We know Byron Bay for its natural wonders: its surfing, beaches and warm weather. It’s also increasingly becoming known for its beer.
Established nearly 10 years ago by a couple of local beer enthusiasts, Byron Bay Brewery is nestled on Skinners Shoot, away from the main drag. Once a piggery and later transformed into a live music venue – which hosted the likes of Violent Femmes and The Ramones – the building has recently been taken over and revamped. The new look is vibrant and modern, with bright blue murals, lights decorating picnic umbrellas and a giant fig tree in the spacious beer garden.
While head brewer Alastair Gillespie has stayed on from previous ownership, the beers have been given a spruce up. Gillespie say the idea was to create a range that fits with the town's summer vibe. As a result, four of their six beers are classic lagers – though far more exciting than your standard pub lager.
A hopped-up India Pale Lager called the Bold One, a mid-strength red lager called the Rosy One, and a dark lager that uses oatmeal to give it a rich body, form part of the range.
The two ales in the range are the Pale One, and the Lively One – an India Pale Ale. The Pale One boasts hints of passionfruit, while the India Pale Ale has an abundance of grapefruit and guava flavours from the large amount of hops used in the brewing and fermentation process.
Food at the venue is designed to complement the beers as well as reflect the area. Venue manager Adam Keane says: “We’ve got a fantastic chef in Michael Desmond who loves hero-ing local produce and local ingredients. There’s a good balance between the beers that we produce and the food that it’s paired with.”
Live music is still a feature, as is stand-up comedy. And there are more changes in the works too. Part of the venue is currently closed off, and will likely be used as an extension of the live music space before the end of the year, and the brewery’s branding will also be tweaked and refined. “You’ll see that coming through in the next couple of months and that includes our tap badges and stuff like that,” says Keane. “We started with something that was a bit more conceptualised and we’re moving towards something that really reflects the seaside and coast.”
Keane himself moved down from the Gold Coast to work at the venue only last year, and he’s not the only one who has fallen in love with the town. “Everyone in the wider business always find reasons to come to Byron Bay,” he says.
Explore more of this edition of the Craft Beer Quarterly
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with James Squire.