Visitors to Newcastle's small breweries might want to raise a large glass of local beer following the announcement that a recent trial from Sydney's Inner West would be extended to the Steel City. It will allow small craft breweries and distilleries to sell full-sized drinkers to customers; previously, they were only allowed to sell tastings of their beers.
Adam Hardy (pictured above left), the founder of the Rogue Scholar brewing company has been campaigning for the trial to be extended to Newcastle and says this announcement means his dream to open a brewery in his hometown is closer to reality.
He says he's had an eye on premises in the CBD for a while, adding: “I am looking at a location where I can brew and have a small bar on site to create some revenue and make it viable.”
The Small Bar Licence allows brewers and distillers to operate a bar that holds a maximum of 100 patrons, without gaming machines or takeaway alcohol, and allows for live music too.
New kids on the block, Styx Brewery, based in Carrington, see the announcement as beneficial to Newcastle as a whole, although brewer and co-owner Analee Isbister (pictured above right) says the team is still trying to get their head around what the change will mean to them.
“It’s all been a big whirlpool, it’s also very exciting,” Analee says. “We can now open up a taproom and have the public in to drink and purchase our beer.”
She says that, since Styx started pumping out beers, they've had a continuous stream of emails, phone calls and even punters knocking at her door asking if they can come for a tasting, only to be met with: "No, not at this stage."
“This is huge for Newcastle," she says. "This is why we are still trying to understand the implications of what it can mean, for our future, but also for others out there like us.”
Annalee is also hopeful the ability to sell direct to customers will be a boon given the challenges Styx has faced securing taps in local bars she says claim to support local breweries.
Shawn Sherlock, owner and head brewer of Newcastle's sole existing CBD brewery, FogHorn, says he hadn't yet been spoken to about the trial or proposed changes in licensing, but told The Crafty Pint: "I'm all for anything that helps the growth of the independent craft sector.
"And the more quality small breweries operating in the local area the better."
You can view a short video of Taylor Martin, Liberal Member of the NSW Legislative Council, pictured with the brewery owners above, making the announcement with Annalee and Adam here.