How Dainton Brewery went from a garden shed project to an award-winning craft beer brewery

How Dainton Brewery went from a garden shed project to an award-winning craft beer brewery

Words by Augustus Welby
Photo by Paoli Smith

11 years ago, Dan Dainton’s uncle fired him from a sales job. He couldn’t have known it at the time, but this was the first step on the way to founding the Dainton Brewery, which he did in partnership with his father Kev in 2013.

“I went for another sales job with Lion Nathan to sell James Squire and didn’t get the job,” Dainton says. “So I was like, ‘What should I do? Maybe if I had my own brand I could sell that’.”

Dainton mentioned his pipe dream to a few people and it was suggested that he get a job in a home brew shop to work on his brewing techniques. He acted on the
advice and started brewing in his garden shed three or four times a week while studying for a graduate certificate in brewing from Federation Uni.

“I applied for another job with Lion as a brewer and I started brewing at James Squire at the Portland Hotel in the city,” says Dainton. “Chuck Hahn came down and tasted one of my beers and he thought it was too hoppy and I was like, ‘Well I think I might take myself elsewhere and go brew some beers that I like’.”

Dainton left Squire for the Holgate Brewhouse, but stayed just a short while before he and Kev launched Dainton as a gypsy brewing operation in 2013.

“We gypsy brewed around at seven different breweries for quite some time,” Dainton says. “In 2016 we built and started brewing at Carrum Downs and in 2017, about a year later, we won Champion Australian Craft Beer at the Australian Craft Beer Awards.”

The winning beer was the Cherrywood Smoked Rye Baltic Porter, a 10 per cent ABV dark smooth porter. In September 2019, the Independent Beer Association crowned another Dainton brew as Australia’s best independent beer – the Triple Dry Hopped Double Red Eye Rye.

“We’re the only brewery to have won it twice, which is pretty nice seeing as we really aim to make the best quality product we can,” Dainton says. “Every time we make a new beer it’s like, well yeah, we’re creative, we’re innovative, but we really want to make something that’s first class.”

This year’s winning beer was created to honour three years of brewing at Carrum Downs. It’s an update on Dainton’s Red Eye Rye, which was the first beer Dan and Kev released in 2013.

“With the Red Eye Rye I was kind of looking at beers like Little Creatures Pale, which is still one of my favourite beers,” says Dainton. “I was like, I love the sessionability, I love the flavour profile of this beer, I believe more and more of this stuff’s going to be made. What’s something that’s a version of that but a bit souped up, a bit different? “I took a pale ale recipe and started adding a bit more malt, a bit more rye – it had seven different hops, seven different malts in it
at one time. The idea was to brew something that was exciting and just slightly different, but a bit more drinkable.”

Dainton’s core range consists of a pale ale, IPA, extra session ale and a pilsner, along with Red Eye Rye and the Blood Orange New England Rye IPA, which is the most popular of the lot.

The brewery’s limited release range would probably turn the heads of even the most dedicated craft beer consumers – examples of their more outlandish brews include peanut butter stout, black cherry cola sour, cookies & cream milkshake IPA, oyster Kilpatrick stout and choc cherry NEIPA.

“I take ideas from other drinks. Not necessarily beers – other alcoholic drinks, foods, confectionery that I like,” Dainton says. Despite this, he understands pale ales and pilsners still rule the market and so the core range is brewed with just as much passion as the deviant offerings.

“We try to distinguish ourselves by making really good beer. You have to stand apart somehow.”

Find Dainton Brewery at 560 Frankston – Dandenong Rd, Carrum Downs, VIC and via their website.