Sydney’s inner west boasts a higher concentration of breweries than anywhere else in Australia, while its Northern Beaches and southern suburbs have many of their own too, yet the country’s largest city still has a few gaps for anyone searching for a local beer experience.
One such place is the city's inner east, although that's set to change when Curly Lewis open the doors to their Bondi Beach brewpub, located in the heart of Bondi on Campbell Parade, this weekend.
“There’s a lot of thirsty drinkers in this area that drink beers from other areas,” Curly Lewis co-founder Oli dos Remedios told The Crafty Pint. “So, for us, we felt it was an opportunity to make something local and have a bit of fun while doing it.”
Joining Oli in launching Curly Lewis are Adam Richards, Gareth Morton, Loren Morton and longtime brewer, beer judge and industry stalwart Scotty Morgan. The team always had their sights set on Bondi, with Oli and Adam growing up surfing there as kids.
Opening the brewpub hasn't been easy, however. A few of the initial sites they looked out didn't work out – something that speaks to why the inner east hasn't enjoyed the boom in brewing found elsewhere in Sydney.
“The reality is in these eastern suburbs there are less industrial and commercial zones,” Oli says.
The brewery's fit-out certainly ensures anyone who pops in will know they're in a working brewery: the 120-seat venue makes the tanks a showpiece with punters able to see how the beer in their hand was made. Having installed a 1,000-litre brewhouse from Brewtique, ten fermentation tanks of the same size, and an American Canning line that allows them to do small canning runs, there will be plenty of variety on offer too.
Beer will pour through 20 taps, accompanied by a food offering from Frank’s Deli – a mix of the European-style snacks, share plates and sandwiches upon which the nearby business has built its reputation.
While they’re still working on the final touches, Oli says the brewery should be ready to produce its first beers in the next week.
“We would have had that operational before we opened the doors but we couldn’t,” he says. “But we’ll really quickly move into brewing here so everything you try on tap will be made here.”
Scotty Morgan is well known to many in the beer industry. As a head brewer, he spent more than a decade at Rocks Brewing, from its inception as a brewing company to the brewery now found in Alexandria, while also designing beers and acting as a consultant for many other brands. Outside of brewing, he's one of the country's most experienced beer judges and has worked with the likes of NSW-based keg-tracking tech company Binary Beer too.
He says the core range beers – Clean Cut Lager and Bondi Hazy Ale – were designed with their beachside location in mind, but given a brewpub like this is new to the area, he’s pretty keen to see which styles are embraced by locals.
“One of the most exciting bits is seeing what folk gravitate to as we roll through different beers, it’s definitely untested,” Scotty says.
As he waits to start brewing on the in-house kit, he's been on the tools making beer for the taproom elsewhere, and secured a couple of bronze medals at the Royal Queensland Beer Awards.
“We started some production a couple of months ago with [Damien Martin] at Dangerous Ales,” Scotty says. “Those were the first batches and we took bronze for both of them, and they were also one of the first through Dangerous Ales’ new brewhouse and packaging line.
“I’m also doing a bit of brewing with Shaun [Blissett] at Wayward, who I taught to brew 15 years ago – that doesn’t make me feel old at all.”
Ahead of their opening, they’ve managed to get support from bars and bottleshops, leading Scotty to feel there’s real excitement in the area for a local beer brand. Indeed, Bondi Beach Brewing, which launched several years ago and don’t yet have a home of their own, have also been well supported by local bars, bottleshops and even the suburb’s bowlo.
As for where the Curly Lewis name comes from, Oli didn’t want to give too much away to this Melbourne writer, but admits that, after labouring over a name for some time, they wanted to go with something that connected to Bondi without being too overt.
“We didn’t want to be tied to one location but wanted something with personality that was a bit quirky,” he says. “But those that live in Bondi will understand where the inspiration comes from – and we’re drawing on it being a bit of a feeling.”
Curly Lewis opens on Friday, August 19, at 102-106 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach. You can find it and hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues in the free Crafty Pint app.