February 14th, 2014 by Crafty Pint
Over the past few years, Australia has welcomed an increasing number of guests from the international beer community. Whether itâs for celebrations like Good Beer Week or to judge in competitions like the Australian International Beer Awards, theyâre also often coming down here just to see firsthand the change sweeping the nation. And more often than not, they like what they see.
So much so, in fact, that ideas are being hatched as to how they can be more involved. Danish gypsy brewer Christian Skovdal Andersen last year formed a collaborative brewing company, Edge Brewing Projects, with local brewer/importer Northdown and now another enamoured visitor is taking things a step further. In what must be one of the more striking examples of a visitor falling for the Aussie beer world’s charms in recent times is the news that Leonardo di Vicenzo, founder of Italyâs Birra del Borgo, is about to open a brewery in Sydney alongside the team behind Experience It Beverages.
Called Nomad (Please Note: the original article stated that the brewery was to be called Nomads, but it has now been changed to Nomad â apparently, they were told the original name sounded a little too much like a bikie gangâ¦), itâs an appropriate moniker for a company whose owners all live in Italy but spend much of their time travelling the world, working with a lot of big name breweries in a variety of ways. But despite this, Nomad will be locally focused, with the decision to set up in Brookvale not as unusual as it might at first seem.
Kerrie and Johnny Latta, the husband and wife team behind Experience It, are Aussies and former residents of the Northern Beaches. That was before they moved to Italy and started sending containers of international craft beer back to Australia. Youâll have been a beneficiary of their work if youâve recently drunk the likes of Deschutes, Sixpoint, Magic Rock, To Ãl and a swath of Italian micros – including Birra del Borgo, with whom theyâve formed a great friendship.
Leo is no stranger to these shores either. Heâs been at past beer weeks, hosted dozens of events in several states, brewed the gloriously named Myrtleâs Bunga Bunga Party for GABS and collaborated on My Anchovia with The Wheaty. And, just last week, while on reconnaissance for the impending brewery, he helped take beer into the wine world for the second year at Sydneyâs Rootstock festival. Heâs clearly into whatâs happening Down Under.
In many ways, that makes Nomad an ideal partnership. Leo holds the requisite brewing knowledge, including how to build a brewery, while Kerrie and Johnny know the local market and have the distribution covered. Between them, they can brew good beer then get it to you in good condition. And it shouldnât be too long until that starts to happen, with the new brewhouse due to arrive in March.
Leo will be coming along with it then staying for three months to help get it up and running.
âAnd then,â he says, âI plan to be back here at least every 45 days.â Which begs the question: whoâll be running things in the meantime?
The brewer tasked with keeping the Nomads on track day to day will be Brooks Caretta. Heâll also be arriving in March, but on a permanent basis, and will be bringing with him some enviable brewing credentials, having been the first head brewer at New Yorkâs Eataly Birreria and more recently brewing at Birra del Borgo. With the Eately project being a joint venture between Leo, Teo Musso of Italyâs Baladin Brewery and Sam Calagione of DogFish Head, itâs not a bad set of tutors from which to garner some hands-on experience. All things going to plan, heâll be putting his skills to the test in Brookvale by April.
At this stage the core range is likely to consist of three beers, and although theyâve mocked up some initial labels theyâre keeping coy about whether those will be the first beers to roll off the line.
âWe have too many ideas!â says Leo. âThe beers will probably have more of a European influence, but weâll use more Australian ingredients.â
Adds Kerrie: âWeâll also follow the bottle conditioning Leo uses on all his beers.â
A step up from that, Leo was positively radiant about the prospect of getting a barrel conditioning project underway. He says: âWeâll look at doing barrels in the old way â¦ blending like you do with vinegar.â Fans of del Borgoâs Equilibrista should rejoice, with Kerrie prodding Leo with the words, âwe should definitely do something with wine!â
The other thing that seems a definite on the âto doâ list is exporting – and not just their own product. With both sides of the partnership having connections all over the beer world and a handy grasp on supply chain management, itâs hoped that, in time, Nomad will become a vehicle to help spread the word about Australian beer – and the beer itself – far and wide.
With those sorts of ideas on the horizon, itâs probably for the best that this Nomad has decided to call Australia home.
As a side note to this, when The Crafty Pint first heard about Leo and the Experience It team’s plans, we were quite amazed. Just weeks earlier, we had been out for dinner with another international brewer who first visited Australia last year who was telling us of his plans to move here, build a brewery, and help Australian brewers with distribution. Two days ago, he called to announce he was back in the country and that the process is well underway. So look out for news of a second international about to make Australia home sooner rather than later…