A few years back, Will Tatchell departed Tasmania to take up a brewing job at Guinness in Ireland. He never made it, the dream position dashed by an email that landed in his inbox while he travelled through Nepal with his dad telling him the job had gone. Undaunted, he continued on to the UK, sent emails to 100 breweries from the Orkneys in the north of Scotland to the south coast of England and landed a place at Milton, in the university city of Cambridge.
"Part of the job was to walk into these colleges with Harry Potter like dining halls and try to sell the brewery's beers," says Will. "The Aussie accent seemed to help!"
Within two weeks of starting, he was brewing by himself, immersing himself in the art of brewing real ales - and developing a love for British ales that he brought back with him to Australia in 2006. Faced with a choice of working for another brewery or starting his own, he chose the latter, installing a brewery on family land outside Evandale. It's a beautiful spot, with the brewery shed set among 100-year-old oak trees (the ones on Van Dieman's labels) in the rolling countryside just south of Launceston.
After 25 trial batches, Will finally released his first beers - a Pale, an Amber and a Stout based on beers he'd brewed in the UK - on Anzac Day in 2009. He continued with the British theme, producing ESBs, IPAs and a Hedgerow ale that uses berries from the farm, all of which either take their name from nearby landmarks or give a nod to their Tassie heritage, before exploring an interest in barrel-aged, sour and estate grown ales. The last of these refers to his mission to develop beers in which every ingredient is grown or sourced on the farm.
Part of the farm was turned over to growing barley for his beers (which, at time of writing, was still be malted off-site) and, mid-2016, a coolship was installed, while hops have been grown on site for years. And, in November 2017, the first of the Estate Ales appeared, each bearing the names of Will and Kalie's three kids, Edward, Oscar and Max.
The Estate Ales arrival coincided with a rebrand and more new beers with a barrel focus too, including a three-year-old wild ale and a barrel and Brett-fermented IPA, and have continued with the installation of a small malthouse on the farm.
For now, Van Dieman's brewery remains a production facility – one that has been constantly expanding since opening – and one where Will's not just using family land. Head in on bottling days and you might find mum and dad lending a hand – and maybe even Will's kids on hand too. If you want to find his beers, chances are you'll have to head to Tassie as such is demand in his home state that Will sells 95 percent of his beers there.