Yard Kings launches in NSW

Yard Kings Brewing Co. has opened the doors to its new brewpub.

The Morisset brewpub was founded by five local families – Alderding, Davies, McEwan, Robertson and Shiach-Wise – with a representative from each family on the board of directors.

Scott Robertson is leading the project as general manager, after having, along with wife Kim, previously owned and operated gyms.

“The idea of creating a space for our community to come together and feel part of something special is also a huge motivator. We’re all about friends, family and connection to community,” he said.

Morisset is also an area of growth in the Lake Macquarie region, according to Yard Kings, with some major developments in the works in the region.

“Morisset will undergo an incredible transformation over the next three years and we’re excited to be there from the beginning,” Robertson explained.

But working with so many stakeholders – who are also friends and family – in a startup business can be tricky.

“We’ve had to navigate steep learning curves, transitioning from friends and neighbours to business partners,” he said.

“Feeling out each other’s strengths and working styles and finding our groove as a collective. We’ve never worked together and the stakes are high!

“Branding was especially tough. Like anything graphic, it’s very subjective. It took four months of iterations to get to a happy medium. Aligning the artistic vision of 10 men and women is no mean feat! In the end we’re happy with where we landed and feel immensely proud of The Yard and Yard Kings Brewing Co.”

The sale of Stone & Wood last year and the various employee shareholder schemes and equity crowdfunds ongoing in the market have also prompted a discussion about exit strategies, even for young businesses such as Yard Kings.

“It’s an equal share for each family [and] the shareholders agreement caters life changes and potential exits,” Robertson explained.

Building a regional brewery

Building a brewery during COVID was not easy, but given that the Yard Kings founders only decided to open the brewery last Easter, the development process has been relatively fast, but certainly not smooth-sailing.

“I think this has to be the worst year in history to be building just about anything. Between material shortages, huge delays, price hikes, COVID, and the rainiest, stormiest year ever, it’s been stressful to say the least.

“Everyday we are flying by the seat of our pants, problem solving and putting out metaphorical fires.

“As the space comes together, our dream is literally coming to fruition in front of our eyes and that view makes it all feel so worth it. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Being a regional brewery – which the IBA has suggested in the past might be an area of growth for the Australian brewing industry – also has its benefits.

“For sure [the brewpub model is a way forward] – rather than competing for shelf space at the bottle shop. Beer-tourism is only getting started in Australia, particular in regional centres. There’s still a lot of growth to be had in the market,” Robertson said.

Head brewer will be Adam Wolfe, who started his career at Harpoon Brewery in Boston before moving to Australia where he worked on the brew team at The Grifter Brewing Company.

Wolfe is focusing on traditional styles which match the market.

“The beers on offer ended up being culmination of the region in Australia in which the brewery is located and new takes on traditional styles,” he explained.

“Each style was either chosen because of where we are located in Australia or based on the ever evolving pallet of the beer drinker. Two perfect examples of region or location would be the Pacific Ale and Lager. Both very popular styles further up North.

“We wanted to cater to the hot climate and the drinkers of this region and make sure the beer was easy drinking but still packed with flavour.

“Even with the Czech dark lager, though being a favourite style of our brewer, it also was strategic in that it is a dark beer that still drinks quite clean and light to be enjoyed on a hot day.

“The pale ale also falls in this category as well. It is a bit more lighter bodied and approachable but still enough flavour to be interesting. Hopefully it gets the not-as frequent craft beer drinker leaning in that direction.”

Wolfe has also taken a look at trends in the market.

“As for the Hazy IPA and West Coast, the Hazy IPA has really made a big move in Australia as of late, and definitely thought it would be a fun and exciting style to have in our core range.

“We tried to make each core range style an approachable version of itself and I think the Hazy does a good job of this. Same with the West Coast IPA, it is quite different from the Hazy being more bitter, pine and resin focused, but still a beer most people can get into.”

Yard Kings Brewing Co. is now open at 32 Accolade Avenue, Morisset, NSW, 2264.

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