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Australian Small Brewery Update – July 2014

July 1, 2014

New South Wales


The brewery at  Hope Estate

The brewery at Hope Estate

Hope Estate at Pokolbin, formerly known as Rothbury Estate, is the site of the latest brewery to open in the Hunter Valley wine district (see picture). Michael Hope, the estate’s owner since 2006, purchased the brewing equipment from Murray’s Brewery at Port Stephens after their recent upgrade, and employed Matt Hogan of De Bortoli at Griffith as his brewer. Matt put through the first brew at Hope Estate, a blonde ale, at the end of May. Several other beers have been produced since then, including a golden ale, a pale ale, and a stout.

Brewing began in March at the Borenore Brewhouse, a new small brewery in the village of Borenore, about 14 km west of Orange. This is the latest project of Marty Oliver, formerly an information technology specialist, but now a brewer and brewery proprietor. His first beer, a pale ale, went on tap at the Metropolitan Hotel at Orange in May. Marty set up the Borenore Brewhouse with the help of Costa Nikias of Beverage and Brewing Consulting, who also sourced the 8hL second-hand European brewhouse.

In the Tweed Valley, the second Stone and Wood brewery has been commissioned, and brewing has begun. Having outgrown their original brewery in Byron Bay, the Stone and Wood guys found a home for a second brewery in the vacant former Bunnings Trade Centre at South Murwillumbah, about 50km north of Byron Bay. Their plans, which centred on the installation of a new 50hL DME brewhouse in the expansive new premises, were announced in mid-2013. Installation of the new brewery began early in January, and some tanks from the Byron Bay brewery (which will continue to operate) were moved to the new building in April. The opening of the Murwillumbah brewery has been commemorated by the production of a special brew, a hoppy ale called Cloud Catcher, which will be on sale soon.

Newly started in northern Sydney is Nomad Brewing Co., which operates a 25hL brewery in a modern industrial unit in Sydenham Road, Brookvale, less than one kilometre from 4 Pines Brewery, which opened in Winbourne Road in the same suburb less than two years ago. Nomad is a joint venture between Kerrie Abba of Experience It (importer to Australia of Italian premium beverages including craft beer), and a bunch of Italian cerevizaphiles including Leonardo de Vincenzo, the founder of craft brewery Birra del Borgo. Nomad received its excise licence in late June, and has probably started brewing by now.


Bentspoke Brewing Company in the Canberra suburb of Braddon failed to open to the public in May as had been hoped, but the expectant hordes were finally admitted on Friday 6 June. Bentspoke, which is on two levels in a new apartment building at the corner of Mort and Elouera Streets, launched with a range of five beers, among them a brown ale called Dick Tracy, named after couple Richard Watkins and Tracy Margrain, who run the place. Dick Tracy, which was mashed-in late in April when the premises were still a busy construction site, was the maiden Bentspoke brew.


The old (1884) Clifton Hill Hotel, lately a popular live music venue and run-of-the-mill Melbourne suburban pub, has recently been transformed into the more stylish, sedate and food-focused Clifton Hill Brewpub, which, as the name suggests, features a microbrewery producing its own range of craft beers. The costly renovation of the pub, including the installation of the brewery, was completed in September last year, but the commencement of brewing was delayed until the beginning of this year, with the first brews (pale ale and dark ale) pouring by mid-January. The supply and fit-out of the brewery was undertaken by Costa Nikias of Beverage and Brewing Consulting, who also operates the brewery.

Cheeky Peak Brewery at the Murray River town of Wodonga is a rather unusual brewing operation. It started as a U Brew It brew-on-premises facility and home-brewing supply shop several years ago, but moved away from the franchise to become the independent Cheeky Peak Brewery in August last year. In November, a 500-litre brewery was ordered from Germany, and earlier this year the BOP shop became a fully-fledged commercial brewery. Since February, Cheeky Peak has been making and selling 23-litre all-grain fresh wort kits, and since March has provided a ‘fill your own vessel’ service, whereby customers can bring containers of any size to the brewery to be filled with fresh beer.

Two Birds Brewing, created in 2011 by Jayne Lewis (formerly of Mountain Goat Brewery) and Danielle Allen, launched its first beer later that year. Since the outset, the birds have been using breweries including Southern Bay at Geelong (Vic.) and Gage Roads at Palmyra (WA) to produce their beers, but they never lost sight of their original goal of having their very own production facility. They have now achieved this with the creation of a small brewery at Kubis Corporate Park in the Melbourne suburb of Spotswood. Installation of the equipment began in February this year, and the first brew was put through early in June.

At Loch, an historic village in South Gippsland, halfway between Melbourne and Wilson’s Promontory, the former Union Bank property has been converted into a small brewery and distillery. Known simply as Loch Brewery and Distillery, it is the creation of former Melbourne residents Craig Johnson and Melinda Davies. Their main purpose is to distil whisky, but a range of English-syle ales has been introduced and will be continued after the stills begin to operate in the coming weeks. Brewing started in April, using a 10hL owner-designed and locally-fabricated kit, and the first beers were launched at the Loch Village Food and Wine Festival (which methinks would be better named the Loch Village Food and Drink Festival) on the recent Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

It was reported in the Melbourne press nearly a year ago that the owners of the Coldstream Brewery in the Yarra Valley were building a ‘new brewery’ in the Melbourne suburb of Moorabbin. In reality, their brewery at Coldstream was removed and put into storage at Moorabbin, where it became inactive. This sad state of affairs has recently been rectified by Gus Kelly (whose brother, Philip, was one of the founders several years ago of the Coldstream Brewery) and Andrew Gargan. Their new company, Riders Brew Co., has reassembled the brewery, added some fermenters and other essential bits, and brought it back to life. Their first brew was put through in April, just in time for release at the Kellybrook Cider Festival early in May.

South Australia

The Wheatsheaf Hotel in George Street, Thebarton, has long been one of Adelaide’s premier beer-drinking destinations. It has now cemented that reputation by installing its own brewery. A 6hL system from Premier Stainless Systems of San Diego, California, was added in February this year. The first few brews were put through the system in late May by visiting international brewers during the hotel’s annual beer festival, Good Beer Wheaty.

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