The Year In Beer: NSW

The Year In Beer: NSW

December 15th, 2011 by Crafty Pint

This year appears to be the one in which the sleeping giant of NSW began to stir. Sure, the Lord Nelson has been banging the craft beer drum for a quarter century, The Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst has been winning plaudits for a couple of years and the likes of Murray’s, Schwartz, Red Oak, the Hunter Brewing Co, Little Brewing, Stone & Wood, St Peter’s and others mean it’s hardly been a total craft beer desert. But with a number of new breweries opening, 4 Pines going great guns, the Albion Hotel (pictured above) and Warners at the Bay leading the way in Newcastle and newcomers like the Union in Newtown and the (sadly departed) Coogee Cafe After Dark – plus a new direction at the Pumphouse in Darling Harbour – adding to the efforts of venues such as Harts and Yulli’s, 2011 has truly seen things take a big stride forward.

Both Sydney and Newcastle held Craft Beer Weeks in the last quarter of the year, adding to the festivals at the Australian Hotel and Paddy’s, plus Bitter & Twisted and the new Blue Mountains Beer Festival – all events that help spread the word. So, as we welcome the likes of HopDog BeerWorks and the Australian Brewery into the fold and look forward to Riverside opening in Parramatta in a few weeks, what better time to ask some of the state’s craft beer folks: “How was it for you?”

Trystam Hayden, owner of the Lord Nelson, in The Rocks

How was 2011 for you?
Another great year to work in this busy brew pub with the continued growth and interest in natural ales and support from our loyal customers and a few awards to show for our efforts.

What was the highlight of the year?
We celebrated 25 years of craft brewing which we are very proud of – and to see how far this industry has come and the passion from those involved. I can’t wait for the next 25!!

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Anything that surprised you?
The interest in our ales across such a diverse age group, from the old chap with a pint of Victory Bitter to the uni student enjoying his first Three Sheets.

The best beer you tasted all year.
A long neck of 16-year-old Coopers Stout. It had been carefully cellared and was tasting amazingly young. Of course I have to put a Lord Nelson brew in the mix, so I would have to say a pint of Nelson’s Blood in front of the fire this winter was up there.

What would you most like to see in 2012?
Continued consumer shift to craft beer through enjoyment and knowledge, and another busy year at the Lord.

Scotty Morgan, head brewer of The Rocks beers, house brewery for Harts Pub

How was 2011 for you?
Most awesome. We’ve seen sales of Rocks beers go through the roof, the pub is going from strength to strength and we have some really good people in our business. This year has not been easy, it’s been bloody hard work, we have made some mistakes but that is life and we have learnt a hell of a lot from any mistake we have made.

What was the highlight of the year?
A few were:

  • Getting a silver for our Hangman Pale ale at the Australian International Beer Awards. Placing above some of the brewers who have lead the charge for that particular style coupled with still making beer at someone else’s plant was a treat.
  • Brewing The Crew Cream Ale with our staff. We took our staff away to The Hunter Beer Co to brew a batch of beer. They didn’t know until they arrived at the brewery that they also had to choose the type of beer to brew, develop the marketing position and then did the hard work to make it. It was great to see the staff all work together and the looks on their faces when it went on tap at Harts was priceless. We sold eight kegs in seven days, one of our quickest sellers ever.

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The Beermen.tv Brunch at Harts Pub

Anything that surprised you?
The now infamous goings on around what is a Craft Brewer and what shape an association should take.

There are a few things to consider, one being that some brewers do not make good sales people and another that if the ownership of a publically listed brewing company is so important to some, then become a shareholder of that company and petition against the sale.

I think we can also say what defines a craft brewer in Australia is impossible to define.

The best beer you tasted all year.
Croucher Pils stood out, as did the beers from Bridge Road and the General Sherman Pale from the new Brewer Sam Clay at Paddys Brewery. A few of the beers the Lion Nathan Technical Team made for an Oktoberfest IBD event were also very different and really bloody good. But I have to say my favourite – and I am biased – is my Hangman Pale. [We love modesty around here, Scotty!]

What would you most like to see in 2012?
Brewers unite because divided we will fall. Also looking forward to having our own brewery after a lot of hard work and the opening of Richard Adamson’s Young Henrys project.

Geoff Huens, co-founder of the Beer Cartel

How was 2011 for you?
Fantastic! We found a new home for Beer Cartel (in Artarmon, Sydney) so that customers now have a physical place to visit, peruse the shelves, pick up some brilliant brews or a growler and chew the fat on everything beer related.

What was the highlight of the year?
Witnessing and being part of Sydney Craft Beer Week. Sydney is a few years behind its western and southern city cousins so its great to see the craft beer wave starting to move up the east coast.

Anything that surprised you?
It’s been interesting seeing the movement to create a body that represents Australia’s Craft Brewers… Hopefully the two different groups which have now been formed will join into one as it will definitely better assist growth of the industry going forward.

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Geoff (right) and the Beer Cartel crew

The best beer you tasted all year.
This probably goes more into the most interesting beer category: Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude. It is definitely a beer that polarises people, they either enjoy it or loath it – just what ground breaking beers are designed to do.

What would you most like to see in 2012?
More collaboration brews among Australian brewers and seeing breweries that traditionally stick to their mainstay beers break the mould to introduce seasonals and limited release beers.

Thanks to everyone for taking part. More roundups to come. We should also point out that, having visited a number of breweries, bars and bottleshops in NSW in October / November, we had planned to have a lot of listings from the state in place on Crafty before Christmas. It’s been a crazy end to the year, however, so we’ll be using the downtime over the holidays to get them ready to go live – along with a number from Tasmania – in the New Year. We’ll also be introducing some minor changes to the site (very minor) that will make it easier to browse listings state by state. Cheers!

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