Six months ago, I wrote an article about a start-up brewery called Six String Brewing. At the time, they were lobbying for the second time to get DA approval from the local council to start up production in Erina, on NSW’s Central Coast.
At the time there seemed to be a fair amount of local opposition to the venture, and I wrote primarily about the misconceptions about beer that still underlie drinking culture in Australia. Eventually, Six String’s DA application was approved, and the brewery’s doors were opened to the public just three weeks ago. Last weekend I took a day trip up to the Central Coast to visit the premises.
Adam Klasterka and Chris Benson are the brains behind Six String, with Klasterka looking after the sales and business side of things and Benson coming up with the beers. The idea of opening up a brewery has been with the two of them since 2010, but the challenges and obstructions presented has left them working for two years on the bureaucratic and political side of starting up a business, so actually having their own beer pouring from the house taps comes as a huge relief to them and the team.
The brewery as it stands now gives off a relaxed and friendly vibe. There are two bars set up, with five beers currently pouring; a seating area has been arranged with long patio-style wooden benches and tables for punters to sit and enjoy the brews. Six String features live music on Friday and Saturday nights and, while the kitchen was not yet in operation for my visit, they have since acquired the services of a local gourmet hot dog business. The workings are all there to establish the brewery as a destination to sit and enjoy the atmosphere while tucking into some food and good beer.
“The locals are loving it,” Klasterka says. “We didn’t advertise at all other than through social media, and the response has been great. We have had people who were initially opposed to us now coming in regularly and are fast turning into raving fans.”
Professional courtesy dictated that during my visit I should get myself a sample paddle and taste for myself. The brewery is currently offering five different beers, ranging from the German-style hefeweizen, through a lower-alcohol blonde, Belgian saison, Australian-American hybrid-style pale ale and for the more adventurous, a dark red IPA.
Although I’m obviously a beer lover and a friend of the brewery, I wouldn’t be lying if I said I enjoyed all five of their brews very much. Personally, my American-influenced tastes obviously gravitated towards the dark red IPA, but I was really surprised by the character packed into the 3.8% blonde and the drinkable, slightly fruity flavours of the pale ale and saison will be a perennial hit. The fact is that Six String are doing all of their beers very well, and it’s actually difficult to pick a favourite.
In some cases this could be a double-edged sword. While breweries have an obligation to provide a variety of quality beers in a variety of style, most breweries in Australia find great success through one outstanding beer that people keep coming back to, and which after a while becomes synonymous with that brewery’s brand – think Feral’s Hop Hog, Murray’s Icon or Holgate’s Temptress.
But that’s not where Six String finds itself. After two years in the wilderness, it’s still just the formative days of the brewery’s life, and they’re having fun testing the waters. The range on offer now speaks volumes about the skill and love going into the brewing process. As they start to distribute the product out to more venues, listen to the feedback and crunch the numbers, they’ll know which beers are standing out as favourites, and which to promote and push into a wider beer-loving audience.
“Obviously we want to grow this market on the Central Coast,” says Klasterka. “Newcastle are great supporters of craft beer and are right behind us, we are pouring in 4 venues up there now. Sydney is next on the list and that is as far as we will be distributing for the time being, keeping it as local as possible.”
While all the red tape is now over, local opposition hasn’t completely gone away. Isolated instances of residential complaints about the venue still bubble up from time to time. The lads behind the scenes aren’t concerned though, and for the most part the residents seem pretty chuffed with the area’s latest attraction.
Actually, an attraction is what Six String Brewing is. Not a long drive for Sydneysiders, and you can make the drive back with a couple of growlers full in the back. If you’re a little further away or can’t make the trip to Erina yourself, be sure to mention them at your local good beer venue, because Six String’s beers are ready to pour. As word starts to spread I’m pretty sure the Six String love will, too.
They’ve worked hard to get to this point and, you can take it from me, the fruits of that labour have been worth the wait.
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