Origin – Australia, NSW
Junee in NSW’s south west has been home to a few notable folks, including Canberra Raiders legend and NSW and Australian captain Laurie Daley, and the voice of rugby league himself, Ray ‘Rabbits’ Warren. The latter even has a bronze statue of him erected in the town square. This country town with a population of just over 6,000 can now add to that list of notables, Josh, Dan and Glenn, the 3 mates who grew up together at Junee High School. Jump forward 10 years and the 3 found themselves living together and embarking on their own brewing expedition from the kitchen at a little house in 4 Merchant Street Stanmore (hence the name) and are now behind one of the inner west of Sydney’s newest craft brewers. Merchant Brewing Co now joins an ever increasing number of great craft producers in the area such as the likes of Young Henry’s, Batch Brewing Co and Willie the Boatman just to name a few. Currently, the boys produce a limited range of 4 beers, the Three Toe pale ale, the Earl Pear Blonde ale, a When Sloths Cry Golden ale and this Smooth Sailor Porter. Poured from a bottle with a sloth on the label, which is a throw to their slow brewing philosophy, this old English style brown porter hits the glass black and produces a lingering creamy head. Like many of great dark brews the aroma is dominated by cocoa and caramel, however, hints of a master stroke come with the slight scent of coconut and vanilla, which is fully revealed on the palate. As with the nose, a good swig is dominated by lots of chocolate and caramel toffee. But the real class plays out in the coconut up front, the vanilla beans in the middle and the smooth bitter finish. Although your average sloth only stands 50-70cm tall, should this exciting Sydney based start-up continues to deliver extraordinary brews such as this, I can imagine a day in the not-too-distant future when a traveller heading through Junee will do a double take at the small dog-like bronze statue by Ray Warren’s side!