Shawn Sherlock and Keith Grice met at university in Newcastle in the late 1990s, bonding over a love of beer.
Sherlock started his brewing career at Murray's Brewery at Salt Ash, going on to open his own brewhouse, FogHorn Brewery, in Newcastle in 2014. Grice has worked at Hunter Beer Co, a microbrewery at Potters Hotel in Nulkaba, for close to two decades.
Many industry accolades and countless schooners later, the pair are now working together at Sherlock's second FogHorn brewery venture, FogHorn Hunter, at Potters Hotel.
The move was made possible by FogHorn's partnership with Founders First, who are in the business of supporting independent craft breweries and distilleries. They "took on the entire Potter's site, apart from the accommodation" earlier this year, Sherlock says.
Potters Hotel will continue to serve Hunter Beer Co's popular Hunter Kolsch, Bock and Slaked Magpie but its new and improved brewery will also be home to FogHorn's signature, seasonal and limited edition brews.
Founders First chief executive officer Mark Haysman plans to further invest in the site over the coming months, with a new chef and menu soon to be announced for the revamped bar and dining area.
"We are proud to be partnering with Shawn to extend the reach of FogHorn and accelerate business growth ... we have some exciting plans ahead for Potters Hotel, creating a community hub that showcases FogHorn and our award-winning Australian beer and spirits portfolio which includes KIS, Jetty Road and Sparkke."
Newcastle artist Mitch Revs has already transformed the brewery's feature wall with an eye-catching mural.
"Keith and I will be able to keep brewing great beer there but also provide a better experience for the visiting public," Sherlock said.
"We're going to produce on site. At this stage of my career it's about doing things authentically, not putting a badge on something without actually producing it. Over time the plan is to expand the brewery to enable FogHorn, in turn, to expand its capacity. We've got a big space in town but in terms of producing a lot of cans and kegs we've been knocking our heads on the ceiling, so to speak, and we needed to grow."
He is also looking forward to working with Grice, who he says is one of his "best mates in the industry".
"We're not trying to take on the world - we want to become Newcastle's brewery and develop a genuine presence in the Hunter," he said.
"We are uncompromising when it comes to quality - we haven't gotten to the stage of our careers that we're at by cutting corners and dumbing things down. We're old enough and grumpy enough to make our own decisions and we're going full-steam ahead."