Everywhere you look, it seems Canberra hospitality businesses are collaborating: Sandoochi is popping up for a night at Bar Rochford, Miss Van’s Vietnamese is co-hosting a long lunch with neighbouring restaurant Terra, and BentSpoke is putting Italian and Sons pizza in its beer.
Pop-ups, special events and limited-edition products seem to be more popular than ever. So what’s fuelling this collaborative trend?
Kit Carpenter is the culinary director for Three Mills Bakery. When he was researching ways to use leftover bread, he came across kvass: an Eastern European style of beer traditionally fermented with rye bread. So he got in touch with the head brewer at Capital Brewing Co, Wade Hurley, to work together on this uniquely Canberra brew.
“I brought over 20 kg of dark rye, which is the traditional bread used in kvass. A few of the bakers and I sat and tore all the bread by hand with Wade as he talked us through the initial brewing process,” Kit told Region.
As well as using rye bread, Wade added some of the Three Mills starter culture to give the beer sour notes during the fermentation process. The result is the Toast Kvass: a limited-edition beer currently available on tap at Capital Brewing.
Lachlan Cutting is the owner and baker at UNDER bakery in Mawson and he frequently lends his name to pop-ups and collaborations with a number of other restaurants. For the former chef, participating in these events is a way to stay connected to the broader hospitality community and a good excuse to work with friends and former colleagues.
“It’s a very close-knit group in most of Canberra hospitality. People who’ve worked with each other stay close,” he said.
Pop-ups are also a way for chefs to try different products, or get their name out to different markets. Working with a different style of business, or a restaurant in another part of town, is also a great way for like-minded businesses to introduce their customers to something else they’ll love.
“If it’s two places that people know and really like, there’s a level of trust there. So you know that when they come together they’re going to do something really great,” said Lachlan.
Lachlan said that with a one-off event there’s a level of excitement and hype that you don’t get when you just put specials on the menu. The limited nature of the product is part of what makes it so desirable for people.
“It’s almost like getting a secret invitation. It has the feeling of being exclusive, so people will jump on that because there’s only going to be 50 or 100 available! It gets people excited.”
Kit and the Three Mills team are hoping that this beer is just the start of an ongoing partnership. They’re planning to use some of the kvass in some of their pastry creations and it might lead to further collaborations between the two businesses: whether that’s bread made from beer, or more beer made from bread, or even beer made from bread made from beer!
But for now, there are only two ways to taste the Toast Kvass: head to the taproom at Capital Brewing or get a job at Three Mills Bakery and win its staff-only gingerbread competition!
Generally, the best way to find out about collaborations and pop-ups between Canberra hospitality venues is to follow your favourites on social media and keep your ear to the ground for the latest exclusive collab!
The Toast Kvass beer is available on tap at the Capital Brewing Co tap room at Dairy Road, Fyshwick (until it runs out).