Who Brews Humpback Beers?

The Tathra Hotel first opened its doors more than a century ago and has taken on many different guises over the years. What hasn't changed, however, is the pub's view. 

Located by the historic Tathra Wharf, the hotel looks over the Pacific Ocean and, as if the beaches and and clear waters weren't enough, offer a vantage point for humpback whale-spotting as they migrate to Antarctica during spring.

If you're a fan of hunting down locally-brewed beer, there's now another reason to visit: as of the start of 2019, the view can be enjoyed with a beer from the on-site Humpback Brewery too.

After taking over the pub close to four years ago, Cliff Wallis wanted to revitalise the old hotel and at the top of his list was getting rid of the 12 pokie machines. Towards the end of 2016, they were ripped out, the floor was reinforced and a 500-litre brewhouse was installed in their place. 

Since the start of the year, the brewery has been firing on all cylinders under the guidance of Jaime Orpinas (pictured above). Jaime fell in love with brewing while a university student back home in Chile and moved to Australia with his partner five years ago.

"We moved to the area for a bit more of a quiet life but that's kind of backfired now that I'm brewing in a popular tourist town," he says.

With plenty of time left to plan a getaway to Tathra for some springtime whale-watching, here's Jaime to tell us more about Humpback for our ongoing Who Brews...? series.  


Humpback Brewery

A little more skill is required pushing the buttons in the Tathra Hotel's former pokie room these days.

WHO ARE YOU? 

Jaime Orpinas and I’m the head brewer at Humpback.


WHERE DO YOU BREW?

Humpback is located inside the Tathra Hotel. I also brew at home (when I’ve got the time) and in my sleep more often than not...


WHY DO YOU BREW?

Because I’m… addicted? Maybe that’s not the right word… Obsessed? Infatuated? Enamoured? Ha! 

I just really like to drink beer. I went to engineering school, so understanding it, studying it, picking it apart, reverse engineering it and drinking it again is sort of like a natural call.

 

The brewery arrives at the Tathra Hotel.

WHAT BEERS HAVE YOU RELEASED TO DATE?

So far we’ve brewed the following:

  • First Calf Pale Ale
  • Oceanview Draught
  • Breaching Bitter
  • Melon Headed Amber 
  • Dr Nott's Porter 

OF THOSE, WHAT'S YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE?

That's hard to answer; to me a recipe is never over and never static. I feel like I can always see where I’d like to take a recipe next. 

Having said that, if I had to take a keg home with me I’d probably take the Pale Ale. There’s something about that style, right? 

I mean, there’s a reason we go and buy Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale and those from Ballast Point (I loooove Ballast) or Anchor, even though they come from across the Pacific and we know how some brews just don’t travel well. It's just to calibrate our palates now and then. 

Having said that, I do also think that there are some serious pale ales here in Australia.


WAS THERE A BEER OR A MOMENT THAT SET YOU ON THE PATH TO BECOMING A BREWER?

Of course, Big Eye from Ballast Point took my veil right off. 

I remember thinking: “So we could all be actually drinking that?" Instead of you know… all the industrial lager that flooded every bottleshop back in my uni days. 

 

The view across the bar from the former pokie room.

WHAT’S THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE BREWERY NAME?

We take our name after the famous whale that travels past our coast on its amazing yearly voyage. 

On a lucky day you can see them right from our deck, with a beer on your hand – how about that? Ah yeah, our view, it's quite outrageous. 


IF YOUR BREWERY WAS A BAND, WHO WOULD IT BE?

I don’t know… The Dead Weather? Interpol? Devendra Banhart? A mixture of those?


WHAT LOCAL BREWERIES HAVE BEEN IMPRESSING YOU LATELY?

I'm a little far from everything to be honest. But if I was in Melbourne I'd be spending a lot of time at Boatrocker.

Last time I was in Sydney I went to as many places as I could, particularly around Marrickville. But I also loved spending a lot of time at The Noble Hops in Redfern and I was really impressed with the IPL Capital and Hop Nation did as a collaboration; those breweries are great.

 

Humpback beers – coming to a red planet near you soon.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DESERT ISLAND BEER?

Probably Ramen Yuzu from Mikkeller. I haven't seen it in a long time, I should stop thinking about that beer now...


WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOUR BEERS?

At Tathra’s pub, home of Humpback Brewery – that’s it. At the moment at least. 

Lots of thirsty people on the Far South Coast. But there is talk about stretching and reaching out, of course.


WHERE DO YOU HOPE YOUR BREWERY WILL BE TEN YEARS FROM NOW?

In space, definitely in space. Mars is the big talk now among scientists, so I guess somewhere on Mars. Mars, here we go.


You can check out what's brewing in Tathra by heading to the pub at 8-12 Bega Street, Tathra.

You can find other entries in the Who Brews...? series here and also find Humpback Brewing and hundreds of other good beer spots across Australia in the free Crafty Pint app.

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