In 2011, friends Laurence Kain and Tom Hertel were so enthusiastic about craft beer, they opened the first bar devoted to artisan brews in Canberra. “It was really before the craft beer explosion in Australia,” recalls Kain. “We’d drive up the highway every few weeks and pick up 15 or so kegs from Young Henrys and Grifter and store them in our parents’ garages, and then serve them in our bar.” Their love for craft beer eventually evolved into a desire to make their own. So, in 2016, they sold up their bar to open Capital Brewing Co. “We started with three tanks and a brewhouse, and the growth was beyond what we could even imagine,” Kain says. “Everything we made we put back into being able to keep up with demand. Now we’ve got 27 tanks on site, and 190,000 litres of fermentation capacity, and we’re one of the top independent breweries by size in Australia.”
It’s not just their crowd-pleasing ales and stouts that keep beer lovers coming back – from the start, Capital Brewing has been focused on making beer with the environment in mind.
The founders are both avid trail runners and backcountry skiers, and as Kain explains, this connection to nature has given them a sense of responsibility for the planet. “We’ve always tried to operate responsibly,” Kain says. “Last year, we became the first Climate Active-certified carbon neutral brewery in Australia for its operations and all of its products.”
Capital Brewing is also B Corp-certified – a rigorous process that reviews not only a company’s environmental impact, but how it treats staff and contributes to the community.
Key to their climate-friendly approach is managing waste. Rather than letting hops and yeast waste go down the drain, Capital Brewing captures it to send to Landtasia Organic Farm for composting. Meanwhile, food scraps from their taproom restaurant are fed to black soldier fly larvae, which becomes a high-protein source of feed for livestock. They also adjust their brewing schedule to reduce water waste and have developed an automated cleaning system to recycle the water used to rinse their tanks. Their latest innovation is recycling carbon dioxide – used to replace head pressure when they’re emptying a tank – to reduce CO2 production in the brewery by 36.5 per cent.
On the ski slopes, Capital Brewing has upended the usual merch gift-with-purchase with its Trees for Tomorrow initiative, which promises to plant a tree on the Snowy Monaro Plain for every beer sold. Partnering with local environmental charity Keep it Cool ensures the trees and shrubs they plant are suited to the location and have a high survival rate.
The Capital Brewing philosophy is all about creating crowd-pleasing beers. “Our tagline is ‘good natured brews’. We want our beers to be approachable and inclusive,” Kain says, explaining that while a Capital brew is well constructed, it won’t “blow your face off” with hops. What makes their beer great, Kain says, is their high-quality ingredients, including water from the Brindabella Mountains. “It’s beautiful water for brewing,” he shares.
Created by head brewer Wade Hurley, the brand’s signature beer is the Capital Brewing Trail Pale Ale, a smooth American-style malted brew with a piney, citrusy note that’s perfect after a day on the mountain. Looking for something more fruity? The Capital Brewing XPA is made with new world hops that give it a juicy, tropical flavour and a bright, refreshing finish.
The huge taproom at Capital Brewing’s warehouse in the trendy neighbourhood of Fyshwick is as inclusive as its beers. Visitors are encouraged to bring kids and pets for a laidback afternoon session, either in the warehouse where the brewing happens, or outside in the sprawling beer garden or courtyard, where there’s a cubby house for kids and shady areas for dogs. You can choose from 18 Capital beers on tap, including small-batch seasonal releases, and wash it down with a burger from ACT institution Brodburger. Non-beer drinkers can also grab a wine, cider or ginger beer on tap, which helps the brewery manage waste.
Products featured are available from 06/09/23 to 10/10/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.