Christmas may very well feel like a lifetime ago but *checks calendar* it was less than five months ago that many of us were descending on our family homes to share food, hug friends and relatives and spend many hours explaining to older family members they shouldn't believe every post they see shared on Facebook. Sadly it's only the last of those pastimes that's survived (indeed thrived) through to today.
Breweries and venues have also had to change how they operate – something The Crafty Pint is promoting and sharing through the Keeping Local Alive campaign – including those that are only a few months old.
It was on Christmas Eve that Queensland's Blackflag Brewing had their liquor licence approved and the brewery – inspired by loud, fast music and going against the grain – officially launched.
The brewery's owners include brothers Steve and Geoff Barber, John Coumessos and Ross Holloway – a group Sunshine Coast beer drinkers will likely recognise from their involvement in Taps Mooloolaba and 313 Social. The latter of those now also acts as the home to Blackflag Brewing, with Simon Grasby – who has prior experience brewing at Ten Toes and then Sunshine Coast brewery – steering all things beer.
Simon uses the small brewery to work on their pilot brews, while larger releases are scaled nearby at Glass House Brewery.
Steve says though venue closures and government restrictions have been tough, having worked intensely over the few months around launch, the current situation has allowed the team to take stock over how they operate.
"We’ve basically utilised this as a chance to take a breath and dry out," he says. "Since December last year we have run as fast as we can, every week has been festivals or events through Queensland.
Steve adds that "since the end of the world in March" their sales of cans has taken off but, like many, they're focusing on keeping staff hired while following the pace of change.
"It’s a shitty time but we’re keeping busy," Steve says. "We have a good crew working behind the scenes and even though all the parties have dried up we’re bracing for a hell of a relaunch in the new world.
“We’re back in tank next week and will have a new tropical ale. It’s good to get everyone excited, even for us keeping that mojo up.”
To find out more about Blackflag, head brewer Simon joined us as part of our ongoing Who Brews...? series.
Who are you?
Simon Grasby, alesman for Blackflag Brewing and professional brewer for five years.
I was a concreter in a previous life.
Where do you brew?
Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast.
Why do you brew?
The creativity. Great beers, stupid ideas. Plus to see people so stoked on something we created.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Walking into a pub in Melbourne and seeing how sick the Mountain Goat tap decals looked!
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Little bit of punk rock with a little bit of rock and roll – let’s put it this way, we’re never going to raise a white flag.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
Our juicy pale ale Rage Against The Mainstream. The name says it all.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
Heavy metal, yeah!
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Beers from Wild Barrel, Evil Twin, Little Bang, Rhyme X Reason and Garage Project.
Where can people find your beers?
313 Social in Mooloolaba is where we cellar door and brew from. A bunch of bars around Sunny Coast have supported us solidly to date as have independent bottleshops in Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
You can see what the Blackflag crew are up to via their Facebook page. While the shutdown is on, that includes slinging cases from their pop-up takeaway hole-in-the-wall.
Other entries in our Who Brews...? series can be found here.