It’s not often a young brewery can claim the title of trailblazers, but when mullets are on trend and you’ve been brewing a Mullet Pale Ale for two years, you can forgive them for asking, as head brewer Jim Coulton does with a laugh: “Did we start that? I don’t want to say…”
Not long before we met, Jim’s partner and brother-in-law, Jake Gardiner, had his mullet shaved off for the charity Black Dog in support of men’s mental health. It all seems too much of a coincidence.
The four partners at Shout Brewery are young professionals, juggling their full-time jobs with running a small brewery. Jim is an engineer, Jake a maths teacher and brewer, Michael Fitzgerald a statistician who runs the business side of the brewing company, and Dylan Meade a town planner and brewer. Combining their skill sets has contributed to the early success of this friendly operation, hidden away on the edge of Newcastle in the sort of industrial estate garage that's home to similar setups across the country.
After attending Maitland Gaol’s Bitter & Twisted beer festival – and emboldened by their day's sampling – the four mates reckoned they “could have a go at this” and decided to sit down a few days later when they were sober, to have a proper chat; thus Shout was born.
Currently they brew beers on a three-vessel 200 litre system, placing them at the nano end of the pro-brewing scale, while their premises featured eight taps through which they constantly rotate their ideas.
“We brew something and put it straight through the taps and gauge the public's feedback," Jim says. "Then we brew a bigger batch of it.”
The experimentation allows for a little in-house competition too. When a local hotel told them they wanted to put one of their beers on tap, each of the quartet brewed an IPA, invited their customers to vote for their favourite, which was then upscaled, kegged and now pours at The Commonwealth Hotel.
The plan at time of writing was for Shout to upgrade and move to a location in Islington, where they intend to set up a brewpub. It's an expansion plan they say has actually benefitted from the pandemic too.
“COVID helped us as people wanted to buy local," Jim says. "We could open for growler fills only and we found that growler fills and sales increased at the time.”
As for the proposed new venue, he says, “we were lucky as we have a lot of connections – a mate is a civil engineer and he was working for a landlord and got us all together – which worked out really well for us.”
You'll find their eye-catching cans in many local bottleshops and decals adorning taps at several venues around their home city, something Jim says is down to their “brilliant” sales team led by Lucy, suggesting a promising future for an operation less than two-years-old that started off so small.
Before they make their move and have reason to shout louder, we invited them to take part in our long-running Who Brews...? series.
Who are you?
The four founders are Jim, Michael, Dylan and Jake. The brewery is part-time for us at the moment, so we all still all have day jobs which are: Jim – control systems and automation engineer; Mick – statistician; Dylan – urban planner; Jake – maths school teacher.
We should also mention our hard-working sales rep Lucy who gets our beers out onto shelves, and Beau Penton, the graphic designer who does our can art for us.
Where do you brew?
We brew at our nanobrewery at Mayfield West, Newcastle, although we still use our home systems to do some experimenting and recipe development.
We're hoping to move to a larger space with some additional fermentation tanks in early 2022, which is exciting for us.
Why do you brew?
We all really love beer and the endless flavour possibilities that can be achieved with ingredients. That creativity and experimenting aspect really appeals to our background as homebrewers.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
The initial concept for the brewery can be traced to drunken discussions going back over ten years about one day opening our own brewery. We considered it a pipe dream for a long time, until about 2018 when we were all having a drink at the Bitter & Twisted Festival at Maitland and said: "Why not?"
We felt that some of the beers we were making individually as homebrewers could match it with some of the commercial breweries at the time.
Part of the decision to open a brewery was also because we noticed as beer lovers that a significant city the size of Newcastle – population approximately 500,000 population – really didn’t have much beer brewed locally. There were a few breweries in surrounding areas like the Hunter vineyards, Murray's at Port Stephens, Dusty Miner at Maitland, and Maltnhops at Beresfield, but it was really only FogHorn based in Newcastle itself when we made that decision start.
Newcastle is a craft beer-loving city!
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
The inspiration for the name came from to "shout" a round of drinks. It took a while for all four of us to agree on a name as we really one that reflected that we were all mates that enjoyed a beer together.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
I guess it would have to be Mullet Pale Ale. Not because any of us currently have that particular hairstyle, but because we had playing soccer for the Mayfield Mullets as something in common. Our home ground is at Stevenson Park, Mayfield West, which is really close to where the current brewery is.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
The brewers from Range Brewing, Mountain Culture or Garage Project so we could pick their brains!
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
The music tastes between us are quite different, but you could expect to hear King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Parquet Courts, Alabama Shakes blasting from the speakers.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Our fridges are stocked full of independents and we love to mix it up. At the moment this includes Garage Project limited releases, Wildflower, Maltnhops, Sydney Brewery, Welders Dog, Young Henrys, Mountain Culture.
What would be your desert island beer of choice?
Hill People Milk Oat Cream Stout from Mountain Culture.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
- Ironbark Hill - Wheatermelon
- Maltnhops – West Coast IPA
- Grainfed – Well Red
- Styx – Yuzu White Choc Stout (we haven’t tried this one but it sounds mind-blowing)
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
We all explore different things – we’re quite democratic – but this includes extending our range of hazies, experimenting with more sours and releasing a low- to mid-strength beer.
In terms of ingredients, we had lots of praise for our coffee white ale which was a collaboration with Frothers Espresso so we may explore that again. We also are working on a collaboration with a local restaurant on a grapefruit sour.
Where can people find your beers?
We’re always on tap or available from Bao Bros, The Koutetsu, The Commonwealth Hotel, The Falcon, Pinos, Where’s Nick Bar, and Roys Kitchen. And there are lots of other great venues that support independent beer in Newcastle like Albion, Happy Wombat, Grain Store, Blind Monk, Babylon and The Pourhouse that often have us on rotation.
In terms of bottleshops, we are in Artisanal Cellars, Cellarbrations Newcastle, Adamstown and Cameron Park, Dan Murphy's Newcastle West and Glendale, Georgetown Cellars, Kahiba Liquor Stax, Morpeth Liquor Store, Prince of Merewether Bottleshop, Lambton Bottle-O, Tighes Hill Cellars, Bottle-O Throsby Cellars, and Warners at the Bay Bottleshop.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Picked up a few medals at Indies, nationwide distribution, and three taphouse venues.
You can shout your mates a round at Shout's home – 10/13 Channel Road, Mayfield West – on Friday and Saturday afternoons. You'll also find them and hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues across Australia in the free Crafty Pint app.