Central Coast & Northern Sydney Brewery info

Bay Rd Brewing

Interviews with Grant Buckham, Director of Bay Rd Brewing and Head Brewer Simon Maxwell

As an intro to Bay Rd Brewing having launched just over a year ago – tell us about the brewery in terms of location, the style of beers you produce, the vibe people can expect when visiting the brewery and also being part of the Gosford city centre resurgence?

Grant: Bay Rd Brewing was established at the end of 2018 and is located on the Central Coast of NSW, in the heart of Gosford’s CBD, 50m walk to Central Coast Stadium. The location for the business was always a key component in building a community of ‘great friends’ around the brewery. Our beers are fresh, easy drinking, punched in with fruit aroma and tropical styles. Best enjoyed with water views! Our taproom is a large, light filled space with white walls, fresh green plants, timber bench tops, huge colourful artwork and seating up close to the brewhouse and fermenters. At night low dimmed lighting creates a cosy vibe.

Why Gosford? The CBD is changing into a modern city with over $1 Billion spent on infrastructure, landscaping and parks. Bay Rd will be the backbone in provided thirst quenching ‘better beer’ for the future.

And a bit about his background and brewing style by Simon: Like many brewers, I started off as an obsessive homebrewer. I was ready for a career change so I started volunteering at breweries and ended up at Willie the Boatman in Sydney in their early days. I annoyed them long enough for them to give me a brewing job – and had some very happy years brewing some tasty beers.

The opportunity to run all things brewing at Bay Rd prompted a much needed move out of Sydney earlier this year and I’ve been hard at work here since.

I like to brew clean, sessionable, full flavoured beers.

The tasting room at Bay Rd is a hub for the community, so we like to have beers that can appeal to all beer lovers no matter what stage they are at in their beer journey. So our beers run the gamut from crisp dry lagers and pale ales all the way through to sours and super hoppy IPAs.  We like to rotate or specialty beers regularly to keep things interesting, and in the new year we expect to bring out some pretty intensely  flavoured beers.

As this may be the first time our customers have enjoyed one of your beers, tell us about your Motor Boat Pale Ale that we are featuring fresh off the canning line – what is in it and what can we expect?

Simon: Motorboat is a delicious, fresh pale ale that is all about balance. Hoppy without being overly bitter, malty without being too sweet. Its extremely sessionable and my personal “go to” beer in our brewery.

If you could brew a beer with no regards to cost, production or sales, what would it be and why?

Simon: Barrell Aged Imperial Stout.

I think that drinking a rich, roasty, velvety stout is such a treat. I'm a session beer lover at heart, but sitting down drinking a massive stout in the middle of winter makes me very happy! Starting a barrel program at Bay Rd is fortunately on our list, so fingers crossed I’ll be able to have a crack at brewing one in the not too distant future.

 

Modus Operandi Brewing Co 

Interview with Jonny, the man behind Modus Operandi Brewing Co's fantastic marketing

Modus have a dedicated focus on the quality of product that you create, from sourcing the absolute best ingredients, to ensuring that your beers are all cold stored and cold delivered – There is obviously a correlation between these practices and being named Champion Small, Medium AND Large craft brewery in past years, along with the slew of trophies that your beers have won – where did the initial focus on these processes originate? 

Jonny: When Modus first started over 5 years ago there weren’t breweries in Australia storing and keeping their beers cold. We had seen the quality control in the States and that was the global benchmark at the time. We put the beer first and that means looking after it every step of the way. There are a lot of catchy lines in beer marketing but with our purpose being “Beer First. No Shortcuts - That’s our Modus Operandi” it’s not only in our name but we literally put beer first in everything we do. If you start with that attitude it flows through the whole business - quality is key. 

The change in your core range can size and pricing seems to have had a positive impact among craft drinkers – has it seen an increase in sales or distribution for you on the ground and what was the process behind making that decision as it was obviously a very big change for the business.

