As more and more brewing companies launch in Australia, it means more beers to buy, but an equal and opposite reaction to that proliferation is a growing shortage of names from which you can pick – and not just for your beers.
Finding a name that didn't just feel right but stood apart from the crowd was one of the first hurdles faced by Jake Price, Iain Best, Billy Nicol and John Plummer (pictured above, left to right) when they decided to start to launch a brewing company. All four of them are children of the 90s, growing up as big fans of punk and skater culture, and they wanted something that could work as a brewery name and sounded like the sort of band you'd see on a long-faded poster.
“We came up with ten names for metal bands that we thought would also work for a brewery," Jake says. "And then when we Googled every name Cold Hands was the only one that wasn’t actually a brewery."
Fortunately, Cold Hands feels particularly fitting given the logo of a skeleton grasping for a cold one could easily work plastered on a skateboard deck.
That do-it-yourself attitude captures the spirit of the nascent brewing company too, with Jake, Iain, Billy and John only starting to make beer together as a hobby in February. For close to a year before that, the four mates held regular meetups where they'd share beers blind and rate them, but as they kept dissecting beers brewed by others they decided they should try their hand at making their own.
As their passion – and the size of their setup – grew rapidly, they turned to some of Western Australia's existing breweries for clues as to how they might best get started. The common advice seemed to be:
"Help out everywhere and as much as you can."
So the four made their way to the breweries around them to see if anyone needed a hand.
Jake says he called into Three Rivers Brewing, in Mandurah, and after meeting the owners a collaboration and first release for Cold Hands was soon underway. Three Rivers launched in 2015 but was taken over by Andy and Jen Scothern last year and when he visited, Jake found them keen to release a beer that was quite different from the rest of their lineup.
“[Three Rivers] mentioned they wanted some new beers on tap and wanted some more sort of modern style as opposed to what they were the previous brewers were doing," he says, "which were more classic European or older American beer styles.”
After helping out with some cleaning, the new beer followed and The Wizard – a hazy pale – was born.
Having cut their teeth with that collab, Jake describes their brewing philosophy as making "unapologetic beers" which includes a gummy bear sour for which they're still fine-tuning the adjuncts. In bringing those beers to life, the brewers have been closely working with Sydney-based illustrator Aidan Howes, who has done design work for Garage Project and Black Hops, and is given free rein on their can design as the "fifth member" of the quartet.
With four brewers behind the scenes, it does make you wonder if too many cooks could spoil the brew, but Jake says each of them has a particular fondness for different styles so they like to change who's responsible for each beer's development.
“If it was just me," Jake says, "I'd just be brewing different IPAs. So, depending on the style, different members take control.”
To find out more about how the Cold Hands crew came together, we asked Jake to join us for our long-running Who Brews...? series.
Cold Hands Brewing
Who are you?
Cold Hands Brewing Co are gypsy brewers consisting of four mates: Jake, John, Billy and Iain.
We all met each through work and we quickly built relationships through our shared love of craft beer. It all came together at a monthly craft beer-tasting event and we foolishly thought we could brew beer ourselves. We bought ourselves a cheap homebrewing kit and what started as a hobby quickly turned into an obsession.
Within a couple of months, we had decked John’s garage into a microbrewery, crafting drinks that we’d give out to friends and family.
Where do you brew?
As gypsy or contract brewers we don’t have a steady home base as it stands at the moment, but we see it as a great opportunity to meet other brewers in the Western Australian industry and work on a variety of different brewing systems and equipment.
Why do you brew?
While it might as well be a cliché at this point, we brew to create beers we want to drink, beers that may not exist yet and which only live in the recess of our minds. We find that if we’re passionate and fully invested in the product that we’re making, others will be as well.
Everyone has a beer they wished existed, be that a simple pale ale, a gummy bear sour or a banana bread pastry stout. We endeavour to turn any idea you can conceive of into a beer you can hold in your hand.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
I can only speak for myself, but there was a single beer that set me on this path.
I had always been a fan of James Squire – it was definitely a relief from the boring lagers that I was used to growing up. One day I was handed a Toppling Goliath King Sue DIPA from a friend and it was an awakening for me; this Citra-only DIPA, packed full of juicy mango, orange and pineapple flavours, blew a hole in the back of my head. From there I knew there was no going back – I was hooked.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
We came up with the name while spitballing ideas for good names for a brewery. The four of us being 90s kids were always big fans of punk, metal and the skater scene, an aesthetic that we believe Cold Hands Brewing Co evokes.
We knew it was the right name when our logo was brought to life with the help of our friend and local Indigenous artist, Etain Boscato.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
John Kimmich of The Alchemist Brewery hands down. The Alchemist Brewery is a huge inspiration for Cold Hands, both in their approach to creating beers and their huge focus on sustainability in brewing.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
A lot of Australian alternative rock and punk at the moment with a fair bit of Spacey Jane, Sly Withers, Violent Soho, Teenage Jones and Slowly Slowly.
Even though there might be a bit of protest from the other members, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion and BLACKPINK get a fair bit of play.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
We’re fortunate enough to have some incredible craft breweries in Western Australia. A couple of favourites gracing our fridges at the moment are Phat Brew Club's Phubba Bubba Sour, Nowhereman Brewing Co's 123 Days Later Pilsner, and Rocky Ridge's Rock Juice X.
What would be your desert island beer of choice?
Toppling Goliath's King Sue DIPA; I could happily drink that beer for the rest of my life.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Anything released from Phat Brew Club this year, with their Risky Business West Coast IPA and Terri’s Chocolate Orange Stout being our personal favourites.
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
Over our time brewing, we have developed a huge fondness for New Zealand-grown hops, which we are keen to explore and experiment with further.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
To have a taproom and brewery in Western Australia, which has the capability and capacity for local brewers to brew on, as well a kitchen that can showcase local produce and ingredients.