From home brewing to one the Central Coast’s most popular spots for a cold beer
It was a desire to bring good beer to the Central Coast that motivated Chris Benson to set up Six String Brewing Co., a favourite watering hole among locals. A love of beer also helped but a few factors had to align before he took the leap with then business partner Adam Klasterka. Although Chris had been a home brewer for years and loved the challenge of brewing good beer, his day job was in IT in Sydney. But after 10 years working in IT and living in the big smoke, Chris was ready for a change. He was also keen to start a family and having grown up on the Central Coast, he wanted his kids to have a similar upbringing.
“Getting it all up and running on the Coast was a massive commitment, but so worth jumping the hurdles to be able to ditch the commute and work 15 minutes from home,” says Chris.
Although Six String Brewing Co. is one of the Central Coast’s most popular spots for a cold beer, it’s the region’s first home-grown craft brewery and it took a while for other local venue owners to warm to it after its launch in 2012.
“Newcastle was there from the get go but the Coast took a while,” admits Chris.
Now, “we love walking into local venues and seeing our beer on tap or in the fridges”.
Visitors to the Coast often drop into the brewery simply to check it out, while “there are definitely loyal locals who’s support keeps us afloat”, says Chris.
That’s what’s great about craft beer, there’s something for everyone
Six String is more than keeping afloat, with Chris now working in partnership with Ryan Harris, and the pair enjoying such success that they’ve recently brought on board general manager Nathan Parlane. Nathan isn’t involved in the brewing, but oversees the everyday running of the business so Chris and Ryan can focus on the beer. He’ll also provide a much-needed hand when the brewery doubles its capacity in the second half of 2018. But more on that later. Let’s talk about the beer.
Chris started brewing with kits before moving onto all grain. He then started entering competitions and winning.
“I started to get a bit of confidence that it wasn’t just the free beer friends enjoyed but it was actually good,” he laughs.
For Chris, a good craft beer comes down to flavour.
“Craft beers are not all massive beers but beer doesn’t have to be boring to be easy drinking,” he explains.
“I love being able to push the boundaries with flavours but will return again and again to an easy drinking flavoursome beer like our TPA (tropical pale ale).”
The TPA is one of Six String’s most popular styles, and the business recently won a gold medal it at the Australian International Beer Awards - a huge achievement for a small company. Along with the TPA, Six String’s core range includes the Coastie lager, pale ale and dark red IPA, and they’re also the most widely spread, being stocked in venues across Australia. The biggest selling beer depends on where you’re consuming it and what the season is. The Coastie lager, for example, was created with the Central Coast’s beach lifestyle in mind.
“It’s a great introduction to craft beer for the non-craft drinker and it’s been really well received,” says Chris.
On the other end of the scale, seasoned craft-beer drinkers love the IPA and limited release seasonals, which push the boundaries.
“That’s what’s great about craft beer, there’s something for everyone,” Chris adds.
Speaking of those seasonals, they’re released every other month and because they are only temporary Chris and Ryan have more creative freedom with the flavour profiles. These limited release brews are based on the climate and so in winter they feature a lot of dark beers, stouts and porters. For previous summers they’ve collaborated with another successful Central Coast business, Eastcoast Foods & Beverages, by using their passionfruit, orange, guava juice in a New England IPA. They’re also trying their hand at brewing a coffee stout using Onyx Coffee. To keep customers guessing, there’s also a new a chilli Belgian ale on the cards.
Whenever possible, Six String uses local ingredients, such as the juice and coffee. It’s something the crew obviously enjoys, as Chris plans on pushing the boundaries with the seasonals. He’ll also be expanding the brewery’s tank capacity in the near future and has plans to continue “converting people to craft beer, one by one”.
Six String isn’t only for beer drinkers. Visitors can also drop in for lunch and dinner, with the kitchen currently run by Donnie Eats, known for their delicious burgers. As for other experiences, chat to the brewers in the tasting room, sign up for a brewery tour, run every Saturday at 11am, or head along on ‘BrewDay’, a popular event held every few months for people keen to get hands-on.
Find out more about Six String Brewing Co.