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Australian Small Brewery Update January 2015

January 13, 2015


White Lies LogoWhite Lies Brewing Company in the Brisbane suburb of Pullenvale recently joined the small but growing number of home-based commercial breweries in Australia, the first of which seem to have been the Bellingen Brewing Company in New South Wales, which started selling beer in 2006; Brew 42, which started at Allanson in Western Australia in 2007; and Kooinda Boutique Brewery, which started in a residential backyard in Melbourne in 2008. White Lies is owned and operated by Lee McAlister-Smiley, who brewed his first commercial batch in mid-2014 on his 280-litre system, and who juggles brewing duties with a full-time office job.

Brisbane’s oldest microbrewery, which has operated at the International Hotel in the inner suburb of Spring Hill since 2000, has been given a new identity. Since March 2014 it has been known as the Hipwood Brewery, after James Hipwood, businessman and councillor, and mayor of Brisbane briefly in the 1880s. Hipwood’s name adorns the 1886 Spring Hill Baths, situated across the street from the pub which houses the brewery. The Hipwood Brewery also has a new brewer in Jason Cleighton-Hills.

As I write, the Brisbane Brewing Company is fitting-out new premises in Boundary Street in the south-side suburb of West End, and has relocated its brewery to the new site from its former home, a shed in the suburb of Albion. Brewing had been conducted at the Albion premises since 2008, and before that for several years in Albert Street in the Brisbane CBD. Like the original Albert Street site, but unlike that at Albion, the new West End premises, which will open to the public later this month (January), will combine the brewing operation with a bar and eatery. Owners Grant and Michelle Clark will, or course, continue to operate their Brewhouse Brisbane (formerly the Clarence Corner Hotel) in Stanley Street, Woolloongabba, where their beers are also available.

Pumpyard Bar Brewery Site

Pumpyard Bar & Brewery is located in Ipswich’s historic 88 Limestone building

Also as I write, a new bar and microbrewery is under development in Limestone Street at Ipswich, west of Brisbane. To be known as the Pumpyard Bar and Brewery, it will be the home of the Four Hearts Brewing Company, founded by Wade Curtis in 2010. Curtis has used other breweries, particularly the Bacchus Brewery in suburban Brisbane, to produce his Four Hearts beers, but now has fulfilled his ambition to start his own brewery. The Pumpyard Bar and Brewery is expected to open to the public later this month.

The Red Dragon Brewery in the Cairns suburb of Portsmith has been responsible of late for a large number of new beers, but none of them under its own name. Red Dragon Brewery was created by Welshman Marc Hillman from the U-Brew-It brew-on-premises shop in Portsmith, which he took over in 2011. Since then, Hillman has developed the business into a supplier of beer under private labels to pubs, clubs and bars in and around Cairns. One of his customers, the Green Ant Cantina in Cairns, sells several Red Dragon beers under its own Green Ant Brewing Company label.

The Stanthorpe district now has another microbrewery, with the opening in November of the Brass Monkey Brewhouse. Brass Monkey is the creation of award-winning home-brewer Ernie Butler and his wife Tracey, and operates from a shed at their home at Severnlea, on the southern side of Stanthorpe. The brewery has a producer/wholesaler licence, and opens Thursday to Monday for draught and bottled beer sales.

New South Wales

A new contract brewing business, in the style of Australian Independent Brewers (now Brewpack) at Smeaton Grange, opened in south-western Sydney in the second half of 2014. Known as Icon Brewing, the facility occupies the premises of the recently defunct contract drinks maker Fizz Bizz Beverages Pty Ltd in Ash Road at Prestons, near Liverpool. After Fizz Bizz went into voluntary administration in May 2014, the owner of the building created a new company called Boka Beverages to continue the operation, and added a 140-hL Jacob Carl brewhouse. Nick Button, formerly of 4 Pines, and previously of AIB, has taken on the role of brewing director at Icon, while Gerard Meares has been hired as shift brewer. In recent years Gerard has held brewing positions at Paddy’s Brewery in Sydney and at the Flying Horse Brewery in Warrnambool, Victoria.

The Underground Craft Brewery at Aberglassyln, a suburb of Maitland in the Hunter valley, is another new home-based microbrewery. In September, Maitland City Council approved an application from home-brewer Stuart Duff to conduct a 300-litre brewery as a home industry. Stuart’s producer/wholesaler licence was granted in November, and trial brewing began last month (December). Beer should be on sale very soon.


I reported in an earlier Update that the Wig and Pen Tavern and Brewery closed its doors for the last time in September at its original premises at Canberra House in Civic, and would soon re-open in new premises at the School of Music building at the nearby Australian National University. The move was more complicated and took much longer than had been hoped, but now the re-opening is imminent.


At Ballarat, Rebellion Brewing, formerly O’Brien Brewing, has relocated its operations to new and bigger premises in the suburb of Wendouree. John O’Brien commenced brewing his gluten-free beers at the former Bintara Brewery at Rutherglen early in 2007, and moved the operation to Ballarat later the same year. After five years at premises in Creswick Road, Ballarat, the brewery was moved again in 2012, into a purpose-built addition to the Bridge Hotel in Mair Street. The latest move overcomes space limitations at the Mair Street site. Brewing began at Wendouree in November 2014.

South Australia

clip_image002New in South Australia is Little Bang Brewing Company, the creation of Filip Kemp and Ryan Davidson, who operate a home-based brewery in the suburb of Glynde. Brewing commenced in October, and the first Little Bang products (a hoppy saison, an American barleywine, and a steam ale) were launched at the Wheatsheaf Hotel, Thebarton, on 30 November.

Brewing began in December at a microbrewery newly installed at a winery in the Clare Valley district. The brewery was built by Pike’s Wines at their Polish Hill River Estate, with the assistance of a grant from the South Australian Government’s Regional Development Fund. Brothers Andrew and Neil Pike have been in the winemaking business in the Clare Valley since 1984, but the brewery represents a return to their family’s roots—their great-great-grandfather, Henry Pike, established the Dorset Brewery at Oakbank near Adelaide in the 1880s. Since 1996, the brothers have marketed beer under the Pikes label, made for them by breweries such as Coopers (Adelaide) and Australian Independent Brewers (Sydney). Their own brewery, which operates as Pikes Beer Company Pty Ltd, features a 20-hectolitre Il Mastro Birraio plant from Italian manufacturer L. A. Inox.


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One Response to Australian Small Brewery Update January 2015

  1. William Wilson on January 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Good news – the Wig and Pen apparently opened it’s doors yesterday

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