A café owner, a personal trainer and a lawyer walk in to a bar. Together, they’re the Lost Boys, Sydney’s newest gypsy brewers.
Joe, Nick and Jake (left to to right above) are high school mates, who have kept in regular contact throughout the years over a drink at the pub. When Nick and Jake both took up homebrewing (“the best hobby in the world,” according to Nick), conversations around sport and politics morphed into those about beer and brewing.
“It got to a point where I’d bring a book when we went out,” says Joe. “As soon as Nick and Jake got talking, I’d start reading. An hour later, I’d look up to check if they were done and if not, I’d keep reading!”
Given Joe had no intention to read the entire State Library collection, his patience eventually waned and he issued his friends I challenge. “I told them to put their money where their mouth is and just have a crack at it – see if they could get a beer on tap at a pub.”
The story could have easily ended there. With all three friends juggling families, jobs and and plenty of other responsibilities, it could have simply been dismissed as a pipe dream. Yet, 18 months later, Lost Boys’ Blood Red Ale poured from the tap at the Cricketer’s Arms Hotel.
A variation on one of Nick’s homebrewed bitter brown ales (a recipe he has perfected over the course of 10 years), the ale earns its name from the addition of a special ingredient, which gives it a deep red colour. Thus, the beer is a “Blood-Red” Ale, not to be confused with a Blood “Red Ale”.
Although gypsy brewing may conjure images of a merry group of tinkers and travellers, the reality is far from glamourous. Without equipment of one’s own, it’s hard to keep batches consistent. One must also place a large amount of trust in another brewer, hoping that any alterations to a recipe keep the underlying flavour of the beer the same. “It’s a bit like being on a bus,” says Nick, “you have to assume the bus driver knows what they’re doing and they’re not suicidal.”
The first batch of Lost Boys beer was brewed at Wayward, previous gypsy brewers themselves. “We went there with a bottle of beer and my homebrew recipe and asked them to make it,” recalls Nick. “They changed the recipe for a larger system, modifying ingredients and ratios. It came out exactly as I wanted – it tasted like my homebrew but better, creamier and with a nicer mouthfeel.”
The latest batch of Blood Red Ale was brewed at Rocks Brewing Co, with some of the 68 kegs now sitting in an off-site storage facility. “We had to rent a truck from Balmain, go to the brewer in Alexandria to pick up half the kegs [since a 2 T truck can’t carry 4 T of beer], go to the cold storage in Botany, return to the brewer to get the other half, back to cold storage and then go return the truck,” says Joe. “Such is the reality of gypsy brewing!”
“We delivered eight of those kegs today in the back of the Camry,” adds Nick. The kegs have been delivered to Lost Boys’ regular haunt, The Cricketer’s Arms, as well as to the Dove & Olive, Keg & Brew and The DOG for a series of Meet the Brewer nights, which will begin on August 3rd (today!)