Adventure and beer — there are fewer things on this planet that marry together quite so beautifully.
Whilst most of us are content with a frivolous elbow raise at the end of a sweaty hike, the swashbuckling Canberra-based crew from Capital Brewing Co decided to take matters into their own hands and create their own ‘good natured brew’.
The result is craft beer so wild you can actually hear lyrebirds when you put your ear to the bottle. Their first releases include a Trail Pale Ale and our favourite, the First Tracks Stout.
We caught up with Laurence and Tom to hear about how and why they are creating Australia’s most wilderness fuelled craft beer.
All images are from Capital Brewing Co’s recent trip to Namadgi National Park, exploring the watercourse that provides the water they brew with.
Where did the idea come from to start your own beer brand?
Basically from running craft beer bars we just got really into it, a trip to the West Coast of the USA quickly cemented the idea and the obsession and here we are!
We came up with the idea to get brewing about 2 years ago, and have been producing on a really small scale from someone else’s brewery in tanks we rent. We have just finished building our own brewhouse and it was a really long process!
Who’s in the team?
The team is comprised of Tom and Laurence who come from pubs and bars and Sam and Rich Coombes who run Batlow Cider.
Tom and Laurence set up Canberra’s first bar serving independent Aussie craft on tap and were buying a fair load of Batlow Cider. After a few sessions having beers and surfing waves everyone became mates and started discussing how rad it would be to open a brewery!
Nick Hislop then came on board to run operations and Wade Hurley came over from San Diego to run the brewhouse. He was previously brewing at Coronado Brewing Co and Green Flash. Two of San Diego’s premier craft producers.
Once everyone was together it just kind of went from there.
Whats the vibe behind the brand? How are you different to other craft beers?
The vibe is pretty much summed up in ‘Good Natured Brews’. We believe in looking after the environment, our people, community, making amazing beer and having a lot of fun doing it! When the powder is coming down or the surf is pumping there are generally a fair few out of office responses getting around here.
Our beer has only four ingredients. Water, Malt, Hops & Yeast, no additives, preservatives, pasteurisation or filtration (but sometimes we use natural adjuncts like coriander seed, honey, orange peel etc).
We built our brewery with sustainability in mind and are moving towards being one of the most sustainable in the country. From super efficient cooling and heating systems for our brewing processes through to heat exchange processes that capture the heat from one brew and use it on the next, we target every area of the operation to minimise use.
We reduce waste wherever we can and have stopped wrapping cardboard packaging on our cans and instead use ocean safe, 100% PCR plastic clip tops. All of the spent grain from the brewing process goes to local farmers to feed their animals and those are just two of our many initiatives we have and are continuing to put in place
We essentially believe we’re different because we don’t just talk about being sustainable, we have invested a huge amount of capital in ensuring we are one of the most efficient and sustainable breweries in the country.
We make super delicious beer and you can feel good about drinking it!
Whats the vision for the brand?
The vision for the brand is to create great brews inspired by our adventures in nature, using the best natural ingredients, and to set a new standard for sustainable operations that respects the environment we love and play in so much.
So is everything you do rooted in Canberra?
Yes! We brew and package all our beer here at Dairy Road, you can come visit us any time after our opening on September 9th, we will even give you the lowdown on the best spots to explore around here.
One of every brewery’s key ingredients is water. We are very lucky that our water comes from the pristine Bimberi Wilderness area right here on our door step.
Until recently we were Gypsy brewing on a really small scale at Hairy Man Brewery in Carringbah, now our production brewery is up and running all our beer is made in house which has been a super nice change.
What do you love about Canberra?
We live and work in ‘the golden triangle’ — one of the most liveable cities on earth, beautifully designed with an amazing cycle network and no traffic. 2 hours to the snow, 2 hours to the coast and 3.5 hours to Sydney if you need a dose of ‘the big smoke’!
The culture going on here in Canberra, just under the surface, is amazing. You need to know where to look but there are incredible things happening in our city every day and really interesting people pushing boundaries.
So it’s a good place for weekend wilderness junkies to be based then?
In short yes it is probably the best place in Australia to live if you want to climb, hike, mountain bike or do anything outdoors.
Within a 40 minute drive of the CBD we have the Brindabella Wilderness area with amazing hiking, cross country skiing and some of the best (and scariest) granite climbing in Australia.
Right here in the city we have Mt Stromlo, Majura Pines, O’Connor Ridge and Sparrow hill which offer amazing mountain bike terrain.
A short drive East there is the Budawang wilderness area with amazing sandstone escarpments, valleys, forests and yowies.
20 minutes to the North we have Lake George, one of the most iconic hang gliding launches in Australia. Flying with wedge-tail eagles is a regular occurrence.
Access to nature is right here in our suburbs with Mt Ainslie, Black Mountain and Mt Majura being popular training grounds for mountain athletes
In addition to that we have one of the most active mountaineering clubs in Australia, ANU Mountaineering Club which has produced some of the most famous Mountaineers in the world including Lincon Hall, Tim Macartney Snape and more!
Wowser, that’s rad. You really seem to be bringing adventure, sustainability and beer together into a vortex of epic-ness.
It’s just what we all do, we love good beer! On our team we have people who are really into surfing, backcountry skiing, hang gliding, climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking etc.
Pretty easy to bring together what we are doing anyway!!
Any tips for keeping cans cold on the trail?
Cans are awesome for hiking because they chill super fast! You can put them in a river or stream without risking them breaking which is a great way to cool them down. If you are taking cold beer, put it in the freezer for about 20 min before you head off, wrap it in clothing in the middle of your pack or pre fit them with stubby holders before you put them in the pack.
More importantly, where can we sample your sweet, sweet nectar?
Great venues and bottle shops around the country. Check the brew locator on our website to find your local: https://www.capitalbrew
Looking for some adventures around Canberra?