When Killer Sprocket's long-held dream of opening their own brewery home became a reality in early 2020, following many years brewing with others across Melbourne, co-founder Sean Ryan said there was one important element of his career in beer to date he wanted to recreate in Bayswater North.
Having launched his brand with wife Andrea at Cavalier, alongside the likes of BrewCult, Exit, KAIJU!, Wolf of the Willows and Bad Shepherd, Sean was eager to invite other brewers join him at Killer Sprocket, brew beer on his kit, and turn his space into something of an incubator for new brewing companies.
“I would love to recreate that,” Sean said at the time. “If we found brewers that were starting out with the same sort of passion we had then I’d love for them to collaborate. If people want to come in and make the beer, then I’m all for it but I want to have what we had: I want them to actually brew the beer.”
And now his vision has been realised, with more than one brewing company making use of Killer Sprocket's space. Last month we chatted to James Isaacson of Avnge Brewing, and here's Christopher Martin of Five' 3" Brewing, a one-man outfit that launched earlier in the year. It's not only the Five' 3" Brewing beers Christopher is responsible for, however: he landed a position with Killer Sprocket after spending much of the pandemic visiting his nearest breweries.
“I was going around to buy beer at all the local breweries I could go to, like Hop Hen in Lilydale, Killer Sprocket and Hard Road in Boronia – all to get takeaway beers,” he told The Crafty Pint.
“One day, Sean just happened to be brewing and wanted an extra set of hands. I just happened to be walking in and had spoken to him about wanting to be in the industry a couple of times.”
After helping out, Sean suggested Christopher applied for an ABN so he could continue picking up work at Killer Sprocket and be in a position to launch his own brewing company in the future. Less than a year on, Christopher has moved from occasional work into a more permanent role at Killer Sprocket, has been busy producing his own beers, as well as helping others brew in Bayswater.
While the Five' 3" Brewing beers have been available for some time, this Thursday (December 9) sees the brewing company enjoy an official launch. Christopher will be at Hippo Bottle & Bar in Collingwood from 5.30pm pouring Dry Irish Stout, Hazy Lager, Rockets Pale Ale and The Long Session.
Ahead of the launch, we invited Christopher to take part in our long-running Who Brews...? series to find out about the man adding to the number of Australian brewing companies with names inspired by their founders' height.
Five' 3" Brewing
Who are you?
Five’ 3” is a one-man business, run by myself, Christopher Martin, from brewing to delivering. I do, however, get help from my mother and father (Gabby and Rod) when it comes to canning.
I also have the brilliant Clint Weaver – better known as PocketBeagles – who has designed pretty much everything of my branding.
Where do you brew?
I brew at Killer Sprocket after buying and installing a 500 litre fermenter as well as getting a couple of 150 litre fermenters for some experimental batches in the future.
Why do you brew?
I couldn’t really give you one reason for why I brew; it’s great to spend the day not having to worry about what's going on around me and enjoying a stress-free day.
Getting feedback on the beer I make is always an achievement for me too, regardless of the response.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
I’ve been homebrewing for five years at this point so I have always enjoyed brewing; the moment that stands out for me is my first experience brewing a commercial batch. Lifting multiple 25kg bags of grain and pouring it into the mill, stirring the mash, slowly figuring out what butterfly valves to open, the first 5kg bag of hops I opened, pitching the yeast, and even doing the hard work to dig out the mash tun.
That was the day I found out what I wanted to do with my life. The best part is every time I make a batch now, whether it's 20 litres or 2,000 litres, extract or all-grain, I get to relive that moment. It's ingrained into my memory.
What's the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Five’ 3” Brewing because I’m 5 foot 3 inches tall. Being as short as I am, comments were always being made about it, so I decided to make what was a poorly thought-out insult into a profitable and accomplishable venture that I can be proud of.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
They don’t really represent me; the lineup is just beers I know I’ll enjoy drinking. There’s no hidden meaning behind any of them except Rockets Pale Ale, but that’s my father’s nickname – not mine.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
Alive: I’d want to brew with Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head. I’ve watched interviews with him and the way he talks about beer shows how passionate he is about the industry.
Dead: Hands down has to be Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter. Early in my craft beer drinking journey, my father and I would watch old Beer Hunter episodes on YouTube while drinking the beer he was talking about in the episode.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
Anything by Sabaton, TYR or some Irish folk music.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Boatrocker Ramjet 2020 and 2021, Exit and Killer Sprocket Saison in the Abyss, and Avnge Brewing Hopbotomy.
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
Barrel-ageing is something I’m looking forward to doing at some point, but I still need to do heaps of research before dipping my toe into that category.
Where can people find your beers?
Available at the Killer Sprocket taproom and at the Hippo Bottle & Bar in Collingwood.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Hopefully, still operational and maybe having my own taproom, but as long as I have a place to brew then I’ll be rapt.
Other Who Brews...? features can be found here.