When planning a new, forward-looking, community-orientated suburb, a brewery wouldn’t traditionally have been one of the first amenities on the list of desirables. So it’s arguably a sign of the times that a brewpub appeared so quickly when the Adelaide ‘burb of Bowden was taking shape.
Located on the outskirts of the city, Bowden was designed to be a walkable community, with infrastructure conceived in a manner that residents wouldn’t need a car. The result is a relaxed yet fast-paced pocket of the city – one in which a brewery bearing the same name is contributing to Bowden’s buzz.
At the heart of the suburb are two warehouses that used to be part of the Clipsal corporation, now reinvented as something rather different. Inside the buildings referred to as Plant 3 and Plant 4 you’ll find a whole host of businesses opening into a shared communal space. There are bars, restaurants, cafés, plant shops, an oyster bar, a bottleshop, a hair salon, and the aforementioned brewery.
Bowden Brewing officially opened to the public in July 2021, with managing directors Alex Marschall and Jake Phoenix quitting engineering jobs to live out their dream of brewing beer.
The pair first met while working FIFO roles in the oil and gas industry, and began homebrewing together when their rosters saw their two weeks off align. Now, with Bowden Brewing, they’ve found a means of combining the technical side of engineering – they installed the brew kit and fermenters themselves – with the creativity that comes with filling the taps at a modern brewpub – or “doing weird stuff with beers” as Alex puts it.
Alex and Jake first joined conversations about the potential for a brewery in Bowden with the developers back in 2018, and as they developed a site plan they also worked on growing public support for the project. Due to the venue’s proximity to apartments, they presented ideas on how they planned to run the business in a way that contributed positively, rather than being a menace, to society. Looking back, those presentations helped secure some of Bowden’s most loyal supporters.
The brewing company is part of South Australia’s Big Easy Group, a collection of hospitality establishments that includes another of Adelaide’s key craft beer venues. The 16-tap NOLA was the start of the journey for the group, with Anchovy Bandit, Bogetta Bandito, Yiasou George and The Stag Public House following – and all offering a selection of independent craft beer options.
As for the brewpub itself, it’s fair to say Alex and Jake have set up their small brewery space with the expert precision you’d expect from engineers, squeezing in a 600 litre brew kit, several 1200 litre fermenters, two 120 litre small batch fermenters, a portable canning machine, and brite tanks hoisted on top of the fermenters. If you can find an inch of wasted space, send answers on a postcard to…
Beers come in the form of a small core range augmented by limited releases – some canned, some pouring only at the brewery, and regular collaborations for which Bowden work with local businesses to merge their artisanal products. At time of writing, a combination of collaboration and experimentation had already seen them include hot cross buns, gin, local fruits, coffee, hibiscus, lemongrass, ginger, lime leaf, Kingston biscuits and pumpkin in beers; it’s fair to say pretty much any ingredient is up for consideration.
Their impeccably-presented core range cans are stocked in select craft-focused bottleshops and their beers can be found on tap in and around Adelaide, included within the neighbouring Plant 4.
It’s not just the beers that are designed to lure guests through the doors of the light ’n’ bright space either: Bowden is also home to Masa and their spin on Mexican street food. The chefs use locally-sourced ingredients where possible and make everything from scratch including their Masa; a corn dough used to make tortillas.
Chilli is a major focus, and their chilli challenge is quite formidable. The "pass or fail” wall is adorned with Polaroid photos of contestants attempting the challenge – roughly 70 percent end up in the “fail” category. Alex and Jake have been known to cross-pollinate the two operations too, adding chilli to a few beer recipes, including a watermelon and habanero cerveza that’s equal parts refreshing and warming.
It’s a carefully considered approach that ensures Bowden have slotted into their home suburb nice and snugly. They’re on hand to keep their regulars and neighbouring businesses well watered, while the regular rotation of beers pouring through the taps means there’s something almost every week for drinkers on the search for the new.
Sounds like the sort of thing that should be on the list of desirables for every new suburb-in-planning, doesn’t it?