What with a rebrand, the launch of Crafty Recommends, multiple Crafty Cabal events in multiple states and the impending arrival of a business directory, it's been a rather busy few months here at Crafty Towers.
It's meant less time to get out to visit and then put together listings for breweries, venues and bottleshops wanting to sign up for a place on the site. But, with the arrival of Batch Brewing Co yesterday, it's time (and not before time) for another roundup of the latest dozen to find a home here.
It's arguably our most colourful dozen to date too, featuring a decorated AFL star, a Hunter & Collector, a producer of hot sauces so intense they can cause your body to shut down, a Russian growler specialist, a native yeast forager and a brewery that has its own patch of barley.
All being well, it won't be too long before we're rounding up the next dozen...
Brewmanity (VIC) – The brewing company led by former Demons captain David Neitz, supported by an array of beer industry veterans, was launched to do good via good beer. Its main focus is raising money for the battle against motor neuron disease (MND) via profits from its flagship beer, Social Beast, events and special releases like this year's Good Beer Week / GABS eisbock collab with Colonial Brewing Co.
Newstead Brewing Milton (QLD) – Having launched its business and won many friends from its brewpub base in Doggett Street, 2017 has been the year Newstead stepped up. Its Milton venue – a stone's throw from XXXX – is home to a 50 hectolitre brewhouse, canning line and large venue, allowing them to use the original brewery for experimental brewing, collabs and the like. This year has also seen them fund a phD student to study local Brisbane yeasts they ultimately plan to use in some of their beers.
Staves Brewery (NSW) – Even though one of us had been there before, on a past visit to Staves we still almost walked past and missed the entrance. Of all Sydney's Inner West breweries, it's one of the more secluded – despite its proximity to one of the city's busiest streets – but is worth hunting down. Head brewer Liam Jackson is brewing some damn fine beers (the sub-4 percent ABV Ardennes Table Beer is a cracker) on the small setup, best enjoyed alongside the row of tall wooden handles or the beer garden out back. Crafty Cabal Member offer at Staves Brewery: Two for One Tasting Paddles at Staves
Flight Bar & Bottleshop (VIC) – Within seconds of pulling up a pew at Flight, we'd concluded: "Every shopping mall needs one." In the most unlikely of spots – in a dead end of an old and less-than-sparkling mall in Bendigo, next door to an Intersport and across from a barbers, is a spot specialising in fried chicken, house made hot sauce (some made with hops and some that may cause your faculties to temporarily shut down), excellently curated craft beer and a spot of wine and spirits. It's as awesome as it is unexpected and draws big crowds, particularly at lunch and dinner.
Empress Craft Beer (TAS) – Having given Launceston a great home for craft beer – a bar we'd rate one of the best in Australia – the Saint John Craft Beer crew set their sights on Devonport. There, next to a high end deli, they brought their blueprint – 12 taps dominated by good beer, with a sprinkling of cider and coffee, knowledgeable, welcoming staff, well chosen small batch wine and spirits and a killer takeaway selection – and gave locals, tourists and those from the surrounding region somewhere to go without having to hit the road for Lonny.
Shedshaker Brewing (VIC) – The brewery formerly known as Castlemaine Brewing Co (before the inevitable cease and desist letter arrived) is at the heart of The Mill, the rejuvenated old building in Castlemaine that's now home to a coffee roaster, fine dining, artists, the brewery's Taproom and more. It specialises in mainly approachable beers styles, although the Espresso Lager, which is a favourite here, sees them nudge a little further outwards. With a Hunter & Collector among the owners, there are strong links with the local art community too so look out for live music and more when you call in. Crafty Cabal Member offer at Shedshaker Brewing: Two-for-One Drinks at Shedshaker
Wildflower Brewing & Blending (NSW) – Few brewing companies can have enjoyed the instant hype and adoration heaped upon Wildflower. Actually, there was plenty of hype long before they'd even released their first beer. ("Guilty, m'lud... We wrote about them before they were open too.") Founder Topher Boehm spent years gathering native yeasts from around New South Wales to add to evolving house yeasts, which he sets to work inside barrels with base beers brewed at Batch before blending them into the desired result. The beautifully packaged beers sell out fast and you can only visit the Cellar Door for a few hours on Saturdays.
The Beer Barrel (NSW) – From Russian via The Rocks comes The Beer Barrel, a growler specialist in Chippendale set up by Russian expat Roman Enin. He'd visited Australia, fallen for the place and then been turned on to craft beer via time at the bar of the Lord Nelson. Having worked for Big Beer in his homeland, he now focuses on getting small breweries' beers into his customers hands as fresh as he can via his row of Pegas fillers, offering 18 beers at a time, but with room to expand. Crafty Cabal Member offer at Beer Barrel: 10% Off Growler Fills 20% Off First Growler Fill
Beer Love (Online) – For years, Nillumbik Cellars has been one of the best spots in Victoria to pick up great beer (and wine and spirits). The owners repeated the template in other less-than-crafty suburbs with Greythorn Cellars and Vintage 72 and completed a quartet of craft beer-focused enterprises with Beer Love. Their online wing has access to the stores' lineup as well as the expertise of the di Pietro family who've been operating a huge online wine retail arm forever.
The Horse (NSW) – A new name (having dropped the "White"), a quality refurb, 18 taps focused predominantly on Sydney and NSW breweries, a fine selection of wines, spirits and cocktails, a menu that covers based from jerk chicken to a tongue in cheek "Aussie Hipster" menu, a rooftop bar, pool and no pokies... What more reason do you need to pop into The Horse next time you're in Surry Hills?
Uitgang Bar (VIC) – Fraser Rettie, one half of the Exit Brewing team, was chatting with fellow Richmond dwelling beer lover David Pike over coffee and mentioned he was thinking about opening a bar. Soon afterwards, a spot on Bridge Road became available and they jumped on it. Uitgang the name is a nod to Belgium, where Frase and fellow Exiteer Craig "Grum" Knight were inspired to start their adventures in beer. And, once you enter, you'll find not just their beers but a dedication to all things small and independent – plus a beer garden just waiting to welcome the hordes when the weather warms.
Batch Brewing Co (NSW) – One of the pioneers of the Sydney Inner West brewery scene, Batch was launched by two expat Americans who set about created a vast array of beers designed to be consumed as close to where they were made as possible. They've expanded at a rate of knots and you can now find their beers further afield. As important to the Batch tale as the beer and their place in the local community, however, is their desire to tell stories and educate people as they drink, not in a "sit down and listen way" but by, for example, forging a bond with NSW craft maltster Voyager, making beers with their malt and even keeping a record of the weather the the Barellan grain belt on the wall of the bar.
If you'd like to find out more about being part of our directories, including the forthcoming business one, drop Anna a line to find out how and what the benefits are. Thanks to all the above for joining the Crafty clan too – the businesses (and the Crafty Cabalistas) that choose to support us are the reason we're able to operate. Cheers!