Setting off for The Grifter Brewing Co. last Saturday afternoon, arriving to a grey carpark filled with people was the last thing I was expecting.
“Is there an event we didn’t know about?” I asked my friend, scouring through beer-related Facebook events for something we’d missed.
The reason for the line, I soon discovered, was no VIP event or buck’s party, but just a regular hoard of Grifter-loving Saturday patrons. The Grifter Brewing Co. is everybody’s neighbourhood brewery, whether you live in Marickville or not. Without ego or exclusion, Grifter welcomes anyone with a penchant for beer and always gives them a good time. With $12 tasting plates of four pony-sized beers, you can make your way through the entire menu in one sitting, and it won’t be long until you’re going back for more.
The Grifter Brewery is located in a former Fresh & Clean laundromat, and the space is split into two distinct parts. The brewery occupies the back wall of the warehouse, and the bar inhabits the front – the two connected by the pipes leading from the chrome tanks to the client-side taps. Rotating food trucks, such as Rosa Cienfuegos Mexican occupy the entry ground space, offering tempting smells as patrons pass through to not-too-polished concrete floor of the lively bar. Every part of Grifter’s history is reflected in the walls of their Marrickville home.
Grifter originated in 2012, conceived by three mates who liked to brew beer at home: Matt King, Trent Evans and Glenn Wignall. A trio of housemates and mutual friends, concocting brews in their kitchens soon became a regular weekend past time.
“We turned a hobby into a job,” said Matt King when we chat about Grifter’s history, and from the way he describes it, it was almost like a happy accident – backed up with a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
It’s clear from our talk that Grifter was never about ambitious business or a desire to franchise and dominate. The focus has always been the brews and the experience of experimenting with flavour and process. As intended, the bevs are still the stars of Grifter, with the graphic design and merchandise simply a way to prolong the experience and connection.
“Our beers are unique but they’re not crazy,” said King when I ask him about Grifter’s brews. “They’re still very approachable.”
This is an apt description. The tap list is packed full of exciting and unusual blends, incorporating flavours like cucumber, watermelon and coffee into highly palatable and unique flavours. Serpent’s Kiss and Pink Galah are two long-time customer favourites which regularly return to the taps at Grifter brewery. The fruity acidity of Pink Galah – a pink lemonade sour – and the refreshing sweetness of Serpent’s Kiss – a watermelon pilsner – push the envelope on what you can expect from Australian beer.
The range of brews make Grifter a place anyone can go. Less exotic brews like the Grifter Pilsner and Omen – an oatmeal stout – cater to beer conservatives, while sweeter libations will float the boats of less seasoned grain drinkers.
The Grifter Team have become synonymous with their development of sour beers – a lengthy process which stretches several months. In response to the positive feedback Grifter has received on these brews, the team is in the midst of releasing a new range of sour beers, in a series they’re calling Psyched Out Sour.
The most recent release is Dark Moon: a boysenberry dark sour with a rich purple hue. The unusual combination of berry tartness and a bitter cocoa aftertaste is surprisingly easy to drink and the result is a beer much lighter than the average dark ale.
When we speak about Grifter’s success King is proud but not expectant: “It just went nuts,” he recalled of Pink Galah’s release. “I’d never really seen a response like that for a beer.”
With a brewery so well-loved by its patrons, it would be easy to get carried away in the grandeur and momentum. However, Grifter remains down to earth and approachable at every touchpoint. The lack of pomposity and entitlement is a real merit for the team– the founders, bar staff, bouncers and all. The welcoming nature of the staff (and dog-friendly venue) makes The Grifter Brewing Co. the place it is today, and is the reason people will continue to come flocking from all corners of Sydney to join the fun.