Jonny: Craft Beer in Australia is evolving at a rapid pace, it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of packaging your beer in cans was disruptive to the category. Australian beer drinkers are not just familiar with cans, it’s what they now expect and they want them to be in 375ml cans these days. We had to listen to our customers to make sure we were at the front of the pack in craft. It helps with distribution and sales opportunities but more than anything it keeps us moving forward, we are always aware that it’s a crowded space in beer and we have to keep innovating.  

Your ads are hilarious and it looks like the team have a lot of fun making them – is that the approach the team like to take at MO? 

Jonny: The tone was set early on with the videos, we take our beer seriously but not ourselves. The naming of the beers through to the videos gives everyone in the team an opportunity to be a bit random and have some fun. They’re not exactly high production ads but they’re good fun to make and people get to know a bit more about us!

If the team could brew a beer with no regards to cost, production or sales, what would it be and why? 

Jonny: Ha! That depends on who you ask in the team - there’s plenty of chat about what style is king. We don’t tend to cut corners when it comes to chucking ingredients and going for ABVs but the usual suspects range from : barrel ageing sour beers on fruit, through to using new yeast strains and hops with our IPAs but there’s one brewer who more than anything else wants to brew a kolsch - the old fashioned way. We’ll see what happens down the track! 

 

Ekim Brewing Co 

A chat with brewer Ben Eatough from Ekim Brewing Co..

At Ekim Brewing co, you recently celebrated your 10th birthday, congrats and what a great achievement! What have the changes been like in regards to the craft beer industry in your local area in terms of both customer/retailer attitudes and purchasing behaviour?

Ben: Thank you! We have seen such a local uptake of craft beer, which has been incredible. We opened our cellar door 3 years ago, taking a day out of our normal production week to do so, and now it is one of our greatest assets. It’s not an easy thing for us to do with our small brewery being a two man team, which is why we probably only run it on Friday’s at the moment. 

Since opening the cellar door though, we’ve had more and more local pubs and bottle shops getting behind their local beer. It’s truly incredible! 

What is in the tanks at Ekim at the moment and what is on the horizon for you?

Ben: We always try to keep things fresh at Ekim. We’ve just released our Double IPA and Viking IPA only came out of the tank this week… so I guess it’s more tasty beer on the horizon?! We’ve got something new going into a fermenter very soon, as well as our promised re-brew of our Red IPA that was super popular as a tenth birthday collab release!

*note - their Bloodshot Red IPA was released just last week and it is looking sensational!

Where did the brewing rebellion come from?

Ben: The rebellion thing came when we first started. “A rebellion against mass produced beer” was our motto from the start, as we focus on producing quality small batch brews. Rather rebellious idea that already hahaha

If you could brew a beer with no regards to cost, production or sales, what would it be and why? 

Ben: This is a tricky one - I think we’d always like to do some barrel aged beers, but otherwise we’re pretty much making the beers we want to drink!

Some notes below from Ben on the Ekim Brewing Co beers featured in our packs:

Lager - 4.8% ABV

Up until last year, we’d never made a lager before. This is our second brew of this beer and we couldn’t be happier with it (even if we broke a few rules on this one.) We’ve gone with all Australian Pale malt and kept the hops very low on this, giving it extra time in the tank to lager away. The result is a lager with a lovely subtle sweetness, yet crisp taste.

 Viking IPA - 6.2% ABV

The first and our most popular IPA that we produce. It’s all about the Mosaic hops for their rich piney goodness - this beer keeps the malt light and the hop aromas deep, to leave you wanting another one!

 A Rather Rebellious Double IPA - 8.7% ABV

We wanted to end last year on a big note. And I guess we did that! Whilst everyone else seemed to be producing very light, summery beers, we rebelled and went the other way. This beer is triple dry hopped for some lovely hop flavour that hides the ABV’s well, with a light bitterness.

