Since announcing concrete plans to expand brewing operations to Australia, Scottish brewer BrewDog has been actively courted by craft beer lovers, and even regional governments, seeking to induce the brewery to look beyond its nominated sites.
The sometimes deliberately provocative brewery has this time managed to inadvertently create controversy by announcing it was only looking to Brisbane and Newcastle as potential homes for it’s antipodean operation.
While “overwhelmed” by the enthusiasm for the venture, BrewDog’s local head of operations, Zarah Prior, said the decision to select these locations wasn’t a slight to other Australian centres, just a reflection of a careful decision making process.
“We have so much admiration for the proud history of beer in almost every state of Australia,” Zarah told Brews News.
“Western Australia was home to some of the pioneers of the new wave of craft beer, while Tasmania and South Australia have beer cultures that celebrate the provenance of their great local produce.
“Melbourne and Sydney are hot beds of great craft beer and have firmly placed Australia on the global beer map,” she said.
But Prior said that with such strong and developed beer cultures, it was tough to decide BrewDog ideally wanted to call home.
“We spent considerable time reviewing the positive draws of each state before deciding to narrow our search to New South Wales and Queensland, in particular on the cities of Newcastle and Brisbane,” she said.
“Availability of space, ease of distribution, and proximity to population centres were factors we considered when pulling together our shortlist.
“Yet top on our list of desirables was finding an amazing local community we could really see ourselves in. While very different, both Newcastle and Brisbane are vibrant, growing cities interested in collaborating, and with an incredible community atmosphere.”
Prior, who spent four years working with BrewDog as their ‘Head of People’ before spending a year working with Stone & Wood prior to her current role, is the antithesis of the brash BrewDog public image. You sense that while she is gratified by the huge public response to the announcement, she is also a little surprised at the feelings generated amongst the overlooked sites.
“Having spent the past three weeks dividing my time between Brisbane and Newcastle, I have been so encouraged by the response from the local communities,” she said.
“From the support from council and local businesses, through to the warm welcome we’ve received from the existing craft beer community, my experience so far has really affirmed that, while a tough decision, we made the right call.
“And at the end of the day, we’re on a mission to make others as passionate about great craft beer as we are, and we’re excited to be joining the Australian craft beer revolution wherever we decide to set up camp.”
While she wouldn’t be drawn on the likelihood of either city getting the nod, she has been spending considerable time in both centers looking at possible sites. An announcement is expected in October when BrewDog founder, James Watt, will be visiting Australia to make a final decision.