Stainless steel tanks are tucked away under a vestibule, right next to the living room of Geoff and Analee Isbister’s warehouse home in Carrington. Technically, it’s a converted coal-testing facility. These tanks are called a mash tun, lauter tun, kettle, fermentation and conditioning tanks. Such a set up would be commonly referred to as a brewery.
And it is: Styx Brewery, to be precise.
Geoff is a scientist; a clinical toxicology researcher at the University of Newcastle, and Analee is a very creative baker. Both freely admit that neither one of them have any or even a whole lot of brewing experience. However, they have been known to enjoy a tin or two of craft beer, every now and then.
“We did have a brewer lined up to help us out, but he piked just as things started getting serious, so we just kept going,” Analee says. “We’re the type of people who say that when we get to 85, are we going to have any regrets.”
When the brewer bailed, spider venom researcher Geoff took up the more science-based brewing duties, while the artistically-gifted Analee designed the creative recipes.
“I never really saw myself as a brewer,” Geoff says, “but by the time our real brewer left us, we had already bought the equipment and started installing it. So, we thought, why not?” he says. “As they say, brewing is mostly cleaning, followed by the science of reproducibility, and the art of creating recipes, which Analee is really good at.”
So far, the Isbister’s along with business partner Tom Wellings, have invested over $100,000 into the installation of a 300L nano brewery in their home in Carrington. The plan is to brew big quality, small batch beers to sell on tap and in cans, locally, through Newcastle’s numerous pubs, bars, and bottle shops.
“It’s a big step for us, but we’ve had a lot of help and advice from the local brewing community,” Geoff says.
It’s a big step for us, but we’ve had a lot of help and advice from the local brewing community.Geoff Isbister
“Shawn from FogHorn, and the guys out at Ironbark, and Jimmy [aka David Cox] at Tin Shed Brewery in Dungog have all offered us advice, Adam Hardy too, from Rogue Scholar, he’s been great,” Analee says. “Adam is very critical of people who don’t know how to brew, but he’s liked what we’ve brewed so far, and he’s giving us a lot of tips and advice.”
Styx Brewery is named after the creek that flows from Charlestown into Throsby Creek, and then into Newcastle Harbour near Carrington. The couple have already brewed, kegged, canned and sold their first beer - King Tide IPA - to local craft beer connoisseurs; Belmont 16’s, Lambton Bottle-O and Maitland’s Pourhouse have all been early adopters of Newcastle’s newest brewery. Newcastle artist Mitch ‘Revs’ Resevsky has been recruited to adorn their cans with some eye-catching artwork.
“We wanted our cans to stand out and to have the art match with our Styx underworld theme,” Analee says. “Mitch is fantastic. We’re stoked with how it’s all turned out.”