adventures in craft beer in Perth and beyond

5 minutes with Dave from iKegger

iKegger are a Sydney based company selling mini kegs and growlers and I’ve recently added one of their 2lt “hummer” mini kegs to my collection. Maybe “collection” is a bit of an overstatement but I do already have about a dozen growlers and squealers so it begs the question, why would I buy another growler? Sure, the guys at iKegger offered me wholesale pricing on it but a discount wasn’t the only reason I got one and nor is a discount the only reason I wanted to interview Dave Thackray, one of the company’s co-founders.

iKegger - Hummer 2lt Mini Keg

It was over six months ago that Dave got in touch to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of the products. There’d be some figuring out the logistics of getting one to me but Dave offered up a couple of solutions. As it happened, weeks before Dave got in touch, my partner had purchased a couple of the 4lt mini kegs for his work as a brand ambassador for a booze (non-beer) company. Predictably when the occasion called for it, like having eight or so friends around for dinner one night, we borrowed one of the 4lt mini kegs.

Working for a brewery and having a generous boss, I filled the mini keg with delicious beer from work. Between eight of us the four litres was pretty quickly drained but it had served it’s purpose well, it did what it said on the box and the night rolled on. It might sound odd but it wasn’t until the next day that I appreciated the iKegger the most –  there was much less tell tale clinking bottles in our recycling bin thanks to the iKegger!

iKegger - 4lt Johnson Mini Keg

So I went and bought one. The tap system works well and it’s super lightweight and compact, almost deceptively so to the point that I filled mine with water when I first got it to confirm it did in fact hold two litres.

iKegger

My 2lt iKegger fresh out of the packaging

So given my honest enjoyment of the product I was keen to interview Dave for an edition of ‘5 minutes with …’ and so, without more of my ramblings, here goes!

Dave Thackery - iKegger

Photo provided by iKegger

What Australian breweries should people watch this year?

Wayward Brewery in Annandale, Sydney is doing some quality beers and expanding rapidly, after finally winning a three year trademark court case against multinational SAB Miller they can now focus on the most important thing, beer! Another one to keep an eye on is a tiny microbrewery in Wollongong called Five Barrels, at this stage it’s owner/brewer/bottler/marketer Phil is running at his full 600L per batch / 1200L per week capacity (all that’s not sold to local businesses is hand bottled!). I tried an Imperial Stout last week that was top notch (nothing to do with the 10.5% abv and it being a freezing day!). He is looking to expand before summer next year and I’m picking it will be one to watch if he can scale successfully.

What is the most exciting thing about craft beer in NSW?

The huge number of breweries opening up at the moment is just staggering! I am obviously heavily involved in the industry as we try to keep an up to date map of venues that fill our growlers and kegs and also offer to supply venues with our products with their own logos but it still seems that every day I find out about another one I had no idea existed. Often right under my nose, for instance I’m regularly in Marrickville at Batch Brewery (another of my favourite growler filling spots, try Elsie the Milk Stout!) and had no idea that Black Font Brewery existed only a block away until last week.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about craft beer?

That it is inaccessible to people who like a cold lager on a hot day. I started iKegger with my girlfriend and a mate, neither of whom were particularly into craft beers. My girlfriends go to beer whenever we went to a new venue was to ask the bar tender what their “most normal” beer is. She has since branched out and her go to is a pale ale or IPA. I on the other hand love craft beer, I worked for years in The Local Taphouse as the Head Chef and tried everything that came through the door but I am not a fan of this doing something just for shock value.

For me there needs to be a damned good reason to be putting peanut butter, beard or vagina yeast into a beer and I’ve yet to find one.

How relevant is the term “craft beer”?

I think for passionate brewers who are working their asses off to put out beer that they are passionate about the term “craft beer” is completely justified. Like being a chef, being a brewer is one of those jobs you really need to want to do, otherwise when you realise that a huge part of your job is scrubbing, sanitising and rinsing on repeat you will be out of there in a flash. For this reason I don’t think that the term “craft beer” can ever be applied to a macro brewery. Sure they might spend hours developing recipes and doing tastings but at the end of the day it is the same job as the executive chef of an airlines economy meal kitchen. To co-ordinate 400 odd people to produce something consistently and for the least money possible.

What beer style do you think is really under-rated?

I think that Brown Ales are all too often bunched into a category and generally thought of as unexciting. This is a real pity as there is a huge diversity of flavour profiles and styles within it from a Belgian Style Flanders of light colour, some lactic sourness and malty to an American Brown which can have a quite high hoppy bitterness to it. The Nut Brown Ale from Holgate is a classic and one of their most popular beers with good reason.

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