 

Blockn Tackle Brewery

Interview with Paul Wakelin, Owner and Brewer at BlocknTackle Brewer 

You released your beers in cans for the first time just before christmas, we are stoked to be featuring them as the Block n Tackle cellar door has been a highlight on the coast for a few years. For people not familiar with your beers or set up can you give us a run down on what systems you are brewing with, your range and the local craft beer market.

Paul: The brewery is a smaller scale set up that has catered to the tastes of locals while allowing the brewer to experiment and get creative with ideas. We run a 5HL Baumeister and have a tank capacity of 22HL. The beers are truly small batch and this allows us to keep things interesting and change up the taps. We have 10 taps with a core range that is brewed all year round and the other taps are for our test batches, seasonal’s and beers that the locals want to see on.

Given the number of taps there is always a beer style that you will like to drink, while changing enough to keep it interesting. Best sellers include the SCUD XPA and the Jon Piper IPA.

You took over the brewery about a year ago, tell us about the background of the team and how your experience has been getting established in an area thirsty for craft beer?

Paul:I have brewed on and off since my teenage years (late of course) and got drawn back in through the interest generated by new craft beer getting out into the market. Beer isn’t just beer anymore and the creativity behind recipe creation and the science of modern brewing means there is always something to learn.

I am a High School Teacher, but with the build of my own system at home, seeing the for sale ad for the brewery, doing my Brewing Cert and taking a punt on a life change, I now get to share my creations with fellow beer enthusiasts.

Reactions have been nothing but positive from the locals and those that love to get their Block n Tackle fix. Its always good to get a honest opinion or two to help refine any new ideas as well.

If you could brew a beer with no regards to cost, production or sales, what would it be and why? 

Paul: As boring as many may find it, an old English Ale. It may be the English heritage, but I love a pint pulled fresh from a cask. Modern popular style of beers are great but there is something about finding a style or recipe that is super old and trying to recreate the flavours from when it was first produced. We need to ensure brewing history stays alive and well.

The 3 beers are all the original brewers recipes however they have all had elements that have been modified in some way. The SCUD is back with all the original recipe hops (variety supply has an impact at times).  The lizzie has come down in ABV slightly. The Piper has had its Hop addition timings chage to bring forward more flavours with the addition of more hops in the fermentation stage as well.

The beauty of Small batch means we can always make minor adjustments and make sure it is keeping up with what people are expecting for the beers.

BlocknTackles beers in our packs:

Scud XPA

Before even the first taste and smell, the Scud XPA promises refreshment at first glance with its pale straw colour and tight, brilliant white head. This XPA (Extra Pale Ale) is hop driven and its no wonder as we've dry hopped using a blend of 7 different hops sourced from Australia, New Zealand and the US. This unique combination (which we're keeping a tight secret) produces the massive 'Summer fruits' aroma and flavour notes. At 28IBU's, the sessionable quality of Scud XPA is driven by the relatively low bitterness compared the American Pales and IPA's which typically sit at over 40 and 50IBU's respectively. The Scud takes its name from a 27 ton ketch built in Brisbane Water in 1850 by a shipbuilder who's name has not survived in official records. Soon after construction, it left Newcastle in May 1850 with 4 crew bound for Sydney and was never seen again - weeks later, an empty boat belonging to the Scud was found washed up on Putty Beach in Broken Bay.

Red Lizzie Amber Ale 

Just like George Frost’s first ship, we’ve named this specialty brew after a true pioneer of the Kincumber district.

Launched from his Kincumber shipyard in 1884, George Frost’s first ship was aptly named after his beloved bride – the amazing ‘Lizzie Frost’. Having raised their 18 children meant Lizzie was undoubtedly worthy of this honour, but it was her caring, charitable ways that made Lizzie a legend in the area where she lived her 93 years. Just like Lizzie, our new Amber Ale has plenty going on! We’ve blended Topaz, Centennial and Amarillo hops to create some bold, fruity citrus aroma and flavour notes. This hoppiness is carefully balanced by a smooth malt profile which includes a generous amount of crystal malt to deliver the deep reddish/amber hue and the residual malt sweetness. Enjoy!

