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Matt Donelan put the St Peter’s Brewery he’d built – literally – from the ground up on the market. After 13 years brewing the likes of Cinnamon Girl and Killagh Stout for the Sydney market, he decided it was time for a change and put the brand and the brewery up for sale.
It’s a decision that also means change for Pinchgut, the brewing company launched by Gerard Meares a couple of years back, which has been brewing at the St Peter’s site. Not that this should pose too much of an issue: the first time The Crafty Pint came across Gerard it was in the form of a trophy-winning beer, DIrty Angel, he’d created for the then-fledgling Flying Horse Brewery in Warnambool, by which point he had already moved on and was creating soon to be trophy-winning beers at Paddy’s in Sydney’s west. Since then, he’s set out on his own with Pinchgut, named after the small island in Sydney Harbour that is now home to Fort Denison, all of which suggests he’s nothing if not versatile.
“The goal with Pinchgut was always to get to the point where we were too big to be at Matt’s and he’s telling us to piss off,” he says. Not that Pinchgut had reached that point yet, in part down to a stance he decided to take earlier this year.
“I decided to boot my crap payers,” says Gerard. “I had a lot of taps but the bank account wasn’t looking that way.” So rather than continue listening to excuses, he cut off beer from a number of accounts. It means looking for replacements, but with the Sydney scene finally waking up to craft beer the opportunities are growing. Just this month, the Laundy Group has opened the Quarrymans in Pyrmont, a vast venue that is now pouring 20 taps of almost exclusively craft beer, with a handpump to boot.
Among the launch beers is Pinchgut’s Monty’s Noble Ale, the latest addition to the brewing company’s lineup. The Californian Common style beer (one that uses a lager yeast fermented at ale temperatures) was originally created in tribute to Monty Smith, the son of Gerard’s business partner Jason Smith (and great-great-great grandson of Montague A Noble, the former Aussie cricket captain who has an SCG stand named after him), who required treatment for heart failure in the first week of his life. It’s since graduated to become a regular release, alongside Pilzner, Gerard’s homage to Pilsner Urquell, and is, like the vast majority of his beers “designed around Friday night drinking” – in other words approachable and sessionable.
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