Wagga’s homegrown craft brewery Thirsty Crow turns 11 this year and they’re ready to celebrate in style.
Thirsty Crow was started by Craig Wealands and his parents with the first beer brewed in late 2010 and the first tap beers poured in 2011. Their first beer – the Sporting Ale – is still a regular at their brewpub today, with four other regular brews and a rotating cast of seasonal beers.
They moved from their original location to their current home on Fitzmaurice Street in 2016 and it’s been onwards and upwards ever since with a much bigger capacity for brewing and welcoming people into the brewpub.
Thirsty Crow has always been, and will remain, fiercely independent.
Without the reliance on poker machines and big-brand sponsorship, they’ve had to focus on providing the very best service and products in order to compete. And they’re proud of what they’ve accomplished as Events Manager Tayla Martin explained.
“Our Vanilla Milk Stout is often in the Australian International Beer awards, it has won gold medals a few times – five times – and some of our other beers have got silver and bronze as well,” she told Region Media.
“It’s a pretty big deal for us because we’re a really small fish in a massive, massive sea of other large breweries.”
General Manager Yolanda O’Neill Keane told Region Media that one of the biggest changes in the past 11 years is seeing how the locals have responded to locally brewed craft beer.
“[It] was a big challenge at the start in an old school town [like Wagga] with lots of pubs that are very Carlton heavy,” she says.
“Getting the community to get behind us has been a really good thing over the last few years. We’ve always had a big emphasis on using local ingredients, supporting the local economy, creating jobs and all that sort of stuff, so I think that’s been the driving force of it.”
Thirsty Crow has held birthday parties each year and they’d hoped that their 10-year anniversary in 2020 could be a big ‘end of pandemic party’. but due to ongoing restrictions it was a fairly small affair to thank the locals who’d supported them through all the difficulties of COVID-19.
Thanks to capacity restrictions easing this week, they can fill the venue for the first time in two years and they’re looking forward to celebrating everything they’ve achieved and all they’ve overcome with the punters who have stood by them along the way.
“We definitely have some of the best locals and the support that we’ve received in some of the hardest years that the brewery has gone through. We’re just lucky that we have a lot of great support from the local community and our regulars,” says Tayla.
Birthday celebrations will run from 5 pm until late, with live music from local musicians Bradley Pollack, Toby Mobbs and Lavish Pedro. The members of Lavish Pedro are regular faces at the Thirsty Crow so Tayla is particularly keen to have them perform on stage.
The kitchen will also be serving meals, including their delicious pizzas and a few chef specials for the occasion.
The team will be running lots of games and entertainment with a ‘corn hole’ competition (an American bag tossing game), giant Jenga, ping pong, and a very special Thirsty Crow putt putt course being built for the occasion.
Beer nerds can test their knowledge with a blind taste challenge and later in the evening the bartenders will battle it out with their best beer descriptions as the audience votes on their favourite brew.
Last year the brewery had a specialty birthday beer which was an orange and mango weisse beer. Two locals won a competition to help brew the 2022 birthday beer, which Tayla describes as “something different and not like we’ve had on tap here before… brewed by locals for locals”.
The beer itself will be a surprise on the day, but the sentiment of the name echoes how the staff feel about being able to welcome the community back to the pub after a couple of tough years:
“It’s so good to see you.”
The Thirsty Crow Birthday Bash will be held on Saturday 26 February from 5 pm until late.
Early Bird tickets from Thirsty Crow website are $20
The brewpub is open 6 days a week, closed Monday. From 4 pm on weekdays and from 12 pm on weekends.
153 Fitzmaurice Street Wagga Wagga.