Located on the city’s outskirts, Warrandyte isn't a typical slice of Melbourne suburbia. The north-eastern suburb’s location on the Yarra River and its proximity to the Warrandyte State Park – the closest state park to Melbourne’s CBD, makes it look and feel more like a rural township rather than part of a city of millions.
It’s Warrandyte’s beauty and the sense of place that comes with a walk along the banks of the Yarra that spurred the launch of Warrandyte Brewing Co late in 2021. The brewing company is run by David and Bianca Ryan, who grew up in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and spent countless hours in Warrandyte during successive lockdowns with the third member of their team, the German Shorthaired Pointer Sadie.
The area sits just inside the five kilometre zone they were able to travel to during the months of strict lockdown in the city, so it became an important escape for the couple.
“We walked that river so many times with our dog during lockdown,” David says. “Even after lockdown when things eased, it was a place so many people go to walk their dog, go for a swim or have a barbecue. It’s so close to the city but a great way to escape whatever’s going on in your life.”
David and Bianca’s love for craft beer goes back someway further, however, building over the course of their time living in Calgary, their home for close to a year in 2017.
“We moved there with no friends or family and the way to make friends is to socialise, which ended up with us spending a lot of time in breweries,” David says, with the sense of community and the welcoming atmosphere they experienced in their favourite Calgary breweries something they want to recreate in Melbourne's outer north-east.
To date, they've been brewing at Burnley Brewing but David says they've been building connections in Warrandyte and want to find a place to brew in the suburb, somewhere they can welcome locals, visitors and dogs through the door.
Before they do, we asked David and Bianca to join us for our latest Who Brews...? feature.
Warrandyte Brewing Co
Who are you?
We are a husband and wife duo, Bianca and David Ryan. We still both currently work full-time jobs, Bianca working for a non-for-profit organisation and David a paramedic.
Where do you brew?
We currently brew at Burnley Brewing and, of course, on the home setup.
Why do you brew?
We obviously love beer, but we also love how beer can bring family, friends and even strangers together. Everyone in the local Warrandyte community and surrounding areas has jumped on board and been super supportive, and we’re pumped to continue the journey of releasing our beers into the market.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
A passion for craft beer and appreciation for the community planted the idea whilst we were living in Calgary, Canada, a few years back. Living next to a local brewery called Cold Garden, where everyone you met there was friendly, welcoming and it had its own little community – this is where the idea was sparked.
It wasn’t until we were in the depths of a lockdown back in Melbourne that we decided it was time to turn this idea into a new venture.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Warrandyte Brewing Co is all about representing the Warrandyte area in its true form, walking along the river with our dog, big gum trees and the beautiful natural landscape.
Our dream is to one day have a physical presence in the riverside town. Inspiration has been drawn from our experiences overseas and we hope we can create a community of not just craft beer drinkers but of local patrons.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
Our very first release, the Sunnyside Ale, I guess is our first child and is my go-to choice of beer. The pale ale was actually named after the suburb where we lived in Calgary, and for us it takes us back to a happy place. We hope that this beer does this for any consumer; with its easy-drinking nature and subtle tropical fruit flavours we hope when people drink this beer it gives them a bit of sun and happiness in their day.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
I don’t think he would have anything to offer in the brewing sense, maybe more just drinking the finished product, but I grew up watching and idolising Shane Warne. I had the King of Spin DVD, I had his how-to-bowl ball, and I repped the zinc when I played.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
My music choices hinge on my mood, and I have no single genre I stick to. But if someone caught me out in my backyard brewing, I would be currently listening to early Kanye and Childish Gambino. I hope this doesn’t divide the readers, but I am a big Ye fan.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
A lot of our own beers and a lot of helles lagers – which I guess gives away our next release. In particular, we've got lagers from Burnley, Molly Rose and Hop Nation who, to me, have nailed it.
What would be your desert island beer of choice?
That is a tough question. If I had to go off my current beer mood, I would have to say Hop Nation Brewing’s Rattenhund – it’s a ripper.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
The trend of suburban breweries I feel has legs and Hard Road Brewing do a great job with their beers, I am a big fan of their doppelbock!
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
For us we like drinkability, and this is how we will continue to brew our beers. So, the trend of lower ABV and refined bitterness is a trend in beer drinkers we would like to see continue!
Where can people find your beers?
Our beers can be found in a variety of independent liquor stores and venues. Check out our beer locator map on our website.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
We hope to have found a home in Warrandyte to serve fresh beer on tap and provide a memorable experience for both the local community and visitors to the area.