Casablanca on See’s Anthony and Natasha Sfettina’s life revolves around food and family, and since the launch of their craft beer – 384 North Micro Brewing – their passion has grown.
Making craft beer has always been a dream for the couple, and after the success of their first tap beer in September they now have six varieties of 384 North Micro Brewing available, with two more on the way.
“We always had the plan to make beer, it was just having the capital to do it, as it’s a very expensive set up,” Natasha said.
“We have had about 200 different types of beers available here at the restaurant over the last five years, from Noosa’s Land and Sea, Bargara Brewing and just so many other people’s beer, we thought it was about time we put up our own.”
The love of a name in 384 North Micro Brewing
Two decades ago Anthony and Natasha met in Brisbane – 384 kilometres away from the seaside community of Bargara hence the name of their new venture – 384 North Micro Brewing.
“We met in Brisbane and Bargara is 384 kilometres north and it’s that simple,” Natasha said.
“This is where we are living, this is where we are raising our children, and where our business is; it’s our home.”
But it’s not just the name of the new endeavour that has sentimental value for the couple, as each of the eight craft beers is named after a significant milestone in their life.
Before owning Casablanca on Sea Anthony farmed grapes in the Mundubbera area, which meant a lot of time was spent away from Natasha and their children, Airlie and Ryder.
Natasha said cooking had always been in Anthony’s blood as he hailed from a long line of Italian chefs, and he was taught how to cook at a young age from his Nonno, who himself was a chef.
“He can cook, his family were all chefs, so I said he has got to give it ago,” Natasha said.
After calling it a day on the farm the pair bought Casablanca on See, and they haven’t looked back, as their journey together continues to grow.
“Every one of our beers has meaning for us,” Natasha said.
“Our Overdrive IPA was basically named as Anthony was away all the time when he was in corporate, and he was always in ‘overdrive’ to get home to us.
“It’s an IPA so is traditionally very hoppy and has a strong bitterness.
“Then there’s the Outback Red IPA.
“When we left Brisbane we spent a lot of time in the desert and that relates to us out there, we spent a lot of time in Menindee and Broken Hill, really out west.
“So, it’s basically a journey from when we left Brisbane to how we ended up here.”
Brewing beer has been a long-time passion for Anthony
Anthony remembers clearly the first batch of beer that he brewed and said he was pleasantly surprised at the result, which then led him to follow his dream of creating craft beer for the community to enjoy.
He said at Casablanca on See they were classed as a nanobrewery, which is very small-scale brewing, and it took about three weeks from start to finish to have each 20-litre keg of craft beer available on tap.
Creating recipes from tastes he enjoys Anthony alters the ingredients to give a variety of flavours for each individual beer type, from the pale ales to the hop-heavy beers for everyone to enjoy, all from the kitchen at Casablanca on See.
He said making the initial beer before the alcohol content only took a few hours and it was the fermenting process that took time, as this required testing throughout production.
“We force-carbonate to get it on the tap quicker, and this gives it a fresh taste,” he said.
“With the ales, especially the hoppy-ales, the faster you drink it the better, so that’s why we get it on tap as soon as possible.”
Anthony and Natasha believe by adding 384 North Brewing to Casablanca on See it will boost the local craft beer scene in the Bundaberg Region.
Natasha said the beauty of the restaurant coming before the beer was they were able to match the flavours with their meals.
“We have customers who have never drunk craft beer before, and we talk to them about the craft journey and help to match the flavours with the food they are about to eat,” she said.
“Not everyone comes in liking IPA, and we offer a paddle board where they can try the different types.
“If we have something for everyone, then the journey is still happening for everyone and I think that’s important.
“We want the craft beer scene to lift in Bargara and for people who love IPAs to come in and enjoy them – we have three IPAs on tap right now, and one of Bargara Brewing's IPA as well.”
She said the response so far from customers had been overwhelming with some from the Sunshine Coast saying they would drive the distant just to drink 384 North Micro Brewing beers again.