Like many, Dane Adkins’s first brewing experience came (somewhat inadvertently) from an impulsive supermarket buy.
“I did my first batch of homebrew when I was 18,” he says. “It was one of those Coopers kit and kilo jobs.” He advanced to a home-brewing club before opening the now two-year-old Sweet Amber Brew Cafe, a craft beer and cider spot on Semaphore’s main drag.
A brewery wasn’t in his initial business plan. “Shortly after we opened a lot of customers [were] asking us what we make … what beer is ours,” Adkins says. It snowballed from there.
Sweet Amber Brewing Co. launched with a bitter amber ale in November 2016, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign. Adkins became a contract (or “gypsy”) brewer, renting tank space at Barossa Valley Brewing.
He’s put out four beers since then: a summertime blonde ale; an IPA; a coffee stout (made with Mischief Brew’s cold drip); and an “in-between-seasons” cleansing ale. While it allowed Adkins to test the waters, “as a contract brewer you’re at the mercy of availability,” he says.
Backed by state government funding, and driven by the possibility of not having tank space in an increasingly competitive market, Adkins is taking control of his own production. In a 200-square-metre Regency Park warehouse, not too far from Coopers Brewery, he plans to install a brewery of his own.
“There’s a saying that beer is best drunk in the shadow of a brewery,” Adkins says. A brewery bar is as good as it gets. The yet-to-arrive steam-heated brewing equipment is “probably the smallest commercial-sized system,” Adkins says, but it’s fit for purpose. He’s opting against wholesale, and cutting out the middleman, to have final say on quality control. A soon-to-be-recruited head brewer will be charged with day-to-day operations.
“We don’t align ourselves with any particular style of beer,” says Adkins. “People always want the next new beer.” The “brew-pub” will be drinks-only. Four or five core beers will be supplemented by three or four rotating, seasonal styles. Brewery tours and interactive experiences will be offered, too.
Takeaways will come in one- or two-litre “riggers” (plastic bottles, essentially). It’s an environmentally conscious decision: “A two-litre is essentially a six-pack,” says Adkins. “You’ve got one bottle as opposed to six; one label as opposed to six.”
Pending licensing, the plan is to host food trucks and live music. Adkins also has a four-tapped beer cart he plans to hire out.
The brewery is expected to start operation in December. It’ll be open to the public by late January.