Beer of the Week

Five Things About … Illawarra Steelale


1) While there are four taps in this picture, the one we concern ourselves with is the third from the left – the Illawarra Steelale. It’s a beer that Five Barrel Brewing made for Wollongong bar His Boy Elroy and is only available on tap there. Which is kind of cool. For ages I’d get annoyed at seeing social media posts of beers only available at some place I’ll never get to. So it’s good that this is a beer I can get easily and most of you can’t. Sucked in.

2) Maybe you’re wondering why a beer brewed and sold in the Illawarra has an American football helmet on it. Well, my friend, therein lies a story. Back in the day (by which I mean before 1999) there was a local team called the Illawarra Steelers. Even though they haven’t existed for nearly 20 years, a lot of people still miss the team and have quite a soft spot for both it and the logo. Which you can see here.

3) The guys at His Boy Elroy wanted to have their own beer on tap and decided to use the much-loved Steelers logo as inspiration for both the name (Steelale) and the tap decal.  And so they came up with this.

Which I thought was a great idea. I’m a Dragons fan but seeing that tap decal just made me happy and made me want to buy some of that beer.

4) I wrote a story about it for the newspaper I work for and a lot of other people got really excited about the beer too. Seems the Steelers logo inspires happy memories for a lot of people. The Illawarra Steelers club also the story – and the tap logo – and they didn’t much like it. A letter that said “dude, we own that logo, you can’t use it unless we say so” was swiftly sent out. Negotiations ensued and the end result was that the crash-helmet wearing Steeler disappeared, to be replaced by US footy helmet. Which is a real pity.

5) The strange thing is that since the Steeler has disappeared from the logo, the appeal of the beer dropped somewhat as well. Funny how branding can change your feelings, isn’t it. The Steelale is a straightforward pale ale, presumably designed to appeal to a broad range of customer palates. There’s a little bit of fruit notes but I found the biscuity malt characters to be the focal point here.

Free or paid for?: I’ve bought several schooners of this since it launched in time for the NRL grand final. You know, supporting local businesses and all that.

1 reply »

  1. My strongest memory of the Steelers logo is that it was a particularly hard card to come by in the late eighties scanlens footy card packs.

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