This article originally appeared in the June 2017 edition of Froth Craft Beer Magazine.
Froth readers walking around Sydney this month for the Vivid light festival might notice a brand-new, beer-related addition to our historic Rocks district. Taking prime corner position on Argyle Street, with an impressive view of the Sydney Opera House, is the recently opened Endeavour Taprooms.
It marks the end of a six-year search for the team from Endeavour Vintage Beer, who have been looking for a place to call home. They’re one of Sydney’s longest running craft breweries, but have spent the majority of their existence so far contract brewing – something they’ve always been transparent and honest about. Now, with a place to call their own, that can finally change.
Behind the tools in the Taproom’s 600-litre brewhouse is John Bogan, better known as JB, whose impressive resume includes the likes of Mountain Goat, Malt Shovel Brewers and 4 Pines. He’ll be brewing all of Endeavour’s seasonal releases, as well as helping out with the regular range – recipes that were previously developed exclusively by founding brewer Andy Stewart.
“Half of the beer in the taprooms is brewed on site and the other half we have to bring in still – we don’t have room to do everything on site,” says Endeavour co-founder Ben Kooyman.
“Andy is very much involved still. He’s given JB more of a free reign in our taprooms, but they work as a team. JB is hands on day to day, but Andy is still our founding brewer and is still involved in the business. Together, they’ve just finished finalising the 2017 recipes for our bottled beers.”
That’s where the ‘vintage’ part of the brewery’s name comes in. Just like vintage associated with wine, Endeavour’s beers are made with ingredients harvested only in that year. Using the best grain and hops, they aim to craft a similar tasting beverage each year, but one that still reflects the growing conditions of that particular season. That’s opposed to the way many other brewers operate, trying to create identical tasting products between each batch. Or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the majority of craft brewers who are often experimenting with new ingredients.
“We speak to the farmers about the harvest each year and what the different ingredients have come off the farm looking like. The hops have different alpha acid levels, moisture levels and also different characters around their flavours and aromas. With the grain, we get good harvests and challenging harvests – so it’s all about embracing what mother nature has delivered and applying that to our house styles.”
Those house styles are the Reserve Amber and Reserve Pale Ales, the former of which is available at the taprooms in a staggering six different vintages.
“We have the Reserve Amber from 2011 to 2016,” says Ben. “In a few months, we’ll have 2017 on the list as well. Many people will struggle to pick up differences between them, but any craft beer drinker with a good palate and nose will be able to pick up on the differences year to year.”
The craft beer drinker is also likely to enjoy the taproom’s onsite meat smoker, as well as a menu that adopts the same locally-sourced, seasonally-harvested ethos as Endeavour’s beers. Then, for the non-craft-beer-drinking friend, there’s also an impressive list of Australian wines to savour.
Despite only opening earlier this year, business at the taprooms has started with a bang – partially owing to the premium location a mere hundred-meter stroll from Sydney Harbour.
“We’ve had a great start this summer,” says Ben. “So far, our trade has been 30% locals and 70% tourists – both domestic and international. It’s also been great to give us an opportunity to talk to our trade customers and bring them in. It’s getting us a bit of a bigger audience than just Sydney.”
“There’s still a lot of hard work to go and we’re not yet resting on our laurels, but we’re very happy and proud of what we’ve achieved.”
The Endeavour Taprooms are located on 39-43 Argyle St, The Rocks, with happy hour running Monday-Friday 4:00-6:30pm.
Images used in this article were provided by The Endeavour Taprooms and used with permission.