There is a civil war taking place in Sydney as the Inner West and Northern Beaches battle to be recognised as the harbour city’s crafty capital. For years, the former looked untouchable as new brewery opening followed new brewery opening. And, while fresh-faced reinforcements continue to bolster the forces of the Inner West, froth-flecked arrows are being added apace to the bursting quiver of Northern Beaches breweries, among them Beaches Brewery.
Launched by Bernard Smith and Tim Herbert – mates who met through a mutual interest in rugby and the convenience of the school drop-off – Beaches Brewery was born during Sydney’s 2021 lockdown. After spending years in the wine and IT industries, the pair had once again been talking up their brewing aspirations, to the point their spouses told them: “Just do it, for Christ’s sake!”
So they did, and a year later produced the first batch of Beaches Brewery beer, one dedicated to the area they call home.
“We love living on the beaches,” Tim says. “There is such a casual lifestyle that is based around the water.
“The beach is the quintessential Aussie community. When people from overseas think of Australia they think of beaches.”
Beaches and, arguably, beer too, with their launch event at Harbord Hotel doing nothing to dispel stereotypes about Aussies and beer: two 50L kegs of their Hazy Lager disappeared in less than an hour thanks to thirsty friends, family and locals. And, according to Bernard, the community aspect is the driving force behind the brand.
“It comes down to three Cs: craft, community and conversation,” he says.
“It’s easy-drinking beer for good social occasions. Sunset at the beach, BBQ with friends, anywhere where you can have a conversation with mates over a beer that isn’t hard work.
“Because our sons are friends, when they meet up now they always ask us to bring a keg along, and their partners love them too.”
At time of writing, Tim and Bernard were still looking for the right space in which to build their own brewery venue with their beers brewed with the help of some friendly contract brewers in and around Alexandria, who aside from helping bring Beaches beers to life have given loads of friendly advice; in fact, the team at Willie and The Boatmen warned: "Rest assured, every decision you make will be the wrong one.”
In attempting to avoid such pitfalls, the first two beers in their core range have kept things approachable – while also doing a bit of a switcheroo with the terms most commonly associated with their styles. There’s the sweetly hoppy Hazy Lager and an aptly-named Crisp Ale, both of which have the sort of easygoing, dialled-back profile designed to complement crafternoons and conversations, and have been making their way into independent bottleshops around Sydney as well as Northern Beaches venues.
Taking things a little further are their limited releases, which at time of writing had seen them put out an aromatic odyssey-inspiring East Coast IPA and a quaffable West Coast IPA in which Citra and Talus hops treat your tongue like a doormat as the beer enters your gullet.
Until the inevitable Northern Beaches venue opening rolls around – if there’s still any room left – Tim and Bernard hope locals will enjoy their chilled out beers with mates on their favourite beaches: Long Reef and Narrabeen, respectively.