James Squire’s Edible Biography

Last night, the legendary tale of Australia’s first brewer, James Squire, was revealed as the world’s first ‘Edible Biography’ a one of a kind feast held at the Cell Block Theatre, in the former Darlinghurst Gaol.

Photographed by Dominic Loneragan. Please Credit Dominic Loneragan.

The ‘Edible Biography’, designed by Bompas and Parr, UK-based leaders in contemporary flavour- based design and culinary research, took guests on a multi-sensory journey unlike any other seen on our shores. A seven course feast interspersed with audio visual dramatic elements, drew inspiration from James Squire’s true story – from criminal, to beer craftsman, to legend – enlightening guests on an incredible life full of thievery, mystery and above all, flavour.

Moments of excitement and suspense were created at every opportunity beginning with the invitation which surprised the receiver with a gunpowder snap upon opening. As guests arrived, the cell block was filled with a sea salt infused fog to replicate that which sailors would have had to navigate regularly in order to reach James Squire’s tavern “The Malting Shovel”. One of the most popular James Squire beers, One Fifty Lashes, was also quite literally brought to life with a live lashing via a Cat o’ Nine Tails.

Photographed by Dominic Loneragan. Please Credit Dominic Loneragan.

Head Brewer at Malt Shovel Brewery, Chis Sheehan said: “The story goes that when James Squire was discovered stealing ingredients to make the colony’s first batch of beer, he narrowly avoided execution, and was instead fined five pounds and sentenced to receive 300 lashes: ‘One hundred and fifty now, and the remainder when able to bear it’.

“This pale ale is refreshing thanks to its added malted wheat, and delicate hop notes of passionfruit, citrus and grapefruit. Since we launched One Fifty Lashes in 2011, it’s proved a hit around Australia.”

The menu referred back to 18th century traditional fare, but was presented with a contemporary edge. Beers from the James Squire portfolio were perfectly matched to each course and served either straight up, or with a twist as a beer cocktail, illustrating how the range caters for a variety of Aussie tastes.

Photographed by Dominic Loneragan. Please Credit Dominic Loneragan.

The main course, a contemporary interpretation of the Beef Wellington, was matched perfectly with the Nine Tails Amber Ale – a full-bodied, malty beer with a toffee-caramel sweetness and nutty finish, all balanced against citrus hop notes.

And in honour of James Squire’s passing and the enormous funeral procession that was held at the time, the final course involved a coffin was ceremonially brought in, revealing a veritable graveyard of cheese, marking Squire’s legacy at Kissing Point on the Parramatta River, where he spent twenty- six years of his life.

Photographed by Dominic Loneragan. Please Credit Dominic Loneragan.

Sam Bompas, of Bompas & Parr, leading his team of skilled experts, said: “We were thrilled when James Squire approached us to expand our work into the realm of beer, taking inspiration from an iconic Australian beer (and human)! As flavour makers but also storytellers, we revelled in the challenge to merge flavour with theatre, and be able find the perfect balance between historical enactment and contemporary execution.”

Photographed by Dominic Loneragan. Please Credit Dominic Loneragan.

Gordon Treanor, Marketing Director – Craft and Cider at LION said: “Partnering with Bompas & Parr, icons in immersive flavour-based experiences, allowed us to conceptualise something that has never been done before in Australia with food and beer – an Edible Biography.”

For more information visit


Photographed by Dominic Loneragan. Please Credit Dominic Loneragan.

by Arrnott Olssen
Editor Rogue Homme