Buvette Masthead

California via Canberra: Capital Brewing Co

Beatrice Smith

A trip to America’s home of craft beer was the catalyst for Canberra’s newest brewery; Capital Brewing Co.

Canberran co-founders Laurence Kain and Tom Hertel met each other working in venues like Honkytonks and Hippo Co. but it wasn’t until their road trip to Portland, Oregon that they felt ready to create their own brand.

“We did our first trip to Portland to do some research around four years ago and we had an awesome time,” explains Tom. “We developed a real passion for craft beer – you’ll see in Honkytonks and Hippo that we always kept Australia craft beers on tap.”

At the time, Tom and Laurence’s main focus was transforming Hippo Co. into the venue it is today, but with the relaunch complete they redirected their efforts towards creating their own slice of America’s craft beer culture here in Canberra.

The idea of Capital Brewing Co. came to fruition when Laurence and Tom met and became friends with the founders of Batlow Cider, brothers Rich and Sam Coombes. Their working relationship continued to grow and after bonding over their love of craft beer, Laurence and Tom discussed the possibility of launching our own craft brewery with them .

“[Rich and Sam] loved the idea of a craft brewery in Canberra,” says Tom, “so we’ve been working on it [with them] for about eight months now.”

Image: supplied

The Capital Brewing Co. Team. Image: Supplied.

The team are currently ‘gypsy brewing’ (brewing at another company’s location) in Sydney while they finesse their products ahead of their launch party tonight.

“We’re brewing flat out all day at the moment to get three beers ready for the launch,” explains Tom, “We also want to release a stout just before winter and do all kinds of fun seasonal stuff.”

Tom and Laurence knew they wanted someone at the helm of the brewing process who would be able to bring an American craft beer legacy to Canberra, so they travelled there to find their perfect candidate.

“We went to San Diego [California], which is a mecca for craft beer, and we met with some brewers there,” says Tom.

Their new head brewer is Wade Hurley, who the team have brought over all the way from California to brew in Canberra. Wade made his mark at breweries like Coronado and Green Flash and Tom has high hopes for what he can bring to the Canberra market as part of the Capital Brewing Co. team.

Wade Hurley

Head Brewer Wade Hurley

“We loved [Wade’s] style of brewing,” explains Tom, “I was brewing with him [in Sydney] yesterday and it’s just tasting awesome. I can’t wait until we launch, I just want everyone to try it.”

The guys can’t reveal too much ahead of the launch but they did hint that their head brewer’s origin will have a lot to do with the taste.

“It’ll be our expression of great Australian craft beer but obviously with an American influence – a bit of West Coast Californian style,” says Tom. “It’ll be a real marriage between those two ideas.”

Capital Brewing Co. will be located in the Kingston wetlands, along Dairy Road, an area that promises to grow in vibrancy as the sprawl of the Kingston Foreshore development continues to expand.

Tom says the brewery will have a ‘cellar door’ where people can taste the full range of beers and he hopes there will also be food options to compliment the brews.

“The focus will be much more on the production facility rather than making it a ‘restaurant’,” says Tom, “but there will be a number of food options available. We want to create a great atmosphere, like some of the ones we experienced in [the US].”

Because of their partnership with Batlow Cider, Capital Brewing Co. already have a national distribution strategy in place, but never fear – you’ll definitely be seeing their cheery red label at a Canberra venue near you and no doubt their Kingston location will be a must-try destination for beer loving foodies when it opens later this year.

To keep up to date with Capital Brewing Co, check out their Facebook and InstagramAll images via facebook.com/capitalbrewing


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author