Lone Gum Farmhouse and Beer No Evil share many common elements. They started their businesses within three years of each other, they both entered the beer industry through contract brewing. And they both bided their time: developing their brands and their beer's reputation before finally building a venue of their own.
Yet, despite having so much in common, there is one huge difference that sets them apart … and it's this difference that has led the two of them to open a venue together.
Confused? Then let me explain...
BeerNoEvil is all heavy metal, with a splash of hardcore and a deep-throated roar, an approach that comes to life in bold IPAs and big stouts. Lone Gum Farmhouse, on the other hand, lean towards the more delicate and experimental, mixed in with a bit of drum 'n' bass, favouring barrel-ageing, blending and farmhouse funk.
As such, the respective founders realised they could co-exist in the same space and share supporters. That space is an old barrel store shed, formerly home to a U-Brew It setup in the southern Adelaide suburb of Lonsdale.
There, Lone Gum and BeerNoEvil have created a home that represents them both equally, even if reaching that point was far from easy. As such, their joint venture has been some time in the making: since starting on the project in 2022, the two brewers have had many challenges to overcome.
There have been delays related to council approvals and building upgrades as it went through change of use regulations. The need to add car parking and more toilets, complete traffic surveys and update the 1980s building to ensure it met requirements saw them bring in architects and several tradespeople, something made trickier by the current economic climate, rising costs and exchange rate fluctuations with China.
But, hurdles overcome, they're set to officially open the venue to the public this month (November 2023), to much relief from BeerNoEvil owners Paul and Julie-Ann Sparkes and their fellow inhabitants from Lone Gum, Ryan and Aaron Bickley.
Lone Gum Farmhouse
While their official launch was way back in 2017, Lone Gum had a gentle start to life: brewer Ryan (pictured top centre with Paul Sparkes to the left and brewery assistant Beau Linn) built up stock and aged his beers before releasing anything to the public. In their early years, Lone Gum's wares could only be found at quiet pop-up tastings and events that only a few people could attend or even knew about.
The approach worked in Ryan and Aaron's favour, creating a building whisper about these mysterious yet high-quality barrel-aged sours and wild beers that were something of a mystery.
"Where can I find them pouring on tap?" eager beer aficionados would ask. The answer was simple: "You can't."
The Lone Gum duo held back stock, waiting for the right moment: a moment when the beers were at their peak and when Ryan and Aaron were ready to launch the brand at full tilt. So, despite the industry buzz after every event, as people talked about these tart saisons, blended creations, spontaneous ferments, barrel-aged Flanders-style reds, and sours featuring homemade bitters, their project evolved slowly, like the liquids in their barrels.
Eventually, however, steady stream of beers became available via their website, some appeared on the shelves of a very few select bottleshops, a few hit taps, and the hype was amped up further. Meanwhile, Ryan and Aaron continued to build up their barrel stock, which includes a foeder, and continued to age and blend, age and blend, with their patient approach set to pay dividends when the mystery shrouding them disappears and all is revealed.
Beer No Evil
Unlike their new housemates, BeerNoEvil attacked the market head on at a rampaging pace. Infusing their love for heavy metal and hardcore music into their beer brand, the founders initially released one beer at a time, watching as they sold out in quick succession.
Early successes came thanks to the combination of cracking products drinkers could relate to and a fun-loving brand. Their debut release was The River of Insanity, a 7.5 percent ABV single hop Mosaic IPA that was an ode to their favourite Ukrainian band, Jinjer, which was soon followed by other rock-referencing beers: My Words of Wisdom NEIPA, The Eye of Horus red IPA, and The Watcher and The Ring chocolate hazelnut stout.
Paul and Jules did the hard yards early on, pouring their beers at small events and selling packaged product at markets across the state. Now, with control over brewing, their releases are more regular, and set to slot in seamlessly beside those of Lone Gum.
They'll be pouring together in a space they'll also share with a distillery, Night Works. Called Unit Three, the venue will showcase the distinct personalities of each brewing company.
Alongside the brewhouse, fermenters and still, guests will find 20 taps pouring both BeerNoEvil and Lone Gum offerings. House beers at launch will include an American pale, a hazy session ale, a raspberry and cherry Berliner weisse, a chocolate, coffee and vanilla stout, a smoked porter, a lager and a Czech pilsner.
Accompanying the tapped beers are cocktails, more bottled beer, more than 100 spirits, and wines made by Ryan. In addition, fans can join the breweries’ supporter clubs as well: Lone Gum’s sour and stouts club; or BeerNoEvil’s beer spawn membership.
The space will host entertainment such as darts, pool and pinball, as well as a BeerNoEvil cave with its very own sound system, local food trucks, and special events taking in DJs, rock and heavy metal bands, and acoustic sets.
"Everything you see was custom built by us to suit," Ryan says of the space.
Beyond the huge, wooden-framed door welcoming guests, there's a black and white theme to the fit-out, wooden bars with gleaming metal fittings, cosy lounges and bar stools, as well as pockets for punters to explore … it’s a big space.
This project has been many years in the works, taking shape behind the scenes as the partners developed their brands. And, while they're competitors in the same small industry, they're first and foremost collaborators, finding common cause in their differences, something that's testament to the nature of the South Australian craft beer industry and its friendliness.
And now they're able to look forward to filling their shared home with guests, Paul says: "We can't wait to share our future plans."
Unit Three is at Unit 3, 77 O’Sullivan Beach Road, Lonsdale, and can be found alongside hundreds of other good beer venues and breweries in The Crafty Pint app.