A couple of weeks back, we posted a Who Brews…? feature on Ironbridge, a fledgling two-man brewing company from Sydney’s Inner West. In the preamble, it became clear (if it wasn’t already) that the Inner West is quite the hotbed for aspiring brewers, with new breweries and brewing companies seemingly springing up in every suburb.
Indeed, there are so many now that a quick head count neglected to include the Merchant Brewing Company, whose coconut vanilla porter had satisfied a sweet tooth on a cold night only a week or so previously.
That being the case, we invited them to feature in their own Who Brews…? so they could explain what’s inspired them to join the beer realm, the serendipitous events behind them brewing together commercially and what they have planned for the future…
Merchant Brewing Co, our gypsy brewing company that went commercial in March this year.
Who are you?
We are Josh, Glenn and Dan, high school mates from Junee, a small country town in the Riverina. All three of us have ended up living within 1km of each other in Sydney’s Inner West.
We haven’t given up our day jobs just yet, so the running of the business occurs after hours, during lunch breaks and on weekends. The day jobs funding our brewing adventure are: Josh is a cancer biologist for the Children’s Medical Research Institute; Dan is a manager at a training company in the city; and Glenn is a case manager for a disability service.
Where do you brew?
We’re currently brewing out of HopDog BeerWorks in Nowra and Casey’s Brewery in Penrith.
Why do you brew?
Dan: I brew because I want to unleash our creations onto the world. Seeing others enjoy what we have enjoyed on a home brew scale is so amazing!
Josh: I brew because it’s way better than working in an office for a living. Being in a brewery, making beer, talking to drinkers and publicans is really awesome.
Glenn: I brew because…. beer is awesome! Not just to drink, but to make. It’s mind boggling that with just a few ingredients you can create so many different flavours. It’s science, it’s cooking, it’s blending of flavours and elements.
What beers have you released to date?
Two so far:
Three Toe Ale: A 5.6 percent ABV, dry hopped American pale ale loaded with Galaxy hops. The malt body reveals rich flavours of sweet caramel and toasted biscuit, finishing with mild chewy bitterness with tropical and citrus aromas.
Smooth Sailor: A 5.6 percent ABV, coconut vanilla English brown porter with a sweet nose. Expect lots of chocolate and caramel on the palate that is complemented by coconut and vanilla beans. A smooth sailor!
We’re releasing our third beer, Earl Pear (an Earl Grey tea, pear infused blonde ale) at the Gasoline Pony on August 21 and are planning to release several more beers before the end of the year. Some of those beers will be our own, with others being special one-off collaborations with Sydney venues and other breweries.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
All three of us have been brewing separately for years and the first of many brews together was at 4 Merchant Street. Our name is a shout out to our beginnings.
Your epiphany beer / brewery?
Dan: I know it’s not everyone’s style – nor is it very interesting – but I would love to do an authentic pilsner, with the water chemistry the same as Plzeň. I fell in love with the style when I holidayed there a few years back. The export Pilsner Urquell doesn’t come close to what it tastes like in the Czech Republic…
Glenn: The beer that sparked my interest in craft beer was Stone and Wood’s Pacific Ale as it made me recognise that not all beer tastes the same. Then drinking Stone’s Xocoveca Mexican stout, after a few too many at Stone’s Liberty Station, made me realise what beer can be like. I probably fell asleep not too long after that…
Josh: My folks owned and operated a small country pub while I was growing up, so my fascination with everything beer can probably be traced back to my upbringing. A small country pub is a community hub; everyone meets there to socialise and discuss events. Ideally, if we get to a stage where we open a brewery, I’d like it to be a major part of whatever community it is set in.
It was my partner’s parents that actually introduced me to craft beer. Like so many, I was home brewing at university to save a few dollars on booze. They opened the door to beers from all around world. My favourite style would have to be Belgian Tripel.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Dan: Oberon Ale from Bells. My wife is from Michigan and we had this beer at our wedding – so awesome to have it finally in Australia! Also some Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter, La Trappe Quadrupel and a tonne of prototype Merchant beers. Dying to try them, but I’ve been doing Dry July!
Josh: Not much at the moment; a Hunter Beer Co. witbier and a few Coopers pale ales.
Glenn: A stack of HopDog beers from my weekend haul whilst brewing – loving the 6tenK porter and always pick up an Alluvial Peach whilst down there. Apart from that, a beer never lasts a long time.
And which beers are found in your fridge most frequently?
Josh: My fridge is like a craft beer bar: constantly rotating beers. An advantage of brewing down at HopDog is I have constant access to their Alluvial Peach. Tasty stuff!
Glenn: It’s always different, whatever I come home with from Camperdown Cellars.
Dan: Mostly IPAs and pilsners. Weird, because they are polar opposites in style!
Where do you want to be in 10 years time?
Further down the beer journey; would love to have a system somewhere and have the freedom to brew what we want, when we want!
Where can people find your beers?
You have to keep your ear to the ground for our beer. It sells out quickly! We’re regulars at Gasoline Pony, Lewisham Hotel and Spooning Goats.
[Also try your luck at The Lord Raglan Hotel, Forest Lodge Hotel, Empire Hotel and Petersham Bowling Club].