We’ve been brewing commercially now since November. 5 months at the time of writing this. In that time we wanted to establish what we call a core range of beers. This is a range of beers that will be available year round. So we had a few recipes that we wanted to upscale for our 500l system. They worked really well on the Grainfather and thought they’d sell good in the market.
Our first brew day was November 5th 2017. We name our batches using the backward date method. (#171105). So if you ever see this code anywhere you can work out exactly when the beer was brewed. It helps keep everything in chronological order as well.
We decided that being our first brew on brand new equipment, that we shouldn’t aim high, so a basic recipe for a pilsner was designed. We had made 3 batches of this Pilsner before on our Grainfather and loved every drop. It has a Pilsner/Ale/Wheat malt base with 3 Australian hop varieties added late in the boil.
The day finally arrived when our shipping container landed at our property. It’s a real buzz I tell you. To crack open that door and find all the equipment in there waiting to be unpacked.
Because our property driveway is a little hidden from the main road (not to mention the different business sign out front), our delivery driver missed it and kept driving. We watched as the truck drove past. Laughing. So I ran out to the road the wave him in once he u-turned and came back looking. See the video below.
When the truck was in the yard and ready to be unloaded it became obvious that there was no lift to get the container down to ground level. Nor was there a ramp. Shit! How were we going to get all this gear (heavy gear) out of the container and off the truck? AND all within the 1 hour grace period. Any time after that we get charged. Crikey we thought. We had better get cracking.
We all know that you can’t do anything without either a permit or a licence or both! So we knew we had to start getting all this in place whilst we waited for our brewery equipment to be made and delivered.
I’ll give you a run down of what hoops exactly we needed to jump through to get our brewery business compliant in the state of Victoria, Australia.
It’s a scary idea really. Deciding to source an overseas supplier and potentially purchase over $50,000 worth of equipment without actually seeing it or even seeing the salesman face to face. But this is what we were going to do. We had discovered similar breweries that have done this and one of the best stories you can read about is the Black Hops Brewing guys. They’ve outlined their entire process of building a brewery from day 1. And they are building on growth today with future expansion plans. They publish a podcast which is a really good listen and they even published a book (which we got). It definitely filled in a lot of gaps for us in terms of what we need to do. Although the regulations are a little different here in Victoria. Dan Norris from Black Hops is actually a bit of a start-up guru, and if you're thinking of new beginnings, I recommend you follow him.
Wayne and I have been brewing beers for some time now. We have always made very fine beer. Biased of course. But we have always just been following orders. Instructions. We knew the steps required but never really thought about the process and what was happening. We knew that if we are going to be successful brewing business owners then we’d better learn a bit about it.
Where do you learn such things? Apprenticeship? Degree? Work Experience? We it turns out all of these are acceptable.
It’s a big, big deal. Starting a new business. And from what we have read and learned, starting a brewery is even harder. Finding a property to house our brewery. That’s kind of easy for us. Sourcing the tools and equipment to make good beer. That’s hard. Filling out forms for permits and licences. That’s hard. Learning how to brew beer consistently. The hardest.
We haven't been friends for very long at all. Probably just a few years. Our sons are best mates (after meeting as 12 year olds) and our wives became friends because of them, soon after. Us blokes were late to the party, as husbands usually are. But now our 2 families are best friends with a handful of joint holidays behind us and hopes of many more.