So, how did this happen? I grew up in Australia and although by the time I left I was too young to be involved in any beer scene I did see how beer was at the heart of family and social events in Australia. Whether it was a day at the cricket or our retired next door neighbour carrying 2 bottles around to share with dad - it always brought people together and I always respected that.
A few years later, in London, broke, I saw a strange home brew kit which I bought. It was a white plastic hessian bag that was filled with extract to which water and yeast was added. The bag had a tap on the bottom and a pressure valve on the cap. I worked out how cheaply I could make each pint so I could share it with friends. I placed it beside the radiator and it swelled to a point where I thought it would explode but at the same time I knew it was fermenting and I’d have beer to share. That beer was beautiful. In reality it tasted terrible but I made it, shared it, and we drank every last drop proudly and on that basis it was beautiful. And I was hooked.
I have home brewed since then. Sometimes more frequently than others. When travelling I would always seek out local beers and breweries, asking questions and learning more and more from the many people I met who were very willing to share. Then coming home to attempt to emulate a new style.
When growing up I had a friend whose family were Irish. His dad made me promise him that I wouldn’t try a Guinness until I was standing on the island of Ireland. He was insistent and it stuck with me and I kept that promise. So when many years later I was reconnected with a long lost friend who told me that she was hosting a charity ball in Belfast the following weekend I thought it would be a good opportunity to visit a new place, catch up with old friends and finally have a Guinness. The Guinness was good, as was the company and on that night I met my now wife. And that is how I ended up on the Ormeau Road in Belfast.
With moving and work and other life matters I had not home brewed in some time but one evening at the Northern Lights bar on the Ormeau Road I happened to be there when a local home brew club was meeting. Re-motivated, I started brewing again with the intention of taking some of my beers to the next meeting. And then there was the pandemic… during lockdown I brewed and discovered the advancements in equipment and accessibility of new ingredients. Lockdown was hard for many and I tried to make it easier for some by sharing my beers and remembering how sociable sharing a beer in Australia was. This is why one of the beers we are launching is called Homesick - a Pale ale made with wheat malt and Australian hops and a slightly higher carbonation level. I promise I won’t be as self gratuitous again!
I am lucky to live by the Ormeau Road and have been so readily welcomed. I hope I can give something back by providing the best beer possible.