children would pay attention to baby Joel when he was in the garage with Will.
As English expats who’d moved into a suburb full of Aussies, Will and Katie didn’t have much of a network. But, suddenly, they were experiencing the community of their street and suburb in a way they never had before; and more than that, their community coming into their very own garage.
Thanks to encouragement from his neighbours and conversations with people in the craft beer industry, Will was inspired to started making moves towards scaling up and selling his beer.
With support from local brewers, as well as Katie’s prowess with branding and marketing making everything possible, a brewing company slowly came to life. And since it wouldn’t have happened without the nurturing of their neighbours, Will and Katie decided to name it after their supportive street in Rozelle.
Springside Brewing was born.
Will and Katie’s new community – mates enjoying beers in the garage, neighbours getting together for a barbecue, families hanging out after kids’ footy games – formed the basis of a clear target market. They even named the flagship beer Gorgeous George in honour of the sports oval down the road.
“At the end of Springside Street is a park called King George Park,” says Will. “Every weekend about two thousand people descend on it with their kids and families to do sports. You can literally hear it from our house, out the window. It’s really nice and ‘family’.”
And since heavier beers are “not very suitable for a barbecue”, Will chose to make Gorgeous George a 4.3 percent ABV pale ale – “a bit more drinkable, without making you feel weighted down or pissed.”
He knew he'd hit his target – and was reminded of the support of his neighbours – when he released his first batch commercially.
“Within 24 hours of launching, the whole street had bought a carton!”
With thousands of cans of Gorgeous George in the market and a new beer on the way, Will’s brewing has become much more than a passion project in his garage.
“I’m still in the garage! Just not as much.”
And luckily, there’s no sibling rivalry between little Joel and Gorgeous George.
“I don’t want him to have a glorified attitude to alcohol,” says Will. “But, that said, one of his new words he’s learned is ‘beer’. He knows ‘Daddy’s beer’.”
In between family time, job time, and brewing time, Will chatted with us as part of our Who Brews…? series.
Who are you?
Springside Brewing are a family business…
Dad and brewer – Will Cannaby. Originally a POME, managing bars and clubs in England before emigrating to Australia in 2011. The last nine years have been spent leading the finance/accounting arm of a global recruitment business in Sydney.
Mum, wife and marketing – Katie Cannaby. Decision maker on all things marketing, with 13 years' experience in brand management, most recently at Australian brand Sunbeam.
Where do you brew?
We have been brewing for over two years in Rozelle, Sydney – starting in the garage with all of the gear. We’ve moved into a contract brewing arrangement with a larger more established business in South Sydney where our volume has gone from 60 to 8,000 litres!
Why do you brew?
Originally, we started brewing to get a release having had a baby for the first time. The full story is on our site: https://springsidebrewing.com.au/pages/our-story
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Yes! Wayward Brewing opened a competition to create your own perfect beer flavour and the winner was to have it brewed. I entered a Lamington stout but didn’t win. I did get chatting to the winner though: based in Canberra, an avid homebrewer who got me thinking… Coupled with the birth of our son, brewing began!
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
We love local everything – people, beers, food– so it made sense to us to create a local brand, centred around the road we live on called Springside Street. The garage would be open most weekends where neighbours would pop in for a quick Pale Ale and leave some beef jerky or beer snacks as a trade!
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
Our Lemon Meringue NEPA which will be launched in December 2020 is a character! Zesty, juicy and full of bounce. It’s still relatively low in alcohol for a hazy (4.8%) which enables you to keep going and going once started. I’m known for my persistence in business and at home and never giving up when it comes to brewing or other.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
Great question! Xavier Rudd – Follow the Sun is a classic Saturday arvo brew day tune, otherwise put some Oasis, Dire Straits or Billy Joel on loud and I’ll be shaking those hips whilst mashing!
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Moon Dog Splice of Heaven, Balter Handsome Elvis stout, Nomad Rollin’ Haze, Wayward Cashmere Cat, Pirate Life Mosaic IPA.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Moon Dog’s not so local, but their Black Forest stout is cracking and the Splice of Heaven release equally brilliant. BentSpoke’s Sprocket is incredible – hops, hops and more hops!
Akasha, Willie and Grifter are always producing quality local drops.
Where can people find your beers?
Our website, Kaddy, Dan Murphy’s marketplace, eBay, Amazon, BoozeBud, and many online channels, a growing number of Inner West independents.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Filled with people from all over the world, enjoying a locally grown Sydney craft beer – standing, dancing to local, live music and drinking less than 1.5 metres apart from each other! Eating decent food and laughing.