With big-city ‘craft brewing’ a corporate playground, it’s great to see a down-to-earth label with an eccentric fun-loving style right at home in Byron in its own restaurant.
Yulli’s Brews, brewers of such classics (just read the labels, they’re hilarious) as Slick Rick’s Ale, now has a place in the Byron CBD where you cannot only talk to the founder Karl about his beers, and taste them, but you can also try their kombucha and their modern Asian menu.
The Yulli’s journey began in 2008 with Karl Cooney and his partner Danielle Gleeson. Four years before then they’d been living in WA up the road from the International Beer Shop in West Leederville, where they fell in love with craft beer (or boutique beer as it was known back then).
When they moved back to Sydney they wanted to open a craft-beer bar dedicated to only serving beer brewed by small teams in NSW – that also just happened to have vegetarian food (Karl and Danielle were both vegetarian at the time). It turned out that people were desperate for modern vegetarian food though, and so Yulli’s quickly became a restaurant instead.
In 2010 James ‘Harvs’ Harvey started washing dishes at Yulli’s, but by around 2013 was working there full time managing the beverage side of things after developing a love for craft beer. He started making his own home brew and by 2014 it was so good he won a competition, which is when he and Karl decided to start Yulli’s Brews.
Their first goal was to make a pale ale with a little more body than others on the market, but not too hoppy to throw off the balance. This resulted in the creation of Norman, their original beer. At first, they just sold it at the restaurant with Harvs making one keg at a time in a mate’s brewery.
But soon people were asking for it, which led to bigger batches at breweries and a wider range of beers (and now a cider).
Yulli’s Brews is known for its individually named drinks and matching caricature can art. Karl and Harvs wanted to base their beers on people they had worked with over the years or who had interested them in some way. They also knew their dishy at the restaurant at the time, Charlie, could draw and asked him to give it a shot. Karl writes the poems on the back of the cans himself to bring the characters to life a bit more.
In May 2019, Tuan Nguyen (a previous co-worker with Karl), Karl, and Harvs opened Yulli’s Byron Bay together. They wanted a base for their beer in the area, and Karl also missed waiting tables! It has four beer taps, one for their housemade kombucha and a modern Asian menu that’s designed to share.
The latest brewing creation from the Yulli’s team is a cloudy sake hybrid with IPA called Chiho – named after their dedicated staff member who makes a gorgeous handcrafted sake. The restaurant in Surry Hills is also now 100 per cent vegan, and Yulli’s Brews just launched their own online store to make it easier for Aussies all over the country to get their hands on some Yulli’s.
Yulli’s Byron Bay
3/8 Byron St. Ph 6685 5711
Open Wed & Thurs 5pm–late
Fri till Sunday 12pm–late