Beaver Brewery has experienced a year of change and growth as part of the Northern Territory’s growing craft beer community.
Owner Chris Brown told Brews News changes have been ongoing since his family opened the doors to his Darwin-based brewery in April 2019.
“We have been constantly making small changes to aid our efficiency, in not just brewing but also our cellar door,” Brown explained.
An extra 600-litre fermenter was added to a total of five in August last year to create more flexibility in the brewery schedule.
Brown said last year’s dry season, which is traditionally a time for tourists to visit, was much busier than expected.
In preparation for this year he said they have upgraded the brewery cold-room to allow for the seasonal increase in customers.
“With the dry season, the Northern Territory becomes a bit of a tourist spot and most tourists love to try local beer.”
In an attempt to reuse and recycle all its used products, Brown and his team started up a spent grain rotation which sees 120 kilograms of grain and 20 litres of yeast passed to local farmers for animal feed every few weeks.
“We are also in the process of getting a canning machine, which will allow us to get our products more readily into the market.”
Brown explained that it is difficult for a brewery in the Northern Territory to get beer on the market if they don’t have a packaged product circulating.
“We currently only sell kegged product and, as everyone knows, tap contracts are a killer,” he said.
Tap contracts and the decreasing space available are growing concern for many craft breweries in Australia and Brown’s experience echoes this.
He explained that there “aren’t a lot of taps in the town [Darwin] not under contract.”
Despite this competition, Brown said local breweries share the common goal to make beer better in the Northern Territory and change local beer drinking habits.
“As a craft beer community we are very much in our infancy, with there only being three breweries in Darwin and one down in Alice [Springs].
“People haven’t been exposed to craft beer as much as down south, there is a good homebrew community and more people are starting to get on board so it is slowly moving in the right direction.”
Brown said he is also putting in effort to keep the brewery taps at the cellar door fresh and different, with something new brewing on the regular.
“We gave our pilot system a workout with 22 beers brewed in the last year.”
Last year Brown said he had the opportunity to brew a collaboration Territory Red IPA with Alice Springs Brewing Co.
“Although we didn’t make the top 100, we came 192nd in the GABS Hottest 100 and 45 in the New Beer Category which we were both very surprised with.”
Brown expressed his love for dark beer styles, which can be overlooked in the Northern Territory due to the climate.
“There is a beer myth that you can’t drink dark beer in hot weather and that it only works where it is cold,” he said.
“We can honestly say we have crushed that myth, we brew a lot of dark styles, from Dark Lagers to Porters and Stouts but make them for the conditions.”
“We mash them a little bit lower than you would expect and keep them sessionable with a light mouth feel. It seems to work and it is amazing how many others seem to love dark beer too now.”