Craft House is a shrine to the craft of artisan brewing. Opened in August 2018 by cousins Chris and Gareth Sharples, it’s an inviting ‘industrial’ venue with comfortable leather chairs and banquettes, given street cred by a dazzling street art portrait of a woman (the logo of the owners’ marketing business) – a gathering place where enthusiasts and locals alike can feel welcome.
And why shouldn’t they be, after all, it’s the Aussie public who have led to their success. A story of the rise and rise of the little guy against the multinational giant, craft beer consumption has increased when Australia’s beer sales overall are on the decrease.
Variously seen as a ‘rising tide’ (NAB) and a ‘young industry’ that is ‘the consistent savior’ of the beer industry (Beverage Trade Network), craft beer has generated interest and excitement in a broad spectrum of the Australian population.
With 20 taps on rotation at Craft House, never replaced by the same brew, covering beetroot sour to sweet cider, dark malt or maple stouts to IPA tropical pale ales (even a local sticky nectar mango beer), there’s plenty of choice for enthusiasts.
We’re intrigued to learn more about the craft beer movement, its followers as fervent as any footy team cheer squad. Using the Untapp’d app which logs and sends notifications of keg changes by live feed, a new brew such as the 13.5%Tusk IIPA is likely to be sold out as quickly as its kegs were upon release (32 minutes, we’re told)!
But if beer is not your brew, there are plenty of other ‘crafts’ to explore at Craft House.
We’ve been following the rise of another Australian craft spirit, gin, soaring in world charts due to our unique botanicals. Twenty primarily Aussie gins are on offer, including exceptional locals Ink Gin by Husk Distillery, Brookies Dry and Brookies Slow (a serious challenge to AFDs).
From a bar illuminated by crystal decanter lightshades, Manager Eric Ball brings over a couple of classics: Adelaide Hills’ Green Ant gin, complete with four green ant floaters, and Four Pillars’ Bloody Shiraz gin steeped in Yarra Valley Shiraz. (They’re still ‘on the list’ as I’m the designated driver, drinking Voss sparkling water mulled with seasonal fruit.)
Following a lower alcohol trend, there are also fruit-infused cocktails with artisan gins matched to different Fever Tree tonics.
“So, what about our local rum?” we ask, knowing that rum’s long maturation time had led Husk Distillery into gin production, only to create a runaway success in Ink Gin, its smoothness and purple Ph-sensitive hue gained from the butterfly pea flower.
Craft House carries twenty exceptional rums, including Husk’s Spiced Bam Bam and Pure Cane Agricole that uses hand-harvested cane. High end whiskies and tequilas polish off the spirits list. An artisanal wine list, including a good selection of organic and minimal intervention wines, is supplemented by some top cocktails: Buttered Baileys, with its sensational popcorn flavour, The Devil’s Mojito with a daring combination of lychee, mint and chilli gins, as well as the Caribbean Crunch Margarita with fresh and roasted coconut, mandarin and lime.
But this is truly a ‘house’ that takes seriously its four walls needed to complete the craft: atmosphere, service, drinks and food.
Securing the services of Chef Mark Lloyd is a coup indeed! Having trained in London under the likes of Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay, Lloyd has spent the last eight years in Sydney as one of Merivale’s head chefs, moving on to head the team at Coogee Bay Hotel.
Making a sea change for lifestyle reasons, he describes Craft House’s food philosophy as ‘social dining’. The menu is made up of bar snacks and share plates extending to late night dining choices and even a kids’ menu to cover all bases. Emphasising local produce, the Craft House kitchen is using herbs and greens from Pottsville, Queensland meat, while still establishing relationships with local fishermen.
The menu is balanced yet exciting: Ceviche scallops presented on a bed of golden beets, radish, nashi pear and tasty organic micro-greens; a dark savoury dish of Huan lamb ribs bringing the tingling flavours of Sichuan pepper and chilli to the tongue.
How easy it would have been to give in to a little sugar on the lamb, softening the tones. Instead, this is a bolder, more grown up ‘colour’ palette that doesn’t back away from flavour or texture, opting for surprise.
So too with dessert, our Avocado chocolate mousse with lime and nutmeg CoYo cream is the perfect antithesis to its accompanying gingernut biscuits. Who would have thought!
Intrigued, we look forward to a return visit.
Craft House is evidence that the sleepy hollow of Tugun is fast becoming a destination, not that they’ve let that go to their head. It’s also very approachable, with $12 lunch specials from Monday to Thursday grabbing locals’ attention.
No matter what your taste preference, there’s something for everyone at Craft House, a venue that lives up to its name on every front.
Shop 1/445 Golden Four Dr, Tugun Ph: 07 5598 3786
Open daily 11.30am – 12 midnight