Small breweries such as 4 Pines and Young Henrys have won a lot of fans in recent years. But for all this success, a lot of drinkers still aren’t convinced. Craft beers are too bitter, too fruity, too intimidating.
Sydney Beer Co. might change that perception.
Former Uncle Ming’s, Foveaux and Zeta bartender Matt Siely launched the brand three weeks ago with old school mate David Maronese. “Cocktails and spirits are my main thing, but I think we all drink beer,” he says. “No matter how much I was in cocktails, we’d always sit down at the end of the night and have a beer.”
For him, beer is more about that social aspect than anything. It’s the thing you reach for at the cricket, a music festival or on Sunday at your local. Sydney Beer Co. aims to tap that laid-back, accessible feeling. The brand’s first and only beer is a lager – the same easy-drinking style of Toohey’s New, Resch’s, Carlton Draught and nearly every other big-name brand in the world. Typically, craft brewers haven’t had much enthusiasm for the clean, refreshing style. That’s changing – Young Henrys has a lager in its range – but it remains a bit player.
“Everything at the moment is way too hoppy,” Siely says. “We wanted to make a sessionable drink where people can drink one, then have another one without really squirming.”
The company doesn’t have its own brewery yet, nor does it have intentions to build one. It’s “gypsy brewing” – using other people’s tanks to do its thing. Mildura Brewery’s Glen Nolen helped create the preservative-free recipe, which contains two types of malt and a subtle dose of stone-fruit-driven New World hops. By production volume it would be considered a craft beer, yet it doesn’t taste like most of its peers.
You can find the 4.5 per cent lager in bottles at Bennelong, Bulletin Place, This Must Be The Place and the newly opened Fonzarelli’s in Surry Hills. There’s no plan to add more beers to the line-up, but cans and kegs will follow at some point. And eventually, maybe, export. “Overseas markets,” Siely says. “That’s our big goal – to promote Sydney and Australia overseas.”