Bringing together a bunch of seemingly mismatched people to start a business might not seem the smartest of ideas. But take a look at where Mismatch Brewing Company – and its associated operations – sits today and you’d have to conclude the founders were onto a good thing.
Mismatched they might have been in some ways, but the folks that came together back in 2013 had one crucial thing in common: they were all industry professionals, drawn from different corners of the beverage industry. What’s more, they had big ambitions to leave their mark on the craft beer world, not to mention the worlds of cider, hospitality, spirits…
When the brewing company first appeared, it was with Archie’s Red Ale, a beer brewed via the contract route. With ex-Little Creatures employee Ewan Brewerton wielding the mash paddle, they became the first customers at Big Shed Brewing Concern’s fledgling communal brewery and continued in the same vein for some years, adding BrewPack and Hawkers to their list of partner breweries as they grew, even utilising the canning line at Vale to meet demand, something that had been growing fast following the release of their second beer, a 4 percent ABV quaffer aptly named Session Ale.
Despite starting out in the beer world in sales, Ewan’s desire was always to get involved in the making of great beer. So he travelled to Sunderland in the UK, where he completed a diploma at Brewlab: a four-month course that gave him comprehensive knowledge in brewing from the raw materials, through to the lab and packaging.
It's knowledge he brought back to Adelaide, where he set to work on developing an evolving lineup of Mismatch beers, one that’s gone on to span a broad spectrum over the years, from a Strawberry Berliner Weisse and Helles style lager through their bright and fruity Pale Ale and a hefty 7.5 percent ABV IPA, to bigger, darker beers, such the Evil Archie’s – a more aggressive version of the original red ale, and a Chocolate Stout that rears its head in the colder months.
Ewan and his growing team of brewers don’t just offer variety. As evidenced by a series of trophies – not least Champion Independent Beer for their Lager at the 2018 Indies and a trophy for their Pale the following year – they’re knocking out consistently high quality beers too.
Mismatch and the beers only tell part of the story, however, as the owners have involvement in other local SA businesses too. In 2016, the SA state government announced the awarding of a $950 000 grant that allowed four of them – Mismatch, Hills Cider, ADL Hills Distillery and Ashton Valley Juices – to open a unique venue in the Adelaide Hills.
Lot 100 opened to the public in 2018 and isn’t your typical cellar door venue; sure, you can try all the Mismatch beers here, including small batch brews rarely elsewhere, but it’s more a super venue of sorts – the SA booze world’s version of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Under the one roof, you’ll find the aforementioned companies along with Vinteloper wines. Throw in an Italian-inspired kitchen and the venue is complete; well, almost…
It’s not just drinking and eating that takes place at Lot 100 – that’s just the front of house. Out the back is a vast shed that houses Mismatch’s 35hL brewhouse, fermenters, a lab, one of the biggest cool-rooms around and a canning line, alongside Adelaide Hills Distillery’s still and spirit making equipment. Then there’s the water treatment plant that filters the on site bore water with a reverse osmosis filter system to be used in production, while also treating their wastewater to be used for its original purpose of irrigating crops, plus plans for a barrel room at some point in the future, housed in a separate shed and earmarked for a wild beer program.
Drinkers can book in to a tour of the facility, using the indoor, purpose-built patio that looks over the entire facility. Outside there is ample room for continuous development, including the introduction of a variety of different farm animals and crops that will eventually be utilised by the kitchen staff. Want more? There’s a natural amphitheatre that’s set to host numerous musical parties and performances. Travelling from interstate in style? Why not use their helipad?
Just as well known across Australia as Mismatch is sibling operation Adelaide Hills Cider; you’ll often find both companies side by side at events. The cider business is actually the older of the two, starting out in January 2010 and hitting the ground running. Using nothing but Adelaide Hills fruit, the company helped rejuvenate the fruit growing industry in the Hills through the use of fruit that that might previously have been rejected for minor blemishes. Their range of ciders has enjoyed consistent awards success, too, regularly adding to a swelling trophy cabinet.
There might be plenty of moving parts at play, with some of the owners also involved in other venues and events companies, yet the seemingly mismatched gang has woven them into a smooth-running operation. Balancing ambition and grand vision with quality, consistent products, they’ve created a proudly South Australian collection of businesses with a fine reputation throughout the country’s booze industry.