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Australian Small Brewery Update – September 2014

September 8, 2014


Charming Squire image

The Charming Squire at South Brisbane is the newest addition to Lion’s growing chain of Squire-themed beer palaces. It joins the Generous Squire in Perth, the Curious Squire in North Adelaide, the Squire’s Maiden in Newcastle, the Squire’s Bounty in Hobart, and the original (2001) James Squire Brewhouse in Melbourne. Like its counterparts in Melbourne and Perth, the Charming Squire sports an in-house microbrewery. Brewing began around the end of July, but, disappointingly, no house beer was available when the venue opened to the public on 28 August; just a lot of brewed-elsewhere James Squire products, which can be obtained almost anywhere these days. The house-brew was still maturing when I called in, and no-one could say when it would be ready. The Charming Squire is a joint venture between Lion and the Mantle Group, owner of numerous Brisbane drinking venues, including the Pig and Whistle chain of British-themed pubs.

On the other side of the ledger, Cairns microbrewery Blue Sky Brewery has closed. The two companies involved in the production and supply of Blue Sky beer (Blue Sky Brewery Pty Ltd and Blue Sky Beverages Pty Ltd) entered in voluntary liquidation on 14 July. The brewery, in Lake Street, Cairns, commenced production in 2008.

New South Wales

Hill Billy Brewing, in the small New England town of Deepwater, is a home-based commercial brewery that started selling beer early in July 2014. The venture is owned and operated by Marshall Wiles, who ‘retired’ to Deepwater from Brisbane to become a farmer. His brewery is on a tiny scale, and presently has only one outlet, the Deepwater Inn. The Commercial Hotel at Tenterfield, which is soon to re-open after about eight years in hibernation, is expected to become the second outlet for Hill Billy beer.

Modus Operandi Brewing Co. opened to the public on 30 July at Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches. Modus Operandi’s husband and wife owners, Grant and Jaz Wearin, bought a brewhouse from Premier Stainless Systems of San Diego, USA, and it was installed in their Harkeith Street premises early in June. They also obtained their brewer from the United States; he is D. J. McCready, formerly of Colorado craft brewery Oskar Blues.

Also newly started in northern Sydney is Nomad Brewing Co., which was mentioned in my previous Update. Nomad started brewing early in July, and opened to the public on Sunday 24 August.


The advent of the Public Brewery at Croydon was reported in an earlier Update (May 2014), with the observations that the bar side of the operation had opened in January, and that on-site brewing had commenced early in March. The latter, unfortunately, was somewhat premature. Although some brewing equipment had been delivered by early March, installation and commissioning was not completed until very recently, and brewing was commenced only in mid-August.

Also new in Victoria is Napoleone Brewers, which operates a microbrewery on a family farm at Coldstream in the Yarra Valley. The Napoleone family started growing fruit in the 1940s, planted their first vineyard in the 1980s, and opened a winery at the Napoleone Vineyard at Coldstream in 1999. Now they have moved into the beer business, using the equipment from the original Moo Brew brewery in Tasmania. The kit was removed from its home at the Moorilla Estate late last year, and kept in storage at Coldstream until the building for it was ready. It was installed in June, and fired up in August by brewer Ben Waymouth. Napoleone Brewery and Ciderhouse opened to the public early in August.

Napoleone Brewers have filled the void left when the Coldstream Brewery, a five-minute drive away, ceased in-house brewing a year or more ago. Coldstream Brewery opened in 2007 with a second-hand brewhouse obtained from New Zealand, but the brewery was removed to Melbourne last year.

After nearly five years of operation in its converted motor garage at Black Rock, on the eastern shore of Port Phillip Bay, the True South Brewery has ceased brewing. The venue continues, but the space previously occupied by the brewery has been converted to accommodate additional diners.

Black Rock’s loss, however, is Torquay’s gain, with the Newlands brewing equipment from True South reappearing at the seaside town, 20km south of Geelong. There, in the former Surfrider Cafe in Bell Street, True South brewer Renn Blackman and partner Jessica Giudice have opened Blackman’s Brewery. The brewery equipment was transferred from Black Rock to Torquay early in July, and the restaurant/cafe opened to the public early in August with two beers on tap (albeit brewed by Renn at Black Rock before the removal).

The historic Tooborac Hotel, at Tooborac, entered the brewing business in 2009 when it installed the old brewing equipment from the Rifle Brigade Hotel, 60km down the road at Bendigo. Having outgrown that original equipment, owners James and Valerie Carlin have now installed a bigger 1200-litre (10 US barrel) Premier Stainless Systems brewhouse. This kit formerly did service at the Garage Project brewery in Wellington, New Zealand, which was recently up-sized to 20 barrels. A formal launch of the new brewhouse at Tooborac was held in July.

South Australia

Brewboys Stephen Nelsen and Simon Sellick set up shop in Regency Park at the end of 2008, with a tiny on-premises brewery, but mostly brewing elsewhere, and lately fermenting wort prepared at the Woolshed Brewery at Wilkadene. Simon, the sole proprietor since 2011, recently installed a new 20hL brewery at his Regency Park premises, to remove his former dependence on other breweries. The first brew went through the new plant in June.

Northern Territory

Darwin now has its first operational micro-brewery since the Frontier Brewery closed in 1996. One Mile Brewery at Palmerston, owned by Stuart Brown and Bahadir ‘Bardy’ Bayram, launched its first beer at the Deck Bar in Darwin at the beginning of August. One Mile is on a tiny scale, brewing in 100-litre batches, and focussing on the local market by selling kegs to a couple of Darwin pubs. As both owners have other jobs, the brewery operates mainly outside normal business hours.

Western Australia

It is more than six years since plans were first announced for the inclusion of a micro-brewery in the Northbridge Piazza development in Perth, and four years since the liquor licence was granted for the brewery project. Great relief must therefore have been felt by all concerned when the Northbridge Brewing Company opened its three-storey premises to the public early in August this year. The 12hL in-house brewery is under the command of veteran brewer, Ken Arrowsmith, whom older beer hunters might remember as the brewer at the Old Lion in North Adelaide, a Brewtech joint-venture that kicked off in 1986.

The Swan Valley’s already high density of microbreweries (Ironbark, Elmar’s, Mash, Feral) became a bit higher with the recent commissioning of the Homestead Brewery at Mandoon Estate in Harris Road, Caversham. Brewing started in August on Homestead’s new 20hL German-engineered Schulz brewhouse, and a public opening is scheduled for September.

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