The Adelaide CBD welcomed another craft brewery in the autumn of 2023, and it's one that comes with plenty of experience and creativity.
Crafty Robot has has taken up residence in Grote Street, inside a bright and inviting space. The team behind the label consists of husband-and-wife duo Genevieve and Damien Rowe and good friend Tim Milotti.
The trio bring eclectic backgrounds and a broad mix of experience to the operation but, ultimately, they have converged at the same point in life for the same reasons.
Tim and Damien met while brewing together at Mismatch. After falling in love with homebrewing to satisfy his creative itch, the former studied with Stephen Nelsen at the Adelaide TAFE, while the latter had previously worked as a physiotherapist in Melbourne before studying in the US. As for Genevieve, she started in hospitality at the age of 14 before moving into finance. It's a combination of skills and experience that lend themselves well to a brewery and taphouse business.
Beers on offer at their city location include creative tweaks to classics: a ginger hefeweizen was pouring early one, while Tim is eager to pull out his recipe for Sahti – a style of farmhouse beer with origins in Finland – at some point.
To find out more, we dropped into Crafty Robot and invited them to take part in our long-running Who Brews...? series.
Who are you?
Tim: I’m an Adelaidian through and through. I was born and grew up here, and aside from the quintessential Australian gap years, I’ve never wanted to leave. I developed my love of craft beer during my industrial design degree. Through my brother and the amazingly supportive homebrew scene here in Adelaide, I continued to hone my brewing craft and studied under Steve Nelson at TAFE. In 2018, I started brewing for Mistmatch where I met Damo.
Damien: I’m originally from Adelaide but I trained and worked as a physiotherapist in Melbourne for over a decade before looking to change careers and return home to Adelaide. My studies actually began with an undergrad and postgrad in science (cell biology) so a return to where it all began. More recently I studied craft brewing at the University of California in Davis, before returning home to work at Mismatch Brewing.
Genevieve: My focus is more on the business and taproom side of Crafty Robot. My career was mainly in finance and procurement, including a number of years at Foster’s in Melbourne (pre-CUB). My working life however started in the hospitality industry at the tender age of 14, which I loved, so happy to be back customer facing in the Taproom.
Where do you brew?
Tim: Everywhere and anywhere! I started at home with my brother, and we still make homebrews for the family. While at Mismatch, my homebrew kit was my “RnD” and creative outlet on the weekends. Now I mostly brew here at Crafty – but still manage to find time for some cheeky homebrews.
Damien: Once I progressed from my garage, like most of us, it was Mismatch and now Crafty.
Why do you brew?
Tim: For the love of beer. I’m a creative person who takes great pride in sharing my creations with others. I love being part of our great and supportive craft beer community here in Adelaide.
Damien: Apart from loving beer, brewing seemed to combine my background of science with the ability to create something different and new. Now, being a part of the community for the past few years, it's such a different and supportive industry, more so than anything i've experienced before, so I’m loving it.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Tim: Being South Australian, I was raised on Coopers, so my love of beer starts with them and my dad’s love of a Coopers Stout at the end of the day. It wasn’t until I had Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale that my true love for a crafty, hoppy pale began.
Damien: Working in the industry for me was more of an idea than anything before traveling to the US. After spending time there, drinking their beers, experiencing their scene and meeting people, it really solidified that this was an industry I wanted to be a part of.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Finding an original name for a brewery is harder than we thought and is something we had been considering for over four years. We wanted our name and brand to be fun and cheeky, but also to represent our scientific approach to brewing. Damien’s nickname growing up was Robot and we felt that was appropriate and fitted with our brand idea. Crafty has the obvious link to craft beer, but it is also a bit of a paradox to a robot.
The Robot, who we like to call Eddie, is a modern take on the classic Robot imagery we have grown up with.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
If you ask Genevieve, it’s the hazy IPA all the way. It’s the beer style that converted her from a non-beer drinker to a beer drinker.
Tim: The Ginger Hef, I worked on it a lot at home to find the perfect balance of ester and ginger. It sums me up with being unique and creative with a little warmth from the ginger.
Damien: I think maybe the West Coast for me at this stage; it’s probably my go to style, but we’ve got a lot of styles we want to play around with, so watch this space.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
I think classic rock is probably the staple. Tim tends to like things a little heavier than me but there’s a big cross over in our music Venn diagrams that can include anything from Tool to Massive Attack.
The Taproom is a different story!
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Pretty soon our fridges will be full of Crafty Robot beers but you’ll generally find a Coopers in there.
Currently, we have a Pirate Life’s Limeburner Stout, Hawkers West Coast IPA and IPA, Shapeshifter's Spectrum and Range’s Dripping in Green.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
There hasn’t been a lot of opportunity to go out much lately, it’s been all work trying to get the brewery open but a couple we have enjoyed are Shapeshifter's What The Fudge and Mismatch’s Orange Blossom WIT. Very keen to get down to Brightstar Brewing to check out their Plumberliner and nitro pours in the coming weeks.
Where can people find your beers?
Only available at the taproom presently. In the coming weeks, we are going to get our Twin Monkeys canning line up and running for the first time so that our beers will be available direct-to-customer. We will also look at some limited distribution of kegs.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Right now, our focus is to consistently brew a variety of quality driven beers and build a strong community vibe in the CBD.
Longer term, we hope to see multiple Crafty Robot versions 2.0’s around Adelaide. Genevieve, being a Taswegian, is angling for a Tassie home too.
You can visit Crafty Robot at 180/188 Grote Street, Adelaide, and find them alongside hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues in the Crafty Pint app, designed to help beer lovers find their nearest good beer wherever they are in Australia.