In a region filled with old pubs and dive bars, Katoomba’s Mountain Culture Beer Co is a breath of fresh air.
This craft beer brewery is spearheading a change in the Blue Mountains drinking culture with chart-topping ales and a wholesome community atmosphere.
Head brewer DJ McCready, immigrated to Australia from North Carolina, the state with the highest number of breweries per capita in America.
DJ met his wife Harriet in Sydney, bonding over dreams of one day owning a brewery.
That dream is now Mountain Culture Beer Co. And it’s incredibly good.
A lesson in building a brewery
Unsurprisingly, building a brewery isn’t easy.
The building took years for the couple to find. And that was just the start.
“The building was a civic video back in the day, a heritage building that was really dilapidated,” Harriet told Vacations & Travel.
“It was falling down and crumbling, the walls were rotting. It was a total disaster.”
“But we could kind of see what it could be if we spent some time and a bit of love on it. It was two years of blood, sweat and tears but absolutely worth it… We’re really lucky that we could preserve it and use it as a brewery.”
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Harriet and DJ completed the gut-job renovations mostly on their own. Mountain Culture Beer Co opened its doors to the public in late 2019.
The couple had no idea the community response they’d get.
Drink local, support local
Unfortunately for Mountain Culture, 2020 was a bit of a party pooper. However, locals rallied around the brewery. Clearly they were doing something right.
“I think we really have to thank the locals, because they were really the only ones who could access us because of the bushfires and then COVID,” Harriet said.
“Nobody was coming up from Sydney, they were the only ones coming in.”
Locals began to spread the word. Soon, online orders were coming in from all over Australia.
Mountain Culture now has an unwavering fan base. One customer drove eight hours to try their favourite beer on-tap, which they’d been ordering online every week.
But it’s not just about sales. Mountain Culture Beer Co have a strong community focus.
“I think its important to drink local because you’re supporting your local community economically,” Harriet said.
“We’ve also got about 20 staff now who are locals, and it’s awesome to be able to keep jobs in the area.”
The Mountain Culture experience
Mountain Culture is an experience.
It’s not a place for slamming back as many beers as possible. It’s a space to feel part of a community, to belong, to learn about beer and how it’s made.
Groovy music and funky art welcome you upon arrival. The building embodies mountains charm. Despite renovations to modernise the space, there’s still a classic rustic feel.
High ceilings with exposed beams open the space up, while windows let in natural light. The tables are made from re-purposed wood that was knocked down during renovations.
Staff will greet you at the bar, where you’ll probably spend a while trying to pick what you want. Everything on the menu is brewed in-house.
On a sunny day, we recommend sitting on the back deck. Sip your craft brew under the watchful eye of a cool cat mural. Views of the valley and mountains beyond unfold before you.
Inside is perfect for cooler days, with a mezzanine balcony and views over the brewhouse.
Mountain Culture Beer Co are pet and kid friendly, making it an experience the whole family can enjoy.
A mouth-watering menu
In Australia, Mountain Culture’s Status Quo is Untappd’s number one ranked pale ale. Another beer, Time Rewind, is number one in the country across all categories.
“Status Quo is the number one pale ale in the country,” Harriet said.
“We find people who are adamant they don’t like beer try it, and they’ll have it and enjoy it.”
Feeling hungry? Mountain Culture Beer Co has some of the best grub in the mountains.
The signature burger comes with buttermilk chicken, classic beef or veggie patties.
Just want a snack? Don’t look past the fried pickles with chipotle aioli. Or the tater tots with Japanese curry sauce. Are you salivating yet?
So, what’s next?
Since opening, Mountain Culture has continued to grow and expand. And the company has no plans to stop.
Harriet and DJ have expanded Mountain Culture’s production into a new facility in Emu Plains. This means the Katoomba site can focus on “super experimental brews.”
Mountain Culture also plans to introduce a lagering program. It’s still in its very early stages, but brew fanatics should keep their eye out.
The Blue Mountains brewery has recently collaborated with Aussie rock climber Tom O’Halloran. Tom made the Olympic team and will be the only male representative for Australia in his sport.
The new, limited release NEIPA, Mr Mittens, celebrates his achievement. All proceeds help Tom get to Japan in August for the Olympics.
This is just another example of Mountain Culture’s community mindset.
Mountain Culture is on Parke Street in Katoomba, next to the TAFE campus. There is free parking on-site. Katoomba train station is just three minutes walk away.
Mountain Culture Beer Co is open seven days a week. 12pm to 6pm Monday through Wednesday. 12pm to 9pm Thursday and Friday. 8am to 9pm on weekends.
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