It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention, so when Jacob Newman, at the age of eighteen, was too young to buy beer in his home state of Texas, he simply created his own brew. Years later, that teenage entrepreneurial spirit travelled across the Pacific Ocean and emerged as Eden Brewery. If Newman has his way, Eden Brewery is just the first of many independent brewers to carve out a new type of tasting trail in the Southern Highlands.
Despite an early start in the beer trade, Jacob worked as a paramedic in Dallas before moving to Townsville, then Papua New Guinea (where he met Eden co-founder and now-wife Deb) as a missionary and medic for local communities. After seven years of volunteer work around the world, the couple returned to Australia. Beer was their next calling.
‘We began searching for a foodie region with strong paddock to plate culture,’ Deb explains from behind the bar of Eden Brewery’s Mittagong premises.
The couple chose the Highlands for its strong match to their criteria, plus the likelihood of customers with ‘an expendable income looking for a better tasting, better quality beer.’
Eden Brewery opened for business in January 2017, in a well-chosen and easy to spot location just off Bowral Road. Each of the home-crafted beers on Eden’s creative list is named after a tree, and customers who are interested can learn the story behind the names. One popular tale belongs to Eden’s best-selling Phoenix D Kottbusser, a German-style beer that came close to extinction when illegal ingredients forced it to be shelved in the sixteenth Century. The Phoenix D part of the name pays tribute to the Judean Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera), extinct for centuries and resurrected after a 2000-year-old seed was discovered in the tomb of Herod the Great and successfully cultivated. Both the beer and the tree were brought back to life.
The beer-tasting approach at Eden Brewery is similar to a Cellar Door experience typical of wineries in the region. Visitors can choose a ‘taster’ for five dollars, or a paddle of five smaller beers for twenty dollars. The 150ml samplers are a whistle stop-tour of Eden’s brews, from the unexpected Peach Sour Berliner Weisse (yes, it’s really a beer) to the popular and very drinkable Palm Pale, made from Australian hops with a hit of passionfruit. If you’re looking to pair it with food, the tasting notes suggest snags on the barbie. Birch Wit, another Eden favourite, was Jacob’s first hand-crafted brew and is inspired by the sunflower fields near his Texan home. Along with sunflower seeds, beer connoisseurs might also pick up the traditional Belgian wheat beer flavours of orange peel and coriander seed.
Food options are another creative element of the Eden experience. With no commercial kitchen, customers are encouraged to bring their own hampers and set up picnic-style at the timber tables with prime view of Eden’s gleaming stainless-steel fermenters. If that sounds like too much effort, pick up a beer-inspired pie from the Gumnut Patisserie across the road, or dial for pizza to be delivered. Sunday brings the additional option of Mexican cuisine or hot dogs from gourmet food trucks parked out the front of the premises. Those wanting to take Eden’s brew away with them can fill up a one or two litre ‘growler’ from the choice of beers on tap. The vacuum insulated thermos-style containers will keep the beer nicely chilled for up to twenty-four hours, perfect for a summer picnic or camping trip.
The Newmans’ charitable ethos continues with Eden Brewery donating ten percent of its profits to Oxfam. Having seen first-hand the impact of unclean drinking water on developing communities, the couple continues to support humanitarian programs that drive positive change.
Eden Brewery is open Wednesday to Sunday 12 noon to 8pm.