How many different beers does a pub need to have on offer before it’s considered a ‘great’ beer pub? In my view, only one tap of really good beer is sufficient to make a venue at least worth visiting, so where do I start when a new venue spruiks its lineup of 33 different taps?
The Keg & Brew, formerly the KB Hotel in Foveaux Street in Surry Hills, has this week reopened its newly renovated doors to a revamped American-style saloon bar – complete with enormous wildlife head plaque trophies – and the new philosophy is all about food, bourbon and, yes, more than 30 different taps of predominantly local beer and cider. Since research has shown the average consumer will typically opt for a larger shelf choice rather than a toss-up between two or three, the Keg & Brew offers a tantalising proposition.
To their credit though, the team behind the hotel aren’t playing up the obvious “my tap list is bigger than yours” pissing contest. There are no plans for a constant tap list rotation that could play into the whole ‘Fear of Missing out on Beer’ thing: the taps aren’t even of the non-descript black-handled variety, making it easy to chop and change between kegs. They’re large and decaled and advertising many beloved brewers from around the local area and a little bit further afield.
As licensee Simon ‘Wombat’ Kraegen put it on launch night, if the taps are not local then they’re at least from NSW, with only a few brewers from outside the state.
“We want to give people a chance to try the excellent new brewers of Australia,” Kraegen says in the media release, and explained on launch night that their setup is such that they can convert a few people from old favourites (yes, their lineup includes Resch’s and VB) to try something new, and local.
He explained to me that while the taps won’t be in constant flux, the setup will allow them to be flexible when each brewery brings out a new beer. The plan will be to strike a balance between being a venue with a consistent, high-quality range and being able to offer new and exciting options.
Along with their large core beer range, the Keg & Brew also offers over 30 different bourbons – Kraegen says they love the culture surrounding both beer and bourbon – and an impressively decadent array of hearty pub food “with an American twist”. Think lots of deep frying.
The Keg & Brew seems to be a comfortingly unpretentious venue in a great location, that should be just as popular among Surry Hills’ most extreme hipster element as the work-a-day types wanting somewhere familiar to enjoy a few schooners of the ‘usual’. Whichever of 30 options that ‘usual’ happens to be.
To celebrate their reopening, the Keg & Brew is holding a party from 5-7PM on Thursday, October 16, with free nibbles and happy hour specials to ‘welcome in the neighbours’.