A new brewery and taproom will be opening its doors in Orange next year, but the name of the operation behind is already well-known by locals as well as many from further afield. Badlands Brewing – which launched in 2010 – are moving their production brewery into the heart of the regional NSW city with the new site allow for something they've never had before: a hospitality space of their own.
Founder Jon Shiner says the decision to move from the outskirts of Orange has been driven by a desire to have the chance to tell their own story.
“It’s really about taking control over our narrative,” he told The Crafty Pint. “We’ve been a production brewery since day dot and don’t have public access; we beaver away in our own little world, in our shed, making beer.”
They’ve always had something of a “cellar door” in the shape of The Agrestic Grocer next door to their existing brewery, but the new Badlands will give them the opportunity to better connect with locals and anyone visiting the region.
“In production size, it’s not hugely bigger than what we’ve currently got,” Jon says. “But importantly, we’ve got 40 percent of the space for retail and hospitality.
“People have known about us – and locals have certainly been drinking our beer – but it will be nice to really stamp our character on a place where people can walk in for a beer.”
Badlands' lack of a taproom makes it something of a rarity among small breweries, especially one that's been around so long; when they launched a decade ago, Jon was a passionate homebrewer who didn’t have the money or experience to launch a venue. Moreover, the number of breweries operating in New South Wales was a far cry from today and there was less of a clear path for nascent operations to follow.
“The world has changed quite a lot in the craft beer space in the last ten or eleven years,” Jon says. “I don’t think there would be anyone starting a small brewery today without some kind of retail or hospitality offering, even if it was just opening the bar for a couple of hours on a Friday.
“I think today, when people think of a brewery they think, ‘Right, well let’s go visit and try their beers on tap.'.”
Jon says it’s been increasingly tough not having a hospo offering, particularly in a region that’s known for its food and wine.
“It's not been great where people’s expectations aren’t matched because they think they’re coming to see the brewery when they’re not.”
Once the move is complete, he hopes Badlands will become part of the itineraries of any visitors soaking up the local food and drink destinations. As things stand, the development application for the site is with of the local council, with Jon saying they’ve been largely supportive of the idea.
The building itself is an impressive space that shares a long history with the region, and although it’s sat empty for more than a decade, before that it was home of the EC Cameron & Sons car dealership.
“I believe it was the first car dealership west of the Blue Mountains,” Jon says. “They sold the first Buick car in Australia.”
The deep roots and evocative brickwork will provide a characterful backdrop fort the new Badlands' 12 hectolitre brewhouse and tanks. And as a hospitality offering with a laneway entrance, Jon also hopes the venue serves as a point that ties together other quality drinking and dining spots in the city centre.
“The bar will be a stage with the backdrop of our tanks,” he says.
“Hopefully, we can be this connection bit to different parts of the city – we’re definitely not off the beaten track, we’re right in the heart of it.”
While some of the finer details are still being worked through, Jon says they plan to partner with a neighbouring Indian restaurant for food and hope to use some of the surrounding carpark for food trucks too.
It had already been a busy 2021 for Badlands: they rebranded in June with a refreshed logo and new can design; although the rebrand took place independently of planning around the new space, both changes are about looking towards the future.
“It’s all part of this dual-pronged approach to get ready to push our distribution a bit further while also having an eye on our new home,” he says.
The rebrand is the work of Lucas Martin, who Jon says has been working on all of the brewery's labels for the last six years or so and more recently came on as sales and marketing manager. And, even though their new home hadn't been secured when they worked through the rebrand, its connection with mid-20th century America only works in favour of the new look.
“Coincidently or not, that’s what Lucas has riffed on for this logo,” Jon says.
“Here we are in this shed that sold the first Buick in Australia in the 1950s, so it has all tied together a bit.”
The new Badlands Brewery home is set to open midway through 2022. When it does, you'll be able to find it and hundreds of other venues in the free Crafty Pint app.
You can read our feature on the brewery's ten year anniversary last year here.