Carl Hallion has always had a dream of owning a small bar, a place where people could relax and connect over a drink. But when he stepped out of the mining industry and started taking his homebrewing more seriously, his little dream grew a bit bigger.
Three years later, Parched Brewery opened its doors.
It’s decidedly larger than a small bar, but Parched keeps in line with Carl’s vision of being all about connection. When the craft beer movement hit Brisbane a decade or so ago, it began as a niche community. But much has changed in that time, and Parched is a brewpub that aims to appeal to everyone, bringing together people from all walks of life.
“West End’s always had that eclectic feel to it, which ties in nicely to the feeling we want to build,” Carl says. “We’ve had that great local feel, that acceptance. I think [the locals] needed it. West End wants more venues like this.”
In a brewery, appealing to a wide spectrum of people has to start with the beers. The philosophy at Parched is that there should always be a broad enough range to meet anyone’s taste: from styles du jour to historical styles; from a vanilla oat cream IPA to a Burton-upon-Trent style English IPA you can trace back to the 1800s; from a wild pomegranate kettle sour to a similarly coloured – but very different tasting – traditional Irish red ale.
Carl is keen to cater to all kinds of palates and drinkers, as well as keeping his own creative side happy tinkering with recipes, exploring different yeast strains, and finding new ways to introduce drinkers to old beer styles.
But while Carl loves making beer, he knows it’s not everything in a brewpub.
“If we’re going to do one thing well, we want to do everything well,” he says.
Instead of a token cheap wine, you’ll see a neat wine list featuring mostly Aussie drops, but with a few French beauties snuck in there. The food menu takes the essence of brewpub food and cranks it up a notch: one pizza sports beetroot hummus and roasted cauliflower, while another shows off truffle salami and other cured meats; you can get soft tacos with jackfruit or pork belly, and burgers with Southern fried chicken or brisket and hash brown; you can even follow up your beer battered Nile perch, bourbon glazed BBQ brisket, or crusted miso eggplant with a few scoops of Parched’s very own beer ice cream.
Put all of this into a welcoming venue full of picnic-style tables and it makes for an impressive setup.
“Making beer’s important, but creating a good environment where people can come and enjoy… that’s the challenge. I get a lot of satisfaction out of people coming in and going, ‘Wow!’.”
So settle in under the watchful eye of a big orange hop cone mural and get to know Carl and Parched a little better in this instalment of our Who Brews…? series.
Who are you?
Carl Hallion – with a lot of help from my wife Pauline Roche (who keeps threatening to resign but I won’t let her!).
I came from a mining background and, after over 25 years and a lot of success, I had the chance to make a seachange and Parched is the outcome. My background is commercial, financial and corporate development so I have experience in buying, selling, financing, building and operating large mining operations and companies, so brewing is not that far off really.
Pauline has her own business (providing specialised retreats and personal experiences) with a background in marketing and communications, so she has been a huge help. I also lumped her with the head of procurement, HR, marketing and anything else we need title so she’s pretty versatile!
Where do you brew?
We’re located at 391 Montague Road, West End. It's an industrial style warehouse converted into retail and hospitality, and we are tucked in the back of the building on the corner of Rogers Street and Tondara Lane.
Why do you brew?
Because it's fun. I love the creative element and the reward of sitting back and savouring the finished product. There is a satisfaction in seeing someone really enjoy your beer and the creativity that went into it. We make sure we give everyone the story behind the beer’s inspiration in the menu to help them connect and relate to it.
I love the way that craft breweries bring people together to connect and just spend quality time with each other.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
I used to do the Coopers brew in a bag when I was much younger back in Adelaide. After stepping out of mining for a while I had a chance to start brewing for fun again and spent a lot of time trying to get better. I’d always had a vision of owning a small bar or something when I was semi-retired, and I was sitting in Green Beacon having a beer one day and the two dreams sort of collided and Parched was born.
What's the inspiration behind the brewery name?
I was a bit parched one day and thought I needed a beer. Seemed like the obvious name for a craft brewery to be honest. I couldn’t believe it wasn't taken.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
That’s a tough one. I like them all. Its like your kids – it’s hard to pick a favourite.
I actually think it’s the approach to all our beers that best represents us. Not everyone likes the same beer. So we aim to have a variety so there is something that will appeal to every beer drinker and hopefully some who don’t. It comes back to the aim of connecting people and being a welcome space for everyone to come and relax, let the stress of the world take a back seat and just breathe for a while.
If anyone drops in on brew days, what are they most like to hear blasting from the speakers?
I like the alternative Aussie rock play list. Some great Australian bands with an upbeat vibe to help the beer taste better!
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
It's two, actually: Anthony Clem and Jake Banachak from Wellbrewd. Those blokes have forgotten more about brewing than I will ever know and make a brew day super easy.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
That’s easy… none, because I’m always at the brewery/brewpub and don’t spend any time at home at the moment!!
If I was home you’d probably find a Black Hops G.O.A.T. or one of Range’s hazy IPAs.
Why would you choose for your desert island beer?
Probably Black Hops G.O.A.T. – it’s a great hazy and easy to drink, but then there’s so many it’d be a hard choice.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent times?
I like the beers the boys at Range pump out and I love how they can keep getting variety in their lineup.
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
I like developing a wide range of styles but I do like seeing how it used to be done and brewing some historical styles alongside the modern styles just to compare where we started and where we’re going.
I’m pretty focused on yeast, too. Hops are the modern hero but I rate yeast as important in hitting the target style, flavour and characteristics of the beer, so I am looking forward to exploring our use of yeast strains more as we get more established.
WHAT BEERS HAVE YOU RELEASED TO DATE?
- Brave New World – Hazy IPA
- Creaming Soda – Vanilla Oatcream IPA (hazy)
- Smiling Eyes – Irish Red Ale
- Tewy’s Misery – APA
- Sunset Sour – wild Pomegranate Kettle Sour
- The Old Enemy – Traditional English IPA
- The Pilot – Mid Strength Session IPA
- Mi Amigo Pagara – Mexican Lager
- Snafu Dos - XPA
We are also have a few new ones in the FV’s ready to go... Common Good – California Common and Easy Rider – Cream Ale.
Where can people find your beers?
Just at our place. All beers are on tap in the brewery and we haven't started canning or offsite sales yet.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
In the same place it is now. It wasn’t easy getting the gear in place and the build took a lot of effort so it's never moving unless the building falls down!
I’d like to be building on our current site and developing our sales avenues direct to the customer. Our model will be to do all our sales direct, either online, takeaway from the venue/s and maybe some of our own stores. We want to stay independent and keep our approach boutique.
You can check out Parched's two-level brewpub tucked just off Montague Road, and find it alongside hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues in the free Crafty Pint app. You'll find other Who Brews...? features here.