A few years ago, on a Crafty Pint trip around Tasmania, it was impossible not to notice a new brewery's name popping up seemingly wherever we went. Whether it was pouring on tap or found in the hands of the customer in front of us as a bottleshop, Little Rivers had certainly wasted little time making its presence felt.
It was some surprise, then, to discover on arriving at the brewery's home in Scottsdale, in the state's northeast, that co-owner and head brewer Chris Carins was brewing all of those beers on what wasn't too far removed from a glorified homebrew setup. There, on a 200 litre brewery built with his uncle's welding skills and repurposed winery tanks, he was running triple brew days before packaging by hand and, along with partner – and now wife – Jess, handling all deliveries too.
These days, things have changed somewhat at their Scottsdale home. Having got off to a flyer – at the time, they were the first new brewery to open in Tasmania in a few years – they soon realised this wasn't sustainable. So, in went a 2,000 litre brewery in October 2015 and down went the hours former winemaker Chris had to spend on the tools each brew day.
While the brewery has expanded, the ethos driving Little Rivers beers has remained steady. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a brewer who spent 12 months learning the ropes at Queensland's Burleigh Brewing, Chris tends to focus on approachable and traditional, frequently European inspired, beer styles. Like most Tasmanian breweries, he enjoys showcasing locally grown hops – not just the varieties coming out of Hop Products Australia's Bushy Park but also those from Edward's, the last hop farm still operational in their part of the state, producing Super Pride and Pride of Ringwood for Coopers and also the location of some wild Columbus Chris has used in his fresh hop beers at harvest time.
Every time they brew a batch of beer, they produce the equivalent of one litre for each resident of their hometown so it's little surprise you can find their beers across the entire state and within some of the regional chains. But it's closer to home they've really been taken to heart. The all Tasmanian beer, cider, wine and spirits Weldborough Hotel sells more of Little Rivers' beer than anyone else's and their bottles fly out of the fridge at other venues in the region like The Hub in Derby.
They've forged relationships elsewhere too, most notably with their sponsorship of the Enduro World Series mountain bike race, for whom they brewed an XPA that proved so popular it joined their core range, but also within the region's golf and footy clubs.
Yet, while you can find their beer pretty easily across Tasmania, the best bet is to head to the cellar door. Not only will you taste the beer at its freshest and, more than likely, get to meet Chris, Jess and their family, but the drive to Scottsdale, no matter what route you choose, takes you through a truly stunning part of the world. One which the Little Rivers team is happy to be injecting with new flavours.