Breaking news this morning that Lion has announced that it has purchased Byron Bay Brewing Company (Media Release below).
Byron Bay Brewing Company, which was awarded two major trophies at last year’s Australian International Beer Awards, is perhaps better known for the controversy it sparked in 2013 when its signature Pale Lager was licensed for production by CUB without CUB disclosing the arrangement. CUB was subsequently fined by the ACCC over the matter and terminated the arrangement last year.
The Byron Bay brand has always been a strong one, but Australian Brews News understands that since its inception in 2005 the brewery found it difficult to expand and has been unable to install a bottling line and bottles on its existing site as a result of zoning and requirements imposed by the local Council. As a result the company has entered into a number of contract and licencing arrangements over the years, including with the failed Barons Brewing back in 2009.
When asked about the attraction of the brand to Lion, Gordon Treanor, Marketing Director Craft and Cider, said that his company had a lot of confidence in the brand and quality of the beer.
“Our immediate focus is on brewing at Byron Bay and developing it in the surrounding area,” he said.
Of course, a brewery with a capacity of 250,000 litres per annum is a minnow in the world of beer and Lion’s focus will be on leveraging the brand into a national market. When development of the existing site doesn’t allow for bottling and the local council is anti-development, it is unlikely that significant growth can come from the locally based brewery.
However, Lion has successfully built geographically-branded but developmentally limited brands before. The Kosciusko brand, whose nominal home is a 500 litre brewery in Jindabyne, has seen most of its production come from the Malt Shovel Brewery in Camperdown in Sydney and more recently the Geelong-based Little Creatures Brewery.
While many small brewers argue that geographic naming is designed to mislead consumers into the ownership and origins of some beers, Lion has led large brewers in transparency in recent years with all labels owned by Lion listing that ownership on the bottle.
When asked what the development plans are for the existing brewery, Gordon Treanor reiterated that the immediate focus was on growing the brand in the immediate area and beyond.
“At this stage it’s just about growing the brand and getting it into Byron Bay and there is plenty of [existing] capacity for that,” he said.
“Any investment in the site will need to be planned for and we will work with the Council in that event.”
Australian Brews News understands that there have been a number of negotiations over the last few years for Byron Bay Brewing Company, including with CUB prior to the fateful licensing arrangements, and that the owner Barry Schadel has been interested in selling for some time. Mr Schadel has been approached for comment.
Lion Invests In The Future Of Byron Bay Brewing Co.
29th April 2016
Lion is excited to announce it is purchasing the Byron Bay Brewing Co., home to the highly awarded Byron Bay range of beers, in a move that will solidify the brewery, venue and beers in the local area and support increased investment in the Byron community.
With a strong track record of nurturing and growing craft beers and breweries of all sizes, including Little Creatures, James Squire, White Rabbit, Kosciusko and Knappstein, Lion intends to further develop Byron Bay Brewing Co.’s hospitality operations, which host over 2,000 visitors per week, while respecting the Brewery’s rich heritage.
In making the announcement, Gordon Treanor, Craft Marketing Director at Lion, said the move would ensure the Brewery and its hospitality operations would remain an integral part of the Byron community into the future.
“When we were approached by Byron Bay Brewing Co. we saw an opportunity to invest in a great local brewery, hospitality operation and craft beer portfolio, with a view to building the business locally and, possibly, in time, sharing these great beers with more people across the country.
“We recognise that the craft beer segment benefits from giving entrepreneurial people the chance to be creative and experimental, and this is how we manage our current craft portfolio. We are looking forward to welcoming Byron Bay Brewing Co. into the fold and working with the team to keep brewing awardwinning beers.”
Barry Schadel, owner of Byron Bay Brewing Co. said he was happy to have found a buyer who shared his vision for the Company and would continue to invest in Byron.
“I am really proud of Byron Bay Brewing Co. and what we have achieved in the Byron community. My number one priority was finding a buyer who would continue to invest in the brewery, beers and venue and take the business from strength to strength. Lion has a strong track record of doing this with other craft beers and I know I am leaving Byron Bay Brewing Co. in good hands.”
Lion plans to invest in the Brewery and venue, including a potential refurbishment following the completion of the purchase to further showcase the Brewery and its beers.