“I made my first beer when I was 16,” says Steve Drissell, brewer, competition beer judge and owner of Staves Brewery. Next to Broadway Shopping Centre, on a street lined with warehouses and workshops, Staves Brewery is another new stop along what is becoming a lengthy trail for Sydney's craft-beer enthusiasts.
“I'm a business analyst by trade, but I've always loved brewing. When I first got to Australia from England in 2000, I started volunteering at breweries. Brewing has always been a hobby of mine. It's out of hand now,” says Drissell, waving his hand around his new bar.
Located in a former steelworks, many of the building's original features have been preserved. A gantry looms over the beer garden's picnic tables. Inside, exposed girders and concrete floors hint at the past. The sturdy timber bar is new and sits below blackboards showing the current tap list.
Staves Brewery will eventually produce its own beer, brewed on-site behind the bar, available from the taps or via takeaway growlers. Before Drissell can begin, there are a few pieces of equipment that need to arrive. And he needs to successfully navigate the tangle of red tape that accompanies a venture like this. He aims to begin brewing early next year.
In the meantime, the bar's eight taps pour beer from the likes of Batch Brewing Co, Young Henrys, Little Brewing, Holgate and Wayward. It's an all-Australian line-up heavy with Sydney brewers. And Drissell aims to keep it that way. “We might have a guest international tap at some stage, but we're making so much good beer in this country at the moment, if I can support local breweries, that's a part of it.
“We'll offer something for serious beer enthusiasts – the guys who use Untappd – but we'll also be here for people who just want to try something different.”