News / Food & Drink

New addition to suburb’s booming beer industry

Six Brunswick-based breweries have each produced a special German-style beer for Oktoberfest

Gales Brewery owner Dave Williamson says there is a sense of community among Brunswick’s breweries.

Mark Phillips
Friday, September 30, 2022

WHEN it came to finding a home for his new brewery, Dave Williamson didn’t have to look very far.  

In fact, all he had to do was convert what was a declining electronics business in a small backstreet in Brunswick East into a gleaming new brewhouse which opened to the public a little over two months ago. 

Gales Brewery, named after the street it is located in, is the newest addition to Brunswick’s booming microbrewery scene. 

It has opened just in time to join five other breweries – Alchemy Brewing Co, Co-Conspirators Brewing Co, The Foreigner Brewing Company, Inner North Brewing Co and Temple Brewing Company – in a local Oktoberfest in which each brewery has produced a special German style beer for sale throughout the month. 

A home brewer for more than 40 years, Mr Williamson began to get serious about opening a brewery about five years ago after completing a course in beermaking. 

“After that course, I thought I’ve got to do this,” he said. 

“So I said to my partner in the electronics business, who owned this building, ‘Maybe we should open up a brewery’. That put the idea in his head but I didn’t worry about it too much.

“And then one day he came back and said ‘Maybe we should’. That was at the end of 2018.” 

COVID-19 slowed down the transition from an electronics shop to a brewery, but it also gave Mr Williamson more time to perfect his craft. The brewery, which is just two blocks back from Lygon Street between Victoria and Albert streets, was finally ready to open at the start of July. 

The brewery is capable of pumping out 500 litres a week. There are eight beers on tap and seating inside for 51 people. Beers currently on offer include a New England IPA, which has proven the most popular in the short time the brewery has been open, a session ale, a wheat beer, a lager and a porter. 

For Oktoberfest, Gales will be offering a dunkelweizen. 

It’s a modest start which suits Mr Williamson and his one employee, Tom Cresswell, just fine. 

“We’re just doing kegs at the moment,” Mr Williamson said. 

“We’ve got a little canning machine out the back, which we haven’t fired up yet. But all the beers I’ve got on tap at the moment are first timers, and I would need to do them at least one more time to see if I can get consistent alcohol levels before I commit to a run of 5000 labels.” 

Brunswick has a plethora of breweries, but if they are in competition with each other, it doesn’t show. Mr Williamson said he had been overwhelmed with the friendliness of other brewers since he opened, which he puts down to the culture of the area. 

He said Zack Skerritt from Inner North Brewing on the western side of the Upfield railway line had been particularly helpful when he was setting up. 

“They’ve all been very friendly, they’ve all come in to buy a beer and talk shop and say hi. 

“And in fact, we were quiet last Saturday night so I left Tom here and went around the corner to return the favour and say hi. 

“I’m trying to cater for the locals and build up a local presence because they’re living just around the corner, they can walk in and enjoy a pint.  

“But even people who are regulars for me now still go to other breweries, and some of their customers come to us at different times. So they share it around, and I suppose the beer drinkers like to try something different.” 

That spirit of collaboration extends to Oktoberfest, with the six breweries taking part happy to promote each other’s products as well as their own. 

It begins on Saturday when each brewery puts its own German style beer on tap. Co-Conspirators is offering a roggenbier in collaboration with Backhaus Bakery, Alchemy has a marzen, and Foreigner is doing a Berliner weisse.

At Inner North, you’ll get a ‘Two steps forward one step’ bock, and Temple will have on tap a 77 pilsner. Each venue will also be hosting special events in October.