Five Melburnians are working to establish a co-operative brewery, one of two such initiatives currently in planning in Australia.
888 Cooperative Brewery is the brainchild of Chip Henris, a former Australian Army Officer with a background in social justice.
Also among the founders is Renata Feruglio, co-founder of Temple Brewing Company in Brunswick East.
“We want to have a workers’ co-op for our brewery, where the people who actually make the beer own that part of it,” Henris told Australian Brews News.
“Then, we have a consumers’ co-op, so the people who drink the beer, they own that side of it. It’s a club and they have a say in what kinds of beers they want, and then the two co-ops cross-pollinate each other.”
Henris said 888 recently registered the co-operatives after spending much time finessing the rules to ensure they will run effectively. He said the next challenge is raising enough funds to get the brewery off the ground.
“Crowdfunding will probably be part of it, but we may have to go after some investors as well,” he said.
“What we really want to do, is have it owned by the people so that it’s ours, and we’re not giving profits and surplus to outsiders that are looking at this from a purely profit-driven perspective.”
A similar project, Hopsters Co-op Brewery, is currently in planning in Sydney.
A unifying concept
The name 888 reflects the aspirations and achievements of the eight-hour day workers’ movement in Australia.
“Workers agitated in Melbourne in 1856 for a working day divided equally into labour, recreation and rest,” the 888 website says.
“We seek to honour them by working cooperatively as a Melbourne brewery and via community initiatives that support the dignity of work, civil society, equity, transparency and fairness.
“We want to do this while brewing and enjoying great 888.coop beers in our Melbourne brewery and the socialising and society our beers will help promote.”
Henris said the project had already proven it could unify beer enthusiasts “from all sides of politics”.
“I have more of a Marxist, very left wing background, but other people in the co-op come from what would be considered ‘right business backgrounds’,” he said.
“We all love this concept, because it brings the solidarity of the left in with the entrepreneurial side of the right, and it seems to work really well.”
Interested parties can contact 888 Cooperative Brewery here.