Fresh off a ripping 2021 NRL Premiership win, Penrith locals have a whole new reason to be cheering as another brewery opens its doors to thirsty punters.
Since April 2015, Casey’s Nepean Brewery has been brewing in the backstreets of Penrith, providing keg and growler refills for crafty locals as well as fresh wort kits for homebrewers. But one side of the business that was always missing was a taproom and bar where guests could enjoy that beer and chat to owner and head brewer Pat Casey.
But that's all changed in the second half of 2021, with the arrival of a brewery bar.
Any first impressions of this grand space nestled in an industrial area just off Mulgoa Road are incomplete without mentioning Casey’s eye-catching copper-clad mash tun and kettles, which look like something out of a steampunk hobbit hole.
“Some have said to me you must be the only brewery in Sydney that’s not stainless," Pat says. "Before this, it was at a brewpub in Wisconsin in a lakeside fishing town. I’ve not brewed on any other large equipment.”
Much like his eponymous brewery, Pat has had many lives over the years, sampling beers around the world back when Cold Chisel gigs didn’t have the word ‘reunion’ plastered upfront.
Now, six years after opening his brewery, Pat says he wants the new bar to be a place for both craft beer lovers and locals looking to learn more about beer while enjoying the atmosphere of a working brewery.
Seating is ample, as are local food options, cider and wine, plus snacks and pies; there are plans to welcome food trucks in the near future too. The focus, however, is on the beers, with the core range largely focused on classic styles and, according to the man behind them, led by balance.
“I’m not really a fan of anything overly bitter, we don’t sell anything that’s over 55 IBU,” he says.
Sales are led by a pilsner that features named Lounge, which stems from how he thinks people enjoy it.
“It's like a lounge, it’s comfortable and makes you feel at home. Everyone loves a good lounge.
“The pale lager is the number one seller, which is gratifying as it’s the sort of beer that anyone can drink. If you weren’t paying attention you could just sip it down, but if you pay attention you’ll get rewarded.”
Pat says his focus tends to be on what he calls a "dual audience": diehard craft beer fans and more casual appreciators who might be dipping their toes into beers outside the mainstream.
“People want to go somewhere just to enjoy a beer," he says. "It’s not a major expedition, it’s casual – you can come in here with dirty boots and overalls on. We have people stopping in here doing a crafty run, but we also have big groups coming in after work on a Friday.
“People can be pretentious about beer, but it’s meant to be enjoyed.”
As for more limited runs, they can go in any direction, including the likes of Mitsu, a single-hop IPA named after Pat’s 93-year-old Japanese mother-in-law who, later in her life, became a big fan of hoppy American style IPAs. A big fan of brewing with Brettanomyces yeast, Casey hopes to have a tap dedicated to funkier styles in the future.
“I suppose the thing with beer stuff is that there is nothing new," Pat says. "Doing a historical style is something special, there’s got to be more than just pouring hops in. If you’re adding something extra just to make your beer hazy you’re doing it wrong.”
Those looking for stunt beers may be left wanting a little more, but beer lovers – especially homebrewers – will find a bounty of beer knowledge they can chew on, present in conversation with Pat, and well-balanced, nonsense-free beers.
According to Pat, however, it’s not just what they offer that sets them apart from other watering holes, it is what they are not offering.
“So many people, myself included, are just sick to fucking death of the bloody poker machines," he says, "and they just want to go somewhere without poker machines.”
Casey's is open Thursday and Friday, from 4pm until 8pm, Saturday from midday until 8pm, and Sunday from midday to 6pm, with plans to extend those further. You'll find it and hundreds of other good beer businesses on our free Crafty Pint app.