One of Sydney’s longstanding craft breweries – and the first craft brewer to opt for cans over bottles back in the day – is entering a new era this weekend, as the Australian Brewery launches Esker Beer Company.
Charlie Claridge, who heads up brewing at the Rouse Hill operation alongside Dan Shaw, says they’d been discussing a new direction for a couple of years, with Esker in the works for close to a year. They felt the Australian Brewery name was too broad and instead wanted to focus on their backyard so as to better tell their story: they remain the only brewery that calls the Hills Shire home, even 12 years on from launching.
“It’s an Irish word that means hill or a ridge in the landscape,” Charlie says of the word esker, "which is kind of talking more directly to Rouse Hill where we are; there is a lot of Irish history and heritage in the Hills Shire.
“For a while, we felt that we kind of taken the name Australian Brewery about as far as it could go."
When developing the new brand, they wanted to tap into the feeling of coming home, hence tThe logo and beer cans feature a winding path and the tagline “Enjoy the Journey”. And, with plenty of bushland in the area, they’ve connected the new look to the natural world around them.
“We are sort of on the very outskirts of Sydney, and the Hills Shire has a lot of really good natural spots. So the colour inspirations for the brand are all natural colours.”
The venue itself will remain the Australian Hotel & Brewery, although they’ve already launched the Esker cellar door within the substantial building. The initial core range is made up Pacific Ale, West Coast IPA and Citrus Gose and they plan to bring longstanding Australian Brewery beers, like the dark ale Old Cattle Dog and Mexican lager Seis Hermanos, under the Esker banner.
“By February next year,” he says, “we’ll have brought their recipes under Esker so the Australian Brewery brand will be fully absorbed.”
These days, the brewing company is part of the Redcape Hotel Group, which operates around 40 venues, so there’s a good chance you’ll find Esker beers some distance from the Hills Shire in the near term too, but Charlie says the supplying their local community is the first step in Esker’s journey.
“Our focus is to do really well in our venues,” he says. “But also to do better than we probably have been in the Hills Shire.”
Esker Beer Co's launch takes place from 2pm on Saturday, October 1, at The Australian Hotel & Brewery.