New England to have its own commercial brewery
We think it’s time, after nearly 100 years, that the New England had its own commercial brewery. The Old Woolstore, 19 Bridge Street Uralla, will be home to New England Brewing Company (NEB Co).
- A thorough renovation of the Old Woolstore has almost been completed, to allow for a purpose built brewery floor, packaging area and tasting bar.
- At start-up, two handmade small batch beers will be available, while seasonal beers will gradually be introduced to add even more flavour to the region.
- NEB Co beers will be available in 330 ml bottles (six packs and cases) and 50 litre kegs.
- NEB Co will only distribute its beers in the New England and North West. Massive distribution networks are out of the question.
- A public opening is planned for around April next year, with brewing to commence in early 2013.
- The brewery will be open most days for tastings and short brewery tours will be offered. However, the brewery premises will not be a full service bar and will not serve food – we think that the local pubs and restaurants already do that best.
- The used 1000 litre brew house, from Victorian microbrewery Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth, was delivered on 27 November2012.
Director and Head Brewer Andrew Tracey-Smith talks about the concept:
“Small breweries have been increasing in popularity. The beers that come out of smaller breweries generally taste great due to that hands-on touch of the brewer. Beer drinkers are also becoming aware of where their beer comes from, who brews it and the ingredients used. Smaller-scale breweries don’t have the economies of scale to make cheap beer so we just put more flavour in the beer itself”.
“I think a lot of Australians, and New Englanders in particular, would love to say they drink a beer brewed and owned in their own region. Basically, we want to do one thing, save locals from having to drink beer manufactured in urban factories”.
“We aspire to be a great regional brand and to work with local licensees so they can provide choice to their customers. We aim to supply great beers to the region’s best pubs, clubs, restaurants and bottle shops – feedback from licensees so far has been very positive”.
NEB Co was formed in January 2012 to open a brewery in the New England. NEB Co is 100 per cent locally owned and operated. All of NEBCo’s beers will be manufactured at the premises using Australian Malt and Barley.
The beer Industry
Australia is lagging the UK, USA and Canada when it comes to growth in small breweries. The USA, for example, has close to 2000 small breweries that have a market share of more than five per cent (( American Brewers Association 2012 Online: http://www.brewersassociation.org )) . However, Australia has less than 100 genuine small breweries, with an estimated market share of approximately one per cent.
The beer consumer
Craft beer is the fastest growing segment in the Australian beer market (approximately 20 per cent per annum), as Australian consumers reconnect with real beer brewed locally.
Previous breweries in the local area
In the 1880’s eight in ten breweries in NSW were located in a regional area (( Brett J Stubbs, City vs country: The demise of the brewing industry in country New South Wales Australian Geographer; Mar 2000; 31, 1; Academic Research Library pg. 55 )) . Brewing in our region has a long but broken history. Tamworth,Glenn Innes, Inverell and Armidale all had breweries. For example, brewing in Armidale began in 1849 with the Tuck’s Brewery and ended in approximately 1920 when the Phoenix Brewery closed (( UNE Online 2012: http://www.personal.une.edu.au/~pgrave/armidale/pubs_breweries.html )) .
The closure of regional breweries has been attributed to the advent of the railway, which increased competition from city breweries. The tied-house model contributed further to this development, where major city breweries owned and exclusively supplied numerous pubs. The major city breweries also purchased and closed regional breweries (( Brett J Stubbs, City vs country: The demise of the brewing industry in country New South Wales Australian Geographer; Mar 2000; 31, 1; Academic Research Library pg. 55 )) .
Update (21/3/13) In the latest installment of “Don’t Ever Claim to be the First Anything” we have received an email from the owner of Eastview Estate in Kentucky in New England saying (edited):
Just wanted to give you a heads up re an incorrect and wrongly reported article. As we have had our brewery open for over two years now the claim that this is the first brewery in the New England in 100 years is as they say in the classics, total Bull/s we are less than 13 kilometres away in Kentucky in the very heart of the New England and we pride ourselves on being the first brewery in the New England in the last 100 years. This is our website www.eastviewestate.com We have 8 all grain beers on tap and 6 varieties in bottle…all our beers are brewed on site and cover a number of styles. We retail on site and wholesale both kegs and bottles. I would appreciate it if you could set the record straight in the interest of fairness. Thank you.
We put this to Ben at New England Brewing Co who confirms that East View does brew on a 50-litre Braumeister system and isn’t on tap anywhere apart from his winery and sells bottles at the tourist info, and points out that his press release says they are the first ‘commercial brewery’.
However you want to cut this loaf, it’s great that there are more breweries than fewer, whoever is first!