In the North Sydney suburb of Mosman, just below the Spit Bridge that leads to the microcosmic Northern Beaches, is the calm and tranquil Quakers Hat Bay. Named for an odd rock by the water's edge, Quakers Hat Bay is one of the lesser known pockets of Sydney which, to quote IGA, is how the locals like it. Unfortunately for the locals and their other mates down the yacht club, the secret is out, courtesy of Quakers Hat Brewing.
Opened by former removalist Cam Robinson, alongside mum and dad Dave and Sue (all pictured above), Quakers Hat moved into their creekside venue in Manly Vale in September 2019, kicking off the obscure trend of Northern Beaches brewers named after a suburb they don’t actually brew in. Aside from the skills learnt as a professional removalist, the timing also worked out perfectly for the new brewery.
“We were lucky that we actually got set up before COVID,” Cam told Crafty Pint. “Getting set up after [COVID] became a real issue for people because of imports from China. In that sense we were lucky to get it set up.
"Operating after that wasn’t ideal, but our premises were kind of suited to that because we weren’t a taphouse back then, we were just producing wholesale. Packaged alcohol sales went up in that period because people were just at home drinking.”
Opening as a taphouse post-lockdown, in February 2022, the industrial space became a home with chairs and tables from the 18th and 19th century, plus extravagant chandeliers provided by Dave and Sue via their antique business, giving the brewery a rustic, almost medieval feel to it.
According to Cam, the beer that started the journey was a suitably old world beer too: kolsch.
“Kolsch was a beer style that we had tasted; I can’t remember what brand but we really liked it and we got more into it. We felt like it was a good compromise between having a mainstream lager and something that mainstream beer drinkers could transition into. It’s not a big jump for someone who drinks Peronis and Heinekens to have a kolsch.”
To this day, the Kolsch remains in the core range, which also includes Pale Ale, Lager, Red Rye IPA, and Hazy IPA. Among the eight taps, there’s also room for two limited releases (usually seasonal) and a local cider, currently apple and raspberry from nearby 7th Day Brewing.
“Local support has been really good, it’s kind of been more in place since we opened the taphouse," Dam says. "The local community has been really, really essential to our business, they’ve given us a lot of support. We have people who come to our taphouse literally every weekend – I couldn’t ask for any more.”
So what drives and inspires the team behind this seemingly isolated Northern Beaches brewing success story? We sat down with Cam to ask the hard questions for our long-running Who Brews...? series.
Quakers Hat Brewing
Who are you?
I’m Cam, I’m the brewer. I previously owned and ran a removals business before transitioning to brewing. Quakers Hat is a family-run brewery.
My father, Dave, handles logistics, building, brewery/taphouse setup, as well as making pizzas! He also owns and runs a French antique and reproductions shop in Mosman with my mother, Sue, who runs our social media and makes the cheese boards. My brother, Nick, works full-time in IT as a coder so he takes care of our website design and maintenance. All of us work in the taproom from Thursday to Saturday.
Where do you brew?
Unit B14/1 Campbell Parade, Manly Vale.
Why do you brew?
With the exception of Sue, who is more into wine, we all love beer and love serving the best and freshest beer to our local community.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
I wouldn’t say there was one beer in particular. I remember drinking an apricot sour at tasting years ago that had a really nice balance and I think that made me start to think about beer in a bit more depth.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Quakers Hat Bay is a small area on the water that the family home looks onto. It's where we started homebrewing and it's where we developed the recipe for some of our beers that we still serve today.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
We have a limited release Brut IPA out at the moment. I would say that best represents me best as it's very dry.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
Blues and rock.
We have live music at the taproom every Friday and Saturday night!
What beers are in your fridge right now?
The whole Quakers Hat range!
Kolsch, Pale Ale, Lager, Red Rye IPA, Hazy IPA, Limited Release Porter. That’s all at the moment.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
I recently had a porter from Nomad that was really nice, as well as a hard lemonade from 7th Day and a bush cider from Bucketty's. All interesting in their own way.
Where can people find your beers?
People can purchase our beer direct from our brewery in Manly Vale, or can order online via our website. Our beer can also be found in bottleshops all over the North Shore and Northern Beaches.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
I honestly have no idea where our brewery will be in ten years. But I hope that whatever stage it's at we will still be focused on getting the best beer out to our customers.