Craft breweries are bloody hard to find sometimes. They’re retrofitted inside old yoghurt factories (Philter) and laundromat warehouses (Grifter), or tucked away in graffitied backstreets (Young Henrys). Atomic Beer Project – the slick east-coast debut from Western Australian brewery Gage Roads, which opens Thursday September 24 – sits halfway down Redfern’s Regent Street in a mid-century warehouse, its black-and-white facade tough to miss.
But it’s what you’ll find inside that truly stands out: a full-scale brewery and bar devoted to hop-heavy beers and wild one-off brews; a bookable co-working space; and a pan-Asian restaurant (with fiery wok drama) helmed by ex-Longrain Tokyo chef Jordan McLeod.
As far as brewpubs go, there’s nothing like it in Sydney. Spend five minutes with head brewer Nick Ivey, and it becomes clear why. “Beer is situational. It’s about the space, the people you’re with, the weather outside. It all culminates in making that beer really special,” he tells Broadsheet.
And he’s created one hell of a situation with Atomic Beer Project. Last September he drove across the Nullabor to get here, picked the brewing kit and unloaded it from the shipping containers himself, then worked with a team of tradies to get it set up and brewing.
“When I told one of the builders my partner and I were expecting a kid as well, he said, ‘You’ve really put a brick on the accelerator and taken your hands off the wheel’,” laughs Ivey. “But life’s never going to get harder than this. It’s been an awesome ride.”
He single-handedly crafted every one of the eight beers on tap. There’s an XPA, pale ale and IPA in the core range, and he’s used a reverse-osmosis filter – the same technology Mountain Culture is using up in Katoomba – to ensure the base-water he’s brewing with here matches Gage Roads’ on the west coast. The five remaining taps go to limited releases, which include a crisp and fruity saison, a strong pale ale brewed with experimental hops, and the Paul’s Porter, named after a build-team legend.
While most breweries keg their beers before tapping them in-house, six of Atomic’s beers are poured straight from the tanks. “That way they’re super fresh, kept cold their entire lives, and handled in the best way possible, as the brewery intended,” Ivey explains.
And if building a world-class brewery wasn’t enough, he’s also spruiking local spirits and Australian wines.
Then there’s the full-fledged restaurant with table service, where McLeod is serving up a pan-Asian menu influenced by his time cooking in Japan (Thai food at Longrain, yakitori in Kyoto) and cheffing around Sydney.
There’s a spicy isaan sausage roll with tamarind-chilli ketchup; lamb massaman curry with deep-fried julienne potatoes (“like a handful of French fries in curry sauce”); banh-mi-style croissants with porter-braised beef; deep-fried cuttlefish and pork salad with nuoc cham; and a barbeque chook glazed with a tare sauce he learned to make while working in Japan.
The hawker-inspired dining area doubles as a co-working space during the day, where you can get a breakfast dishes including avocado on toast, granola and bacon-and-egg rolls, as well as Mecca coffee if you’re early enough. From here you’re in full view of the tasting bar’s eclectic design by YSG Studios. The atomic-green slab of a bar top is made from Pyrolave – a kind of hot-baked enamel, poured as a single tile. The fluorescent-yellow light fittings above it look like an art installation plucked from the MCA – a wild contrast to the steel tanks looming behind.
For the pièce de résistance, check out the eye-popping red bathrooms. Automatic taps and the absence of a door to fumble with means you don’t have to touch anything once you’ve completed your 20-second pandemic handwashing.
Atomic Beer Project
158 Regent Street, Redfern
Mon to Sun 7am–midnight