For many years western Sydney was regarded by craft beer drinkers as a barren land, not to be ventured into for fear of being left at the mercy of the mainstream. But when Riverside Brewing Company opened in Parramatta midway through 2012, everything changed. Not only did locals get a brewery they could call their own, they got a damn fine one at that.
Situated amidst a fairly standard issue industrial area containing trade warehouses of varying kinds, passers-by are given little indication of what's happening inside. But those who have ventured beyond the large roller door will have a vastly different perspective. There they will have seen the inner workings of a 2000L brewing system producing a fine range of ales, the likes of summer, golden, amber, pale, IPA and porter. Another 600L pilot system offers the chance for smaller production runs and to branch out with limited releases.
The hands that crafted Riverside's beers for its first three years belonged to Dave Padden, a long-time resident of the western suburbs and enthusiastic member of its associated home brewing society. If there was any doubt about an ability to transition from homebrewing to commercial brewing, it was flushed down the nearest drain shortly after the the brewery's opening as unrelenting demand for Riverside beer forced Dave to quit his day job and focus on brewing full time.
As a result – a very good one for drinkers – Riverside beer soon became increasingly available across Sydney as well as interstate (at least when demand allows). And for lucky locals wishing to drink from the source, fresh growler fills are available directly from the Parramatta brewery most Friday evenings and Saturdays.
At the end of 2014, Dave left to pursue new avenues in the beer world and Craig Deacon took over the reins, following stints at Malt Shovel and BrewPack, with Damian Iowa at his side. They have plenty of fine and popular beers to play with, not least the Sydney favourites 44 American Amber, 77 IPA and 777 Imperial IPA that polled a staggering number six in the 2014 Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll.
Having been isolated in the middle of a craft beer desert for so long, Riverside Brewing Company has turned Parramatta into something more reminiscent of a craft beer oasis.