How did the New England Brewing Co come to be in Uralla?
There were two big items for us when we started the New England Brewing Co in January 2012 (NEB Co). We needed brewing equipment and a premises.
We actually ended up with the brewing equipment first and then found somewhere to put it! We had a couple of options, but we were after a heritage style building with some character and a story to tell.
We looked at a number of towns in the New England, but kept coming back to Uralla. Uralla is on the highway, has excellent complementary businesses, a proactive Council and fantastic heritage. We are very lucky to have the premises we have and are grateful to our landlord for working closely with us to make the brewery a reality.
Tell us about microbreweries and craft beer’s growth.
Although there is a lot of debate, basically microbreweries, or craft breweries, are breweries that are independently owned and operated, use 100 per cent malt for brewing, are of a reasonably small size and brew their beer on their own premises (in contrast to some contract brewers, who claim to be from one region, but actually have their beers brewed somewhere else).
Beers brewed by microbreweries have really taken off in Australia in the past 5 years; however, the movement away from mainstream beers has been going for almost 20 years in the US and UK. So, it’s definitely not a fad. Drinkers are now more interested in who brews their beer, what is in it and where it is brewed – similar to wine in a lot of respects.
The other main factor behind a shift to local beers is the much better flavour that comes from small batch brewing with quality ingredients.
Tell us about your experience in this industry?
Andrew Tracey-Smith, NEB Co’s brewer, has been studying brewing science at Ballarat Uni, has always been a keen home brewer and has been visiting other breweries and helping out when possible to get ready to brew at NEB Co.
The rest of the team has the same type of experience with beer as many of our customers have. We don’t pretend to be experts and are learning every day!
Describe the brewing process and the type of beers that will be on offer?
We have an older style system that was purchased from a micro-brewery in Victoria. It has a 1,000 litre mash tun and kettle, four primary fermenters and six conditioning tanks. Although we might not test the brewery’s capacity for a while, we could produce up to 4,000 litres a week.
All of our beers will be produced with 100 per cent Australian malts and hops. A lot of fellow microbreweries use imported European malts, but we think that Australian ingredients are just as good and they’re fresher than imports. Currently, we source our base malt from Tamworth.
Within the next 12 months, we will have two ranges of beer – the current New Englander range and a seasonal range. We are currently brewing the New Englander Pale Ale and the New Englander Brown Ale. Our pale ale is nice and hoppy, but not overbearing. It has excellent malty flavours and goes really well with lots of food. Our brown ale is our favourite. It’s pretty unique in Australia and is an easygoing beer style that suits all the New England’s seasons.
When will the Brewery be open to the public, and what can visitors expect?
Visitors have been coming to the brewery to watch the developments over the last four months, which has been fantastic. We will be truly open from around mid-April. From 11am to 6pm on Thursdays to Sundays, visitors will be able to taste the beers on tap at our tasting bar and purchase take away bottles. Mondays to Wednesdays are our brewing days, but if you are in town on these days, give us a call and we’ll show you around.
The brewery will run tours on Saturdays. The tour will go through the brewing process from grain to bottle. This will include chatting about raw ingredients, different brewing techniques for different beers, as well as packaging, serving and tastings.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Working in a brewery with no beer has been pretty tough! Aside from that, a big challenge, maybe not the most interesting one, has been receiving all of our approvals for operating a brewery from three levels of government. We had a few sleepless nights during that time!
Another big challenge is getting our beer to customers. The big breweries have a lot of market power and give pubs and clubs big incentives to stock their products. However, we’re lucky in the New England that we have some excellent local pubs and clubs that are giving us a go.
How has the Uralla township received you?
The people in Uralla have been fantastic. We’ve had lots of people going out of their way to make the brewery happen. We’ve been lent things, given things and have promised lots of beer! But more seriously, we have had some really great advice from local tradesmen and suppliers that has made a huge difference to the way we set the brewery up.
Plans for the future?
At the moment, the beers will only be available in the New England and the North West. However, in the future we would like to distribute seasonal beers further afield. We also plan to have a few beer related events at the brewery throughout the year.
Where can people get the beer?
The beers will be rolled out to the region throughout April both on tap and in bottles. Fresh local beer hasn’t been offered in local pubs and clubs for a long time, and having one of our beers on tap at the local will be a new experience for sure. Bottled beer will also be available at independent bottle shops.
Thanks guys. For further information, check out www.newenglandbrewing.com.au
This article can be found in issue 71 of New England Focus