After more than two years in which they've been making a name for themselves in craft beer’s craftier corners, Shapeshifter Brewing Co’s home in the Adelaide suburb of Findon opens to the public today.
James McCall, who founded the brewery with Kevin Mulcahy after the pair met while studying brewing at TAFE, says they landed on the spot in Adelaide's western suburbs in part because it's an area currently lacking a craft beer haunt of its own.
“We hope we fill that gap and the locals will have a new local because of us,” he says. “We don’t really have an independent or craft-focused venue or pub, let alone a brewery, here. So we think we fill a nice spot between The Wheaty at Thebarton and Big Shed at Royal Park.
“Also, I grew up in the western suburbs of Adelaide so felt it was the right spot to choose.”
With 12 taps to play with, James says their focus will remain on the styles Shapeshifter have built their reputation upon, so expect hazy IPAs, bold stouts and no shortage of new ingredients to feature heavily.
“We’ve carved out a niche of some of those more modern styles, which I think fills a little gap in the market here in Adelaide,” James says.
“We really focus on the tip of the spear, whether it’s new hop varieties or new yeast strains that are coming out. We’re always trying to experiment and make exciting beers for people in the craft beer community who might be looking for the next emerging styles.”
The brewery itself is a 12 hectolitre system James and Kevin bought from Big Shed following their expansion and, with six fermenters to fill, their plan is to keep the experimentation flowing.
“The plan is just for 12 hectolitres of constantly rotating styles and to just keep the taps turning over in the taproom of new and interesting and releases,” James says, adding that, with a new mobile canning company about to launch in Adelaide, regular canning runs will be a big part of their offering too.
“We’ll be doing packaged releases as often as we can, probably multiple times a month.”
The expansive warehouse venue has space for 200 people when not impacted by COVID restrictions; with the focus remaining on beer, the taproom will sell a collection of snacks, play host to food trucks, and let people bring their own food in.
Reaching this point hasn't come without bumps in the road – one of them inadvertently caused by The Crafty Pint. James attended our Pint of Origin Blind Tasting at Good Beer Week, which took place at a venue visited by a COVID positive case. As a result, along with all event attendees and brewers from multiple states and territories, he was plunged into 14 days of quarantine.
Still, even before their sleek venue gets to welcome many of Adelaide's biggest hazy fans for the official opening weekend, there are early signs their mission to bring a wider selection of beer to Findon residents is already on track. Having tested the waters pre-launch, they found new fans among local residents.
“We had a soft launch over the weekend where we just quietly opened to see what would happen, and we had some locals wander in who had seen us building away over the last few months,” James says.
“These were people who had obviously never heard of us and it was really fun to show them all these beers we had.”
Shapeshifter open the doors to their taproom in Unit 2/54 Crittenden Road, Findon, today. You can find the taproom and hundreds of other good beer venues in the free Crafty Pint app.
All photos are by Andrew Beveridge and asbCreative.com.