Before Little Bang Brewing came into existence, Fil Kemp and Ryan Davidson tapped keys rather than kegs, developed video game characters rather than beer recipes, worked with code rather than Columbus. Then, in 2014, the avid homebrewers made the step from one industry where people – not least them – proudly wear the tag “geek” to one where, well, they could work on satisfying an altogether different type of geek†.
The move from making video games to Fil’s backyard shed was something of a gamble, not least because the pair wasn’t fully away as to what they’d gotten themselves into. But, with the Australian games industry having fallen apart, leading them to jobs as a refrigeration mechanic and beer rep respectively, scaling up their recipes and testing them on Adelaide’s beer drinking community seemed one worth taking. Worst case scenario? They’d have plenty of beer they wanted to drink on hand at a fraction of the cost of buying it.
For two years, armed with equipment made up of repurposed wine making gear, some homemade additions and a couple of new inventions, the shed was Little Bang’s home. But, with the South Australian public loving what they made, and beer running out frequently, this small backyard brewery could contain them no longer.
Fil was sick of Ryan’s sweaty body rubbing up against his as they moved around the shed; Ryan was sick of lifting long hoses; it was time for an upgrade. So, in 2015, Little Bang Brewing moved into a small warehouse that allowed them to add two new fermenters and a cellar door. The move not only allowed for increased capacity (and less physical proximity) but also enabled them to develop a local community following. A year later, another mash tun was purchased too, this time one intended for making beer rather than wine.
At the end of 2018, it was time to move again to a new space in Stepney. So, after thousands of beers, dozens of food truck visits, many a legendary party and good times galore, they took up residence in their biggest space yet. It's one that's allowed for more beer, the opening of a Little Bang kitchen, more barrels, more space for customers, including a mezzanine overlooking it all, and, well, more of everything you've come to know the Little Bangers for.
As for the beers, it’s fair to say little is off bounds. Sure, there’s regular releases such as hoppy steam ale Icon and American pale ale Beard Fiction but they’ve made their name as much through beers such as the Galactopus barley wine (with said Galactopus adorning one wall of the brewery) and Scratchy Vinyl black IPA, and they’re not averse to collaborations either.
The naming, conception and artwork behind the beers, which these days come in some of the most eye-catching cans in the country, tend to be shot through with lashings of off kilter humour – as you’d expect after five minutes in conversation with Fil and Ryan, two of the sharper and more thoughtful minds in the local industry. Just don’t be surprised if you have to ask for an explanation to get to the root of some of the multilayered jokes at play.
It’s been a pretty rapid ascent, particularly as it’s one that’s been made without compromise. But it doesn’t take long in their company to understand how seamlessly they’ve transitioned their passionate geekery from one industry to another.
† We’re actually pretty sure the Venn Diagram showing video game designers and craft beer aficionados wouldn’t be too far off a perfect circle…