If the best kind of businesses come about through personal passion, then the Coast’s newest brewery is surely headed for great things.
Michael Pepper (Pep) and Al Jones have a passion for all grain brewing, and Greg Tobin and Brett Brown have a passion for drinking the resulting beer.
Not that they’re alone in that. There’s many who will attest that Pep and Al’s time spent home-brewing in the garage was well spent. But of the many willing taste testers in Avoca Beach (home to the four friends) it was Greg and Brett who decided to stand shoulder to shoulder with their brewing mates and take their beer to a wider audience.
They’re a pretty laidback bunch, and you get the impression that really they’ve just moved to a larger garage. But the partnership of these four is a savvy move.
Each business partner brings skills to the mix that have made all the difference to the venture so far.
As a town planner, Brett’s experience was invaluable during the lengthy application process. Greg is a graphic designer and responsible for the very slick visual identity of the business. And both Pep and Al work in I.T. … when is that not handy??
Block ‘n Tackle’s brewery and cellar door is located in the industrial estate on Cochrone Street, Kincumber. something of a hidey-hole for places worth discovering, Loo Loo’s Coffee Warehouse sitting opposite the cellar door.
The fitout is charmingly simple, with a rustic bar and a few seating options. It’s primarily a retail outlet where you can sample the beers on tap and purchase some to take away. One litre peelers are available for $12.50 each, or for a refillable option, choose a cute, 1.89 litre metal mini keg. These are $45.00 to purchase filled, and each refill will set you back $22.00.
There’s a simple selection of food on offer to accompany your tasting paddle. We highly recommend the mezza plates – you can choose from a selection of tasty dips, cheeses and more. We had Little Creek’s feta and peppercorn cheddar, a delicious almond hummous from Jacque’s Kitchen and kalamata olives, served with bread and crackers. A great option for grazing while you focus on the main game – the beer.
A good 20 years of garage tinkering has gone into these brews. Both Al and Pep had been brewing independently before joining forces, with Pep even abandoning a work-related degree to earn his Graduate Certificate of Brewing from Ballarat University. The growing popularity of their brews gave them a fair idea of what might be possible. It was then just a small step, and some red tape, to go commercial.
Both brewers have been all-grain brewing for years – making the wort from mashed grains rather than a ready-made extract – so going into serious production was really just about choosing the specific brews and upgrading some equipment. And moving garages.
Interestingly, the name Block ‘n Tackle, so apt given their Kincumber location and its ship-building past, is actually a nod to those home brewing days when they had to use mechanical advantage to, rather dodgily, haul their fermenter up high to let gravity do its thing and siphon the beer for a second fermentation. They’ve sinced embraced the connotation, naming many of their beers for pioneering shipbuilders and their ships, in the process bringing an important piece of Central Coast history back into circulation.
The cellar door has a great atmosphere, with waves of customers popping in to taste what’s new on the taps, or to have their mini keg refilled. It’s always calm, casual and convivial, welcoming of all. Much like the four friends who started it, and who might be spotted having a milk-crate-conference out the back.
Block ‘n Tackle are committed to using the best ingredients available, including premium quality grain and hops, and all their brews are free of artificial additives and preservatives. Pep and Al have formulated their own new brew recipes based on traditional brewing styles from Europe, North America and Australia and, being a small-batch brewer, are often trying something new, including seasonal brews and one-offs. It’s worth dropping by regularly to see what’s on tap.
ROCK LILY PALE ALE
Named for the last ship built by George Frost at his Kincumber Creek shipyards in 1906. An American style pale ale with a perfect balance of malt sweetness, hop bitterness and hop flavour. Perfect with a range of foods including grilled meats, pizza and Mexican.
RIP BRIDGE GOLDEN ALE
Named for the Coast’s iconic bridge, this is a great beer to start with. Lightly hopped with uncomplicated flavours it’s a great all-rounder and goes with just about anything.
THE WAGGY WIT WIT BEER
Named for the Wharf at Wagstaffe live music venue, a traditional, unfiltered Belgian style wheat beer brewed in the traditional Belgian way using coriander seed and orange zest. Thirstquenching with delightful, slightly spicy flavour. Perfect with Thai dishes and seafood.
SIR THOMAS PORTER
Named for former the NSW Governor for whom Brisbane Water is also named, Sir Thomas MacDougall Brisbane. Brewed in the traditional English style, subtly hopped with roasted malt flavours and a perfect dose of chocolate and coffee flavours. Good with rich, tomato-based dishes but great with oysters!
JON PIPER AMERICAN IPA
Named in tribute to the pioneering Kincumber shipbuilder Jonathan Piper, Jon Piper Mark III is third in the series of specialty brew IPAs. A brilliantly intense bitterness balanced by a rich, dried fruit flavour and tropical fruit aromas. The extra hoppiness complements stronger flavours like chorizo and BBQ ribs.
SHIPWRIGHT’S ENGLISH BITTER
A traditional English style Best Bitter, brewed with English hops, this beer offers a firm bitterness and an earthy hop flavour balanced by a solid malt backbone. Easy drinking with a deep amber colour, this is another specialty brew that has proved extremely popular and has British ex-pats sweating on each new batch.
RED LIZZIE AMERICAN AMBER ALE
George Frost’s first ship, named for his wife and launched in 1884. A bold, fruity citrus aroma and flavour notes from the hops carefully balanced by a smooth malt sweetness. A great match for Italian flavours, Red Lizzie is a specialty brew.
Brewery & Cellar Door:
11-13 Cochrone Street,
Kincumber NSW, Australia
Phone: 4368 3333.
CURRENT OPENING TIMES
Monday, Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday, Thursday: 12pm – 8pm
Friday, Saturday: 12pm – 10pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm
Closing times may vary from week to week so check the website or call ahead.