Illawarra's Five Barrels brewery turns two this weekend

Happy birthday: Five Barrels' Phil O'Shea will be sharing the beers in these oak barrels this weekend as part of the brewery's second anniversary celebrations. Picture: Sylvia Liber
Happy birthday: Five Barrels' Phil O'Shea will be sharing the beers in these oak barrels this weekend as part of the brewery's second anniversary celebrations. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Wollongong brewery Five Barrel will be serving an 18-month old beer as part of its weekend birthday celebrations.

The Keira Street brewery turns two and is celebrating this Saturday and Sunday with some new beers.

One of those new beers is almost as old as the brewery itself – an 18-month old cherry lambic.

One of a range of sour beers, it has been sitting in oak barrels and slowly developing.

As fate would have it, the beer is ready for this weekend’s birthday party.

“It lined up really nicely for this weekend,” brewer Phil O’Shea said.

“The challenge with sour beers is that it is a long slow process – they develop very slowly over time. So you do need to take samples periodically to see how the beer itself changes in the barrel.

“There will get to be a point where it will start to not get any better. That’s the point where you need to really make the decision on whether to take it out.”

There will be one keg of the beer on tap over the weekend, with plans to bottle the rest for release in a few months.

Mr O’Shea said the other new beers on tap over the weekend will be a robust porter, a keg of mango sour and a mystery beer (part of the mystery is whether or not it will be ready in time).

The brewer and owner said when he first opened the doors he certainly hoping to make the two-year milestone.

What he wasn’t expecting was for things to have gone quite so well so soon.

“We’ve had a really, really good two years,” he said.

“The support that we’ve developed from the greater Wollongong  community has just been amazing. I can honestly say I didn’t think we’d be in this position two years in.”

There was one person who had really helped out – Dave McGrath from rival Illawarra Brewing Company.

 “A lot of people might see us as competitors but the reality is he’s been a key feature of the craft beer scene in Wollongong for a long time,” Mr O’Shea said.

“His support in our development has just been terrific as well.”

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