Grab a pair of these crafts and invite over a friend to goof off. Then take a half time break from your lounge room version of the world game to start on a convo that could well change the world for your mate.
Origin – Wollongong, New South Wales
ABV – 6.5%
Size – 375mL can
Style – Amber Ale
$20 goes a long way. Be it the words of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis as they headed down to the thrift shop, or Sunny, the straight-talking 10-year-old girl from the Suncorp advert who mimics the aforementioned music video, we're told you can do a lot with a lobster. Stop to imagine then what you could do with $2,000. Mike O'Shea already had an idea when his father Phil gifted him with that amount in 2015 – he promptly purchased a 600-litre commercial brewing system and registered the name Five Barrel Brewing. The name refers to the capacity as measured in the quaint American way.
The avid homebrewer then went searching for the right location to set up while tackling the reams of paperwork required to get such a venture off the ground. Six months later, a warehouse sitting in inauspicious industrial surroundings at the southern part of beachside town's main street opened its doors to the thirsty Wollongong locals. From the outset, Phil and Mike O'Shea did everything: brew beer, clean tanks, make deliveries, run the bar, and balance the books. It was a recipe for success that was recognised less than 12 months after inception, with the father and son awarded the Best New Brewery at the Sydney Craft Beer Week Awards.
Yet, for a society where growth is valued above almost everything else as a measure of success, rather than doubling down, the O'Shea's remained consciously constrained, proud to be a local brewery. Selling as much as they could within the community that in turn supported them most. The decision to become less visible to the world beyond the Illawarra came down to simple reasoning that if their beer were good enough, that should be enough to run a sustainable business. And their beer certainly is good enough, as evidenced by this flagship Hoppy Amber, or Navigator Red IPA as it became known following a 2020 rebrand. A neighbourhood favourite since day one, it carries all the pine and resinous characters of an IPA, including a generous and lingering bitterness. However, it's the malt that gives this Navigator a depth and caramel sweetness that make it so luscious, delicious and moreish.
To quote Macklemore, this is f$#king awesome!