Jon Piper American IPA

New recipe adjustment means more hop flavour and aroma with less emphasis on malts for even smoother drinking! Get set for an even fruitier explosion with our new take on the highly popular Jon Piper American IPA! By removing dark grains from our recipe, we've moved the balance a little away from the malt base and over to the hops. Maintaining the blend of 'Mosaic' and 'Equinox' hop varieties produces the incredible tropical fruit bowl aroma explosion with distinct melon, citrus and floral tones demonstrating why these hops are in such demand. The aromas are immediately translated into the first sip with the sweet malty base now paired back to allow a balance towards the fruity hop flavours. The bitterness is firm, but incredibly smooth resulting in a brew that promises to satisfy.

 

Six String Brewing Co

Our time with Will Horbacz former Sales & Capability Manager and Head Beer Roadie with Six String Brewing Co.

You launched in late 2012 and have been the main craft beer drivers on the Central Coast with a real focus on beer education. How does the craft scene feel on the coast at the moment compared to when you started and where do you see the local craft beer community in 3-5 years time?

Will: Here at Six String we are super proud to have such epic support from our “Local Legends”. At the moment the Central Coast is still a dominant territory for categories like Classic & Contemporary beer, however that’s not to say we're not seeing some significant growth around the Independent Craft Beer category. A big part of how we want to reward and give back to the Central Coast is through education and engagement around the craft beer category, this is a strategy to see growth within the category through consumers and our customers not only for Six String Brewing Co but for the category in general. Our strategy is bold, however we are passionate to grow the industry and also in turn be known as the leaders in craft beer and education. As well as having some epic beers to drink!

Six Strings are creating new and unique beers at what seems a rapid rate – where does the inspiration come from for the new recipes? Is it customer or industry led or do you like to break new ground?

Will: We would like to say there is a strategy on which beer styles we brew at what time of year, however to be honest, we just sit in a hot room, have a beer and go through styles of beers and look at varietals through these styles, we are a brewery known for innovation with styles – using adjuncts in a heap of our seasonal releases, new innovative hops to add more intensive and palatable flavours. I think moving forward as a brewery we understand the trends in styles however don’t want to be on the band wagon with some of these styles and wanting to be original innovators. We also do a heap of consumer based research as to what our consumers want next, we do have a secret we cant indulge you with yet however that might have to wait until 2020, a brilliant IPA is on the cards. 

Still on your new beers – the fanfare for all of them is amazing and they sell out nice and quickly – how does it feel when your beer hits the mark with drinkers?

Will: It’s a strange feeling, for me, it’s more of a proud feeling for putting Central Coast produce on the map for consumers all over Australia. I think I could also add in our owners Chris and Ryan, they are literally the guys that allow us to do all this crazy stuff, so I guess they would feel more relieved that we are bringing some of the most innovative beers into market which are hitting the mark in relation to some of our seasonal Brews. Blood Orange and Vanilla Kolsch is an example of a beer which we had so much positive feedback…. The sad thing is us at the brewery didn’t get any staffies as it sold out before it was even in the bright tank.

If you could brew a beer with no regards to cost, production or sales, what would it be and why?

Will: Double IPA’s, West Coast IPAs, NEIPA’s, Black IPAS, BELGIUM IPA’s, White IPA’s, Rye IPA’s we love this style. We would love to have a heap of these styles out in market next year, and experiment in some single hop varieties and single malt varieties. Smashable, easy drinking, robust & dank big beers are my favourite! I also would like to see some GOSE styled sours hitting market which make your face turn inside out from the astringency.

 

We hope you enjoyed this months beers and interviews!

Next month we take you on a trip all the way from the bush, to the coast and over the seas....