It’s often said that good people drink good beer and, while that’s often very true, there’s an added benefit when drinking good beer can bring about good too.
It was such an idea that drove a group of mates in Melbourne to launch A Local Beer at the start of 2019 with the aim of using beer as a way to help feed those in need. The brewing company went about it by teaming up with SecondBite, an organisation that rescues food from major supermarkets and passes it on to hungry families. For every six-pack or pint of XPA sold, SecondBite would be able to secure a meal for someone facing food insecurity.
The team behind the beer was Claudia Mitchell, Chris Cefala, Hugo Mylecharane, Sam Harris and Nick Campbell; they’d met at university and shared a love not just for craft beer but social enterprise as well.
Their range wouldn't be limited to XPA forever, however, and neither would the beer label stick with the name A Local Beer. In October 2020, they became Local Brewing Co and expanded their core range to include Runaway IPA and Pacific Paradise alongside the newly-monikered Sunset XPA.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the original ethos that brought Claudia, Chris, Hugo, Sam and Nick together: for each pack or pint sold – now alongside a growing band of limited releases – someone would receive a meal.
By the time of the rebrand, Local Brewing had donated close to 18,000 meals to people in need. What’s more, their beers were finding an audience well beyond Melbourne too, as the team secured distribution across Australia’s East Coast.
Without a brewery of their own, the group worked with some of Melbourne’s local breweries to turn their recipes into beer, with the majority brewed in partnership with Burnley Brewing.
Their focus isn’t just on making sure food gets to those who could use it but also on cutting waste; the group has teamed up with their brewing buddies at Burnley on the Fruits Of Our Labour series. These beers use excess sourdough from a local bakery and highlight not only different fruits but also the sheer amount of food that is wasted. The concept has led to their Surplus Sour series too: these use fruit otherwise destined for landfill, such as mangoes from the NT, and are stocked in Coles' liquor stores.
The pace of the project stepped up a notch or three in 2023 when they finally opened the doors to their own venue. While we'd expected them to set down roots in Richmond, they ended up finding the ideal location in Clifton Hill and, after initially using it as a base to sell coffee to locals during the last of Melbourne's long lockdowns, they turned it into their taproom at the end of March 2023.
You'll find their core range and a rotating selection of limited releases on tap, alongside the odd beer from brewing mates, in a space that features their new branding in a giant mural along the main wall and which they envisage as a community hub.
Conversations have taken place over beers for millennia; Local Brewing Co hope the conversations sparked by theirs will bring about positive change too – and now they have a space of their own in which to start them.